Back in the Strike Team HQ – where our hero appears to be doing even better than expected!

Also a peek at what’s being developed for the weaponized Strike Suit 2.0 – we’d been toying along the lines of a sharpened tonfa but we both agreed that we didn’t want Countdown to have a lot of gear dangling from his belt. So it’s being added directly into the armored forearm brace and activated by a polyetherimide spring mechanism. No metal, of course; Strike Gate rules still apply.

As stated, our updates will be sporadic for a while (lots of freelance gigs piling on) but we’re working from a script so we know where we’re going. We’ve paused the Patreon during this period, but we’ll continue to post high-rez images and other free goodies there for those who signed up!



More below!



Using Your Words


3 Minute Max has always been a collaborative project, with myself doing the writing and Max doing the art. That’s not too unusual. But of course I wanted to do the effects wherever I could, so we began developing a workflow to allow me to do that. Then, just as a way of helping out, I offered to start doing the dialogue and balloons as well. It’s not like it’s hard, but it is surprisingly time-consuming. Often, dialogue has to be restructured just because it isn’t pithy enough or there is a long word in an inconvenient place and it messes up the balloon symmetry.

The balloons themselves are also tricky; we’d always had rather free-form balloons, done primarily by taking a fat brush in Photoshop and filling in behind the text area, and then using a smoothing filter to round out the edges. I still rather like the organic quality that method gave our balloons, but while I could rough them in and draw a line to indicate who was speaking, I had to rely on Max to do the finishing touches on them, including the tails.

During the Interludes I finally made the switch over to the more standard method of using the Ellipse and Warp tools to create smoother, more symmetrical balloons and tails. It wasn’t quite as stylized-looking, but I was able do the whole thing myself and take that task off the artist’s plate.

In the process, I began to notice that there’s a whole art form to the words and balloons that I hadn’t realized. Not just making them look nice, but there are subtle dynamics that have a psychological impact on the reader as well. The stacking of the words, whether to cram them all in one balloon or separate them into multiple connected balloons to give specific emphasis. A balloon higher in frame will often read “lighter” (playful, flirtatious) than one lower down. (Imagine the word “Really?” in a word balloon being spoken by a character. In a high balloon, it appears hopeful. Lower down, it has a more cynical feel.)

The balloon tails themselves can make a difference. Something as subtle as curving them up or down can affect the reader’s perception of mood. Naturally, all of this has to be balanced by the need to fit the text around the art, and I’m still a rank beginner at the whole process. Still, it would not surprise me if it turns out there are whole treatises on the Psychology of Word Balloons. If not, there should be.

Of course this particular page really brought it home, because it was rather a complicated layout and we wanted to avoid that cheat where we draw arrows to tell you which panel is next – so I tried to use the positioning of the dialogue and the balloons carefully bled across borders to help “usher” the reader along the correct pathway. Max also helped by tweaking the borders slightly. Hope it worked.

It’s a collaborative process.

— Bob out

Art Notes:   Thank you all for being patient; as Dad has already explained, I’ve blessedly been very busy with work, but it comes with a cost.  Hopefully things will get back on track soon.  – Max