Archive for November, 2006

Franken-illustrating

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

So one of my main subjects to draw (over and over and over again…) is the shape of a 15 year old boy. I’m not worrying much over what the boy looks like in the details, as most of the representations of David are done in silhouette. You’d think finding reference for a Random Boy would be easier since I’m just looking for the outer edge. This is SO not true. Silhouettes can very easily look cartoony if they are too simple, but traced and lumpy/unclear if they are too detailed.

Finding the reference has been a challenge — especially when googling for images of “shirtless boy”… at work, oh my — but I finally found a resource that may very well never run dry: Boy Bands.

It turns out every country, every language, every era has a species of boy band, and I intend to look at them ALL. I can’t use a majority of the images because the poses can be just RIDICULOUS, especially for my needs. But they are frequently in interesting, almost useable poses, and semi-frequently shirtless. So I’ve taken to sketching out PIECES of them and then frankenstein-ing them together to get what I want. A leg here, a different leg there, this guy’s hair, this guy’s arm… and voila, I’ve got something I can use.

Success! Next stop? the Tiger Beat archives…

Recharge!

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

I got into a serious art-groove on Saturday night and it was GLORIOUS. It was that zone where everything you are writing/painting/drawing comes out well. It’s like your run-of-the-mill motivation, except it seems to come with an extra oomph, a more vivid flavor with a dozen more ponies of horse-power helping drive it along. I used to be ‘on’ more regularly when I was in school, but five years of working from 9 to 5 has a way of sucking that passion out of you (”But it’s a school night! I couldn’t possibly!”).

It was great timing, seeing as how I’m trying to get some artwork done while my last editor takes SoD out for a spin. I got the… we’ll call it an “itch”… about 4 in the afternoon and after working feverishly until 8 went and got the biggest pumpkin spice latte that Starbucks would give me to prolong the effect. The whole thing meant I made a big step in completing the cover image, and I also took a chunk out of the website.

I’m hoping the long weekend coming up for Thanksgiving will allow me the time — if not the magical get-it-done power of last Saturday — to get some more good work in.

What’s your story about?

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

So in participating in Podcamp Pittsburgh, I was frequently asked what my story is about.

The answer is: …that’s a really good question.

Most of my on-the-spot replies were rushed and kind of jumbled, which unfortunately gives the impression to whoever I’m speaking to that I don’t know what I’m talking about. To the contrary, I think it’s a good story and although it might be a little abstract, it’s actually still very clear and concise. Unfortunately, my inability to describe it in relatable terms makes me sound pretty stupid. That stinks.

So I’m working on a good reply to this question, as it seems to be popping up more and more. With the release date of the website coming Jan 1st I should probably get a little sumation straight, especially if I am going to try and get out there and find readers. I don’t know that I’m going to put that much effort into it, but it would be good to have a stock answer regardless… so I’m adding that to my list of (many) things still left to do.

An interesting side note: after podcamp and meeting so many people face-to-face that were actually interested in what I was doing, I went googling for other writers while I was riding high on positive feelings. Unfortunately, the sites I found weren’t especially encouraging. The web gives people a level of anonyminity that seems to zap the politeness — or downright civility — out of any conversation or critique. Granted, I only checked a few sites during my workday and did a lot of source-jumping… but there’s a lot of people out there that are just mean.

I just write for fun, and I enjoy it at that level. While I’m not opposed to criticism and I do want to get better, I’m not really up for putting myself up on the chopping block for somebody that got a Masters in Literary Bashing.

Hopefully I’ll be able to find some more constructive resources out there later. In the meantime, any suggestions?

Podcamp Pittsburgh

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

Wow. WOW. While I usually reserve this portion of the blogging world exclusively for story stuff, the inspiration I experienced this weekend is just too great to leave out. And inspiration counts for a lot.

I spent this weekend volunteering at the Podcamp Pittsburgh UNconference, which was primarily organized by Justin Kownacki, the writer/producer of Something to be Desired and general good friend of mine. While I signed up (and signed ON) mostly for his involvement and my fiancé’s interest in technology, I got more out of the entire experience than I could have hoped.

“Podcamp” insinuates “podcast”, but it was so much more than that. There were people there representing all sorts of areas: blogging, vlogging, podcasting, all sorts of video content, comics… and other things that I’m sure I am leaving out. People showed up to learn and absorb, to interact and network, to teach. Most importantly, everybody showed up with their sharing caps on, spreading the love on ideas and methods and processes in whatever their media of choice happened to be.

I was only able to attend three of the sessions between running around like a maniac, but I found them each to be informative, fun and wonderfully informal. I imagine some sessions at other conferences can be stuffy and intimidating. This was nothing like that. The format was flexible, user-driven, and one that encouraged everyone’s participation. My brain is churning like crazy right now with sweet, vibrant potential, even hours after it is all said and done.

I learned so much, and I hope everybody there took home a lot too. If I had to single something out, however, I think what I enjoyed most was the fantastic sense of community. “New media” is a tricky thing –- “new” anything always is. But whatever you are doing, there’s other people out there doing it too. The Unconference gave the opportunity for a bunch of these similar people to get together and talk/learn about their various subjects. Not in a “I’m gonna steal your stuff” kind of way, but rather a “Hey, I’m winging it right now too, let’s trade ideas so that our separate goals can be awesome”.

I met some truly incredible people/companies/organizations. If you look at the official site, you’ll see all the sponsors that helped out, and I think nearly everyone that registered online gave some way to contact them or get more information. There’s a lot of cool people out there doing very cool things.

The bonus? It all happened in Pittsburgh, a city that continues to grow on me the longer I live here. Finding out there is a sizable community for this sort of thing in the ‘Burgh is so encouraging and refreshing. From what I understand there are six more Podcamps planned across North America over the next eight months. If you are within a reasonable distant of one, I would highly suggest checking it out. If you have an idea, story, or message –- they will help you find a way to communicate it.

Here’s hoping there will be a Podcamp Pittsburgh ‘07!

…and here’s hoping we go to Tiki Bar again!

“Ahem.”

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

I don’t know who in the world would be reading this, or if they would have some sort of written piece they are creating (or refining) like I am, but since I’m sharing:

Read it out loud.

I received and integrated the changes from my last two editors, and I figured that it might be a good idea for me to comb through it yet again before my final person. I printed it out and was going through it with the trusty red pen. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really finding much, so I went looking for another method for editing. I eventually remembered I’d heard that reading out loud is good for finding problems. I do that for single sentences and paragraphs, but I’ve never tried it for an entire manuscript. I don’t typically like the sound of my own voice, but nobody was home and I figured why not.

WOW, is it making a difference. I’m making at least three times the changes I would have otherwise. Whether it’s word choice or how it reads or flows… or the repetition of certain words or phrases or even descriptions; I would have passed over much of it by simply reading silently. I’m not keen on reading 200 pages out loud — I’m not a great actress — but the difference is extraordinary.

Here’s hoping the improvements come across in the final manuscript.