Cinematically, the camera starts to truck forward from the last panel of the previous page, nudging the sun out of frame as it centers on the Castores. The Daedalus slowly brakes into shot, coasting to a relative stop as it matches speed with the cruiser.

Finally, some new space hardware! The Foundation class was always going to debut in chapter three of Transitional Voices, and when that looked like it was going to happen in 2009 instead of 2014 I used some downtime to get a head start on the hull. I started the Banshee in 2008 and finished it in late 2012 and early 2013 for use in Water (and onward). With the Foundation class, I wound up throwing out the old 2008 hull and starting fresh for a number of reasons. The first revision was blocky and ugly as hell, full of mistakes and would have relied heavily on texturing to break up vast expanses of flatness. The Daedalus already meets all of those requirements in a 2005 design that’s lasted nine years and counting. The Banshee was stuck in limbo for five years before it finally debuted, so given the general age of assets the prospect of spending time blowing the dust off of another five year old project and spending a week or more finishing it just wasn’t appealing. The new Foundation took significantly less time to model, looks a hell of a lot better, and has the added benefit of being a modern design – sketched out and thought through over the winter and based on the original but better in every way.

It feels good to finally get some genuinely new design work into the comic. Over the next couple of pages more new stuff will be showing up – all state of the art, all looking pretty sweet in the context of ATC art direction. Yay!

While I’m out of buffer and still have to start rendering work on the next page, I’ve made a number of major advances in chapter planning and production over the past few weeks – not just the Castores. The chapter is now fully laid out and the majority of the remaining pages are placement-lettered* and ready for rendering. As a result of having complete layouts I now have a short list of what assets I’ll need for the remainder of the chapter. I’ve always known roughly what that list was going to look like but it turns out I can cut a few corners, which is a really good thing. As much as I enjoy 3d modeling I am going to need to actually draw some pages at some point, and the general shape of the chapter from here on makes for a couple of good-sized blocks of rendering and art. Two major assets (the Castores and the Daedalus cargo bay) are complete, and the “glider” will be finished-on-the-outside this afternoon. I’m giving myself until Wednesday to work on it, after which I’m going to have to drop it to start work on 3.20 if I want to post it in time. I started work on the asset on the 10th so that should hopefully be enough time to finish it up. If it isn’t, layouts give me an additional week or so if I need it, though I’d prefer to use that time for rendering. AND POSSIBLY DRAWING!

In other news, the last time I set foot in a Pittsburgh bar (or any bar) was April 13, 2013. A lonely night at the Lava Lounge went sideways when a par-for-the-course horrible time with the regulars escalated into an exchange of some truly vile invective. No physical violence was involved but I left the bar that night feeling depressed, despondent, and other negative emotions beginning with the letter D. Mentally mugged and finally Sick Of This Shit. 2013 was already shaping up to be The Year I Quit Everything, so it seemed natural to scale that up to the Lava Lounge, and from there the “FUCK THIS!” very quickly expanded to include all bars and club nights and any and all locations with alcohol and smoking of any kind. I didn’t actually Stop Drinking Alcohol until later in the month, so I’m not yet at my One Year Sober anniversary. There’s no actual record of that. There is a journal record of my last night in a bar so I’m totally observing it. I’ve managed to not buy alcohol or Go Out the past couple of times my bank balance has oh-so-briefly tipped above Immediate Expenses, so maybe it’s stuck. We’ll see. Money-as-a-renewable-resource and inescapable emotional and social shittiness is what drove me to drink in the first place. Money-as-a-non-renewable-resource has dried me out and I’ve spent a good chunk of the last year dealing with some of that emotional badness while keeping social anything at arms length. Now that it’s been weeded out, vice that costs money just can’t take root in my current ecosystem. For the time being, anyway.

All this has happened before. This is the first time there’s a real possibility that all of this won’t happen again.

Huzzah.

Right, time to get this up and get back to work!

NEXT WEEK: PLOT! And SPACE! And possibly SPACE-PLOT!

* Most comics "leave room for lettering." ATC starts with the text loosely positioned in frame and shots are composed with the placement dialogue set as background reference to make sure there's enough room in the frame for both the art and the words. It's not an absolute but it generally doesn't change much - for example with the present page, DMT was initially inexplicably in panel two, and the line of dialogue in panel four was at the top right of the frame. Final positioning of the line in panel two changed a bit post-rendering; panel four dialogue was moved to fill a natural gap in the composition, and the placement in panel three didn't change at all.

Glossary Articles

  • Castores

    A Foundation class heavy cruiser, the Castores is a long endurance survey ship leased by Expert Technologies with a Templar command crew officially following up on first-pass charts plotted by smaller Discovery class ships....

  • Daedalus

    A Javelin class Am-capable high speed cargo transport, the Daedalus is the property of ex-Templar Captain John West. The workhorse of a shady courier service run out of the Australian outback in a nearby...

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