100 Days of SPREY – 21

Today marks the beginning of a new phase, the second phase of the hundred days of making Street Prey(SPREY) and I really feel the pull. I wouldn‘t have thought it, but by planning this event I might have programmed myself unconsciously to actually cross a barrier like with a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now the pace indeed got faster with tons of ideas what to do and how to improve things.

Unfortunately that means new uncertainty, too. I‘m not even in my familiar void now. So to keep creeping anxiety down I remind myself: I do have a base product, and that is drawing and releasing at least one panel for SPREY a day. If I decided to stop evolving here and never did anything again to improve myself, it would still work. If I had to, I could do this for the rest of my life. Now that is a base to work from, isn‘t it? I did not say that this will produce a stellar or the best possibele outcome, but I can tell, it will work and I will come through with the story. And that is what counts when you promise readers a story. You must finish it. Deliberations about quality come second. Now of course, if you finish a story but do it badly, you can still disappoint your readers. But nothing is worse than abandoning the story half-told.

Now the next big source of disappointment for my readers that I want to avoid is making false promises about what the story is about. I am aware that SPREY has one big tone shift in it that is not so apparent early on, but this changes nothing about the story. You actually get exactly what I layed out in chapter 1 as weird as that sounds. It is a romance first that tries to exclude the cruel world around it as well as the interior conflicts inside of the lovers but in the end can‘t. Their love that they are holding to even is the thing that forces them to change and ground themselves in reality more in order to survive and to keep the love alive.

Also I dared to think outside of my own box for a day. Is SPREY indeed more of a storyboard than an actual comic? I conclude, it is an actual comic. Very much simplified, a storyboard is like the recipe to craft something else, an animation or movie, while the comic is meant to be read itself. You can enjoy SPREY on it‘s own. The interactive elements add to the unique experience of SPREY and running through this for the first time. Not knowing the actual other endings but being aware there are decisions to make that influence it changes the experience. It is almost like in real life. Yes, you can make choices and change your course any day. But will you truly ever know what would have happened if you did or did not do something? Would you even want to browse through the other endings if you could? Experience can only give you an estimation where you might come out in the end later, hindsight analysis is a painful tool at times, but very good for learning. I guess neither me nor the readers that are here with me will be able to recreate this specific first run of SPREY ever and I‘m rolling with and honoring the experience.

So I conclude, SPREY is indeed an interactive romance comic. That is the unshakeable core of it. I shook it myself to make sure. I will take a closer look at the genre and world in the next blog entry. Note how the setting doesn‘t even matter for the core. The next layer of things gives my story a coat and more personality maybe. It is quirky already with the interactive elements, though.

100 Days of SPREY – 13

The 100 days of making Street Prey (SPREY) made an interesting turn this week.

I was about to say, on the outside nothing changed or will change, I‘m just doing business as usual with SPREY for another week, every day – but then with the last possible panel of the week a dramatic change took place.

My black outlines and soft airbrush coloring coexisted for a while. Suddenly, black inky shadows appeared. They felt so natural, it was as if I was just uncovering more of the picture as it was meant to be. It‘s not wrong. I love dramatic black shadows and chiaroscuro (which will undoubtedly be the endgame of this). I was just not expecting it would shift now.

In a way this is exactly how the black colored pencil foundation snuck in towards the end of chapter 1. I appreciate it when I can „kill“ most of the lighting decisions with the decision black or not black. Mastering this simplicity is not easy and you should definitely aim for at least a 3 value system in the long run I have heard…but for now, why actually not? SPREY is gritty unless Rich and Willard have a romantic moment. Also, why don‘t I just make the jump and adopt that style for my other works, too, to get better at it? Or is this the last rebellion of the chrome effect brush that I will sacrifice when I change to Clip Studio Paint for a while to see whether this helps me to do a better job?

My performance this week feels not as good as last week, my exhausted Thursday and Saturday cost me dearly, but did not throw me out of schedule. The concept art gig needs only one more session until I deliver to the client again. It would be great if the Manul Zine would be finished the upcoming week, so after the concept art is out, this one gets priority.

Today I thought something that I have never thought before: „No, you won‘t do 5 more environment thumbnails right now. You already did five and you are tired. You would rush them and not learn a thing. Come back tomorrow“ And I could not argue with that. Is that …the reprimanding voice of experience?

See you again next blogpost!

100 Days of SPREY – Day 07

That one is worth a blog entry. Before and while drawing the panel of the day I felt dissonance. The environments I can draw with reference for my daily studies look so much better than anything that I can currently design myself and put into my comic. But it is enough to get the shots done at all. That is of value as well. I just have been bitten by the ambition bug and would wish to do better. I start having a clue how to get there, but I‘m afraid the path will lead through many many more environments that do not turn out like I would desire they would. I guess I should also use the references I use for the studies more loose, change up angles and try to invent other views. I‘m already inventing different light and color all the time, why not experiment with more? That will train my brain to be more agile with construction (hopefully). We shall see how that turns out!

I‘m also very happy that today saw the release of another blogpost of the restructuring series. Only one to go and one key thing of phase I of this challenge is through! I really can‘t complain! But I always want more.

See you next blogpost!

100 Days of SPREY – Days 01, 02

Above: recent panel from my webcomic Street Prey, great as illustration for the rather abstract themes of the following blogpost.

This was not the beginning of the challenge that I expected! Absolutely not! And it is another piece of evidence why your daily form does not matter in the long run.

I slept the whole first day and had five hours to compress the whole day into, then the following night I did not sleep at all and had more hours and freedoms than nature would let me have if I had slept. So I worked through two extremes following one after another and it barely made a difference for my comic or other projects. Everything hit it‘s daily goal. What is my secret?

I have a simple schedule.

I do not have my best self on my best days in mind when I plan my work. Most of my days tend to be average in mood, productivity and external factors that could keep me from drawing. I still plan with my worst days in mind, so that even me at my worst can complete the most important goal of the day. That is working on and releasing at least one panel of my webcomic every day. So if all goes wrong, I am still moving forward. If I have more time, energy and other ressources to spend the day in question I will of course invest in other projects of mine, but never more than 2 or in dire times like right now 3 at the same time. I am already looking forward to putting most of my energy into SPREY instead, maybe just to see how that is. We‘ll get there.

Also, some tasks never get less tedious, boring or annoying. An example – for whatever reason I can‘t stand working on zines, but I never regret it when I finish one and I always do my best to create them with love and care. It can just be very tedious to compile and edit the art and create additional text pages such as the imprint and so on. But it‘s part of creating a zine, too, so I can‘t have only the sugary sweet fruit parts like making the actual art for it and dismiss all other parts of the plant that made it possible to get to the fruit. What makes daily sessions on something you dislike bearable is never doing too much of it in my opinion. Better come again for hundred days and do a little bit every day than using your willpower and then throwing the thing after 14 days because you are fed up or bored beyond any limit without any visible result.

I would do you a disservice if I didn‘t mention one other unsung ingredient to beating resistance and creating your thing: experience. I talk of experience as the sum of things that you did, didn‘t and that happened to you on your journey through life. As an artist I probably have made so many mistakes already throughout the years that some of the simpler to fix mistakes just don‘t occur that often anymore

So: one bad day won‘t throw you off a cliff, one great day won‘t make you grow wings so that you never have to do tedious tasks again. A positive tendency over time is a great result. Think long term and build yourself up, one step at a time. A journey is a sequence of steps. How many steps are you willing to go? And steps back or off the road are also just little steps. It is surprising what effects our small daily decisions can have.

Good luck creating and see you next time!

Announcement – 100 Days of STREET PREY

edit: I have just decided to change the working title of my webcomic from just “PREY” to “STREET PREY” to distance it better from the awesome videogame series it has nothing to do with. The new nickname of the project is SPREY, a word that apparently doesn’t exist. Well, now it does.

I have an announcement to make! I will embark on a new 100 days challenge tomorrow! One of my favorite options was simply adding another 100 days of making comics on top of the previous ones. If something seems to work, why change it? But then I found a way to slightly pivot this into a more personal direction. Fellow artists Grant Roberts (his IG: grantrobertsart) suggested I could focus on my webcomic. First I was surprised…how to focus more on it? I was doing SPREY since weeks already!

But then it dawned upon me – was I really doing everything I could do in my power? No! Not in the slightest! Other friends keep calling me out on that, too, (and I‘m endlessly grateful for it, thank you all), but what kept me from acting differently in the past was that I simply didn‘t have more time and energy that I could invest into SPREY. I already did what I could.

And why was that?

SPREY had to share my attention with other projects such as the Manul Project and constant worries and confusion about where to go, what to do, what to commit to as a creator. The confusion was so bad that I was barely moving forward at times. I must have been quite unfocussed in the past and sneakily changed during the 100 days challenge. Working on SPREY daily has become my nature enough that I find it harder and harder to divert myself into working on more than a maximum of one thing on the side per day. I must have done that in the past a lot! A lot of hopping all over the place. And then being unhappy that I wasn‘t getting exceptionally good at anything or even…finishing things. And now I couldn‘t imagine being like that. I will admit, I still feel the echo of it though, whenever I turn another opportunity or new challenge down. I cannot do everything that sparks my curiosity for SPREY‘s sake. I feel, with this project I finally have the chance to go my personal path and I should not risk losing it again.

RULES

The 100 Days of SPREY is my very personal continuation of the original 100 days of making comics challenge and not connected to the challenge or it‘s official rules anymore.

But in order for it to be a challenge or a similar vehicle for transformation over time like the original 100 days, it must have rules.

1. I will continue updating SPREY daily, one panel at a time.

One panel a day seems like a working formula that I should not disturb.

2. I will blogpost at least once a week about it, Sundays, with a filled out report card.

While I love to blog and hold myself accountable over it, I might not have exciting things to say every day. So I will not blog and ramble just for blogging‘s sake. I also feel that sharing my daily panel is not that newsworthy anymore after it‘s working since more than two months now. My daily warm-ups are even less interesting unless I make a big technical discovery. They happen like a force of nature.

I have created a report card for the challenge using my experience from the first 100 days, where I can tick off the daily comic panel and other tasks related to my journey every day. You will meet it for the first time this Sunday and I will also share a blank with you so you can use the report card for your own projects if you like it.

3. Sunday itself is a compulsory rest day where the only art related work allowed is a single panel update on the SPREY comic.

This might sound like a stupid rule to you, but makes a lot of sense for me. I am a workaholic and no, that is not a cute quirk, that leads to long term problems, if left untreated. My sleep problems of recent might be a result of working seven days a week and never resting, not a bit. It is very important to relax and practise relaxation. You need breaks and that is not only for having new ideas when you allow yourself to disengange with work. I want to create all my life, so I need to stay as healthy and balanced as I can. In my opinion, a rest day like this is a great idea for a start.

4. The first phase of my challenge is to continue narrowing my focus on SPREY – „breathing out“ (approx. 30 days)

I will finish still running unrelated projects such as the Manul Project and not start or continue things on the side. Only exceptions are continuing the work and support on „Your Land“ and my freelance gigs. I hope to take no longer than a month (30 days) for this phase.

5. The second phase of my challenge is to actively grow SPREY – „breathing in“

I have a wishlist of things to try, look at, build and develop here, but this comes into play once I have created the room for it after working through phase 1.

See you tomorrow!