HWA snow scene v3 animatic

V3 animatic of a scene from Here We Are, created in Clip Studio Paint.

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November 2020 was spent on HWA chapter 12, December 2020 was spent on roaches and Matchy Snatchy with Bea, so this entry mainly details the labour that I spent in January 2021 on the next pass of HWA snow scene (see V1 and V2). Everything is still quite janky, but it's starting to come together. I'm cartoon Grinch smirking...

screenshot of pencil sketch of some rough animation frames, with a few steps of onion skinning on (previous frames are in red, following frames are in green lines). The drawing itself shows some people in the foreground, wearing graduation garb. In the mid-ground, an original character is tugging on his graduation gown hood with his left arm, while looking towards the left of the screen. It is snowing.

IDK the formal term for these animation passes, but I call v3 "the more refined" pencil pass with details and whatnots:

  • solid bodies and key poses - mostly done
  • timing - had to space things out because some motions/actions were moving too fast/compressed
  • clothing - barely roughed in, needs refinement; I don't even know how to draw clothing in static, let alone in motion...
  • hair - didn't pay attention, needs refinement
  • inbetween frames - added a lot more, but still needs refinement
  • sound/music - just plunked in, not leveled at all

screenshot of pencil sketch of some rough animation frames, with a few steps of onion skinning on (previous frames are in red, following frames are in green lines). The drawing itself shows a character walking towards the right-hand side of the screen, reaching his arm out to another character on the right-side. There are other people in graduation gowns in the background, as well as trees.

The bane of my existence is the graduation cap. All hats have mystery perspective and foreshortening that defies my logic and I can't visualize it in my head at all. Why Austin, do you have so many hats? I cut out a square piece of cardboard from a cereal box for reference, but it's something I have to revisit again in v4.

Animation seems like one of those things that you can endlessly futz with forever; the more you do it, the more you realize how much work is left to be done. For those who know how I draw (at least for my personal work), I'm not a person who tends to iterate very much at all, so drawing the same thing over and over again (animation) is counter to every fibre in my body. I believe myself to be quite silly for doing this project given how much work there is to be done, but now I'm committed...as to not let the contributors down, hahaha.

screenshot of pencil sketch of some rough animation frames, with a few steps of onion skinning on (previous frames are in red, following frames are in green lines). The drawing itself shows a graduation gown-wearing character with black hair in a low bun, walking from right to left, across the screen.

Seeing my characters "come alive" is pretty interesting! There's another level of visual storytelling/communication around the nuances of how characters move. A while back, Bea told me about Laban movement analysis. She thought that Austin would move more steady and gracefully (like a bear), while Jake was a bit more jittery (like a squirrel), so I tried to incorporate those aspects into how they appear on screen. I will say that this scene requires everyone to be a bit awkward and lacking confidence, so nobody is moving quite like their normal selves here.

Another thing that was interesting was trying to time mouth movements to audio speech. At some point I drew the mouths in more visually obvious ways, but when it played in animation it looked like a joke HAHA...like weird unnatural mouth movements where you're trying to purse your lips too hard! It was hilariously BAD! I still have some more work to do here.

Screenshot of the Clip Studio Paint timeline window, which shows audio tracks with "labels" associated with them to help with timing along key frames

I'm grateful for some of these "labeling" features in the CSP timeline that roughly give me a sense of where words are landing. Geez, CSP is really incredible. I want to reiterate that I love Bradley and Eddy's voices for the characters! Bradley really nailed the warm and more mature sound for Austin. He did a different voice for Fung in my game, Come for a Drink, who was more arrogant and sarcastic (well, at least that's my perception), so it was neat to hear the differences. Eddy played the awkward vulnerability of Jake so well—I was feeling second hand embarrassment at how his lines were delivered (appropriately). The whispered curse at the end—!! Hearing their different takes was wonderful and they're both a pleasure to work with.

screenshot of pencil sketch of some rough animation frames, with a few steps of onion skinning on (previous frames are in red, following frames are in green lines). The drawing itself shows a character with hi back facing the viewer, progressively turning towards his left side to face the camera. in the background, there are trees and snow.

After I blew the scope of this animation between V1 and V2, I realized I needed an entirely different piece of music than the one I originally commissioned from Nos (for a different scene). I asked some musical friends what kind of instruments reminded them of snow: plucked strings, Kalimba, wooden xylophones, etc.! Then PowersWithin took those as inspiration (as well as the previous piece by Nos) and composed a snowy song that is perfect!

Now that I've used Reuben Lara's CSP animation tutorial tips and shortcuts earnestly, I can say that they're all AMAZING for workflow efficiency. Programming my tablet's buttons to have back/forward movement between keyframes? YES! Auto-numerating keyframes? YES! AND there's so much more!!!

Hopefully I'll be able to make more progress before my life is consumed by playing Yakuza 3-6 on PC, starting January 28...

Today's music post: Susumu Yokota's - A1. Zenmai from the album Acid Mt. Fuji (remastered).

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It's Sabina's (HWA) birthday today!

A collage of two side-by-side images. The left image shows an inked drawing of an original character looking somewhat surprised while holding a an open notebook with her left hand. The character has wavy hair and is wearing a hooded coat and backpack. The right image is the same as the left, but coloured in with grey watercolour tones.

I often chat with Benjamin Rivers who is a comic artist and game maker! He has a new comic continuation of one of his games, Worse Than Death.

We got into the topic of real g-nibs and art supplies, which led to us talking about how hearing the feedback of a real nib on paper can be a form of ASMR. I got fountain pens so I didn't have to constantly re-dip into ink. A video of the drawing and inking portion (not the painting portion haha) is below.

Materials:

  • Paper - not sure, probably Canson or Strathmore watercolour paper
  • Mechanical pencil - Kurutoga 0.5mm
  • Fountain pen - Platinum carbon black desk pen (with Platinum carbon black ink)
  • Brush pen - Pentel pocket brush
  • Eraser - Unknown...
  • Watercolour - some mystery mix of brown and blues...

Today's music post: Agua De Rosa - Rooftop Mix by Angelica Garcia & Sinego

JAnniversary

4-panel gag comics featuring Jake and Austin from Here We Are

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December 20 is a special day for Here We Are!!

In personal celebration of this day, I have prepared some poorly drawn, wholesome, and extremely cheesy 4-panel comics!!!

There are spoilers for anything post-chapter 11.

Two 4-panel comic strips, featuring characters (Jake and Austin) from Here We Are webcomic. First strip is titled "Naturally Romantic" and shows Jake being embarrassed by "sweet" things that Austin says. Second strip is titled "Intimacy Anxiety" and shows Jake spiralling into anxiety about how to reciprocate affection.

Two 4-panel comic strips, featuring characters (Jake and Austin) from Here We Are webcomic. First strip is titled "Competitive Romance I" and shows Jake getting fired up to learn how to be romantic. He looked up tips on the internet and settles on buying matching heart-shaped lucky bamboo plants for himself and Austin. Second strip is titled "Competitive Romance II" and shows Jake visiting Austin's place and asking Austin about how the lucky bamboo plant is doing. Austin's lucky bamboo plant is thriving, which Jake attributes to the fact that Austin is a tree nerd. Austin goes on a wiki-fact-style-barrage, which reminds Jake about how Austin is a huge nerd. Austin tells Jake that the plant is taken EXTRA good care of because it's a gift from Jake.

Two 4-panel comic strips, featuring characters (Jake and Austin) from Here We Are webcomic. First strip is titled "Competitive Romance III" and shows Jake trying to write a letter to Austin. The letter begins as "Hi Austin, You're a nice guy. You have nice eyelashes." Jake promptly realizes that he is an idiot for even trying. Second strip is titled "Competitive Romance IV" and shows Jake reading a tip about how to smile and look into a partner's eyes. He feels NOT confident about trying this, as his lip twitches uncomfortably the next time he is around Austin. Austin notices Jake staring and him, lip quivering, and wonders if Jake is hungry. Jake feels his failure deeply.

Two 4-panel comic strips, featuring characters (Jake and Austin) from Here We Are webcomic. First strip is titled "Competitive Romance V" and shows Jake giving up on trying to beat Austin at romance, because Austin's charisma stat is too high level. He slumps over Austin in defeat, leading to Austin feeling very charmed. Second strip is titled "Raccoon" and shows Austin asking Jake about a plush raccoon in Jake's apartment. Jake tells Austin about the childhood plush, and Austin (in his own skewed vision) things that they (Jake and the raccoon) are equally cute, fiesty, vulnerable, and hungry looking. Austin is charmed by this pairing/revelation and hugs them both.

These two are so helplessly uncool...but I clearly love them...but this time, the raccoon has stolen my heart.

Today's music post: Paradise (Stay Forever) by Barry "Epoch" Topping from the Paradise Killer soundtrack.

HWA ch12 pages from draft to tone

WIP showing draft to final pages for HWA comic.

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Here We Are arc 2 begins with chapter 12, or you can read from the beginning!

WIP for chapter 12 is below (spoilers!)

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The chapter was originally designed to be 12 pages, but I had too much required text and I had to insert more pages to get it all to fit. Yeah I know my text size is gigantic compared to most webcomics, but my eyeballs aren't getting any younger!

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Today's music post: Maria 마리아 by Hwasa 화사.

HWA snow scene v2 animatic

Animatic of a scene from Here We Are, created in Clip Studio Paint.

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My goal for September was to make more progress on HWAnimation, which I did, but the scope also grew (my v1, 10 second version turned into...30, haha), so all my timelines need to be rejigged.

I followed Aaron Blaise's Fundamentals of Animation course. He had great voice over about what he was thinking while drawing, which allowed you to make notes and take those considerations into your own work. I watched them each once and then did my own follow-along afterwards. I tried to not be too precious/perfectionist about any of the drawing, since I'm not hoping to become an animation master...just want to know enough to get by, haha.

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Reuben Lara's Clip Studio Paint: Animation Basics videos got into workflow/production/program optimization, which I REALLY appreciated. Now I have all the fancy keyboard and quick-access iconography shortcuts! I even re-programmed the buttons on my tablet (though instinctively, I keep reaching for my keyboard). I love setting things up right ONCE at the beginning, so I can be as efficient as possible afterwards.

Here's the latest animatic pass (v2).

HWA comic

As for HWA arc 2, I've written an outline for it and started drawing chapter 12. Progress has been slower here as I've been mulling over themes and plot lines (and of course, generally being distracted by world news).

Game design

I also worked on some embargoed character designs for skyharborr's game Fox in the Hollylocks. A demo of the game can be found on itch.io, which I played a few years back and enjoyed. I really like Rei's storytelling and visual art style, so I look forward to how it all turns out!

October "dailies"

I'm doing #tamagoctober (drawing 1 tamagotchi a day) and hopefully daily exercises (with fountain pen!!!) from Alphonso Dunn's Pen & Ink Workbook with #dunn31 (it rhymes)!

New blog CMS

I'm back to Bludit for this freetalk blog and very glad to have things like tags/categories auto-generated, as well as the flat-file commenting function! Woo! Sorry to the 0 people who may have subscribed to the old RSS feed...you'll have to resubscribe to the new URL if you did. I like Kirby but the coding required to get it to do what I needed to (without messing up the rest of my website) was too much for my brain to handle.

Physical exercise

The final shocking news is that I've been trying to exercise ~15-30 minutes, 6x a week (I slowly ramped up to this cadence over September). So far it's a mix of yoga, 7-minute workout (I hate and still can't do push-ups), and lifting my cast iron pan (haha). Sometimes I'll do meditation if I really can't bring my body to workout properly. My city is in wave 2 pandemic (to nobody's surprise) so 6+ months of barely walking around outside with the non-mask-wearing folk in crowded downtown, is definitely catching up to me. I think my body now revolts if I don't exercise. What...a conundrum.

Today's music post: Chloe x Halle performing "Do It".

Austin x Fountain pen

FPR Himalaya v2 GT in saffron orange acrylic.

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Living my best shameless life by combining 2 of my nerdy passions: original characters (OCs) and fountain pens!! The main reason that I'm posting is because it's Austin's birthday (September 24) according to HWA lore! I actually don't really think much about their birthdays, but now that the dates are written in my planner, I see it and feel guilty if I don't do anything, haha.

So here it is, Austin, drawn with fountain pen ink that I have on hand.

The specific pen I paired with Austin is the Fountain Pen Revolution (FPR) Himalaya v2 GT, saffron orange acrylic body, steel EF ultra flex nib. I always associate him with orange plaid/checks, so a orange patterned acrylic body felt suitable. He is also more warm overall, so gold-tone or brassy accents were appropriate. Two-tone steel flex nib, well, he is a flexible kind of guy (in many ways...).

I didn't have any patterned pens in my collection so this was a welcome addition. The pen is more saturated orange IRL, and also has depth, pearlescence, and some opacity. Photos below are more accurate to the IRL colours!

OC-nerdery aside, the pen did take quite a bit of tinkering/reseating the feed and nib/heat setting to get working properly. Seems to be a trend with my ebonite feed pens. I currently have Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake ink sample loaded in it. I'm not great at writing with flex, but the pen also writes wet and a-okay without pressure; it's a fun writer. The FPR ultra-flex is a LOT more responsive to downward pressure (leading to flex/separation of tines) than the Rangapens kanwrite flex nib; closer to the responsiveness of a Nikko G-nib, perhaps? I have a natural tendency to write fast, so my flex writing does tend to railroad because the ink doesn't fully keep up right now (though I don't mind that effect, nor do I plan to always flex write).

My photos don't do justice to the ink colours! All of the inks I used (minus the black) have really nice shading:

Austin is unlikely to use a fountain pen in his EDC. He's more of a Fisher pen, Pokka pens, pencils, and Rite in the Rain guy. Probably used that stuff when he was out in the field for grad school. He needs the all-weather stuff!

Happy birthday Austin! A real gift birthday gift to Austin, would be a Jake, so...

Today's music post: Sly5thAve's The First 8 Minutes [ATCQ "Find a Way" Tribute] feat. The ClubCasa Chamber Orchestra.