Not too Super

Tonight, I will be watching Man of Steel for the first time since it was out in theaters. While it was an honest disappointment to me the first time I saw it (didn’t like Clark, or really even Lois although I like Amy Adams, Jonathan Kent’s death was… laughable, it was too “artsy” and long in some parts, Clark’s reckless abandon), there were enough good points that I hope a second watch will improve it (the fight scenes, every Kryptonian that wasn’t Clark).

Basically, half the movie is Clark with this expression on his face.

What did you think about Man of Steel. What do you think about the casting, etc., going on for the sequel?

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Four Things Everyone Needs to be a Creator

Four Things Everyone Need to Become Creators

At certain points in my life, upon hearing a statement like that, I might think that “talent” would be at the top of my list – I’m not going to lie. And not because I’m so talented or anything; on the contrary, it’s my lack of talent that has made me feel this way, for example, when confronted with a piece of art forever beyond my capabilities. But more and more I’m learning: talent is not necessarily needed to be creative, and as you’ve probably noticed, not even to be commercially successful.

Yeah, you’ve noticed.

In fact, someone can actually create with little talent in the medium and still be good. No offense to John Porcellino, for example, but the indie-American comic Perfect Example is… well… a perfect example of that. His drawings aren’t particularly great – I don’t know if that’s intentional or not – but it’s effective in telling his story; and that’s something I can appreciate.

From my readings, watchings, listenings and attempts of creativity, these, in no particular order, are some of the traits that creators just need.

1.       Something to Say
It seems to me that creativity is synonymous with self-expression. That may seem really obvious… or that may be a statement that people take exception to. But at least for me, a person who loves to draw and write, all creative endeavors come about because I want to show the world, or at least my audience, something about myself.

Now Justin seems pretty content creating simply for the fun of it. He makes music, and not always to express emotion (often not, in fact), and The Lotus War really came about because he wanted to make a video game. Not because he wanted a statement about racism or war or anything. It is, however, at core, an expression of Justin’s fondness for video games. That is the statement he’s making with that (in addition to the rest that we decided to add in); he likes video games (and making music and computers and good stories and working with me, of course) and to the extent that he wants to participate in the creation of one.

And there’s nothing wrong with creating for the sake of creating; it’s fantastic to really just enjoy the act of creation. Lots of people start each and every project that way. Writers, musicians, visual artists… they start with the feeling of “I like sculpting” or “I liked writing” and then think “What can I write/sculpt/draw about?” I’m pretty sure Stephen King didn’t write Carrie because he was swept up in the idea of “bullies are not cool… how I can I use supernatural phenomenon to show that? Huh… and in what medium?” It was probably “I need to write. What should I write about?”

So it may start with a base of “I want to show my love of [insert medium here] to the world!” but eventually that desire will latch onto a theme, and that theme will shape the work.

2.       An Audience
So this is the point when people are going to say, “I have a whole bookshelf full of notebooks with poetry/drawings/My Little Ponies/Beast Wars fan-fiction that I’ve never shown anyone!” And to this I say: great, me too. In fact, for the longest time, I could not be in the same room when a person read/viewed my work. I couldn’t sit there and see their face because I’d analyze them in terror as they analyzed me on page. Also, I’d keep interrupting, “Have you gotten to that point yet? Because let me explain why I did this one thing…” so they’d have my verbal explanation rendering their feedback moot before they could ever give it to me.

Still, regardless of whether My Little Beast-Ponies’ War: A Romeo and Juliet Story has ever or will ever see the light of day, you cannot deny that it was written for someone – even if that someone is only you, as you sit in your room sketching ponies riding rainbows into combat against robo-organic entities.

The catch is, Firefly Meets Outlaw Star (oh, wait, that can’t happen; they’re the same thing. BURN!) probably will end up seeing the light of day… or at least the digital light of the internet. Even if you post it anonymously in a fan forum or have a little LiveJournal dedicated to odd mash-ups, you’re casting a net for an audience of your work because creativity thrives on a give-and-take/show-and-tell relationship.

3.       Time

Oh, and what time. And who has that time? Most work, if lucky, 40-hour-per-week, soul-sucking jobs that eat up our time and kill our creative instincts. No wonder artists need to be starving. It’s either starve and make or eat and don’t. Or at least it certainly feels that way. I mean, after an eight-hour day of working by compulsion, all we want to do is decompress and watch The X-Files re-runs. Hurrah. Even if you really, really enjoy playing clarinet or whatever, by the end of the day, you’re drained of creative energy. And that’s a sad state to be in. That’s the kind of state that makes me hate work. My job itself doesn’t do it; it’s the all-consuming energy that it takes.

But I find that carving out the time to do it helps. Just like most of us got home drained from school and then had to do homework on top of that, if we set a time and then sit down and make ourselves do it, we’ll find that it’s not that hard. And it’s a lot more enjoyable than homework to boot.

4.       Endurance (or, in lieu of that, a partner with endurance who will spur you on)
This is something that has historically eluded me. No matter how much I long to create, really, really at the core want to and respect people who do, I’m horrible at follow-through. Inspiration strikes and for a while, I’m really excited by the prospect of this new project… and then half way through, a new idea comes to mind and I get excited about that instead. And the cycle continues. Then a while later, I’ll try to pick up the first idea (which in itself had supplanted some other now-antiquated one) but my style or my “something to say” or my vision has changed so drastically that I feel compelled to start again… from the beginning. Scrap what I had and re-do it all. Not exhilarating work.

Even now, with The Lotus War, this lack of “stick-to-it-ness” has afflicted me. Justin and I already have ideas for two more games – one of which was my idea for a comic that’s large and exciting to me, so I’m really motivated to do that. Not to mention, little side comics I’d like to do of a personal nature. It’s getting difficult to keep trucking along drawing character portraits – especially since now all the major players are done. I don’t have a clear picture of what else I want to say.

Two saving graces are keeping me going: the multi-faceted nature of video game making (I can do portraits or make battlers or work on the origins comic or map or…) and Justin – who is very good at project-oriented work. He’s the little nudge that keeps me trucking.

My First Self-Choreographed Attack

Because Holder currently doesn’t have a melee fighter, I’ve been working on changing the fighter known as Erik from an ax-fighter into a fist-fighter. Check out his mean right cross:

galen-attack

I admit, I’ve been working on just this battler for days. Literally days. It didn’t even take me that long to give Taya a sex-change. That was easy… put some boobs on hi– ehemmm… — her and bam-o. Hot archer chick. Observe:

comparison2

But taking out the weapon, and now replacing the actual attack movements with ones inspired by boxing has been more of a process.

Luckily, I found a new program called GraphicsGale, which is absolutely great for pixel art. As you can expect, it is different than the other programs I’ve tried – Photoshop, GIMP, Manga Studio, etc. Some of the differences I even feel may even be regional, as it was developed in Japan and a lot of the functions are probably more intuitive to people who’ve been using Japanese computers. But that review is for a different day.

The Fist has finally gotten his first attack. Now I need to find out another… damn….

Based on a Friend

Gina-Normal

 

The hard thing about basing a character on a friend is making them recognizable as the person – but especially while doing anime, where many features are exaggerated or minimized.

Blonde Elf

elissa

 

How’s everyone doing? Still trying to chug these along. Anyone got some suggestions?

Look for the Creators Part II – Animefied Selfie

danielle

 

The nice thing about drawing yourself is being able to trim the fat and gloss the hair. You know… and all the other things that make a person look better. Hint: I don’t have abs like that in person.

Characters Based on Friends

galen

 

One way to keep diversity going is to rely a little less on your own imagination and start looking at reality.

When I write, and even when I draw, I always end up making characters that are a little bit me. I think that’s why, when drawing, I really prefer to draw women. Aside from drawing and for my characters in general, I always like quiet but spunky types with a little damage. I find a good way to keep all characters from being too uniform is to base them on people you know.

This guy, above, is based on one of Justin’s best friends. We call him Muscle Milk… haha. He should make a great boss battle.

We Need Men Too

Character of the night, colored but not shaded. Got caught up… this time with helping my cousin move -____-

paul

 

The invitation’s still open to pitch a character look 😉

The Rogue Girl Finished

roguish girl normal roguish girl

 

So the fiery, red-headed rogue chick is done. I hope The Otaku Judge is satisfied with how she turned out. I think I am.

Unfortunately, in the game you won’t be able to see the fuller body shot, but really rather just down to the buckle below her boobs.

Red hair is always a little difficult to get down. There’s red like maroon, like scarlet, or the “natural” look – the kind of orange I used here. What kind of red head is your favorite?