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April 28, 2016

Oh no! I’m on DeviantArt!

Oh nooooooooooooooooooooo!  By which I mean yes.

Admittedly, I’ve been on DeviantArt for more than a year, but my page basically went into hibernation a few months after I got started.  That’s not exactly something I’m proud to declare for a number of reasons -- the most obvious of them being that I’m potentially hamstringing myself by not going full tilt with as many online platforms as I can.  If I’m going to spread my message, my wares, and my very existence, I’ve pretty much got to put myself out there...even though that DA page is already getting kind of dusty as of writing, but whatever.

Inevitably, that means that I’m going to embarrass myself a lot.  And thoroughly.  And in ways I never would have begun to anticipate.  So you know what?  Let’s bring the cringe-fest straight to my virtual doorstep!  Because at least it’s not a burning sack of dog poo!

Or is it? #illuminati

This might come as a surprise to some of you out there, but I’m actually a big fan of fighting games.  Granted I’ve left a clue around here or there -- posts on fighting games, mentions of fighting games, naming the blog after a concept from fighting games -- but when it comes to DeviantArt, I try to take that appreciation to the next level.  So at a base level?  A lot of my characters -- a whole lot of them -- either have fighting game elements to them or stick to certain archetypes.  Shotos, grapplers, zoners, what have you; I’ve represented them in art, and then take it a step further by representing them with hypothetical move lists.

I’ve made it no secret on this blog that my sweet baby -- the story that I’ve got set and ready to go out the door to some willing agent’s hands -- is Dead on Prime.  So naturally, I’ve got semi-recent versions of the core eight cast members fully-represented (though I reserve the right to lie if and when I’m able, for fear of spoiling plot elements).  As a demonstration: here’s an iteration of the cast’s heavy-hitter and kinda-sorta-but-questionably-chosen one, Coil.

Still not the main character, though.  That honor belongs to this guy:

But whatever.  Don't worry about him for now.

I wouldn’t say that’s the dedicated or even ideal art style Dead on Prime would have; I can’t help but envision a cleaner aesthetic, along the lines of Durarara or Under Night In-Birth.  But for what it’s worth?  It’s a style that I can at least recreate fairly reliably, and it’s one that fits Coil’s rough and tumble nature unusually well.  (I’d say that of the eight, he came out looking the best.)  Besides, by the point in the story where those appearances and move sets become relevant, things have already taken a turn for the worse in terms of our heroes’ chances at protecting the earth.  That probably sounds like a spoiler, but don’t worry.  A spoiler without context is hardly a spoiler at all.

As for the (BlazBlue-inspired) move lists?  Well, there’s no guarantee that they’re 100% accurate, or that they’ll even appear at all in the story proper.  It’s not as if the story’s just a string of tournament battles, and even then plenty of things are subject to change.  (I can think of one guy that’s due for an entirely justified overhaul.) With that said, it’s useful for me to consider the way a character moves -- what sort of strategies they’d focus on if they were in a fighting game…or potentially, a 2½D brawler a la Viewtiful Joe or Muramasa: The Demon Blade.  Games industry, if you’re reading this?  Hit me up.

I’ve already written about each of the core eight characters in the past -- with more to come in the future -- so I’m trying to branch out and do more with them.  There’s a level of futility there, in the sense that I’m drawing characters that’ll ideally show up primarily in a written, decidedly non-visual format, but hey.  It’s not as if characters from stories have ever gone without being drawn in official contexts -- and that’s setting aside the mountains of fan art out there for players large and small.  (Speaking of?  I need to do a post on fan art one of these days.)

So on that note, the next step is actually sharing my wares with like-minded people -- people who also want to share their art, no matter the form (or quality).  That’s going to be the hard part, I think; as I’ve found out, it’s not enough to slap your works on DeviantArt and expect the accolades to roll in.  Based on my understanding, I need to start joining the myriad groups nestled within.  I’ve already woven my way into one, but there are so many that I can’t help but feel overwhelmed -- not to mention that some of those groups carry strict rules/requirements.

Then again, the alternative is to just randomly flit around the site and mark others’ art with favorites and comments.  It’s about as effective as you’d expect.  So I guess I need to get some thicker skin -- or a suit of armor.  Or a handful of drugs.

The inevitable and eternal concern with DA posting is the quality of my art -- but more importantly, there’s the question of quantity.  My weakness in general is that I’m extremely slow when it comes to most things; I always have been, and I probably always will be.  (Well, writing is probably the exception, but I’m not convinced I have a good control or point of comparison.)  So keeping a steady stream of art going is a serious issue that I’ll have to worry about; it’s not as if I have some dedicated release schedule, which helps, BUT slacking off for too long can help cripple whatever momentum -- if any -- I gain.  It’s a tricky situation, which isn’t helped by my art process (such as it is) taking what feels like thousands of years.

For what it’s worth, rendering my characters in art form has its advantages.  I’ve been at it LONG before I started using DA, with the drawings to show for it.  I’ve managed to dig up some of it and started sharing it -- assuming the uploaded art isn’t THAT awful -- and posted it in comparison to some of the newer stuff I’ve made.  It’s really interesting to see “how far I’ve come” in terms of the characters’ evolutions over weeks, months, or even years.  For example:

Once upon a time, Davis, Julia, and Kyoko were Deias, Mel (not pictured) and Shingo (also not pictured...but yes, she started out as a he).  By extension, they were 1) a fearless, heroic swordsman with a short temper, 2) a wannabe knight with a strong body and a lot to learn, and 3) a kindly, if clumsy, tech expert who stumbles headfirst into a cyber war beyond his imagining.  Note that none of those descriptions follow along the characters as they appear in this art, which goes to show how much they’ve changed while in the oven.  Naturally, their physical designs have changed to represent that. 

So 2016 Davis is much more level-headed…

2016 Julia is at once motherly and monstrous…

And 2016 Kyoko actually has a personality outside of being a cyber-ninja.

That’s overlooking some of the other guys -- like Cobalt, who went from a Devil May Cry Dante dead-ringer to a half-shark basket case with a bad case of resting bitch face. 

Or Rime (formerly Raiz), who went from punk rock psychic Naruto to preteen psychic Solid Snake…and also the shadow leader of a blooming army of esper children.

I want to write about all these characters (and more!) someday, but BOY is it unfeasible for me to make any more than some short stories for them right now.  In the absence of tens of thousands of pages detailing their exploits and adventures, I’ve got to make do with what I can -- and committing them to virtual paper, I’ve found, is more than good enough for now.  Granted I’m doing that by placing them in static poses, but that’s largely to make sure I’ve got their basic designs down before I go any further.  (And as you can guess, that’s EXTREMELY subject to change.  They already have, if we’re being honest.)

I already have some of the move lists in mind, because of course I do.  Once I have a full set of basic designs in place, the plan -- if one could call it that -- is to show off some more dynamic poses.  I want to capture the essence of these characters in a single image, especially if I can’t commit to wearing my fingers to the bone with a million billion manuscript pages.  Is anyone going to pay attention to what I’ve got?  It’s hard to know conclusively.  But even in the worst-case scenario, I’m evolving.  My art’s only getting better, and my understanding of the characters has improved -- to say nothing of the refinement of the characters themselves.

I’ve got a long road ahead.  But I’m hoping that as long as I keep driving forward, I’ll reach my goal eventually.

And who knows?  Maybe one day, I’ll actually be able to draw hands and feet without brazenly BSing my way through each time.

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