Friday, November 13, 2009

A flurry of artwork coming in...


Things have gotten busier towards the end of this week. I am typing from the home computer this time, as it is bitter cold out and there isn’t the slightest doubt but that I would be shivering with numb fingers about five minutes into this update.

So. No cigar for writing, sorry to say. Don’t think it will make a difference. I’m already partly frozen from reading an old Dick Francis mystery; the house is warm, but it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take for my fingers to limber up again.

Oh! You didn’t come here for the chit-chat? Well, alright then….

Eric has been busy on the art front. He has been sandwiching projects in between tests at college, so it’s been stop and go for a bit. But he just turned in the sketches for the Lyran Alliance’s Panther and the Draconis Combine’s Sentinel. The ‘Mech is fine, with a bit of scenery to work out, and the tank is getting cut and squeezed to look a bit more like a main battle tank than a ‘Mech with tracks.

One of the issues is the size of a human being relative to a ‘Mech – or a seventy five ton tank, for that matter. We have some size charts, but you all know that no matter who does the art, humans are rarely (if ever) placed solidly near a BattleMech in any official company representation. Not sure why that is so, but it is odd and makes things difficult for us non-canon creators to accurately size a person standing near one of those enormous things. (Like anyone would want to).

Anyway, Lee Madison has also been hard at work. He has done extensive sketches on the Striker II and the Jian MMTV, and they look very professional. I’ve selected the options he presented and expect something solid within the next week or so.

Mike Sullivan came up for air, amazingly enough, and mentioned finishing the Velite for me. I hurriedly withdrew it from Lee’s list of things to do, but that was on the 6th of November and thus far I have not heard back from Mike. I will have to decide on Monday whether I want to wait longer or just commission the work out to Lee, who has kept his preliminary sketches on the Velite warm just in case Mike cannot finish that vehicle after all.

Where was I?

Geoff and I have finished… wait for it…. The Last BattleMech writeup! I know you folks have heard this before at least twice, but this time it has to stick no matter what. I am just about out of art funds and time grows short. I have told everyone that I have been adding here and there for the sake of filling out certain faction rosters, but that’s not the whole truth. Mostly it’s because I cannot handle NOT writing something while I wait on art. But the final text has been put to bed and I’ve generated the remaining PDFs for the Record Sheet Book (192 machines!).

Ian from England has been served with some final changes on the Free Worlds League’s Sarpedon – perhaps some of you have seen early versions on the forums. I would rather the medium pulse laser was coaxial with the main gun, but that’s getting a bit picky at this stage and it’s not easy to make changes in 3D design.

Jeff Kamper has proofed the Champion II and I will send off the Gallowglas, the Daimyo and the Sentinel to him after I finish this blog update. He has been a bit busy himself but I appreciate the time he’s put into making the writing every bit as entertaining, useful and all-around impressive as the art.

David Dryburgh has finished the second interior plate in color and it is just perfect. He has already sent me preliminary sketches for the next (and final) plate - we are working out the details.

Haven’t heard from our layout man lately; I will have to drop Jim Devlin a line to see how things are with him. Meanwhile, I have been scouting around to the various on-demand publishers to see what they’ve got to offer. I will tell you right now, it is a crying shame Lulu does not offer a landscape 8.5 x 11 inch format, but apparently printing something like that is a royal pain in the butt due to the nature of the paper you have to use. Their 9 x 7 is as close as they get, but it is too small to function as a useful dead-tree version of the TRO. You would not be able to read the darned thing.

So onward I go, looking at the multitude of printers out there. Many ask more money than I have available for printing a minimum of a hundred copies, and I have the sneaking suspicion that a lot of those copies would be moldering in my closet – but then, you never know. Black and white, ten copies and up seems to be the best way, with Perfect binding being an attractive option at this point. It will run around two hundred dollars if what I read is true.

I may go down to Kinko’s – excuse me, Fedex Office – and see what they’ve got, but the binding is spiral or plastic fingers and I really want this to look and feel like a company production – even if it isn’t.

Any advice along the printing lines would be greatly appreciated. So would a donation in the PayPal jar.

What is most likely is that I will get ten or so copies genned up for the artists and writers (and myself and a few friends), then sit back and see if anyone else needs a paper copy. When enough of you have ponied up, I will make another order.

That’s all for now, folks. Take care and thanks for stopping in.



Anonymous said...

Have you considered POD services for you printing needs?

Steven Satak said...

Yes. I have not heard from the layout man, but I have done a pagecount and we're going to have 230 pages, not counting the covers.

No one will print landscape 8.5 x 11 inch for PDFs and text, but interestingly enough, there are an assful of POD (print on demand) outfits who will cheerfully do that format for *picture* books.

So I located software that will convert each PDF page into a PNG file. One big picture per page with bleed to make sure you can read it, and I can even afford to get it in 60lb paper and hardback cover.

More details with the next update.


Doug said...

Write machines for your next TRO, TRO 3073.

Steven Satak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Satak said...

I will respond to this more fully in my next blog post...


Shepard Gunn said...

If I can convince my wife, I'll be trying to get a hardcopy of this TRO.

Steven Satak said...

Well, it is all going to rest in the hands of our layout man, James Devlin. Unfortunately, I have not been able to reach him through email. He is normally quite prompt with his replies and I have kept our discourse to a minimum so as not to waste his time.

We'll see what develops. He may have leads to printers that I do not, but I will probably be shelling out at least three to four hundred dollars for twenty five copies, from the looks of things. Each book will run about fifteen bucks each, and I am attempting to see what a hardcover version will cost, versus the Perfect binding you normally see on the TROs made by the company.

The art is coming along - several pieces have been finished and there are a few more waiting in the wings. But it is all hanging on James Devlin. Wish me luck!