Chapter Four is go.

Can’t sleep, clown will eat me.

Clarity, transition, control (chapter four edition) and speculation are all done and up. 20 pages counting the cover, putting the book at around 180 remaining.

There’s some new stuff. Not as much as previous updates. Some new linework for clarity; some extensive CG work for transition.

Like, really extensive.

In other news, I really wish deli lunchmeat kept as long as the processed stuff does. I never seem to be able to use it up before it starts to go bad. You’d think buying it in smaller amounts would be a viable answer, but I never seem to be able to use up half a pound in the same amount of time I never seem to be able to use up a pound. Call it The Law of Conservation of Lunchmeat Spoilage.

Refridgerating bread will extend its shelf life (at the expense of its yumminess). Maybe freezing the beef is in order.

In other news, there is never, ever enough time.

Order of Operations

While development has been a vicious hydra of timesuck – CG for future bits, CG for DCR, CG for stuff I may never use, new dummies, script for TV.2, revisions for DCR.2, overplot, script ideas for “inserts” between stories that would be totally viable if this thing ever becomes an Ongoing Series, cover musings, structural musings, CG I Need To Make musings, website musings, Comp CD musings, how do I get moar eyeballs plz musings and OH YEAH THE SECOND EDITION – I’ve managed to make some Meaningful Progress in a couple of key areas and now have a reasonably sane timetable for near-future events.

It goes something like this:

1. Chapter Four (Clarity). Formatting work is ongoing – as of this writing I’ve done one redraw and two pages of renders. This chapter has an expanded scene in it, so I’ll have to start preparing to tackle that in short order. Lots of CG and lineart.

2. Chapter Covers. The CG backdrops for 1-4 are already done. I’ve showed them to my channelmates on IRC, and the general consensus is that they’re Nifty. The new cover formatting is not the current cover formatting – it’s intended for hardcopy and unlike previous bouts of handwaving, hardcopy is where this thing is heading. Slowly.

Getting this covers ground out is filling me with a peculiar sense of Rightness regarding the future of the book. I may well have finally devised something that Actually Works.

I still need to generate the cover for Incursion – the formula’s going to be a bit different than it is for the individual chapters, so I’ll need to do more with the thinking before that pops out. The intent is to work on the Cover artwork while Chapter Four is in reproduction rendering. Usually when ATC is Rendering I busy myself with drawing porn – but I’m almost an adult*, dammit. Time to be making more… useful… uh… use of my time. Or something.

3. After Clarity is done, Incursion (the first half) will be complete, which means it’ll be time for Proofing of the first half. Xeno gets to do his thing, I get to implement fixes. And then implement the first half for print, covers and everything. I’ll probably sit on it until the second half is Done, just in case I wind up needing to make some last minute changes or revisions or whatever, but better to have it Pretty Much Finished by the time I’m done with the second edition than to finish the web version and then have to do the entire hardcopy thing all at once. I did that with the first edition and it sucked.

4. While Xeno’s Xenoing, I’ll be working on a new version of the website. I’ve muttered about this previously – When I start rolling on Expulsion (the second half of the story), I’ll be rolling out a tweaked site. More on that when it gets closer to happening.

You’ll notice there’s no CG modeling work anywhere on that list. Fact is, much as I enjoy banging out spaceships in Silo (and as much as I hate texturing them), everything I need for this chapter already exists… and working on anything I don’t need for this chapter is only going to slow me down.

The first bit of Expulsion is entirely new CG, however – so after all of the above is done, I’ll need to do some modeling and texturing work. The model in question is damned near complete – it just needs some detailing and maps. It’s a plot-critical DCR object to boot, so having it Done (when I Need It, no less) will clear out a sizable roadblock on that project.

Long-term, my current plan is to finish the reformat of The Dualist, do the correction work on TV.1**, finish DCR.2, then move on to TV.2. There’s still FAR TOO MUCH work in front of me, but for the time being there’s at least a semblance of order to it.

Some sense of priority.

* I’ll be 30 in one month. Oh noes!

** I refer specifically to Ornix’s shirt, which needs to be fixed in both The Dualist and TV. I’ll probably revise the hell out of the dialogue while I’m at it.

Zoo up, Reentry done.

Zoo is up. Five pages. One new shot, one shot replacement, and a bunch of tweaks and adjustments. Five pages feels like a sneeze after the 29 page slog that preceded Zoo, though it’s a sneeze that’s been bogged down with its own issues. A family visit (yay!), sleep problems sapping the hell out of my energy and creativity (boo!), and some freelance work – also slowed by the aforementioned. And the rescript went through a couple of revisions. The whole thing is finally at a point where I consider it a resounding improvement over the previous revision, so. Up it goes!

It’ll be at least a couple of weeks before anything related to Chapter Four shows up. The next item on the to-do list will probably be the cover re-implementaitons I’ve been thinking on for the past few months, followed by TD2EC4 pre-prep, then actual production. Chapter four is a far stickier mess than chapter three was – I’ll be adding some pages, redoing a scene, redrawing a couple of panels, jinking some page comps, and (again) re-rendering the Daedalus. A broader variety of re-work than this chapter, and probably more time consuming.

I’ll be 30 in about six weeks. If I’m not well into the next chapter by then, I hope to at least be started on it.

!New horizons

Chapter three of TD2E is almost done. The art is there – if it were a silent scene I’d be trumpeting three down, five (and a half*) left. The writing is jamming me up a bit – fitting it in, and making it not suck horribly.

I’ve muttered about hardcopy in the past – mild threats that have never materialized. Funds, dissatisfaction, and a single-digit readership are all contributing factors. Hardcopy is expensive, time consuming, and just ain’t worth it yet. Which doesn’t mean I’m not going to continue to prepare for it, mind you. It just means it’s been knocked out of the production pipeline for the foreseeable future.

After the current chapter is out the door, I’ll goad xeno into catching up on proofing. That’ll lock things in, make the first three chapters ready for hardcopy, and give me a really good reason not to go back and screw with them for the third, fourth, fifth, tenth time. I’ll probably compile everything for hardcopy and sit on it until a later date, like I’ve been doing with the first issue of DCR.

On deck, then, would be: Concluding chapter three, editing of chapters one through three, hardcopy prep of same, the new chapter covers I’ve threatened previously… and probably another version of the website.

Again, the website. The main reason for wanting a change is the wiki section. The wiki hasn’t happened and probably won’t – from my current vantage point it seems a lot more efficient to simply create a few more blog categories and start throwing stuff in there… or create another blog (“universe” or whatever) that’ll contain the cast, lexicon, planets, vehicles, technology, etceteras. Stuff that would be bound for a wiki, if I had the time to put into one.

Also, aesthetics. I keep thinking of the site as being grayscale with yellow/orange links or hotspots – not the murky sepia that it has been for the past few revisions.

If I’m SMRAT about this, I’ll do the covers for 1-4, then either edit 1-3 and then do 4, or do 4 and then edit 1-4, then redo the website in preparation for the home stretch.

Ultimately, the order things get done in depends on how badly I’m blocking on rewrites.**

* The first four chapters (aka “Incursion”) had a short eponymous intro scene. The last four (“expulsion”) has one as well, plus there’s that few pages of aftermath. So while there are five chapters left, there are a total of seven sections remaining. Fortunately two of those are really, really short. And chapter six is also short. So plowing through four really will put this thing on the home stretch.

** You’ll be happy to know that the second half needs more rephrasing and continuity correction than it does a burn-it-down-and-do-it-over rewrite. With any luck, production of the second half should go faster than the first half has, if for no other reason than I’m getting deeply impatient and really want to be making new pages instead of gaping in horror at old ones.

Super Mega Upload: Guide & Reentry

You’ll pay for the whole seat, but you’ll only need… the edge!

No, really.

Taking a temporary dump on tradition here, uploading two scenes instead of one. I started on reentry (which used to be “velocity”) right after I finished work on callback. I figured it might be a good idea to do all of the Daedalus and Sabrosa renders for the chapter in one swell foop – after that, I took a short breather and then over the past few days hacked out guide, which used to be “polarity.”

Both scenes have been rewritten. Both scenes have been reformatted – a few new panels here and there, but mostly a lot of strategic cropping. Brand new renders for all of the exterior shots in reentry. Velocity never fit well as a name… and with an eponymous scene, this chapter is now in line with the rest.

This upload also tips the page count over the one-third mark.

Hooray!

Four more pages for this chapter – I have some freelance to take care of before I get rolling on that, though. So… another gap, another upload. Hopefully I’ll be able to wrap this chapter shortly… and hopefully the next one proceeds as easily.

Callback up; Reentry rolling.

I figured I’d chew on Reentry (which was Velocity) a bit to iron out some consistency issues (between this scene and that one) before launching td2e c3. That chewing – intended to be a well-intentioned gumming, I suppose – turned into a rottweiler-styled flossing. The core of Reentry – all of the Daedalus bits – is visually complete. Some of those pages still need type and the bookends of that scene still need attention. I’m not out of the rendering woods yet.

I have, however, been sitting on a completed Callback for a good four days longer than ultimately necessary.*

The pre-canned bit, written last week:

Done, at least this time around. I feel good enough about it to let it be for awhile – nothing’s screaming SUCK! SUCK! at me anymore. Well, the linework… but there’s no shutting that up ever and I’m not about to spend five years redrawing the entire comic. The time spent on the rewrite and reformat is more than enough, thanks.

All CG in this scene has been replaced. The Daedalus has lost the Darth Vader binary paint job; the Sabrosa has a little more screen time, some old shots have been thrown out for new renders, the color scheme is a little more consistent. It’s also a little more colorful – red shift, new dialogue, and a couple of tweaks here and there and the scene is now much less monochromatic. Also more monochromatic, where it matters.

Rewrite-wise, the seventh page feels a bit cramped… otherwise, it’s a hell of a lot less pretentious than the previous edition. It fits the overall story better, touching on some previous points and foreshadowing others. The new version also fixes a plot pothole – in the first edition, Grij ordered a Majestic prepped… then camped the Daedalus. This time around, Majestic prep orders aren’t given until they should be (read: in a scene that isn’t this one).

Very little linework cleanup for this scene – most of the work went into background rebuilds and extensions. In many respects, this scene has changed a lot more than previous second edition pages…. and I’ve been doing this long enough that my attitude towards cleanup has changed as well. Point of fact, I’m aiming more for a reasonably quick mashup with an eye towards “better” than I am towards scrubbing down every single stray hair, loose vector and squiggle like I was with the first couple of chapters.

Though admittedly, the first couple of chapters needed it, and there are some bits further down the road that’ll need it as well. This just isn’t one of those scenes, fortunately!

(end pre-canned bit)

I think the biggest bit of awesome to come out of the second edition is this: Greg finally has a last name. Finally. The bastard came to life in my tenth grade history class notebook and fifteen years later he finally has a last name.

Now to figure out one for Xand…

Most of Reentry (which used to be Velocity) is in the bag. Eventually I’ll get around to working over Guide (which used to be Polarity)… at which point, WHANGO!

Plainly speaking… there’s going to be a big fat pause. Followed by a 29 page update.

Hooah!

* That being the number of days between finally getting the intertub back and actually doing something ATC-related with it.

Gate up. C2 done, moving.

Gate, which used to be Distortion – a “problem scene” if ever there was – is done and up. Everything that needed cleaning got cleaned last week or earlier – after polishing up some freelance, I slapped on the finishing touches and called it good.

It’s fitting to stop here – I have to move again. This week or next, I don’t know where yet. The last six months will make a great chapter in the autobiography, or maybe a stand-alone comic. Possibly a sitcom.

After that’s over and done with, the plan is to rework the covers (and a small bit of the website), then start reproduction of Chapter Three.

Oh, and after Xeno (who’s stuck in the fun place this weekend) commits typornography, I’ll start processing One and Two as issues.

Hardcopy. It’s gotta happen sometime, right?

Casting (the most recent of many)

20:31 * solios watches something with Clive Owen.
20:31 <@solios> I’ve decided that Clive Owen will voice West.*
20:31 <@aestuo> Clive Owen++
20:31 <@solios> he’d be motherfucking awesome against Christopher Walken, voicing Greymalkin.
20:32 < xeno> Peter Fonda should totally be Grij.
20:32 <@solios> @_@
20:32 <@solios> I’ve always leaned more towards Gary Oldman for live action, Alan Rickman (sp?) for animated.
20:32 <@ejp> na, Grij is Hugo Weaving.
20:33 < xeno> oh yeah.
20:33 <@solios> fucking nobody to ever walk the face of the earth can voice contempt like Rickman.
20:33 <@ejp> point
20:33 < xeno> very.
20:33 <@solios> for live action it’s really a question of who looks good in horns.**
20:34 <@solios> because let’s face it – as awesome as Rickman is, he’s built like Polaski. Not Grij.
20:34 <@solios> Grij is built like Wil Wheaton.***

* It was previously decided that Clive Owen is Ornix.

** Which is a great argument for animated. Really.

*** Just sayin’. I wish I had that guy’s metabolism.

incoming up; breather relocated.

INCOMING!

So it turns out that when you have an entire scene written, rendered, set up, and penciled… inking and shading go fast. Damned fast.

I like doing scenes this way – all renders, all pencils, all inks, all colors and cleanup, all shading, all tweaks… but I couldn’t imagine sustaining it for anything longer than a couple of pages. This shit is work, yo.

Literally. Lots of work – the renders were done in December and early January, while I was still plugging away on other stages of the reformat…. and I didn’t have to throw at the inks until Sunday.

“Fortunately” (har, har) I’ve been sick the past couple of days – when I haven’t been shitting my ass off or doing the freezing-hot fever thing, I’ve been experiencing the joys of Bourbon-and-Tea (Chai, specifically – try it sometime!), doing the Jedi Healing Trance thing, and working on shading the new pages.

And now that all of the in-progress comic pages have been done* , it’s back to the Plate O Freelance for a bit.

POF and work, assuming I don’t poo my brains out tonight.

* DCR doesn’t count. The next several DCR strips are ready for pencils. Thinking about it makes my brain whine like a puppy that’s been kicked too many times. I’ll get to it eventually, but for the time being the effort-to-reward is unfavorably disproportionate.

Convergence (part 3) up; breather.

Pages 13-19 are up. The scene is finally complete!

No fundamentally massive changes – to the artwork, that is. Some details have been cleaned up, a smidge of pretty added here and there… a pile of the usual cleanup scrubbing has been done. You know the drill.

Next up is “incoming,” a new four page insert featuring Heirotus. It isn’t strictly necessary, but the story flows so much better with it that I’ve decided to keep it in. Despite the work involved, which will be fairly non-trivial.

Not only are the next four pages going to be some non-trivial work, I’m also way behind on commission work – which means I’m going to have to bow out of production for a few days (or weeks) so I can tend to things like bills and whatnot.

So, enjoy The Running Xand. She’ll be on top for awhile.

So to speak!

Convergence (part 2) up.

7-12 : Go.

Seriously committed to both the rewrite and the reformat now. This is one of the bits I’m still uncertain about… and I’m not sure how well it will work in the long run. Or rather, until there is a long run for context.

Monkeys.

Less total cleanup, more emphasis on creating headspace. Some reworking – the Eye Of Sauron became a Meaningful Stare became gone, covered by table. Other minor adjustments, but only the one major-major change.

Six more, probably same time next week. Then a redraw, which’ll probably take longer.

Convergence (part 1) up; such high hopes.

The first third of Convergence is up. The second third will follow as soon as possible.

The first mass upload of the year contains the oldest pages – not quite the first pages, but the oldest to survive without a redraw and/or a reshuffle.

These would have been up nearly a month ago, but I’ve been grappling with a seemingly hopeless addiction to Disgaea DS (great game!), commissions, and a host of personal issues. I could have kept my head buried in the freelance sand – gladly, as unlike this it pays – but then it would be next week, next month, next year and this scene would still need redoing.

Rereading the original metadata… I seemed happier, and was certainly more sociable in 2003. Five years ago this was a fresh project, I was still excited and high as a kite huffing the new car smell. I thought my stamina was limitless, my imagination bottomless, and I figured people would read it because it was something different and it was on the internet.

Wrong on all counts, I persist.

To wit – my stamina’s fine, at the expense of my imagination… which is really more of a petri dish than an ocean, or even a swimming pool. Oh, and all the forces that get your work noticed in meatspace apply to the interwebs as well – you want eyeballs, you gotta go and get ’em yourself.

It’s that last skill that remains the least developed – in part because the rest of the fu you need to grow to create a comic has nothing to do with it.

Marketing.

Let’s target that for 2010, shall we?

Descent up, metadata notes, breather.

I should probably note that the new page metadata is generated as I’m cleaning up the page – typically in one or two sessions – and is pasted in during the mass upload. The mass uploads have a creation period of a few minutes, compared to the days that a scene rework takes. I’ve been uploading in batches instead of one at a time for a few reasons – the big one is that it’s just easier. Between the straight-html archives requiring a full rebuild to keep their shit straight and the tedium of ganking the original metadata and post timing out of the old db… it’s better to do it all in one crunch.

That and unless I’m grinding out Brand New Pages, this means every update is several pages, instead of one every few days or weeks.

That said, Descent is up. I took a pass on the idea of nixing Tantek’s “fifth eye,” and sniped the first two pages of Convergence – they’re now descent -6- and -7- respectively. This means Descent will be 19 pages instead of 21. Unlike previous scenes, it won’t be One Big Upload – I’ll rewrite it as one big scene, but I’ll be breaking it into two or three chunks to make it more manageable.

Oh, and I don’t intend to get started on the reformatting until next weekend. I’ve slacked enough on some freelance obligations… time to pull my head out of this thing for a few days.

Well, the Photoshop end, anyway. I still gotta do the rewrite.

Convergence primed.

The again-temp cover has been reformatted, the synopsis and production data have been ported over, and Convergence – Chapter Two of the second edition, Chapter One of the first – is ready for pages.

This won’t be a straight crop-clean-and-dump a la Signal. Most of the original pages will be given the same treatment – I’m currently leaning towards redrawing one of them. Yeah, just one.

I’m learning, see.

So 35 reworks, one probable redraw, four new pages (which I’m pre-pre-rendering now)… all of it taken at a slightly more sedate pace than the previous chapter. It still needs a complete scene-by-scene rewrite… and I haven’t officially started on that yet. The draft of Raven and West chatting doesn’t count, at least not yet – the first draft is too much exposition with little in the way of impact on the story.

Reworks and cleanup have so far been fairly easy – the issue I’m toying with now is the idea of removing the O from Tantek’s 8O8 optics – covering it over with the same gunmetal green as the rest of his armor. Redrawing the helmet completely is out of the question, but plugging the center could make the suit look more “Inspired By Briareos” and less “Badly Drawn Briareos.” In theory, anyway. In practice, such a change would be a whole lotta work with very minimal payoff.

There’s a lot of that helmet in this chapter, so I’m going to futz around a bit and see if I can come up with a viable solution. If I can’t, no biggie – it’ll be one less item on the to-do list.

And if THAT isn’t fun enough… the core scene of the chapter – some 18 pages – is going for its second adjustment – first 1800×2400 to 2250×3000; now 1800×2400 to 1850×2774 (live area of 1800×2700). That’s gonna be FUN! 😀

Actually, it won’t be. But appearances are important, or so I’ve been told.

Cage up; chapter complete.

Cage, which used to be Animal and Hammering before that, has been cleaned up, tweaked, or otherwise reformatted to spec. This completes the chapter – at 42 pages (actual), it’s two pages shorter than the first edition version, thanks to the relocation of the “introduction” pages into Incursion.

It’s taken just under a month from start to finish – and that’s with stupidly enormous amounts of vacation time thrown at the project. The next few chapters will take longer.

Work on Convergence will start in a week or so – I have some commission work to take care of, and xeno still needs to typornograph Signal. It isn’t actually done-Done until he gives it a thumbs up, so.

Speaking of Convergence…. I’ll be adding four pages.* Four pages of badly needed context that fills in a pretty friggin’ enormous plot hole. That happens near the end of the chapter, so I don’t know how getting that done will effect deployment of reformatted pages.

I should also note that after this chapter passes typorno and I’ve had time to mull over any further changes or adjustments, I’ll be proceeding with print formatting (grayscale and color) and, whenever I get around to generating a proper cover (front, back, insides)… hardcopy. Get this thing locked into something resembling CANON! before I succumb to changing it any further.

I’ve been threatening hardcopy for quite awhile now, and really, what I’m doing to The Dualist now is what Needs To Be Done in order to get it there.

Trust me on this, mmmkay?

* The Plan – which is much more coherent than the Cylon Plan, really – is to add four pages to Convergence, four to Clarity, and another eight-to-ten page wad (“expulsion”) between Clarity and Motion. The additions to Convergence will patch a gaping plot hole; the extra pages for Clarity will sort of restore a scene that was cut, and Expulsion will just confuse the hell out of everything until I finish Dead City Radio.

Control cleaned up.

The eight pages of Control are up. See the individual pages for major changes – there’s too many to recall offhand… though I think I can say with certainty that the story is finally cleansed of infringing copyrights, trademarks, etcetera.

Finally. Took me long enough.

Right. That thing in the nuthatch is up next, later this week. Then I might just take the rest of the month OFF.

Reaction uploaded.

Reaction is up, and has been nickel-and-dimed quite a bit more than either of the previous scenes in terms of cleanup. Like the chapter to date, this scene has also been retroscripted – a bit of a tradeoff, really – ejecting one exposition-and-drugs structure for another.

While the original text revealed more about the immediate story, the rewrite gives a broader idea of the whole story, hinting at various events that have happened over the past forty years of the ATC timeline.

The remainder of the chapter should survive intact, at least story-wise. There’s still plenty of cleanup and tweaking to be done before I can stick a fork in Signal, hopefully for good.

Distortion uploaded

TD2E Chapter one scene two has been uploaded. It starts here and runs for nine pages.

Re-production wise, the chapter is over the hump – signal seems to have required the majority of the cleanup work so far. Distortion got its fair share of reformatting, and some cleanup ranging from continuity and emprettyment to some more serious heavy lifting, but overall the changes are more to the dialogue than anything else.

22 of 42 pages reprocessed – 20 left, and only six of those have any meaningful dialogue. Not only that, most of the “quality control” issues I had (a la Dead City Radio) were already fixed during the First Edition hardcopy assembly. In plain english : Signal should be re-completed this month. On schedule!

With the next scene I’ll finally – finally! – be working on “normal” pages: the kind of composition that makes up the bulk of the second half of the story – the kind of stuff I “cleverly” worked my ass off to avoid until I got 3d backgrounds rolling.

So… this week looks to be Reaction, and possibly Control as well.

First batch uploaded.

The first reformatted pages are up. The Dualist, second edition, Chapter One, scene one. Signal on both counts (scene, chapter).

Think you’ve read it before? You haven’t.

This isn’t just a reformat (3×4 to 6×9), it’s also a cleanup, a rewrite, and in some cases a retroscript, complete rebuild, or some other form of major surgery. These pages are, by and large, not the original pages.

If you thought the Second Edition was a giant waste of time (and some days, I’d agree with you), well… read the scene. Compare it to the original version. Look at the differences and tell me this isn’t a big improvement.

The nine pages of distortion are up next. I have no idea how long they’ll take to produce – Incursion is a formatting minefield and so far, everything’s been Just Different Enough that I really have no idea what to expect in terms of time consumption.

As usual, you’ll know when I do.

Where’s that heavy machinery?

The ATC production blog from 2003 through to October of 2008 was left out of the 2008.10 migration to Movable Type 4. As part of the 2013.10 migration from Movable Type 4 to WordPress 3.X, I’m back-dating this post to whatever the blog equivalent of pole position is. Not as an indication that I have any intent to restore the old blog data but as a less-than-loud announcement that I don’t. As most of the blog is muttering about the website and commentary on the now long-complete Second Edition of The Dualist, there’s a good chance I may clean things up even further before ATCv11 goes live. I pulled the ejection cord on the older blog data as a means of sweeping an extended period of grumpiness under the rug – and given the overall tone of ATC metadata that was either an exercise in futility or my sense of what constitutes “acceptable for ATC” has changed considerably over the last five years. Regardless of what happens to the blog posts imported from the MT4 database, the only corroborating evidence that ATC existed prior to the publish date of this post is the metadata of the posts themselves.

08:58 < solios> fagbot: atc?
08:58 < fagbot> somebody said atc was Dan’s Realdoll or Alcohol, Tobacco & Cantaloupes or Air Traffic Control or Around The Clock or Advanced Technology Center or Actually Totally Coherent