J250 – Important Announcement

[8/31/2009] That’s right, folks! Tomorrow, September 1, 2009, marks 5 years since Nonsense Wars started running (observed). Of course, we started (well, D started) working on the site before then, and we may have launched a few days before, but we’ve traditionally celebrated it on the 1st of September each year.

Unfortunately, there will be no booze (D and I are both underage; we’re also not in the same state at the current time). However, there will be THREE updates this week, on Monday (this one), Wednesday, and Friday, as we used to do when the comic first launched (gasp! I know, right?). This will probably not be a permanent new feature, but enjoy it for this week at least!

Until next week Wednesday, ciao~!

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[090829]

So apparently the idea is to commemorate the 5th anniversary of NWars by putting up three 4komas in a week like we did back in the old days (really for less than a year in the grand scheme of things). My comic doesn’t really have anything to do with NWars, but they’ll be 4komas, hopefully funny, and “fit the spirit of fail”.

So who are these people? Well, you will find out on the next update on Wednesday. Maybe it’s just the next comic. I’m not sure if we’re actually making whole new updates or just ammending this post. Whatever J feels like doing.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it for now. Wednesday and Friday should be longer.

J249 – When Things Were More Hardcore

[8/25/2009] Hello, one day late again. orz.

Anyway, I’ve decided to end the plotline sooner. It was dragging on, and wasn’t really that interesting anymore (nor was it that funny). So, here we are. Wrapping it up, heading back towards funneh (hopefully?)

We haven’t seen Em in the comics before, but we have seen her here. Wow, hard to believe it’s been over a year already. In another case of “designed really complicated so it looks cool but is too hard to draw again later” (The first case being this clock tower), Em took me a while to render properly. It was fun though. Her right arm … er, it’s detachable! Yeah, that!

Alright, that’s all for this week. Heading back to MIT soon … if any of you are there, you can come find me at any of the Anime Club’s events during Freshmen Orientation.

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[090825]

So it looks like the icons for my html files changed after I updated FireFox to 3.5. Interesting.

Apparently I had a Eureka moment whilst talking to J this weekend about what I was going to write for this update. Unfortunately, Eureka moments don’t stick in my memory as well as they should, so I don’t know what it was that I was going to write about anymore. This same pattern has actually been going on for the past couple of weeks, save that we’ve actually remembered the Eureka ideaa in the past.

Anyway, having not used it for more than a year now, I sold the monstrous Wacom Intuos3 that I bought way back in 2005 (almost exactly four years ago, actually). This is the picture that was originally in the aforelinked entry; you can see my super awesome Inspiron 500m and my super awesome Dell mousepad in the background. The kicker is that I got almost 85% of the original retail value for the thing; I’m amazed at how well this thing retained its value, being an electronic device and all. Has table technology really not gotten any better?

Though my TC4200 isn’t as accurate or sensitive as the true tablet, it’s way easier to work with on the whole. I figure that if I was ready to go back to a tablet, I could get a much smaller Intuos3 as I was only using like 30% of the space on the 9 x 12 tablet. The next time I need something that big, I’d hope that I’d have the money to get a small Cintiq or something along those lines. So yeah, no more USB tablet for me right now.

Speaking of the tablet, I’m working on the fourth all-tablet page right now and it’s taking FOREVER. It’s getting a little bit ridiculous and the worst part is that I don’t know why it’s taking so long. I don’t think I’m pushing too hard on the quality, and I don’t think I’m drawing an excessive amount of guidelines or anything, so I just don’t know. J says it’s prolly just a matter of pracitce, but it’s just a tad bit frustrating when I can hash out the pages in a couple of hours on paper with fairly good quality to boot.

Alright, gotta work on this damn page. That’s it for now.

Live Action Paintchat

[8/20/2009] Sorry for the delay, everyone. My laptop’s hard disk decided to go funny on me, so I’m typing this on another computer while I’m trying to fix it.

Anyway, today’s update is a “Live-Action Paintchat” that Derek and I did a few weekends ago while taking a break from watching Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai. We took a large sheet of paper (27″ x 34″) and went at it with nothing more than #2 pencils and Cray*la markers! Of course, the markers hadn’t been used in several years, so most of them had gone bad — note the scribbles near the bottom of the image as we tried to figure out which markers were still usable. It was a lot of (immature) fun getting those “kiddie” markers to work for our purposes, but it seems like something good to try again (this time with a set of more functional markers, hopefully).

Desktop-size resolution of today’s update here!

P.S.: This past weekend I was in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. While I was there, I spotted the following bench:

Not too far away was this:

Nice … Bench?

dcomic 514

[090816]

The archive links for part 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 don’t work right now… that’s intentional (or rather, it’s not that I don’t know it doesn’t work). The archives have been revised (final revision at that) and I haven’t bothered to upload the new revisions and change the links yet. Sooner or later, though.

While the Directorate arc has been complete for about a month now, it’s taken me that same time to finally get out a final revision. I’d estimate that I re-wrote about twenty to twenty five percent of the text on my first revision pass, which took almost two days. Second and third passes were largely there to weed out typos, and then I had J and another friend of mine go over it for typos as well. I’m actually surprised J caught so many on the final pass, even after I had already gone over it three or four times by then. I suppose I’m not going to make a very good editor…

At any rate, I’m going to make a print copy of the whole thing (yes, all 165 pages) sometime this week, just for reference. The whole lot comes out to be a 44MB PDF, which isn’t that bad in the end. No Starcrossed scale printing disasters.

But back to the present, number 514, that is. This is the 26th page from the end of the arc. But let’s go back two pages, to 512, for a minute. I actually thought the deal with 512 and 513 was gonna be a big one, but it turned out to be something I totally forgot about when it actually happened. Y’see, this is the image that’s in the site banner right now. It was drawn in July of 2006, at about the time 405 was drawn.

That was a long time ago. So long ago, I had just started using the comic number in the dropdownlist, and had not started using the archive pngs as the comics themselves. At some point around this time, shortly after the creation of said illustration, I decided that that was where I wanted the story to go (towards the illustration, that is), and the result is that this picture has more or less driven the story these past three years. If you fit it in between 512 and 513, it almost works perfectly. That was planned since three years ago. It took me three years to get there.

Much of this story has been planned the same way. Way early on I decided on a couple scenes that I wanted to reach and simply ended up trying to link them together. Most notable is the sequence between 473 and 475, which, from the very start was supposed to be the turning point of the story. Everytime I hit one of these points, in drawing and in posting, I keep thinking, “wow, we’re already there”. Even the coming up sequence is basically something I knew I’d have to draw from day 1 (whenever that was).

But enough of this story arc, we’re moving onto the next one in the drawing department.

Yes, that’s right, the next story arc. The Directorate story arc is just an arc; in the grand scheme of things, it’s the length of one volume of typical manga (aka not really all that much). Transportation and stuff was my focus for a long time, so all of my past works have featured spaceships and stuff quite prominently, but what I really want to draw is a – forgive the terminology, I really don’t have a better word – shoujo story arc.

Not only that, I’m trying, yet again, to move to an all-tablet drawing work flow. So far, this has failed like three or four times by now. There’ve been false starts at 454, 468, and 479, but this time might be it. I’m on my third all-tablet page and they aren’t really looking that bad albeit taking forever to do.

Ok, the whole tablet thing saved a different entry. That’s all for now.

J248 – Hidden Motive

[8/11/2009] Late again, as usual…

So, finally trying to pick up the plot line again. The truck/car/buggy/off-road-vehicle that D is passing in panel 3 was sketched out ahead of time:

I basically sat down and figured out what a dust-resistant vehicle would look like. This buggy is rear-engined, with a mesh over the grill to keep dust out. The exhaust pipe is folded over so tthat sand and stuff can’t be blown back up the pipe. It’s vaguely based off the XR311, which I used as a reference while drawing. Unlike the hover-barges, most vehicles in the world where Sandstorm (and the current plotline) take place run on alcohol-burning engines.

Yeah, not much to say on the comic itself this time, except that I don’t really like drawing landscapes. Needs moar practice…

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[090811]

I’m reading a book called Outliers, which basically suggests that you need to have put in 10000 hours of “real” effort into something before you’re good at it. So it got me thinking how many hours I’d put into drawing since I started to take it more seriously.

So I’m going to start counting from around 2003, which is when I really started to try and actively improve on my art. This effort really has paid off; I may have made this reference a few times now, but the difference between comic 1 and comic 192 is much less than the difference between comic 193 and comic 487. Both 1 and 192 and 193 and 487 were drawn five years apart. But of course, the greatest difference here is probably between 192 and 193 themselves.

At any rate, I’m starting the count from 193, which, though you can’t see it, is dated for April of 2003. Between then and now, I’ve done approximately 541 + 20 – 193 = 368 comic pages, and I’d say each of these pages took about 3 hours on average to draw. This figure is the rate upon which I was converging in the 500s, and although many early pages may have taken much longer, there’s also a significant number of 4koma, etc in there. So that’s about 1104 hours just from comics.

About the same time (2003), I started doing sketches in sketchbooks. Since then, I’ve put in about 500 pages worth of sketches at about 2 hrs per page. Some of the pages are just total crap, some have some fairly nice shit, but most are probably approximately 2 hour pages of sketches. So another 1000 hours. for a total of 2100. I have some loose leaf paper sketches too, though these are exceeding rare these days; I’d give it another 100 pages at an hour a page for a total of 2200.

Now comes the really hard one to estimate. I’ve turned out about 65 “finished” drawings since 2004. These are the ones in color, and I think the time taken on each varies wildly. I’m sure there are some that must have taken upwards of 20 hours, but then there are also those which took maybe 5. I would think that the majority is closer to 20, so I’m going to slap a 15 hour per colored piece figure into this mess, though that’s probably an overestimation. This gives me another 1000 hours, putting the grand total at 3200.

Add another 200 or 300 hours for paintchats and random shit like that, and we’re at about 3500, which seems to be about right?

So there you go. Another 6500 hours before I’m good at this. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be 30 by that time. That’s not actually that bad, and I’m sure the less worthwhile hours I put in prior to 2003 must be worth something if not quite as much.

Til next time.

J247 – Playback

[8/4/2009] Tomorrow, I’m gonna party like it’s my birthday. That’s because tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 20 — two decades. The running joke among my friends at MIT is that when you reach 20 you’re considered “old”…

Anyway, today’s comic has been sitting in the notes file for a while. It was inspired by this XKCD comic. The first thing I thought of when I read the words “200 DPI display screen” was “You could watch anime on that!” … orz. For those of you who don’t know, codecs are software required to decompress some video and/or audio files for playback.

This time I tried using a more “flowing” panel layout. I hope it worked, but the entire time I was drawing I was thinking, “I’m wasting so much space…”

Anyway, I had a lot of fun drawing J in this comic. Maybe we’ll see some more of these gag non-4koma comics in the future…

dcomic 512

[090804]

On a whim, I just took my first “typing test” since 8th grade. I put “typing test” into Google (which almost didn’t exist in 8th grade!) and just hit the first link, typingtest.com. Just for statistical accuracy, I took three tests with three different passages and did 75/88/89 words per minute at 88/88/89 percent accuracy.

I don’t really know if that’s good or bad considering that I’m just copying the passage. I mean typing for the sake of typing real fast whilst copying a passage just isn’t really reflective of the way that I normally type. Normally I just don’t think that fast. For the most part I still have to look down at my hands maybe two to three times a minute when I’m trying to hit that maximum WPM – I’d probably do worse if they put the cardboard box over my hands like they did in junior high.

In general, I’d venture I’m still pretty shitty. I’m sure there were kids in my junior high classes who could get close to that speed with like 99 percent accuracy. And our keyboards were probably shittier than my Model M. I think we had like Macintosh Classics or something like that. At my work we have an Apple IIci, but I suppose this is quite tangental…

I’m on vacation for the last three days of this week; I should really try to get some drawing done.

Other than this, don’t really have much to say. Probably next week, though.