Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dispatch from the Bottom of the Sea

Come on, Blogger. I know it's been a while since my last post, but do you really have to rub it in by turning into a completely different website while I was away? Seems kind of passive-aggressive.

A lot has happened in the past six months.

I got a day job. I now work at PopCap, the company that makes Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies. Easily the nicest place I've ever worked -- good people, fun projects, and so far there hasn't been any crunching. I've met a few astonishing artists there, as well. Times have been hard in the games industry, and one effect of this is that casual games (which are thriving) have become the new WPA for digital artists. There are some very intimidating art muscles on display at PopCap.

What does this work situation mean for Nonplayer? Well, things certainly haven't gotten easier. If you're an employed person who's trying to make progress on a personal project, this blog probably got a whole lot more relevant. I'm trying to carve out thirty hours per week to work on the book. Weekdays go: wake up at 6:30, get to work by 8, leave work at 5, start drawing by 6, take a break for dinner at 8 (which is also my only hour of TV/leisure), back to drawing at 9, keep pushing till midnight, then sleep. For my sanity, Saturdays are family fun days. Sunday, I draw. If I ever get to work full-time on the comic again, I'll probably use the memories of this period as a goofing-off deterrent.

I have discovered one major workflow aid, and it's called the Samsung Series 7 Slate. I won't get into the specifics here -- suffice it to say that the portable Cintiq finally exists. It runs both IllustStudio and Photoshop CS5.1 without lag. It has a pressure-sensitive Wacom screen. Now I can work on Nonplayer at coffee shops, in libraries, and most importantly, on the sofa.

Samsung Series 7 XE700T1A-A02US 11.6-Inch Slate (128GB, Win 7 Home Premium)

If you get one of these, you'll also want to download and customize PaintDock, which creates a touch-sensitive set of shortcuts on the edge of the screen while making the rest of the screen stylus-only. And don't forget to install the most recent Wacom drivers

Also, in an astonishing display of compassion, my wife has learned how to do color flatting. She loves the Slate. She can kick back in front of the TV and color away in comfort. It's a cool device.

So. What else? I've seen some really nifty art lately. May I share?

This guy Mike Bear works at PopCap's San Francisco office. We really want to abduct him and bring him up to Seattle. Then we will boil and eat him, because that's the only way you can absorb another artist's powers. 




Then there's David Ryan Paul, one of my new coworkers. He has an epic beard, in which he stores six technical pens, two Cintiq styluses, and an unknown number of replacement nibs. He's got a very pretty new sketchbook out right now. Daddy like.

David Ryan Paul - Sketchbook Volume Two


Here's another gem from James Harren. I am so annoyed by how good he is. Freakin' 25 years old. 


And finally, there's this guy Alex Kosakowski. He's a game guy trying to fund his first graphic novel, but for reasons that baffle the rational mind, his Kickstarter campaign went fizz. I am really bummed about this, because:


and


and


and


What can we do to fix this? The guy needs a measly $7500. Is there a way we can cajole him into starting another Kickstarter and then force all of our friends to pony up? 

Please don't give up, Alex. Because dang.





26 comments:

  1. I love those panels from The Pursuit of Ruin. I'm definitely on board if he does another Kickstarter. It might help if he aimed for some kind of print edition, with a $25 or $35 level. Digital comics are certainly becoming more common, but people still like to hold nice art books in their hands. That feeling of getting something tangible might spur more people to pitch in. Another game guy, Sean Andrew Murray, is having success with his effort: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/945275755/gateway-the-book-of-wizards. Even offering a pdf + signed postcard level might be a way to go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I agree that a physical book would be more compelling. Especially with detailed art like Alex's, you really want to be able to kick back and dive into all that intricacy. It's a very difficult experience to replicate in a digital format. Murray's book looks SPECTACULAR, by the way. Thanks for cluing me in about that one, John.

      Delete
  2. Awesome news, the Series 7 slate is amazing, been using it for a while. Thanks for the heads up in the PaintDock didn't know about that. Also, I went to school with Mike Bear and we hung out when he was still in Chicago, great (and talented) guy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Small, teeny, tiny world. Yeah, I look forward to crossing paths with Mike again. I really enjoyed meeting him.

      PaintDock is the coolest. I've got it all customized just the way I like it. For some things, it's even faster than my normal Cintiq setup.

      How are your liking your slate these days? Any complaints? I'm starting to have that bezel lifting problem that some folks report. And the Samsung logo on the back has almost completely flaked off. Minor stuff, for the most part. I'm still very happy with the device.

      Delete
    2. Hi Nate, your art is awesome! I came across your blog while looking for information about drawing comics; it's quite a journey you've been through, very inspiring.

      Just a few questions about the series 7 slate: do you use it for the whole process or do you have to switch to your desktop PC for more CPU intensive tasks? Also what resolution and how many layers do you work in?

      Your information will be highly appreciated as I don't have a cintiq and i'm looking for a portable alternative.

      Thanks and keep at it!

      Delete
  3. I just finished interviewing Mark Andrew Smith about the release of his new graphic novel Sullivan's Sluggers with James Stokoe. He said he first came up with the idea in 2004 and it's finally seeing print completion this month--nearly eight years later! Time is irrelevant for creativity, and I look forward to the next installment of Nonplayer whenever you see fit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ryan! Yeah, I saw Sullivan's Sluggers a couple of weeks ago and was blown away. Stokoe is boss.

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. I just got his three-issue BPRD run in the mail yesterday, and it blew my brains out the back of my skull. So, so, so good.

      Delete
  5. I would definitely become one of Alex's backers, should he do another Kickstarter campaign.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! I just got an email from him that indicated he might be doing that very thing. If he does, I'll make an announcement here.

      Delete
  6. If Alex starts up another Kickstarter, I'd totally donate because, wow. That is some lovely work! All of them. Thanks for the links :)

    Glad to hear that you're still working on Nonplayer and that things are going well at the day job. Carving out some downtime for yourself is so important! I worked for a while on a schedule similar to this and it's really hard not to feel burned out. I'm just saying, don't beat yourself up if you need more than a Saturday to recharge occasionally. I think Nonplayer is worth the wait :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sage advice, Josie. I think I have a pretty well-developed anti-burnout valve... I automatically switch to goof-off mode if I sense an imminent collapse.

      I just discovered Kerbal Space Program, so now when my brain feels too stretched out, I switch over to KSP for fifteen minutes, build and crash a rocket, then go back to the comic. It's a system!

      Delete
  7. Glad to hear you're still plugging away. I'm also burning the midnight oil doing a daily comic ( http://lifeinjapan-comic.blogspot.jp/ ) and that Series 7 Slate looks nice. Now if I could just get over my fear of change...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comic is fantastic, Victor! Nicely drawn and very well written (a rare combo). Did I espy a Nonplayer shoutout? So rad.

      I am very jealous that you get to go to the Otomo exhibit. The aforementioned David Ryan Paul is over in Japan right now to see it. Otomooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

      Delete
  8. Great to hear you're doing well. Don't burn out though:) I find the commute to and from work on public transport a great time to squeeze in a bit of extra work.
    http://artistspaces.tumblr.com/post/14396522194/spleenal

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are just killing it, man. Family, job, and an amazing comic. Pencils on the bus, inks on the train.

      You are a NINJA.

      Delete
  9. Alex definitely must do another kickstarter. but he should try to get some press on it to raise the funds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I think if he does it again (which he says he will), he'll have a better sense of how to spread the word. I'll certainly do everything I can to help out this time.

      Delete
  10. I'll be really interested to read about your experiences doing a side project while working a full-time job. I wonder if the limited time aspect will actually help you be more productive. Sometimes imposed time away, like stopping to take a shower, inspires ideas/clarity.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Glad to see you back. I was wondering what happened to you. Maybe YOU should consider doing a Kickstarter campaign? I know that you would get funding for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm glad your settling into some sort of schedule and Nonplayer is back on track to getting done!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nate,

    I bought 4 copies of your comic just to give them away to friends. It’s really rare that you find a comic that inspires you to do that. Please tell us that you’re going to have a 3rd printing of #1 when #2 is ready. There are some people I missed.

    Cheers-

    Mike

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hey Nate! Thanks so much for the promotion. It was great to meet you too. We need to meet up the next time I'm up in Seattle and do some sketching. Looks like there are some amazing artists up there with ya, those images are jaw dropping.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nate...thanks for sharing Alex Kosalowski's art with us. That dude is awesome! Also I hope yu are doing well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey Nate how have you been? i would love to hear an update about your work.

    ReplyDelete