Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Thinking About Illustrating

I have decided not to use the previous illo as a cover. It does not work for me. In fact, as time goes on, I am less and less satisfied with my illustrative efforts. My earliest games were full of illos. Lowell Was Right!, a recent game, had, I think, three. I am seriously leaning towards no illos at all for the Necklace and everything going forward. Not even for the cover. Why? I don't know. My own efforts fail every time. I can't achieve the effect I was going for. Every illo I paint fails. It just takes up space. Most of my illos end up in the trash. The most recent one briefly enthused me, but the more I look at it, the less I like it. That thing is wrong. That bit is bad. That effect just doesn't work. That element doesn't show what I was trying to show. Painting was once pleasurable. Now I dread it.

My games just don't sell enough to be worth the effort - or the expense of paying someone competent what they are worth - and I won't take advantage of someone either. That's just wrong. Am I hypercritical? I don't know. I don't think so - still, how would anyone know? All I know is there is no joy or peace for me in painting any more. I'm quite happy with my writing and my game design. I enjoy the hell out of playing my games. I write and write, and I feel good about the time I spent writing. It feels productive. Not my painting. That's all just a waste of time, and I haven't got a lot of time left.

Maybe that's it? I started out in life with nothing but praise for my artwork. I won awards and competitions in my youth, but gave it up to pursue music, then other things happened. I didn't start painting again until I was in my late forties. Maybe I just think to myself that I'm almost sixty, and I should be much, much better than I am. I should be able to do this *right* by now, and I can't.

Thanks for listening, empty internet! :D


  1. Your art style is an utter pleasure to see and your games are made all the more evocative for it. I am glad you've blogged this. I feel exactly the same. I throw away loads of stuff. I've been doing 3D since I was 14, that's 24 years and although the pictures get better, I feel it's the tools that have evolved for me. I get so frustrated that I can't take what's in my head and put it onto screen, or notebook. I can't draw people. I've tried and tried but I just can't seem to nail it. It feels like a failure over and over. And a waste of time. My writing is improving and I can churn out text so much quicker than art.

    Now, I'm just a whippersnapper compared to your venerableness but I think you are doing it right. I don't think you're failing. I think you do enjoy doing but you hate failing. I think I'm you a few years back. Don't give up. Keep pushing, complete the image and move on!

    I've recently blogged a bit about my struggles:

    Annoyed at my older art: http://icarrpg.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/never-leave-well-enough-alone.html
    Annoyed with something I'm working on now: http://icarrpg.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/an-example-of-graphics-going-not-so-well.html
    Just about good enough, time to move on: http://icarrpg.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/droid-mk-6-pod-complete.html

    I don't seem to blog about the writing in Icar, mostly because I do find that easier. Chin up, sir! You're doing a fab job.

  2. HI Rob!

    Thank you for the encouragement! This all sounds very familiar! I am doing my best to power through it. It's funny that I do no 3D modeling at all - I mean I used to do CAD work before I become a full-time tech writer, and I use Dassault Systemes' Solid Works Composer for work illustrations - but for some reason it never enters my mind for my games. Of course I'd have to buy the software for it too! :D

    Anyway, Thank you very much for sharing your own process! It helps a lot - even the thought that I'm not alone, and this is actually not uncommon helps a great deal. :D

  3. I've been drawing since I was 3, my peak in skill was when I was 16 or 17 and now I'm going to be forty. I'm not terrible at drawing a person and I'm not terrible with animals but as me to draw a scene and it all falls apart. Sometimes I wonder if I had more time to devote to drawing, maybe I could do better.

    I watch how other artist seemingly effortlessly find their "style" and leverage it. In the meantime I'm afraid of each pencil stroke. Occasionally I have something turn out to my liking. The problem is that games take A LOT of art. To try and fully illustrate one takes a huge investment of effort. Then there's all the writing and typesetting, generating ideas to round out the story, getting the word out. . .

    It takes me a huge amount of time to switch between writing mode and art mode. I'd rather sit down and write than draw, but I know that I need the art more than another page of text.

    You're not alone. Splitting ourselves between so many roles means spending less time on each, slowing our achievement of proficiency. I take heart that so very few have reached the all around proficiency that Dr Lang, yourself and I have. I mean, look at what we're up against, look at all the people to set out to do what we've done, they're all gone. How many are at the level of accomplishment we're at?

    We can't compare ourselves to people that do one thing, that have a singular focus. It's almost insane that we've taken on the vast array of tasks that it takes to make a game. And yet here we are.

  4. Emmet, that is a really different tack! Something I never thought of! Thank you! :D