It's update day!

posted by Jacob Evans   [ updated ]

Alright, so after this we're back on the regular update schedule.

Fallout NCR Poster
Not a lot of announcements this week, just some new content. So, without further ado... up first, we've got a new bit of artwork. It's not a painting -- I should point that out early. It started life as a reference image I threw together for a physical painting I was working on for my brother, though time constraints lead me to finishing the digital version and printing it as a poster instead. Sources for the various image components vary and are cited to the best of my ability (this was a long time ago) on the picture's page.
The full process is listed out there in case you're curious, but the short version is that it's edited in GIMP from various sources, recolored, scaled up to poster size and then painted over in Artrage to get that movie poster look. If anyone's curious, I'll see if I have the original size kicking around anywhere, but this might be it.

Up next, I've got the bi-monthly section of Activation, my main science fiction story. We're getting into the action and plot with this part so I'm pretty excited. Characters in the story are excited too, though whether or not that's a good thing, I'll leave to your discretion.

Hope you enjoy and all that, and, as always, thanks for reading!

--Evans

Comments are functional! Also some more Activation!

posted Apr 17, 2015, 2:35 PM by Jacob Evans   [ updated Apr 17, 2015, 2:46 PM ]

So here's some good news: I finally figured out how to get Disqus comments working on the site.

As I think I mentioned
Part 3
before, I was having a problem with the 'Gadget' someone created to allow Disqus code on Google sites (you may have noticed that CFTI is currently hosted on a Google site, doing everything it can to pretend to be a real website -- if so, congratulations on being so darned perceptive. You probably also figured out that it's because I'm cheap. In all seriousness though, I am planning to migrate once the thing gets a bit bigger, but it's an easy, fire-and-forget kind of low-maintenance solution at the moment).

Anyways, the long and short of things is that between the time I tested it and the time I revived the site, something changed and the gadget was no longer able to create new comment threads. It could display them, however, so once I found a way to manually create new threads, I was good to go. It's a little cumbersome but still better than the old spreadsheet comment system, especially long-term.

So to celebrate, I'm putting up another section of Activation! I tried including it in the blog post but it made the place look untidy, (each section is about six pages of text) so for now at least, I'll keep posting links here.

One note on the the comments: one of the main reasons I'm setting them up -- part of the reason I'm reviving the website, really -- is because I'd love feedback on the various projects I'm putting up here. I really do want to hear what you think, especially in regards to Activation. But I also kind of hope to create a community here over time as well, and if we can manage that, I want to build it following the model Shamus Young set at Twenty Sided (one of my all time favourite websites). Of all the blogs, comics, and websites I frequent, Twenty Sided has always had the best, nicest, and most considerate community, even when discussing hard topics. Part of that is probably the kind of long-form, written content that makes up most of the site, and which probably scares away or disinterests the average troll, but another large part is his style of moderation, which forgoes formalized rules (and the accompanying rules lawyering) in favour of a general, discretion-based, 'Don't be a Dick' policy. It seems to work really well, makes moderation easy, and keeps the line fuzzy, so people think about what they're about to say rather than focusing on staying just this side of the letter of the law.

Personally, I welcome criticism of the projects I'm putting up -- like I said, that's why they're here -- and I really would love any feedback, suggestions, and identification of grammatical and continuity errors I've missed. If someone takes the time to read/look at the stuff I've made, I'm thrilled, and happy to have you here and to hear what you have to say. I really don't plan to be some tyrannical dictator here. But I have seen several webcomics build a very hostile community which always took something from the experience, and I really hope to avoid something like that happening here. So please try to be polite, especially to eachother (I'm the one who wants the criticism, after all) and, as always, welcome!

Machines and Activation

posted Apr 10, 2015, 3:47 PM by Jacob Evans   [ updated Apr 17, 2015, 8:34 AM ]

Hey everybody!

I've got two updates for you this lovely evening: up first, the second half of Activation's first chapter -- say that three times fast (or send along better wording). I think I might start posting the full text in the blog post starting with the next chapter. Let me know how that looks in the comment system we'll hopefully have by then.

Up next, we've got a special, almost-double-length edition of the Machines (which I just realized I probably could have split into two parts. Ah well, it works better this way). These things take me a long time to make so hopefully this makes it worth it.


In fact, I think I said I was going to expound on my (current, broken) process and why, exactly it takes so long, so here's a short version:

(Note, I'm actually working on learning a bit of comicking and improving/streamlining this process, so this is really just posted so you can laugh at the meandering course the comics take through two mediums and three different art programs. If you do have any suggestions, I'm always happy to hear them though, though you'll have to use the site email at the moment.)

Step 1: Line Art
Draw everything in mechanical pencil on computer paper because you've forgotten everything from your portraits class. For bonus points, draw every panel on separate sheets and don't worry about layout or any of that stuff until later.

Step 2: Layout
Scan each sheet, import it into GIMP, clean up/darken the line art because the process of inking somehow mystifies you. Jam it all into the biggest file you can and organize it into something approaching layout. (This part takes time and sucks, I think I might start looking for a line artist/inker sometime soon because it's one of the main quality sticking-points, and the lack of layout planning probably damages the flow of action.)

Step 3: Pre-Coloring
For this one and probably some in the future, I added several textures from cgtextures, under the color layers. Piecing them together, and getting the light and perspective right took more time than I was expecting, but I'm pleased with the result, it's a little more scifi and a little less oil-painty.

Step 4: Coloring (AKA the best part)
I fking love coloring. I don't know why, it's just my favorite part of the whole process save perhaps for writing. My only formal art training, aside from that portraits class, was an oil-painting course, and that was tremendous fun, though coloring has the added bonus of providing nice lines to work in, so I can focus on light and color and not worry about the figures ect so much, so maybe that's why. For this step I import it into Artrage, as it's by and far the best painting program I've found to date. I do most of the color using the oil painting tool (scifi theme of the comic be damned) and the paint scraper, along with the airbrush, which is probably my new favorite at the moment. When the color's finally right, I export the flattened image and move on to the next step.

Step 5: Lettering (and layout, again)
For this step I've been using Manga Studio, since it seemed like the best way to create comic panels, speech bubbles/boxes, ect. Basically I cut the original comic with it's drawn-in-GIMP panels up and make a nicer layout, before adding all the dialogue, sound effects, and narrator boxes.

Step 6: Cleanup
At this point we've come full circle back to GIMP, where I do any touchup work and resize for the internet. And this whole, thrilling process only takes a couple months.

So yeah, that's the process at the moment, I'm working on improving it in the future, so we'll see how it goes. Hopefully we'll have some more of these up soon!

Good night, and as always, thanks for reading,

--Evans


Activation

posted Mar 27, 2015, 4:21 PM by Jacob Evans   [ updated Mar 27, 2015, 4:58 PM ]

Hey folks,

Not much news this week... update-wise, we've got two posts in the story section: First up, the intro to my main story, Activation, a science fiction tale involving the post-apocalypse, artificial intelligence, crazy survivalists, virtual reality, and a sort of cyberpunk WW1.

After that, we've got the first section of a short, episodic comedy piece called An Untimely Awakening -- The Very Late Richard Nixon Assassination Plot, whose title is perhaps somewhat more descriptive, wherein a seventy-some year old, cold-war-era soviet sleeper agent accidentally activates himself and sets out to assassinate an actor who bears a striking resemblance to the late Richard Nixon.

In other news: I'm still trying to get comments up and running... my old system was a sort of jury-rigged mix of spreadsheets and forms a helpful soul created for google sites. It was functional, but hard to scale and lacking many of the features a formal comment system would include, chiefly the ability to take the contents with me to a new site when I switch to a more permanent hosting solution. Back when I was preparing to relaunch I'd settled on Disqus (since damn near everyone uses them and because they'd recently created a (somewhat ugly) google 'gadget,' but it's being finicky now, so it might be a little while before you can leave feedback on most of the new content. But I am working on it.

Oh, and if, like me, you enjoy reading about/participating in ARGs, but have been kind of disappointed at the struggle small-scale, hobby-style games seem to have with drawing in and engaging an audience, keeping pace, and providing the kind of motivation large-scale, corporate-sponsored marketing ARGs manage to, then take a look at reddit.com/r/coredump/ -- they're doing some very cool things in building a new sort of community-centric ARG, using the global support structure, and small-scale/personalized gaming group style of something like D&D. I write science fiction (including a story that involves something eerily similar to what they're trying to make) so I tend to dream a little big, but personally, it's my hope that this will create something new the way The Beast created modern ARGs. At the very least, they're doing something different, and that seems like a good first step when everyone else fails at something.

If you were confused by that last paragraph, and don't know what an ARG is, it's basically an online and in-real-life scavenger hunt with a story, often involving riddles, puzzles, and various kinds of technology. The big ones (Nine Inch Nail's Year One, iLoveBees, Portal's first ARG and their Potato Fools ARG) and of course, The Beast) all read like a sort of cyberpunk Indiana-Jones/ Da Vinchi Code-style action/archaeology serial with people racing to hunt down clues buried in lost technology or bizarre riddles (except there's thousands of protagonists all working together). If you'd like to read more about them, unforum is a good starting point.

The end of an era (of hiatus)

posted Mar 14, 2015, 5:26 PM by Jacob Evans   [ updated Mar 14, 2015, 5:40 PM ]

Hey folks!

Damn it's good to be back. Okay, I know it's been a while since we posted anything, but this time there's a good reason, beyond the usual life-stuff. No, this time, I've been building up a buffer. My goal for the next year is bimonthly updates (every two weeks right? I can probably manage that), and I think I've got some stuff you're going to like. What kind of stuff? Stories! Comics that aren't about videogames! (I know, I looked it up and we can actually do that. Who knew?) We might even get an update to the tutorials!

So CFTI tends to be a little eclectic as far as actual content goes, reflecting the interests and ongoing projects of the people who work on it, (Except when it was just a webcomic, I guess) but my goal is to lean it towards fiction and comics (writing and art, my two main hobbies). I've spent the last few years working on a scifi story involving the postapocalypse, virtual reality, ARGs and a sort of cyberpunk WW1. If that sounds interesting, then buckle up because we're going to have lots of updates from that. This story is actually part of why I'm bringing the site back, but more on that in a minute.

Up next, a pair of comic series I've been working on. They're stories I don't take quite as seriously, and which lend themselves to a visual media (But the cheap-to-produce kind, with static images drawn by one guy). I'm gonna level with you, these'll update kinda infrequently -- I'll go into detail on my messed-up, non-optimal process next comic update, but let's just say there's a lot of drawing, scanning, painting, and text-adding, and three different art programs have managed to get involved.

The story (I'm just calling it 'Activation' at the moment) is very much a work in progress and will probably change some over the next however long it takes me to write it. Edits will be made to earlier sections, and the site will probably be updated. Lest I be accused of 'Lucasing' the project or anything like that, I will try to keep some sort of archive of each version I put up, but my goal here is to get feedback and input, and to further polish the thing, so it's probably not gonna stay static the way a webcomic would, where you can see the evolution of the art or anything like that. Sorry. For what it's worth, the comics definitely will, so feel free to ogle the terrible early art as much as you like on the off chance I'll add better ones down the line.

So that's it for now, thanks for reading, and just to prove there really is some new content, here's the first of one of the new comics!


Machines Page 1

New comic and new pages

posted Jan 29, 2012, 8:47 PM by Jacob Evans   [ updated Mar 14, 2015, 5:20 PM ]

There's a new comic over in the comics section, and I'm happy to announce that we now have an extras page, full of all the things we didn't have a place for before. In it, you'll find two high-resolution desktop backgrounds I made from panels in the comic, as well as one that Jake Berry made in Gary's Mod. In a few days, hopefully, I'll post some of the hand-drawn comics I've been working on over the last month, and we'll probably add new things from time to time.

So go ahead and check it out, but be warned, the backgrounds are spoilers, so you might want to read the comics first.

Thanks,

--Jacob Evans

Site Changes

posted Jan 4, 2012, 10:11 AM by Jacob Evans

I am exited to announce that we've made some improvements to the site over the past few days, including the News section, which you are reading right now, and a working comment system, which I've added to the latest comic page, and will include on every comic from here on out. Please note, this news section will probably end up replacing the other RSS feed we were using before, so if you have subscribed to that, feel free to switch over to this one.


Thank you,


--Jacob Evans

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