Dived into the highest priority of this week’s to-do list after posting 3.05 yesterday. I had no idea how long that particular task would take and had carved out the rest of the day (and night) for it. Much to my surprise the work evolved from bits and pieces into a solid production draft in what felt like a matter of minutes (but was probably more like two or three hours). With 3.06 ready for art, 3.07 rendered and 3.08 starting to chug… what else was I going to do? Get drunk? Play video games?
To my surprise as much as anyones, I neither got drunk nor played video games last night. I had a nightcap and took a brief l1-running break between my video task and starting on the page, sure. These were casual rather than obsessive actions, for a change. Pencils, inks, cleanup, flat color, cleanup, initial assembly and cleanup were done last night. This afternoon, shading and cleanup, then shading and cleanup, then cleanup, then finally some cleanup and then a bit more cleanup. I’m exaggerating, but only a bit – there are 20 individual drawings on the page (17 character illustrations plus the three instances of Aleph’s hand – if you’re coming up different take a close look behind and below Aleph’s boot in panel six, Lang’s poking out down there!), and despite inking going phenomenally well there were the inevitable errors. I didn’t go totally anal, but there has been a fair amount of scrubbing.
Unlike the last page, there haven’t been any major script changes. I may have added or removed a word or two, but not, like, lines. Layouts do again differ from the thumbnails, taking the physical size of dialogue and relative character position into account – and, in the case of panel three, the environment. Thumbnails are, ultimately, just a guide. While laying out before modeling does save time on geometry, modeling with somewhat reasonable proportions and loading in cameras – actual perspective – has a tendency to present fresh challenges more often than not. Sometimes this saves time (panel one), sometimes it adds work (panels two and three), sometimes it’s a big improvement (last panel).
Camera position in panel six is “foreshadowed” in the last panel of the previous page – a minor prop I didn’t want to overly obsess on, it was the first object to be imported from the Bedlam “set,” and opened the floodgates for the rest of the tchotchkes.*
This is page 460 (well out of sequence and possibly mis-counted), and the first time Tartarus has been mentioned. I think. In the story, anyway – I may have muttered about it in metadata at some point, but I doubt it. While it’s framed as a passing reference, this is the first point in the modern timeline that it’s come up – while Aleph may not remember what she’s talking about now, well… we’ll get there. When we do, careful readers will delight, casual readers will be confused, and I’ll probably blurb at great length about polycounts and rendering times instead of my basic understanding of the real science I based the fictional “science” on.
Sometimes I think I need to loosen up about that and talk more freely about plot details in the metadata. Then I think back to when I was loose with it, in the early stages of The Dualist – a lot of that chatter turned out to be drivel, and huge tracts of it have been rewritten or revised out of existence in the script or in the universe entries. While those are ultimately the bits that matter, nothing is canon until it’s in print. Muttering about bits that aren’t on the page can be misleading at best, and one hell of a distraction for me (and you) at worst. It also makes the old metadata look a bit deranged in some places.
I was, if memory serves, more prone to talk about the plot when it was fresh in my head – back when the production process was far less structured and I was still figuring things out. These days by the time it’s time to draw a page the struggle with the slice of the story it represents is weeks or months old, and polygons and photoshop are on my mind. If I’m ruminating on plot, it’s pieces of DCR.4 and .5 or the rest of Transitional Voices – and I’m not about to talk about those near an open mic. No sir.
460 (if the count is right), with 30 pages left of the chapter and a very roughly estimated forty or fifty or sixty pages to go after that. I’ll hit two goals in the process of finishing DCR – another book down, and somewhere in there… page 500. Crazy. I might actually be able to hit that this year. In the the immediate, achievable term – six pages down is one sixth of the chapter. Mathematically, that’s where DCR.2 resumed after a year-plus hiatus. DCR.3 had a bit of a slump between the cover and page one – while production will doubtless slump between scenes, it is a priority for 2011. At this point, it seems like an achievable goal.
Totally unrelated – I want May back. “Back” may be a bit of a stretch, as Pittsburgh hasn’t had proper May weather yet.** Hell, April was an extended, irregular March, ending in a couple of really nice days before falling off the wagon, regressing into the bitter, greasy clamminess of a Pittsburgh March. The stone cold sunless shittiness Seattle is famous for. They may get the rep, but our geography feeds on this soul-sucking grayness. It is, I suspect, the unspoken reason people leave this town.
We do get our fair share of sunny days, of nice days. But this town is prone to Gray Funks, and when it gets into one, it does so whole-heartedly and with extreme prejudice. It rubs off, sinks in, and rots.
Seven’s about ready for line art, and the rendering on eight has slipped back a bit. Hell, everything has slipped back a bit. It’s a Billy Pilgrim kind of week, incrementing forward. Somebody left Time in the microwave, and now it’s all… runny.
The five-day – long an exercise in futility in this town, as it changes (sometimes dramatically) every few hours – claims it’ll be warming up over the next couple of days. Hopefully it does – a lukewarm gray funk, I can handle. We’re into month eight of fairly frequent cold gray funks, and while they’ve proven non-lethal in terms of property damage and lives, the cold gray funk is the equivalent of three day old refrigerated oatmeal for the soul.
Yeah, I can live on it. But I wouldn’t say no to a hot meal.
* Technically this "set" reuses and re-dresses kit from the Daedalus bridge (workstation keyboard), the BMRI aboard Orbital (monitor mounts and desk chairs), and Bedlam (cameras, sink, a table, and a locker). Trivial bits, and an enormous time savings.
** I’ve lived here for fourteen (!) years and I can definitely say we’ve never had a May. The weather usually goes January February March April June July August August September. This year it’s gone January February March March March, with occasional glimmers of April and hints of May.