Friday, September 2, 2016


A little pencil sketch with digital colors of Alex Reeeegan from The Black Tapes Podcast.

Fun Facts: Today's title is not a slight towards females, it's a pun based on the buzzword "audiodrama" and the Japanese pronunciation of "dramatic," which sounds like "dramachick," which in turn sounds like a slang construction for "a female who is interested in acting." As a subnote, "drama" is the blanket term for all narrative shows here in JP.

Here's the version with bells, but not the final processing whistles.

Easter Eggs: Did...did you just...see...something...? was probably nothing...Anyway, I'm not sure if only Nic Silver is supposed to be Canadian, but everyone's got some intense Canadianisms flying aboot on this show, eh, so I decided to have a little spelling lesson on her shirt, inspired by that old joke, "How do you spell 'Canada'?" Also, I modeled her mic after Nate Holt's, so hopefully that's a plausible recorder.

Now here's where I mighta stopped before I started working more with post-production stuff, notably, it has a considerably more straightforward background, a photo I took somewhere in Tokyo.

As an aside, I continue my futile and quiet resentment of podcasts that refuse to describe characters, especially main characters, particularly when it comes to long-sprawling serials where you're spending hours with the characters. As an artist, I appreciate the freedom of an "editor" not breathing down your neck with direction, but that doesn't mean having some direction is bad. It's even necessary. I hate when editors and clients say, "Ah, do whatever you want," and then you have to read their minds on what they're actually looking for and invariably go back for redos when the invariable "Yeah, I was thinking more like..." comes back. Just skip to that part, dude, spare everyone the hassle. But I'm getting off topic.

This is just the basics of the image, with an untouched background. The photo was taken in early evening, but with the processing in the final image, we made it a little more, well, dramatic, pulling it together with a richer, reddish sheen to reflect the more sinister parts of the show (I don't like red, myself).

On the character design notes side of things, I figure Alex has shorter brown hair, and is probably a little short herself, especially compared to Strand. Like, I bet even on her tippy-toes, he's still a bit taller than her. But she probably looks like a little fighter, or at least like she's athletic. She hikes and hoofs it around often enough and seemingly effortlessly so, plus the playful aggro tone she takes in the theme song gives me that feisty/spunky impression, like maybe she even boxes or whatever for health. But I'd also think it reasonable if she took up say boxing or even general self defense to stay a little safer out there on the road. The only stretch, aside from the Canadian shirt, was that I wanted to try a longer neck since it puts her head naturally higher, making it like she's always reaching, as if for an answer, the way you crane your neck when you're looking for--seeking--something.

Here are the flat color layers, from which we build everything else, including the background, though I do want to try starting with the background. I only had cel-shaded tones pre-set on the hair and skin since it tends to impart some seemingly necessary depth. Everything else was just one flat color on its own layer. But because I was working from a photo of the lines from a watercolor sketchbook, the natural light gradations on the rough paper surface added inherent toning to the flats, which were on overlay mode.

Here are the lines, with just the masks for figure and background set up. I've been doing a lot of digital lately, so like I said, I cheated a little and used pencil here...I just love drawing traditionally; digital still feels one step removed from drawing-drawing; there's a real, conscious labor in drawing entirely digitally for me still. In any case, you can really see the hearty, natural texture the watercolor paper gives in this step. I was thinking about watercoloring this to match the Strand piece, actually...still have the lines sitting around, fortunately, so who knows what the future holds.

Anyway, with all the proper stuff out of the way, this was a version I was thinking about using on Twitter before deciding to push it a little further before publication. I wanted to emphasize just Alex and the Pacific Northwest Stories logo, to really hone in on what the image is about, her as a PNWSie. I'm struggling to come up with a simplified, yet satisfying execution on these run-and-gun type of pieces, though, so I had to pass on this one. There's definitely appeal in keeping it kinda rough looking, but it's not quite nailed down enough for me to go with these minimalist, nigh-monochromatic pieces yet.

Speaking of Twitter, though, this was the version I presented there. I was super exhausted so I really came in under the wire, complete with the darker version of the background.

Anyway, I really quite enjoy the The Black Tapes Podcast podcast, and have some more stuff backlogged coming up for next week or so. And actually, speaking briefly to the trend of hyper-rando interpretations in fan art, particularly with regards to podcast fan art, I see a lot of totally off-the-wall stuff that's just clearly self-indulgent to whatever the artist wants to shoehorn onto the character's, to be frank, sometimes I'm thinking, how on Earth do you get that look from that voice and characterization? I mean, are we listening to the same podcast? Manipulating the material beyond recognition feels more like a slight towards the source, if anything...just call it an inspired piece or whatever if you want to make it all wacky. Fan art is supposed to honor the source material, not insult/abuse it. Some stuff just kills the vibe.

Speaking of warping something into our personal interests, bonus Magic Set Editor card concepts! I love black cards and especially the utter peace of mind you get from making your opponent discard, and fortunately, as a sort of self-interested, enterprising, and cerebrally-aggressive character, Alex would fit that bill just fine.

Easter Eggs: The flavor text is a reference to how they tend to repeat exactly what an interviewee just said but in the interrogative form. The flavor text is a reference to how they tend to repeat exactly what an interviewee just said but in the interrogative form? Yes.

I also wanted to make a Dark Confidant-style card reflecting Alex's quite self-interested quest for satisfaction (i.e. a scoop/knowledge/resolution). As an aside, I was playing during Ravnica, but never saw a Bob in person, though I did get a little flooded in Pain Seers during Theros block (drawing upwards of 3 cards total during its entire run in Standard since my lads almost always bit the dust on sight) so by association, I have some warmth for the OG, or TGO, if you will. Anyway, of course you could auto-pilot argue Alex's quest for knowledge is snap blue, but since her quest has a considerable self-interested edge, owing to her desire to further her professional pursuits with that knowledge, plus she regularly accepts self-destruction in service of that knowledge I would argue she's black, not quite blue. To be fair, I could buy a blue-black argument, but the main hang-up is that it's not that she seeks knowledge for knowledge's sake, it's for personal ambition, even disregarding ethics and accepting harm if she feels it's necessary.

And as long as we're making magical cards, mize well try a Planeswalker. Because she's willing to injure others (or at least bring discomfort to them) for her own interests, including Strand and even Nicodealio, I'd give the nod to pure black cards, down to the mana cost. Oh man, how funny that this song comes on while I'm writing this. It must be in the air here.

All righty, I guess that's it.


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