Don't feel bad. I've got an LJ page that's straight-up dusty cobwebs.
Let's see... when last we spoke, I was heading to Dragon*Con in Atlanta. That went pretty well, I spent a great deal of time hanging out with Brandon Sanderson and Peter Ahlstrom and Isaac Stewart and occasionally Dangerous Dan Wells, and they're all pretty great people. Having met so many stereotypically douchey characters in the course of the last couple decades of Drawing for Money, it feels sadly bizarre to meet people who just seem genuinely good. I suppose it could be a facade, wouldn't be the first time I've been faked out, but I don't think so. I think they might have just been... really cool guys. The Rooster Teeth crew were the same way when we hung out in '07. It was like visiting with aliens.
Must make a note, work for nice people more often.
So the convention was a lot of fun (all work, but fun work) and it's the sort of thing I wish I could do more often. I'm scheduled to attend GigaCon this upcoming January 14-15 in Washington D.C., where I'll be speaking on the subject of traditional animation techniques applied to digital drawing platforms. This mostly means watching me draw some frames, talk a lot about how classic technique is vitally important even in a world of mo-cap and puppetry, and answer whatever Q&A comes up. If you're in the area and might attend, then I'll look forward to meeting you there.
I admit, the best thing about Dragon*Con was that it was very gratifying to hear how much people like the artwork in The Way of Kings, and it really makes me happy to be a part of the team that brings that world to the page. The sad thing about working on the Stormlight Archives is that I don't get to do it more. From what I understand, I probably won't start the next round of Shallan's sketches (and whatever else I can elbow my way into doing on Book 2) until the middle of 2011 at the earliest. There might be some other neat stuff I can do for Brandon before then, but it's pretty much up to me to take initiative and see how far I can push before someone tells me to shove off. That's a fun tightrope to walk.
On a day-to-day basis this past week or so, I've been drawing Joe is Japanese pages again. Principal animation on the most recent Fates project tapped out a couple weeks back, just in time for another round of hellish storyboards for a series of :30 TV ads. That only lasted a week, but it was one of those 7-day no-break weeks made up of 16-hour days, and of course this business does not know the concept of overtime (not something mentioned much in school).
So THAT was kinda awful, but over quick and it paid out all right, and so that's done. Might do it again before Christmas, but I won't know for sure until the call comes in. Gotta chase them nickels.
The animation work was superfun, but as usual I'm not sure what I'm allowed to talk about so I'm not sure what to say about it. Lots of good old traditional line-animation, some interesting action bits with guns, but no really interactive fights. Did get to build a couple good explosions, one pretty straightforward and one that involved lots of detailed debris collapsing into a center point before sparking a spinning sphere blast. Couple of cuts where we exploded people Tetsuo-style (extra chunky sauce), which I hadn't done before. The client wanted gore, so my anatomy studies and references got to pay off new dividends (the secret ingredient is intestines).
I got saddled with character design as well as keys, which would normally be great fun. But having spent a year drawing comics, I made some stupid design mistakes on one of the characters to the point where it was a straight pain to animate, making my own job more difficult (and then everyone else's by the cascade effect, since keys are the first link in a chain). It was a rook mistake, all I can blame it on is rusty gears. I'd much rather have someone else doing design and layout, so I can concentrate on good timing and assembly, but circumstances usually demand that I wear extra hats. Nobody else's head is fat enough to fill 'em.
But I'd gladly pass it over. It's better to do a couple jobs really well than to do many jobs badly.
Not that anything ended up looking bad, mind you. It's in final frame check, FX and composite phases now, so it's still a work in process, but I think the finish frames look damn nice. The rest of the Fates Crew is working hard on it, and they're a skilled bunch tempered by fire. And they're used to covering my ass by now, of course.
So nobody needs me to animate anymore, but they've put me back on Joe pages for the first time in six months (really, it went on pause in July).
I wish I knew more what the distribution plans are for the book, 'cause then I could tell you, but I'm not in that loop. I can say that there's a lot of pages in the hopper, and ultimately I try not to complain too much. I'm still getting paid to draw comics pages, and I enjoy the practice. I could be doing something much less enjoyable (pretty much every one of the myriad gypsy jobs I did to survive once upon a time, for example), and all things considered the distribution isn't my bone to pick, so long as I'm clearing a check every 30.
Besides, today was a boobies day, and it's just really, really hard to complain about any frustrations with the work, no matter how logically legitimate they may seem, when someone is paying you to draw cartoonishly oversized bouncy bared breasts. You've got to recognize the fun times when they're happening.
Mostly it's not breasts I've been drawing, but I have drawn a lot of headlights (rimshot!) There's been a plethora of cars in the recent scenes, which required me to build up new muscles I'd previously avoided working out. Lightboxing helps establish the base sometimes, but that really only works for glamour shots. The rest requires that I step up and freehand, so over the course of the last 40-odd pages I've probably drawn more cars than I ever thought would be needed in anything I would ever draw (not being into cars myself), and that's XP in the bank. I now feel at least moderately comfortable with drawing vehicles from the outside and I can fake it better than ever (I could only fake it very badly before). But I still don't know a lot about the actual workings of engines and such. This of course limits how effectively you can depict those in real detail, and that can be a weakness when you suddenly need to do just that.
I don't know what a Beams 3S-GE is, but I had to draw one (probably wrong). Most of the time I guess I shouldn't sweat it, but I think that people appreciate it when you get the details right. They'll forgive you for getting them wrong, but the disappointment is palpable to me.
On the up side, I've now have a bit more appreciation for classic European rally racers. They're so often adorably ugly little beasts that move like a cracked-up hamster with a rocket up its butt. Seeing 'em rip around corners and fly over hills is crazy fun to watch.
I'll see if I can't free a few more pages from the stack. Probably not the ones with boobies. Sorry.
Life could be worse. I'd probably be more content, less stressful, if I didn't know that at a deeply personal level. I've got a warm home and a full belly and a good woman. Was a time once when I had none of those things, and less. Been a dozen years and a bit, but you never forget.
That drove me to where I am today. It'll burn as long as it must to get me wherever I'm going.
Someplace with puppies. And dental plans.