It’s Saturday, and the day when I finished off making that batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I photographed back on Thursday. I composed some of them that day, but most of them waited until today.
While assembling the comics, I did my usual thing of changing the scripts and punchlines of a few of the strips. For one of them I solicited advice from my friends on our private chat channel, on whether to go for a broad audience punchline that was not necessarily as funny, or a narrower audience punchline that I thought was funnier. They agreed that the narrow punchline was in fact funnier, so I used that. My general philosophy is that I’m happy to target a fairly small niche audience with a technical punchline that nobody else will fully understand, as long as it’s funny enough for the people who do understand it.
On a slightly different note: have you ever wondered how I keep track of which characters have which coloured speech bubbles? Wonder no more! Here is a little image file that I keep handy and always have open when I’m assembling new comics. I can easily use Photoshop’s eyedropper tool to sample the exact colour of each major character’s speech bubbles, so they remain consistent across strips. (I didn’t do this early one, and some of the characters’ bubbles changed colour once or twice, but I’ve been consistent for a long time now.)
This morning I finally managed to get my act together and photograph a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I pulled out the Lego and started work about 8:30. I had to run down to the garage to get a particular character from the boxes of Lego stored down there – one I haven’t used for over 1000 strips. I also contemplated rebuilding a complex thing for a set, but that would have taken an hour or two extra just to do that, so I improvised with a photographic background.
I finished photographing about midday. That’s about typical for a batch – during which I photograph enough frames for 20 strips – or 4 weeks’ worth at one per weekday. During the afternoon I began assembling the photos into comic panels and adding dialogue. I’m about halfway through that – will need to finish it off another day. And then after that comes the writing of the annotations and then uploading everything to the staging area of the web server so they can update automatically. All up it’s about two full days of work to prepare a batch like this… after the writing is done. Doing the writing for a batch of comics can take anything from 1-3 days, depending how inspired I feel and how easily the jokes flow.
As well as the comic panel photos, I took a few behind-the-scenes shots, to show you what the overall set looks like. Here are a couple of shots of the entire set that I built to represent the Cambridge University particle accelerator lab, as seen in comic #4036. The sets are usually very empty outside the bounds of where the camera will see!
Apart from household chores, meals, and a bit of Italian language practice, that’s pretty much my entire day today!
Today I planned to photograph a batch of new Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’ve written over the past few days. But first thing this morning I had to visit the dentist for a routine hygiene/clean thingy. Alas, it turned out that I had a cracked tooth, which needed filling…
I ended up spending over two hours there, and left with a numb face. Arriving home a lot later than I thought and not feeling the best, I decided to give the photography a miss and leave it until Thursday. Instead I did some more prep for Friday night’s D&D game, and a bit of coding on a secret new random text generator, which promises to be a lot of fun.
Oh, and on the way home from the dentist, I got swooped by a magpie! It’s still the middle of winter, but it’s so warm and spring-like already that the magpies are apparently nesting already. It hit me full in the back of the shoulder and head as it dive-bombed me. I was rather shocked as I haven’t really been attacked by a magpie for several years – I’m usually pretty cautious when I know they’re nesting, but it never would have occurred to me that they’d be laying eggs so early in the year.
It really has been an amazingly warm winter here. There are still trees with autumn and even pre-autumn green foliage that hasn’t dropped, while other trees are sprouting new spring foliage already. And the magnolias are in full bloom:
I knuckled down and wrote a big batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips today. I’ll photograph them tomorrow morning and then assemble them over the next few days. Might show off a preview photo or two tomorrow. But the main question I had today was a matter of pirate grammar: Which of these is most correct?
- the cook ne’er been captured
- the cook ne’er bein’ captured
- the cook ne’er be bein’ captured
- the cook ne’er been bein’ captured
Speaking of comics, I’ve had some new submissions for Lightning Made of Owls after a big period of no new strips coming in. A new one was published last Friday, and another today.
Then I did some stuff with character sheets from my players for Friday evening’s upcoming D&D game. I’m letting them generate 5th level characters to start the game with, and so granting them some magic items. They have some limited choice, but I’m deciding the final items. I’m trying to pick things that would fit their characters and which will be useful and fun in play.
The other main thing I did today was house painting. We had some work done a while back to repair some minor cracks in the walls and gaps along ceiling joints and stuff, and rather than pay the repairers to paint, I decided to just do the painting myself. I’ve been slowly doing it in bursts, as there’s a lot of undercoating and then top coats to apply to all the various surfaces. The cool thing is I get to use the drybrushing technique I learnt for painting miniature gaming figures to blend the touch-up paint colour with the original paint. The touch-up paint is almost the same colour as the original paint, but it’s just possible to discern a difference if you look carefully. But much harder with a drybrushed transition between them. Gaming skills in real life, yeah!
Spent time with the wife and Scully today. We did a 5 km walk around the neighbourhood, passing two dog parks along the way where Scully got to run around and chase a tennis ball. We stopped at a bakery for morning tea, and then walked home via the marina down in the bay.
Work-wise, I wrote some scripts for new Irregular Webcomic! strips, tidied up tonight’s new Darths & Droids strip for publication, and worked a bit on the mezzacotta random generators. Andrew Coker, whose original idea led to these random generators, did a lot of coding work today, developing a new generator to produce random art description plaques, like you see in art galleries, that give the title, artist, and a description of the work. It’s not quite ready to show off yet, but if you look at the Github project you can see the code as we commit and push it.
Here are some preview samples of the sort of artwork titles we can generate:
- Portrait of the artist’s sister-in-law
- Composition of pentagons and squiggles
- Self-portrait as Agamemnon
- The perfection of love in the toe of someone laughing
- Allegory on the vision of Satyr
It’s Saturday evening here and it’s been another beautiful warm winter’s day. I know there’s currently a record-breaking heatwave in Europe. It should be winter here at this time of year, but I swear it’s almost as if autumn never really ended, while spring has already begun. There are a lot of deciduous trees with old leaves still on them, while at the same time a lot of trees are flowering for spring already. There are magnolias, cherry blossoms, rhododendrons, camellias, and some others that I don’t know the names of flowering all over the neighbourhood. Oh, the golden wattle is also flowering, but then that always flowers in winter:
Today I took Scully to the vet for her first annual booster vaccination. She’s 16 months old now, and the vet says she’s looking fit and healthy.
I was planning to write a bunch of Irregular Webcomic! strips today, as I want to photograph and make a new batch in the upcoming week, but I never got around to it, doing other little things and household chores that chopped up the day. I’ll have another go tomorrow.
But what I did complete today was uploading photos for another day of my travel diary from my trip to Portugal back in May. I posted the diary entry over on my personal blog, where I post such things.