All’s well that ends well

Seeing the printed and framed work all packed up and ready to go, I can finally breathe my sigh of relief. What a rush – I had been planning this gig since I signed up to staff this year, and even with steady progress it still boils down to the last minute when I mad rush to finish the background for all four pictures in less than 12 hours.

It’s been awhile since I pulled an all-nighter with no recovery sleep hours, not since my ICS 125 finals a whole year ago. While I pretty much did drive myself insane in more than one occasion, the entire exprience is so worth the effort – producing something that feel like they’re worth something is a rush that no game can give you, and if given another chance like this I’ll definitely try and do this again – though I’ll probably need to plan better.

In the end, I’m not sure if I want to try and sell the pictures – even if I sell them at cost they’d have to start at $32 per (16 for frames and 16 for printing), and that’s a pretty high price point for original drawings. I still think I’ll do it – it doesn’t hurt to try, and I’m curiously to see how many people actually recognize the Ronin “franchise” .

Here’s a summary of all the new lesson I learned:

– This is the first time I use extensive photo research to figure out the anatomy instead of building it up logically like I always used to. It really helps cut down the time I need to spend to figure out which muscle goes where, but at other times the pictures are so misleading that I have to fake the anatomy out anyway. For your information, I get most of the study photos by taking pictures with my cell phone camera in front of the mirror – beats hiring a model. It feels funny at first, but after a few pictures you get used to doing it.

– This is the first time I use Illustrator to CG ink the pictures. This I mostly blame my drawing habits: I don’t hold the pencil right, and I move my wrist to draw, which means my lines are not as accurate over longer distances, which really shows when I have to work on a picture that’s much larger than what I’m used to… and this is just about the first time I work on anything larger than letter paper size. Well, I picked up everything I need to know to get the job done from illustrator in about 3-4 hours, so it’s all good – but it’s tough to get details right using vector based drawing programs, so I retouched a lot of the outlines in photoshop as well. I think this works well enough that I might do it again, even for smaller pictures… auto “smoothing” can really cut down the time I have to draw lines over and over just to get them to curve right.

– Each of the special effect I need to achieve in the pictures is a challenge. Every time I run into an effect that I don’t know how to do, I rummage through the web for about an hour and then fake it if nothing comes up. I learned how to use liquify to enhance fire effects – very cool tool if you know where to use it.

– At the end, when I was mad dashing to get the backgrounds done, I pretty much go crazy with all the brush settings… in some ways, Photoshop’s brushes are much more versatile and customizable than Painter’s semi-realistic brushes. In hindsight I should probably save some of the brush settings so I don’t have to edit them madly each time I switch brushes, but it worked for the moment and that’s all I needed.

– Framing pictures is harder than I thought. The first one I tried to do got pretty screwed up before I get it right – the other ones come out well though.

P*S* I’ll post the pictures after AX… that should hopefully make you come to see my pictures at least once. It’s not the best thing in the world, but if a pessimist like me gives it the thumbs up, it should probably mean something.

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