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Emrox's News

Posted by Emrox - December 27th, 2020


I wrote this post a few weeks ago & didn't post it because I was kind of moody when I wrote it, and I don't like subjecting people to my moodiness. (Actually that's too charitable - really I don't like having my moodiness archived on the internet for the indefinite future.) Today I read it again in slightly lifted spirits, and I still think it's interesting, so here it is. The title is kind of pretentious but I couldn't think of a better one (suggestions welcome).


--


When I was young I had it firmly in my mind that I was going to do something *important* with my life, and I believe now that this was my way of dealing with that youthful existential dread that arises when you first grasp the reality of the fact that you, like everyone else, will someday die. The thinking goes that if you have some visible influence on the overall trajectory of life on Earth, then your presence will be felt long after you die, and your life will be just a little less meaningless overall. Of course then some smart aleck will point out that if you wait long enough everyone will die, the universe will end, and at this cosmic scale your existence would have meant just as much as if you'd died the moment you were born. In spite of this being probably true, the idea of making a difference and living through your influence on the world still "works" as a cure for the common existential cold, for as long as you believe it.


I don't think I've ever asked other people about this, but I'd be willing to bet there are a lot of people out there who have thought the same way, and had had their ego stroked enough as a child to be totally convinced that, yes, they were destined to do something VERY important, and by fulfilling their destiny as an important person they wouldn't have to pay mind to the reality of dying and being completely forgotten as time marches ever onward without them.


For the people whose peace of mind hinges on the idea of eventually having greater cultural significance, you might start having some unfortunate revelations around your mid-20s. One - that there really is no guarantee that you will succeed at the thing you're trying to do. There are probably millions of stories of people devoting their whole lives to some cause that they felt would be their big contribution to humanity, only to die before anyone takes notice. We don't hear these stories because these people were not famous. Actually, if you're looking hard enough you can find them, and they are depressing.


Two - some people succeed wildly at the very thing they set out to do, only to find that, with all their power and influence, they have not quelled the voice in their head saying "maybe this is all a waste of time." I don't know what was going through Kurt Cobain's head when he shot himself, but my best guess is it was some cocktail of said voice and a refrain from Automatic For The People. I have had a milder version of this, having worked on a cartoon show that was apparently seen by many millions of kids. You'd think this would give you some kind of lifetime self-satisfaction buff, but the warm feeling goes away in like a week.


Three - the realization that you are probably not the best choice of person who should have that level of influence over that many people. In a world of 7 billion people, the chances that your unique voice should really be heard by millions - such that they spread your teachings and carry your legacy long after you die - seems a little far fetched, even if you were the "best drawer" in your 3rd grade art class. True, no one can do exactly what you do in exactly the way you do it, but there is probably someone a little smarter, more empathetic, more eloquent, and a little more deserving of the audience, and I think we can agree that the world would be a better place if everyone else got out of the way and let these people speak. (Then again, the bar for what society will present to millions of people is disturbingly low, so maybe it's not so bad for the pretty-good guys like me to take their shot, at least for now.)


It was probably easier to deal with abstract existential fears back in the stone age - or maybe they didn't exist, because back then there were more literal existential fears such as "cold," "no food," and "big snake." But at least back then people didn't have to confront the reality of there being 7 billion people on earth who also would like to feel important. Back then, the world, for all you knew, consisted of the people in your immediate surroundings, some other guys you met once or twice in your travels, and maybe some other other guys you haven't run into yet. And in that context, it's not hard to feel important. If you are, in your mind, 1/200th of the population of earth, that's kind of a big deal. To have an equivalent sense of self-importance today, you would have to affect more people than are currently alive in the US. (Or, technically, you would have to BE everyone in America, and then affect vastly more people.)


There's a lot of people touting the evils of smartphones and social media - citing stuff like the increase in teen suicide following the iPhone boom, and a lot of that is attributed to the whole slot-machine-in-your-pocket thing. And it is evil that tech companies are exploiting people like that, but maybe a big part of social-media-depression isn't just about twitter hijacking your dopamine receptors - maybe it's that now we all must confront the reality of the vast sea of other people who also want attention. 7 billion is a bitter pill to swallow for anyone who wants to feel significant, but when you're bombarded daily with random samples from the sea of people, and you can see their bedrooms and dogs and five-o-clock shadows, the bitter pill becomes thick and spiky as you realize that these people have exactly the same disease as you - the need to be seen and to feel important, regardless of how distinguished they really are, or how much they really deserve to be seen. Unconsciously, you get a vivid picture of how big and real that 7 billion figure really is. Consciously, you realize that your feelings of self-importance don't come from some objective assessment of your own self-worth - it's just something everyone gets by default.


Getting over the self-importance thing is probably just a part of growing up, and I'm probably only doing it now because I got a lot of positive feedback for most of my life. It's kind of ironic that the people we see on our screens probably only got there because they were able to hold onto that ego just long enough to succeed for real (or they really were a one-in-seven-billion talent, but that seems to be the minority.) And so the people with all the influence are these weird, arrogant, anomalous people who are mostly delusional and disconnected from the reality of most people's lives - even though they are the people who purported themselves to be voices of great importance to the greater population.


So I've become a bit disillusioned lately, but you know what - at least I'm an artist! I have my whole life to prove myself wrong by doing something meaningful. If I played football I would be so fucked right about now. I can't imagine how bad it must feel to age out of the only thing that gave your life meaning. Or like, you get one injury and your whole scheme gets derailed and you turn into Uncle Rico.


-


I have a great respect for culinary artists - there's a real humility to someone creating art that will be enjoyed by exactly one person, for exactly one moment, never to be eaten again. He can make the same dish again, of course, but they will all be subtly different, and when he dies, that's it. Paintings can live a pretty long time and books can last as long as the language they were written in, but great cooking will always die with the chef. He can hand you the recipes, sure, but to execute on that sort of thing at a high level you need to have technique - at which point the art is more yours than the original author's. In any case, their capacity to leave a "legacy" is pretty limited. Maybe some people will write about the great chef and pass along some of their unique insights, but people 100 years from now will never taste the greatest steak cooked today. It is only for now, and that's perfectly fine. Actually, It doesn't even have to be the greatest, and that would still be fine.


So here's a journal entry. A pretty good steak, from me to you, right now, in the present moment. Maybe you hate it, but the joke's on you because you read it, and I have subtly affected your life, and that means I win.


12/06/2020


--


Present day Marty again. I want to add one more bullet point to this so no one thinks the takeaway is "you're going to fail and you should just give up" - which, to be clear, is not at all what I was trying to say. It is still important to try. If 10,000 people try to do something significant, and only 100 of them actually do, those 100 wouldn't have done anything if all 10,000 decided it was too unlikely. And of course, before they succeed, no one knows if they're in the 1% or 99%, which is why it's important that everyone tried, even if 99% of them failed. I think it is noble to try and fail, and that is what I will continue to probably do. For the record, I also don't think the numbers are nearly that bad, since there is a lot of stuff to do and comparatively few people who are serious about doing it.


To clarify, my point in writing this wasn't to wallow in self-pity or spread negativity in that depression-fueled "hey man I'm just being real" kind of way - I wanted to look specifically at the feeling of wanting to make an impact, as I believe it's something that a lot of artists have that helps them to aim high, and is a weird thing that both propels you to do your best work but can also cripple you with self-doubt. I don't really hear people ever talk about this, probably because any talk of self-importance can seem arrogant or egotistical, and so, to appear humble, we the arrogant & egotistical don't speak openly about this stuff because it's just too unflattering. But I still think it's an interesting thing to think about, and even in the event that I'm in a minority of people who have thought about themselves this way, I am not above mining my own character flaws for interesting content.


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10

Posted by Emrox - August 24th, 2020


A few years ago I made a post about running ads on cartoons and why it's not a very sound business model. I still agree with pretty much everything I said back then, but there's another angle that I only kinda touched on in that post - running ads has a general cheapening effect on the actual content, and it goes beyond ads being invasive and tacky.


Back in like 2014 youtube changed their system for how ad revenue was distributed and it fucked over certain kinds of content, like animation, in favor of easy-to-produce long-form content - podcasts, let's plays, vlogs, and the like. Animators got very outraged by this, and I made the point (not back then but in that post) that by relying on a big corporation's money algorithms, they were ultimately leaving themselves wide open to being screwed. I was thinking about it again today, and now I would go as far as to say it was practically inevitable that they were going to get fucked because their income came primarily from ads, and in this post I'm going to try to explain why.


But first, an experiment - take a second to think of the greatest, most important and personally affecting works of art you've seen - any books, movies, games, shows, etc. that you believe have made a real impact on your life. (For real, think about it.) What was primary source of income there? Were they selling the product itself, a subscription service, taking donations, getting government funding, running ads, or something else?


Here's what I came up with:


A few books I really like - the money comes from selling the actual book.

A few movies I really like - the money probably came from theater screenings mostly

A few video games - all the type that you buy upfront and not the free-to-play microtransaction-y kind

A lot of albums - (before the 2000s there was probably some money in album sales, but in recent years musicians make the bulk of their money through touring, so some of each)

A few lectures - either paid for by a conference or given pro bono

One podcast - has a paywall (ad-free though!)

One comic strip - ran in newspapers back when those existed, so the money came from some mix of newspaper subscriptions, ads, and book sales. Don't know what the predominant source of income was

One show - ran on cable tv, which runs on ads


So at least for me personally, when it comes to "how does great art get funded," advertising is not getting a lot of representation. And yet, a pretty big chunk of the media I consume is ad-driven. What gives?


Generally speaking, why are movies better than tv?

Why are books better than magazines?

Why are albums better than turning on the radio?

Why is netflix better than cable?

Why is nearly everything better than those stupid videos on facebook?

Why does advertising seem to turn everything it touches into a more vapid, cheaper, shittier version of itself?


Unlike some anti-advertising crusaders, I don't think ads are inherently evil or unethical. If you have something important to share with the world - so important that you're willing to drop a few thousand just to shove it in some people's faces, I think you should be able to do that. But the unfortunate reality of ad-based income is that there are just these weird consequences that seem to consistently poison content. Here are the ones that I'm aware of:


1. The more ads you can hit someone with, the more profitable the content is. This is why long-form serial content is more desirable in the eyes of money-people at youtube - quantity is more valuable than quality. The content still has to be good enough to get people to engage with it, but this lends itself to factory-produced, rinse & repeat clickbait-y productions. It doesn't matter if the window is minimized and playing in the background while you go do something else - as long as they can stream ads, youtube is happy. And as a subsidiary of a publicly-traded company, they are probably not about to leave money on the table in the name of "prioritizing quality content." For this reason I think it was inevitable that animators, along with all the other internet filmmakers who choose to do elaborate, thoughtful work would get screwed by youtube. It's like a law of physics that everything will always gravitate towards running as many ads as possible. Short-form content that takes a long time to create just doesn't survive in that sort of system.


If you really want to make it on youtube, you have to tailor your work to their systems, and those change constantly anyway so it is possibly a giant waste of time to begin with.


2. The audience did not pay for it, and therefore the creator is less obligated to deliver a worthwhile experience. If someone pays $60 for a video game and it sucks, they'll feel pretty ripped off, and so there is a whole category of journalism dedicated to telling you whether or not a game is worth paying for. Same thing exists in film, literature, and music. This sort of thing doesn't exist in spaces of free content - save for "likes" there's no culture surrounding the evaluation of quality. Even though there should be! We are paying with our attention and our time, and my time is currently worth 15-19 USD an hour!


I can't say I have any kind of hard evidence for this point, but as someone who has experience creating things, I completely believe that people will care less about their work if there isn't an imperative to fulfill a social contract. Back when I made flash games if someone wrote a bad review saying the game didn't work, I would generally take on an attitude of "hm that sucks, well whatever fuck off I barely know how to program anyway." This would be pretty inappropriate if this was a product I sold to someone on steam, and I would probably genuinely feel bad.


3. Being beholden to advertisers puts limitations on what you can say. In this day and age, saying anything too controversial can get an angry mob reporting you to your advertisers asking them to drop you*, and you also would probably want to play it safe when talking about anything related to the product you're doing your ad reads for. There's a podcast I like where the hosts just constantly shit on web technologies and startup culture and they probably would not be able to do that if they were taking checks from squarespace. You certainly wouldn't be able to say any of what I'm saying here if you were also running ads. (That said, Newgrounds still runs some ads, so go buy a Supporter Upgrade and maybe Tom will forgive me for posting this to the front page of his website)


This would not too big of a deal if we were still getting paid to make cartoons, but I can imagine this has a much more insidious effect on unedited content (aka the exact kind of thing advertisers like, see 1). When people are broadcasting live, or just want to have to do minimal edits to their recording, they have to internalize a sort of self-censorship where they just avoid certain topics completely, and are not interested in pushing social and political boundaries (aka the exact kind of content these media seem to be best suited for).


I think restrictions can inspire some creativity, but when everyone is bound to exactly the same restrictions, it's like putting boundaries on the entirety of an artistic medium and that sort of thing usually sucks.


I was thinking of adding a fourth point about how doing a squarespace read just makes you sound like a shill and how that can subconsciously erode the trust between you and the audience, but there's nothing inherent to advertising that turns you into that sort of liar. There's a correlation between bad content and disingenuous ad reads for sure, but I don't think it's the ads that are causing the content to be worse, so I'll save that one.


Now am I saying that all art has to aspire to be "great, important and personally affecting"?


No... I think there's a place in this world for junk food, but I know there are a lot of young people out there who are aspiring to do really great work, and if they're raised in a bubble of ad-funded content they might not realize how destructive ads are to great art. Further, I think most of the work we're exposed to now is the cheap, ad-driven kind, and it sucks that that's taking up most of the attention-space. There's probably a lot of really great and inspired stuff being made, but we're not seeing it because it's not as profitable as the cheap stuff, and that just sucks for everyone.


Am I saying that creators have to immediately stop running ads on everything?


Also no, but I think it's worth bringing all this up because we don't really have a good alternative yet. It seems like patreon is working out for some people, but it's not perfect. I tried my own thing a while ago but stopped doing that when I got a "real job" that's paid for by ads. I feel pretty shitty about my ad-based livelihood so thank you for not mentioning it. Here's a real pie-in-the-sky idea I had today - what if we had a "premium internet" like how satellite/cable is supposed to be better than antenna TV, and you pay some monthly fee to get a subscription to all the quality-curated websites, and the money is distributed to the ones you actually like or something. Any billionaires want to work with me on this???


If you have any ideas on how to fund content better I'm all ears. If Andrew Yang money ever becomes real then that will solve all of this shit and art will just be unprecedentedly amazing because we could all stop worrying about paying rent. That would be nice.


--


I was channeling this talk for most of this blog post, so if you thought this was interesting maybe you'll like hearing Jon Blow talk about how microtransactions poison video games. I might listen to it again now to make sure I didn't just lift anything from him verbatim.


* I made a point about this on twitter a while ago - most of us seem to be on the same page that big corporations only really do things in their own interest and are generally selfish and evil, and yet we are effectively tattling to coca-cola when someone does something we don't like. Shouldn't they be the last people we trust with the power to make big decisions about ethics and acceptable censorship?

Why do sponsors think it reflects badly on them if their ad plays before some questionable user-uploaded content? Like we know coca-cola is not sponsoring nazis. we know the preroll ad and the actual video are completely separate entities. Why are they so worried???


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15

Posted by Emrox - September 3rd, 2019


I'm 23 today! 23 is a very scary age where you start seeing wrinkles on your forehead and your hairline recedes as gradually and imperceptibly as your memories of being a teenager. I've been getting quarter-life crisises every year on my birthday since I was 18, so I guess the thing about your birthday being shitty and a reminder-of-death as you get older is real. Somehow I thought I'd be "above" that.


When I was in my teenz I used to use NG to blog about life updates every year on my birthday - a sort of post mortem for everything I'd made that year. This post is a little like that, but I'm just gonna blast through the last three years all at once and talk about why I'm surprised I still have a job in animation.


When I first started working on Pencilmation stuff I dropped everything & left school to go work on it, since I'd never been offered a full-time job before and was compelled to seize the opportunity (as anyone would, after trying and failing to get a foot in "the industry" for four years or whatever it was.) Part of that decision was that I'd seen so many YouTube businesses go belly-up after some algorithm change, sudden mysterious decline in views, or "adpocalypse" (actually that hadn't happened yet?) - in any case it seemed dumb to wait around and finish school while a tenuous first job sat in the balance. So in Late 2017, I dropped out of school, moved back to America, and worked remotely on Pencilmation for about a year.


Around Summer 2018, I realized I wasn't very happy to be in total isolation all the time (I was living out of some guy's attic in Buffalo,) and I had saved up enough to pay for my last year of school out of pocket, so I went back to school. At this point I felt a little stupid because my job still existed, so I very well could have finished school on time and then taken the job offer - Instead I had to complete my fourth year with a whole new class of people, which isn't a lot of fun when everybody knows each other except for you. In spite of this, my year rocked and we made a bangin senior thesis game, which is a pretty big contender for my favorite project I've ever worked on. If you haven't seen it check out this post.


Then school ended, and somehow, my job at Pencilmation was still there waiting for me. While I don't deny Ross' business savvy, I genuinely didn't expect to be able to do Pencilmation for this long - I've even publicly maligned the idea of making all your money on YouTube ads as being stupid and unstable. When I first dropped out of school I really felt like a hardened internet animation veteran making a tactical decision to ride with a channel for a few months, and then resume my life when it inevitably went bust, but none of that ever happened. In fact, Pencilmation is doing better than ever with something like 11 million subscribers, so I guess I'm just retarded.

 

It's only occurred to me just yesterday that Pencilmation has probably now entered the upper-echelon of YouTube channels - some people have theorized there's a kind of "Too Big To Fail" zone on youtube where some content just makes so much ad money that the higher-ups at YouTube are more lenient with rule enforcement and you actually have some weird level of job security. Actually, I just looked it up and this isn't just a weird allegation, YouTube moderators have confirmed this to exist. This isn't just some random weird moral failing from YouTube - a the very same phenomenon can be seen on Twitch in a really transparent way. It's interesting stuff.


In the last few years, the weirdness of how people make money on the internet now has made itself very apparent and I feel a little uncomfortable participating in any of it. I don't know if it's always been this strange or if that's just when I started listening to Reply All, but it all makes me very nervous about the future. Pencilmation defied my expectations by persisting in the notoriously difficult YouTube climate, but it's doing so well that it may now be benefiting from the slanted system that has quashed so many other animation channels. It feels weird to be on this end of the equation since I've been so vocal about my distaste for this whole thing (at one point I even seriously tried developing an alternative revenue stream), but as a hardened internet animation veteran, I've learned to take what I can get.


(I like my job btw)


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10

Posted by Emrox - April 20th, 2019


Usually when I write a new post on here it's because I've been thinking about some topic for a long time and I just need a place to put it out there so I can stop thinking about it. This is kind of like that, but instead of thinking about a topic, I've been thinking about this big fuckin game I've been making over the past 8 months. This means I'm a lot more scatterbrained about the thing and I have no idea what I'm about to write, but I definitely want to tell you about this thing so let's go!!!!!!



Trail Mix is a co-op puzzle platformer about creating weird shapes of guys and using your weird shapes to navigate a 2D space. We made it as our thesis project for our final year of school, and it's probably the coolest thing I've ever worked on. It's coming out for FREE as a downloadable game for Mac and PC on April 26, and hopefully a we'll have a web build for NG coming up real soon.


Features:

  • 13 Levels - 8+ hours of brain-bustin puzzle platforming!
  • Secret bonus collectibles for extra challenge!
  • That HOT classic newgrounds flash game aesthetic!
  • The guys look at each other!


Now I know you're all creaming over that trailer and can't wait for the 26th, but guess what you don't have to because the game is already 99% done and you can play the 99% done version RIGHT NOW on itch.io: https://puzzsoft.itch.io/trail-mix


Why would we release a 99% done game, you say?


The concisest way of putting it is that our big deadline for having the game done was last Thursday, but we didn't want to release it then because we were spending all our time finishing the game and not hyping everyone up for the big "launch." But also our deadline was actually just a big student showcase event and we wanted to be able to tell people they could go home and download the game right away. So you can grab the game right now, but we're also going to make little fixes up until we roll out version 1.0 on the 26th.


Is it futile to try and hype up a free game that's actually already out? Maybe! But if you want to help us out, (and it would be greatly appreciated!!!!) you can follow our fake company PuzzSoft on twitter and retweet promo stuff to help us get the word out. If you do twitch streams or let's plays I would be forever grateful to anyone who wants to play our game in front of an audience! (That said, I highly recommend you actually play with two people! It's possible to play the game solo, but the one-player mode is really just a debug feature we left in. It is not the intended way to play the game!)


Why am I so invested in spreading the word about a free game no one will profit from?


I'm seriously really proud of this game and I think it's got a lot of great stuff in it that I really don't think you'll find anywhere else. When we were collectively designing this game we looked at a lot of really cutting-edge indie puzzle games, and we ended up subverting a lot of the stuff that's trendy right now, even though it's already a super niche space for game design to begin with. Actually, I wrote a devlog on one such idea. We had to write a lot of development process stuff as part of our grade, but if you like design stuff or my writing you can check those out.


What is PuzzSoft?


Every team had to have a team name so that was ours! We are:

Michael (@magnivez)

Rachel

JohnLee

And me!


PuzzSoft Homepage

PuzzSoft on Twitter again

Fuck it here's the game link again


I have a lot more to say about the game but I'll save it. Please play my game!


Hey wait a minute where have you been all this time?


I told you school!!!!!!! And all last year I freelanced on Pencilmation, which I'm going back to doing now that school's done. See I told you I was busy!!!!


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10

Posted by Emrox - November 6th, 2017


I started going to college a little over three years ago, and it was a tough decision bc if anyone was around at the time you might remember there was a pretty strong anti-art school sentiment from the last generation of web animators (and I mean the LAST generation amirite?) Anyway the prevailing argument was that studios care more about quality work than qualifications, and everything you learn in school is stuff you can find on the internet anyway. Despite all this I went to school, and I found out that they were only half right:

YES, just about everything you need is online for free.

BUT, where the fuck is it?

I lied a little bit, I didn't go to school for art, I went for game design, and I learned a lot more about programming in my first few weeks than I ever had looking up tutorials online. The book we used was called "learning processing," and it rocked my fuckin world. I coulda bought it on Amazon and saved myself $10,000, but without having a guy to point me in the right direction, I probably never would have found it, and I would probably still be pretty bad at coding.

Anyway if you're an animator/artist, get FUCKIN ready cause here's how to get all the shit everyone told you was out there but no one told you how to find: 

1. 4chan

Alright if you're like I was two years ago, you probably thought 4chan was for weird nerds and that kid who knew about porn before everyone else when they were like 11. WELL boy was I surprised to find out there are more boards than /b/ and they actually have some smart guys on 'em. The sticky on http://boards.4chan.org/ic/ has links to a TON of useful art stuff, so get that bookmark button ready:

https://sites.google.com/site/ourwici/

2. Tumblr - Ask

If you've been around the Tumblr block you know that maybe like 70% of the people on there have an "ask" button that lets you send in questions. If there's some aspect of art that you want to get better at, just find someone who does it well and ask for advice! As long as you aren't going up to super-famous guys with 20k followers, most everyone will write back, and if you didn't know, you can ask stuff anonymously. I've done this a bunch and have found some pretty great resources that way. (Most guys don't get a ton of engagement anyway, so go make some artist happy!)

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This one wasn't about anything specific, but just some guy that I found that I liked! Here's his blog.

3. Friends

Alright you know how they say you go to school to make connections? You can make connections on Skype and Discord, and you can really get the same constructive/competitive environment you'd get out of school. I met most of my guys in a NATA-based group a while ago. See if you can find something like that I guess? (Hey if someone wants to help me out with some discord links that'd be great)

4. Books

If you have a library anywhere near you, get a card and start checkin out books! A lot of the time you'll find some shit you've never heard of that inspires you more personally than the more general reccomendations people tend to make on the internet. If it weren't for my school's french-speaking population, I never would have discovered the works of Andre Franquin, who I really think might have been the greatest cartoonist who ever lived.

There are also a few big repositories of art instructional books online. Now most books are copyrighted, so I'm gonna have to slip you this one under the table

*swoosh*

^Tons of good shit in the 4th and 5th links. There are other ways to download books for free, but I think there's a rule on NG that says I can't tell you how to do that.

5. Reddit - How to learn anything imaginable

My brother showed me this one -

Think of something you'd like to learn, eg "game development," "watercolor," or "piracy"

Head on over to google and search for "_____ reddit" (or "learn __ reddit" or whatever works)

Usually you can find a sticky thread at the top or an faq in the sidebar, which will usually include a link on where to get started! Here's what I found:

Game Development

Watercolor

****swoosh****

I didn't really read any of these I was just trying to make a point. Actually I read one of them. Maybe.

6. My own collection

Alright so this post was mainly geared towards how to FIND resources and not any specific ones I use, but here's a few of the guys I swear by:

John Ks Blog Probably the best free resource specifically about cartoon drawing

Animation Resources Stuff to read when you run out of John K

Proko Fine art instuctional vids

Animator reels Tons of these on youtube, highly recommend the ones on Hayao Miyazaki, Rod Scribner, Fred Moore, Koji Nanke, Jim Tyer, Milt Kahl, Tissa David. I'd link to them by name but I'm getting tired and I have to get up tomorrow

BOOKS (these are all amazon links cause yeah we get it "swoosh")

If you're just starting out and you want to learn how to draw, read both of these (yea both)

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Fun With a Pencil

These two embody two pretty different approaches - observational drawing vs construction. If you liked the first one better, keep lookin at stuff and keep practicing. But if you liked the second one better, try the other Loomis books, and Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair

Understanding Comics is super easy to read and tackles some really cool theory stuff. It's the kind of thing where once you've read it you really think about what you're doing more deeply and analytically.

The Little Book Of Talent is good for general meta-learning stuff. Good bite-sized info for you "tips" guys

Perspective! for Comic Book Artists

Did you think I was going to link the Richard Williams book? Get real ya fuckin nerd. Last thing cause I really gotta go to bed, here's some general advice:

http://www.lifeclever.com/what-50-pounds-of-clay-can-teach-you-about-design/

http://aboutthestart.com/talent-vs-practice-who-wins/

lil amendment - be careful around shady websites, ok? don't be stupid!!!!


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Posted by Emrox - October 8th, 2017


Today I woke up and came up with an idea for a kids book. I liked it so much I drafted the whole thing in a couple hours -

https://imgur.com/a/m97X4

I'm probably not going to do anything with it but I thought it was cute. Too much on my plate already. I started working on pencilmation full time a few weeks ago (did you see my credit on this one?) and I have another freelance gig I have to get back to work on. Plus Patrick's on my ass about Peck 3, which is something like 70% done, I just need to find the time to wrap it up. This is in addition to about 7000 ideas of stuff I want to work on after peck like a game and a comic and something to do with some art theory stuff.

Ok that's it!

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Posted by Emrox - August 29th, 2017


@tomfulp

You should make it so when you pause a video the player doesn't go all dark. Sometimes I want to freeze-frame a cartoon and look at a nice drawing or smear or something

Ok that's it! I hope you were Tom!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by Emrox - June 24th, 2017


Scott McCloud has a lot of great books on art theories and deconstruction and shit, but one of my favorite works by him is his pre-webcomics web-comic about the role of chess in his life: http://scottmccloud.com/1-webcomics/chess/chess.html

It hits me real deep because I totally know what it's like to spend years and years at something just to come to the conclusion that you really know very little about the thing you've spent forever thinking about. But it also hits hard because I know what it's like to love more than one thing.

Some context - I've spent about 11 years of my life making animated cartoons. I'm currently going to college for game design, where I discovered that I actually really like programming, as well as the asset production and deep exploratory-design thinking, which is what I initially signed up for. I also have a bit of a thing for writing, which I guess is why I do so many of these posts, but is also why I care so much about stuff like comedy. Fortunately a lot of these things are tangential to eachother, but each individual path goes so infinitely deep that I really could just do one thing my whole life and never stop learning new stuff about it.

When I was a little younger I was worried that chasing many rabbits would leave me without a job, okay at a whole bunch of stuff without being industry-level good at anything and I would end up homeless or something, but I'm doing pretty okay for myself so I don't really worry about that anymore. What I do worry about, though, is how satisfied I'll be when I'm 74 and I still don't know as much about animation as I COULD if I had just had the foreseight to focus exclusively on that. It's a really weird fear, but I feel like if I have any potential to make an impact on the world, every day I spend playing chess is a little step backward from the full potential of something else.

It doesn't help that most of the guys in the art programs here are of the mentality that if you aren't drawing 15 hours a day you're FUCKED because everyone else is working twice as hard and were twice as talented to begin with. I think those guys are a little lost too though (I like to call it the "asian work addiction") - the real fallacy there is that if you spend 24 hours a day thinking about drawing, sure you'll have immense technical skill, but you won't have a single interesting thing to say, unless it's ABOUT drawing or is somehow challenging to the form, which won't really connect with anyone other than other artists. I got similarly lost when pursuing comedy - there's a point where you're so deep in technicalities and weird artsy shit that you really can't connect with regular people anymore. It's a little fucked up - the whole point of getting good at art is to get better at communicating the stuff in your head, but a lot of the "best" artists can't actually connect to anyone who hasn't also had 20 years of training.

This is gonna sound totally out of left field, but I actually spent a couple months writing a BOOK on art theories and stuff that helped me learn better. One of my odder ideas was that spending time in multiple disciplines can actually make you a better artist at all of them. The thinking was that concepts you learn from one art form will better inform your understanding of art as a whole - much like how great painters don't just paint the same sunset over and over, they paint a whole bunch of different subjects because the variety teaches you more about fundamental concepts, and not just specific insight into rendering pretty clouds. I'm not 100% sure if I believe it's the best course of action to pick up 20 different crafts, but I could still make a pretty good argument for it. (fyi, I gave up on the book, but I still really like a lot of the ideas. I can upload what I finished of it if anyone's interested.)

So the case for multiple career goals actually isn't so bad, but the prospect that I'm wasting my life still bothers me from time to time. To recap, doing only one thing your whole life might ensure you reach your full potential in that one thing, but your work might be totally devoid of content, impossibly inacessible (and therefore not actually successful as self-expression), or if my rationalizations are right, you actually won't even be as good as you could have been had you spent more time doing lots of stuff, triangulating the possibilities of ALL art. On that third point I'd like to hear what some of you guys have to say - do you guys see a lot of overlap in your different interests? Have you ever learned something about painting by playing guitar?

Then there's also the angle of "holy shit marty why do you care about ANY of this" to which I can only say jeez I don't know. I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff that doesn't really matter, except in the "big picture" which is usually just all in my head anyway. Come on give me a break! at least I don't go to church.

___________

Some other updates:

I'm living on freelance work right now, so personal stuff is going slow. Peck 3 in the works. Also a game. Currently finishing my 3rd year of game school, which I made a really cool project for in the last week. Maybe we'll work out the bugs and upload it somewhere! Sorry my main output is PARAGRAPHS right now but I'm very busy okay!

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Posted by Emrox - May 10th, 2017


I was just reading some of my old news posts and HOLY S was I a little dweeb!


Posted by Emrox - May 1st, 2017


You know what Plato's Cave is? look that up. You kinda gotta know what that is for this to make sense but the short verison is if you spent your whole life chained up looking at shadows on a wall, you would believe that that wall IS reality, and the second they take the chains off your fuckin head would explode when you realize there's even a third dimension.

It's a kooky hypothetical situation, but with all these advances in VR, maybe some shit like that could actually happen. People have done more fucked up stuff like human trafficking, so it's not too far-fetched that someone would subject a baby to a Matrix-style virtual reality as opposed to raising them in regular society. And when you think about it, you could probably do some really crazy shit raising a kid on VR. What if someone's whole reality was based on solving complex math problems for food? Or like those puzzles that computers can't do but humans can? I'm sure if you thought about it long enough you could find a way to make BANK on your VR slave kid. They would literally eat sleep and breathe whatever fuckin complex problem you gave them to solve.

Of course that's all inhumane as SHeeeeeeeeeit so you can't do any of this (legally), but you know who we could do this to? Animals. You see the shit we do to livestock? And all those lab rats? Well it's not stopping me from enjoying meat or modern medicine, so maybe we can start gettin apes and mice working on the great problems that plague our nation. I should patent VR headsets for every nonhuman species so that when some other corporation takes my idea I at least get a slice. Speaking of, I went to SCHOOL for game design so if you want me to help build a fuckin virtual world for apes let me know and we'll make millions. @google @tesla (hope those guys have ng accounts)