Archive for category Spring 2010 Semester


The page of Multiversed reference art has been updated to include the newest character sheets:

I’m panicking a bit. After I do my CS capstone presentation on Friday, things should be okay again. There’ll be an update then.


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Fake it ’til you make it

Since last I wrote, I have:

Overall, though, I’ve been struggling against apathy. Senioritis has hit, and I’ve stopped caring about most of my classes. The homework, the projects… Little seems relevant anymore, and truth be told, the apathy is preferable to my previous panic. I can do this, I know I can. But I’m so very ready for undergrad to be over.

Regarding the capstones, I’m ready to talk about Dread Summons a bit. The premise is that a novice from a supernatural control agency gets sent to a haunted apartment, where she must summon a spirit and return the apartment’s inhabitants to normal. It is a third-person adventure game, in 2-D and with my own artwork. Dread Summons will not be completed in time for my capstone presentation, but I hope to have the interface, controls, and a puzzle ready by then. I’m using C++ with OpenGL for the code. Even though I’d hoped to use Squeak Smalltalk, it would take way too much time to learn. And I don’t have a lot of time right now.

The prologue of Multiversed has been rewritten. I decided it would be better to leave out all the fancy foreshadowing and flashbacks, focusing instead on what happens after Ian and Bea start world-traveling. They’re perfect for asking, “What the hell is going on?!” and demanding answers.  The sooner we get the explanations out of the way and into the narrative proper, the better.

Nearly all the character sheets are done too.  Only Damien’s and Cecelia’s are left.  Unfortunately, even if I finish them today, I won’t have the time to draw roughs of the revised introduction to show my classmates.  I’m a little disappointed about that, considering how greatly it could help them understand how the script would be translated into comics, but at the same time… I dunno. It’s a lot of work I just don’t want to do right now. Ah, apathy strikes again. :/

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In ur script, killin’ ur babies

A lot of people know this about me by now, but in case you didn’t… Once upon a time there was this story I wrote. It had a couple names, but it ended up being called “Past, Present, and Probable Future,” aka 3PF. Best I can tell, I wrote it on and off again for nine years before I finally had a rough but completed first draft. Nine years of thinking about this behemoth. On long car rides, in the shower, during class, before falling asleep at night I went over this story in my head, building on the worlds and the characters, trying to get them exactly right. 3PF was my epic. Its writing defined me. And then the rough draft was done, and I set it aside. My epic could wait for me to mature enough to edit it down.

But… I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last couple weeks, and I think – I think 3PF is dead.

It’s tough to say. I don’t usually kill projects, after all, I just stop working on them and leave them in suspended animation. Those that are ‘killed’ are usually stillborn – embryonic projects that never made it to paper. 3PF was none of those. I fully intended to return to it; and god help me, it followed me for a little less than half of my life. The world of 3PF has stories left to tell, as do the characters. I could tell you so much about that world… about the people in it and their customs and quirks and histories…

Multiversed killed it.

Or rather, Multiversed absorbed that world. It goes like this: Multiversed was a crossover fanfiction I wrote in my head to help me go to sleep at night. When I realized that the story could be a good one if it weren’t fanfiction, I set about changing characters so that they became my own. Multiversed’s characters are all decidedly different from their base counterparts. (Maybe one day I’ll post a comparison, but that won’t be until the comic is established.) And fool that I was, I decided to save time by using my own pre-existing characters. Why not add the Three from 3PF? Their backstory and personalities fit so well into the new project, I was amazed.

So what’s the problem? That’s not enough to kill a project. Well, the problem was ‘Ashley’ who was renamed ‘Laura,’ and who just a few days ago was renamed again ‘Cecelia.’ Her backstory is a major plot point maybe halfway through Multiversed, and that backstory means massive spoilers for 3PF. Even though I love it so, 3PF will have to remain a private endeavor, a once-favored project with too much history to simply stay out of mind.

I don’t think anyone else will care. I didn’t share the draft with anyone; I just talked about it to anyone who seemed interested. With the completion of draft 1 a couple years behind me, I do believe most have forgotten about Ashley’s good ol’ 3PF. But I tip my hat to the project, for it will not have died in vain.

In other news, the semester already feels like it’s ending, and April’s going to be a bitch, especially since I signed up for Script Frenzy (what for churning out the Multiversed script). More on all that later.

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A dilemma of perception

Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially at the point in the semester when I start losing control of my schedule, and stop taking care of the long-term commitments, like this blog. I haven’t worked on any one of my long-term goals since my English capstone class workshopped my first few pages of the Multiversed script. NOT ONE. And it feels like forever ago since I made any progress, instead of, what? A week?

To be fair, I’ve had a couple of last-minute commitments. Liz in a bad mood and needing company… Megan’s birthday sushi… Danny and Vince getting sick… Me getting sick from taking care of Danny… Yeah, it’s been rough.

On the other hand, the workshop has been weighing heavily on my mind. For the purposes of the capstone, I’m going to have to make some changes. Too many don’t understand the format, the terms, how the page will look. I wish I could assign homework. I’d give them Understanding Comics for the basics, and The Sandman: Dream Country, which includes a script of “Calliope” (and which I admit I used to figure out how a comic script might look).

Okay. Step back a bit from this, Ashley. What I’m dealing with is a dilemma of perception, and that perception is mine.

Multiversed is going to be a webcomic. For now, I am only scripting the story, for a class in which I have to share my work. Whereas the script is usually a dialogue between writer and artist (even if both are the same person), within a workshop it becomes… something else. Public instead of private. I know I shouldn’t, but I resent having the format and the panel descriptions be such a big deal. In the finished product, they won’t be.

I guess I wanted to workshop the idea of Multiversed, rather than the script itself. This workshop has shown me that’s way too idealistic. Actually, Anne put it best, in her comments:

I worry about your audience. I know the majority of people won’t be able to visualize from this like you can which will effect their reading. Is there another way to help them out/reach a broader audience?

I think it would help to include more art – character sheets, world designs, rough sketches of panels/pages. As I brought up before, though, the art takes a lot more time than the writing. Only Ian’s character sheet was finished for the workshop, for example.

…I don’t know. It’ll take some more thought.

Other issues raised in the workshop:

  • Ian & Bea seemed younger than they actually are (and Wendell seems old). Easily dealt with through their designs. Granted, Ian looks kinda on the young side, and acts like a big goof too at times. He should still look older than Damien, Laura, and Val when their designs are done. Robin’ll be the youngest, and she kinda already looks it. Wendell is old.
  • Ian & Bea seemed like siblings instead of a married couple. Difficult. There’s something very unsubtle about having them flash their wedding rings around. Or pausing in the middle of the chase scene for some hawt lovin’. Maybe just ‘knowing’ their age will take care of the sibling issue? Not sure about getting across the marriage part, though. That really might require some hawt lovin’.
  • Wendell’s and Ian’s relationship – what is it? Uh. Damn, we need a flashback for that too, probably.
  • Whose point of view are we following? Ian and Bea’s… but also Damien, Laura, Val, Robin, Qinzolquani… I think this will become clearer as the plot gets going and the other MCs are introduced. Unfortunately, at least one person assumed Wendell’s POV, so I think the ‘Epic Cheeseburger’ scene will become flashback.
  • Try weaving the history between the characters in with the rest of the story. Yes. Will do.
  • Is the name “Beatrice” a deliberate Dante reference? Yes. Make of that what you will. (Okay, okay, I can’t just be flippant – I was hoping someone would catch that!)
  • Flashbacks are confusing! Flashbacks are my bad habit. It’s hard to fix here, because I feel like I need to start in the middle of some action in order to get reader attention… but then the set-up and background is confined to flashback and dialogue. My fault entirely, I’ll see what I can do to keep everything clear and (mostly) linear.
  • Flashbacks are creative! …Hrm. They are a spice to be used only a pinch at a time, perhaps?
  • With all this foreshadowing, this narrative could get confusing, fast. -_- Yep. The foreshadowing is going to be cut. I don’t like it. Too heavy-handed.
  • I’m not sure what the conflict is yet. That’s what I was afraid of. I’m going to rearrange the order in which events are shown, try to make it clearer.
  • Is anything autobiographical about this story? No. ‘Laura’ used to be ‘Ashley’ once upon a time, but she hasn’t been me for a long time. I prefer it that way. Ian and Bea were in their saccharine relationship before I was in mine with Dan. (Admittedly, now I have more reference for this ‘making out’ thing, but really now guys that’s not autobiography that’s learning where your tongue goes.)
  • Maybe some characters are based off people in your life? Not personality-wise. But… if you wanna know a secret… I’m mining you all for design ideas. The clothes you wear, your hairstyles, your smiles and odd expressions, the way Prof. Brown likes to drape herself over desks… Oh yes, I’m filing those details away for later. *grins evilly* (I really am doing this to everyone I see, but it’s not really that big an influence on the character designs. Yet, anyway. I just like giving evil monologues.)
  • Who’s Qinzolquani? BWAHAHAHA – *cough* Hem. Just this person. Goddess, actually. Quite – *cough* – unremarkable. Yes.

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The problem with inking

I have a feeling that every post from now ’til the end of the semester will be in the “Multiversed” category as well as the “Spring 2010 Semester” category. It makes sense – I’ve been daydreaming about Multiversed for over a year. I know what needs to be done for this project. Hopefully it doesn’t turn out to be a bad thing, that I spend all my time working on Multiversed and ignore the semester’s other obligations. *sighs*

Speaking of my other projects, I have a plot for my CS capstone game! And a main character design (no name yet, unfortunately)! The game will be called “Dread Summons,” but I’m going to keep the plot to myself for a bit. Implementation-wise, I’ve been learning Squeak Smalltalk and it seems perfect for my purposes except for one thing… Squeak doesn’t convert animated .gifs very well if they use transparency. This could mean that animation is out of the question. It could also mean that I need to tell Squeak to animate stills, or that I need to mess with some code to make the Morph class do what I want. Either way, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.

As for Multiversed… I accidentally did a bad thing. Last post I reported I was “too tired” to redesign Bea, but perfectly okay to ink Qinzolquani. I neglected to mention that I’d inked an old sketch of Bea as well.

Until yesterday, I assumed that the process of inking was a necessary evil, a way to get from point A (penciled sketch) to point B (clean artwork). Inking requires some creativity… but not a lot of thought. For me, it’s a relief to ink. Inking’s just going over the lines again, right? Get the drawing finalized, get it ready to scan. Easy-peasy.

Except that inking also finalizes the drawing in my mind. I can’t remember penciled sketches for beans, but as I work over each line with ink, I commit it to memory – and the inked drawing sticks there. When I started writing the Multiversed script, I was imagining Bea’s old design, all because I made the mistake of inking it.

So I tried again to recreate that old design, but I can’t do it. Her hair design alludes me still. Though it frustrates me to no end, Bea has to be redesigned. My ability to draw just can’t accommodate my imagination this time.

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“She Who Eats Sin”

Due to a couple of bad days, there has been no progress on anything but Multiversed. My capstone class will workshop a draft of my script on February 22, eleven days from now. I’m not sure yet how many pages to set as my goal, but I do know that I’d like to include relevant character sheets. I’d also like to include the comic versions of the first few pages, to show the class how I expect the script to inform the art. Hopefully, the effect will be like opera glasses – the class gets a glimpse of what the characters look like in order to imagine them acting out the script.

On the other hand, time is definitely an issue. It takes me forever to draw the roughs of one page, and more time to ink it, scan it, clean it up. I may end up with one complete page and a few pages of roughs… or, if time is reaaally short, one complete page.

I’m probably getting ahead of myself. Of the three I need to start scripting, only Ian’s character sheet is done. I tried to recreate Bea’s character design but I just couldn’t do it. Her hair is short, thin, and wavy – an effect I can’t get right anymore. Basically, Bea needs a new design. I plan to consult my pile of magazines and cobble together a new design, one that I can draw. Keep the hair length, the way she smiles bashfully, but redesign her hair cut, and facial structure.

After I made the decision to scrap Bea’s sheet, I was too tired to try a new one, or even to work on Wendell’s. Instead, I inked Oshel’s main design (a full-body sketch as opposed to just facial expressions or body language quirks). I like this new design very, very much. The Mayan, Celtic and Japanese elements meld better than I expected – they’re there, but no longer seem so disparate, so oil-and-water.

Neva/Oshel has had another name change, by the way. This should be her finalized name: Qinzolquani. I went Aztec-esque, because I think her culture is very close to the Aztecs’. However, I made up the name. Admittedly, some inspiration came from Tlazolteotl, an Aztec goddess who inspires “vicious desires” but who, as her dual counterpart Tlaelquani (“she who eats sin”), also forgives those sins. Why was Tlazolteotl inspiring? Let’s just say that she is the closest religious equivalent I’ve seen to my goddess of secrets.

From what I can make of Aztec pronunciation, Qinzolquani would be pronounced kin-sol-kwa-nee. …Of course, it’s hard to remember that Qinzolquani’s culture would not be purely Aztec/Mayan, and pronunciation could go out the window in a flash. :/

Interestingly enough, I feel older looking at this new design. I adored the old design, and now I look at it and wonder. How much poorer would Multiversed be if Qinzolquani had remained Neva, stayed in her decidedly Grecian attire? I liked her old design because of her long black hair, her lips, her eyes. And maybe I liked that design because it was easy to draw. Nothing to think about, just fwsh fwsh done. Her design is now much harder to draw – partly because she’s got that mound on her tummy, partly because her costume is so detailed. But now it’s a more interesting experience to draw her. I’d argue it’s a more interesting experience to look at her, too.

I even have to pause every now and then to remember that this gentle-faced, smiling mother-to-be is going to be the primary antagonist of Multiversed. That’s a weird thought, though it makes me happy knowing that she subverts a stereotype/cliche about pregnant women. If I’m weirded out, while knowing perfectly well why I made her pregnant, well… Good. I’m doing my job right.

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Of Smalltalk and a goddess of secrets

Besides homework, I wasn’t especially productive this weekend. I did start a tutorial on Smalltalk, to figure out if I can use it for my CS capstone game. So far it’s looking like yes, but the tutorial takes so much out of me! Just completing section one (of six) took three straight hours, after which my brain was reduced to mush and I was good for nothing more than watching Iron Chef and Glee. I’ll have to break the other sections down further, to save on brain power. Even so, I had hoped to have a much better grasp of Smalltalk by now. Taking another week to learn the language will be necessary, unfortunately.

For Multiversed, I have to redo some character sheets. Bea and Ian need a bit more work, which is fine. Their designs won’t change much; I just want to make sure I can still draw them. But Wendell needs a character sheet badly. In my head, Wendell is sometimes an older man of about 60-70, with white hair pulled back in a ponytail and ZZ Top-style beard. Other times he’s middle aged, with chin-length, brown but greying, wavy hair – no beard. I haven’t decided which version I like best, but I’m leaning toward the middle aged version.

It would make sense for me to draw Bea, Ian, or Wendell first, since I will need their designs ‘finalized’ before I start scripting the introduction. Instead, this weekend I redesigned the character formerly known as Neva, who is one of my two favorite characters in Multiversed. Since I drew the first character sheet for her, I have realized that she is pregnant for a good deal of Multiversed, which she clearly isn’t in the first character sheet. I also realized that her design was a combination of a few key elements from Winnowill and Skywise (Elfquest) – not bad designs to crib from, but still. Finally, her name, ‘Neva’, means ‘snow’ in Spanish, but I didn’t feel that was appropriate to her (admittedly imaginary) culture. In other words, my goddess of secrets needed to change.

Her new name is Oshel (until I decide to change it again). I’m still unsure about her design, too. I kept the long black hair because I have a bit of a thing for long hair, even though it’s the most Winnowill-esque aspect about her. I also kept her Asian-looking eyes, and her lips – the top lip is painted black, and the bottom is unpainted but still plump and noticeable. Yes, her lips are kind of like Queen Amidala’s from Star Wars, but fuck it, I like the effect.

I knew she needed to be pregnant. That was actually the easiest thing to change. Her current costume, however, reflects some indecision on my part. Oshel’s initial costume was Greek-inspired – white flowing robes, with gold armlets and bracelets. Now, her costume draws from the Mayan, Japanese, and Celtic traditions, in a way that I’m not sure meshes well. Her footwear and dress are Mayan-inspired, but she’s also wearing an obi and a leather (?) strip to tie her hair back. It is definitely more accurate to her character, I think, but still might not be quite what I’m looking for. I’ll put her designs away; concentrate on the characters who still need reference sheets.

That’s all for now. I expect tomorrow will be busy, but in a good way. Tuesday is going to suck, though – a long day with very short breaks. I should get used to it, I suppose. Every Tuesday and Thursday will be like that for the rest of the semester. Bah.

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