My workflow – exporting multiple images

I thought it might be fun to share some tips and insights about my workflow on here, so here is the first post about that.

I’ve been working with Photoshop for years and years, and I’ve picked up some cool tricks along the way. But Photoshop itself keeps changing too, so today’s tip is cutting-edge, using the latest features in CC 2015.1 to export images in multiple sizes with one click. This uses two great new features, namely Artboards and The Generator.

Artboards are old news for users of Illustrator, but in Photoshop they can really enhance your workflow too. I wasn’t a big fan at first, but using it in conjunction with the Generator makes a strong case in their favor.

The Generator is probably a feature not many people know about. Exporting multiple layers in the past was mostly the domain of Export > Layers To Files, or using Slices in Save For Web, but The Generator is the next evolution; all you have to do is turn on Image Assets under File > Generate, then append .png to the names of the layers you want to export, and when you save your PSD, it automatically crops and exports these layers.

I found this extremely useful for exporting character limbs for game development, but it has its uses in webdevelopment also. I’ll show you how I use it at my job to export different sizes of the same illustration:

Screencap_generator

The source file is very high resolution, obviously, and when it’s done, I have to export into two 1200×628 pngs – one with a text banner for Facebook, and one clean one for the blogpost itself – plus a cropped 700×628 version for Pinterest and Instagram.

Resizing and cropping manually is a small pain, but a pain nonetheless, especially when you have to go back and change something later.

So, what I do is make an artboard at the size of the original illustration and convert all the layers in it to a smart object. Then I make three extra artboards at the size I want the exported images to be, copy the smart object into them, and add .png to the artboard names. This way, whenever I make a change in the original illustration, the change is propagated to all the other art boards, and when I hit Ctrl+S it automatically saves them out to separate pngs, ready to go onto the site (well, after they go through ImageOptim).

Using this setup as a template whenever I start a new illustration saves me a bunch of time otherwise spent exporting images by hand. Hopefully this is useful to some of you too.

Week 109: Burn down the chart

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

Last week we were hard at work on the Vrije Vogels beta at Hubbub. The task management software we use offers a useful ‘burndown’ chart, and we were indeed burning down tasks hard, the angle on the chart was pretty steep.

burndown

I stopped by the studio on wednesday to check a few things on the iPad build and finish up most of my open tasks.

Inbetween I upgraded the Adventure Creator plugin to its latest version in all my personal projects. Every new release brings some great features, it got me wanting to work on all these projects at once! I’d better continue working on Orlova first.

On friday I went to Nijmegen to talk with Embodied Games again. The first assignment packet was ready so we talked about that, and I got to know some of the other folks in the department over lunch.

Over the weekend the girlfriend and I planned a vacation in two weeks for some hard-earned R&R.

Next week: finishing up this Vrije Vogels sprint, and my first assignment for Embodied Games.

Week 107 & 108 – Ramp-up

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

In week 107 I worked on a prototype for Geometry Girl, the reading app that Niels ‘t Hooft is developing. I built in Marvel, which is a great way to mock up an iOS app. Especially having it right on your phone is great to quickly try things out. It wasn’t easy to put all our ideas into their framework, but it should be enough for the programmers to get started on the real thing.

Once that was done, the new sprint for Hubbub’s museum game (now titled Vrije Vogels) was on the doorstep last week. It was good to see the Hubbub guys again, the last sprint had been a while ago now.

During that week I also went to Nijmegen to talk with a group inside the Radboud University calling themselves Embodied Games. They’re working on gesture-based games to help kids and youngsters learn a variety of skills. And they were looking for a freelance artist and designer! So I went there for an interview, and it looks like we’ll be working together soon. It kinda came out of nowhere, but I’m excited to start working with these people, they have a lot of energy.

Next week: going hard on the Vrije Vogels to-do list.

Alina3

Trying out a more detailed color-only style this morning and practicing hair rendering with my new custom Photoshop brush. I’ve tried a bunch of custom brushes in the past (Kyle’s are great) and I finally figured out what all the options do kinda, so now I have a brush called the Hedgefield which is perfectly tailored to my drawing style. And paired with the Lazy Nezumi Pro plugin my linework looks better than ever.

Week 101 + 102 – Throttle down

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

Welp looks like I forgot to write a blogpost last week, so here’s a combo platter for you.

Two weeks ago we started polishing up the latest Home Rule beta so we could playtest with it last wednesday. I wasn’t present myself because I had an aquisition meeting with another client but I hear it went really well! Just a few things to work on now before we have a version of the game that can launch in the museum. And two more museums have expressed interest to join the pilot program, so good times.

After that my slate was pretty much clean for a week or two so I mostly spent that time setting up my new laptop which finally arrived and subsequently playing the Witcher 3 on it. It was a glorious time.

I also confirmed my appearance on the dutch radio show Opium in two weeks, so today I’ve been brainstorming ideas for the game I will be making during that week. It’s gonna be exciting!

Next week: probably not a lot going on seeing as it will be above 30 degrees celsius all week…

Week 93/94 – Unwinding and maintenance

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

Week 93 had a late start due to Kingsday, a dutch national holiday. On wednesday I had a call with Hubbub to plan out all the features we want to put in the next Home Rule beta (including a better name for the project), and on thursday I had a call with a potential new client, an illustration rushjob.

I spent the rest of the week doing administration and updating my portfolio. Google’s new policy is to give priority in their search results to sites that are mobile-friendly, so I dove into the world of responsive design and media queries to make my portfolio site adapt to all kinds of resolutions. It was a nightmare of weird glitches and quirks but it works now!

Last week also started out mellow because of the national war remembrance days. I made a little character animation for the folks at mindbreaker games who are working hard on their demo. It was nice to open After Effects after a long time and animate a little something using the latest version of the DUIK plugin, which is UHH-MAZING. Highly recommended if you do a lot of character animation.

Later in the week I finally sat down and upgraded Black Feather Forest to the latest version of the game engine. Miraculously nothing broke! There were a few weird thinhgs in transitioning from Unity 4 to 5 while simultaneously updating two plugins, but I managed to solve 90% of them in an afternoon.

I’m itching to continue developing Black Feather Forest. I realized a few weeks ago that it’s been a year since I started working on it. And I think almost half a year since I stopped development to rethink a few aspects. That stung, so I’m determined to carry on with it in the next few months. A Kickstarter may be inevitable.

But first Reconquista! I started that project up at the end of the week to add a few features and get it ready to launch. I expect that will happen in the next few weeks. The game is practically done, I just need to figure out one thing and then I can push it out the door. It makes no sense to leave it lying around for much longer.

Next week: new dailies and the kickoff of the third phase of Home Rule.

Explaining deltaTime

The concept of ‘Delta Time’ took me the longest time to figure out. It’s a concept in computer programming that helps make sure that every user has the same experience regardless of the clockspeed of their machine. This is especially useful in game development, where you don’t want the player on an older machine being inherently worse than the player on a state-of-the-art machine.

I still have to think really hard when I explain it to someone but it’s basically like this:

Take one second of gameplay from your game and imagine it as a white picket fence.

Each fencepost represents a frame, a still image, so in a regular game your fence would have 30 posts. (30 fps)

If your computer is slower, there are less posts in your fence. This makes the space between the posts bigger. That space between the posts is the deltaTime.

So if you want your guy to move from A to B, and it takes 30 frames to get to B, players on 30fps will get there in one second, and players on 15fps get there in two seconds. Obviously unacceptable, especially in a multiplayer game.

So if you multiply the movement speed with the deltaTime (the gap between the frames), you ensure that every player always reaches point B in the same amount of time, regardless of how fast their computer is.

This is because when you run at a lower fps your deltaTime is LARGER, because the GAP between frames is larger, and so each movement gets multiplied with a LARGER number, which means your dude will move FASTER so he can keep up with the intended pace of the game.

Hope that helps.

My days as an army general

In the summer of ’05, I commanded an army. I hadn’t planned on it, but things just sorta played out that way.

Continue reading “My days as an army general”

Serendipity

About a year ago, I was sitting at a sidewalk cafe with some friends, and one of them made a quip about how I’m writing a semi-autobiographical comic. He was referring to DinerDate. Up to that point I had never even considered it as autobiographical, but when I thought about it I realized just how right he was, how much of myself had seeped into DD over the years.

Two years earlier, right after the original DinerDate ended, I started writing the sequel. I chose to write something closer to my heart this time, so I moved the setting to Amsterdam and changed the tone of the narrative. I wrote about 50 strips over the next few months following the lives of a group of friends, but it felt like something was missing so I left it to gestate and decided that I could probably only ever finish it if I moved to Amsterdam myself. Back then I was still living with my parents and had no plans of moving until I finished college.

Cut to today,  my senior year, I have now lived in Amsterdam 8 months running. I hadn’t planned on it but the opportunity just sort of presented itself. And what’s more, I find what I had written all those years ago to be frighteningly accurate to what I have experienced here so far.

For one, I wrote about a foreign exchange student moving in at the start of the story; next thing I end up with roommates that regularly host foreign travellers. I actually met two travellers who are not even that dissimilar from the character I wrote. There have even been times where I found myself uttering lines from a few strips verbatim in real life. Those were surreal moments, where it felt like I was living what I wrote.

It’s been an amazing experience so far, but it also worries me; I don’t want DD turning into some sort of twilight version of my life. Luckily there are still plenty of differences. But right now I gotta focus on graduating first (one month to go!), after that I’m jonesin’ to get back into the webcomics game.

Turning the page

The other day I was on my way to a meeting with our programmers at the TU in Delft. My train was approaching Rotterdam station. It was early and I had overslept, so I was travelling on autopilot.

When my train came to a halt, I disembarked and descended the stairs into the hallway, looking for some sort of signage to indicate which train I had to get on next.

Upon reaching the bottom, I found myself in a long concrete hallway with a low ceiling.
Memories engulfed me like a warm bath. Suddenly, I was no longer here. I was no longer now. I was back then.
The only other time I had been at Rotterdam station.

Then, it had marked the start of something beautiful.
But back here, in the now, I found myself at the other end of that chapter.
So much had happened in between.

And I wished so much I could be there again.

I found the signage. Track 5. The 11:05 to Delft station.
It was 10:59.

No time to waste.