Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Artwork Rescue Rangers!

Welcome back! Thank you for your patience.

Another week has passed all too quickly and the news on our layout man’s health remains pretty much the same – he is on the mend. I suppose I should have prompted him to offer some tidbits courtesy of his sweetie, but there is enough on the table this week to fill the column, and besides, he needs his rest.

So do I, but for another reason. I have recently been blessed with overtime; in a time when most of us give thanks that we actually have jobs and can pay the bills, I have been given a rare opportunity. So it has been very long days where the only time I see my son is when I drive him to school. But the work is absorbing and agreeable, and my coworkers have become easier to get along with. So the hours pass quickly, and then the days and the weeks.

Chasing Down Errant Art

Meanwhile, what little time I have left is devoted to tracking down errant sources of art (the original, not the stuff I got from Vlad), emailing their creators and asking if they will consent to sell the piece in black and white format. To their credit (and my great good luck), three have.

After settling this down, I then go out to contact the artists who will:

- replace ‘Mechs inspired by an artist known as simpleJay, aka Insidious. This fellow resides in New Zealand, and while his art is excellent, his attitude towards my requests is decidedly not. He will not respond to any notes or emails, so I have decided the work derived from his originals will have to be completely replaced. It’s no small matter – we have three pieces ‘inspired’ by his work that are inferior to the original. I would like Eriance to have a go at these, but one (the White Knight) has already been commissioned to Jake [prdarkfox of deviantArt] and is in the sketch stage. I hope this fellow is capable of delivering; time will tell. Ian Stead is back on the job and working on at least one commisson, possibly two.

- replace vehicles which have crossed the line. There are eight so far; two have been acquired from the original artists, who redid the works in question and (in my humble opinion) did a much better job. Daniel Cherng recently re-appeared, and after discussing the matter, agreed to take on one of the vehicles which needs re-doing. Hopefully he will stick around long enough this time to finish the work! I attempted once more to get in touch with Lee Madison, who has created several fine pieces for the TRO, but so far there has been no response to my email.

- create background art for the pieces which are CG-rendered. It isn’t possible to add the charm of hand-drawn lines to these pieces any other way except by surrounding them with suitable backdrops. Bill is presently working on the background for one piece with more to follow if his initial work is suitable. He has the advantage of being local, but the disadvantage of being more of a fantasy artist. His technical work has the usual problems with perspective. There is also a young lady on deviantArt who has agreed to work on a background piece, but her efforts will have to wait a bit until she is finished with studies for the year.

As you can see, there is quite a bit of work to do. Ryan is presently chasing down the remaining vehicle art sources and it may be another week before he is through. I fully expect to find that at least another six pieces will require replacement. Hopefully that will be all.

The Offending Art… or Some of It

And now I have a question for all of you readers out there. Examine the following images and tell me true: would you accept these as illustrations for the TRO if you knew they were so closely derived from the original sources?

I really need to know because right now we have to put more funds into the art. I need to know what is acceptable and what is not. Up until now the issue has been clear: if it looks like the art we have is a tracing of the original, I can’t use it. You have no idea how many of the original ‘Mechs I have rejected because of this. The vehicles too. But now it seems there are more to be replaced. I will gladly pay for it but it will take longer.

Meanwhile… I have a source who is checking on the feasibility of an established game company perhaps lining us up with a printer. We will see.

In a way, this has happened at an opportune time. I mean, with the unavoidable delay caused by our layout man’s illness, we actually have a chance to address this stuff before it hits the PDF. Of course, I will have to go back to the credits page and start punching in some new names…

Catalyst Games…

Okay, I will stop beating Frank Trollman. You all know where I stand on that, but the guy is the only one with the inside dope on what is happening with the company. Of course, I still have to filter what he says, but darned if it doesn’t look like there is an issue concerning the number of actual people with a vested interest in the parent company, InMediaRes. Some of the company’s BT-related works are finally seeing the light of day, but it’s said these were already in the pipeline and were waiting on payment of a printing bill before they were released. Whether or not any more see the shelf at your local hobby shop remains to be seen. I should think that Coleman and company are funneling what funds they have left to their lawyers.

By all reports, these fellows are busy earning their keep in court. It’s troubling that Coleman and his cohorts may not be brought to justice with a lawsuit over selling ‘shares’ which had no value, but I trust in the IRS to see to that eventually. Right now no one is willing to bring that suit, but they may change their minds when Uncle Sugar comes calling with a bill for income they never received.

At this point I am fairly confident that InMediaRes and Catalyst Games are down for the count. Despite their desperate attempts to raise cash through sales of PDF-based ‘goodies’, it is only a matter of time before the funds run out. And I don’t think their lawyers (unlike many of the poor freelancers) are going to accept an IOU. There are currently two company audits going on. I think the nail in the coffin will arrive when the extent of any financial malfeasance (and piss-poor bookkeeping) finally comes to light. And it will.

I am positive the license (and the game) will continue. Whether it does in the hands of the current regime is up for grabs, but I cannot see many freelancers willing to do business with CGL after what has happened. Several of the Shadowrun writers have publicly stated they will never do business with Coleman and his crew again, and it’s possible there are some BT writers/artists in the mix as well.

Meanwhile, we wait.

Thanks for stopping by.



Electromage said...

From a purely Legal stand point you shouldn't use any of it, simply because the original artist might find out and sue you (we had a similar problem almost happen on the "Wolfs Shipyard" forum which almost had lawyers [AKA - the spawn of Satan] involved), some people can be very protective of their art. *rolls eyes*

As for the "art" it's self, I've never liked his work, all the shading annoys me greatly, give me a clean, black & white, line drawing any day! :)

Dan Eastwood said...

Good tracings are still tracings, and most of those are painfully derivative - the exception being the Guillotine, which look like an independent interpretation to me.

Steven Satak said...

Agreed. I am going to keep it. I was sorely tempted to keep the Emperor as well, as it has been improved by David White and I am wroth to waste *any* of his efforts.

Steven Satak said...

Electromage: yeah, that's why we are doing the massive search so late in the game. I am not worried all that much about legalities. But to put this much work and money into the TRO only to have the whole thing considered a rip-off due to a few pieces of art? I think not.

That said, I like the cleaned up Emperor. Too bad I cannot get permission from the company to use that. If only Vlad had used a different pose!

Yes, the black and white is not only clearer, it is cheaper and lends itself to coloring books. Yeah! Coloring books!

Shepherd Gunn said...

I would have to agree with the consensus that I'm seeing right now. I think the only one that I would use from Vlad is the Guillotine. That one looks original enough that I don't think it's a tracing.

It's kinda sad for me to say that, because I was following Vlad's work on this which is what brought me to find out about this wonderful project.

BTW... I hope everyone has a good Memorial Day.

Steven Satak said...

Well, Vlad has done some good stuff and it is safe to say that we are using at least half the art he gave us.

However, whenever something is strongly derivative, I am shooting off an email and trying to get black and white work from the original artist. I would rather pay them than get free stuff that is substandard and impugns our reputation.


Karyudo-DS said...

Yup I would agree, the Guillotine doesn't raise any flags to me but the rest...yeah. Hope you've got the people to fix that. Shame though, finding tracings sucks. You can have my new Centurion piece instead :D course it wouldn't fit in heh. Hope you have better luck though.

Steven Satak said...

Karyudo-DS: Do an Emperor and we'll talk. I need a bloody Emperor. In fact, copy the one we have in a new pose or from a new angle and I will send you a bin of licorice.


Doug said...

Are you just working on the art now?

Why are you seeming to have to redo so much of the art?

I like the line art for the TRO.

Credits page edits, ah, that is the easy part... Start>Run>winword (enter)

Doug said...

...and I want some love to go to CGL.

Steven Satak said...

For the most part, yes, we are correcting art now. The heavy lifting was supposed to be done about three months back. And it was. Then it was discovered that a fair portion of the art we had 'in the bag' from the very beginning? was so close a copy of existing work by other artists that we simply could not use it.

That meant throwing out a lot of work in writing and so forth unless we redid the art. So yeah, we are redoing the art. You can see that the art in question is pretty much in the same style, by the same guy.

As for CGL, yeah. I want some love for them too. But their press releases are filled with lawyer-speak and half-truths. They slander and smear the people who had the temerity to bring the whole sordid mismanagement and dishonesty public. I have all the good will in the world for BT and CGL as a company. But the people who run it have made it clear *they* are the company.

If you don't like them or what they have done (and are doing), you're hatin' the company and you're an enemy of good BT players everywhere.

But that just ain't so.

Panzerfaust 150 said...

Steve, gotta agree with you, but, I would say the PDFs are like the Volksturm or the Home Guard.

"Ok, the regulars couldn't save us, and you pensioners and children will?"

It's a neat idea, and probably a good way to raise quick cash, but it also says "we can't get any print product out for the most part, so here's all these PDF's", and have you noticed a lot of them are products from the ol'FASA/Fanpro days? CGL is dying. Slowly, agonizingly, but it's hurt. If this were a ship, it would be time to get the wounded off, and talk about scuttling her.

As for the art? Well, I rather like a lot of it, but legally, I don't think you can use anything other than the Guillotine IMHO. But yeah, the Emperor would be worth saving if you could find somebody up to the task?

Steven Satak said...

Well, I can get the original artists to sell, hopefully. That should settle things.


Fredrick said...

I can accept it, because it's something BT has done plenty in the past. If it means that it's the difference in price of the product, the size of its print run, or when it comes out, I say to save yourself some money and go ahead with it. Especially since I've seen the huge variation in BT art quality, which can easily be nipped in the bud if you trace a good artwork.

Steven Satak said...

Well, we are on the road to new art. I just sent payment off to Eric Ou to cover some of the art he has done recently. More to follow, of course, but it's mighty slow going.

No, the business of tracing cannot be justified by a good end piece. It doesn't matter what the artist says = they may even be flattered by the copy. But the fan opening the book and recognizing the pose?

Definitely not good.