Last week I reopened Ink & Illusion, talked a bit about what what was happening with the blog, and how I would be realizing the change. But before really launching into this new project, I thought I’d go over my tools so I’m not scrambling to explain things later on. Planning, I spent thousands of dollar learning how to do it, too.
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I don’t do any of this professionally. My degrees are in Communication, I don’t have any sort of manuscript in the works, and I’ve never published or professionally worked on a creative work. So if you’re looking for someone who’s got a degree in a writing field and/or credits to her name, I’m not your gal. But I have been writing and creating original characters since I was ten years old. I started with, of all things, wild horse role plays on Neopets.com. Then I moved on to Lupes (which were the site’s wolf-like pets), and at some point in high school my friends and I all realized we would really like to start writing human characters instead. I’ve been creating unique worlds for my characters to exist in (yes, even the wolves) since I was probably about twelve, and I’ve been posting the related work in various places ever since (Neopets.com petpages, deviantArt, Tumblr, Toyhouse, etc.).
Although I don’t write any fully-realized manuscripts, I do write one-shots pretty frequently and have attempted to illustrate some scenes. I tend to work more in the general grand scheme, with focus given to a few individual points. What I share is usually an overview of the story, with the pinpoint details kept more for my reference. My character work does tend to go more in-depth, but it’s still not every little detail I’ve ever come up with. So what you see might be a lot – but, just know there’s even more storming around in my head and in docs scattered about my computer.
I have yet to decide if I’ll be sharing any one-shots of the projects I create here, but I think that might be fun. I also wouldn’t mind sharing some of my less detailed work, like characters who exist solely for drawing purposes or are my player characters in certain games.
Now, as for tools, I use the term loosely. It’s a collection of programs and websites I use to organize, detail, and post my stuff. I wanted to go over them before I started for full transparency on how I work. Because I don’t have a specific process and I’m going to be honest about that from the start. I just… dive right.
Discord is a gift from the organizational gods. I like to take my notes in a physical notebook, but I’m not always somewhere that’s possible. So I created a Discord server where I can post notes or ideas that come to me wherever I am. It also allows for me to save screenshots, type up preliminary text for somewhere else, and have quick access to links whether I’m on my phone or computer. And yes, I screencap posts from other servers/channels and put them in the related one on my end.
This may be a weird one but I use Google Sheets to not only store information, but also to track progress on some things. I decide a lot of miscellaneous information about my characters (like the flower and tarot cards that best represent them) and this gives me a place to store it all in case I want to use it. But it also lets me track progress of projects while still allowing me to make easy changes if something comes up. Maybe I take a step back to completely rework something – whatever it is I can easily go back in and change it to the new stage.
I use Scrivener for all of my writing now, from one-shots to professional work. Another gift from the organizational gods. The Comic Sans trick does work. And yes, I hate that it does too.
Where would we be without Pinterest? I have so, so many boards even after clearing it all out and restarting. I can collect everything from outfits to memes that fit my characters. It’s important that I know all of my children from all angles, including the completely pointless ones.
Unsplash is a website I was turned to recently that offers up photos submitted by photographers for free use. All of the photographs can be downloaded, edited, and distributed – all without even having to worry about credit. I love Pinterest, but the fact is a lot of pins don’t end up sourced properly and may even be reposted without permission. Unsplash gives me somewhere to search for photos for moodboards and aesthetics, as well as edit them, without having to worry about any of that. And there are some really awesome photos on there.
Toyhouse is a website that gives creators a place to store and show their characters off. You can actually control the audience by limiting character visibility, and generate private URLs that bypass whatever setting you have set. There’s a lot of ways to customize visibility, profiles, and share your characters. I’ve found a lot of people are putting their DnD characters on there now too, and some users have created some awesome character sheet-inspired profile codes!
I’ll take the opportunity to say if you are interested in checking Toyhouse out, you can DM me on Twitter! The site is still by invitation only, but as a premium user I get two invite codes a week. And at this point I have… almost 160 still. But the site isn’t for everyone.
CSP is an amazing art program with a lot of great tools you won’t find in Photoshop or Paint Tool SAI, and personally I like its interface the best. I have the basic version, and it’s not cheap but it does go on sale lot. I’d recommend giving the free trial a go and then waiting for it go on sale. Any digital art I make is created in CSP; and if you’re wondering, I use a UGEE 21.5in LED tablet monitor.
This is not a program for photo editing! It was made with digital art – and especially digital comics – in mind.
A lot of them. Since I have the luxury of time, and generally speaking not many people care about my dozens of children, I get to take as long as I want. And just hope everything comes together in a satisfying way. I wouldn’t recommend this tool.