A special month of March
March 2017 is ending and I thought I'd write this blog-post today to let you know how I invested my time and why episode 22 is still not around. As you have seen, it took me almost six months to produce the last three episodes of Pepper&Carrot. In general, my productivity has become extremely low and that's a major problem for the project. The cause of this low productivity are multiple and come from several sources.
So this month I started to review all the problems, make priorities and form a plan. Once the problems were identified, it was easier to work on them and build an action plan: step by step, little by little. (Note: The tiny software TreeSheets was helpful here to organise my thoughts).
I'm used to correct my artwork too much and rely on too many digital post-fixes and corrections. This process is just too long and not rewarding. So, I started to draw on paper every day to fix my understanding of proportion and anatomy (skeletons, pelvis, skull, chest) and improve my ability to draw, more spontaneously, any type of drawing. I'm making good progress and I spent about 1/3rd of March on this process as I identified it to be one of the core production bottlenecks. I also developed a new passion for the pencil. (Note: I still plan to color my drawings on Pepper&Carrot later with Krita). Visible test: a model sheet of Pepper, and a test artwork Rainy day. More to come soon.
After an epic fail on the first storyboard draft for episode 22, which ended up too long and too compressed, I started to write more often and to storyboard many little stories. Now, I found a good one for the new episode 22 and the process did help me understand what type of stories I want to tell, how I like to cut them, and what is more important to me in a Pepper&Carrot episode: fun and uniqueness for each episode.
The amount of derivations and community activity are really taking off around Pepper&carrot. This floods my mailbox and notification systems all around. I managed to reply to 200 old emails but I had to drop probably 2000 (sorry!)... Unfortunately with this amount of emails and questions, I started to build anxiety about not being able to reply to everything. So I decided to pick priorities, and spend some time publishing a series of full articles to answer F.A.Q (the first one is the best practice for attribution) More to come soon.
After more than 10 years of very intensive service, my favorite tablet -a Wacom Intuos 3 A4- couldn't be fixed anymore... I was used to changing the stylus and the overlay-sheet every two years but the products got discontinued in Wacom's eshop. I decided to replace it with a Wacom Cintiq 22 HD and that was a catastrophe. I didn't like drawing or doing digital painting on it at all and this drained my productivity. I sold it after less than a month of poor usage and this device ate a lot of testing time. Then I tried the smaller Cintiq 13HD but drawing on this type of hardware is definitely not my cup-of-tea. Painting/coloring on it is ok if I'm using it as a regular tablet mapped to an external screen so I'll keep it. I'll probably write a review with photos about my test later.
Pepper&Carrot depends of the health of many upstream project: Krita, Inkscape, Kdenlive, Blender and various GNU/Linux distros and Operating Systems. Regular regressions and bad updates hit badly and frequently my productivity. I decided to inspect more GNU/Linux distributions to find one with a good balance between stability, flexibility and good tools to downgrade versions when it breaks my (complex) setup. This research is still work in progress and I tried to improve the things I distribute on my side: my set of palettes and my brushkit. I also updated the security of the website.
Being constantly in a "lack-of-time loop", I ended up not sleeping, building anxiety, being at work non-stop and collecting repetitive small illnesses. To fix that, I started to slow-down, take the necessary time to process each task with quality, prioritize and take time for myself: I'm running every morning now and finally decided that evenings were a good time to relax and nights a good moment to sleep :-)
Is everything fixed at the end of March?
Unfortunately no :) Many things in this list are still work-in-progress and couldn't be totally solved in a single month. Doing good and solid tests takes time. Transforming ideas into new habits takes time. Trying new technologies and getting out of my comfort zone takes time. But I'm on the right track toward an evolution for fewer problems and it makes me feel better and more optimistic about my future productivity.
That's all for this special March 2017, and many thanks again to all the supporters of Pepper&Carrot, contributors, translators, publishers and all of the community! I'll keep communicating about this quest: let's see in the long run if this evolution brings more happiness, calm, zen and serenity.