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:




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.