This is a collection of News posts associated with each page of Crimson Dark published to the Crimson Dark website.
Update with each new page. Newer posts last.
Bonus and Filler should be labelled with "BF" then the chapter it is within or after and then and incrementing number. e.g. The 2nd bonus page for Chapter 5 would be "BF.05.02" while the 3rd bonus page for the same chapter would be "BF.05.03" and so forth.
- How to reference
- Put a post's ID into CDNews and it will be linked.
(Untitled) Monday, the 22nd of May, 2006 UPDATED The art for this page was updated on 29/09/2006. If you wish to see the original version,
please click here.
UPDATED Tuesday, the 23rd of May, 2006 UPDATED The art for this page was updated on 29/09/2006. To see the original version of this page,
please click here.
UPDATED Wednesday, the 24th of May, 2006 UPDATED The art for this page was updated on 29/09/2006. To see the original version of this page,
please click here.
UPDATED Thursday, the 25th of May, 2006 The artwork for this page has been updated.
UPDATED Friday, the 26th of May, 2006 The artwork for this page has been updated.
UPDATED Saturday, the 27th of May, 2006 The artwork for this page has been updated.
No News Sunday, the 28th of May, 2006 No news for today.
No News Sunday, the 28th of May, 2006 No news for today.
No News Sunday, the 28th of May, 2006 No news for today.
Here we go! Thursday, the 1st of June, 2006 Well after years of back-breaking toil (aka: weeks of sitting in front of a computer),
Crimson Dark is ready to roll! I'm simultaneously excited and terrified. I'm excited that I
can finally inflict this webcomic on the world at large, terrified that the world isn't
going to like it. I'm therefore eager to hear from you. Do you like it so far? Do you like
the website? More importantly, do you have any suggestions for how I can improve things? You
can email me using the link at the top of this page, or you can sign up for our shiny new
I’ve put the first ten pages (including the title page) up straight away, so you can start
to get a feel for Crimson Dark. From tomorrow, updates will occur every Monday and Friday.
The current story is a prologue, designed to introduce you to one of the key characters and
establish some of the setting.
Before you ask, yes, I’m both the writer and artist for CD. I use a combination of 3D and 2D
and traditional art, software such as Cinema 4D, Illustrator and Photoshop – plus that
terribly old-fashioned thing called a ‘pencil’.
Here we go! Thursday, the 1st of June, 2006 Well after years of back-breaking toil (aka: weeks of sitting in front of a computer),
Crimson Dark is ready to roll! I'm simultaneously excited and terrified. I'm excited that I
can finally inflict this webcomic on the world at large, terrified that the world isn't
going to like it. I'm therefore eager to hear from you. Do you like it so far? Do you like
the website? More importantly, do you have any suggestions for how I can improve things? You
can email me using the link at the top of this page, or you can sign up for our shiny new
I’ve put the first ten pages (including the title page) up straight away, so you can start
to get a feel for Crimson Dark. From tomorrow, updates will occur every Monday and Friday.
The current story is a prologue, designed to introduce you to one of the key characters and
establish some of the setting.
Before you ask, yes, I’m both the writer and artist for CD. I use a combination of 3D and 2D
and traditional art, software such as Cinema 4D, Illustrator and Photoshop – plus that
terribly old-fashioned thing called a ‘pencil’.
New page, new wallpapers and more... Monday, the 5th of June, 2006 Page 11 should be up now, featuring one panel I'm particularly proud of. I had a lot of fun
making that HUD!
I've made a couple of improvements to the site. First of all I've added a couple of new
wallpapers to the extras section. One is of Control (aka 'Bob'), the other is of Kari. If
you have any suggestions for further wallpapers, sign up for the Crimson Dark forum and let
Secondly I've added a RSS feed to make it easier to keep track of new pages and news - just
click the link in the navbar.
I'm really pleased by the feedback you guys have been providing. I'm delighted to see that
people like the comic so far, and I'm enjoying the speculation about where the story is
headed. I'm working on the script for chapter 1 at the moment, which won't appear here for a
few more weeks yet, but I can't wait to show you! Also, keep the constructive criticism
rolling in, it's been extremely helpful and very encouraging. I thought the internet was
supposed to be full of morons and jerks, but I don't know where they've gone because you
guys have been very kind!
Finally, if you're enjoying Crimson Dark, please spread the word, the more, the merrier.
(Untitled) Friday, the 9th of June, 2006 Page 12 is up, huzzah. I've also added my LiveJournal feed to this page (beneath this news
post) so you can keep track of my crazed ramblings. Why you'd want to is a question worthy
of a thesis, bearing a title like "Gluttons for punishment: a case study."
Im hard at work on Chapter 1, building sets, designing characters, writing the script.
My fellow Australians Monday, the 12th of June, 2006 It occurs to me that some readers may be confused by the update schedule for Crimson Dark,
especially those who live in Australia (as I do). When I say the strip updates every Monday
and Friday, it's actually based on US time (since the vast majority of webcomic readers
happen to live there), so the good citizens of the United States of America (plus Canada,
Mexico etc.) will be able to wake up on Monday morning and have a new page waiting for them.
Sadly this means that Aussies have to wait until 5pm Mondays (if you're on the East coast)
for an update, so you are able to get home from a hard days' work and find a new page
waiting for you.
On a completely unrelated topic: Go Socceroos!
My fellow Australians Monday, the 12th of June, 2006 It occurs to me that some readers may be confused by the update schedule for Crimson Dark, especially those who live in Australia (as I do). When I say the strip updates every Monday and Friday, it's actually based on US time (since the vast majority of webcomic readers happen to live there), so the good citizens of the United States of America (plus Canada, Mexico etc.) will be able to wake up on Monday morning and have a new page waiting for them. Sadly this means that Aussies have to wait until 5pm Mondays (if you're on the East coast) for an update, so you are able to get home from a hard days' work and find a new page waiting for you.
On a completely unrelated topic: Go Socceroos!
In which something goes BOOM Monday, the 19th of June, 2006 With page 15 now online, there are just three pages to go before we reach the end of the Prologue. I'm still building sets and working on the script for Chapter 1, but so far everything's on schedule.
Some trivia: The two Gerushda-class destroyers are named "Hispania" and "Forester". I went to all the trouble of printing the names onto the ships' hulls, but it's not really visible, so I thought I'd just come out and tell you.
Website updates Friday, the 23rd of June, 2006 The glossary section has been updated. It now includes the Gerushda class Destroyer, as well as descriptions of some of the governments of the Crimson Dark universe. If you're wondering what this war is all about, this is the best place to start.
Oh, and happy birthday Joss Whedon!
Website updates Friday, the 23rd of June, 2006 The glossary section has been updated. It now includes the Gerushda class Destroyer, as well as descriptions of some of the governments of the Crimson Dark universe. If you're wondering what this war is all about, this is the best place to start.
Oh, and happy birthday Joss Whedon!
Here ends the Prologue Friday, the 30th of June, 2006 Ooooh, cliffhanger ending - I invented that conept, I assure you. Next week Chapter 1 begins, with the title page on Monday and Page 1 on Friday. I’ve changed my style a little for Chapter 1, so I’m hoping it will look and read a lot better. The Prologue has been a huge learning experience for me, and I’ve learned a great deal already – thanks in large to reader feedback.
(Untitled) Monday, the 3rd of July, 2006 I just can't resist it, I *must* succumb to temptation and employ one of the most overused clichés of Sci-Fi and Fantasy: "And so it begins!" (ugh, I feel dirty now)
This new starship took weeks to build, and I had to restart from scratch twice. It’s one thing to build a nice-looking ship, it’s something else entirely to have an exterior which matches up with internal sets. The first design was too small, the second was too large, the third is juuuust right.
Experimentation Friday, the 7th of July, 2006 Yeah, I know, the character art is a little off in today’s page. I’m experimenting with some new techniques so the next few pages are going to fluctuate a little as I try one process after another. Indeed one character will magically change his face in a feat worthy of Odo himself. Don’t worry, I’m working towards a consistent style and I think I’m almost there. Your feedback, as ever, would be greatly appreciated.
Today's snippet of ego-stroking trivia: The bridge in today's update matches perfectly with the windows of the exterior model, compare with the Title page if you don't believe me.
A Doctor and a scary girl Monday, the 10th of July, 2006 Page 2 is up, and we've now met all of the main characters – albeit briefly. The art style is still being tweaked, so expect some further changes/improvements over the next few pages. I’d love to hear what you think of Chapter 1 so far, so swing by the forum and let me know – or just send me an email. I really want to make CD as good as it can possibly be, and I'd really appreciate your help in making that happen.
I know how she feels Friday, the 14th of July, 2006 Yup, once again things look a little different for the latest update. I think I’m finally starting to settle on a specific style for the art – and the combination of 3D and 2D elements doesn’t seem as jarring as it used to be. That’s what I think anyway, what do you think?
Stay tuned for some improvements to the site over the next few weeks.
What a difference a GUID makes Monday, the 17th of July, 2006 One reader pointed out that the RSS feed doesn't seem to have been updating properly. I've taken a look and I think that I've fixed it, but if you're still having troubles, please let me know. Somehow, fixing a problem by adding a single line of code just seems too easy.
Meanwhile I've given the whole site something of a facelift. The old colour scheme made sense, since it was... well... crimson... but it was starting to make my eyes bleed. I hope the new design will be easier on the eyes, and there's a new logo to go with it at the top-left of the page. I've also gone and added an 'About' section, which now incorporates the old glossary along with a FAQ which answers questions like "How do I make Crimson Dark?" and "Why is it called Crimson Dark?". Let me know what you think of these changes.
I'm not left-handed either Friday, the 21st of July, 2006 Ok, I've finally updated the Characters section to reflect the changes in Chapter 1, including some basic background information on the crew of Niobe. You don't need to know it in order to enjoy the story, but it's there if you're looking for that extra bit of detail. I have also added Niobe to the ship list in the glossary.
Meanwhile I've splurged a little and bought some advertising space on Digital Strips, who will also be reviewing Crimson Dark sometime next week on their blog. If you're a webcomic reader, then these guys are well worth checking out.
I'm still wrestling with the RSS feed.
Eek! Monday, the 24th of July, 2006 Sorry about being five hours late on today's update. Would you believe I forgot? That's the kind of day I'm having. Not a bad day, just an odd one.
It looks like the RSS feed is now updating properly in third-party newsreaders - mind you, I've only tested Thunderbird and Feedreeder, so please let me know if you're still having problems. The issue now is working out why the comic image doesn't load in Feedreader (and, I assume, other dedicated RSS readers). The code all looks fine, and the image link is good, so maybe it's a problem with my server. Such questions give me a headache.
I keep on meaning to draw people's atention to Starship Dimensions. It's one of the geekiest websites in existence, and I love it.
Latin for left-handed Friday, the 28th of July, 2006 Did you think I had forgotten the dark, sinister figure last seen clutching the exterior of Kari's Scimitar at the end of the Prologue? Don't worry, Chapter 1 really is going somewhere (umm.... besides, you know, Chapter 2).
A post-holer. For digging holes. For posts. Monday, the 31st of July, 2006 If it looks like there's a hole in today's page, that's because there is. I left the second panel clear for a while, intending to fill it with something, but in the end I decided that I like having that black space there - it gives the rest of the panels some room to breath. So far I have resisted the temptation to insert the text "this panel intentionally left blank".
I've made a minor change to the website, so news will appear in the comic archives. Thus if you're browsing through older pages you can still read the news/rant associated with them - for prosperity's sake. No, wait, posterity. Why do I always get those two mixed up?
Home. Friday, the 4th of August, 2006 I'm still experimenting with the art, with each passing page. For this page I've tried to pay closer attention to dramatic lighting - I've realised that I've been overly obsessed with trying to keep everyone brightly lit, but I'm starting to understand that "brightly lit" and "well lit" are not necessarily the same thing.
I have also done something which I never thought I was going to do: I've made the speech bubbles slightly transparent. In the past it has always looked kind of pretentious to me, like an artist loves his own work so much that he can’t bear the thought of obscuring it with pesky words and stuff. In fact some photoshopped comics have bubbles so transparent that it makes the text harder to read than it ought to be – I don't see how that can be a good thing.
But when so much of the page is in darkness, and there's an emphasis on contrasting darkness with light, I’m starting to see the virtue in bumping the layer opacity down a little – just a little. It doesn’t interfere with the readability of the text, but it's less jarring against the art. I think it helps gel the whole page together. What do you think?
For those who haven’t read the character summaries in the about section: Yes, Vaegyr and Larissa are married.
The final panel of this page includes a poster based on a design for sale at Black Market Beagles (used with permission). If you’re a fan of Firefly/Serenity, then you definitely want to go and check them out, a great collection of unofficial merchandise.
Which prompts two questions:
1. Are Vaegyr and Larissa fans of Firefly? Answer: Yes.
2. Are people still *watching* Firefly in the 27th century?
That’s a fair question. Seven hundred years is a very long time for a television series to survive, especially a series which didn’t even make it to the end of its first season.
But here’s my answer: “Quality endures”.
Today, people still watch classic shows. Sure, The Day the Earth Stood Still may be dated in a lot of ways, but that doesn’t stop it from being a great story. Similarly, people still watch Charlie Chaplin, or the Marx Brothers, because they are still funny. The history of film and TV is littered with a tremendous amount of tripe which has been mostly forgotten, and rightly so. But the quality material endures. This is perhaps why we sometimes have a rose-tinted recollection of the good old days of TV and film, because we have filtered out all of the garbage and are left with only the sweet, shiny goodness to recall.
But is seven hundred years too long for a story to survive? Well Shakespeare has survived for over four hundred years, The Song of Roland for nearly a thousand years. Beowulf is even older than that. Then there are the classic plays of Greece and Rome. And don’t forget the Epic of Gilgamesh, which has survived for as long as four millennia.
So am I saying that Firefly is comparable to Shakespeare? Yes! And I’m not the first to make the comparison either.
It's Texturific! Friday, the 11th of August, 2006 (sigh, everytime I think that I've invented a cool, new word, I check google and find out that it's been in use for years now. There really is "nothing new under the sun")
Huzzah! I've been looking forward to taking the story into a new star system for a while now. Finally a new starfield, a pretty nebula and some new lighting to play around with.
I've been putting a lot of effort into honing my 3D skills, which means that over the next few week's there should be an increase in the quality of the art. Better textures, more detailed models, more attention to lighting etc. You can see the first few samples of these new textures on this page - mainly in the walls and floor of the lounge, and in Niobe's hull. I'm trying to give everything a grittier feel.
Meanwhile, I stumbled across this incredibly cool list of webcomic tutorials by Joel Fagin, which have done a great job of showing me what's wrong with this site. I have therefore made a number of changes. Most notably I have removed the sidebar when viewing the comic itself, and reduced the filesize for each page (in some cases halving it) - making the site more friendly towards dial-up users, and those working with their monitors at 800x600. I've also reformatted some of the text, especially in the About section, to make it easier to read.
Clothes of Coolness +2 Monday, the 14th of August, 2006 Crimson Dark was linked to at Whedonesque, huzzah! Whereas the sitehad been receiving a little over 100 unique visitors per day, Saturday’s windfall increased it to nearly two thousand. Wow. So to all my new readers: Welcome! Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoy your stay. Feel free to take your shoes off - but if you value your life, don't open the fridge.
Yes, Larissa is wearing yet another outfit in today’s page. To be honest, I was never happy with her previous outfits, and it’s only now that I’ve finally given her some clothes which I like.
My next challenge? More realistic specular sheen on the characters’ skin. Hal looks like he's made of clay in the first panel...
Meanwhile I've turned off domain masking, as people have said they want to be able to easily bookmark the "latest comic" page. I'm trying to find a way to mask just the domain, while still showing the full path... and now my brain hurts.
Good news everyone! Friday, the 18th of August, 2006 As of next week, Crimson Dark will be updating thrice a week, instead of twice!
The schedule will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I'm aware of how frustrating it can be to only get two updates a week for an ongoing story, especially when things start to get a bit tense. Although I'm paying more attention to detail with each panel, and constantly adding new layers and effects to try and capture that elusive "look" which I'm aiming for... I have also found countless shortcuts which have dramatically decreased the overall time it all takes. If I really throw myself into it, I can now complete an entire page of Crimson Dark in less than a day - though if I were to do this every day then my already miniscule social life would become practically microscopic.
Anyway, the upshot is: I have condluded that I can produce extra pages without falling behind. I hope. If someone decides to employ me (though I can't imagine why) then this would almost certainly have to change.
Meanwhile, Crimson Dark has been reviewed by Digital Strips. Daku had many nice things to say, possibly the most flattering of which was "it reminds me quite a bit of firefly"... it's hard to think of higher praise.
Today's page is not the best that I've ever produced, but far better than it was going to be. I originally decided to experiment with having a completely line-free page, but the result was remarkably ugly. I was going to just upload it along with an apology, but when I looked at it this morning I realised that I *had* to go and fix it up. It's still not exactly how I wanted it to be, but it will do.
They were forced to eat Robin's minstrels Monday, the 21st of August, 2006 I have a secret to tell you, just between the two of us... that's not the same nebula in the background as on page 11. I wasn't happy with the old one, so I made a replacement nebula using a new process I've been developing, and matched the colours with the old. Shh, don't tell anyone.
The is the second page where I tried putting it together without any 'inking' lines, but changed my mind. I made pages 13 and 14 simultaneously so by the time I decided that I didn't like the look, I realised I had *two* pages which needed fixing. Again, this page hasn't turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I made a mess of Daniel's shirt in the sixth panel (neatly obscured by a speech bubble) and Whisper and Hal seem to have just dissapeared... Never mind, I'm learning. The next page will be better, I guarantee it.
Speaking of the next page, don't forget that it's going up on Wednesday instead of Friday. (and there was much rejoicing).
Handy for reading in bed Wednesday, the 23rd of August, 2006 Yay, my first Wednesday update! God-willing, the first of many.
I'm really pleased with this page, particularly the first panel. It nicely shows off the new textures I've been working on, and I'm having much more fun with lighting than I used to. Yes, Hal's ocular augmentation also serves as a torch.
I spent a while trying to decide what colour that energy beam should be. I didn't want it to be red, because these things are always red and I have enough red beams in the prologue as it is. I considered yellow/orange, because I think they would look nice, but Niobe's colour scheme is based around earth-tones, and I wanted something which would contrast harshly - we need to see this moment as an intrusion. Purple would just be too purple, so it came down to a choice between blue and green. I compromised and made it cyan.
(notice that it is *not* a LASER beam. If it was a LASER beam, then it wouldn't be visible at all, would it?)
Eek, blood! Friday, the 25th of August, 2006 It was difficult to decide how much blood was too much (or too little). I’m not one who enjoys excessive amounts of blood and gore, I go out of my way to avoid horror films and the like, but at the same time I firmly believe in being honest about the ugliness of violence.
In Star Trek, Phasers allow for a kind of sanitised violence. When somebody gets shot their chest will glow for a moment and they’ll fall down dead. It’s so clean, so easy. There are exceptions to this (Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country really changed the way we looked at phasers, as Klingons bled all over the place and even lost limbs), but in general there’s very little impact when one person shoots another.
Firely, on the other hand, does a great job of reminding us of the consequences of violence. Two particularly strong examples come to mind:
1. In Ariel, where Jayne and Simon overpower their guards. The sight of the guard desperately bighting Jayne’s hand, fearing for his life, is a sobering one. These people aren’t having fun. They’re not going to make some witty retort when they rise victorious, and then demand “Who’s next?”. They’re fighting for their lives.
2. Mal’s ear in War Stories. We’ve all seen shows where much-loved characters are tortured. It’s amazing how gentle the torturers seem to be – sure they’ll apply shock-collars, jolts of electricity, pain-sticks, and it all looks like it must really hurt… but in the end our hero makes it through and heals up to be as strong and beautiful as ever. But in War Stories, Niska takes things one step further and actually cuts off our hero’s ear. We’ve gone past pain, now we’re talking about mutilation – and all of a sudden this “torture” becomes less fun. As it should be. A similar argument can be made for season five of Angel, when Spike loses both his hands.
Now, both Mal and Spike are miraculously restored to full health, but this doesn’t detract from the immediate shock of seeing an uglier, more obscene level of torture than we’re accustomed to.
So when someone in Crimson Dark gets shot, I’m going to make it look neither clean nor fun. My bright energy beams don’t just make people glow, they rip through internal organs and mutilate the human body. That’s what guns do, why pretend otherwise?
Other thoughts: I screwed up on the second panel. Poor Daniel. I chose a singularly unflattering mixture of expression, lighting and angle. I am the paparazzi of comic artists.
Insert witty news title here. Monday, the 28th of August, 2006 Explosions are always satisfying to make, and for this one I had to learn how to produce sparks. Every week I get better at blowing things up – I think that’s something to be proud of… in a twisted, mad-scientist sort of way.
Great, now I have a mental image of a mad-scientist with a body like a corkscrew, spinning around and around and around…. why must I take my own metaphors so literally?
Anyway, Wednesday’s page is going to be a big one. Well, actually it’s going to be exactly the same size as today’s (see, there I go again), but it’s taking me a lot of time and effort to put together – much longer than usual. In fact, this is going to be the first time in the history of Crimson Dark that I’ve taken so long on a page that I’m no longer at least a page ahead of schedule (I prefer to be two pages ahead, it gives me some freedom). I really hope that it doesn’t suck…
Why don't people say "Huzzah" any more? Wednesday, the 30th of August, 2006 This page took a lot longer than I expected it would - and I expected it would take a long time. But I still managed to get it up on schedule, huzzah! Three issues slowed me down:
1. How to create the illusion of movement
I ended up adding some motion blur in Photoshop, but I'm still not entirely happy with the results. I'm going to need to refine this technique. Any Photoshop gurus out there with advice?
2. What colour the goo should be
Originally it was dark blue, but this was a bit too clean and sterile - it didn't look violent enough. I changed it to red, but this went too far - it crossed that line which separates violence from gratuitous gore. So I decided to go for orange - it's a strong, dramatic colour which is similar to blood but obviously different. It implies that there's more than just oxygen being carried through those arteries.
Every time I put Whisper in a panel, it takes twice as long to produce. Although her cranial augs are in 3D, all the details on her body need to be added manually in Illustrator and Photoshop. With most characters, adding clothes is relatively easy because there are only a few points where I need to make sure that the clothing conforms to the contours of the body (sleeves, neck etc.) - but Whisper's clothing *is* her body, composed of skin and a flexible metal alloy. Keeping all the seams and details consistent from one panel to the next is harder than it sounds.
Vote early, vote often Friday, the 1st of September, 2006 Ever since CD was linked to at Whedonesque, I've been trying to keep track of how many readers I actually have. The automated trackers I use provide some helpful details, but they're quite limited. So there are two things which you can do to make me very happy:
1. Vote for Crimson Dark on the Top Webcomics List. The votes reset every month (I think), so lets make this our campaign month. In August, Crimson Dark made it to #166 out of over 4000 listed comics - that's really cool! But I think we can do even better, I would love to see CD make it to the top 100, and possibly even the top 10 in the Sci-Fi category. So please vote as often as you can (the limit is one vote per machine per day):
Just click on the button, then answer the question to prove that you're human, and that's that.
2. My trackers only count people who actually visit the website. If you're using a RSS reader like Feedreader then I don't know that you're doing it. Please don't stop - I set up the RSS feed because I want it to make things as convenient for you as possible - but I'd be very grateful if you sent me a quick email letting me know that you're using such a program.
These actions will lead to happy David. Happy David leads to more work. More work leads to better Crimson Dark. Hopefully better grammar too.
Meanwhile, today's page returns us to the Infirmary set - newly retextured and relit. I like the soft, bluish lighting in this room, it really sets it apart from the rest of the ship.
Oh, a "JAK" is essentially a heavily augmented human being who, upon death, has had all the parts of their brain associated with personality and identity removed and replaced by an Artificial Intelligence. JAKs tend to be used as assasins or saboteurs, sent on suicide missions. The United Terran Coalition has banned their use, but this doesn't stop most of the outer Protectorates from using them anyway. Some JAKs are volunteers (like organ donors, but more holistic), others never know what becomes of their body.
You know, when I started Crimson Dark, I told myself that I was going to try and avoid all of the standard webcomic cliches. In the space of just one chapter, I have mentioned pirates and used a Zombie Ninja Cyborg. Wow.
It feels good to be doing some external scenes again, I get a little claustrophobic when the story stays inside for too long.
The Gerushda class destroyer and the Kestrel class fighters have been upgraded since we last saw them in the Prologue. Both are more detailed with new textures (the Kestrel in particular is far more detailed than it used to be), plus I'm being more creative when it comes to composition and lighting. I really like this page.
Also there's the all-new Cobra Strike-bomber, at the centre of the formation. We'll learn more about it on page 21.
I've been delighted to see so many people voting for Crimson Dark at TopWebComics. Currently we're 51 out of over 4000 comics, and number 4 in the Sci-Fi genre. You've already surpassed my dreams, thankyou! Let's keep it up though, we can make this our month:
She has a cunning plan... Wednesday, the 6th of September, 2006 It was time for a Blackadder reference, I could resist no longer.
In the original script, I had this complicated scenario where Kari recognised that the bomber was not a Taipan as Vaegyr believes, but a Cobra, which relies on intertia bombs rather than guided missiles. There was going to be a long explanation of how the Cobra used it's similarity to the Taipan to fool targets into expecting a missile attack, disguising the incoming bombs which have virtually no heat signature. It was all very clever and well-thought out, but it was also way too talky - and more than a lttile self-indulgant on my part. The final page is much simpler than the original concept, which is often the way that things go.
It's all about clouds Friday, the 8th of September, 2006 Yeah, so I've been working on improving the look of my explosions. What do you think?
It mainly involves the manipulation of clouds. That sounds so cool, doesn't it? It makes me feel like one of those ancient Greek gods that you'd see in Jason and the Argonauts, or Clash of the Titans - looking down on the puny mortals. Wow... ego trip... ok, I'm back now. More specifically, it's about manipulating photos of clouds in Photoshop, though there's a lot of 'digital painting' involved as well. It's actually somewhat similar to the process I use to create my nebulae, which makes sense since nebulae are generally the gaseous remains of exploded stars.
Hello to all the new readers who came here from either Mark Horne's blog or topwebcomics, I hope one or two of you might consider staying.
Please vote for Crimson Dark, it will give me a buzz and attract more readers:
Soothes the soul and feeds the muse Monday, the 11th of September, 2006 On weekdays I will typically listen to 702 ABC Sydney while I work on Crimson Dark, but on weekends it all comes down to iTunes. I try to pick my playlists to help set the mood of the page which I'm working on, which is rather easy since the majority of my collection consists of soundtracks from Film, TV and Theatre.
For example: For page 23, I listened to my "Battles" play-list. This consists of tracks such as "The Battle of Hoth" (Empire Strikes Back), "Tie Fighter Attack" (A New Hope), Severed Dreams (Babylon 5), "You Have the Power" (Dark City) and "The Bridge of Khazad'Dum" (Fellowship of the Ring).
I made a few mistakes in the Art for this page, but I'm hoping that you're all kind enough to forgive (or, even better, that you just won't notice!).
Please vote, or you'll make Whisper angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry:
The dichotomy of purpose Wednesday, the 13th of September, 2006 As both writer and artist, I tend to be torn between two desires:
1. Tell a story 2. Make pretty pictures
Much of the joy of working on Crimson Dark is that it allows me to do both at once, but marrying the two disciplines is not always that easy. Part of me wants to advance the story and keep the pace up, another part of me just wants to step back and go "ooh, isn't it pretty?". Today the artist won over the writer, so the primary function of today's page is simply to look pretty, I hope it succeeds at that.
It's always difficult trying to judge whether things are moving too slowly or too quickly. I'm conscious of the fact that you, my dear readers, have to wait two or three days for each page - and it must be frustrating when *nothing happens*. But there's also the risk of moving so quickly that we miss precious moments - dialogue which helps to flesh out the characters, insights into the socio-political backdrop of the story... and, of course, pretty pictures.
One thing that makes is so hard for me to judge the pace is the fact that I've planned much of the story out months in advance. I'm currently working on pages which I first envisioned roughly three months ago, and I'm not a particularly patient person.
However, there are advantages to forcing myself to take things slowly - most notably it allows me to get a good, strong idea of what the story is all about so there can be a continuity of purpose and tone. Though the art has changed dramatically over the past forty-or-so pages, I'd like to think that there has been a consistency in the writing which would not have been there had I been simply making things up as I went.
Don't forget to wash me with glee by voting for Crimson Dark:
Too many games Friday, the 15th of September, 2006 I know, the jump effect changes every time I do it. This is partly because I'm still trying to find an effect which pleases me, partly because it looks quite different against a bright nebula compared to a dark starfield, and partly because I'm lazy and keep on looking for shortcuts. Mostly because I'm lazy.
We're nearing the end of Chapter 1 (still a few pages to go though). I'm trying to decide what to do once the chapter is complete - do I dive straight into Chapter 2, or do I take a short break? A break would give me a chance to finish the new sets and ships that I'm building, but I hate the idea of not updating. Hmm. I guess the best solution would be to stop wasting time playing Rome: Total War, Call of Duty 2 and Vampire, The Masquerade: Bloodlines and get back to work!
Yeah, like that's going to happen...
Fire bad... Monday, the 18th of September, 2006 After a week or two of explosions, I hope you guys don't mind if CD turns into a 'talkie' again.
I'm starting to feel a little burned out. Producing three pages a week, though quite doable, has a wearisome quality about it. Once Chapter 1 is complete, I plan to take a short break before beginning Chapter 2, during which I'll probably just post filler art (though if anyone feels like doing a guest strip, let me know). It won't be for long though, I'm desperately eager to keep the story moving and I can't bear the thought of staying away from Niobe for long.
Meanwhile, I'm also working on a major redesign for the site. The plan is to bring it online to celebrate the start of chapter 2. It's looking shiny so far, I can't wait to show you.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have the doomsday device! If you value your lives, vote for Crimson Dark:
Brain broken, can't think of witty news title Wednesday, the 20th of September, 2006 Today's page is essentially a gag strip. The idea came to me months ago when I was working on Page 2 (where Kari wakes up), but I quickly decided that it just wasn't the kind of thing that she would do. Hal on the other hand... hehehe.
Part of the joy of becoming involved in the webcomics community is that I end up discovering so many incredibly cool webcomics made by other people. There are some extraordinarily talented people out there. Recently I stumbled across a couple of gems:
Voyage Moyen by Michelle Mauk - it's still quite young so it's hard to pass judgement on characters or plot, but the art is superb and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Planet Karen by Karen Ellis - A fairly simple, straightforward blog in comic format. Sometimes funny, other times poignant, always worth it.
Every time you vote, a kitten is born. Or run over by a bus. It depends on how you feel about kittens:
Make it so Friday, the 22nd of September, 2006 I often worry that I might become lazy with the art for CD and turn it into a series of talking-heads. Sometimes I set myself artistic challenges to force myself to keep things visually interesting - today's challenge was "more dark than light".
The blurred starfield - a result of the ship's jump-field - moves much slower than you might imagine. There aren't points of light flying past like in Star Wars or Star Trek. Even when travelling at many times the speed of light, most stars are still going to appear to stay still - they're *very* far away. The result is a slowly shifting pattern of light, like watching clouds drifting overhead. It's a beautiful sight.
Now, here's the plan: Monday's update will be the final page of Chapter 1 (huzzah!). On Wednesday I'll post some filler for your bemusement, and then on Friday I'll begin Chapter 2 with the title page. Sometime between Monday and Friday the new site design will go live (God willing...).
Vote for Crimson Dark. If you were a webcomic, Crimson Dark would vote for you:
Here endeth the Chapter Monday, the 25th of September, 2006 With today's update, the first chapter of Crimson Dark comes to a close. Yay! Chapter 2 will begin on Friday.
I have a LAN Party (a bunch of nerds playing computer games all weekend) on this Labour Day long weekend, during which I don't expect to get any work done at all, but there will be updates on Friday and Monday. I'm working ahead of schedule to make sure of that. However I'm taking this Wednesday off so I can focus on getting the new site design finished. I will be posting some filler on Wednesday, so there'll still be something to look forward to.
The new site design will probably take a little time to settle in (I'm not particularly good at this sort of thing), so please be patient if things aren't working properly for a little while. My current plan is to bring it online sometime tomorrow.
I'll probably be moving house sometime in the next month or so. Hopefully this won't have any impact on the update schedule here, but I wanted to warn you just in case.
Filler: Niobe in Progress Fifty pages and counting! Wednesday, the 27th of September, 2006 Here’s the filler, as promised. Chapter 2 will begin on Friday with a title-page, and an announcement. I promise that I will only ever post filler pages *between* chapters, never during one.
Meanwhile the new site is up and running, including the return of the old forums. If you spot any broken links, please let me know (I really suck at web design), and any feedback you have on the design/layout would be warmly welcomed.
I realised as I was working on today’s filler that Crimson Dark is now fifty pages old. This seems like a perfect time to reflect on the past few months.
I started Crimson Dark for a number of reasons, the main one being a burning need to tell a story. But another big factor has been my ongoing struggle with chronic depression. I was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with being unemployed, and I desperately needed something productive to do – a practical reason for getting up in the morning. Now I feel like I have a purpose, and it’s largely thanks to you.
I’m amazed by the way that people have been spreading the word about Crimson Dark. Some have been mentioning it in their blogs, others have been posting about it on forums, many having been voting. This, combined with the emails which people send me, is incredibly encouraging – it gives me the motivation I need to produce the next page. So thankyou all!
Anyone living in the region of Penrith (Western Sydney) who feels like dropping in on our LAN Party this weekend should send me an email. It's a fairly laid-back affair, just a few of us (mostly friends form church) playing games and having BBQs.
Please vote for Crimson Dark, or suffer the consequences (do you really think you can endure three hours of me going "pleasepleasepleaseplease..."?):
The announcement Friday, the 29th of September, 2006 I've been working on this page for *months*. Yes, that's the aforementioned Espenson Station, and yes, it's named after Jane Espenson. She's been a tremendous influence on my writing, firstly as a result of watching Buffy, Angel and Firefly (which she helped to write, and have each inspired Crimson Dark to a certain extent), but now thanks to her wonderful blog through which she gives tips and advice to upcoming writers. Though skewed towards writing for television, her thoughts are widely applicable and of great use to anyone who is even remotely interested in the art of storytelling. In fact, if you just enjoy stringing words together into sentences, then I guarantee that you'll find Jane's blog helpful.
Now for the announcement which I promised on Wednesday: Soon you will be able to buy Crimson Dark in printed form! A few readers have emailed me suggesting that I turn CD into a book, and I've chosen to acquiesce. I haven't decided on the price or publication date yet, but it should be quite affordable. My hope is that, aside from relieving eyestrain from reading computer screens in darkly lit rooms, I might be able to start making some money off Crimson Dark so I can cover the expenses involved (at the moment I make nothing from CD at all, at this rate those Google Ads aren't going to start paying off until 2009). I'll make a promise right now, however, that I will *never* charge you to read CD online. This webcomic will always be 100% free to the reader.
Before I publish the book, however, I want to go back and improve the artwork - and that's the second part of the announcement. Over the next few months I will update every page in the Prologue, and the first few pages of Chapter 1, to reflect my new art style. I'm not pulling a George Lucas though, I'll be leaving the original versions online as well and you will always be able to view them by clicking the link in the commentary for each page. The first three pages of the Prologue (including the Title Page) have already been done, so check them out. I don't know how long it will take to finish this task, as I'm not going to let it intefere with my work on Chapter 2.
LAN Party this weekend, woohoo!
BAH!!! Monday, the 2nd of October, 2006 The month of October is upon us, and the webcomic lists have been reset. Crimson Dark spent most of September at around #55 out of thousands of listed comics, and remained in the top ten Sci-Fi comics for the entire month - all thanks to you! I think it would be good to target a different toplist each month, as it should lead to broader exposure, so this month we're targetting the BuzzComix toplist.
The LAN PArty has been fun (I'm still there at the moment), but it has come to a grinding halt for me as my Video Card has died. It's not the first time that this has happened and I've come to the conclusion that I need to completely rebuild my PC with a new case, processor, motherboard and video card. Until I do this, I'm going to have a corrupted display, which is going to make production of Crimson Dark an 'interesting' experience, to say the least. Not only do I have annoying blue lines across the screen, it also corrupts all of the 3D work I do unless I run in software mode - which significantly slows down an already tedious process.
The problem is that such an upgrade costs money, and I have none, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Hopefully this isn't going to impact on the update schedule here, but please be understanding if there's an occasional service interruption while I try and fix things up. It's at times like this that I almost wish that I made CD using traditional means.
Voting might help cheer me up:
You can never have too many Primary Buffer Panels Wednesday, the 4th of October, 2006 I have an extremely generous grandmother who has offered to loan me the money I need to rebuild my PC, so that's a huge relief. It's going to take a few days though, so I don't know whether I'll be able to put a new page together for Friday.
Controllers are actually the best paid individuals in both the military and commercial sectors. After years of experimentation with AIs, it was concluded that though computers were experts at performing detailed diagnostics on individual systems, they could never match a human's intuition and creativity when it came to the holistic approach. Controllers interface with every system in a station or ship, constantly searching for, predicting and fixing problems before they even surface. They typically spend two weeks solid plugged into their mainframe, and then have a few days off before returning to duty.
It's the hardest job in the galaxy, requiring more training and skill than a surgeon, but the perks are extraordinary: Free augmentations for life, a very high salary and early retirement with a sizable pension.
Adverse psychological conditions have been associated with being a Controller, particularly loss of identity due to the merging of personal and technical memories. Many precautions are now taken to reduce the risk, one of which is the habit of always referring to the person as "Control" when they're on duty, and by their real name when off duty (so Nick was being tactless when he said "Bob" in the Prologue").
Yikes, and away:
New PC for me! Friday, the 6th of October, 2006 Yay! I decided to really put my new system to the test, and try something I've never done before: All six main characters in a single panel. Cinema 4D *loves* my new Intel duo processor (though it seems to be crashing much more often than it used to...)
Hello to everyone who has found Crimson Dark through Buzzcomix, I hope you like what you see.
Somebody asked me why Kari isn't wearing any shoes. There are two answers: 1. She doesn't like shoes 2. I don't like drawing shoes
To those of you who have emailed me recently, I'm sorry if I haven't replied yet. Thanks to the LAN Party and the death of my old PC, this has been a very hectic week. I will get to you soon.
Voting for Crimson Dark will lead to hugs, puppies and world peace:
Toughest. Page. Ever. Monday, the 9th of October, 2006 I must have spent four times longer on this page than usual. I rewrote it several times, decided on a layout, rendered the panels, started post-processing, changed the layout, rendered new panels etc. I redesigned the Marine (the guy in red) three times, and I'm still not happy with him. Ugh. I finished it so late that my proof-reader hasn't been able to look at it, so blame any typos on her (how dare she attend a job interview instead of reading my comic!).
Incidentally, scanning fields aren't actually visible. UTC law requires visible indications of the presence of scanning fields so that citizens can't be scanned without their knowledge.
I'll talk a bit more about Marines in Wednesday's post. For now I'll just say that the coloured speech bubble indicates a modulated voice (like a Dalek or a Goa'uld).
Meanwhile, I've found another webcomic I want to share. It's called Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life, about a couple of robots who go on a road-trip through our solar system. Quite witty, nicely drawn and a clever use of the 'infinite canvas'.
Every vote sends an electric shock through you enemy's spine:
About Marines Wednesday, the 11th of October, 2006 Whisper happened to be thinking about blue things at the time. Plus it rhymes.
Ok, here's the skinny on Marines:
The origin of the term 'Marine' dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when specially trained soldiers were assigned to sailing ships to help with boarding actions and protect the officers against mutiny. These marine soldiers developed a reputation for being particularly hardy and skilled, as necessitated by the grueling demands of life at sea.
The Republic Marines in Crimson Dark are closer to these early Marines than the modern, cigar-chomping, smack-talking stereotype. They are heavily augmented to make them exceptionally skilled warriors and extremely difficult to kill, but U.T.C. law decrees that these so-called "Super-soldiers" may only be assigned to warships and military bases, and can only take part in defensive actions. The Republic Parliament has recently declared that preemptive strikes can be classified as 'defensive actions'. The Cirin Alliance has accused the Republic of breaching the Convention on Military Augmentations, but the U.T.C. has remained strangely silent on the matter.
Marines are very expensive to train, augment and maintain, so it is rare to find a capital ship with more than six Marines aboard. Espenson Station, with a population of 10,000 souls, only has thirty Marines in addition to its regular security force.
Please support Crimson Dark:
Sometimes I get it right Friday, the 13th of October, 2006 Whereas the last two pages have been quite exhausting, this one was remarkably refreshing. It's nice to not have to draw a Marine. I'm particularly pleased with how Daniel's shirt turned out in the third panel - I'm not normally happy with the clothing after I've drawn it on, but for some reason I seemed to get it right this time.
Many thanks to Tim for saying nice things about Crimson Dark in The Gigcast #59. The Gigcast is well worth checking out if you're interested in webcomics at all (as a creator or a reader). It feels professionally produced, and doesn't fall into the self-indulgent traps which many Podcasts seem to face ("Hey, let's make people listen to three minutes of us giggling and swearing before we say anything worth hearing...").
In Australia, failure to vote carries a $50 fine:
Clothed in bubbles Monday, the 16th of October, 2006 One of the final steps when assembling a page is putting the speech bubbles on, which can be annoying because it often involves covering up artwork which I've put a lot of effort into. Recently I've become better at composing each panel so this is less of an issue. However there are occasions when speech bubbles can be a blessing because... ahem... I'm not always happy with the art, and I actually *want* to cover it up. Today is such an occasion.
I had a nightmare last night, in which my new video card started to die in the same way that my last two did. I think I'm a little paranoid...
People seem to have stopped voting for Cirmson Dark, and we're slipping down the buzzcomic ratings. Don't make me unleash the flying radioactive vorpal pandas on an unsuspecting world!
Yes, all those words are real Wednesday, the 18th of October, 2006 I think that I would benefit from a Whisper in my life, possibly as a sister. These days the only we to get me to see a doctor is to persuade me that I am on the precipice of an imminent and painful death. Don't worry, we'll get back to Kari on Friday - I just wanted to establish what everyone's doing.
Can anyone recommend some good music composition software for Windows? Preferably something free or very cheap, which supports real-time playback with a wide variety of instruments and music styles, and can save to MP3 format.
On Monday I asked for votes, and you complied - you're the coolest!
I'm moving house Friday, the 20th of October, 2006 It's official, I'm going to be moving house sometime in the next three weeks. I'm going to do my best to make sure that this won't affect my schedule for Crimson Dark, but I can't make any promises at this stage - you know how unpredictable these things can get.
Yesterday I decided to check out the competition on the Buzzcomix toplist, and I discovered a wonderful little gem called Comedity. It is one of the funniest webcomics I've read for a long time, causing me to laugh out loud several times as I worked through the archives. It's clearly inspired by the likes of MacHall and Applegeeks, and is delightfully geeky in it's tone. What's more, one of the pages has a lovely little Firefly reference.
In other news, I've updated the forums to the latest version, and given them a massive facelift. This preceeds another redesign for the site (well, more a modification than a total redesign) where I'm planning on expanding the site to take full advantage of 1024x768 displays. However I'm aware that some of you might be reading at 800x600, and I don't want to discourage you from reading CD - so I've made a poll in the forums where you can let your voice be heard.
Go on, press the pretty button, you know you want to:
Some exciting news Monday, the 23rd of October, 2006 Crimson Dark is now a proud member of the NightGig community, which is very cool. I'm honoured and humbled to have been invited, and I'm really excited about the opportunities this may open up. I'm going to be interviewed sometime soon for the Gigcast, so you might as well subscribe to it now ;)
Meanwhile I have set up a mirror for Crimson Dark over at Drunk Dunk webcomic hosting. I'm uploading exactly the same pages to each site, but my homepage (here) has lots of extra stuff which I may or may not mirror on DD. Frankly, it takes effort, and I'm lazy. Choose whichever site works for you.
You've probably noticed that I'm trying to be more mindful of colours in the composition of my pages. I've deliberately given the halls of Espenson Station a desaturated look, but I'm not sure that it's the most successful of schemes. I'm having more fun with the strong colours of Kari's confinement cell.
My latest webcomic find: Gunnerkrigg Court. Think "Harry Potter with robots". Great art, fun characters and a really fascinating setting - it's well worth checking out.
Meep Meep Wednesday, the 25th of October, 2006 I had a lot of fun researching propaganda posters for today's page :)
I've decided to shut down my hosted forums, and instead use the forum provided by Nightgig. Yes, I know, I really should make up my mind. But even with a recent influx of readers, our phpbb forums were barely being used. I'll leave the old forums up for a little while, in case anyone wants to copy their threads across to the new forum.
Building spaceships is fun, but can be hard work. Especially when I realise that I've given myself three days to build three new warships plus a carrier. Gah!
Inebriated Waterfowl Friday, the 27th of October, 2006 The "containment field" which separates Kari from Vaegyr and Daniel isn't like the force fields you see in Star Trek. Rather than an impenetrable wall of force, it is a sophisticated device based on the same technology which provides artificial gravity for most ships and stations. Essentially, the resistance the field generates is proportional to the momentum of the object which is try to pass through it. Anything which is particularly heavy (eg: a human torso) or particularly fast (eg: a fist) is going to meet high resistance from the field, preventing escape or attack. However it is possible to pass relatively small objects (eg: coffee, propaganda) though the field as long as it is done slowly. The big advantage over inflexible force fields is that it allows guards to pass food and drink to a prisoner without having to deactivate the field and expose themselves to attack.
It is conceivably possible to escape by moving your body through the field at an extremely low speed, but this would take over an hour and would be extraordinarily difficult. Especially with cameras watching.
I did the interview for the Gigcast this morning and had a great time. It should be up early next week. Obviously I'll put up a link when it goes online.
Just a reminder that CD is also being posted at Drunk Dunk, where you can leave comments on each page as it appears. However I'm going to keep my rants on this site, and just put up a summary on DD. Choose whichever suits you :)
Oh, CD was also selected this week as a featured comic on Drunk Duck, woohoo!
Boo! Monday, the 30th of October, 2006 If you were expecting a Halloween Special, then you must have forgotten that I'm Australian. We don't do that sort of thing down here :)
I've been rebuilding the Scimitar model for some time now, both the exterior and the interior. I'm glad that I've finally had a chance to use it again.
Spaceships and an interview, yay! Tuesday, the 31st of October, 2006 Finally, a chance to show off some of the new ships I've been building over the past few months!
My interview on the Gigcast is now online. It's a Halloween edition of the webcomics podcast, so silliness abounds, but it settles down after a little while. The interview itself begins about half way through the episode, at which point the silliness resumes. Crimson Dark is discussed in some detail, as well as Sci-Fi in general (with special reference to Firefly and Browncoats).
(sorry about the slight delay in the update, I did something stupid, but it's fixed now)
Blue = Republic; Red = Alliance. Friday, the 3rd of November, 2006 Grey = couldn't be bothered texturing.
I'm moving house on Monday, so I'll apologise in advance if anything goes wrong with Monday's update. I've already finished the page, so hopefully it won't be an issue, but I've said that before.
I have exciting things planned after the move, including: 1. A 2007 Calendar featuring the spacecraft of Crimson Dark 2. A redesign of the website, plus some improvements to the Drunk Duck mirror 3. Many new wallpapers 4. A completely new database, with much more detail on the universe of Crimson Dark 5. Exercise more often, eat better and lose some weight 6. World domination
I expect number 5 is going to be the hardest.
Spaceship go boom now Monday, the 6th of November, 2006 Sometimes, when I blow things up, it's to highlight an important point or to push the story forward. Other times, I blow things up simply because I *can*. I think today's big boom falls into the latter category.
So what's the difference between a "Dogfight" and a "Furball"? The term "dogfight" refers to two (or more) fighters engaged in close-quarters combat, and likens them to a pair of dogs circling each other trying to catch each other's tail. "Furball" is a term which I generally hear used in the context of WW2, referring to a very large dogfight involve many fighters and bombers. Thus it's possible for two fighters (eg: a Scimitar and a Kestrel) to have a small dogfight in the middle of a much larger furball.
I have successfully moved house, and though there's still much to do, I feel like the worst is behind me.
Nick of time Wednesday, the 8th of November, 2006 I normally try to finish each page at least 24 hours before it goes online, but things have been quite hectic and I was only able to send this off to my proof-reader a few hours ago. Thankfully, she was able to look at it and provide feedback quite quickly. This is a good opportunity to give my Mum a shout-out, CD would have many more typos and make much less sense without her input.
EDIT: No, I did not intentionally misspell "proof-reader" when I first posted this. I'm not that clever.
If you've listened to my interview on the Gigcast, then you should have heard me mention my plans to release a 2007 Calendar featuring the starships of Crimson Dark. I'm working hard to get it out ASAP, but I've also been making wallpapers based on the images. They're in the Extras section now, so check them out.
I can't believe I managed to stick to three updates per week while moving house, without any real buffer to speak of. I'm tired.
Who put the "flash" in "flashback"? Monday, the 13th of November, 2006 Is this flashback taking too long? I feel like it's taking too long, but I get bored quickly with my own work. Trust me, it's important.
I've finished nine images for the calendar, just three to go now (plus the cover).
Boom. Wednesday, the 15th of November, 2006 I just realised that we've gone three pages now without an explosion. I apologise. I hope today's page makes up for that in some small way.
The calendar is moving along nicely, hopefully it should be ready in less than a week.
The Calendar, and a possible Schedule change Friday, the 17th of November, 2006 It's easy to forget that explosions have consequences.
I've finished the calendar, and it is now available for sale at my brand new CafePress store. Each month features a different starship from Crimson Dark (or, in some cases, several starships). I have also put up some posters of my favourite image from the calendar, but I can't put more up without upgrading my store. If you want more poster designs, let me know, and I'll consider making them available.
Meanwhile, I'm contemplating reverting to updating twice a week (Mondays and Fridays) instead of three times a week. There are four main reasons: 1. I'm worried about burning out at some point, I want to make sure that producing CD will remain a fun and fresh experience 2. The thrice-weekly schedule means that I'm starting to take shortcuts, and I'm concerned that it may be impacting on the quality of the comic 3. I'd like to build up a buffer so that next time something hectic happens (eg: moving house), I can continue to update regularly 4. Next year I want to start a new project, a second comic (very different to CD), and I need the extra time to do some feasibility tests and get things rolling.
Of course, there are cons involved: 1. I get impatient with the progress of CD even when I update three times a week, twice a week would possibly send me insane 2. No-one likes waiting four days for the next page
There is a compromise solution, though. I could possibly update every Monday and Friday, and then the occasional Wednesday depending on how things are going. But I'm not sure whether people would prefer a steady reliable schedule over the occasional extra page.
What do you think? Head over to the forum and let me know - your thoughts really do matter.
With the calendar complete, I'm working on the redesign for the site. It should go live this weekend, all things being equal.
EDIT: Okay, I finished the redesign sooner than expected, so here it is. Please report any broken links. EDIT 2: I'm currently exploring a cheaper printing option for the calendar, so I've taken the old one down for now. More details as they come... EDIT 3: I'm sticking with CafePress for the Calendar, but I've made some changes and reduced the price a little
Much to mention Monday, the 20th of November, 2006 First, the major announcement: I have decided to change Crimson Dark's schedule back to two updates per week, instead of three. My reasons are outlined in the forum, but to sum up: I'm worried about the quality of the comic and I want to start on a second project while continuing to update CD regularly. I think that most people would prefer fewer updates as long as they are regular and of high quality, instead of lackluster efforts and missed deadlines.
The new site design is up and running, what do you think? This design isn't really friendly to people viewing at 800x600 resolution, so if that includes you then I would recommend using the Drunk Duck mirror instead (actually, I would recommend switching to 1024x768 at your earliest convenience).
The 2007 Crimson Dark calendar is now for sale. Buy one for yourself, and another for your friend. If your friend doesn't read Crimson Dark, then buy them a calendar anyway. When they say "What's Crimson Dark?" you can reply "I'm glad you asked..."
Finally, I'm trying out a new advertising option named Project Wonderful. It allows people to bid on advertising space, a bit like bidding on an e-bay auction. The highest bidder gets to advertise in the space. If you look at the ad on the left of the page, you should be able to see a link below it which will let you start bidding straight away - if you're the highest bidder the ad will go online as soon as I approve it. It looks like a new and interesting way of doing things, and I hope it catches on. Plus, since it's just getting started, a lot of sites are currently offering insanely cheap ad boxes so now is the best time to take advantage of it.
Better coat art Friday, the 24th of November, 2006 Panels with characters and dialogue take me much longer to produce than panels with spaceships and explosions (though the ships themselves take many hours to build) - the recent change in schedule is making it easier for me to try and make sure that I give the characters the attention and detail they deserve. I am *much* happier with Vaegyr's coat on this page than usual.
If you haven't bought a Crimson Dark Calendar yet (and I know you haven't, because no-one has!), then now's a good time because they're 20% off until December 3rd - that means that, shipping costs aside, you'll be paying less than the normal base price which *I* pay!
Thanks to everyone who has been sponsoring this site through Project Wonderful, I hope you're getting value for money :)
Titular revelelations Monday, the 27th of November, 2006 I'm looking for an artist who would like to collaborate on a new comic, details can be found in the forum.
Having already introduced "Espenson Station" in this chapter, I felt it would be fitting if I also made mention of "Minear Station", a tip of the hat to Tim Minear (of Angel and Firefly fame). Oh, and today's page should make it clear where the title 'Crimson Dark' comes from :)
Let's vote again, like we did last Winter Friday, the 1st of December, 2006 We seem to have collected a lot of new readers over the past week or so - hi there! Thanks for reading.
A number of people have asked me why I stopped putting voting buttons in these news posts, and the answer is "because I'm lazy". Since a new month is upon us, it's time to start anew. As before, I'm planning on focusing on a different webcomic list each month (though you're more than welcome to vote on multiple lists). For the month of December it's going to be "Top Web Comics", so here's the button:
New set, new character, new colours... Monday, the 4th of December, 2006 ...It's about time! Kari's flashback did end up taking a lot longer than I originally planned (it's so easy to get distracted when there are spaceships involved).
Please vote for Crimson Dark, it's the Kevin Rudd of webcomics!
It's contest time! Friday, the 8th of December, 2006 The optimist in me likes to think that by the time we reach the 27th century, neck-ties will no longer exist. But I'm a cynic at heart.
I'm giving away two copies of the 2007 Crimson Dark Calendar! All you need to do is produce some Crimson Dark Fanart, or if you're not an artist then you can write 500 words (or less) about your favourite Sci-Fi moment of all time. Details can be found here. Hurry, the closing date for submissions is the 24th December.
Gorramn Commodores Monday, the 11th of December, 2006 Why oh why did Pearson have to go and say "two" marines, instead of just one? Doesn't she know how long it takes to draw these guys?
Firefly fans should take a look at this list of every Firefly reference in a webcomic, ever. CD even gets a mention!
Don't forget, I'm giving away two copies of my 2007 Crimson Dark Calendar! All you need to do is produce some fanart, or write about your favourite Sci-Fi moment. Click here for details.
There seem to some load-time issues with Project Wonderful at the moment, so the ads on this site are taking a lot longer to appear than they ought. This is effectively slowing down how long it takes to load a page, so I apologise for any inconvenience. I've contacted them about it and am waiting for a reply.
It's good to be the king... Friday, the 15th of December, 2006 Hey, we get tolearn a little more about Vaegyr's background too. Shiny. It's alright, no more flashbacks for now, the rest of Vaegyr's story will have to wait until another day.
I noticed a few people have been making forum avatars based on CD, which is really cool, so I've decided to make it easier for you. The extras section now contains a number of 100x100 avatars based on characters from the comic, which you are invited to use in whatever forums/bulletin boards you like to frequent.
Hmm Monday, the 18th of December, 2006 Sigh, there's been something lacking in the art for this chapter and I'm not sure what it is. While it's technically superior to chapter 1 because I've been developing new techniques and procedures, it lacks some of the artistry of my earlier pages. I fear laziness may be a factor, plus impatience impatience. The story hasn't been as strong as I hoped it would be either. Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed with how Chapter 2 is turning out. However, it is now nearing it's end so I'm going to make sure that I learn from my mistakes and make Chapter 3 as good as humanly possible.
It's pronounced "Kirin" Friday, the 22nd of December, 2006 I think I must have rewritten today's page a dozen times. T'was quite a challenge.
Thanks to everyone who has said nice things following my moderately angsty rant on Monday, and thanks to people who have made helpful suggestions too. A good friend, Samuel, wisely pointed out that part of the problem may simply be the time of year - my depression invariably gets worse in December/January - and that does tend to impact on everything I do. But another good friend (my Mum) pointed out that Chapter 2 has primarily consisted of "talking heads", relieved only by a flashback space battle, which is a fair point. Trust me, Chapter 3 is going to be better.
For those of you who don't frequent the forum, I suggest you at least check this out: Reg is building a Kestrel fighter out of cardboard!
There will be a new page on Monday as usual, and it won't be Christmas-themed - there's probably going to be more than enough of that happening as it is :)
Mmm.... humbugs... Monday, the 25th of December, 2006 A hint: The brief exchange between Daniel and Kari harkens back to an earlier conversation of theirs.
For those who want to hear it, I'll say "Merry Christmas". For the rest of us, I'll just say "Have a nice day!". The next page, on Friday, will be the final page of chapter 2.
Too much symbolism... Friday, the 29th of December, 2006 Here endeth the chapter. I’m taking a week off so I can prepare for Chapter 3, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be anything to see here next week – on the contrary I’m going to be putting up a filler page for every weekday between chapters. That means five pages of Crimson Dark trivia for your amusement.
Okay, the deadline for my 2007 Calendar contest has come and gone… and I have received a grand total of *one* entry! Don’t you want free junk? I’m extending the deadline to Monday the 22nd January, so you now have more than three weeks to get your entries in! Remember, it’s either a piece of CD fanart or less than 500 words about your favourite Sci-Fi moment (or one of your favourites). Click here to get involved!
Okay, since this is the final page of Chapter 2 and the final page of 2006, this seems to be a good time to go all reflective on you.
In May 2006 I started working on Crimson Dark for a great many reasons, but one of the biggest ones was as a means of staving off my chronic depression. Unemployed, having recently been fired from a retail job in an art/craft store (I’m just no good at pretending to be happy), I urgently needed a reason to get up in the morning.
I’m delighted to report that, though I doubt I’ll never be rid of this confounded depression, it has been dealt a rather serious blow this year. Reaction to Crimson Dark has really blown me away, and I’ve been both honoured and humbled by how welcoming the webcomic community has been. Big thanks in particular go to everyone at NightGig – especially Tim and Jo for interviewing me for the gigcast.
Also, great big thanks to all the readers who have been so zealous in spreading the word about Crimson Dark – thanks in particular to my fellow Browncoats who have been doing their bit over at Whedonesque and FireflyFans.net. Thanks also to everyone who has told someone else about CD – through blogs, email, word-of-mouth, carrier-pigeon etc. And thanks to everyone who votes for CD, I see a lot of new readers coming in from those webcomic lists (and hopefully one or two of them are actually hanging around). But most importantly, thanks for reading!
2007 is going to be the year that makes or breaks Crimson Dark. These first two chapters have essentially been like a two-part, movie-length pilot of a new TV series. Now that chapter 2 is done, we’ve finally met the characters and established the setting, and the time has come to start really having fun. I’ve got some big plans for where I’m going to take the characters in 2007, and with Joss Whedon as my role-model I can assure you that it’s not all going to be hugs and puppies.
Filler: Props and gadgetry Have you put your new calenders up yet? Monday, the 1st of January, 2007 As promised, this week will see a new page of filler each weekday, giving some additional trivia and background info on the world of Crimson Dark and the process of its creation. Today I wanted to focus on some of the props which I've made but which have never really been centre-stage.
Submissions have started rolling in for the 2007 Calendar Contest, which is great, but nearly all of them have been in the written category. Remember one calendar goes to my favourite written piece, and one goes to my favourite fan-art - so start drawing/painting/sketching/smearin/building etc. (Hint: Original art based on CD will automatically beat anything which is just a rehashed version of my own art - if I wanted to see that kind of thing I'd just apply a few photoshop filters. I want to see *your* take on Crimson Dark).
Filler: Capital Ships of White-Rim Wee, spaceships! Tuesday, the 2nd of January, 2007 An overview of the capital ship classes which fought at White-Rim, all to scale. As usual, red = Alliance, Blue - Republic. Some ships aren't done justice by the top-down view, such as the Tempest, Castellan and Vorstok classes, as they have significant vertical elements in their design. All of my ships are built to scale with each other, making it easy to place them in scenes together - they are essentially my "miniatures". The Scimitar however has two models, the miniature for wide-shots, and a larger model which is scaled to my characters for close-ups. Tomorrow we'll take a look at the fighters.
Chapter 3 will begin on Monday.
Don't forget the Contest!
For Friday's filler, I want to do a more detailed examination of one of the ships from White-Rim, with stats and multiple views, and you get to choose which ship you want to see. I've set up a poll in the forum where you can make your voice heard.
Filler: Fighters & Bombers of White-Rim More spaceships... Wednesday, the 3rd of January, 2007 A scale overview of every fighter and bomber at White-Rim, plus part of a Taratane class Frigate for comparison. As you can see, the Scimitar is a remarkably small fighter - designed specifically for carrier-operations using cutting-edge technology. The Kestrel, by contrast, is an inefficient design sacrificing firepower and maneuverability for acceleration - it's close to becoming obsolete, but is likely to remain in service as long as it remains cheap and easy to mass-produce. The Eagle is a much newer design, a heavily modified Kestrel with much more firepower but not so much acceleration, but it's much more costly to produce. Sabres and Zweihanders don't look so good from this angle, as they have significant vertical elements in their design.
Again, don't forget the contest, and the poll in the forums.
Filler: Page 12 in progress Unemployed... in Greenland! Thursday, the 4th of January, 2007 A very brief and rough overview of the steps involved in putting a typical page together, in this case it's Page 12 of chapter 2. It doesn't cover every step and glosses over some very complicated procedures, but it should give you a general idea of the process.
There's a very cool article about Crimson Dark in the inaugural issue of Spacesuits and Sixguns, well worth looking at.
The Annual Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards are about to get rolling, so if you produce a webcomic of any description then make sure you're registered to vote. This is a great way of acknowledging some of the wonderful work that's being done out there - more often for love than for money.
Remember the contest, and the poll in the forums.
Filler: Big ship... Friday, the 5th of January, 2007 The votes are in - most people wanted to know more about the Tempest Battleship, so here it is!
Increasingly concerned (some would say 'paranoid') by the heightened militarization of the Cirin Alliance during the mid 27th century, the Republic of Daranir decided it was time to commission their own grand-scale warships. The first step was to build an effective Carrier, and the "Castellan" was born, and the second was to create a battleship capable of going toe-to-toe with the best of them - this gave birth to the "Tempest". The construction process was delayed several times due to design flaws and budget issues, but the first battle-ready Tempests entered service just a matter of weeks after the official deceleration of war between the two neighbouring governments.
The Tempest is the most powerful warship in the Republic fleet, and a fair match for any ship fielded by the UTC or the Alliance (though still a featherweight compared to the Souri behemoths). Bristling with guns, torpedo bays and armed with a massive energy lance, the Tempest's main weakness is it's poor acceleration and limited maneuverability.
The Tempest was the first capital ship I designed/built, so it's less detailed than my later designs. I plan on revisiting it some day and sprucing it up a little. It helped me settle on a design-ethic for Republic warships, with a kind of grand cathedralesque quality (notice the buttresses around the dorsal conning tower).
There's a nice picture of a Tempest in the Calender, and you can win one if you take part in the contest. (Getting sick of me mentioning the contest yet?)
Also available from bees. Monday, the 8th of January, 2007 Creating the "Chapter 3" folder on my Hard Drive gave much quite a buzz. I'm amazed that CD has come this far, yet paradoxically it feels like I'm just getting started. As I said previously, I'm starting this chapter with the intention of bettering my art and really pushing things ahead in stylistic terms - be prepared for some experimentation. Don't say I didn't warn you.
The keys... they're moving! Friday, the 12th of January, 2007 Though this page may look simple enough, it took a lot of work to get it right. First of all, I had to remodel the piano that I built for Niobe's lounge in chapter 1 because none of the keys were properly articulated. Essentially I had to rebuild the keys themselves from scratch. Then I had to pose the hands correctly to have them interact properly with the keys - this was especially difficult since I pose my characters before importing them to C4D where I do the rest of my modelling. Thus I had to pose, import, see how it lined up, modify the pose, import again, make more changes, import again etc.
I've still only received a couple of fanart entries to the 2007 Calendar contest, so if you're thinking of taking part but haven't gotten around to it yet, why not get started this weekend? It doesn't have to be a masterpiece :)
Oh, I've finally gotten around to updating the links page. There are some very high-quality webcomics there, make sure you check them out.
Give me your art! Monday, the 15th of January, 2007 New costumes, yay! Among other things, I plan on paying much more attention to clothing in this chapter - I'm going to start giving each collar the time and attention it deserves. In fact, this time I actually went to the trouble of sketching out some costume designs before inserting them into the comic. A normal person would never think of doing things any other way, but normality and I have never been the best of friends.
I've still only received a couple of fanart entries for the Calendar Contest, and the closing date for entries is only a week away (22nd January). Come on all you budding artists, throw something together. With so few entries at this point, anything you submit is going to at least be short-listed!
72 hours to go Friday, the 19th of January, 2007 The closing date for entries to the Calendar Contest is this Monday, so you have the weekend to polish off your masterpieces and send them in for your chance at winning a free copy of "The Spacecraft of Crimson Dark". Entries must be sent before Monday's page goes online, and the winners shall be announced on Friday.
As you might have noticed, I've made some changes to the front-page. Most notably I've removed the Livejournal feed (if you want to read my blog, you can just go straight here) and put the latest page front and centre. This should make it easier for everyone to quickly see whether there's a new page or not (though using the RSS feed would make that even easier), and also hopefully encourage newcomers to be patient with the early art because it *does* get better.
Mum thinks he looks like an insect Monday, the 22nd of January, 2007 I really enjoy working with Mr Creed. He's fun to write for, and for some reason I take a lot of pleasure in painting his... err... "eyes".
We've now reached the contest deadline, so I'm no longer accepting any further submissions. Thank you to everyone who has contributed, I will be announcing the winners this Friday. There's some really good stuff here, it's not going to be an easy decision to make.
If you haven't read Undertow, I suggest taking a look at it now. She's just finished chapter 3 with a beautiful page, and I'm eagerly awaiting more.
Contest Winners! Friday, the 26th of January, 2007 Often people ask me how long it takes to put a page together, and today's page illustrates why this question is so difficult to answer. The process of writing, rendering and doing the post-work for this page only took a couple of days - but it took me weeks to build the set itself. I call it the Esplanade.
Miscellanous goodies hidden in this page: Ads for Gunnerkrigg Court and Undertow (because I got tired of creating fictional advertising). Shmoofy, the bear-thing. My character portrait from when I used to play EVE-Online.
The time has come to announce the winners for the 2007 Calendar Contest, and I have to say it's been a hard decision to make. So hard, in fact, that I've decided to award three prizes instead of two. Before I announce the winners, I'd like to remind you of the second general rule as outlined in the contest guidelines: "Entries will be judged by myself, and judgement will be completely subjective. Your definition of the “best” entry may not be the same as my “favourite” entry." The winners are:
Lance Tryon, and his wonderful miniature of a Vorstok class destroyer, made from pewter and styrene. To see something which has only ever been realised digitally given physical form is quite special for me, and the workmanship is quite extraordinary:
Jemima Trappel, and her drawing of Kari from a scene which must have happened off-camera during Chapter 1. Several people submitted images of Kari, mostly using Poser, but I like how Jemima has really made the character her own instead of simply recreating my own work:
Very cool stuff. I've put all of my favourite Fanart entries up on the extras page, so go and check them all out.
And the winner of the written category is Allan Belcher. I've never seen The Abyss, but Allan's description makes me *want* to see it, which is quite an achievement: "My favourite Sci-Fi moment comes from a 1989 movie called “The Abyss”. The movie begins with seemingly weird technical problems in a submarine that begin to border on spooky, causing it to crash and we are all wondering what is going on. The moment that I like, I feel, is a pivotal point in the movie and happens in this way. One of the main characters, Lindsey Brigman, from a deep sea drilling rig that is helping to look for the sub, is standing on the edge of the deep sea trench and she sees something flickering up towards her. As she stands and watches, it grows to become some sort of deep sea submersible craft for one seemingly made of semi solid water that stops in front of her and she sees that it is piloted by a watery alien. The looks of absolute wonder, amazement and consternation that pass across her face as she reaches out and touches the skin of the craft in front of her and she realizes all the implications of what this means, as it not only answers a whole lot of questions but also poses a whole lot more, to me, captures the spirit of sci-fi adventure and discovery." - Allan Belcher
So congratulations to Allan, Jemima and Lance! If you don't hear from me soon, please send me a reminder that I need to get your postal addresses so I can send you your calendars. I'd like to thank everyone who entered the contest. There were some great entries, and I'd love to have awarded more than three prizes if my budget had allowed it. Honourable mentions go to Reggie for his very cool cardboard Kestrel, and James Berg who gave a moving account of Wash's final fate in Serenity.
And don't forget that just because you didn't win a calender, that doesn't mean that you can't still own one. Head on over and buy one or ten, I really need the income!
Woah... Monday, the 29th of January, 2007 Woah... okay... umm...
Crimson Dark has been nominated for "Outstanding Science Fiction Comic" in the 2007 Web-Cartoonist's Choice Awards. If you have a webcomic of your own, I'd be very grateful if you considered voting for Crimson Dark in the awards, and thank you to everyone who nominated us. ("us"? Myself and the comic, I guess...)
I never thought I'd make it this far... now I'm kind of nervous...
- freaks out::
Okay, I'm back.
Zafuel has started a Wikipedia page for Crimson Dark, but it needs fleshing out at the moment.
It's the eyes... Friday, the 2nd of February, 2007 I'm never going to pretend that the augmentations of Crimson Dark are in any way new or innovative. Two of my major inspirations for this particular technology are the computer game Deus Ex, and the Manga/Anime Ghost in the Shell. The new character in today's page, Ring, is deliberately styled after Batou from GITS.
Mum mentioned that she knows what the "Male" and "Female" symbols mean on that sign, but she doesn't know the third symbol. Mum, it represents a recharge station, so people using older or cheaper augs can recharge them easily.
It comes off... Monday, the 5th of February, 2007 Basically, when you look at Whisper, all the skin you can see is all the skin she's got. Harry wasn't that far off in the previous page when he said she was "thirty percent woman". I had a lot of fun designing the little mechanical protrusions coming out of Whisper's detached arm.
I quite like the lighting in this page, I think it's far more successful than the wideshots of the esplanade outside the store. But, of course, those wideshots took forever to render because I had so many different light-sources (some panels needed over 40 minutes render time just for the first pass), while this store has a total of four light sources allowing panels to be rendered in just a couple of minutes. The moral of the story is "convoluted doesn't mean better".
Flash, bam, here I am! Friday, the 9th of February, 2007 This isn't our first sighting of a freighter of this class, if you look closely at the title page for Chapter 2 you'll see a couple parked near Espenson Station. I've added a lot of detail to the model for this page though.
I've put together a ten-minute video demonstrating how I put together a typical panel for Crimson Dark, it's in the forum.
I wish people would stop describing Crimson Dark as a "Poser Comic". Sure, Poser is one of the tools I use to make it happen, but I spend less time working in Poser than I spend in any other application. Most of my time is spent working in Photoshop and Cinema 4D.
Time is an illusion Monday, the 12th of February, 2007 I had a lot of fun building the set for today's page, moreso than usual. I'm particularly pleased with how the wine rendered, that took a lot of experimentation. If it feels like this chapter is jumping around a lot, that's okay. It's meant to.
Woah, I just realised that this is the 100th page of Crimson Dark! That came out of the blue, how'd I get this far?
If you're heading down to Megacon in Florida this weekend, make sure you stop by the NightGig booth and say hello. No, I won't be there, on my budget I can barely afford to catch a train into Sydney, let alone fly all the way to America. But there are going to be some very cool people there who would love to see you, with a copy of my Calendar for you to look at as well as some flyers for handing out.
Lots of stuff to mention! Friday, the 16th of February, 2007 The fifth panel in today's page was the subject of the video I put up a week or so ago, so if you want to see how that panel was made, click here.
I've done another interview, this time for Fleen. Jeff asked some really interesting questions, and I really enjoyed answering them, so check it out.
Meanwhile, to everyone who came here from A Miracle of Science, welcome! Thanks for dropping by, I hope you enjoy your stay. Many thanks to Mark for the shout-out.
Finally, e-frontier have very generously given me a copy of Poser 7 to work with (until now, I had been using Poser 6). I haven't had much of a chance to look at it so far, since I've spent most of the last few days building sets and spaceships, but my first impressions are that they've done a great job of increasing the program's stability and performance, while adding some great new content and features. Dual-processor support and back-face culling make everything move much more smoothly, and the long-overdue addition of "multiple-undoes" makes working in Poser a much less stressful experience. The great news is that it's fully compatible with content made for previous versions of Poser, so I can keep working with all of my established characters without any need to update/change them. Meanwhile the new figures are more flexible and life-like, broadening my options for the future. Apart from some problems with the software's .OBJ exporter (which I hope will be fixed in the first Service Pack), this is a very sleek package which is definitely going to increase my productivity.
- EDIT:: Poser 7's .OBJ exporter works just fine, it turns out the fault was mine :)
And he has a new shirt Monday, the 19th of February, 2007 Yay, we get a glimpse of Hal again! Also a slightly remodeled Niobe interior. At the moment I'm updating virtually every set and model every time I come back to it for a new chapter. I've realised that I'll never be wholly satisfied with the look of this comic, so the best I can do is just keep on improving it as I go.
I'm currently working on a complete revamp of the Database section of the site, hopefully it should go live in a week or two.
The WCCAs Friday, the 23rd of February, 2007 Ahh well, I didn't win "Outstanding Science Fiction Comic" in the WCCAs, but that's hardly surprising. I was delighted to see that Girl Genius received that particular honour - it's well deserved. Go and and check them out, it really is professional-grade work.
As usual, there's been a lot of controversy surrounding the WCCAs this year. People have complained about the number/types of categories and technical difficulties in the nomination/voting process. These are fair criticisms, but we need to remember that these awards cost us nothing and are run by volunteers who surely have better things to do with their spare time than try to make sense of our ballots. If we want the WCCAs to be run more smoothly, then maybe we should volunteer to help out, instead of just sitting back and sniping.
Others have called into question the worth of the awards, claiming that it's just a bunch of webcartoonists patting each other on the back - some people even think that the awards are just too *nice*. Frankly, I think that if these people have nothing positive to contribute, then they really should hold their peace. The webcomics community (if it can be called that, it's more like a loose association of isolated families) has more than it's fair share of bitching already, we don't need any more. The WCCAs are notable because they exist so that webcartoonists can recognise and praise each other's work, and I think this is highly commendable. Let's not focus on the negative, let's not waste our effort by destroying others when we could be building them up with our encouragement and support. Let's focus on creating an actual community, filled with active, vibrant, friendly people.
(This is why I love being a member of NightGig!)
Mum thinks they look like Dragonflies Monday, the 26th of February, 2007 Another new ship design, these little guys are called "StarSkippers". They're all-purpose utility craft, capable of carrying 1-3 pilots, and can even be controlled remotely. They have mechanical arms with built-in laser cutters, making them excellent choices for repair and salvage operations.
Work continues on the new database, but it's taking me longer than I thought.
- EDIT:: Fixed the navigation lights
I spend too much time trying to think of a good news title. Friday, the 2nd of March, 2007 Someone in the forum asked for a wallpaper featuring the Starskipper, and I complied.
I'm still working on the new database, I'm afraid there's no ETA at the moment. I want to make sure it's as comprehensive as possible before putting it online, rather than putting several dozen "Coming Soon" pages. There should be a new video soon too.
For hanging things Monday, the 5th of March, 2007 Another new set, Niobe's Hanger (featuring newly-acquired Scimitar). At the far end of the hanger you should be able to see the two airlock doors raised. Normally this opens to space, but since Niobe is currently docked at Espenson Station you can see the connecting tube beyond (with a ramp between the tube and Niobe, since they're not a perfect fit). Many thanks to JT of the Gigcast for some very constructive feedback as I was building this set.
I'm trying out a new style for my speech bubbles, we'll see how they go.
I'm also trying to find out how people came to find Crimson Dark. This is partly to try and find out how effective my Project Wonderful ads are, but mainly for curiosity's sake. There's a poll in the forum, so head over there and let me know!
"Obnoxious" is one word for it... Friday, the 9th of March, 2007 Hal is not exactly the loveliest of persons.
I've been quite depressed these past few weeks. A combination of some sad family news on top of the more common "I'm worthless and will never amount to anything" tortured-artist-angst has meant that I've been quite slack in terms of responding to e-mails and... well... just being sociable. It will pass, it always does, but in the meantime I must beg for people's patience and understanding.
Work on the new database is coming along nicely. Hopefully it will be ready to go live with Monday's page.
New Database Online! Monday, the 12th of March, 2007 For some weeks now I've been developing a new database for Crimson Dark, and it's finally ready to reveal! Some sections are incomplete, and I will be adding more information later, but there's a lot there already.
- A diagram showing Niobe's interior layout
- A timeline of events prior to the story's start
- An overview of how Jump-Drives operate
There's a thread in the forum where you are encouraged to bombard me with suggestions, comments, questions, corrections etc.
Websnarked! Friday, the 16th of March, 2007 A great big "Hiya!" to everyone who came here from Websnark this week, it's great to see you stop by and I hope some of you decide to stay. It always gives me a huge thrill when someone who I respect declares their enjoyment of CD, but it's even more pleasing when they send several thousand potential new readers in my direction! It adds to my list of reasons to persevere.
Scott and JT interviewed me again for this week's Gigcast. It's a short one this time, near the beginning of the show, discussing the database and other things. It's always a pleasure to speak to these guys, and if you're not subscribed to the Gigcast then you're really missing out.
Her logic is flawless Monday, the 19th of March, 2007 I have something to say, but Karen says it better in comic form.
We're starting to build up to the climax of chapter 3.
How wierd is that? Friday, the 23rd of March, 2007 A few minutes ago I got an e-mail from Mum saying "you don't seem to have uploaded today's page". I blinked, and realised she was right. I was so busy putting next Friday's page together that I completely forget about today's page. I seem to do that with a lot of things in life, spend so much time worrying about what might happen tomorrow that I miss the opportunities staring me in the face today.
Anyway, It's up now.
Mr Creed's opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the author.
Owie! Monday, the 26th of March, 2007 A couple of people expressed surprise that my Mum actually reads Crimson Dark. Well she does more than just read it, she *proof-reads* it, providing valuable feedback on each page before it goes online (so, umm, blame her!). She's also my Scientific Adviser.
My back is incredibly sore. I think, instead of working today, I'm just going to lie in front of the TV and watch as many episodes of Scrubs as one man can handle in a single sitting.
She had to think about it Friday, the 30th of March, 2007 If you're wondering why Daniel bought Kari a violin, you need to re-read page 2.
My back's feeling much better now, though still not 100%. I spent a couple of days high on Ibuprofen and Codeine, and have been able to get some work done again.
EDIT: Whoops, uploaded the uncompressed version. Fixed now. Apologies to anyone who downloaded the full-sized image.
Never let a great moment go uninterrupted Monday, the 2nd of April, 2007 Of all the things I've built for Crimson Dark - spaceships, stations, rooms, props - this violin has been the most challenging. Spaceships are easy because nobody's going to say "Hey, I've got a spaceship in my bedroom and yours looks nothing like it", but violins are instantly recognisable so it's vital that I get the little details correct (it's not obvious on this page, but I did make sure that each string is connected to the proper tuning peg). One of the most difficult aspects of modelling a violin is that there is only one contiguous flat surface on the entire object, and that's the underside which is rarely seen. Every other surface features some kind of curve, giving the instrument a distinctly organic feel (which is part of its unparalleled beauty). What made the process harder is that I don't actually have a violin, I had to use reference photos.
I do play the piano (though I'm self-taught, so I don't play well), but if I had the option of magically becoming proficient in one instrument of my choice, it would definitely be the violin. It's like a singularity of beauty, an object so profoundly wondrous in form and sound that it creates an inescapable vortex which traps all who approach.
Incoming! Friday, the 6th of April, 2007 A quick erratum for last Monday's rant, apparently even the back of a violin isn't completely flat.
I'm trying out a new technique for creating the engine glow effects. Previously I was adding them manually in Photoshop, but now I'm actually rendering them in 3D. It saves time and effort, and I think it looks a lot better too.
Braaaiiiins..... Monday, the 9th of April, 2007 For my friends and I, Easter has two meanings. First and foremost, there's the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but secondly (and almost as importantly)... FOUR DAY LAN PARTY!!!! We've spent most of the long weekend playing Flatout 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004, with a few rounds of Total Annihilation and Battlefield 1942 thrown in for good measure. It's been a most enjoyable weekend.
Right now, however, I'm in tremendous pain. I have an infected sebaceous cyst on the middle of my upper back, and it's less fun than it sounds. I've been taking antibiotics, but they're not making much of a difference so far, so now there's icky stuff happening involving scalpels and squeezing and revolting words such as "pustules". I'm doped up on codeine at the moment, so I'm not thinking particularly well. I'm not expecting to get much work done this week.
Boom. Friday, the 13th of April, 2007 Before anyone complains about the size of the explosion, keep in mind that we still don't know what the freighter was carrying.
Thankyou for all the well-wishes regarding my back. At the moment I have to go into the medical centre every day for treatment. They cut the cyst open on Monday and are continuing to leave it open so it can drain, thus relieving the pressure as the anti-biotics do their work against the infection. Every day the dressing needs to be changed, and they drain a little more. Essentially it means that I've had an open wound in the middle of my back for the last five days, with every indication that they won't be ready to close it for another couple of weeks. There's less pain than there was on Monday, but it's still pretty intense, and I'm doped up on codeine. One of the most annoying aspects is that since I don't have a car (and probably shouldn't drive under the circumstances anyway), I need to ask other people to drive me into Penrith every day.
At this point, I'm afraid I can't guarantee that there'll be a new page ready for Monday. I'll do my best over the weekend, but no promises.
Drugs of page-making +2 Monday, the 16th of April, 2007 Wow, I don't know how I did it, but I managed to get this page done over the weekend. Yay! I'm feeling a bit better now, the swelling's gone down and the antibiotics are clearly doing their job. There's still a lot to be cleared out though, and no indication that I'll be able to stop treatment any time soon.
Things which are cool Friday, the 20th of April, 2007 Woah, there are quite a few cheats on this page. I'm lazy. I'm not entirely happy with how today's page turned out, but it will do.
Things which are cool:
- Lord of the Rings Online - is anyone else playing this?
- Heroes - best new TV series of 2007
- What's your NightGig - a neat idea
Yesterday the doctor said that we might be able to leave the wound open over the weekend, so I wouldn't have to go back in until Monday. That means that it's almost healed, which is great news. We'll see how he feels about it after today's treatment.
Oh give me a home, where the barrow-wights roam... Monday, the 23rd of April, 2007 This is the second last page of chapter 3, Friday's update will be the last. As usual I plan on taking a short break before beginning the next chapter, though I'll continue to update will filler pages. I might take a longer break than usual, because I'm still receiving treatment for the cyst (less frequently than before, but it's still a nuisance), and I really want to get a good start on Chapter 4 before I start uploading new pages. I'll let you know on Friday exactly how long I'll be taking off.
If anyone's playing Lord of the Rings Online, search for me on the "Vilya" server and say hello. I have two characters, named "Beostan" (a lore-master of Rohan) and "Namariel" (a hunter of Rivendell). Maybe we can go and hunt some orcs together!
That's all for now folks! Friday, the 27th of April, 2007 And here ends chapter 3.
- Breathes a huge sigh of relief::
As usual, I'm taking a short break between chapters (probably a couple of weeks this time, as I'm still not entirely over this accursed cyst), but that doesn't mean that nothing's going to be happening here! I will be uploading filler pages three times per week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to keep you entertined. Anybody who wants to help me out by contributing a guest-comic or some fanart is welcome to get in touch. In the meantime, I'm going to be working on chapter 4, redesigning the site, rebuilding/texturing most of Niobe's sets and working on one or two super-secret-incredibly-cool projects which I'm not prepared to reveal just yet.
Now would be a perfect time to head over the the forums to discuss the story so far. Go on, my ego needs stroking!
Filler: Why I'm a hack Why I'm a hack Monday, the 30th of April, 2007 I take shortcuts when putting pages together, I think that everyone does. But page 29 had many more than usual, and I wanted to point them out to you. My hope is that each new chapter will be better than those which came before it, and I need *you* to keep me accountable on those grounds, because I'm never happy with anything I produce.
Filler: Unused Panels Deleted scenes and outtakes Wednesday, the 2nd of May, 2007 Some panels are relatively easy to complete, and from time to time I will render three or four different versions of a panel before settling on the most successful form. However panels which require extensive post-work in Photoshop or Illustrator can take a lot of time and effort, so it's always frustrating when I don't end up using such a panel. Here we see a few from Chapter 3.
Most of the time I don't really regret the decision to redo a panel, because the effort I made the first time around really pays off in making the second attempt more successful. But it would make me happier if I could get it right in the first place. The key problem with redoing panels is that if I'm coming close to my upload deadline, it becomes a luxury I can't really afford. Thus most of my unused panels from chapter 3 are from pages which I completed before my cyst started giving me a hard time. The cyst really cut into my productivity, and the last few pages were thrown together only hours before they were scheduled to go online - this is why page 29 had so many cheats in it. If I had had a buffer of two or three pages, which I prefer, then I would have taken to time to fix those errors.
I've written an article for Comixpedia on the relationship between Science Fiction and Fantasy. It's not entirely boring.
Oooh, pretty clouds outside!
- grabs camera and flees::
Filler: The Esplanade in Progress A serious rant Friday, the 4th of May, 2007 Hey, look at that, new site design. I had planned on giving you some warning, but I can get very impatient and ended up uploading the new layout on a whim. My goal has been to make the front page feel less cluttered and streamline the overall experience by making navigation simpler and more consistent. As usual, if you have any problems with the new layout, please let me know!
Now to the serious part...
I'm starting to think that hysteria is becoming par for the course these days. Every time something shocking occurs, the tragedy is subsequently inflated by hundreds of different parties who see the incident as an opportunity to promote their own interests. This goes beyond political organisations, dissenters and big companies - the world of journalism can be just as petty and opportunistic. The problem is that most media organisations are profit-driven, their ultimate ambition is to make as much money as possible with as little effort as possible. While there are many noble individuals within these organisations who value journalistic integrity and whose chief ambition is simply to report the news accurately and responsibly, there are constant pressures at work to turn their efforts towards trawling in the masses. Sadly one of the easiest ways to get people watching/reading your news is to fuel the fires of hysteria and panic, finding ways to tell your readers "It could happen to you! Tomorrow! BE VERY AFRAID!". If done properly, your readers/viewers will be too scared *not* to buy your newspaper or watch your program.
Yes, I am going somewhere with this.
Matt Boyd and Ian McConville make up one of the most talented working partnerships in the world of webcomics. Their first major collaboration, MacHall, was the very first webcomic I ever read - many years ago. It inspired my love of the medium. I was saddened when MacHall closed down, but more recently the duo have been treating us with Three Panel Soul which makes for some great (though frequently obscure) humour/slice-of-life reading.
After the recent tragic shootings at Virginia Tech, somebody overheard Matt at his workplace discussing guns. It wasn't even related to the shooting at all, it was simply a private conversation about what rifle he had decided to buy for target-shooting (apparently with particular reference to the point that he had chosen a model which was considerably *less* dangerous than most). But with a fresh wave of hysteria sweeping across America (and here in Australia, to a lesser extent), that was enough for his workmates to say that they didn't feel safe. Shortly thereafter, Matt was fired.
This, in itself, is a dreadful injustice.
But after the incident Matt did something which he has excelled at for many years - he turned it into a comic. Apparently (I say this, because I'm not privy to all the facts), someone at his workplace saw this particular strip and proceeded to contact the police. Matt has now been threatened with terrorism charges, and Three Panel Soul is being monitored by authorities.
This goes beyond injustice, this is madness.
Matt is the latest victim of a genuine global threat: opportunistic scare-mongering. Please join me in showing support for Matt during this troubled and uncertain time. It's stories like this which really scare me.
Filler: Megacon Poster Megacon Poster Monday, the 7th of May, 2007 Recently, the good people at Nightgig were kind enough to print off a full-colour poster to promote Crimson Dark in my absence. The poster is already obsolete because I'm currently redetailing the Scimtiar model, but I thought you might like to see it.
Chapter 4 will begin in one week's time, with the Title Page appearing on Monday 14th May.
Filler: Various Test Renders For want of a witty news title Wednesday, the 9th of May, 2007 Nothing particularly revelatory today, just a few test renders of various sets and props which I constructed for Chapter 3. I think the Nebula View Restaurant is my favourite set, it looks like a pleasant place for a romantic lunch. The renders should also illustrate just how important texture and lighting is when it comes to making a scene come to life.
Don't forget, Chapter 4 begins on Monday.
Filler: Things you might have missed Random self-indulgence Friday, the 11th of May, 2007 Everything in this page was made for a specific set or scene in chapters 2 and 3, but ended up hidden or barely noticeable. "Tri-Ver Forerunners" is just a completely random cooperation name, with an equally random logo created by mashing the keyboard using a random font. "Modern Fighter Craft" is a magazine in Commodore Pearson's waiting room, which mentions how unsatisfied I am with the final appearance of the Zweihander, as compared to the sleeker Sabre. "Extra Terrestrial Cartography" features a small section of the map I made for a fantasy novel which I may never finish at this rate. "Aug Watch" features a spook, a series of photoshop paintings I did some years ago. Hobbyist features a mech which I built three or four years ago, and which I'm not particularly proud of. "I am Nothing" is a quote from the Bible on top of a photo I took when I visited my Mum in Turkey. Distant Worlds features some art I put together a few months before I started work on Crimson Dark. The other images are signs from the Esplanade, including the "Male Toilets, Female Toilets, Aug-recharge stations" sign which prompted much speculation.
Next update will be the title page for Chapter 4, yay! I'm excited.
Detail, yay! Monday, the 14th of May, 2007 And we're underway! Although I'm glad I took the last two weeks off, as it allowed me to get a lot of work done which is really going to pay off throughout chapter 4, I'm pleased to be updating again. I tend to get very frustrated when the story isn't moving forward, and I imagine it can't be much fun for you guys either.
Today's Title Page features my newly improved models of Niobe and Kari's Scimitar (with a new paint-job, so it doesn't look like a Republic fighter any more). This is one of the many things I have been working on during the filler weeks.
I can't believe I forgot to mention this on Friday: I've uploaded a new video tutorial to You Tube, this time explaining how I create my explosions in Photoshop. It assumes some basic knowledge of the software, but I'm hoping that people might find something useful in there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1dAedHmsuk
It's just a sphere, really Friday, the 18th of May, 2007 If you're wondering why the planet looks a little different to the Title Page, it's because I've decided to render it in 3D instead of adding it afterwards in Photoshop. This means that I can scale it up and put it a realistic distance away from Niobe, and then not have to worry about where to place it in the frame because its position will be fixed in real space. It slowed me down a little, as I ended up taking a whole day off just to build the planet (discovering, once again, that 2 gig of RAM is simply not enough for this kind of work), but in the long run I think it's going to save me a lot of effort.
Also, you've probably noticed that I've chosen a new font for the lettering. I wanted to switch to a mixed-case font, instead of all-caps. I don't have any real preference one over the other, but in a Sci-Fi setting where it's likely that lots of Acronyms and Proper Nouns are going to be thrown around, I think it really helps to be able to capitalise some letters and not others. What do you think? Is it easier/harder to read? Let me know. If nobody likes it, I may change back to the old font.
That's a little too close. Monday, the 21st of May, 2007 Kari can be a bit of a show-off, especially when she's been cooped up inside for over a week. The "suicide hijackers" comment refers to the events around the climax of Chapter 3, which took place three days ago in comic-time. This page reveals a little more of Niobe's remodeled bridge, including improved helm controls. That's one of the many things I did during my two weeks off.
With one exception, every body seems to approve of this font, so I'm officially making it the new Crimson Dark lettering font. Ta-da!
Eyes both reflect and refract Friday, the 25th of May, 2007 Both sides of the war - the Republic of Daranir and the Cirin Alliance - contract with free-traders and merchants to transport military supplies, based on the theory that unmarked freighters are less likely to be targeted by enemy warships. The problem with this theory is that both sides are now using unmarked warships - Privateers like Niobe - to take care of these unmarked supply ships. As a result the war has become a two-tiered conflict: "Official" battles between military vessels, and "Unofficial" battles between private contractors.
Another page which answers the "What was I doing during my two weeks off" question, showing off a new freighter and the remodeled Scimitar cockpit. Whereas I mainly improved the appearance of Niobe's controls, I almost completely redesigned the Scimitar's controls. This page also demonstrates a new step in my post-render Photoshop work, where I've started manually adding reflections in character's eyes because I'm not satisfied with how they render.
"Clear for action" is an old naval term from the days of the old, crowded warships of the 18th and 19th centuries where the gundecks were also the crew quarters and the captain's cabin doubled as the surgery meaning that if the ship went into a battle all of the decks would need to be quickly cleared of daily detritus and made ready for action. In the context of Crimson Dark, it's basically the same as saying "battle stations!".
Grr, Argh. Monday, the 28th of May, 2007 Not much to say today. I thought I found some new software which would make integrating my Poser figures into Cinema 4D much easier and more flexible, but I've just spent two and a half days trying to get the demo working properly and it's giving me a headache - plus tech-support seems to be non-existent. Oh well, no silver bullet for me, and no purchase for them. But that's two and a half days which I've effectively wasted, when I could have been producing more pages using my tried and tested (though laborious) technique.
Oh, finding a "weave" is a bit like trying to find an open port when accessing a computer remotely, except that in the future we're going with the metaphor of a starship's intranet being like a tapestry.
We've come a long way... Friday, the 1st of June, 2007 On 1st June 2006 I uploaded the first ten pages of the prologue, meaning that Crimson Dark is now one year old. Huzzah!
So this seems like the perfect time to make an announcement: Crimson Dark *will* be available to purchase in print form, sometime soon. I plan on selling each chapter as a separate issue (with the first issue combining the prologue and first chapter) through Indyplanet, with the printing done by Ka-Blam. I had hoped to have the proof of the first issue in my hands before today, but Ka-Blam have been having some technical issues which have slowed down their print queue. Keep your eyes on the forum for images when the proof finally arrives.
Meanwhile, when I’m not working on new pages for Chapter 4, I’m working on redoing all of the art for the Prologue. My early art for the comic makes me want to crawl into a hole and die, and I don’t want it to put off new readers. I uploaded new versions of the first three pages some months ago, but this time I’m going to do all nineteen pages and put them all up at once. Again, keep your eyes on the forum for news and comparisons (old art next to new).
But now I face a dilemma. Assuming that the proof from ka-Blam meets my standards, do I go ahead and start selling it ASAP and release the new art in a Special-Edition volume, or do I wait until I’ve redone all of the art before selling the individual issues? I want to know what you think, since you’re the people who would be paying for it (God willing), so I’ve started a poll in the forum. Let me know!
Can you tell that I’m trying to encourage people to use the forum?
Anyway, one year may not sound like much but for me it’s a huge achievement. Thank you for your support and encouragement, that’s what keeps me going.
(Oh, based on reader feedback, I'm trying out the idea of putting a border around each page so it doesn't get lost in the black background. What do you think?)
Violent Tendencies Monday, the 4th of June, 2007 Another chapter, another T-shirt for Hal. When this guy starts smiling, you know it's time to start worrying.
They say that "An Artist's work is never finished, only abandoned", and Crimson Dark has taught me just how true it is. Every time I upload a new page, I'm always thinking "It'll do", rather than "It's perfect!". But I'm fairly pleased with how today's page turned out, for some reason it makes me happy.
I feel there's a sad lack of high-quality, richly-textured Space Role-playing games in the world. If you know of any you'd like to recommend, head over the the forum and let me know!
Pretty colours... Friday, the 8th of June, 2007 Huzzah! The proofs for the first printed issue of Crimson Dark arrived this week, and they look excellent. I've decided that I *will* sell these individual issues with the original art, because if I updated the art for them it would feel like I was identifying one particular artistic style as being 'final'. My hope is that I will continue to improve with each new chapter, so any updated work will become obsolete in time anyway. However I will put out a special edition at some point in the future, featuring new art and all of the first year's story in a single volume. This volume will probably be significantly more expensive than buying the issues though.
Now it's just a matter of waiting for the first issue to become available for sale, I have no idea how long it's likely to take.
Too close Monday, the 11th of June, 2007 I have the best readers in the world! In particular I want to say a great big thank you to Alyssa who, after reading my rant a few weeks ago where I complained about 2 gig of RAM no longer being enough, offered to send me a spare 1 gig which she was no longer using. She even paid to have it posted to me in Australia from the US! Thanks to her, working in both Cinema 4D and Photoshop is moving along much more smoothly, especially when rendering images of the ice-planet in this chapter (which is composed of four separate textures, each of which is 8192x4096 pixels in size.... now you know why I needed more RAM).
Today's page illustrates what an important role Photoshop plays in producing a page. Check out this mock-up to see what the page would look like with just the raw 3D renders without any post-processing (since the planet is rendered in a separate pass, I've also included thumbnails of these renders).
Bloggy goodness! Friday, the 15th of June, 2007 I've had a blog over at LiveJournal for a few years now, but I know that that's not necessarily the most convenient location if you're not already a LJ user. Therefore as of this week I've started mirroring my LiveJournal on three other free blog providers, thanks to a wonderful piece of software named Windows Live Writer. So now if you are curious about my random non-comic related ramblings, you can choose whether to read them via Wordpress, LiveJournal, Windows Live Spaces or BlogSpot/Blogger. Be careful though, geekery abounds!
Sigh. Monday, the 18th of June, 2007 Not much to say. The past week has been somewhat depressing, for various (minor) reasons. I haven't been sleeping particularly well and have been having some disturbing dreams. I'm sure it will pass.
On a positive note, I've been reviewing the current status of Crimson Dark, and how it's progressing overall, and I'm generally satisfied that I'm managing to hold true to my original concept and the broader story. I just wish I had the skills to produce more than two pages a week, so I could move the story along at a faster pace.
It's a space-spoon? Friday, the 22nd of June, 2007 To cut thrust is not the same as actually stopping. Thanks to inertia, both ships are still moving, but this is not observable from their perspective because the ships are motionless compared to each other and the planet is too large and too far away.
UDS = "Universal Docking System". When Niobe was built, there was a wide variety of inter-ship docking systems, many of which were incompatible with each other. Eventually a modular universal system was invented and is now installed in most new ships. It is designed to fit a number of older systems, but not all, and will only fit Niobe's hanger (she also has two aft airlocks, but they are seldom used).
If you're interested in supporting Crimson Dark, I've put together a page which outlines several ways you can help out - some of which won't cost you anything at all.
We taste like bamboo Monday, the 25th of June, 2007 I didn't really plan the fourth panel out very well. After going to the effort of putting the Glance in the scene, scaled to match the characters, and setting up lighting and camera angles... I end up covering much of the Glance with word balloons. Oh well.
The weather in Sydney has been wonderfully cold and wet of late. It may not be convenient for doing the washing, but I love this weather nonetheless. Some day I either need to move south*, or up the mountains, somewhere where the warmest summer day feels like a mild winter's day down here in the Sydney Basin. Seriously, I love cold weather and hate the heat, why am I living in one of the hottest parts of the Sydney Metropolitan Region? Methinks I need a cave, like batman. Somewhere with a cool, fixed climate. Such a cave would also an ideal location for plotting world domination and building my army of flying radioactive vorpal pandas. Great acoustics for singing along to "Once More With Feeling" too.
- Attention Northern-Hemisphere Readers: for me, "South" means "colder"
Everyone's sick... Friday, the 29th of June, 2007 My PC was sick for most of Tuesday and Wednesday, and now I have a cold, so I'm behind schedule at the moment. I'm hoping I'll still be able to get Monday's page finished on time, but I'm not making any promises at the moment.
The device in today's page is like a sheath which forms a heated and pressurised seal between two vessels. once established, a gangway is then extended from one ship to the other within the sheath, forming two layers of protection from space.
I made a guest appearance in MadScott this week, it's actually not a bad likeness, though I do *not* posess a widescreen monitor.
The Transformers Movie is more fun than I expected. Some of the action is over-edited, with too many close-ups and shaky-cam shots and not enough one-take wideshots (come on guys, I want to actually be able to *see* the action, not momentary glimpses of it), and the plot is very silly, but it's an entertaining action flick with arresting visuals and some fun characters. The first Michael Bay film which I have not regretted seeing.
Fun with Guns Monday, the 2nd of July, 2007 These are not ballistic weapons, like 21st century guns. Since objects in space will maintain their present momentum unless affected by a gravity well, bullets retain their lethality no matter what the range. A bullet fired hundreds of thousands of kilometres away is still just as lethal when it strikes its target as one fired at point-blank range. After a series of incidents where civilians were killed as the result of distant fire - one of which saw the death of seventy-two passengers on a cruise-liner - ballistic weapons were declared illegal in space. Thus all space-going weapons, from ship's canons down to hand-guns, are plasma or energy based as these forms of fire become less effective over range.
The guns in today's page mostly shoot concentrated plasma bolts, which rely more on heat than kinetic energy to do damage. This also makes them less likely to breach a ship's hull when fired inside. Hal's baby is a Lance Rifle which behaves differently - it shoots a focused beam of energy which hits instantly, like the weapon used by the JAK in chapter 1 or the heavy lance which destroyed the Danzig in the prologue. Lances are designed to cut through matter, like a LASER, and can cause hull-breaches if used carelessly. Most governments require citizens to hold special licenses before they can purchase and use a lance.
Clang? Friday, the 6th of July, 2007 Yes, "clang". When the majority of your body mass is synthetic, you tend to be much heavier than the average person.
As you can see, I'm playing around with motion-blur again. It's not something I really enjoy doing because no artist likes to make his work *harder* to see, but I think it works.
Getawf ma dem lorn! Monday, the 9th of July, 2007 I turned 29 years old yesterday. Bah. Just one more year before I am officially "old".
The gangway is composed of a series of hinged plates which fold out from the Glance's interior. Once established, a special gel is secreted from the plates which helps to secure them in place and also seals the passageway. The sheath which we saw extend from the Glance a couple of pages ago is a second sealed layer outside this one.
I'm dancing crazy! Friday, the 13th of July, 2007 Gah, Hal's smiling again!
For some reason this page was very difficult to do - in the end it took twice as long to complete it as usual. I'm not entirely sure why, because it's not much more complicated than other pages I've done. I did seem to make an abnormally high number of mistakes while working on it, setting me back again and again. I'm not particularly pleased with the results either, but at least it's done now.
I know I've mentioned it before, but I inexplicably feel compelled to mention it again: Gunnerkrigg Court is superb, and you should be reading it.
It's all relative Monday, the 16th of July, 2007 Yup, Kari's flying upside down (though only from a certain point of view). I made an alternate version of this page where the panel of Kari is also upside down, aligned with her scimitar, but it just looked too weird.
A couple of people have commented that this chapter seems to be moving a little slowly at the moment, and that's probably a fair criticism. One of my main goals for this chapter is to show what our main characters do on an ordinary day - when they're not rescuing stranded heroes, arguing with commodores, enjoying a spot of shore-leave or witnessing a suicide attack. I really want to use this chapter to explore the mundanity of of their job. Don't worry, we are building up to something.
(Yes, "mundanity" really is a word, even though my spelling-checker disagrees with me. Look it up!)
Divination Friday, the 20th of July, 2007 Vaegyr's main job is to deprive the enemy of supplies, so even if he doesn't want to take cargo on board (maybe it's too bulky/heavy, or unsellable), he still needs to make sure that it doesn't reach its destination. These items are therefore jettisoned while they transfer cargo.
Tomorrow is, of course, Harry Potter Day. In honour of the occasion (and because everyone seems to be doing it), I present my predictions for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (NB: I am currently spoiler-free and intend to remain so until I have the book in my hands. As Shephard Book would say, there is a very special place in hell reserved for people who drop spoilers (and who talk in theatres)):
1. Snape will prove that, even when he killed Dumbledore, he was still following Dumbledore's instructions all along and winning the trust of the Death-Eaters.
2. Ron and Hermione will finally profess their love for each other, and thirty seconds later Ron will die, saving Harry's life in the process. (If Ron doesn't die, then another Weasley will. One of them has to die, by the laws of probability if nothing else)
3. Voldermort will be betrayed by one or many of his own death-eaters (possibly Narcissa Malfoy)
4. Draco will become the target of Voldermort's wrath and will join forces with Harry (reluctantly)
5. Grawp will somehow deal with the giants who have started to terrorise the English countryside
6. Ginny will suddenly and spectacularly demonstrate just how powerful she really is when all seems lost.
7. We will learn that Dumbledore was somehow inadvertantly responsible for Voldermort's rise to power in the first place, and always blamed himself for all the horror which took place (including the deaths of James and Lily)
8. Hagrid will die valiantly saving the children, putting himself in harm's way and yelling at them to go on without him. Possibly standing against a vast horde of Inferi, and taking many of them down with him.
9. Hogwarts itself will be partially or entirely destroyed, possibly collateral damage from a massive wizard/witch battle.
10. Harry will live, but will leave England to wander the world on his own as a brooding recluse. Luna might choose to travel with him, or go after him despite his protestations.
Okay, not so much a list of what I think *will* happen, but what I think *should* happen.
Wheels are for monkeys Monday, the 23rd of July, 2007 Another interview, this time for the podcast "GeekCred". Steve asked some interesting questions and it was a fun interview. We had a good chat after the interview ended, he's a fun guy to talk to.
My six-word review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: "Cool! Nooo! Squee! Waah! Wow! Awww...."
An abundance (of parentheses) Friday, the 27th of July, 2007 That's a Lynx skull, FYI.
Congratulations to The Gigcast on their 100th episode - an awesome achievement (and I don't use the word "awesome" lightly).
Quick review of the Simpsons Movie: A 90-minute film which probably should have been thirty minutes shorter. Hilarious in places, but overly sentimental in others and it drags on a bit as it approaches the climax. The real strength of the film is when it criticises it's own medium (make sure you watch the ending credits), but ultimately this film seems to exist mainly to validate the irrational devotion of obsessive fans who refuse to let go of a franchise well past its prime. (Yes, I am one such fan)
Shiny Monday, the 30th of July, 2007 If there is any justice in this world, then Joss Whedon must be asked to direct the film adaptation of Deathly Hallows. He gets the whole "magic in a high-school" thing, he's produced some of the best angst ever seen on television, he knows how to kill off much-loved characters in sudden and heart-breaking ways, he went to an English boarding school, and he even expressed interest in the job a few years ago! This must happen!
Fun with names Friday, the 3rd of August, 2007 Part of the joy of writing Crimson Dark is that I finally get to use names which I've been holding on to for years, waiting for the right character to come along and claim the name as their own. "Whisper" was one such name, "Ring" was another, and "Abraham Mensk" is the latest example.
I've written up some thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows over on my blog: WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!!!
My eyes, the goggles do nothing! Monday, the 6th of August, 2007 I get some comments saying that the art is too dark, others saying that it's not dark enough. I can't win! Can anyone recommend a really good tool to calibrate brightness/contrast/colour/gamma etc. on both an LCD and a CRT monitor? I Made a few changes to my set-up a few weeks ago, and now everything looks slightly different - even after recalibrating using nVidia's tools.
I have just recently discovered a band producing the best new music I have heard in a very long time. Of course I'll bet that everybody else heard about them years ago, but if that's not the case and you happen to like strings then you need to check out FourPlay - an "eclectic electric string quartet". I've never heard anything quite like this before, and now I just can't get enough of this sound!
Brain's melting... Friday, the 10th of August, 2007 The weather's warming up in Sydney. Bah. I miss Winter already, and it's not even over yet.
For the record, "The World At War" has to be the best documentary series ever made (and not just because it's narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier, though that is a major contributing factor).
If you're looking for audio silliness, check out the latest episode of The Gigcast, including the third installment of Garbage Gnomes where I provide the voice for Lonny.
Yay! Monday, the 13th of August, 2007 As of this week, Crimson Dark will be updating three times a week until the end of Chapter 4!
I've mentioned several times how frustrated I get with only uploading two pages per week, and how I'd like to update more often if possible. Well I've been working hard these past few weeks and I'm now at a stage where I'm confident that I can increase the update schedule for a little while without compromising on quality - and with chapter 4 building up to its climax, this feels like a good time to pick up the pace. Thus you can now expect new pages every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. When chapter 5 begins, I plan on reverting to the usual twice-weekly schedule.
Woohoo! Wednesday, the 15th of August, 2007 As promised, the first of my new Wednesday updates! In case you missed my rant on Monday, I'll be updating three times a week until the end of chapter 4.
Here she comes to save the day! Friday, the 17th of August, 2007 Hopefully this page illustrates why Vaegyr turned Niobe's port side to the marauder. With the bridge and living quarters on the starboard side, the main guns to port and a large stabiliser shielding most of the hull, this really is the best profile to present to incoming fire.
Oh, those missiles have been sitting on the wings of Kari's Scimitar since the Prologue, so no accusations of "deus ex machina" will be entertained.
To bust a cap Monday, the 20th of August, 2007 "Cap-buster" is slang, literally "Capital Buster", in that they're good at hurting capital ships. Though far less potent than a torpedo, they can still do a lot of harm if delivered into the vulnerable sections of a ship (such as its engines).
A few people have complained about the missiles having maneuvering fins, even though they're flying through space. The fins are there so that the missile can be launched into an atmosphere from orbit, or even launched into orbit from a fighter in an atmosphere. The Scimitar fighter is certified to enter as far as the mesosphere of an Earth-similar planet, making it a wonderfully flexible design.
Please don't call me "Dave" Wednesday, the 22nd of August, 2007 He really doesn't like it when people call him "Dan", but only one person has ever bothered to ask him about it.
The Marauder isn't entirely disabled, it can still maneuver to an extent, but not quickly enough to bring her big guns to bear. They're not designed to take on two targets at once.
Pronoun Troubles... Friday, the 24th of August, 2007 I rewrote Mensk's line in panel four several times - I got confused by the plurals and pronouns, and struggled to find an elegant way of expressing things. I'm not sure that I succeeded, but Mensk probably isn't the most grammatically aware of individuals anyway.
I had a lot of fun this morning recording dialogue for some scenes from the upcoming audio drama, Buffy Between the Lines, a fan-made series based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in which I'll be playing a couple of minor roles. The first episodes will hopefully go online in a month or two, and if you're Buffy fan then you really need to keep your eyes on this project. They've got a great writing team, some really good voice-talent and from what I've heard so far, they've done a great job at pinning down that intangible quality which made Buffy so special.
Yes, he has an office Monday, the 27th of August, 2007 I got no work done at all this weekend, but there's a perfectly good explanation: I've been playing BioShock. Best First-Person Shooter ever, possibly the best *game* ever. The only game, as far as I can remember, to have me cheering loudly as the story reached its climactic resolution.
Okay, back to work now...
Boom. Wednesday, the 29th of August, 2007 Seriously, I have too much fun making pages like this one. I've always loved playing with fire, just never seat me at a table with a lit candle on it.
Oh, I'm on Facebook, if you're into that sort of thing.
1,920,000 pixels Friday, the 31st of August, 2007 I want to take a moment to say a great big THANKYOU to everyone who has supported (and continues to support) Crimson Dark financially. As a result of your advertisements and donations, I was able to purchase a new monitor this week - a beautiful 20" LCD with a native resolution of 1600x1200. It came with a very sleek callibration tool and I'm already picking up on small mistakes in my work which I couldn't see before.
On a related note, I have a message for anyone who wants to complain the the comic art is too dark/bright: It's probably your monitor that's at fault. Seriously, a lot of people have their monitors set to be too dark or too bright.
- poke:: Monday, the 3rd of September, 2007
Thanks to reader MadAce who sent a couple of links to help people diagnose whether they need to calibrate their monitor. Worth checking out if you're not sure.
I saw the Doctor Who episode "Blink" this weekend - the first genuinely good story of season 3, but also one of the best stories of the entire new series. It seems that every episode which Steven Moffat writes comes out as pure gold - they really need to employ this guy full-time.
I'm about to start moving things around inside my PC, so if you don't hear from me for a little while it probably means that I've done something very silly.
Captain Brood Wednesday, the 5th of September, 2007 A number of people have e-mailed me to say how much they're enjoying the thrice-weekly update schedule, and I have to agree - I love moving things forward. But don't forget that this is only temporary. When chapter 4 ends, we'll be returning to the usual Monday/Friday update schedule for the forseeable future.
Kebabs are nice.
La-de-da Friday, the 7th of September, 2007 We're just a few pages away from the end of this chapter now. As usual, there will be a brief intermission between this chapter and the next, including filler, but I'm pleased to announce that there will only be one filler page before moving straight into chapter 5. I've managed to pick up some momentum recently, and I have no desire to stop things moving right now.
If you look at the latest page of Kris Straub's "Alterverse" story line, a certain ship should look very familiar!
I have finally updated the database so that it actually fits into the new site design, as well as adding new data. Most notably there are now pages for the Durandal class Marauder and the Cetacea class Freighter, as seen in Chapter 4, as well as improved renders of Niobe to show off the new model which I built for this chapter. With the new layout up and running, I'm hoping to update the database on a more regular basis.
Another one in the can. Wednesday, the 12th of September, 2007 Here ends the fourth chapter of Crimson Dark, thank you for reading thus far! Strangely, when I started writing this chapter, I was under impression that it was going to be relatively short, but somehow it has ended up the longest chapter so far. I think I need to work on my brevity.
I received several e-mails during chapter 4 relating to Vaegyr's decision to destroy the Harlequin, of varying tones, and I was surprised at some of the opinions voiced. I think there's enough meat here to get into a good discussion about this kind of moral dilemma, so I've started a thread in the forum where we can duke it out.
There will be just one page of filler going up this Friday, and then chapter 5 will begin next Monday. As stated previously, I will be returning to the usual twice-weekly updates for the foreseeable future.
Filler: Jump-Drive for Dummies Huzzah indeed. Friday, the 14th of September, 2007 This is the one and only filler page for this intermission. Chapter 5 will begin on Monday.
I've begun work on a new Crimson Dark calendar for 2008 - click here for a small preview.
The Place of the Skull Monday, the 17th of September, 2007 Welcome to Golgotha!
I'm so excited about getting Chapter 5 underway, it's always a pleasure to be able to show off all the shiny new things which I've been working on for the past few months.
Golgotha was established by an enterprise cooperation as a mining station, shipyard and launching platform for a bold new move into unexplored space. At the time it was called "Outreach Station". However the company failed to find any habitable planets beyond claimed space, and could not secure the major investment needed for terraforming operations. Eventually the company collapsed, with most of its assets being swallowed up by Radiant Industries. Outreach Station, however, was too far from any major population centres to be of any real commercial value, so Radiant Industries auctioned it off to the 'Creer Syndicate', also known as the 'seven families'. Now, 160 years later, the station has become a haven for pirates, smugglers and racketeers - and is even host to an increasing number of legitimate (though potentially unpopular) business operations.
The Location of Golgotha is hardly a secret, but being located in privately-owned space neither the Republic nor the Alliance have clear jurisdiction. On top of this, the Syndicate has numerous friends in both governments and a highly refined talent for greasing the right palms. Finally, any attempt to end the operations at Golgotha would require a full-scale assault which could not be successful without significant losses - and both governments have far bigger concerns of a military nature.
Yaar. Friday, the 21st of September, 2007 Inside Golgotha... and that's all I have to say at the moment. How dull is that? Please entertain yourselves for the next thirty seconds.
I'm hungry. Monday, the 24th of September, 2007 A few people have asked what the glowy stuff on Sapphira's body is for, and it isn't really for anything - some Augs are purely cosmetic in function. Oh, and a "ranger" is basically the Syndicate's oh-so-slightly-pretentious way of saying "intelligence gatherer".
The first episode of Buffy Between The Lines will go up on the 6th October - make sure you subscribe so you don't miss it. This is going to be epic...
It's not like he enjoys having power... Friday, the 28th of September, 2007 I just realised that we haven't seen Niobe's lounge since Chapter 3. That feels like just yesterday, but it was actually five months ago. Wow.
This week is our regular Labour-Day Long Weekend LAN Party, so please forgive me if I'm less than cogent for Monday's rant.
- EDIT:: Oops, accidentally uploaded the wrong page, but it's fixed now. Nobody saw that.... did they? Uhhh.... think of it as a sneak preview.
So sleepy... Monday, the 1st of October, 2007 "Walker Wars" is like "Robot Wars", except instead of small wheeled robots with axes and buzzsaws, there are 50-foot walkers with rocket launchers and lances. If such a show existed, I know tat I'd be a fan.
This long weekend I enjoyed one of our regular LAN parties with friends from church. Favourite games were SWAT 4, Flatout 2 and Supreme Commander. Now I am extremely tired.
Hal's not disloyal, he's just pragmatic Friday, the 5th of October, 2007 The final panel of today's page includes my first attempt at depth-of-field (ie: one part of the image is in focus, while another part is not). I plan on using this effect sparingly, but I'm basically please with how it came out.
Hopefully I'll have some announcements for you soon.
ICU Monday, the 8th of October, 2007 This page required a lot of hard work, but was very satisfying to complete. Yes, Hal's ocular Augmentation can see through walls, but its range is very limited.
Episode 1 of Buffy Between The Lines is now online. Go forth and listen.
Eww. Friday, the 12th of October, 2007 The Syndicate was formed when seven rival families finally put their differences aside. Combined, they reached further than ever before and became the most powerful organised crime cartel in the area (after eliminating the families who had refused to join). The rivalries of old have not been forgotten, and there's a constant ebb and flow as different families become more influential, or more impotent, but so far none has managed to rise to the top. Though Sapphira's power is significant, she is still answerable to all seven families.
I've been very busy recently, not to mention unwell. If I've failed to respond to your email, please accept my apology.
One of you is a miniature ship wrecker. Monday, the 15th of October, 2007 In the 27th century, there is no longer any distinction between television and the internet - they are one and the same. The big screen on the wall is a computer terminal (a Multi-touch Modular Display, like all other terminals), and television programs (now just referred to as "feeds") can be browsed, streamed or downloaded in the same way that we browse the internet today. Most feeds are produced at one planet and then seeded to others using FTL relays. The further one travels from the source of the feed, the greater the delay will be.
"The Accusing Parlour" is a Futurama reference - a special room at the Planet Express headquarters which was only ever used when a selection of suspects needed to be gathered and accused of one crime or another.
- face turns blue:: Friday, the 19th of October, 2007
We might see the Souri again someday, but don't hold your breath.
I'm currently exploring options for study next year. I'm leaning towards courses focusing on game design, 3D modelling and animation. If anyone has any advice about good courses along these lines in Australia, please let me know!
Eep... Monday, the 22nd of October, 2007 I deliberately chose the phrase "tributes continue to pour in" because we seem to hear it in the news every time somebody dies. Having written the page, the very next day I saw the phrase used again on ABC news.
This weekend I enrolled to do a Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment, majoring in Game Design at QANTM College next year. I'm very excited about it, as it's a field I've wanted to move into since I was a kid, but it has raised the question of how full-time study is going to impact on Crimson Dark. Assuming I'm accepted, classes won't begin for a number of months, so there's time to think things through and formulate some kind of plan. Whatever happens, I have a story a story to tell, and I WILL tell it.
Not entirely rhetorical. Friday, the 26th of October, 2007 Today, Aarron Diaz of Dresden Codak announced that he's quitting his job to work on his comic full-time. This is exciting news, because Dresden Codak is excellent reading, and quite unique, and only flawed in its irregular update schedule. I wish Aaron the best of luck with what must be a simultaneously exciting and terrifying transition.
BLEAGH! Monday, the 29th of October, 2007 I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo at the moment. As of this Thursday, I'll be endeavouring to write 2,000 words per day for a new novel (surely that's a tautology?). If nothing else, it should be a fascinating exercise.
I am serious, and don't call me Shirley. Friday, the 2nd of November, 2007 How nice of her to explain it in terms that he can understand.
...and know yourself. Monday, the 5th of November, 2007 That logo looks strangely familiar, doesn't it?
In support of writers. On the picket line. Friday, the 9th of November, 2007 On several occasions I have mentioned how proud I am that I have not missed a single update for Crimson Dark since it began in June last year, so please understand that I haven't made this decision lightly. The issue at stake is that writers for TV and Film in America are not receiving a fair share of residual income (ie: royalties) from distribution of their work in new, digital formats (especially the internet). Most of these writers are earning far less than the studio executives they work for, even though their work is the foundation of the studios' profits. Thus writers have come out on strike, including the irrepressible Joss Whedon and the magnificent Jane Espenson - two people who have been huge influences in my own writing.
To learn more, visit the Writers Guild of America, or watch the announcement of the strike on YouTube.
As an Australian who has neither written for TV nor Film, I am not directly affected by the strike. But I think it is time for an economic model which places as much value on creative output as it does on business savvy, so I fully support the writers in their strike and hope that a favourable solution can be negotiated.
The comic will resume regular updates on Monday, I apologise for this brief interruption.
She's really quite generous. Monday, the 12th of November, 2007 And we're back to the regular schedule as promised. If you're looking to support the writers' strike yourself, I recommend checking out Fans4Writers.
I'm thoroughly enjoying NaNoWriMo. 26,188 words and counting!
Would you trust that face? Friday, the 16th of November, 2007 Looks like there's some signal degradation. Understandable, as the feed is travelling further through riftspace to reach Golgotha than it really ought to.
A couple of readers have e-mailed me to draw attention to the fact that the Writer's Strike in America is affecting more than jsut writers and studio executives, as production crew have had to be laid off since there are not enough TV shows to produce at the moment. It's a fair point, especially since a number of these workers are not covered for strikes carried out by other unions. But I would urge any production staffer adversely affected by the strike to joining the writers on the picket line, as other people from the industry have already done. It may even be worthwhile to persuade their own unions to come out on strike in sympathy. But as I said last week, I'm not directly affected by these events, so I'm not exactly speaking from a position of wisdom and authority!
NaNoWriMo word count: 37,903 words.
Ba-doom ching. Monday, the 19th of November, 2007 If you turn all the lights off, then Sapphira's eyes would still be visible, just like in the cartoons. That just occurred to me today.
NaNoWriMo word count: 45,426 words.
"Cirin Defense Force" Friday, the 23rd of November, 2007 I'm struggling to keep on top of things at the moment. A word of advice, the next time somebody tells you to get a life, IGNORE THEM! The good news is that this week my NaNoWriMo novel reached 50,000 words.
And now, nine answers to questions and comments which readers have sent me via e-mail: 1. Yes, Baruk Shield does look a lot like myself. 2. Yes, there will be a 2008 calendar with all new art, I'm still working on it. 3. No, I will not be publishing my NaNo novel on this site, not even part of it. My dream is to see it in bookshops one day. 4. Yes, Melbourne really is evil. But if that's because of the heat, as you suggest, then logically Sydney must be more evil. 5. Yes, 'Mass Effect' looks fantastic, but no, I won't be playing it since I don't own an X-Box 360. 6. Yes, I am still working on a print version of the comic. Just don't expect it any time soon as there's too much happening at the moment. 7. Yes, that is a Durandal-class marauder under construction on page 15. The variant on the left side of that panel is a Tycho class. 8. Yes, I do have a proof-reader. Blame her. 9. No, I will not sell you my soul. Please stop asking.
Okay, I made one of those up just now.
Meh. Monday, the 26th of November, 2007 I have just spent 10 minutes sitting here trying to think of something witty or insightful to write for this rant. I blame the heat. My brain is melting.
He may or may not be joking. Friday, the 30th of November, 2007 It's amazing how some coloured lighting and reflective surfaces can make a very dull set look interesting.
Yes, cricket survives to the 27th century. Monday, the 3rd of December, 2007 Is there something you'd like to see in the 2008 Crimson Dark Calendar? Or perhaps as a wallpaper? If so, head over to the forum and say so. If I like your idea, I'll make it for the calender and also release it as a free wallpaper.
Ying-tong-iddle-i-poe. Friday, the 7th of December, 2007 I'm hoping to put the finishing touches on the 2008 Crimson Dark calendar this weekend, and God willing I should be ready to announce its completion with Monday's page.
I'm delighted to announce that the 2008 Crimson Dark Calendar is now available for purchase! Here's a preview of what you'll get:
Yes, there's something in there which you have never seen before, and will not see in the comic for a little while yet. This calendar has entirely new art - even those images which are based on panels from the comic have been remade and enhanced. Hopefully the quality of the art reflects the many improvements I've made over this year. If, for some reason, you don't want a calendar (perhaps you hate to see the months ticking by as you crawl to your eventual grave), then just think of it as twelve high quality mini-posters bundled together for a very reasonable price.
To celebrate - and to thank you for your patience and support - I have put up five new wallpapers in the Extras section, all based on artwork from the calendar. Each wallpaper comes in a variety of formats to suit different displays.
At least he's honest. Friday, the 14th of December, 2007 All ships are required by law to broadcast a transponder signal which includes basic information such as the ship's name, class and current registration. Theoretically these signals need to be hard-coded by a registered authority, but there is a black market in cracking transponder codes. Any ship found to be using a false or misleading signal runs the risk of being impounded by the authorities. Any ship running without a transponder signal is immediately assumed to be a hostile and is treated as a clear and present danger.
When a ship jumps into a system it produces a significant burst of energy, essentially an EMP. The exact nature of this burst depends on a variety of factors, such as the ship's size and mass and the configuration of its jump stabilisers. The burst is therefore distinct to each ship class, and has become known as a jump signature since it is possible to quickly identify an incoming ship's class if you have remote sensors rigged to scan for the right data. Ships which have undergone extensive modification, such as Niobe, will have a unique signature. This can be a pro and a con. It means that Niobe won't register as a Tantalus class corvette, allowing for a degree of anonymity, but if someone knows Niobe's unique signature then they will be able to identify her immediately.
I'm sorry. Monday, the 17th of December, 2007 Here ends chapter 5.
Now I have a painful announcement to make. As of chapter 6, Crimson Dark will only be updating once a week.
This has not been an easy decision to make, in fact it has weighed heavily on my mind for some weeks now. If it were possible to make thoughts physically manifest, then I’d look a bit like Wiley Coyote with an anvil on his head (moments before a large bump grows out of his scalp, knocking the anvil aside… that’s where the analogy breaks down). As grateful as I am for everybody's donations, advertising money and calendar purchases, I'm simply not earning enough to live on. In fact, I'd say I'm earning less than 10% of the bare minimum I need to pay rent and bills.
I knew from the beginning that I would be appealing to a niche market with Crimson Dark. The vast majority of the people I meet in real life have never even heard of "webcomics" before, and I made my life even more difficult by making my work serialised, sci-fi and 3D. I sometimes feel that I should have written it all in Latin, just to square the deal. I knew that I would never have as many readers as Penny Arcade or PVP Online, but I didn’t care because I have a story to tell and I want to tell it my way.
I am delighted by the loyalty of my readers, their dedication and ardour, and I’m not about to scoff at over 18,000 unique visitors per week (according to Google Analytics). I am incredibly pleased by the success of the comic, and it has done tremendous things to pull me out of the mire of chronic depression and low self-esteem which was making my life suck on so many levels. If it were possible I would be updating every day.
But the fact remains that my readership seems to have reached a plateau of late, with no increase in numbers for many weeks now (and, if anything, something of a decline). I know that artists/writers aren’t supposed to care about that sort of thing, but we do. It has become painfully clear that if I am to get off this government pension then I am going to need to retrain and get back into the work force, which means that the comic must suffer.
I have already announced my plans to begin full-time study next year, specifically a Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment majoring in Game Design (I’ll let you know if the course is as cool as it sounds… but I’m not sure that anything can actually be that cool). From what I’ve seen and heard about the course, it is very intense and I know for certain that I will not be able to maintain a twice-weekly update schedule. To be honest, I’m not even certain that I will be able to maintain a weekly update schedule, which is why I’m changing now so that I will have all of January to build up as much of a buffer as possible. and so that I will be able to focus on my studies for the rest of the first trimester without compromising on the quality of the comic. I refuse to become one of those webcartoonists who is always missing deadlines, or only updates “When I get around to it”.
I cannot understate how difficult this is for me. I have a story to tell, and you want to hear it. As relationships go, that’s almost as precious to me as family. I’m sorry. All I can do is ask for your continuing patience, and again promise that you will get to hear the full story, even if one day I need to abandon the webcomic format in order to tell it (shadow puppets, anyone?).
I’m going to take a couple of weeks off now, ostensibly for the holidays but really because I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I’m ready to start rendering panels for the next chapter. Chapter 6 will begin with a title page on Monday, the 31st December (New Year’s Eve), and will update every Monday after that. Between now and then, I will be uploading bonus pages (I’ve decided to stop calling them “filler”. If I’ve learned one thing from seven seasons of The West Wing, it’s that words have power, and you should never miss an opportunity to make cardboard sound like chocolate).
Have a wonderful holiday, drive safely, enjoy some cricket and don't forget that Christmas is nothing without Easter.
Bonus Page: Golgotha It's hot, damn hot. Friday, the 21st of December, 2007 Trivia: Though I spent many weeks constructing Golgotha, I didn't settle on a name for it until the last minute. It's working name (which I had no intention of using) was Tortuga.
Two gentle reminders: The 2008 calendar is still available for sale, and if you don't want one, can't afford one, or would prefer that 95% of your expense goes my way, instead of just 5%, then please donate.
Linky Goodness: If you're distressed by Crimson Dark updating once a week in 2008 instead of twice (thankyou everyone for your kind words of support, btw), then maybe you should fill your time by reading Gunnerkrigg Court. It updates three times a week, and is a substantially better read.
Bonus Page: Test Renders - Interior Everybody loves Hypnotoad. Monday, the 24th of December, 2007 I watched the first of the new Futurama movies ("Bender's Big Score") on Saturday. On Sunday, I watched it again. My five word review: "Love-letter to the fans".
Just one week now until chapter 6 begins. Eek!
Bonus Page: Sapphira Body Art. Friday, the 28th of December, 2007 I also adapted the process I used for Sapphira to Whisper. You may have noticed some subtle changes in Whisper's appearance for chapter 5, that's because I'm now using a custom skin texture for her instead of drawing all of her blue/black/silver augs on manually in photoshop after each render. This saves time *and* looks better, because her silver trim now actually reflects the environment (I used to just paint it with the air-brush to give the illusion of reflection).
The title page for Chapter 6 will appear on Monday.
Could bold equators be for rot? Monday, the 31st of December, 2007 Whenever I start a new chapter, I need to make several new folders on my hard drive. One for Poser files, another for C4D files, another for renders, another for Illustrator files, another for the finished panels in PNG format, another for the final pages in photoshop format and yet another for the final pages in jpg format. Every time I create these folders, I feel a buzz.
Happy new year, and all that. I pray that you learn something important about yourself in 2008.
To celebrate the new chapter, I've updated the database. New entries include the following ship classes: Tycho, Lovett, Duncan, Lendao and Le Guin. New locations include Golgotha and Farhaven. There have also been a few additions to the characters section.
Heat is for reptiles, I am not a reptile! Monday, the 7th of January, 2008 And we're underway again! The Katsulas Expanse is named for the late, great Andreas Katsulas. Though best know for his work on Babylon 5 (where, together with Peter Jurasek, he played one of the two richest characters in the history of sci-fi), there's a good chance you'll have seen him in something. Possibly as the one-armed villain in The Fugitive.
Scott drew my attention to a great deal over at NightGig, where if you donate $5 towards the printing of their sampler book you'll get a copy signed by many of the authors. Sweet!
Techno-rabble Monday, the 14th of January, 2008 Hey, this isn't a ship full of scientists, "Electromagnetic Soup" is probably the closest thing you're going to get to a scientific explanation.
As I've discussed my plans to study Game Design at college this year, I've heard a number of people say that they'd like me to let them know how the course goes. To that end I've set up a new blog, dedicated to my life at college and gmaing in general. Check it out, if you're into that sort of thing.
On a related note, the college tells me that there's a risk that they may not be able to run Game Design this year at their Sydney campus, because they don't have enough enrollments. So if you've ever contemplated studying Game Design, I urge you - nay I *beg* you* - to enroll at QANTM this year. There's even a national open day this Saturday 19th, so you can learn more. Come on, you know you want to!
Oh my... Monday, the 21st of January, 2008 Such language!
Somehow I completely missed that two weeks ago Crimson Dark reached the 200 page milestone (including bonus pages). Neat.
Flashback! Monday, the 28th of January, 2008 Hmm, I wonder what happened seven years ago?
A quick piece of advice: See your dentist regularly for checkups. If you don't, the results can be both painful and expensive.
High Dependency Five Monday, the 4th of February, 2008 College begins next week, so I'm working frantically to build up as much of a buffer as possible before then.
Today's page features a new technique where reflections are diffused. I like how it looks, but it substantially increases render time.
Fun with reflections Monday, the 11th of February, 2008 Neural augmentations, when installed for medical reasons, usually mean that part of a person's brain has been damaged and that certain functions need to be processed externally. Thoracic and abdominal augs generally replace or assist vital organs.
It's 11:30pm and I just want to sleep, but I've decided that I'm going to upload new pages on Sunday nights rather than assume that I'll be able to do so after getting home from college on Monday afternoons. It won't make any difference as far as you're concerned, as it will still go online at the same time, but it will ensure that there won't be any college-related delays.
I've made a few changes to the links page.
Cloudy Monday, the 18th of February, 2008 Yup, Hal really doesn't like working with an old ship like Niobe. He's like an IT guy whose boss refuses to upgrade from Windows 95.
I've uploaded a new Photoshop tutorial to YouTube, this time focusing on creating quick and easy starfields/nebulae: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DOTsFAJSoQ
Ship of Scholars Monday, the 25th of February, 2008 Yay! QANTM College has seen fit to award me a scholarship! Apparently there's going to be an article about me on the site sometime soon, but it doesn't seem to be up yet. Once I see it, I link to it in the forums.
Fun with lights Monday, the 3rd of March, 2008 Doctor Madakbas is one of the hospital's many psychologists.
This set took an inordinately long time to build, and also takes a long time to render thanks to all of the reflective surfaces, plus the use of area lights rather than just shadow-maps or hard-edged raytracing. The trees outside the window are actually 3D objects, with each leaf casting shadows into the room, which become increasingly diffuse over distance. If this were in space, I probably wouldn't bother with such fancy lighting effects, but in a planetary atmosphere it's necessary to add that extra realism to the final render.
Good old aussie know-how. Monday, the 10th of March, 2008 The history of cardio-augmentation goes all the way back to 1928, when Dr Mark C Lidwell invented what was to become known as the Artificial Pacemaker, at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
I've been feeling a bit down and stretched the past few weeks - probably a combination of stress and poor health. I'm sure I'll be over it soon. In the meantime, I've found some comfort in an album titled Melankton, by Kate Havnevik.
Shh... Monday, the 17th of March, 2008 "Running silent" is a term used for submarines when they literally try to move as silently as possible, to avoid being detected by the enemy. Of course, in space there's no water to conduct the sound waves, so the meaning of the term has been modified. When a space ship runs silently, it cuts all emissions as far as possible - including heat, propulsion and scanning beams. With the scanners set to "passive" mode, a ship can only detect incoming data, it can't actively search for it. Since the electromagnetic-soup of the Katsulas Expanse effectively masks the heat and propulsion emissions, the only way for one of these two ships to detect each other is to actively scan for the other (thereby betraying its own position)... or to do what Vaegyr and Larissa have done: Look out the window.
Objects falling in a vacuum Monday, the 24th of March, 2008 Today's page is brought to you by Year 12 IB Physics, and my mother the science teacher.
Another Easter, another Four-Day-LAN-Party. Wee!
Bright light... Monday, the 31st of March, 2008 I've redesigned the site yet again. The basic layout is more or less the same, I've just played around with the artwork so it's a little less busy around the edges. Hopefully it should be a little easier to find your way around now.
College assessments are melting my brain.
Just in case you thought nothing would happen this chapter :) Monday, the 7th of April, 2008 It just keeps getting brighter, doesn't it?
College is somewhat crazy-making. Or, in my case, crazy-refining.
ZZZZZzzzzzz...... Monday, the 14th of April, 2008 I'm uploading this page well past my bedtime to ensure that it goes live on time (I'm anticipating a late finish at college tomorrow), so forgive me if I'm even less coherent than usual.
I really don't know how I've managed to maintain a weekly schedule so far this trimester. Only by the grace of God. Holidays are just three weeks away now, so please pray (if you're the praying type) that I'll keep my head above water until then. Hopefully then I will be able to give Crimson Dark the attention it deserves and build up a decent backlog of pages so I can subsequently give college the attention it deserves when classes resume.
I wish I was one of those people who are able to sleep on trains.
Mood lighting. Monday, the 21st of April, 2008 With my last two weeks of Trimester underway (and all of my final assesments due very soon), this is the worst possible time to discover a cool new computer game.
I've discovered a cool new computer game. Pirates of the Burning Sea set in Caribbean during the age of sail. The ship-to-ship combat is a lot of fun, the player-driven economy appears to be very deep and rewarding, but the best news is that aussie gamers get the game for free! There are still subscription fees, but it looks like a very good deal.
So very tired... Monday, the 28th of April, 2008 To clarify: Fighters are too small to carry jump-engines, and atmospheric shuttles need to be aerodynamic which precludes the use of stablisers. Engineers are trying to find ways of building FTL stabilisers into a shuttle's frame, making a vessel which can land on a planet and travel faster than light, but nothing practical has been developed so far. All surface-to-space transit involves large orbital stations, generally called "exchanges", where atmospheric and FTL ships meet to transfer goods. Exchanges are the linchpins of the economy.
Sorry about the slightly late (ie: less than 2 hours) today. I made plans to meet someone at college at 1pm to quickly record some dialogue for a short-film we're putting together as our final assessment. Sadly he didn't arrive until 3:30pm, so I didn't make it home in time to upload.
At last... Monday, the 5th of May, 2008 Yeeeehaw! I handed in my last assesment for the first trimester this morning, and my three weeks of holidays are now underway! I'm going to take this time to build up as much of a buffer as possible before returning to class, and have already stocked up on DVDs of Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Columbo to keep me entertained while I work. I'm also hoping to take a stroll around the Crimson Dark site in general and fix up any errors which I missed after uploading the new site design. Who knows, I may even start responding to e-mails again...
Hopefully next week I'll be able to show you some of the stuff I've been working on at college.
Gunplay Monday, the 12th of May, 2008 Most of the panels on this page took roughly two hours to render, not to mention setup, lighting, test-renders and the original construction time - never let it be said that making a 3D comic is somehow easier or faster than doing it traditionally ;)
As promised, here's a sample of what I've been doing at college. One of our assessments was to form small groups and shoot footage with the college's cameras which we then had to individually edit into finished short films. Here's mine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc_m7ZJ3SFY
More of a *working* holiday. Monday, the 19th of May, 2008 Wow, isn't it convenient that this story takes place in the middle of an enormous light source?
Just one week of holidays left, and amazingly I've managed to stick to my schedule of producing one new page for every weekday. In fact, I'm ahead of schedule at the moment, having produced two more over the weekend. If you've been following me on Facebook, then you'll have seen that I now have ten pages in my buffer. Huzzah!
It wasn't really THAT silly, was it? Monday, the 26th of May, 2008 Mum asked a very good question about this page: If Whisper can barely lift a finger, how can she still speak? The answer is simple: Actuator fluid (the blue stuff) is only used to move cybernetic components, whereas her voice is still produced by good old fashioned flesh, blood and bone.
I managed to produce SIXTEEN pages over my three week holiday. Three of these pages have already gone up, giving me a buffer of thirteen which should cover all of this trimester so I can focus on college. That doesn't mean that Crimson Dark will be out of my mind though, not at all. In fact you can expect something special next week...
Two years! Monday, the 2nd of June, 2008 Last week I promised something special for you this week, and it's time to deliver: Click here to see it.
Yup, this week represents Crimson Dark's two-year anniversary. Although the first several pages of the prologue are backdated, the site itself didn't go live until 2nd June, 2006. Much has changed since then, and much has stayed the same, and I've been both delighted and humbled to see Crimson Dark grow from a pipe-dream into an ongoing story which thousands of people enjoy. I've been blessed with some of the coolest readers in the world - wonderfully patient, generous and supportive - and without your help I would have collapsed under the weight of this webcomic a long time ago.
Overall I'm quite happy with how the story and the art has changed and improved over the years. My original ambition was to create a more traditional comic, using 3D tools for reference only, but this quickly changed as I realised just how much potential there was in focusing on 3D art production. The result has been a unusual style which isn't quite photo-realistic, but isn't particularly "comicky" either. Whatever people say about my style, I can confidently say that nobody has produced a webcomic which looks quite the same.
That doesn't mean that I'm happy about every aspect of CD though. My main regret is that I never managed to take Crimson Dark to the point where I could treat its production as a full-time job. This is mainly my own fault, as I'm not very good at selling myself or my work. As a story-teller, my first impulse is to tell my story to as many people as possible, which means giving it away for free. The consequence of this has been going to college this year with the aim of getting a "real" (ie: paying) job, which has harmed Crimson Dark as I have had to cut updates down to just once per week. During my holiday I managed to produce sixteen pages in just twenty-one days, and I must confess that nothing would have made me happier to put them all up straight away for you and continue churning out new work. It made going back to college last week a particularly painful experience.
But enough of the depressing talk, because Crimson Dark has been an overwhelmingly positive thing in my life. I give God, CD and your good self, dear reader, full credit for pulling me out of the mire of depression I was in two years ago. I was a terrible mess back then, having recently been fired from yet another job, and my self-esteem was so low as to be practically non-existent. However working on this webcomic has slowly convinced me that I'm not completely useless, that I can tell a story, and that people are interested in hearing my stories.
So please understand that I say this with all my heart: Thank you for reading!
Perhaps they could re-ignite it by exhaling? Monday, the 9th of June, 2008 No fire means no light source, so technically speaking the final panel should have simply been pure black. This would have saved me some effort, but webcomics are a fundamentally visual medium so I hope you'll forgive a little artistic license on my part. Just imagine that you, dear reader, have special night-vision augs, which allow you to see in a perfectly dark room.
It was very encouraging last week to receive so many congratulatory comments regarding Crimson Dark's 2-year anniversary - via e-mail and also as comments on the video I uploaded to You Tube. These are precisely the kind of things that keep me going during the times when Crimson Dark feels less like fun and more like work. Also, a few very generous readers saw this as a good time to donate some funds to support Crimson Dark. The fact that they did so without any suggestion on my part is indicative of two things:
1. I have the best readers in the world. 2. As I said last week, I'm really bad at selling myself.
So I'm going to take this opportunity to remind everyone that there's a big, red link on the left side of the page which will let you know how you can support Crimson Dark. I'm aware that not everyone can afford to contribute financially, and that's fine - I'm just happy that you're reading. But if you can afford to help, it would make a weary artist very happy :)
Those counfounded *friends* again. Monday, the 16th of June, 2008 Not the best-looking page that I've produced, sorry.
My 1,500 essay on the History of Animation is currently 2,800 words long, and I haven't even finished the first draft. If waffling was an Olympic event, I think I could represent Australia.
Adrift in the fog. Monday, the 23rd of June, 2008 Jump-travel is very inifficient at the best of times - a lot of the energy is wasted as light, heat and radiation. But that's just for one ship, imagine how much more energy must be wasted to jump a fleet of ships simultaneously!
Thank you to everyone who donated over the past two weeks to mark the 2nd anniversary of Crimson Dark - your contributions have allowed me to pay my latest electricity bill without having to live off nothing more than bread and water for a little while :)
Who's a what-now? Monday, the 30th of June, 2008 Did you have an interesting week? I built a jeep, painted a castle and taught a snail how to run. That what happens when you're learning how to use Maya.
What the...? Monday, the 7th of July, 2008 Before anyone sends angry e-mails, let me point out that we don't actually need oxygen to speak - we just need air moving into and out of the lungs. If we can find a way to survive without inhaling oxygen, then we can speak quite happily in an oxygen-starved atmosphere, as long as there's some kind of gaseous medium to work with.
If you haven't seen the TV series Eureka, I recommend giving it a chance. For the benefit of my Aussie readers I'll describe it as a cross between Seachange and The X-Files.
Did anyone see that coming? Be honest. Monday, the 14th of July, 2008 Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday wishes for last Tuesday. At thirty, I am now officially old.
27th century chat-room. Monday, the 21st of July, 2008 Congratulations to CD Forumer, Mercy Machine, who very cleverly figured out what was going on without reading today's page. As a prize she wins... uhh... respect?
You must must must MUST go and watch Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog right now. If the names Joss Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris or Nathan Fillion mean anything to you, then add another seven musts to my enthusiastic outburst.
I also saw Dralion in the city on Saturday. If you ever get a chance to see a show by Cirque du Soleil, do yourself a favour and take it. They take beauty, majesty and wonder, bottle it, and then uncork it on a stage. More than 24 hours later and I'm still on a high.
The hours are good too. Monday, the 28th of July, 2008 As usual, I ask you to allow me some leverage when it comes to depicting what is essentially a pitch-black environment in a primarily visual medium :)
This week the prize for respect will go to the first person in the forum who successfully identifies the video game referenced in today's page.
Go North. Equip book. Hit face with book. Monday, the 4th of August, 2008 I've created a Facebook Page for Crimson Dark, so go now and become a fan. Go! Go now! What are you waiting for? Please go! Every second you delay, a kitten explodes! *pop* See, there goes another one! Think of the kittens, THINK OF THE KITTENS!
However, If you actually like the idea of kittens exploding, and are deliberately delaying for that reason, then I should warn you that it doesn't work that way. The kittens will only explode if you like kittens. If you don't like kittens, then every second that you delay will cause a new kitten to be born. Hurry, go now, or we'll be up to our armpits in kittens! THE HORROR!
I have four assessments due this week. Monday, the 11th of August, 2008 Last week, when I mentioned the Crimson Dark Facebook page, I secretly told myself that if we made it to 100 fans by the end of the week, then I'd be happy. Instead, we made it to 100 within the first 24 hours. As I've said many times before, I have the best readers in the world!
One week to go until the end of my second trimester of classes.
Phew. Monday, the 18th of August, 2008 The trimester has ended, so I now have two weeks of holiday to try and rebuild the buffer for Crimson Dark. Having fourteen pages in the bank when starting this past trimester turned out to be a huge help, as it meant that I really could focus on my studies - and I was only occasionally tempted to make changes to existing pages before uploading them. The only problem is that I feel like I'm taking a break from full-time study to focus on full-time work. Meh, it's worth it.
During this past trimester I built a jeep, painted a castle, embarrassed a heron, taught a secret agent how to sneak in a demonstrable manner, ranted about how incredibly cool Duck Amuck is, wrote an epic fantasy movie, designed an incredibly cool computer game which will never be made, took all the fun out of Portal and The Dark Crystal, built a battlemech, and created a human being from nothing. Another year of this and I should be ready to conquer the world.
In our defense, we used less power this winter than last Monday, the 25th of August, 2008 I've learned many things from church, but one such thing is that most people hate it when you ask them for money - even if they like you and it's for a good cause. I mention this because another electricity bill has arrived, and as usual I'm curled up in a fetal position in the corner of the room. However, rather than simply begging for donations, I have a proposal.
I'm thinking of starting what I'm tentatively calling the "Crimson Dark Supporter's Club". The deal would be this: If you donate at least a certain amount in a month, then at the end of that month you'll receive an exclusive bonus as a great big thankyou for your support. The content could be wallpapers, character back-stories, more info on the broader CD universe, test-renders, concept-art, discussions on my creative process, even abandoned ideas and glimpses of what might have been. I haven't decided on a format yet, though PDF is a possibility.
Understand that, as always, Crimson Dark will remain free to read, and there will still be bonus pages between chapters and I won't withhold any usual content from readers who can't afford to support the comic. This would be the result of *extra* work on my part, I will never subtract from the free content of this site.
What do you think of the idea? What sort of bonus material would you like to see, if you joined the club? Shoot me an e-mail (click "Contact" at the top of the page), or speak up on the forum.
Yes Leader. Monday, the 1st of September, 2008 Listen to this: Last week I said that I was having trouble with a bill which needed paying, but rather than asking for donations I decided to start a conversation going about ways to monetise Crimson Dark. So what happened? A bunch of readers went and donated anyway, when they could have waited to see whether I was going to offer up anything juicy in exchange for their cash. Best readers in the world.
But now that I have enough cash to pay the bills (for now), that doesn't mean I'm shelving the idea. To be honest I've always struggled with the pragmatic aspect of art. I just want to tell a story and know that people are enjoying it, but when it comes to the next level of working out ways of making money from that story I end up like a bunny caught in headlights. However a lot of readers have contributed some very helpful ideas this week, both via e-mail and in the forum. While I'm not ready to make any specific announcements this week, I will say that several people have suggested e-books as one possible avenue, and at the moment I like the sound of that. I'm also revisiting the ongoing saga of getting a print version of CD into people's hands. The third option on my mind involves wallpapers, but I'm sketchy on the details so far. I should have more for you next week.
College resumes this week, but by God's grace I only have three subjects this trimester, spread across just two days. One of those days will have classes from 9am to 5:30pm, with just 30 minutes for lunch, so that's going to be a little crazy-making, but every day that I don't have to go in to college is a day where I save roughly three hours of travel time which I can divert to other projects - such as the aforementioned monetisation of Crimson Dark.
You know what? I really, really hate the word "monetisation". It sounds like something the Cybermen would do to an enslaved population. "Leader, what should we do with the captured humans?" "Monetise them!"
Fire good. I mean bad. I mean good. Monday, the 8th of September, 2008 I can relate. Seriously, never seat me near an open flame.
Last week I said that I was "revisiting the ongoing saga of getting a print version of CD into people's hands" - I'm now working full-steam to make that a reality. I'll have more info for you next week. I may also have some further information on the proposed "Crimson Dark Supporter's Club".
I paid my electricity bill today. Again, many thanks to all who contributed.
I've never felt that way. Well, maybe once. Or twice. Per week. Monday, the 15th of September, 2008 Sometimes, writing a webcomic can be almost as good as visiting a shrink.
Okay, here's my plan for CD in print. I plan on publishing "Crimson Dark: Volume 1" which will contain the first three chapters of the comic, amounting to well over 100 pages. To this end, I'm going to finish re-doing the art for the Prologue (a process I began a long time ago), and I am also going to reletter every page in the first three chapters. At the moment I have no timeframe for publication, as my mind is focused on college for the next ten weeks, but it will happen. As well as selling the print version, I may also put the same material up for purchase as downloadable PDFs (at a cheaper price), for those who like to read on the train.
I'm a Doctor, not a mechanic. Monday, the 22nd of September, 2008 Come on Hal, the people who designed this ship didn't have the last two centuries of progress to build on. Give them a break.
This trimester of college is pushing me to the edge. Physical sickness has conspired with mental and emotional exhaustion to make me feel like Angel, in that episode where he was turned into a muppet and then had his stuffing ripped out by his werewolf girlfriend.
Not that I'm a vampire. Nor a muppet. Nor do I have a girlfriend, werewolf or otherwise. But still, I imagine this is how he felt.
Even the cockroach outperformed some hollywood actors. Monday, the 29th of September, 2008 I saw Wall-e last week. Twice. I plan on seeing it again tomorrow. And possibly every week until it closes. Best Pixar film ever.
Wall-e is one of those very rare films that succeeds on every level, and I think a key factor has been the film's minimal use of dialogue, and in this respect it stands in sharp contrast to most modern animated films. Generally, when you see a trailer for an animated film, the voice-actors are a major selling point - names like Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Mike Meyers - because the story and the humour are primarily dialogue driven, so the people delivering that dialogue take centre-stage. The actual animation serves as little more than a puppet-show, accompanying what is essentially a radio-play. When action is used independent of the dialogue, it is almost invariably for the sake of slapstick or sight-gags, exaggerated to the point of absurdity.
Wall-e, however, puts animators at the forefront of character creation, and only resorts to dialogue when absolutely necessary. This leads to a reliance on gesture and expression to create character, resulting in a much subtler performance than one might expect from animation. The result is that Wall-e and EVE are fully realised characters, rather than just caricatures. Frankly, if you go and see Wall-e, you'll witness some of the best acting that's ever been seen on the big screen.
"Fun" is such a subjective concept. Monday, the 6th of October, 2008 Daylight Savings has begun in Australia, so for the next several months pages will go up at 6pm AEST instead of 5pm.
At least she's consistent. Monday, the 13th of October, 2008 Okay, I'm sure that the global financial pig's breakfast is bad news for a lot of people, but it's affect on the exchange rate between the Aussie and US dollar means that now is a very good time for poor Aussie webcartoonists taking donations from US readers. Hint hint.
I've mentioned Dr Horrible's Sing-along Blog before, but feel that now is a good time to mention it again as it is finally available to AU and UK viewers via iTunes. If you're not a fan, then you ought to be.
Linkity-link. Monday, the 20th of October, 2008 This past week has technically been a one-week holiday, but in truth it's been an opportunity to catch up on assessments (ie: maneuver myself to a position where I'm not as far behind as I otherwise would have been) and rebuild the buffer for the comic. I can now happily report that I have enough pages in the buffer to see me through to the end of this trimester. Hopefully the Summer holidays will give me a chance to really start churning out pages again. Assuming I make it that far.
I've also taken this opportunity to update the links section by removing a few webcomics which are no longer updating and adding some new discoveries. The new comics worth checking out are The Abominable Charles Christopher, Jumpleads, Madscott and the newly-relaunched Zortic.
All this talk of beds... ::yawn:: Monday, the 27th of October, 2008 Back to the infirmary again. It's been some time since we visited this set, so I've given it an upgrade - mainly through some new textures and rebuilt beds.
The biggest hurdle for this page was the bedsheets, mattresses and pillows. Though Cinema 4D has a very nice cloth simulator, it can be awfully demanding on the hardware if you want realistic results. I've only used it once, for the table-cloths in the Nebula View Restaurant, because they're relatively simple shapes. For bedsheets I've previously used two different approaches. The first has been to draw them entirely by hand, which was my practice in the first few chapters, but this involves a lot of time and effort. At the beginning of this year I decided to try modeling sheets completely in 3D, using C4D's "HyperNURBS" feature (similar to Maya's "Subdivision surfaces"). This was adequate for the scenes involving young Whisper, but ended up looking a bit too CGI. It also increases the render time, as these models need to be high-res to accommodate countless folds, and makes it very difficult to modify the sheets later.
For today's page I settled on what I think is a happy compromise between two extremes: I'm now modeling the basic form of the bedsheet in 3D, but then touching it up afterwards in Photoshop - primarily using the smudge tool - to create all of the folds and wrinkles. I use the same technique on the pillows and mattresses. This works well for me, as it doesn't require a huge amount of post-work (less total time than clothing), but also leaves me with low-poly models which I can easily modify as my characters move around.
Just five weeks left before the end of classes for this year.
A word of warning Monday, the 3rd of November, 2008 Page 44? Really? Forty-four? Wow.
Don't worry folks, we're not far from the end of this chapter now.
If you enjoy good role-playing games, then I should warn you: Fallout 3 will eat your life. Seriously, if you have things you need to do (like, I don't know, a webcomic or college assessments), then stay well clear of Fallout 3.
Dunh dunh dunh! Monday, the 10th of November, 2008 There are now just two pages to go until the end of chapter 6. After that I'm currently leaning towards two weeks of bonus pages (three bonus pages per week) so I can take some time out to work on sets and props for future chapters. That's not finally final though - I know this has been a long and slow year for the comic, so if enough people voice their objection then I might just take one week off instead. Also, if there are any webcartoonists out there who feel like donating a guest comic or two, I'd love to hear from you.
Speaking of other webcartoonists, check out the latest episode of PodWarp 1999 to hear me chat with other authors/artists about webcomics and sci-fi in general. It's very geeky.
14 Days until respite Monday, the 17th of November, 2008 One page to go. I still haven't decided when I'll be putting the next chapter up, I'm torn between staying true to the story and trying to maintain the quality, while also trying to pick up the pace a bit. I'll have made a decision for next week.
Two weeks to go until the end of college for this year. That means two weeks to get everything done.
- bangs head against the wall::
Bonus Page: Test Renders For story purposes, just assume that it was dark outside Monday, the 1st of December, 2008 As promised, this is the first of three bonus pages for this week.
Running Crimson Dark while studying at college this year has been remarkably difficult. it has felt like serving two masters, which is why I after my first trimester I decided to try and separate the two activities as far as possible: I work on CD exclusively during my holidays, but don't touch it at all while classes are on. This has been effective, but also crazy-making - Crimson Dark keeps me sane, so to stop working on it for a block of six or twelve weeks is a struggle.
Chapter 6 ended up much longer than I had originally planned, to the point that it is the longest chapter to date. This, I confess, was my own fault for failing to properly plan it out beforehand and trying to squeeze too many stories in. I hope people have enjoyed learning a bit about Whisper's past, but I think this will have to be the last of these "flashback" stories for a while if I'm going to keep the story moving forward. As mentioned previously, this is why I've decided to condense chapter 7 considerably so that we can start chapter 8 in three weeks' time.
You may have noticed that I've been referring to Crimson Dark as "our" webcomic lately - this is because it wouldn't exist without your help. I really want to thank you all for reading, you've kept me going this year. I especially want to thank those of you who have donated, helping an unemployed student pay his bills (as well as relax and enjoy himself for a little while).
PS: I'll post a link to my college animation on Wednesday - I forgot to upload it today...
Bonus Page: Atmospheric Shuttles Shuttle and Planet may not be to scale Wednesday, the 3rd of December, 2008 If you're curious about why college has demanded so much of my time this year, take a look at just one of the many assessments I've had to hand in: Click Here.
Bonus Page: The Hospital No witty rant title for you today! Friday, the 5th of December, 2008 And here's how it looked when complete: Click Here. In case you can't tell, I'm not happy with how the hospital turned out. It just looks too... CG. The sky in particular just screams "Photoshopped!!!"
Don't forget, next week will be a Crimson Dark marathon as I try to tell Chapter 7 in five pages over five days, Monday through to Friday. It's somewhat different to what you've come to expect, but I hope it might make for a refreshing change. Personally, I'm really enjoying writing it.
Logged Monday, the 8th of December, 2008 I told you this chapter would be different.
Remember, new pages every weekday of this week. It's my way of saying "thank you for being so patient this year!"
Yikes! Tuesday, the 9th of December, 2008 It's Tuesday afternoon, I feel I should be doing something and yet... EEK! I'm updating every day this week, aren't I?
Sorry today's page is 20 minutes late. I'll have you know that I paused Time Team and put down my steaming hot dinner so I could rush up to my PC and upload today's page as soon as I remembered.
Red Alert Wednesday, the 10th of December, 2008 Picard: How long until we reach Starbase 17 at present speed? Data: Six hours, fifty-two minutes, thirty-eight... Picard: [interrupts] Increase speed to warp factor nine. Riker: Captain? Data: Captain, Starfleet regulations specifically state that vessels are not to exceed warp factor five unless... Picard: [interrupts again] I am aware of Starfleet regulations, Commander Data. Riker: Captain? What's the emergency? Picard: [gravely] Number One, the galley reported that we ran out of chocolate this morning. [stunned silence. Worf growls] Riker: I see. Commander Data, warp factor nine. Data: Aye sir. Picard: Engage.
LOLZ Thursday, the 11th of December, 2008 My guiding principle for Hal's voice in this chapter: "Write like the internet".
begin rant Friday, the 12th of December, 2008 Here ends chapter 7, I hope people have enjoyed this little experiment.
Next week will feature three more bonus pages, followed by a return to form on 22nd December with the title page for chapter 8.
Bonus Page: New Ships of Chapter 6 Long live the forum! Monday, the 15th of December, 2008 I must apologise: The forum died. The good people at NightGig worked hard, but technical troubles have apparently led to the corruption of the database. The result is that all our posts are gone.
A moment of silence please.
So now the NEW forum is live! As grateful as I am to my friends at NightGig for hosting the forum over the past couple of years, I've decided that now is the time to host and manage it myself. I think the community is large enough now to sustain an independent forum, and this way if anything goes wrong I'll have no-one to blame but myself. Please head on over and introduce yourselves, after all: "There's nothing so lonesome, dull or morose, than to be the sole admin of a board with no posts."
Two more bonus pages this week, and then the title page for Chapter 8 next Monday will mark our resumption of weekly updates. Be aware, however, that I'll be holidaying in New Zealand for nine days and may be out of contact during that time. I'll upload the pages in advance but please accept my apologies if I screw something up.
Bonus Page: Commodor's Certificate Commodorship Wednesday, the 17th of December, 2008 Commodore Pearson's certificate of rank, complete with typos. This is something I made for Pearson's office in Chapter 2, inspired by documents I found while researching 18th and 19th century naval tradition, though it wasonly barely visible .
God willing, I should be in New Zealand as you're reading this. Though I can probably find internet access in NZ if I want to, I haven't decided whether I do want to, so I may be incommunicado until the 27th.
Bonus Page: My Workspace Stupid flash, revealing my dirty carpet Friday, the 19th of December, 2008 By the way, those are all prescription and pharmaceutical drugs, in case you're wondering.
Title page for Chapter 8 on Monday.
And we're off! Monday, the 22nd of December, 2008 I first had the idea for this title page over a year ago, it feels good to finally publish it.
God willing, I'll be back home before on the 27th. I really hope so, since I... uhh... haven't finished page 1 yet.
She's right, you know. Monday, the 29th of December, 2008 I'm back!
New Zealand was incredible. It's much like Australia, except prettier. Also greener, colder, friendlier, quieter and sheepier. I took a large number of photos which the masochists among you can peruse online.
Vaegyr, why must you say things like that? Monday, the 5th of January, 2009 While away in New Zealand I took advantage of the downtime to start thinking about my novel again, and when I got back home I couldn't stop thinking about it. I've spent the last week or so working out the characters and plotting out a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, so here's the question: Can I build up a decent buffer for CD *and* write a full first draft for my novel before I resume classes in February?
Probably not, but that's not going to stop me from trying.
Oh, I've updated the Extras section with a new wallpaper (by popular demand).
In memorium Monday, the 12th of January, 2009 A few people have asked me about the naming of the "Keller Playhouse", as mentioned in the title page for this chapter. It's named for Bruce Keller, a theatre practitioner and teacher who died of pancreatic cancer in 2003. Bruce was one of my lecturers when I studied Theatre Theory & Practice at UWS Nepean, and was a huge inspiration to me.
The strong, silent type. Monday, the 19th of January, 2009 Sigh, only a month or so until college resumes. For some reason I'm struggling to find motivation at the moment, despite the somewhat daunting list of things which need to be done while I still have the time. If you have any spare motivation handy (bottled, ideally), then please send it my way. Thanks.
I really miss the weather in New Zealand, these hot Australian summer days just aren't my thing.
It's all relative Monday, the 26th of January, 2009 Normally ships will align themselves relative to the solar plane, and match their vector (ie: speed and angle of movement) to the nearest gravity well (planets, moons, stars etc.). In deep space, however, there's no common frame of reference for determining what qualifies as "all stop". While ships can still align themselves to the galactic plane, providing a common understanding of up and down, the only way for a ship to come to a stop is to match the vector of another ship, thus appearing to have ceased movement from that other ship's point of view. It's entirely possible that both ships are still hurtling through space at break-neck speed relative to the nearest celestial body.
And yes, Niobe has always had an aft airlock, we just haven't seen it in use yet.
I saw an oral surgeon last week and discovered that I need to have all four wisdom teeth removed, and since some of them are very deep in the jaw, I'll be needing general anesthetic and hospitlisation. After thirty years without needing to be hospitalised once, I can't believe that I've been beaten by my teeth! It would be like the Enterprise-D being destroyed by the Ferengi, or Babylon 5 being invaded by Drazi.
Hmm... Monday, the 2nd of February, 2009 It has become clear that this chapter is going to take a lot more time and effort on my part than any previous chapter. This realisation makes me nervous.
Bushfires Monday, the 9th of February, 2009 It's a long-running joke that Australia is a country which switches between flood and drought at the drop of a hat, but this past weekend has been a particularly chilling example of just how extreme this continent can get. While North Queensland has been buried under water, Victoria has burned. A cocktail of deadly conditions - heat, dryness and high winds - have led to many parts of the state of Victoria being swept by intense bushfires. A recent estimate has over 130 people dead and many hundreds of homes destroyed. Some entire towns have been incinerated, leaving nothing but blackened wastelands.
Here in Sydney, halfway between these two disasters, we've been mercifully spared the pain.
My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by these disasters. If you are unaffected, as I am, then it would mean a lot to me if you could donate to the Victorian Bushfire Appeals being run by the Salvation Army and Red Cross.
The state of things. Monday, the 16th of February, 2009 Recently I've made a concerted effort to keep my rants relatively angst-free, however I think I need to tell you a few things about how I'm going: Physically and mentally.
Last Monday I went into hospital for a full endoscopy and biopsy on my gastrointestinal tract to try and work out why I've been feeling so rotten for the past year. It turns out I have diverticolosis and a hiatus hernia - both relatively benign and typically asymptomatic, but in my case they've conspired to produce a heavy cocktail of nausea, bloating, localised pain and general discomfort. I can't remember the last time I felt good (without being heavily medicated). The surgeon also removed a few tissue samples for testing, so I'm seeing him again in a few weeks time to discuss the results and talk about the next step.
On top of that, I've already mentioned that I need to have all four wisdom teeth removed.
Meanwhile, I've been finding college extremely tough. It's not so much the volume of work that's bothering me (though it does get me down at times), it's more the general vibe. Perhaps my expectations were too high, in that I was hoping to be surrounded by fellow artists and story-tellers in a vibrant, creative environment, like when I was at University. Instead the college turns out to be a business like any other, and many of my fellow students just want to get the training they need so they can enter the work-force afterwards. Perhaps that's just how tertiary education works these days, but it has come as a huge disappointment, nonetheless.
Perhaps toughest of all, however, has been college's impact on Crimson Dark. I'm not happy updating only once per week, and I think it's having a detrimental effect on how I'm going about telling the story. Furthermore, readership has plateaued over the last year, even diminished slightly. Advertising revenue has dropped dramatically and donations have ceased almost entirely. More often than not, producing a new page feels like work rather than fun.
This all came to a head yesterday when, in a moment of weakness, I decided to put Crimson Dark on hiatus until I finish college.
A few hours later I changed my mind.
It only took a few hours to realise how uncomfortable that decision made me - it really felt like I had just lost a loved one. I couldn't endure another year of college without Crimson Dark to keep me sane, with out you, dear readers, to encourage me. Last year, during the hard times (and there were some VERY hard times), I can't begin to describe how important it was to know that you people are still reading and enjoying my work.
So Crimson Dark continues for the forseeable future. I can't guarantee that I will never take a hiatus - I may well change my mind again as I gear up for my Final project at college towards the end of this year - but for now I'm intent on making this work... somehow. At the very least, I'm making it my goal to not take a break without first finishing the current chapter, I owe you that much.
That's where I am at the moment, thank you for indulging me.
Tomorrow is my first day back at college, with a class titled "NEM201 - Managing New Media Projects". If I were hit by a bus on the way to class, I don't think I'd mind all that much.
Silent but deadly... Monday, the 23rd of February, 2009 Lots of people have been wonderfully supportive after my little heart-pouring-out session last week - thank you! Some people voiced concerns along the lines of "If you need to take a break from CD for the sake of college and health, feel free to do so". Truth is, I need to *keep* working on CD more than I need to stop, it plays too important a role in my life to walk away from, whatever the circumstances.
Somehow I've ended up the Project Manager for the practical side of "Managing New Media Projects". I was actually keen on just taking a small role in the project, but some of my fellow students forced me into it so now I'm responsible for a group of 15 or so students. Those poor fools, I bet this is how Emperor Palpatine got started.
If the girl turns out to be Alma, I quit. Monday, the 2nd of March, 2009 You people really know how to cheer a guy up. Mainman, after reading my rant a few weeks ago, went and built a Lego Taratane. To say that it's "cool" would be a gross understatement.
After this week, I have four pages left in my buffer and nine weeks of classes until holidays, and college is already piling the assessments on like maple syrup on a stack of pancakes (not as tasty though). I'll make it work. Somehow.
...and it was good. Monday, the 9th of March, 2009 It's a common enough throw-away gag among my friends, but Whisper does have this knack for taking things to the next level.
Words cannot express how wonderful it is that summer has finally departed and autumn has returned. If I wasn't sick with a cold I'd do something extravagant like run around in circles on the front lawn. Okay, I probably wouldn't. There's people out there.
Shiny blue people Monday, the 16th of March, 2009 I had a plan. I have three days of classes, 4 hours each day (plus another 4 hours of travel time each day). The plan was to spend Monday to Friday working on college stuff, take Saturdays off to relax and then produce a new page for CD on Sundays. It seemed like a good plan.
So far, however, the workload from college has been absurdly heavy, much more so than last year. It's taking seven days a week just to complete homework and stay on top of my assignments. That's not including all the extra stuff I should be doing in terms of additional training and showreel content. My day of relaxation has become half a day, and my day of Crimson Dark has simply evaporated.
I have two pages left in the buffer at the moment. During this week I'll decide what I'm going to do and next Monday I'll tell you what the new plan is. There's a chance you won't like it.
Sigh. Monday, the 23rd of March, 2009 I've spent the week considering the current dilemma, and I've come to a sad conclusion: I need to put Crimson Dark on hiatus.
So here's the new plan:
1. The final new page will go up next week as usual 2. After next week I'll put up some filler pages at the same time each Monday, beginning with a look at how Crimson Dark began (including never-before seen concept art) 3. When my holidays arrive (in several weeks' time) I'll reassess the situation and see what happens next.
It grieves me terribly to do this. You've all been incredibly supportive and encouraging, not to mention patient, so I'm very sorry to leave this story half-told for a while. I can't say when CD will resume, I can only assure you that it WILL resume. This story means too much to me to let it die.
Thank you for reading, and don't forget to check back next week for the final (for now) page.
PS: If you're a webcartoonist and would like to contribute a guest comic in exchange for linky goodness, please send me an e-mail.
A rhapsody in sigh. Monday, the 30th of March, 2009 This is the final page of Crimson Dark for now, sorry to leave the story hanging like this. Next week I'll put up the first page in a series looking back at the origins of Crimson Dark.
Now, I know some of you are going to ask for a better look at the posters in today's page, so here you go:
The rest is my own work (though the Dr Horrible art is, of course, based on the online masterpiece of the same name).
Origins: Page 01 Kids: Doodle in school, it pays off in the long-term Monday, the 6th of April, 2009 As promised, here is the first page exploring how Crimson Dark began.
I'm currently investigating ways in which I can redesign CD's pipeline to make it faster and more efficient. This may involve changes in software, style, routine etc. I have a few ideas at the moment, but I can't promise any action soon. This trimester is entering the bedlam stage.
Origins: Page 02 Smokers, Hunters, Boomers, Witches and Tanks. Monday, the 13th of April, 2009 Can't stay and chat, LAN Party in progress. I'll have more to say next week.
The Drowning Man Ugh. Monday, the 20th of April, 2009 Sorry about this. Blame my college friends for introducing me to Warhammer Online in the middle of the busiest trimester to date.
Okay today is not so much about lack of time, simply that I forgot until the last minute as I have so many other things on my mind at the moment. One such thing is an exam tomorrow for "Managing New Media Projects" - words cannot express how little I care about my performance in said exam. When the teacher starts referring to people as "resources", I know the subject is not for me.
Origins: Page 03 I am Whsiper of Borg. Monday, the 27th of April, 2009 Yay, I remembered!
Two weeks until holidays.
Origins: Page 04 My eyes, the goggles do nothing! Monday, the 4th of May, 2009 Black text on a white background? How novel...
One week of classes to go before holidays. I'll probably wrap up Origins in the next week or two, and decide on the immediate future of Crimson Dark before the end of holidays (in four weeks' time).
The Crimson Dark 'verse Grr. Monday, the 11th of May, 2009 You know those holidays which were supposed to begin this week? College decided at the last minute to give us a truck load of extra work to do, effectively cutting our three week holiday down to two weeks. To say I'm unhappy about this would be like describing the sun as a little warm.
Nevertheless, my current intention is to resume updating Chapter 8 on Monday 25th May, though I suspect I will have to cut the update schedule down to a fortnightly basis. More news next week when my real holidays have begun.
Webcomics 101 When dino-monkeys ruled the world... Monday, the 18th of May, 2009 I thought I'd try something a little different today.
Chapter 8 will resume regular updates next Monday, though it looks likely that I'll need to reduce the schedule to fortnightly updates if I'm to keep the story moving without running into another painfully long hiatus like the one we're just moving out of. It will depend on how much work I can get done during my two weeks off.
If you're curious about what I've been up to at college, you can see some of my work in my latest showreel. I strongly recommend watching the HD version (otherwise you won't see the pretty rain).
We're back!!! Monday, the 25th of May, 2009 Oh boy, it feels good to be updating again.
Since college robbed us of the first week of our three-week holiday, I've spent the second week working hard to get as much work done on CD as possible before they lock us up again. This has involved more than just putting out new pages, I've been focusing on streamlining my workflow to speed up the production time for new pages. So far, I'm more than satisfied with my progress, so I've decided to go out on a limb and make an announcement:
Crimson Dark will be returning to *weekly* updates as of today (not fortnightly, as I speculated last week).
Thanks for hanging in there during the recent hiatues. I can't promise it won't happen again (I'm not God, after all), but I can promise that I'm going to do everything in my power to ensure that it doesn't.
Chocolate syrup? Monday, the 1st of June, 2009 My all-too-brief holidays have no come to an end with the resumption of classes this week.
This trimester's timetable is a little odd, in that I only have classes to attend on Mondays and Wednesdays, however there's a huge amount of self-directed work to be done at home. I'm currently exploring ways to ensure that I stay on top of Crimson Dark during this trimester - hopefully I'll be able to explain next week.
I should have mentioned this weeks ago: The new Star Trek movie is great fun - for both fans and muggles. I think the writers did a fantastic job of capturing the essence of the characters, especially Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and succeeded in making a film which re-imagines and reboots a much-loved franchise without treading on any-one's toes. If only Russel T. Davies had done the same :/
It's full of stars... Monday, the 8th of June, 2009 This page is a good overview of what I accomplished during my all-too-brief holiday. Not only did I build Prospero's bridge (which actually turned out looking like my initial concept sketch, imagine!), I also started the process of streamlining the production of Crimson Dark and this page is proof of concept. I won't go into the technical details quite yet, but I will say that this page would not have been possible using the old process (or would have taken considerably longer to complete).
Now some good news: I've begun the last two trimesters of college, where the bulk of course-time is dedicated to self-directed projects. There's a small "independent project" and a much larger "final project". My hope is to make both projects Crimson Dark related - the small one will be to continue the streamlining process (with an emphasis on adapting the skills I've learnt in Maya to Cinema 4D and Poser Pro), while the large one will be something special which I'm not ready to reveal. We're all pitching our ideas this week before a panel of lecturers, so please pray that my proposals are approved. I'm sick of having to choose between college and Crimson Dark - I want to have my cake AND eat it (and lick the bowl it was made in).
Of course, my PC - sensing much excitement and anticipation on my part - has decided to start misbehaving again. After extensive troubleshooting I've come to the conclusion that the only way to ensure a relatively pain-free final year of college will be to build a new system. 64-bit Windows 7, here I come!
New ship, yay! Monday, the 15th of June, 2009 Presenting the Vashnir class Destroyer, built during my all-too-brief holidays. It's a state-of-the-art design, the evolution of the Tempest class Battleship into something smaller and more versatile, but still packing a serious punch.
It looks like my two projects at college are going to be approved, which is great news for all of us as it means I'll be working on Crimson Dark and receiving course credit for it. The first project is all about continuing the streamlining process which I began during the holidays so that I'll be able to produce better looking pages in less time with less effort. The second project will remain a secret for now.
Windows 7 feels like the love-child of Windows XP and Mac OS X - I feel like I've inhereted the best of both worlds.
Oh, I've started updating my Twitter feed again (for those of you who are into that sort of thing).
She's good with her hands Monday, the 22nd of June, 2009 Why is it warm and sunny outside? I want my winter back!
I've started working through the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher, and I'm seriously hooked. Strongly recommended, as long as you don't mind some sex and violence in your novels.
Yawn. Monday, the 29th of June, 2009 The dewdrop fairies are playing clown music on their zithers in my head, but it's okay because the streetlight crossed the road to spite the chicken.
I really need to get more sleep.
Yawp. Monday, the 6th of July, 2009 On Wednesday I turn 31 (it's the new 21), and on Thursday I go into hospital to have all four wisdom teeth removed. That's assuming that the ickiness I feel at the moment is just hayfever, and not a cold. Yeah, it's going to be one of those weeks.
Red Monday, the 13th of July, 2009 Say hello to the newly re-designed Republic Marine. This Marine is a good example of what I've been doing to streamline the production process: Previously I would have just rendered his body in 3D, and then drawn his armour/augs on afterwards by hand. Now I've built a fully 3D Marine, so all I need to do is pose, light and render. This approach requires more pre-production time, of course, but pays off later.
No surgery last week, I was flattened by the flu so the surgery has been rescheduled for August. Overall, last week was a pretty lousy one - though friends and family managed to make it a little less unpleasant than it otherwise would have been.
Thump, thump, thump... Monday, the 20th of July, 2009 The nickname of "lobster" was sometimes used to describe the infantry of the British army during the 17th-19th centuries, because of their bright red uniforms. Apparently the term was somewhat derogatory in nature and employed by both American troops during the war of Independence, as well as by British sailors as part of the usual army/navy rivalry which every nation seems to enjoy. When I designed the Republic Marines (which we first saw on page 0003) I chose to make them bright red as a tribute to the Royal Marines - the infantry section of the Royal Navy who still wore bright-red, despite being posted aboard ships where everyone else's outfit made them much less conspicuous (except for those silly hats which the officers wore).
College is less fun than usual at the moment. The sound you hear is my head, slamming itself repeatedly against a wall.
Is anyone else ridiculously excited about the new Mechwarrior game?
Icky puppy... Monday, the 27th of July, 2009 I have to say, it's nice to be finally publishing some major plot points which I conceived over three years ago. If you're having trouble remembering, Whisper is referring back to Chapter 1. JAKs are illegal, according to the United Terran Coalition, and though the Cirin Alliance has been expelled from the coalition, the Republic of Daranir is a protectorate of the UTC and currently applying for full Statehood. Today's revelation would not help their application.
I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince last week and was pleasantly surprised. My expectations were relatively low, as I thought Order of the Phoenix (from the same director as HBP) was little more than a series of tableaux, with a few strong moments but unsuccessful as a film. HBP came together as a much more cohesive film. There's still some questionable direction in some places, and while most of the omissions are understandable there are a few which boggle the mind, but overall I thought this was a far sight better than OOTP. Plus, at some point between the 5th and 6th films, these kids seem to have suddenly discovered how to act.
She's. Not. Finished. Monday, the 3rd of August, 2009 My wisdom-teeth surgery has been postponed again. Last time it was because I had the flu, this time it's because the hospital does. Apparently they're swamped with swine-flu, patients and staff, and even cardio-procedures are being cancelled. oh well, I can't really complain - it's a blessing simply to have universal health-care in this country, even if it isn't the smoothest of processes
Mpfh! Monday, the 10th of August, 2009 College is on the third floor of a small office building in Sydney, not far from Central station. To access college we use a lift (what Americans call an "elevator"), which is made by a company named Schindler.
That's right, we ride to college on Schindler's Lift.
Two weeks left in this trimester.
She's supervising. Monday, the 17th of August, 2009 I'm moving into the last week of this trimester, which means that everything is due over the next four days.
Everyone go nuts! Monday, the 24th of August, 2009 I almost forgot to upload today's page - see what happens when you're on holiday? That's right, I'm on holiday. Three weeks during which I am going to try and remind myself that being an artist can be FUN, rather than just gruelling and heart-breaking.
If you're curious about what I've been up to, my latest showreel is now up - including a few sneak peeks of my super-secret projects (shh!).
Frenchtoast please. Sunday, the 30th of August, 2009 Ahh, it's so wonderful to be on holidays. I've still got a lot of things to do, but at least I'm doing them on my own terms.
EDIT: Oops, today's page went up a little early. Once again, these holidays have confounded my routine! EDIT2: And the first upload didn't complete properly. Thanks to Ian for pointing this out to me.
Ca-click, ca-click, ca-click Monday, the 7th of September, 2009 Intermittent clicking noises coming from your Hard Drive = BAD!
Thankfully it's not my OS drive, is still under warranty, and I've already backed up anything irreplaceable. Still annoying though.
One week of freedom remains :(
Such language! Monday, the 14th of September, 2009 On Friday college confirmed that I've secured an internship at an animation studio in Sydney. It's part time gig for the next twelve weeks, and I'm supposed to spend the rest of my time working on my major project for college. The plan is to squeeze Crimson Dark into the gaps, and hopefully I'll find enough gaps to ensure that there are no interruptions to the update schedule. We'll see.
The internship is both an exciting and a terrifying prospect. Please pray.
In which things go from bad to interesting. Monday, the 21st of September, 2009 You may be wondering why there is a second shadow in the 8th panel, and asking where the second light source is. A better question is: where is the primary light source? It's deep space, technically speaking everything should be black - but comics are a visual medium so I need to take certain liberties. Also, I forgot to turn shadow-casting off for my fill light. So sue me.
I am thoroughly enjoying my internship.
Boom. Monday, the 28th of September, 2009 How are they going to get out of this one?
So sleepy... Monday, the 5th of October, 2009 I'd be grateful if someone could send a good night's sleep my way. I'll pay for postage.
Now with real 3D motion blur! Monday, the 12th of October, 2009 So much to do, yet time evades me like a greased piglet.
(come'ere ya little varmint! ::squeal::)
I'm all out of rabbits. Monday, the 19th of October, 2009 Whoop, almost forgot to upload this again.
I also almost forget to mention that I've been interview for Coloring Dragons.
When I'm almost forgetting so many things, you have to wonder how many I actually *am* forgetting.
Sir coooool sir! Monday, the 26th of October, 2009 I can't believe I'm only half-way through the trimester. In one sense that's good news, because I still have another 6 weeks to finish off my major project, in another sense it's terribly depressing as I can look forward to another 6 weeks of increasingly mind-bending insanity. If I ever meet the executive who decided that October/November was a great time to release lots of exciting new games, I may just have to punch them in the nose.
That can't be good for the ship's frame. Monday, the 2nd of November, 2009 It looks like I may have to move house again. I really, really hate moving.
Are we having fun yet? Monday, the 9th of November, 2009 Since I'm home today sick with... something... (I'm nauseous and dizzy, but the doctor wants me to have some tests before he decides that it's an inner-ear infection)... I'm taking this opportunity to write a lengthier rant than usual. I don't know, you may want to grab some popcorn, or something.
First of all, I want to say a great big thank you to every who has emailed me to say how much they enjoy reading Crimson Dark. Sadly I don't have the time to reply to every email these days, but rest assured I do read them all and they mean a lot to me. When I'm lost or despairing, it's a real comfort to know that I'm doing at least one thing of value.
Secondly, I feel I should warn you all that when this chapter ends (no ETA on that yet, btw, I'm still hammering out the final pages of this story), I'll probably put Crimson Dark on hiatus again for a short time. I've learned a great deal at college these past two years, and even more through my internship at Flying Bark Productions, and once I graduate I want to take some time out to apply that newfound knowledge to Crimson Dark. The result should be something which looks better, but is also easier to produce.
Thirdly - Dragon Age: Origins, the latest Computer Roleplaying Game from Bioware, is a masterpiece. I haven't finished my first playthrough yet, but at this stage I have to say that Baldur's Gate 2 may be in danger of losing its status as my favourte RPG of all time (perhaps not that surprising, since Bioware specifically stated that Dragon Age was being designed as the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate). If you're thinking of buying it, though, make sure you buy it for PC rather than 360 or PS3. Playing Dragon Age on a console is a bit like watching Ben Hur on an iPhone.
Finally, it's now official, after subjecting us to 6 months of construction work based on the understanding that we'd still be able to live here after the work was done, our landlord has just announced that he's evicting everyone on our property so he can renovate these old townhouses and start charging more rent for them. Clearly, he chose not to tell us earlier otherwise we would have moved out before the construction work made our lives here incredibly uncomfortable, so that he could continue collecting our rent in the meantime. It seems pretty unscrupulous to me. With 60 days notice now, we have to be out before the 10th January, and we all know how much fun it is trying to get *anything* done around the Christmas/New Year period.
Anyway, if I'm a little less prompt than usual, it's because I'm looking for somewhere to live while packing my hoard, trying to finish my major project for college, working as an Intern at Flying Bark productions and failing to resist the siren song of Dragon Age: origins. Please be patient.
They prefer to be called the "organically impaired" Monday, the 16th of November, 2009 My current web hosting plan expires in a couple of days, and I've decided I want to renew for a period of 6 months instead of on a monthly basis - it should save me a lot of money in the long-term. However donations have dried up significantly over the past few months and I don't have enough money in my paypal account to make said purchase at the moment. To that end, I'm offering up a special deal:
Anyone who donates $10 US or more over the next seven days (ie: before the next page goes up) will receive three exclusive wallpapers as an expression of my gratitude. The wallpapers are the result of test renders for my major project for college, meaning you'll be getting a sneak peek of things to come, as well as a pretty picture to drop onto you're desktop. They should also give you some idea of what I'm talking about when I say that I want to improve the overall look of the comic. Here are some low-res previews:
Just head to the support page and click on the donate button. Make sure that you're using your real e-mail address with PayPal, as that's what I'll use to let you know where you can find the wallpapers.
It's probable that I'll eventually make these wallpapers available to everyone (the unrepentant socialist in me finds it difficult to withhold anything in exchange for money), so please make sure that your main motivation for donating is to support Crimson Dark.
In other news, I'm still unwell, but the CT scans have confirmed that it can't be anything too serious (ie: no signs of tumours or parasitic aliens nested in my brain).
Blue means BIG. Monday, the 23rd of November, 2009 Wow.
I knew my readers were generous, and have said on many occasions that I have the best readers in the world... but wow. Your generosity humbles me. Thank you.
Last week's donation drive was a resounding success, and the webhosting has been paid for (and then some). I'll probably make this a regular deal next year, with more bonuses being offered up in gratitude to generous readers. Rest assured, CD itself will always be free to read.
The world is still spinning, so I'm off to see the doctor again tomorrow for the latest round of "What the hell is wrong with me?"
More blue booms. Monday, the 30th of November, 2009 Part of the problem with building everything to scale is that it's really hard to show something really small and something really large in the same panel. If you look very carefully at the first panel, you can just make out a 2nd torpedo heading towards Prospero.
Thanks again to everyone who donated recently. With another electricity bill to pay, and facing the prospect of moving house in the next month or so, your contribution is really helping me out.
Ta da! Monday, the 7th of December, 2009 It's done! After 26 weeks of gruelling labour, my major project for college is complete and ready to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public. As I've teased in the past, the project is indeed related to Crimson Dark. Essentially, it's a hypothetical teaser-trailer of what might happen if I were to create a movie or TV series set in the CD universe:
Thank you all for being so patient during my studies! I hope the result is some small compensation for the reduced update schedule and brief hiatus earlier this year. Before anyone asks, I have no immediate plans to take Distant Thunder further - I simply don't have the resources to do so at the moment - but it is something I want to do one day.
Now I find myself in a state of flux. I am looking for work at the same time that I find myself looking for somewhere to live (once again, thanks to my wonderfully considerate landlord). In theory, next week I'm supposed to be heading off to New Zealand for a much needed holiday with my very generous mother, but at the moment there's a question mark over how feasible that's going to be.
I've had some ideas about what I want to do with Crimson Dark now that I have a little extra time on my hands, but the details will have to wait until I'm a little more cogent (I'm still recovering from college at the moment). Hopefully, in a few weeks, we'll be able to talk about possibly increasing the update schedule, while also finding a more consistent and reliable way to handle donations so that I can use CD to keep my head above water while I look for work.
Of kiwis and volcanoes Monday, the 14th of December, 2009 If you're reading this, then that means I'm on a plane to New Zealand (because I haven't had a chance to upload a different rant saying that I had to cancel my trip).
See you after Christmas!
A land of volcanoes and glaciers - fire and ice. And sheep. Fire, ice and sheep. Monday, the 21st of December, 2009 P.A.S. = the Public Augmentation Service, a government program whereby any Cirin Citizen is entitled to free, basic augmentation for treatment of medical conditions.
This is my second rant written on the assumption that I'll be in New Zealand as you read this. I hope I'm right. If not, and you're still reading this, I'm going to look like a bit of a nitwit for not updating the rant before now.
She's a singing, dancing, spying machine. Monday, the 28th of December, 2009 I'm back!
I had a great time in New Zealand, thanks to my very generous mother. Photos can be viewed here, including pics of Hobbiton and Mt Doom, and myself with a falcon on my head.
Next week should be the final page for chapter 8, after which there'll be short break (filled with bonus pages) before chapter 9 begins. Normally I start work on assets for the next chapter around halfway through the previous, however college and holidays have put such things on hold so I've a fair bit of work to do before I can start turning out pages for chapter 9.
Here ends chapter 8! Monday, the 4th of January, 2010 It's been another long, difficult year - thank you all for hanging in there! I think 2010 is going to be a very exciting year for Crimson Dark.
Next week will feature bonus pages on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and then Chapter 9 will begin the following Monday.
Now for some big news: As of Chapter 9, Crimson Dark will return to twice-weekly updates (Mondays and Fridays)! Having finished college I'm now looking for work, which means I have a lot of extra time on my hands - time which I plan on spending on CD so you don't have to wait for as long between updates.
What I'd really like to do, however, is come to a point where I can work on Crimson Dark full-time *instead* of looking for work, and increase to thrice-weekly updates. To that end I'm going to look into some kind of subscription model (for bonus material only, such as wallpapers and short stories, the comic itself will always be free to read) come February. I'll talk more about that over the next couple of weeks.
Bonus Page: (Untitled) Monday, the 11th of January, 2010 I apologise for any spelling or grammatical errors in this week's bonus pages. As I am currently without internet at our new home, I'm unable to have pages proofed before uploading. Hopfully I'll be back online within a week or so.
Today's bonus page shows work which I was able to squeeze into my studies at college as an "Independent Project".
Bonus Page: Prospero Phew. Wednesday, the 13th of January, 2010 I'm back online! The move was painful and arduous, but it's finally over and life is starting to return to some semblance of normality. Except that my new studio is 32 degrees C (roughly 90 F), even with my little portable air conditioner running since 9am. Ugh. Never let it be said that I don't sweat for your entertainment.
Another bonus page on Friday, and then Chapter 9 begins on Monday - proceeding to update twice a week (Mondays and Fridays).
Bonus Page: Various Tests Yum. Friday, the 15th of January, 2010 Chapter 8 has probably been the most asset hungry chapter to date, require new ships, new characters, many new sets, and chilli. I'm particularly pleased with how the chilli turned out.
Chapter 9 will begin on Monday and, as promised, will update twice a week, every Monday and Friday.
Yikes and away! Monday, the 18th of January, 2010 We're under way. Don't forget, the next page will go up this Friday.
The Cirin Alliance abandoned the earth-centric calendar used by most nations during the war for independence. Officially they returned to it after the Alliance became a protectorate of the United Terran Coalition, but in practice the Alliance decided to stick with their calendar based on the solar cycles of Cythera, their capital world, rather than some obscure little blue-green planet which no-one with any taste would even visit, let alone live on. Since the outbreak of war against the Republic, the Alliance has again officially abandoned the UTC calendar and returned to their own.
Are any of you playing the Star Trek Online open beta? No, of course not. What on earth could make me think that my readers might like Star Trek and enjoy playing computer games? I mean, none of my readers are nerds, are they?
(It's a lot of fun, by the way...)
Yay, Friday update! Friday, the 22nd of January, 2010 It's very exciting to be updating on Fridays again. Next Monday I'm going to talk a bit about what I'm tentatively calling the "Crimson Dark Supporters Club", which I hope to kick off on the 1st February.
Curiously, there's nothing saying that a tribunal must consist of three members, despite the "tri" prefix. The word is derived from "Tribune", an elected official of Rome who acted as the representative of the people. Today a Tribunal simply means any body given authority to pass judgement, though it is most commonly used to distinguish a court form one of normal justice. The word "Tribune", in turn, is derived from the latin word "tribus" (tribe), which scholars speculate is derived from "tres" (three), as the Roman state was originally divided into three ethnic groups. Thus the "tri" prefix in the modern word "tribunal" is a piece of archaic flotsam.
I've put three members on my tribunal anyway, because it's my tribunal and I can if I want to.
Ugh. It's too hot today.
The Crimson Dark Supporter's Club Monday, the 25th of January, 2010 On the 1st February I'm going to unleash the Crimson Dark Supporter's Club. The basic idea is that I want to work on Crimson Dark full-time so I can update the comic three times a week, but I also need to pay the rent and eat food. While one-off donations are greatly appreciated, it would be more helpful if I could turn Crimson Dark into a sustainable, reliable income source, allowing me to work on it full-time.
The Supporter's Club will be based on a subscription model, and will give members access to exclusive bonus material, such as wallpapers, short stories and behind-the-scenes miscellanea. Members will also, on occasion, be able to participate in exclusive competitions, such as having the opportunity to name a new ship or space station. At the moment I'm looking at delivering this content through a provider such as Yahoo Groups (I'd like to host it locally, but my coding skills are very basic and don't extend as far as user logins and hiding pages from the public) - but I'm still researching this.
Rest assured Crimson Dark will remain free to read online. It always has been, and it always will be.
If the sum of monthly subscriptions reaches an amount which I can live on, (I'm still working out my budget, but I'll be setting a reasonable cut-off point this week), then I'll start working on Crimson Dark full-time, treating it like a 9-5 job and updating three times a week instead of twice.
"With respect" = "Are you insane, sir?" Friday, the 29th of January, 2010 The Crimson Dark Supporter's Club is coming together nicely and will be ready to launch on Monday. Are you excited? I'm excited. In the meantime, I've finally updated the database to include the Vashnir class destroyer.
I finally saw Avatar (in 3D) last week, and found it thoroughly enjoyable. It's refreshing to see state-of-the-art visual effects being used for something of substance, rather than yet another festival of improbable explosions, shaky cameras and unlikable characters. I'm looking at you, Michael Bay.
Did you know that someone has created a page for Crimson Dark over at TV Tropes? I'm honoured.
Join us! Monday, the 1st of February, 2010 The Crimson Dark Supporter's Club is now live! Click here to learn more, or click here to become a member. Members will have exlusive access to some new wallpapers, and "Armistice Day" - a short story which focuses on Kari during her time a a pilot aboard the R.S. Sirius and reveals more about the history of the ongoing hostilities between the Cirin Alliance and the republic of Daranir.
EDIT: After reviewing reader feedback, I've decided to have two levels of membership. "Basic" members only pay $2 per month, but only have access to wallpapers. "Normal" members start at $5 per month and have access to all content, including short stories.
I really want to work on Crimson Dark full time so I can start releasing pages three times a week, and today's page is a good example why. When I was updating just once a week, there's a good chance I would not have written today's page, or I would have constricted it to half a page. When updates are slow, it feels important to make sure that the story doesn't get bogged down in little character moments like this one. The problem is that I *like* little character moments like this one, and I gather a lot of you do too. Put simply: If enough people join the club that I can switch to full-time production, I'll have more freedom over how I tell my stories, and you'll end up with a better, more enjoyable product at the end of the day.
I'm listening to the Avatar soundtrack as I write this. It's very much a James Horner soundtrack, so much so that I was able to pick the composer just 20 minutes into the film, but it's still good listening.
"Umm, maybe?" Friday, the 5th of February, 2010 Thanks to feedback, I've added two new plans for the Crimson Dark Supporter's club. Now you can help me work towards making CD a full-time occupation for just $2 a month, and receive exclusive wallpapers as an expression of thanks! For just $5 per month you'll receive wallpapers as well as all the other other bonus content, such as short stories. If you want to learn more about the characters, the universe or the history of Crimson Dark, these monthly short stories are going to be a gold-mine.
If everyone who read this webcomic were to sign up for the $2 per month plan - I'd be a rich man. Of course I know most readers won't sign up - some can't afford to, some don't read these rants and will never know the club exists, some probably don't think that CD is worth paying for. That's fine. That's why multiple plans exist, allowing people to give as much or as little as they think appropriate, and that's why the comic itself will always be 100% free to read online.
I've realised I've gone more than two weeks without mentioning a computer game, this must be rectified.
Mass Effect 2 is a masterpiece - they've taken everything which was good in the original and refined it to near-perfection, while dumping or replacing everything which wasn't good. The production standards are through the roof, with stunning art and some fantastic voice acting (including Martin Sheen as "The Illusive Man"). But most notably the writing is second to none. Each character is engaging and sympathetic and by the end I thought of each of them as friends, so when their lives were threatened (and it is possible for *anyone* to die in this game) I was genuinely fearful for their safety. ME2 ensnared me in a way which few games do, it has the kind of power normally reserved for a really good novel.
Pfft, as if I have any wisdom to spare Monday, the 8th of February, 2010 I'm uploading this on Sunday because on Monday I'm having all four wisdom teeth removed at Westmead Hospital, and they've warned me I might need a week to recover. I have enough pages in the buffer that updates shouldn't be affected
'Cause you're my cheeseburger, yeah you're my cheeseburger... Friday, the 12th of February, 2010 Having one's wisdom teeth removed is a most unpleasant experience, remind me never to do it again. This week has been defined by painkillers, fatigue and an inability to consume solid food, so my activities have mainly consisted of sleeping, playing computer games, watching The West Wing and sleeping. I'm starting to feel a little better, but it'll be a few days yet before I can satiate these cheeseburger cravings I've suddenly developed.
It's good to feel wanted. Monday, the 15th of February, 2010 I'm still recovering from surgery, but feel considerably better than I did a week ago. It's amazing how all my life I've taken for granted the ability to move my jaw without restriction.
I really wish I *was* speechless. Friday, the 19th of February, 2010 I ate a cheeseburger this week. It was quite painful, but it was, as Tali would say, "Totally worth it."
I went to the hospital for a check-up and the doctor said that my mouth seems to be healing as expected. He mentioned it would take a few more weeks at least for the pain to fully subside as they had to remove parts of my jaw to get to the teeth, so I'm still depending on my good friend codeine to see me through the day.
Home sweet... Monday, the 22nd of February, 2010 You didn't think I'd forgotten about Larissa, did you?
Pause for thought Friday, the 26th of February, 2010 Thank you to everyone who has signed up for the Crimson Dark Supporter's Club so far. While uptake hasn't been as great as I had hoped, it's still good to know that anyone has signed up at all - it all helps. New bonus content will go online for subscribers in March, including new wallpapers on Monday and a new short story exploring how some of our main characters first met. If everyone who visited this site on a weekly basis were to sign up for the cheapest subscription plan, I'd be able to live like a king (or at least like a pimp) and dedicate every waking hour to Crimson Dark. Come on, cheer up a sad, lonely, angsty artist ;)
Oh, my mouth is feeling much better now.
I'll miss you too savage. Monday, the 1st of March, 2010 New wallpapers and a new short story at the Supporter's Club!
Niobe is in urgent need of repairs and Sarah leads Vaegyr and Larissa to Grey Station. However, standing between them and the rare component they desperately need stands a bitter mercenary who smells an opportunity for profit, and when his somewhat hazardous past pays an unexpected visit, everything goes to hell.
Set shortly after the declaration of war, “Grey Station” features Sarah before she became Controller for Espenson Station, and shows how Hal joined the team.
How dare they... Friday, the 5th of March, 2010 Out of the blue I was offered some contract work on Tuesday, beginning Wednesday and lasting a week or two, which I've had to accept (being poor and so forth). I'll do everything I can to make sure that updates are unaffected.
In other news, I think my video card may be unwell.
At least he's succinct. Monday, the 8th of March, 2010 I don't know how much longer this contract work will go on for, depends on how the projects progress. If it's more than another week or so, I may go a little crazy.
Zzzzzzzzzz......... Friday, the 12th of March, 2010 I've been at work all week and all signs point to this project wrapping up very soon. Hopefully on Monday I'll be more fit to talk to you, but right now my eyelids are sending me urgent cease and desist letters.
The children of Niobe Monday, the 15th of March, 2010 The work situation is currently all up in the air - today may be my last day for now, or it may not.
For those who enquired after the well-being of my video card, the matter has been resolved. It appears that something strange happened when I upgraded from the public beta of Windows 7 to the retail version, however a quick driver update seems to have fixed everything.
Due to popular demand, I've decided to open up the Crimson Dark Supporter's club to annual one-off payments. Click here for details.
Someone creepy this way comes Friday, the 19th of March, 2010 Remember this guy?
I've finished work at G1 Productions for now, but to my horror (and delight) they said they'll probably ask me to come back for more work soon. I am therefore frantically trying to get as much work done on Crimson Dark as possible, in the hopes that my future work at G1 won't interfere with updates.
Monday's page will be the final for chapter 9, after which I'm going to take a short break from updates to focus on Chapter 10. I'm very excited about chapter 10, I think you're really going to enjoy it, but I need to produce a lot of new assets for it before I start producing pages, and I want to make sure I give it the time it deserves. One of the disadvantages to creating a 3D comic is that there's decidedly more pre-production required than you would find with a typical 2D comic. The gap will, as usual, be filled with bonus pages, and shouldn't last more than a week or two (I'll let you know exactly how long on Monday).
End of Chapter 9 Monday, the 22nd of March, 2010 So ends chapter nine! I apologise for the lack of pew-pew, whoosh and boom in this chapter - at least it was relatively short :)
I've been informed that work may ask me to return this week, so I've decided that Chapter 10 will begin on Monday 5th April, with bonus pages three times a week until then. I really want to start Chapter 10 ASAP, but I think it's best to make sure I'm leaving myself enough time to do it properly. I really am very excited about it. I can't wait to show you what's in store for our lovable crew, I think you'll be surprised.
Bonus Page: Station Fontana Modular Design = Copy & Paste Wednesday, the 24th of March, 2010 To be honest, now that I'm looking at the original concept sketch again, I think I prefer it to the final model.
For those who are curious, I've put up a couple of test renders on the Official Crimson Dark Facebook page. I'm upping the ante in terms of quality for Chapter 10, so I'm doing a lot of test renders to try and pin down the new improved style. Of course, most of my test renders contain spoilers, but I won't be posting those until after the Chapter is done.
Bonus Pages: Costumes My kingdom for some fashion-sense Friday, the 26th of March, 2010 Chapter 10 begins on Monday 5th April (Easter Monday), bonus pages will continue to go up Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week.
Bonus Page: My work space Now with more pixels Monday, the 29th of March, 2010 I've moved house and built a new PC since I last showed you my workspace, so I thought it was time for an update.
Two more bonus pages this week, in which I'll fill in some of the backstory for the CD universe, then Chapter 10 begins next Monday. I hope I settle on a title for the chapter before then, because "Chapter 10: Untitled" is not the most inspirational of options.
Bonus Page: Military Augmentation Another testament to Aussie ingenuity Wednesday, the 31st of March, 2010 The first picture in today's page is a photo of a real bionic eye currently in development, you can read more here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/30/2860256.htm
There'll be new content for the Supporter's Club tomorrow, another bonus page on Friday and the Title Page for Chapter 10 on Monday.
Bonus Page: 27th Century Computing I beat Apple to it. Friday, the 2nd of April, 2010 Easter means two things to me:
1. Jesus is risen. 2. 4-day LAN party.
PS: Chapter 10 starts on Monday!
On Friday I forgot to mention that the new Supporters' Club content is up:
Kari’s former Commander, Stardust, has been temporarily assigned to the R.S. Antalya, a Tempest class Battleship in order that inexperienced pilots behind the front lines can benefit from his wisdom. However what looks like a routine stopover to refuel quickly turns into a nightmare.
Distant Thunder was originally written last year as a script for a short film for college but in the end I only had the time and resources to make a trailer. Now you can read the story in its entirety!
A Cirin minute or a Darani minute? Friday, the 9th of April, 2010 Hmm. Smith Micro have release a new version of Poser Pro. While there is an upgrade option, it looks like most of the new features are aimed at people who do there rendering from within Poser, whereas I only use the software to rig and pose my characters and do everything else in Cinema 4D. Hmm. They haven't convinced me yet.
I picked up "Changes" today, the latest book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Only nine pages in and already Harry Dresden is quoting Yoda.
Now who could that possibly be? Monday, the 12th of April, 2010 I finished Changes on the weekend. Very good stuff.
This'll go well. Friday, the 16th of April, 2010 Some of Whisper's cranial augs serve to compensate for injuries she received in the fire when she was a teenager, essentially replacing damaged sections of her brain, but others provide additional functionality. As a result she has, for all intents and purposes, a mobile personal computer plugged directly into her brain at all times - however while we still see our computers as separate entities, it would be very difficult to determine where Whisper ends and where her computer begins.
I've been ridiculously tired all week for no apparent reason. Perhaps I'm still still reeling from Changes. Jim Butcher has a touch of the Joss Whedon about him - he's both a master story-teller and a magnificent bastard who takes a perverse pleasure in inflicting suffering on his main characters. I can relate to the latter characteristic at least.
That traitor Monday, the 19th of April, 2010 Job-hunting is about as much fun as searching a cesspit for spare change.
One man's mess is another man's diabolical scheme. Friday, the 23rd of April, 2010 I've been given some more freelance work, which is good. It's in Manly, which is... not exactly local. It's good work and a good crowd to be working with, but the almost 2.5 hour commute (one way) is a little taxing. Mind you, part of the commute is on a ferry, so that doesn't count. Ferries are fun :)
Sounds fair... Monday, the 26th of April, 2010 I'm relying heavily on games for my iPod Touch to make my commute to work less tedious, but there are so many in the iTunes store that it's hard to know where to start. Can anyone recommend some good games (and some good apps while we're on the subject)? I'm already enjoying Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies.
Meanwhile, here's a repost of something I wrote for a PC gaming forum earlier today:
"Games are not art", so says legendary film critic Roger Ebert. While Ebert's opinions on the matter have long been a matter of record, his most recent blog post, titled "Video games can never be art", tactfully illustrated with a confused and aggravated child holding a game controller, has once again caused a stir. As an artist, writer, actor, director, avid gamer and former game critic, I feel obliged to respond.
What is "Art"? The first and perhaps the most difficult question to consider is also critical to the entire discussion - "What is art?". The difficulty is that art is a remarkably ill-defined and versatile concept, yielding sixteen different definitions at Dictionary.com alone, none of which correspond exactly to the definitions at Wikipedia or in the Cambridge Dictionary. The most common elements when describing art appear to be the following:
• The intention of the creator • The aesthetics or significance of the creation
A back alley in downtown Sydney is not, in itself, "art" - it merely exists. However when a photographer takes a photo of the alley, or a painter recreates it on a canvas, their creation becomes an artistic expression of something not inherently artistic. I call this process "framing", where the intention of the artist to make some "art" thereby qualifies it as art. It may not be good art, but it is, in fact , art.
Here then is one key area in which I differ from Ebert. Not only does Ebert argue that games are not art, he also goes on to say that most movies are not art either. This seems to rely on a very different interpretation of art, one which implies fundamental worth. Ebert seems to think that calling something "art" is to bestow it with praise, as if "arthood" is an honour which must be earned. On the contrary, I believe "Art" is simply a label, a statement of fact. When someone paints a canvas completely black and then hangs it on a wall, he bestows on that canvas the status of being "art". Some might call it "bad art", but that doesn't mean it isn't art at all.
What are "games"? Ebert's definition of "games" also seems narrow and unhelpful. He quotes Wikipedia, saying "Games are distinct from ... art, which is more concerned with the expression of ideas", but ignores the very next sentence in that article which goes on to say "the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be ... art". He goes on to say that "One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game." arguing that a game without a clear objective "ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them."
Now while this definition may be appropriate for a game composed almost entirely of play, such as soccer or poker or even Tetris, it fails to take into account a vast array of products which are marketed as "video games" and yet which offers experiences comparable to watching a movie or reading a book. This is where the term "game" can become something of a distraction and we find ourselves gravitating towards a somewhat pretentions but also increasingly necessary term: "Interactive Entertainment".
Many video games feature elaborate cutscenes during which the player watches scripted action, sometimes rendered using the in-game engine but sometimes pre-recorded. In the best examples of the medium, these cutscenes can be just as engaging as any film. Many games allow the player to influence the course of these cutscenes, perhaps through "quick time events" (by which the player presses a key/button at the appropriate moment to have a character perform a particular action" or through choosing which line of dialogue the central character says next.
Mass Effect 2 is a perfect example of a balanced mix of scripted experience and player interaction, as conversations play out like dialogue in a film - complete with changing camera angles - but every line of dialogue from Commander Shephard, the central character, is selected by the player, sometimes leading to radically different outcomes. These conversations have been written by screenwriters, voiced by actors, and the game artists have built, animate, lit and shot the action in a process reminiscent of a live-action director and cinematographer, and very similar to that used in animated feature films like Wall-e.
The Interactivity Issue Now Ebert may argue that there is still one obstacle to the conversations in Mass Effect 2 being considered art: their interactivity. They are still something to be won, rather than simply experienced.
However, perhaps Ebert's specialisation in the medium of film has blinkered his understanding of art. Film is, for the most part, a static experience. Every time you see a movie, it remains the same (with the exception of director's cuts, special editions, alternate endings and the difference between watching a movie in a crowded cinema and watching it in bed on an iPod). But there are other forms of artistic expression which do change.
As an actor, director and playwrite, I have been involved in stage shows which have varied from one performance to another. One show had two different sets of principle casts who played on alternate nights, meaning audiences would have a different experience depending on which night they went to see the show. It's quite common for Live Theatre to also change depending on the nature of the audience - one performance may feel very different to another simply because the audience were noisier, or smaller, or more appreciative. Many shows actively encourage audience participation, and some even let the audience determine the course of the play.
If Ebert wants to declare interactivity as an obstacle to art then he must rule out live theatre as well as games, but in doing so it looks more and more likely that his definition of Art is turning into 'Stuff I like".
The Trouble With Ebert And here we hit the real crux of the argument: Roger Ebert doesn't play games. His experience of them has been through watching videos of gameplay footage, which misses the point entirely. Games are interactive in nature, they are not designed to be enjoyed in the same way that a film is enjoyed. Roger Ebert commenting on games is about as helpful as a blind person critiquing a film. Sure, they may be able to offer insights into some aspects of the production, but they have not truly experienced it as it was meant to be experienced.
Finally, Ebert asks "Why are gamers so intensely concerned, anyway, that games be defined as art?... do they want to be able to look up from the screen and explain, "I'm studying a great form of art?" Then let them say it, if it makes them happy."
Roger, let me explain why we care when you say that games aren't art:
1. Lots of people listen to you. 2. You're wrong.
It's as simple as that.
Nothing to do with the game. Friday, the 30th of April, 2010 I must have done something right because I've been offered another three months of work at Halo Pictures. The really good news is that, thanks to the Crimson Dark Supporter's Club, I've asked for (and been given) one day off per week to continue working on Crimson Dark. While I could earn significantly more by working five days a week, I think there's just enough money trickling in from the club to justify a shorter working week. Plus I want to keep working on CD, so thank you for your support!
On that note, I've been a little pressed for time of late (and probably will be for a while now) so tomorrow's Supporter's Club content is going to be a little different to the usual fare - hopefully you'll still like it.
Is that any way to speak to an Admiral? Monday, the 3rd of May, 2010 New Supporter's Club content is up.
Rather than a short story, this month I offer two historic speeches which explore more of the backstory of Crimson Dark. The first was delivered some two hundred years ago, during the War of Independence, the second just one year ago at an event which led to the outbreak of the current war. I hope you enjoy this change of pace as I did (writing a new short story every month is HARD!)
There's also one CD themed wallpaper, featuring Whisper as she appeared in Chapter 6:
And two wallpapers based on my photographs. I'm sorry I haven't had enough time to make more CD themed work, but I hope you'll like these anyway
(Untitled) Friday, the 7th of May, 2010 Work is pretty draining, but it's rewarding to be working on something with some artistic merit, as opposed to my last job where I was animating text and graphs relating to law and finance so that a bunch of lawyers could feel better about themselves.
Last week I took a couple of photos on the ferry as I travelled home form work - click here to seem them.
De-Caf only? Better to let D-Sec put us away forever. Monday, the 10th of May, 2010 I'm really enjoying this cooler weather - it's amazing how much easier it is to get to sleep on a cold night.
It's from one of the ones about duty Friday, the 14th of May, 2010 "Solitary creature" is a phrase I often use to describe myself. People are exhausting.
Sorry today's page was a little late. I was so busy working on a future page that I forgot what day of the week it was.
I wonder what she means by that? Monday, the 17th of May, 2010 Portal, one of my all-time favourite games, has been released for Mac after a long run as a PC title. To celebrate, Valve are giving away the Mac and PC versions for FREE for a short time. This goes beyond good value. Portal is one of my all-time favourite games, and I think a true masterpiece of the medium, so if you haven't already experienced it then you no longer have ANY excuse. Click here to get Portal for free!
PS: You may argue that you're not a gamer. Let me point out that my mother is currently playing Portal, and making good progress. This may well be the game which makes you a gamer.
Well said. Friday, the 21st of May, 2010 Remember this guy?
I have the flu. I wish I didn't.
Sniffle. Monday, the 24th of May, 2010 This weekend has been less productive than I would have liked. Stupid flu.
A question: Which aspects of the Crimson Dark universe would you like to see explored further in a short story for the Crimson Dark Supporter's Club? Are there any particular characters, locations or moments in history which you'd like to learn more about? Send me an e-mail or sound off in the forum.
Luck makes the distinction. Friday, the 28th of May, 2010 Perhaps it would save a lot of time and effort if I just went completely insane right now, thereby avoiding the inevitable slide.
It is... it is green. Monday, the 31st of May, 2010 New content for the Supporter's Club will go online tomorrow, however it probably won't be until late in the evening as I'm working during the day.
Tomorrow, being the first of June, also marks the fourth anniversary of Crimson Dark. When I mentioned this to Mum, she said how impressive it was that it is still going after such a long time, however my thoughts are more along the lines of "Has it only been four years?". This universe has been an integral part of my life for so long now that I can't really imagine life without it. Thankyou for reading.
Total Pageviews since launch: appx. 10.8 million.
Some of the external sites which sent the most visitors to Crimson Dark (excluding search engines, comic lists and syndication readers): GU Comics Whedonesque TV Tropes Undertow Giant in the Playground (via the Forums)
The majority of visitors to CrimsonDark.com... ...were using Windows XP as their operating system ...were using Firefox as their web browser ...were running at 1280x1024* ...were viewing the site from a location in the United States** ...use US English as their primary language for their computer*** ...connected to the internet via cable (as opposed to DSL or dialup)
The most popular mobile device used to read Crimson Dark is the iPhone (followed by the iPod and the Android).
Some people are already reading Crimson Dark on their iPads.
- seriously? 1280x1024 is the most useless, idiotic resolution ever conceived!
- with my native Australia fourth on the list, after Canada and the UK
- with German being the first non-English language to appear on the list
- with my native Australia fourth on the list, after Canada and the UK
Jump! Friday, the 4th of June, 2010 Despite appearances, Katherine's Glance isn't jumping into the nebula. She's just jumping to the system's edge in preperation for a much longer jump between systems, and the nebula is far beyond the system's edge.
New content for the Supporter's Club went online on Tuesday:
Short Story: "D-Sected" Set shortly after the events of Chapter 8, “D-Sected” is the story of Ring, proprietor of speciality augs, being paid a visit by a D-Sec agent curious about his past association with a fugitive named “Whisper”.
Wallpapers Pirate Attack
When did "Hey" come to mean "Hi"? Monday, the 7th of June, 2010 I hope this page demonstrates that I've been trying to put more thought into set design and lighting of late. It means that pages are taking longer to produce, but I'm a little less dissatisfied with the results than usual.
I'm thinking of redesigning the site. Nothing ground-breaking, just an overhaul to tighten up navigation and improve the visuals. It's unlikely to happen soon as I have a gazillion things on my plate right now, but if you have any suggestions/advice/requests I'd love to hear from you - web design is not my forte.
Yeah, stuff is good... Friday, the 11th of June, 2010 I can certainly relate to Whisper on this page. People confuse me.
Good question Monday, the 14th of June, 2010 This long weekend came not a moment too soon - I'm starting to burn out.
Yes boss. Friday, the 18th of June, 2010 I'm hungry, someone send me a burrito.
Shiny. Monday, the 21st of June, 2010 I have an iPad, it is shiny. My plan, in part, is to use it to write on the train, as it's significantly lighter and less cumbersome than my aging laptop.
It's black magic, I tells ya! Friday, the 25th of June, 2010 Apps for my iPad which I have been using the most so far (aside from Safari, Mail etc.):
- ABC - news, weather etc. from the Australian Broadcasting Coorperation
- Pages - a simple word processor from Apple which can read and save .doc files
- Popplet - very cool little mind-mapping/visual note-taking app
- Sketchbook Pro - A simple but powerful painting program which supports layers and can save .psd files
- Twitterrific - so I can bug people from afar
- Marvel Comics - Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men is even better when read on an iPad
- NIV Bible HD - It's the Bible. New International Version. IN HD!!!
- Dungeon Hunter HD - simple but addictive Diablo clone
- Plants vs Zombies HD - a great iPhone game which becomes amazing at 1024x768
- Galcon Fusion - very simple and quick strategy game which works really well with the touch-screen
- Angry Birds HD - The fun of destruction combined with the cuteness of little birds.
- Canabalt - oddly addictive game of reflexes
While I can't recommend the iPad for everybody, it is certainly making my nearly-5-hour daily commute to work much more tolerable.
Mmm... pancakes... Monday, the 28th of June, 2010 Unable to find adequate stock material for reference and textures, I was forced to make my own pancakes and take photos of them for today's page. It was then necessary to consume them. I hope you people appreciate the sacrifices I make for this comic.
New content for the Supporter's Club will go online this week. It includes a short story largely written on my iPad.
If you insist. Friday, the 2nd of July, 2010 Work is a little crazy at the moment, so I won't be producing any new pages this weekend. Thankfully, I've built up a decent buffer over the past few months so updates shouldn't be affected.
The short story for July, 'baruk's Story", is now online in the Supporter's Club.
Baruk Shield became famous among Cirin citizens practically overnight when he crashed a freighter, laden with a torpedo warhead, into Espenson Station, killing over two hundred people (Chapter 3). This document is Baruk’s journal, recounting his experiences on Farhaven which led to what some praise as a bold strike for freedom, and others condemn as a cowardly act of terrorism.
Baruk’s Story will continue with Part 2 in August.
Wallpapers will go online over the weekend.
Specifically, the Philistine army. Monday, the 5th of July, 2010 New wallpapers are now online in the Supporter's Club, a couple of which are based on old calendar images:
It's like a huge, forbidding jellyfish. Friday, the 9th of July, 2010 I would very much like to sleep for a week.
Oh, I'm a year older now. Funny how it happens overnight instead of gradually over the course of, say, a year.
Where? Monday, the 12th of July, 2010 One day I want to live somewhere with a secret passage.
Think it'll work? Friday, the 16th of July, 2010 Crisp, cold mornings, just the way I like it. I love Winter.
Go on, kiss him again. Monday, the 19th of July, 2010 Well, we're in election mode again. Here in Australia we only get six weeks' notice, and therefore only six weeks of campaigning, and even that feels like six weeks too long.
In all my fourteen years as a voter, I have never been quite this unexcited about any of the major parties. It's like asking who would you like to put in charge of Deep Space Nine: Quark, Rom or Morn*.
- For the uneducated, I'll say it's like asking who you want to put in charge of Babylon 5: Vir, Lennier or Zathras**.
- Or who you're going to put in charge of the Rebel Alliance: C3-PO, R2D2 or Jar-Jar Binks.
If none of these references are familiar to you, I have just two questions for you: How is Mars, and when did you get back?
Hey, it's that other guy... Friday, the 23rd of July, 2010 Technically speaking, any augmented individual is a "cyborg", but in the 27th century the term is reserved for people who are heavily augmented (ie: more than 50% of their body mass is cybernetic). If people wish to be rude about it, they call them a "body-job" instead.
Red then blue. Monday, the 26th of July, 2010 The guard is holding a carbine - a lighter, less powerful version of the lance-rifles which we seen the Marines use.
I have a sinus infection. It's hard to concentrate when your sinuses and brains are competing for the same real estate.
Also... why? Friday, the 30th of July, 2010 Congratulations to Dhraakellian from the forum who guessed the minor revelation in today's page three weeks ago.
I apologise for the late update. I forgot to upload the page before I went to bed last night and didn't remember until I was already on the train to work. But of course if you were a fan of the CD Facebook Page, you'd already know that.
(See how I take a memory lapse on my part and turn it into a shameless plug? I could have been in politics.)
Whisper's dialogue in today's page is a reference to a TV show on my part. The first person to identify the reference gets... A MILLION BILLION DOLLARS!*
- Prize may not be real.
So polite. Monday, the 2nd of August, 2010 "Baruk's Story: Part 2" is now online in the Supporter's Club. The story will conclude with part 3 in September. I've decided that I'm going to upload wallpapers throughout the month rather than aall at once, this will give me more time to work on them and hopefully make them a little less rushed.
WiNi is just... wierd... Friday, the 6th of August, 2010 Remember?
Now with hair! Monday, the 9th of August, 2010 A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. This didn't come as much of a surprise to me as I had suspected it for some time, but it's good to have a professional diagnosis.
Asperger's Syndrome is an "autism spectrum disorder" with a number of common symptoms:
- Difficulty in social interactions
We lack the ability to interpret social cues in conversation on an instinctual level and need to learn to do so on a conscious, intellectual level. This means that we find conversation tiring as we are constantly thinking about how to interpret the other person's tone of voice and body language while trying to determine how we should respond. We often come across as insensitive or inappropriate in conversation because we don't understand what we're supposed to talk about or how to react.
- Hyper-sensitivity to sensory stimuli
The extent of this differs from one person to another, but generally speaking we are more sensitive to sound, touch, light and smell than normal. In my case this is most obvious in terms of sound as everything sounds louder to me than it does to others, to the point that everyday sounds - such as a dog barking, someone picking up their keys or a car driving past - are actually painful to me. We tend to find noisy situations overwhelming as we have a hard time ignoring "background noise". Combined with our social difficulties, this means we tend to find parties utterly exhausting and are likely to avoid them entirely. It also partly explains why I've never liked being touched and why I'm so fussy about my food.
We tend to lose ourselves in specific subject matter. We can become experts on one obscure subject while being completely clueless about other subjects thought of as common knowledge. We tend to be fascinated by details while missing the bigger picture. Combined with our social difficulty, we're likely to talk on and on about something we find fascinating without noticing that everyone else is bored to tears. We also tend to value repetition and routine.
The Wikipedia entry is depressingly dry, so if you'd like to learn more about Asperger's Syndrome I recommend this overview, as well as an interview with Tony Attwood on ABC radio which first brought the syndrome to my attention.
"Godzilla." Friday, the 13th of August, 2010 Many people have been wonderfully supportive since I announced on Monday that I have Asperger's Syndrome - I guess I shouldn't be surprised that several of my readers are in the same boat. The diagnosis really has come as a great relief - for all my life I've felt different, it's nice to know that it's because I really *am* different.
A couple of people have said that they're going to pray for healing. While I appreciate the sentiment, I'm not convinced that Asperger's Syndrome is something which needs to be healed. Sure, it makes many common aspects of life difficult - some downright impossible - but it also opens up many other opportunities as it allows me to think and see the world differently. Aspies (as we apparently like to be called) are known to be single-minded and obsessive, and it has been suggested that we tend to lean towards sci-fi and fantasy in our tastes. If God hadn't given me Asperger's Syndrome, Crimson Dark might never have happened.
Ta dah! Monday, the 16th of August, 2010 I've mostly finished my contract at work, there's probably just one or two more days to go to tie up loose ends. However there's a good chance of something more long term coming up - I'll keep you informed.
I'm taking advantage of the present lull to take care of some long overdue CD-related housekeeping. Firstly, as you've probably noticed, I've redesigned the site - something I've been wanting to do for some time now. It's still a work in progress, so I'd welcome any feedback you have, and have created a thread in the forum for that purpose.
End of Chapter 10 Friday, the 20th of August, 2010 That's right, I'm ending chapter 10 on a cliffhanger!
There are a few reasons for this:
- This particular story is too big to squeeze into a single chapter without it becoming intolerably long. - Work has been very busy of late, and I've just been offered more, meaning I haven't had as much time as I would like to work on CD so I need a little time to catch up. - I'm a heartless, sadistic bastard.
There will be two weeks of bonus pages (I'd like to make it one, but those poor fools who employ me keep throwing money at me in exchange for doing stuff which isn't CD, and I need money), and then Chapter 11 will continue the story.
Bonus Page: Old and New It looked too much like a furnace Monday, the 23rd of August, 2010 As promised, the first of six bonus pages. Chapter 11 will begin in two weeks time, assuming I don't implode before then.
Bonus Page: The CCR Spin-off series: The Phantom of the Station Wednesday, the 25th of August, 2010 I saw Inception on the weekend and was very impressed. I would have liked to have seen more city folding and less exploding, but it's definitely one of the best films I've seen in a long time.
Bonus Page: The Glance The maple syrup was an extravagance Friday, the 27th of August, 2010 As you see, I tend to regard my own concept sketches as suggestions rather than finished designs.
Work is kind of crazy at the moment, and I'm about to lose another Saturday thanks to our energy provider cutting our power to perform maintenance. The last two wallpapers for this month should go online in the Supporter's Club over the weekend, but next month's material may be delayed.
Bonus Page: My Lighting Process Lighting things is fun. Especially fires. Monday, the 30th of August, 2010 The finished product in today's page is now available as a wallpaper in the Supporter's Club.
Chapter 11 will begin next week, assuming work doesn't eat me. Hopefully things will quiet down for a little while after this week so I can get back on top of things here.
Bonus Page: The Great Experiment Don't say it can't work unless you've tried it... Wednesday, the 1st of September, 2010 A little bit of background, for those who care about that sort of thing. For the rest of you... umm... HEY LOOK OVER THERE! ::runs::
Bonus Page: Various Sketches And now a message from Professor Farnsworth: Friday, the 3rd of September, 2010 Good news everyone!
My mind-control ray seems to have worked and the good people at Halo Pictures have given me a permanent position. It will be 4-5 days per week during production, and 2 days per week when things are quiet. This is good news for you because it means I'll be able to work on CD during those quiet times while still earning a modest income.
Here we go again Monday, the 6th of September, 2010 Yay, Chapter 11 is under way!
I'd like to take an opportunity to express my sympathy for residents in and around Christchurch, NZ. I visited the city a couple of years ago and loved it, and it distresses me to see the devestation it has suffered.
Oops. Friday, the 10th of September, 2010 Apologies for this page's lateness. If I'm working on an update day, I need to upload the page before I go to bed the previous evening. Sometimes I forget.
Whisper's very fast.
Chekhov's Carbine. Monday, the 13th of September, 2010 It's an epic one-on-one struggle, so it has to be on a bridge/catwalk/gantry. There's a law.
Bam. Friday, the 17th of September, 2010 Regular carbines are designed for use against regular people, it'd take a lot of shots or a perfectly placed one to take down a Marine. Lance rifles, however, are designed for punching through armour.
Splat. Monday, the 20th of September, 2010 Carbines may not be great against armoured opponents, but when fired at point-blank range into the weakest part of the body they still pack a punch.
I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that. Friday, the 24th of September, 2010 A few people have quite rightly asked what's happening with content for the Supporter's Club this month. The answer is that I'm working on it and will have a new short story online as soon as possible, but I'm trying to write it well rather than quickly.
Grin. Monday, the 27th of September, 2010 Members of the Supporter's Club will already be aware of Sarah's fondness for leaving ghosts in her wake (read the short story "Grey Station" if you'd like to learn more about Sarah's past).
Speaking of which, the final part of Baruk's Story went online today for Club members. This concludes the chronicle of the siege of Farhaven as seen through the eyes of the man who would eventually fly a freighter into Espenson Station in Chapter 2.
Kablammo. Friday, the 1st of October, 2010 Legend of the Guardians looks like a visual treat, but I probably won't go and see it. As much as I'd like to support Australian cinema, it just doesn't work to have photo-realistic animals with human facial expressions. If you want animals to express the full range of emotions then you need to stylise them (like Finding Nemo), otherwise they just end up looking a little creepy. On top of that, the trailer did nothing to convince me that the story isn't the usual formulaic coming-of-age stuff which we've seen a hundred times already.
I am, however, excited about Deathly Hallows Part 1.
In other news, George Lucas must be stopped.
Up and down. Monday, the 4th of October, 2010 Grav-nets, like those in Niobe, are obsolete technology. Though they retain their charge for several hours after they lose power, they can't easily be modified once they've been built into the deck plating. Over time they're likely to drift away from 1G and can't be fixed without actually lifting the deck plating and exposing the net. Variable grav-plates can be modified through the ship/station's computer, but don't hold their charge for more few seconds.
Poor Whisper. Friday, the 8th of October, 2010 I've been very very tired all week. So tired that I may well fall asleep at the
Oops. Monday, the 11th of October, 2010 The lateness of today's page is most definitely due to forgetfulness on my part, not some massive government conspiracy to test your patience. (But of course, that's exactly what someone involved in such a conspiracy would say, isn't it?)
To set the record straight: Just because we've seen one JAK with orange blood, it does not follow that all JAKs have orange blood. The colour of a person's blood depends entirely on what augs they have, and anyone can be turned into a JAK - the only critical step is the replacement of the cerebral cortex with an artificial intelligence. If Whisper were to be JAKed (God forbid), she would bleed either red blood or blue actuator fluid, depending on where she was injured.
They focus the mind. Friday, the 15th of October, 2010 Page 11.11 - yay!
"He's touching me!" Monday, the 18th of October, 2010 Do you like burritos? I like burritos.
Dang, now I want a burrito.
Deader than dead. Friday, the 22nd of October, 2010 Over the weekend I'll upload the first of a series of snippets to the Supporter's Club which will substitute for the short stories for a little while. These snippets, titled "Letters from Home", will reveal further insights into our characters. They'll be substantially shorter than my regular short stories, but will update more often - hopefully once every fortnight or so. This means I'll be able to keep a steady flow of updates to the Club while taking a break from writing a short story every month, which is frankly driving me a little mad. I also hope to work on some new wallpapers over the weekend.
In other news, Martin Freeman is going to play Bilbo. Although I'd prefer some kind of voodoo ritual to make Ian Holm young enough to look the part without pulling his face off, I have to say Freeman may actually be a good choice. He's a skilled actor with a great sense of comic timing, and he certainly knows how to play an everyman.
Ow indeed. Monday, the 25th of October, 2010 Distributed computing means it's virtually impossible to just lock Sarah out of the station - key systems have to be isolated one by one.
Celestial bell-bottoms. Friday, the 29th of October, 2010 Solar flares are classed as A, B, C, M or X, based on the amount of X-Ray radiation emitted. X-class flares are the most powerful, and the strongest on record is a class X34, which would have emitted enough radiation to make an astronaut on the moon critically ill. There have been even more powerful flares in the past, such as the solar storm of 1859 which shorted out telegraph wires across Europe and the US.
It's highly unlikely that anyone aboard Espenson Station or any docked ships would be exposed to enough radiation to cause any harmful effects, as all ships and stations have some form of radiation shielding, but since solar flares are difficult to predict it is standard procedure to evacuate vulnerable areas in the event of a powerful flare. Neither Radiant Industries nor the R.A.S.F. want to have to deal with a lawsuit.
Work incentives Monday, the 1st of November, 2010 Bears have the right idea, but the wrong execution. If I could hibernate, it would be through the months of November to February. As well as avoiding the worst excesses of an Australian Summer, I'd also skip Christmas, Australia Day and the school holidays when the streets and shopping centres are infested with noisy children.
The only thing I'd miss would be the cricket.
Owie. Friday, the 5th of November, 2010 Red!
Pain is good. Monday, the 8th of November, 2010 There is a new Letter from Home in the Supporter's Club, this time to Larissa from her millionaire father.
Mensk's personal guard. Friday, the 12th of November, 2010 I don't say this often enough - thank you all for reading. Even when it feels like I'm drowning under the weight of this webcomic (which characterises the past few months pretty well), the fact that people are reading it makes it all worthwhile.
It's a very quiet blast door Monday, the 15th of November, 2010 I'm hot.
Not the good kind of hot.
Every worker's dream. Friday, the 19th of November, 2010 This isn't some futuristic obscene hand-gesture on Shade's part - she has a small gun built into her right forearm.
With extreme prejudice. Monday, the 22nd of November, 2010 Shade really means 31.578947368421052631578947368421%, but she has noticed that such precision tends to make people uncomfortable, so she is content to swallow her pride and approximate.
For the record... Friday, the 26th of November, 2010 ...Mensk really is dead. I know this has been debated in the forum, but augmentation tech in the CD Universe has not reached the point where people can store their brain somewhere else in their body instead of in the head.
She's meticilously neat and tidy. Monday, the 29th of November, 2010 The past few months have been really rough as I've found myself almost drowning under the weight of work which needed to be done for Crimson Dark, but I feel I've finally crested a hill and have started building up a proper buffer again. I've even had time this weekend to make a new wallpaper featuring Marcus and Shade for the Supporter's Club:
Kindred spirits. Friday, the 3rd of December, 2010 Shh, it's a secret.
Shiny. Monday, the 6th of December, 2010 Our first look at Scarborough's interior.
Those pretty art nouveau designs are not my own work, but the creation of the lovely Katie Ryan. This year has been so hectic that I realised I would not be able to achieve the look that I wanted for Scar's interior without outside help, so I spent some of my Supporter's Club income on hiring Katie to work out some designs for me. Katie has her own webcomic called Red Tails, which is well worth checking out. She actually draws her comic on paper, imagine! She's also a skilled animator, so take a look at her portfolio too.
So everyone's floating now? Friday, the 10th of December, 2010 I'm full-time at work for a couple of weeks, so please forgive me if I'm less attentive to your emails than usual.
I really waste a lot of time trying to think of news titles. Monday, the 13th of December, 2010 At least he's genre-savvy.
There it is. Friday, the 17th of December, 2010 Some page are easier to write than others.
Greetings Programs. Monday, the 20th of December, 2010 I've seen a lot of mixed reviews of Tron: Legacy over the past few days, so I've decided to throw my own thoughts into the ring.
I grew up with the original TRON. Sure, the story was weak at best and the character development was virtually non-existent, but as a fantasy tale set in a stunning and unique world, it blew my mind away. It was only recently that I became aware of how influential the movie has been on my own work - compare Sark's Carrier and the Solar Sailer to the capital ships in Crimson Dark.
So I came to TRON: Legacy with many expectations and was surprised that, for the most part, they were met.
TRON: Legacy isn't a ground-breaking film in the way the first one was. It is more a showcase of current technology than a glimpse of what's to come. Many have praised the film for its "Special Effects", but since Jurassic Park the bar for effects in filmmaking have continually risen to the point where anything is possible as long as someone can imagine it. That is what impresses about TRON: Legacy - not the quality of the effects, but the imagination behind them. Like Avatar, the film draws you into a alien world of beauty and wonder.
In updating the look and feel of the game grid, the film also updates the iconic elements of the original: Light Cycles, Recognisers, Disc Battles etc. As with the first film, these elements mainly exist because they are cool, rather than having any real impact on the story. But they are entertaining, gorgeous and like nothing you have ever seen before. These are the light cycle battles which the first film only hinted at, and this summarises Legacy's overall success - it is the long-overdue realisation of all of the potential of the original film.
That's not to say that Legacy is a perfect film. Some of the sound design lacks the almost melodic quality of the original and the new game world seems a little too solid and mechanical - as if it was made of steel and plastic unlike the environments of the original film which seemed sculpted from light.
But it is a very entertaining and satisfying film with a simple but engaging story and some actual character development thrown in as well. I hope to see more entries in the TRON series in the future.
What will people think when they learn that I'm a genius freak? Friday, the 24th of December, 2010 I have now seen TRON Legacy three times. I hope to see it again tomorrow.
Them again! Monday, the 27th of December, 2010 Another page which was relatively easy to write.
Would it help if I got out and pushed? Friday, the 31st of December, 2010 Everyone's doing it, so it's time for my list of Favourite* Things of 2010.
- not necessarily the best things. This is a highly subjective list.
Favourite Game - Mass Effect 2
Bioware took everything that was good about ME1 and perfected it and ditched everything I didn't like. The result is arguably the best example of interactive story-telling made to date with great dialogue, memorable characters, fun gameplay and gorgeous visuals. Plus it has aliens performing Gilbert & Sullivan and Hamlet.
Honourable Mentions Call of Duty: Black Ops, Civilization V, Fallout: New Vegas, Starcraft 2
Favourite Movie - TRON: Legacy
I've been waiting 28 years for this movie, and the fact that it did not dissapoint is mind-boggling. A visually stunning action-flick with a character-driven story and a killer soundtrack
Honourable mentions Toy Story 3, Inception
Favourte TV Show - Sherlock
When my friend Sophie first tweeted about a new version of Sherlock Holmes set in the 21st Century, my initial reaction was "It'll only work if it's written by Stephen Moffat". Guess what? It is, and it works! The TV writer who saved Doctor Who from the abuses of Russel T. Davies has given us a sleek, entertaining and surprisingly faithful adaptation of one fo the greatest fictional characters of all time.
Honourable Mentions: Doctor Who, The Pacific
Had the silly thing in reverse. Monday, the 3rd of January, 2011 Now that we've seen Scarborough, expect to see her appear in some wallpapers for the Supporter's Club this week.
Like an egg. Friday, the 7th of January, 2011 The Republic and the Alliance are backwaters compared to the UTC and its states. The Darani Republic is certainly one of the larger Protectorates and is campaigning for Statehood, but it is still a relatively small player in the big scheme of things.
I return to work on Monday after a three week holiday (extended due to having the flu). Sickness aside, it's been nice to be able to relax for a little while and build up a buffer for the comic.
Topless! Monday, the 10th of January, 2011 That's an insta-cast on Daniel's arm. They come as adhesive sheets which are wrapped around the injured limb like bandages, but expand and harden after application to form casts. They can be easily dissolved using a harmess chemical compound.
The four scariest words. Friday, the 14th of January, 2011 A year or two ago I mentioned bushfires which devestated communities in Victoria, now it's time to talk about floods. How Australian.
Overseas readers may not be aware that the Australian State of Queensland has been devestated by floods these past few weeks, with reports that an area larger than France and Germany combined has been affected. Many rural towns and cities have gone underwater, as well as the state capital of Brisbane. To get an idea of the extent of damage, take a look at this gallery.
If you have the means, please consider donating to the flood relief appeal.
Everyone has a story. Monday, the 17th of January, 2011 Not all backstories are dramatic.
Work has asked me to go full-time for several weeks beginning on the 24th, which is good news because I really need the money. I'm hoping this won't affect Crimson Dark at all, and to that end I am trying to build up a buffer large enough to cover that entire period. While I *can* continue producing pages while working full-time, past experience has shown that it runs a high risk of driving me completely insane, and I'd like to avoid that. Mostly insane is just fine, thank you very much.
You tell him. Friday, the 21st of January, 2011 Incidentally, that mirror is now in therapy.
I think I need a Whisper in my life. Monday, the 24th of January, 2011 I'm going to be full-time at work for the next 6-7 weeks, so I may be less communicative than usual. This is looking to be a crazy-making project or, as my boss put it, "both exhilerating and excrutiating". The good news is that, at a rate of roughly 1.4 pages per day, I have managed to build up a buffer large enough to cover this entire period, so I can guarantee that CD's update schedule will not be interrupted during this time.
It's likely, however, that the Supporter's Club will continue to update sporadically. The purpsoe for the Club has always been to help with the production of Crimson Dark, and it has been a great success in that regard. Though the income is not enough to live on, it has allowed me to settle in a job which is flexible enough to give me the time I need to focus on Crimson Dark. Without the Club, I would need to find permanent full-time work, which would undoubtably hurt updates. The provision of short stories and wallpapers has always been a bonus rather than the purpose of the Club, so I hope club members will be patient with me and will agree that keeping the main story moving forward is more important than expanding the universe.
Oops. Friday, the 28th of January, 2011 I aplogise for forgetting to upload today's page before I went to work, I don't normally work on Fridays.
Gotcha. Monday, the 31st of January, 2011 That's a Cirin Elite Guard. Heavily augmented, but not so much as a Republic Marine.
Due to popular demand, I have set up an official Crimson Dark wiki. This is a reader-driven project which I'm going to try and keep at arms-length. Some intrepid readers have already started adding content, and have done fantastic work so far, but there's still much to do (it's a big universe after all), so head on over and make your mark.
Famous last words? Friday, the 4th of February, 2011 Sydney is in the middle of a record heatwave at the moment, with five consecutive days so far where the temperature exceeded 30 degress C in the city. It's substantially hotter out West where I live, ranging from 37 to 42. The hot days are bad enough, but the hot nights are the worst part. Last night it was 28 degrees when I woke to leave for work at 6am. The forecast is for a cool change to come through next week, but in the meantime the city is slowly filling with zombies as more and more Sydney-siders endure hot, sweaty, sleepless nights.
Mind you, our homes have not been flooded by heavy rains, nor smashed by cyclonic winds, nor gutted by raging bushfires, so all things considered we really have nothing to complain about. That's not going to stop us complaining though.
Pirate Pandas? Monday, the 7th of February, 2011 The Observation Deck.
The cool change has finally arrived, ending a record seven days of 30+ heat in Sydney (ranging 36-42 here in the West). I'm looking forward to sleeping again.
Pirate treasure? Friday, the 11th of February, 2011 Media Watch is back on TV. This makes me happy.
Pirate trouble? Monday, the 14th of February, 2011 There's been a lot of activity over at the Crimson Dark Wiki, much of it thanks to the efforts of Charles. Already it's starting to look like a broader, more useful resource than my own database.
In Caelo Veritas Friday, the 18th of February, 2011 I have an iPhone now, and after less than a week I'm already wondering how I ever managed without.
Who? Monday, the 21st of February, 2011 Hey look, it's that place again!