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alt=The Gang over at Tall Tale Features have just finished completely re-working their website and have started a feature where they review one webcomic every week, and I am flattered that they have chosen to start things off with a nice, in-depth review of my little strip!

David Reddick, Norm Feuti, and Scott Metzger all contributed to the review. These three are extremely talented and established cartoonists in their own right, and it is a huge honor to get an honest critique from them. They had a lot of good things to say, and some very fair criticism as well. I will be sure to keep it their words in mind as I work to improve my strip. Be sure to head on over to the new Tall Tale Features site and check out the review! And leave a comment letting them know how much their thoughts are appreciated.

In other news, I did a little test this weekend to see how I liked drawing my strip live on Ustream. Turns out it works pretty well, and so I have decided to make a regular event of it. I will be drawing live every Saturday starting at 10:00 pm eastern. Feel free to swing on by my Ustream channel and say hi!

Machinarium

If your like me, (and I know you are) then you love robots. You also probably really love very finely crafted experiences that center around robots. If this is the case, then you are sure to love Machinarium. It is one of the most beautiful and meticulously created games I have played in a long while.

CGSociety has a very nice interview with Jakub Dvorský who was a chief designer for the game. He says:

“We felt we needed something warm with visible human touch in it to create a contrast to that robotic world that the character goes into, so we came up with an idea of hand-drawn backgrounds which are scanned and finished in Photoshop. Also the animations are mostly hand-animated frame by frame, the sounds effects live recorded and the music full of live instruments.”

The amount of time necessary to create a game in that manner is rather insane. It could be so easy (and must be terribly tempting) to use more “cost effective” methods for creating the art and animation, yet it is this carefully hand-crafted approach that gives the game it’s character and sets it apart from most everything else. It is really a marvel to consider the time and energy that went into the creation of this game.

Check out the interview, and please be sure to check out Machinarium as well.

Help the Hodges

The cartooning and animation communities recently banned together to help the family of Tim Hodge, a former Disney animator and a writer and director on the very popular Veggie Tales series. I don’t know Tim personally, but being a big fan of animation, and a HUGE Veggie Tales fan, his work has influenced me greatly over the years. I got to meet him when he came to speak at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and I was blown away by his enthusiasm and excitement in sharing his passion for art and animation with others.

Now we have an opportunity to help him and his family during a serious time of need. The following is from helpthehodges.com

On August 22, 2009 Matthew Hodge, the 17-year-old son of former Disney story artist and Big Idea productions director Tim Hodge, was in a serious auto accident. A train struck his car at 50mph as he was crossing the tracks. While Matt suffered neither broken bones nor any internal organ damage, he did receive severe head trauma causing him to remain in a state of coma today. Matt is a high school senior, a straight A student, and a drummer in his state championship marching band.

Being self-employed, the Hodge family has short term medical insurance that will not fully cover all of their bills. Additionally, with the care they are giving Matt, full-time work is not possible for Tim right now. This loving family is relying on their faith and the love of family and friends for their survival. This is a tragic accident that will forever affect their lives as the road to recovery for Matt may be a long one.

The National Cartoonist Society Foundation has set up an ebay auction in support of this cause. The list of contributing artists is too many to list here but many of the items for auction are simply amazing! (Original Charlie Brown art drawn by Charles Schulz anyone?) I highly encourage everyone to head over to helpthehodges.com for more information on how you can help today.

Well, 2010 is going to be an amazing time for Robot Beach and I wanted to share my plans for the coming year with all of you.

In addition to the comic, I will be creating a series of animated shorts for Robot Beach! Now, many of you probably already know this, but Robot Beach started its life as an idea for an animated series I had planned on creating over a number of years. I eventually came to my senses and decided that the story was just to big and the amount of work that would be involved was just to great for an animated series to work. So why the change now?

Well, It all comes down to concentrating my attention in the proper areas. The comic allows me to tell great jokes and a great story in a manner that works very well with the medium. However, with animation, I can deliver physical gags and humor that would be harder to convey on “paper”. To be clear, Robot Beach is first and foremost a comic. Always will be. The animation will never take the place of the comic. They are meant to be a nice little addition to the “Robot Beach” world that I am creating here.

The animated shorts I have planned will be 15 to 30 seconds a piece and done in a style that matches the comic very closely. The animation software I plan on using mostly is After Effects, (Although I would like to get my hands on a copy of Toon Boom and give that a try.) Depending on how much efficiency I can build into the process, I am hoping to get an animation released at least once every two months if not more often. Before I can start on any of this though, I have another personal project that I am going to need to get out of the way first.

All in all, it looks to be an exciting year for Robot Beach in 2010! I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I am sure I will!

Recently I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Paul Caggegi for his wonderful podcast show The Process Diary. We talked about Robot Beach, Annabelle’s Bistro, and other animation and illustration related topics. This was my first interview about my comic I and I think it turned out great. (Even though at times I feel like I was wandering about like a lost child in a world that I know little about.) Paul did a great job of reeling me in and keeping the conversation engaging and entertaining.

On Self Promotion

Most everyone who reads my blog already knows about my new project Robot Beach. If you haven’t already checked it out, I encourage you to head over there and see what I have been up to. It’s a lot of fun!

The experience of creating a webcomic has certainly been an enjoyable one, but more importantly, it has been a wonderful learning opportunity. In particular, I have learned quite a bit about marketing and the business of self-promotion over the last few months. For me, the knowledge gained has been invaluable. Both to my self-esteem, and to my comic.

Jeffery Zeldman posted an article today on self-promotion and there is a quote I wanted to pull out of it.

There is a difference between being arrogant about yourself as a person and being confident that your work has some value. The first is unattractive, the second is healthy and natural. Some people respond to the one as if it were the other. Don’t confuse them. Marketing is not bragging, and touting one’s wares is not evil. The baker in the medieval town square must holler “fresh rolls” if he hopes to feed the townfolk.

This is a big deal for me. I am rather self-deprecating by nature, and (as most artists I imagine) I tend to de-value my own work. I question whether I am good enough, or worthy enough to expect others to take interest in my art. It has been a struggle to overcome these insecurities and to come to realize that others don’t see my confidence in my work as me being arrogant or self-righteous. (well, my wife being the exception…)

And so I encourage everyone to go out and create! Share your creations with others! Have confidence in the work you produce knowing that you are doing what you love and that you get to show it off to the world!

F-Shaped Pattern

Found a very interesting article on how a user reads content within your website. In this case, a study was performed which tracked eye movements across three websites. The Resulting pattern of eye movement resembled an “F” shape.

Very interesting and not terribly surprising. Although I would like to see a similar study performed on websites with a large number of photographic elements or right-side navigation.

Cleese On Creativity

I love me some John Cleese, and he has kind of a fascinating take on creativity. (Although I don’t want to believe it, because I care for my laptop to much.) I will say that about half of the stuff I’ve written has been thanks to a spark that hits me when I am asleep.

via: webcomics.com

I have been thinking a lot about web design and user interfaces lately and so I found this article about perception, time and user experience really fascinating.

0.1 second is the response time limit if you want users to feel like their actions are directly causing something to happen on the screen. For example, if you click on an expandable menu and see the expanded version in less than 0.1 seconds, then it feels as if you made the menu open up. If it takes longer than 0.1 seconds for the revised state to appear, then the response doesn’t feel “instantaneous” — instead, it feels as if the computer is doing something to make the menu open.

via: webcomics.com

Uncle Grandpa

This. Is. Awesome.

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