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Unshelved comic strip for 12/27/2007

Investing in Infrastructure

One of the mistakes people make the most is not investing sufficiently in their infrastructure. By which I mean the tools and processes that enable and, later, ease the getting-done of work.

In my case, for Unshelved that starts with the tools I use to draw the strip - a computer (currently a MacBook) with enough memory (4GB) and an external hard drive for Time Machine backups. Add the software (Adobe Photoshop CS3) and the drawing medium (Cintiq 21ux) and the tool set is complete.

But that's just a start. Computers are supposed to help with repetitive tasks, but I'm not really taking advantage of them fully. I've been drawing the strip in Photoshop for four years now, but I never took the time to really customize my environment. So yesterday I took twenty minutes to improve my brush set. Now I have a "pencil" brush that varies both opacity and width with pen pressure. And suddenly my pencils are much more pencilly, which is making me feel more creative. I think it shows. I also created a couple of lettering brushes, which are only slightly sensitive to pen pressure. If you can believe it, I've been going to the Wacom control panel and adjusting pressure sensitivity every time I go back and forth from lettering.

I'm intent on capturing all these repetitive tasks that get between me and drawing (the next one is likely to be reviewing the customization of buttons on the Cintiq to see if I can go to the keyboard less). Not only do they take up time, but it breaks my "flow." Which, lord knows, is challenged enough as it is. And yes, blogging also breaks up flow, but I'm between strips.

The thing about investments of any kind is that you have to have a long-term view. Taking an hour to work on tools is an hour not spent drawing, which I often can't spare. But if it saves five minutes a day it pays back in (calculating) 12 days. After that it's pure profit.

Sick for the Holiday

I'm always a little worried running a sequence like this week's, because it's unfriendly to new readers. You pretty much have to know the characters AND have been reading since Monday. But we really liked the idea of exploring what each character was doing on Christmas. If you're new to Unshelved and want to understand better what's going on, I suggest you start at the archive!

This Unshelved strip

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