Trial Run B

I just now finished Trial Run B and made 8 pages the last 2 weeks, which means both trial runs A and B were successes. I think I've proven to myself that I can make 4 pages a week consistently without burning out. And that was the question!

Not to say there weren't challenges this time, though. Last week was pretty hard mentally. At one point, I got so discouraged about my artistic abilities that I seriously considered quitting and calling this all a bad idea. But... I kept going and ended up feeling better by the end of the week.

Yeah, my art skills are pretty spotty, but that doesn't mean I have to give up. I think Exvulnerum's plot makes up for any shortcomings in the visual department.

But that's not to say I can't improve! I just ordered 3 comic-making books (one is about perspective which I hugely need to shore up on) and so I'll be studying those in the coming months.

It just gets to be a little overwhelming when I think of all the things I need to build & maintain skills in... anatomy, backgrounds, perspective, clothes design, prop design, dialogue, pacing, character design, story structure, worldbuilding, and all sorts of misc social studies needed in order to keep things as realistic as possible. Sigh, it's just a lot. And let's be honest here. I'm not the smartest or most skilled person when it comes to those things, lol.

Well, at least I know from the get-go that it's not going to be perfect. But no webcomic is. I just have to do my best and hope I put out something an audience likes! ^_^

So... now that the trial runs are over, my list of things to do before the January launch becomes that much shorter! I only have to make Chapter Two's cover and then I'll have a full buffer of 20 pages, which is where I'm going to stop I think. With the holidays in mind, I only have about a month of work time before I have to start putting things in motion, gosh!! But yeah, I don't have *that* much left to do, so I think I'm in a good place! All the hard work of making buffer pages is behind me. Whew.

Posted on November 15, 2014.

Prologue RevampIRE

Well, I just spent literally the entire week working on revamping the prologue, but it was a huge pain in the butt, so I'm calling it the revampIRE because it sucked my blood. And sucked in general.

I've been aware that the prologue was sub-par when it comes to pacing, art, and excitement--for the simple reason that I created it years ago and with much less comic experience than I have now. But it is the first thing people read, and so after receiving a very poor review of it, I decided that something needed to be done.

I talked it over with my friend and creative consultant Ariel, and along with some of her suggestions, I mapped out the changes I wanted to make. The biggest thing I did was cut out 2 pages completely. It was just Kendrick and Pickford talking about Evey, and the dialogue was very dense and unnatural. Hopefully, that change alone is enough to significantly improve the pacing. No longer do you have to read so many boring word bubbles to get to the beach and the action.

But that's not the only thing I changed. I also added in a little subplot to Evey and Kendrick's situation: their farming equipment has been temporarily taken away due to some sort of unnamed complication with their lease agreement. This makes Evey's strange farming activity seem understandable (whereas before I was just too lazy to research farming and draw tractors). So I changed a lot of the dialogue to conform to that (which had the bonus of getting rid of some really awful dialogue). Actually, I just changed a lot of dialogue in general, because a lot of it was unnatural or weird. Back when I first created the prologue, I was so focused on the technical aspects of comic making (ie framing panels and drawing poses and backgrounds and keeping characters looking consistent) that I sort of ignored dialogue because that was "the easy part." Well--no--it's not easy! You have to practice and get good at it just like anything else.

Unfortunately, though I did fix a few of the glaring issues the art had, I couldn't completely bring it up to the standard of my recent ability in a single week, and so the art is still a little... rough. But I'm not planning on spending any more time trying to perfect the prologue after this. If I tried to always keep every page up to the highest standard I possibly could make, then I would always be correcting old pages and would never make any new ones! So I hope everyone is satisfied with the measured amount of changes I was able to make.

No but really it was a huge pain in the butt. Not only did I have to do all my planned edits but I had to REDO the edits I made to the prologue in 2011's Minor Edit Madness--because I was too stupid to make the edits on the proper resolution back then. And then, because I deleted two pages, the page order got all out of whack and I had to go into the database and manually edit them all by hand to--aaaaaughh nevermind it would take too long to explain. Just take my word for it.

And then I made some Minor Edits to Chapter One--mostly de-irising Evey's huge irises. So... everything should be all new and shiny right now! Whew.

I might take another week off from normal comic page making to actually work on my to-do list since I didn't get a chance to make much headway on it thanks to this revampIRE.

Posted on October 31, 2014.

Trial Run A Summary

Well I started out Trial Run A wanting to make 6 pages in 12 days, and I ended up making 8 pages in 11 days.

I think it was a perfect trial run because there were a few unexpected challenges. First, I had to cut out one of my 12 days because I had an eye appointment on one of the scheduled days. Second, I felt pretty drained after the first week and had to bounce back from that burnout. Third, I started the second week with a bank account complication that really threw me for a loop that Monday morning. And apart from all that, I made 2 extra pages, designed and implemented a (planned) character, and did a great deal of long-term plotting in my master plan file.

I also should chronicle the things that were unexpected boosts: First, I learned how to use the perspective tool in Manga Studio 5 which made drawing backgrounds a LOT less of a headache. Second, after making a monstrous 12-panel page, I decided to purposefully make pages a little less heavy on the panels--I think this helps with visuals and the pace--and pages becamee that much less time-consuming to draw. Third, it was VERY helpful to realize that I was only making buffer pages. This took some of the "GET IT COMPLETELY RIGHT" pressure off--because I can always go back to pages a few days old with fresh perspective and make some minor edits of improvement or correction (which I have). And in general, I think drawing almost every day and continuing to get used to drawing Evey and Amber helped too--simply the repetition of it all. I'm struggling less when it comes to getting them looking "right."

So I'm very happy with where this trial run left me. I finished Chapter 1 (on the nose), and that feels pretty amazing. I'm getting pretty eager to start uploading pages again because I miss the feedback and encouragement of having comments, though.

But I can't just yet! I was considering doing Trial Run B immediately on the heels of this trial run to try and give it the most authentic feel of testing a long-term commitment--buuut, tomorrow I have another errand to run, and so instead of making do with another 5-day week, I'm just going to use this next week as a misc maintenance week.

I have a to-do list of things that need to be sorted before I launch in January that I need to take care of sooner or later. I want to get an RSS system in place. I want to go back and fix up Chapter 1 a bit a la the prologue's Minor Edit Madness event (which unfortunately will mean reuploading a lot of the pages on deviantART). I want to hammer down the plot a little more. I want to create/finish up some promotional Exvulnerum art I can tease on dA before the release. And most importantly--I want to make both the Chapter 2 cover AND script before starting work on the first page. I haven't yet scripted out a full chapter... well, technically I scripted out Chapter 1 a few years ago, but I tossed it out for a different chain of events. But this time I want to have the entire chapters' specific events and dialogue in place before I jump in. I know in general what's supposed to happen but I don't yet know any of the little quirks of the chapter, and I feel like knowing them in advance will greatly help in case I need to introduce props/elements earlier on than when they become relevant.

So! I will have a busy week regardless. Then I can start Trial Run B directly afterwards (I think), and create 8 more pages, bringing the buffer up to a respectable 18 pages (19 if you count the cover). Then I can start planning the specifics of this approaching launch!

I'm still very excited. Well... I'm sort of alternating between feelings of excitement/enthusiasm and anxiety about the largeness of this commitment. I just hope I have what it takes to make it a success.

Posted on October 26, 2014.

Trial Run A Halfway Point

So I made 4 pages this week, which is of course an extra page than I initially aimed to make--but since 4 seemed within the realm of possibility, I went for it.

The first 5 of my 6 work days went well, but today I started to really feel burnt out. Does this mean 4 pages is too much? Or was I just a fool for making the last page have twelve panels?

I dunno. Will continue with the 4/week plan and see how the final week of Trial Run A goes.

Posted on October 18, 2014.

Trial Run A

I guess... I guess I can announce the thing here now, probably? I'm fairly certain nobody reads this anyway, lol.

Currently, as I alluded to in my last news post, I'm prepping for a major change in my life... which is... becoming a full-time webcomic artist.

Yeah that's right! I want to try and work on Exvulnerum full time now! I've been mulling this over for many months, and I've been doing a lot of thinking (about how it would work in practicality), planning (the comic's plot of course), and working hard (trying to get other projects out of the way--I finished my novel last month just for this!). And now... I feel fairly confident that it can be a thing that happens. My current aim is to build up a buffer of pages (currently have 3--shooting for 15 or 20) and then start 2x week regular updates in January.

But I have to be ONE HUNDRED PERCENT sure I can do this. So I'm doing a couple "trial runs" of full-time comic making, which are 2 week stints where I have to make 3 pages per week like I would have to every week if I went through with it. I plan to have 2 trial runs: Trial Run A this month and Trial Run B next month. If both go well--if I can prove that I can make 3 pages per week each week I aim to--then I'm going to say that Exvulnerum is clear to really launch.

I'm currently on day 2 of Trial Run A, and it is going veeery well. I'm actually making a lot better time than I had anticipated--which is why I'm writing a news post right now instead of working lol--and it's even making me think that making FOUR pages a week is possible. I don't, though, want to really go for that, right now at least, because I have to maintain balance in my life and not get burnt out on this--this is a thing I want to continue every week (sans specially-chosen breaks) for years and years. So I have to make it sustainable, and having some free time is part of that. But... maybe I have too much free time? Maybe I really can go for that 4th page a week? It's too early to tell, because it's only Day 2, but it's making me think that there's a real possibility of making it a goal in the future. Maybe in 6 months, I'll be used to the process enough that I can try it. And that would be... awesome.

But like I said, as of now, regardless of how many pages I actually make, I'm just shooting for a 2x week update schedule. The rest of the pages will go into the buffer. This is the first time I'm using a buffer, but let's face it: it's pretty much the only way I can have a near-guaranteed update schedule. And won't that be fabulous?

I'm excited. Like, I can't even convey how excited I am. I'll probably ramp up some pre-launch festivities in December, and then you'll see!

Posted on October 14, 2014.

Announcement in the Works

I have a major announcement in the works that should hit in the next few months. I'm really, REALLY excited to spill the news, but I think I should wait to make completely sure it can actually work before I start talking about it publicly.

Let's just say that 2015 will be Exvulnerum's biggest year yet. :)

Posted on August 17, 2014.

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