Layout test 6.25.17
Ever get the feeling when you sit down to write or draw that your fears and doubts are trying to creep up on you? Also weekly development log!
Development Log 6.30.17 A week in review.
Too many choices on the table makes it impossible to understand the possibility space. -Soren Johnson.
Damn, I wish someone had told me that when I first started learning how to write and draw because it perfectly summarizes how I used to feel whenever I would sit down to try and compose a narrative. Yes, choice paralysis and decision fatigue all play their role in understanding the heuristic processes we eventually develop in order to define the boundaries of our own creativity, but in the more technologically integrated world we find ourselves in today the space in which we are able to interact with those possibilities is infinitely more vast then it was ten or even twenty years ago. As an example of this Just think about the limitations that game designers and film directors had to work before the rise of computer generated graphics, or when design space was at a premium and including text in a game meant imposing character limits on the player. Great for Japanese which requires far less characters to tell the same story, terrible for translators who then have to try and make the same story work with less room to tell it. (Ironically enough I only came across that quote five minutes before sitting down to write this so since I usually find information or ideas that confirm my own hypotheses on the nature of creativity only after I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time or effort trying to codify it all I consider this to be par for the course) But apply that same quote to layouts for a comic or narrative conventions for a novel and suddenly you bring into sharp focus the very thing that those who are just starting out as artists tend to struggle with because as is so often repeated, a writer learns to write by reading the works of other. This is of course patently ridiculous, a writer learns to write by actually writing, reading the works of others merely exposes us to a wider range of possible choices then we might have otherwise been aware of. But because it sounds good to say it it sticks to the surface of people’s minds and appeals to the mass consciouness in a way that only the commonly held beliefs of conventional wisdom can. Having said that however, being introduced to such a wide range of possibilities is not always to our benefit because as the possibility space expands, so too does the number of choices that need to be understood in order to navigate it effectively. Hence the reason why design philosophies exist, and why artists tend to adopt creative ideologies or develop schools of thought that serve to section off their particular area of the creative spectrum, as it not only redefines their relationship to the art that they create, but allows them to more easily adopt an artistic identity that others can then use to identify them or identify with. So what does that have to do with learning to draw layouts for a comic? Well to put it simply, a whole hell of a lot. You see when I first sat down to try and learn to draw layouts for comics, not only did the order of operations proceed to kick my ass, but the sheer number of choices that I was already aware of from having read comics for over twenty years meant that the possibility space I was engaging with was extraordinarily vast. So vast that even I have a hard time trying to comprehend it all. And while I’m still trying to work my way through all the raw data, the fact I’ve written more then a few novels over the years at least gives me some kind of lens through which to view it all. (The unfiltered psychological and phenomenological qualia that I’ve based my own assertions on can be found below) This is of course where the subjectivity of art and the limits of our own experiences comes into play as knowing that something is possible is not the same as knowing why that decision is being made, or even why it works the way that it does. You see having spent the better part of the last week trying to figure out where to start developing the layouts for my comic I found that the sheer number of questions I had to resolve simply to establish the narrative in a way that would work both visually and structurally meant I had to recontextualize the method by which I deconstruct, translate and then reconstruct the images I visualize whenever I seek to compose a narrative. Which meant goodbye grammar and so long syntax, hello chunky blocks of inelegant text that takes the place of exposition and reads like someone looking through the lens of a camera were describing their path through space. Ugh, as a form of ideation its . . . devoid of all the emotional payoff good prose tends to provide as it delays gratification by a significant margin. On the other hand as a means of codifying the information involved in a timely and concise manner it works. Which is important because as I found on my first attempt at writing a script, a comic relies the presence of two or more people exchanging dialogue in order to function because even if you write a thousand words or more about the political realities of a world where magic is a real part of people’s everyday lives, it won’t move the plot forward a single bit.
Anchor Points are the places where ideation and conceptualization come together in order to form the path between the intended destination and the point of origination. In terms of a written narrative these often take the form of chapter headings, character descriptions and text. In terms of more visual narratives concept art, character designs and plot synopsis serve to codify the information in a way that allows artists to ground the visual identity of an intended work by creating clear and concise delineations between the mental scaffolding and the emotional framework.
Mental Scaffolding comes into play when events that are scripted give the artist a place where the narrative enters into either an open or closed state. It is also determined by the nature of the artistic medium and means of communication being employed by the artist as the familiarity with the task being undertaken often determines our ability to maintain a state of flow. Learning to identify each of the steps in the process will then strengthen our ability to realize our intended aims as the development of the schema progresses apace.
Emotional Framework deals with our ability to directly affect things like mood, tension, catharsis and denouement. Much like the Aristotelian Unities the emotional framework of a given artistic medium concerns itself primarily with the Unity of Time in relation to dramatic acts. Fear and Tension do not necessarily follow each other well because of the audience’s ability to become inured to tragedy. Thus each act or scene within a narrative relies heavily on the Unity of Action and the Unity of Place to carry with it the cultural context or symbology that the artist intends to convey. What follows this is the formation of a Heterotopia occupying the space of a physical medium that is in turn engaged with by an audience. This in essence completes the path first forged by the author or artist of a work as the bridging of the Apollonian and Dionysian Dichotomies in turn serves to anchor the idea in a more tangible way.
Since visualizing a story or composing a narrative is a Stochastic Process and rarely if ever occurs sequentially the simple fact that art as its created in turn follows an Order of Operations means that Heuristic Models employed by artists to shorten or sublimate the decisions involved will often create a sense of internal tension as until all aspects of the process are fully understood and resolved the ever increasing degree of complexity that is in turn engendered during the ideation process means that either transcription errors cause ideographic drift to collapse the morphic resonance field into an unstable pattern or the emotional impetus that serves to inform our initial sense of eudaimonia loses its appeal.
Limits of the Artist’s Personality, no matter one’s learning style or individual artistic process there are ways in which the psyche refuses to bend, so as we find ourselves dealing with or involving ourselves in an increasingly complex emotional and socially connected world, the art we seek to create in turn becomes an outward reflection or manifestation of this milieu. Key examples of theses trends tend to express themselves as either symptoms of our core desires or through ego driven forces such as seeking to preserve the past, a return to a state of childlike innocence, the subversion if not outright destruction of established convention or the always popular return to more traditional values. As social expectations change and familiarity wanes however, it is easy to become increasingly alienated by a constantly changing mental landscape that is striving to shape and define itself by always pushing itself forwards. Hence the dichotomy between destruction and preservation as both are acts of creation albeit with different ideological aims.