July Update

It’s July, and I’m having a very creative summer so far.

I actually finished putting together the 100 Girl Art Book, officially titled R.P.B. (which stands for Random Practice Babes), cover and all. I’ve submitted the files to Ka-Blam, a printing company, and as far as I know, there aren’t any problems. I could put out a digital version right now, but I want to see what the print copy looks like first. When I’m comfortable with everything, I will likely be making the book available through Amazon, IndyPlanet, Gumroad, and eventually through direct sales when I can afford to order enough copies.

I’ve opened up some extremely low-cost commissions for folks who want to see characters drawn or designed fast and easy with cel shades. For only $25 you can get a character drawn in full color by me, no limit for now. Here are a couple I’ve done so far:

Viper 6 for Mina Korzan
Viper 6 for Mina Korzan
Exces for Chris Turner
Exces for Chris Turner

You can contact me here and make a $25 deposit for your spot through this link: PayPal — make sure you mention it’s for the commission sale and send me references or descriptions of your character.

As for the future, after much deliberation, I’ve decided that I’m going to resume game development. I thought about making comics but that path just is not for me. Game development lets me continue problem solving, which I love, and I’m still drawing and designing characters. I love retro 2D games and I want to make a library of them featuring my characters and ideas.

While the Jet Dancer game is foremost on my mind, I’m also thinking that it’s a bit ambitious and I need to train myself to actually publish games, so I want to make something simpler as well, like a shooter or something. But I won’t enjoy creating it if it doesn’t have a sexy element, so…I’m pondering some unique approaches.

And as a reward for reading this all the way through, you get an exclusive look at one of my hundred girls!

Mid June 2017 Art Update

I’ve been busy making art! Not only is my 100 Random Practice Babe art book/100 somethings challenge nearing the end, I’ve also done some commissions as well.

First up: some illustrations I’ve done for a coworker. She wanted some ‘toon’ likenesses of models for her upcoming book covers.
     

I also completed a coloring art commission for my frequent client Montreal Mack, this time featuring Mei from Blizzard’s popular FPS Overwatch in a holiday-themed pinup:

Christmas Time Mei by Montreal Mack

And I recently finished an action pinup featuring a gun-toting black action heroine who goes by the name of Dice, for a novelist/screenwriter named Marlon McCaulsky:
Dice by Marlon McCaulsky

Last but not least, I finished several illustrations for my 100 Girl Book as I mentioned before. I’m not showing every single one, but my Facebook, Instagram and DeviantART audience saw this, so I’m showing it here as well (even though at this point, I’ve exposed so many images I’ve done for the art book that any attempt at protecting its value–at least online–is all but meaningless I fear. Oh well…)
The Battle Pirate -- don't ask

(It’s also available in my Redbubble store!)

However, I did have a minor setback. On Facebook, I earlier announced that I completed the thumbnails for my ‘last 12’ girl drawings (I’ve since completed seven of those last 12 entirely). However, I went through the library and saw one that I pulled from the past to include was just too small for print, and I no longer had a high-resolution art file to replace it with. Therefore, I have to produce one more original art thumbnail to finish the 100. That’s not a big deal though; chances are as I get closer to the end, the thumbnails I’ve produced may lose their luster and I may come up with better ideas anyway. I’ve replaced several images I thought were good enough in the past and…well, it’s all just drawing.

I’m eager to be finished, but I’m also eager to make this as good as I can. Once done, I’ll be selling it digitally and through Print-On-Demand sites until I can afford to print some copies and sell directly. Links will be added to my Products page when ready!

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for further updates.

Knight Sister–Girl Number 83

Knight Sister is the latest illustration for my art book that I’ve uploaded online, but I’m not showing every single image I’ve done since the last entry–I’m actually up to 86 images now.

How I put the Knight Sister together

This one was kind of a process. Still getting used to drawing on my Chromebook Plus, I decided to start it in an Android drawing app called Infinite Design, a vector app that’s really awesome. (It has an infinite canvas! Started your drawing too close to the middle and feel like you might have to cut the feet off? Not with this…just zoom out.)

Digital rough sketched in Infinite Design.

But after I got comfortable with it, I said “eh, I think I want to go traditional” so I printed the rough out.

Then I said “nope, I need more clarity”. So I opened the digital rough back up and cleaned it up a little in Clip Studio Paint on my Cintiq Companion. Then I was like “okay, NOW I’m ready to go traditional” and I printed out the clearer rough on cardstock paper and inked it with a Sharpie Pen.

Traditionally-inked version on cardstock paper.

I liked it, but even if I wanted to color Knight Sister traditionally, I wanted to protect the inking first. So, I scanned it into the computer so I could AGAIN take it to Clip Studio Paint and do the final rendering. I decided to get a little looser with cel shading to give her armor a sort of weathered, not-smooth look. Honestly, I think the lines suffered a bit from all the back and forth, but I like the color.

The scanned and flatted version, in Clip Studio Paint.

Moving Forward…

The road to 100 Random Practice Babes continues, including a basketball player (see my Instagram for that) and something much more mythical (you probably won’t see that until the whole book is done though).

Production is going to slow down a little as I’ve picked up some client work. I’ve been enlisted to create some toon likenesses of models for a series of book covers, and it’s going well so far. Grateful to have gotten some commission work again, and I need to be sure I’m putting my all into it. The subject matter suits me perfectly; it focuses on beautiful black women.

Jon

Latest Art–See the Derpy Angel!

The number of illustrations has gone up: 82 of 100, the “Derpy Angel”. I named her that because my son is always calling silly expressions ‘derpy’ so it popped in my head.

Derpy-Angel

I’m getting close to the finish line here. Thanks to my Facebook friends, I have a fresh amount of inspiration and ideas, so while I won’t promise the exact words will see the light of day, I should be able to mix and match inspirations and come up with some interesting images. I should be able to get through the remaining eighteen images in decent time.

Truth be told, a lot of them are wearing very little (by my count, some 40%), so for the last set of illustrations, I’m going to strive to add more detailed attire to my girl drawings, just for the sake of balance. Armor, clothing, or perhaps different textures entirely–a metal girl, another one with fur but different from my FoxBunny, maybe more beastly. Maybe all of the above.

Feel free to chime in if you get any unusual ideas. I only have eighteen illustrations to go, and I’ve already started two, but I still think I should be able to squeeze in some suggestions in all the last 16 pics.

And don’t forget, if you can’t wait for me to finish the 100 Girl Book and you want to support my art, I have several already-finished productions, all of which can be found by going through my Products for Sale page.

Number 66 Done

Having completed the 66th girl for my 100 Girl Art Book project, I felt it important to remind myself why I am doing this and what direction it’s going in.

What is the point of the 100 Girl Book? What is it for? Why am I doing it?

To produce a tangible product to sell on and offline. The idea was to produce and/or collect 100 unique illustrations of black women I’ve done, put them in a book, print it and sell it digitally as well, along with prints of the more successful illustrations from the book. I originally started the project because I realized that one part of becoming a professional artist is putting myself out there at conventions and such, but I had no tangible products to peddle. I spent so many years making art and starting projects, but never finishing anything or taking things to a real physical conclusion; despite having over a thousand images online (at my deviantART for instance), I literally have nothing to take to a convention and market as something that represents me as an artist, and I’ve attempted so many things (novels, comics, pinups, commissioned colors, even some 3D) that I don’t know who Jonathan Price the artist really is.

I figured, since I was doing all these “Random Practice Babes”, and I was enjoying them, it was clear that this theme was the driving force that compelled me to keep making art. It was clear that I was either unwilling or unable to keep telling myself I was some sort of comic book artist when drawing comics is something I basically had to force myself to do, while drawing these women was more enjoyable, led to my art getting more attention and sometimes commissions, etc.

However, the more of them I do (and the more I find myself refining old drawings instead of making new ones), the more I start thinking, how many is enough? If I want to use this as a portfolio of some kind, 10-20 of them would have been more than sufficient. Are these drawings really showcasing my skill? Are they at all marketable? Am I doing the wrong thing with my skill? I’ve entertained the thought that maybe I’m not much of a ‘fine artist’ and I should devote my art to being part of something greater, like a comic book, a game, etc., and trying to sell something on the strength of my drawing alone is hurting more than helping me. Hell, if I said the goal was to produce 50 images for a book, no one would be saying “no, go for 100”. The only reason that number is mentioned is because I originally mentioned it, and the plan can change.

I have other ideas that I could visualize being used to represent me at conventions and such, comic ideas, story ideas, and a part of me is like “Finish the girl book first” while other parts in my mind are like “Life is short, do things now, it’s time to move on.”

The words “Follow One Course Until Successful” (F.O.C.U.S.) have been repeated to me often over the last few weeks, but I’m always caught up in trying to decide what that one course should be, and I’m not sure I’m patient enough to wait to get to 100 to see if this course is the right one.

But I won’t know until I try. I just wish I could come up with a definitive answer to the question: is 66 enough, or should I keep pushing to 100?

Although…it should be noted that I’ve asked myself this question a lot over the course of the project. Is 30 enough? Is 48 enough? And that number keeps getting higher.

I really just need to stop worrying about it and get to 100, right? Haha.

Short Game Review: Curses N’ Chaos

Curses ‘N Chaos is a 2D wave-based brawler in which you control one of three characters (the third has to be unlocked) and beat up monsters. It has platformer mechanics (X and Y axis movement, double jumping), but there is no platforming. All you do is fight enemies and bosses with your fists, your feet and the occasional sub-weapon.

And shake your belly if you’re the dude, or twerk (I never thought I would type that word, let alone use it in a sentence) if you’re the girl. This taunt gives bonus points, which is a neat addition.

It’s a very simplistic game, but it’s also quite retro-charming and fun to play in short bursts.

The game is straightforward and elegant; every time you hit anything, your combo counter goes up. Hit 10 enemies and you get increased score for hitting enemies and more money. The more you do this, the higher your multiplier goes, but get hit once and it’s back to the bottom. Money can be used to buy items to start the game with or mixed to create new items. You’ve got five hearts and five lives to make it through ten waves of enemies and beat the boss, and near as I can tell, there are several worlds (but each level is a single screen, so there’s not much to it). It can be quite challenging and even a bit unfair, but it’s still fun to me. It also has 2 player local and online co-op.

I only wish the visuals were better. They work (and look better in motion), but they’re really cheap.

I played the game thinking, this is simplistic fun that would be fairly easy to mimic in a game IDE, like, say, Construct 2 or Game Maker. I should try making something like this, realizing that my Jet Dancer game is perhaps too complicated to develop any further on my own. I could see myself building a game like this with my WEAPON Combat League concept at the core, perhaps giving every character some simple but diverse attacks–only a few–and have many of the characters unlockable. Maybe even include a versus mode.

February Update

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been hit with a wave of indecision again.

My wife feels I need to complete something, get a quick win, focus on the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ so I can have that feeling of having completed a project again. And I’m inclined to agree.

It’s easy for me to sit back and work on tweaking things on my Jet Dancer game. Just earlier today I found myself doing a bit of fiddling with animation speeds and transitions so she’d look a little better in motion and when coming to a stop. I’m really quite proud of what I’ve managed to build so far, but I started asking myself if I could see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Jet game, and honestly, I can’t.

Sometime around the middle of last month, I started working on the game’s first planned boss, a gal named Striking Sphere.

Like Jet, she’s a scantily-clad superhuman female warrior with a special weapon. But while Jet wields her rocket boots, Striking Sphere’s weapon, as her name implies, is a ball. Building her sprite parts was easy enough, as it always is, but when it came time to animate her, I started suddenly feeling extremely exhausted. Every time I opened the file, it was like I was in a blind haze trying to push myself to make things happen with her. I managed to produce an idle pose and a run cycle, but after that, even opening the file made me feel like I hadn’t slept in days. It was weird.

So I assumed my body was trying to tell me it was time for a break from the Jet game. After all, I made a lot of changes since I picked it back up in late November or so…added new enemies, reorganized the code, created some hazards and background objects, even removed some of Jet’s attacks for a more streamlined feel. So I felt maybe some time off was in order. I got interested in traditional art again, even did some fan art for a few of my friends on Facebook:

I went and bought new markers and Bristol board to draw on, inspired by the many awesome traditional artists whose work I see on Instagram. But I didn’t actually create anything worthwhile. And now I’m once again wondering what it is I want to do.

One can be a game developer, or a pro illustrator, or a graphic novelist, or a ZBrush 3D artist, but it’s highly unlikely one can be all those things at the same time, and yet, I keep trying.

I try to trust my feelings. I really, really enjoy making sprites. Made a new one just yesterday, based on my WEAPON Combat League concept:

…And I fiddled with Construct some more, figured out how to make a character move and jump in the traditional ‘beat-em-up’ style of play reminiscent of games such as Streets of Rage and Final Fight. So I got it in my head to try to make a WCL beat-em-up game…never mind that WCL consists of over 24 characters that need to be playable. Never mind I’d want multiplayer, and character/team selection options, and maybe even a versus mode. Never mind I know so little about other aspects of that type of game, like how to make blows connect when the target is on a different y-plane or how to manage grapples and throws. Sure, I could teach myself, just as I taught myself how to make animated sprites and how to make them dash and cling to walls and spring off enemies heads with explosive effects and make certain foes block attacks…

But while I’m doing all of this testing and learning, what am I accomplishing? When is the last time I finished something? Really put it out there? The answer is Jet Dancer #1, which I think I released in 2015: https://www.comixology.com/Jet-Dancer-1/digital-comic/144132.

I was of course working on the 100 Girl Book as well. Full disclosure: while I have 47 girl drawings prepared for the book, only 33 of them are ‘new’ art (meaning, art that I actually produced in 2016 FOR the book) and the rest are old drawings I pulled up from the past to beef it up. Not a bad idea I suppose, but it goes against the original idea which was to challenge myself to make ‘100 somethings’. I also made the mistake of sharing most of them online (there are a few that no one has seen, but that’s like single digits at this point). A good idea for me would be to get back on that project and be more deliberate about it, stop trying to be ‘random’ and actually plan my drawings around themes, and not show a single drawing for the book until it’s done. That would mean more than half of the book’s content would be ‘truly’ new to viewers/buyers.

I also got the idea of producing an e-book detailing my sprite making method. A lot of people seem interested, and it pretty much is my favorite part of this whole game-making shtick I’m on. The desire to bring my characters to life was the whole reason I wanted to be a game developer. I enjoy making sprites and I feel I could show others how I go about it fairly easily, but the problem is I use outdated and potentially pricey software to do it (like Flash…does that even exist anymore?) and while I’ve been thinking about finding alternative methods, the fact is Flash CS4 is the most flexible animation software I have at my disposal right now.

I suppose the best thing to do is to simply pick a project and force myself to stick with it. It’s not about goals or building a bright future or selling something at this point. It’s about reminding myself that I need to stop working randomly and focus on deliberately planning and finishing projects, like I used to…

My Sprite Making Method in a Nutshell

I’ve been getting some questions and interest in how I go about making my sprites for my games. I’m no fan of pixel art or hand-drawn animation. I respect those who are good at it, but I like to focus on more efficient methods, since I have no choice but to do all the work for my game project on my own.

I like to use the common and popular modular animation method, which is basically putting together characters in a ‘paper doll’ like fashion, moving at the joints, rotating the parts and substituting them as needed to make animations as effective and efficient as possible.

Here’s a quick rundown of how I’m putting together the latest addition to my Jet Dancer game, the shield trooper:

First, I started with the same file I used to create the game’s sniper mook. As you can see, every body part is a separate drawing on its own layer. I’m using Clip Studio Paint here, but this is a PSD file.

I imported the parts into Flash using its ‘Import to Library’ function in the file menu, played around with scaling and proportions until I put the shield wielding trooper together like so. I wanted him to be a bit bulkier than the sniper goon.

I spend time making animations in Flash. I don’t use tweening; I just make the animations frame by frame, positioning the parts as I go along. I don’t really NEED Flash to do this, but since Flash is a vector program, rotating the body parts doesn’t cause them to degrade as it would in a raster program like Clip or Photoshop, and drawing in Flash itself is a bit tedious (though that’s exactly what I did when I made the Jet Dancer sprite). And Flash’s animation tools make the actual animation process easy (or at least, I’m used to using it so it’s easy for me).

Once I’m satisfied with an animation, aware that even if it’s a bit choppy, it’ll look better when scaled down, I move to Game Maker. It might seem like a strange choice given that I’m building my game in Construct 2, but while I’m not really fond of Game Maker’s actual game-making IDE, I DO love its internal graphics program. You can easily resize, edit, alter animations, add glow effects and such to your sprites, and export them as perfectly-arranged sprite strips that it and other programs (like Construct) will read. All I have to do is export the frames from Flash as individual PNG files and then import them into Game Maker all at once. They’re immediately lined up in order and you can preview the animation at any speed you want, make any changes, and then save it out as a sprite strip without changing the original files.

Once I have a satisfactory sprite strip, I add it to my game project file in Construct 2 and get ready to add logic to it, which is where the real hard work begins.

That’s pretty much it. I would say the hardest part is drawing the body parts in such a way that they can easily be assembled to make a whole figure. They have to properly overlap and they also can’t be too ‘flat’–not too far sideways, not too far forwards. To save work and keep them looking somewhat dynamic, I try to go for a slight quarter turn with sprites that aren’t going to get a lot of elaborate animations. For instance this enemy will never show his back or need to have any super-smooth turning animations, so one facing direction is fine. For Jet Dancer, I did a lot more. She has front, side and back facing parts and I did an absurd amount of work on her hair (if you can’t tell by how it moves in the game). Speaking of which, in case you haven’t seen it, I made a new gameplay video showing some updates including use of new hazards I’ve been creating. You can check it out below:

JP

Jet Dancer Game Development

(Those who follow me on Facebook have seen/read this already, but I’m putting it here for those who may not have seen it elsewhere.)

I’ve been working hard on my Jet Dancer game. I had to deconstruct a lot of it and put it back together in order to make it less messy. I wanted to talk about the gameplay that I’ve designed since I finally have Jet to a point where she doesn’t feel sloppy and unpolished. I got rid of several superfluous attacks that were causing glitches and not benefiting the game much.

The vertical gauge that glows is Jet’s power gauge. It fills up rapidly and certain attacks and moves drain it. Jet can only dash or fire her kick cannon (not shown) when the gauge is full, but most moves such as dashing, backflip and getting injured drain it.

Jet can now dash in the air, at a downward angle. It extends the length of her jump distance significantly when used properly. If you jump as soon as you dash, the energy is maintained and she can dash again out of the air. It’s useful for getting around since Jet is invulnerable while dashing.

I also implemented a power stock feature. When Jet lands her signature Rebound move (or collects a certain power-up item), her gauge increases up to a max level and an aura glows around her. Rebound also accelerates the recharge of her power gauge. During this time her attack power increases significantly. However, the buff is only temporary (I’m still playing around with how much time I want it to last for) but can be reset by landing another Rebound. This means that a skilled player can maximize damage (and score) by doing multiple Rebounds and dash evasions in combat.

Finally, I implemented a much-needed crouch ability. It can stand to be animated better…I’m thinking of changing it to a dance-evasion ability that renders her invulnerable for an instant, since Jet Dancer currently isn’t doing a whole lot of…dancing.

I’m ready to move onto designing better enemies and levels now. My next goal is to produce the first boss enemy and set up the fight.

I’m planning to use a part of my site as a developer diary, as part of my goal of putting more effort into developing this game. I’ve decided to stop dancing around numerous projects and just focus on this for now. I expect every once in a while, I’ll want to take a break and add another piece to my 100 Girl Artbook, and I’ll do that, but I’m no longer considering that my primary focus.

Jet Dancer will be a playable game, and I intend to make massive progress in the year 2017. The framework is there, now I just have to build on it.