In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby MoDaD » Thu Dec 17, 2015 2:30 pm

Mr. Goodkat wrote:So, what I want to say is, that you shouldn't be a dictator when you commission an illustration. But on the other hand you shouldn't be dictated by the illustrator of course, especially when you are the one who is actually paying for the show. ;) Both sides should be prepared to compromise and be open for discussions. I think you gonna get the best results with such a trade-off. I may point at the obvious here, but I think you should always have this in mind in order to have a good collaboration and to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

What you call obvious I call being enlightened - I wish everyone had that kind of mentality (it's a lot rarer than you think). I work in a place that takes the exact opposite approach, where a singular ego routinely destroys good work, unnecessarily prolongs projects with petty and pointless revisions, and stifles creativity to the point where no one wants to try to do anything other than the bare minimum.

I'm pretty open about commissions myself - the artist (and some of them are on this board :D ) in my opinion knows what they're doing. When I commission something I try to give as few instructions as possible - on several occasions I've literally just said "draw something" and if the artist wanted more details to help with the creative process I supplied them on their terms. But, that's just me - others may have a different way of going about it.
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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby Kooshmeister » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:50 pm

This has been a thoroughly enlightening and informative piece. :D
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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby Mr. Goodkat » Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:48 am

MoDaD wrote:I work in a place that takes the exact opposite approach, where a singular ego routinely destroys good work, unnecessarily prolongs projects with petty and pointless revisions, and stifles creativity to the point where no one wants to try to do anything other than the bare minimum.

That actually sounds familiar to me. ;) I think it's a worldwide phenomenon.

Part 2 (continued - more SPOILERS ahead)
In order to show how the following illustration affected my writing I think I start with the result this time:

So, this is the final version of the text (from chapter 12) I'm referring to in this post:

Code: Select all

[...]
Back on the ground he [Razor] threw the creepling away and targeted Dark Kat with his Glovatrix in order to fire a Bola missile at him. But Dark Kat was quicker than Razor had expected. He grabbed Razor at his throat and pulled him high up into the air. Then he started to squeeze it.
“All these years you Swat Kats have been pestering me.” Dark Kat said dismissively. “This has to end once and for all. So you'll be the first one I'll get rid of.”
Razor wasn't able to reply anything as Dark Kat's grip was already too strong for him to take a breath. Not knowing if either his neck was being snapped or he would loose consciousness first he had to do something really fast. As he looked at the ceiling he noticed that Dark Kat was standing underneath a lamp. Already starting to faint, Razor lifted his arm to aim with the Glovatrix at it. He had to gather all of his strength to stay conscious while he selected the Buzz-saw missile. A small compartment of the Glovatrix opened and released the compacted Buzz-saw which unfolded into its round shape. Not being able to aim clearly anymore he could only hope that the missile would hit the lamp. He fired it and luckily the Buzz-saw didn't miss its target. The lamp was cut loose and fell down. It hit Dark Kat on his right shoulder.
[...]


The actions are based on the following illustration:
Chapter12Resized.png
Chapter 12 - Dark Kat grabs Razor at his throat


And this is how this part of the text was written before this image had been created:

Code: Select all

[...]
Back on the ground he [Razor] threw the creepling away and targeted Dark Kat with his Glovatrix in order to fire a Bola missile at him. But Dark Kat was quicker than Razor had expected. He grabbed Razor at his right arm so he couldn't make his shot and then pulled him up into the air. Not a second later he had Razor's neck enclosed with his other hand and started to squeeze it.
“All these years you Swat Kats have been pestering me.” Dark Kat said dismissively. “This has to end once and for all. So you'll be the first one I'll get rid of.”
Razor wasn't able to reply anything since Dark Kat's grip was already too strong for him to take a breath. Not knowing if either his neck was being snapped or he would loose consciousness first he had to do something really fast. As he looked at the ceiling he noticed that Dark Kat was standing underneath a lamp. Already starting to faint, Razor lifted his left arm until he reached the Glovatrix. He had to gather all of his strength to stay conscious while he selected the Buzz-saw missile. A small compartment of the Glovatrix opened and released the compacted Buzz-saw which unfolded into its round shape. Not able to aim he could only hope that the missile would hit the lamp. He fired it and luckily the Buzz-saw didn't miss its target. The lamp had been cut loose and fell down. It hit Dark Kat on his right shoulder.
[...]


Although I think it would be more logical of Dark Kat to grab Razor at his right arm such that he can't aim at him anymore while using his spare hand to squeeze Razor's throat, this actually makes it more complicated to draw from that perspective.
Assuming that Dark Kat would grab Razor's arm with his left hand and lifting him up, it would have the consequence that his left arm would cover parts of his face or maybe even all of it. Alternatively Dark Kat and Razor would have to switch places in that image in order to avoid this. But there is still another problem with this which also occurs in the case explained next.
If Dark Kat would grab Razor's right arm with his right hand, he would have to be drawn from his left side. Otherwise his left arm would be too short to reach Razor's neck.
I try to visualize the problem with some painful looking image manipulation:
Chapter12Manipulated.png
Chapter 12 - Dark Kat grabs Razor at his arm and throat

There's probably a way to accomplish this, but I think it's a very unusual pose and therefore not so easy to draw. Furthermore, there is not really reference material of Dark Kat available that shows him from the side, as far as I know. So this makes it even harder to achieve for an artist who hasn't drawn Dark Kat ever before.

That's why I've decided to adjust the text such that it fits the given image instead of insisting on that pose which seems to be rather difficult to draw.

So, that's it for now. Next time I'm gonna talk about Jan's headache to draw a drone which looks like being one of Dark Kat's designs.
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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby Kooshmeister » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:00 pm

If I may, the problem is his arm is only drawn bending at the elbow. In reality, he could do as you want, but he'd need to move his shoulder too.
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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby Mr. Goodkat » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:44 pm

Kooshmeister wrote:If I may, the problem is his arm is only drawn bending at the elbow. In reality, he could do as you want, but he'd need to move his shoulder too.

True, I only extended his arm for this in a quick'n'dirty and therefore unrealistic way. Still, I'm not sure if this would look good from this perspective even if I'd move his shoulder. But as I'm not being an artist myself my visual imagination might be too limited for this to imagine. ;)

Part 2 (continued)
It was a real challenge for Jan to figure out how Dark Kat's drones would look like. Although I showed him the drone design from the movie Oblivion and some of Dark Kat's machines (see down below) as references he had a hard time thinking of a design that would work nicely.

Image
Screenshot from the movie Oblivion (2013) as reference for the size of the drones (source: pixomondo.com)

Image
Screenshot from the movie Oblivion (2013) as reference for the chase illustration in chapter 6 (source: pixomondo.com)

Image
Dark Kat's ship (source: swatkats.info)

Image
Dark Kat's bomb (source: swatkats.info)

Image
Dark Kat's "Black Widow" (source: swatkats.info)

The solution for this problem came from an unexpected source. One of Jan's kids got a toy from a surprise egg that can be put on a finger. As Jan saw that, it reminded him of a drone having a face on it, so he used this as a reference and combined it with the colors and shapes of Dark Kat's other tools of destruction.
Drone.png
One of Dark Kat's drones

Of course, the surprise egg toys look way less mean and dangerous than our... um, I mean Dark Kat's drones, and they don't have lasers attached to them. Hmm, a toy without lasers... sounds kind of boring to me. :lol:

Initially I wanted to add the image above in chapter 3 as this would have been a cheap way to get another illustration into the document. But in the end I decided against it, because the first set of drones actually looks a bit different as they are based on Professor Hackle's design (as mentioned in chapter 4) and I'm sure he would definitely not design something which looks like this. So, what you see here is the fortified second generation that are chasing T-Bone and Razor in chapter 6. I think it's fairly obvious who is responsible for their design, but at this point Dark Kat has no need to hide his role in this game any longer. I didn't mention this in the story explicitly as I think this is something which the reader can figure out himself/herself.

As the Oblivion chase scene uses some image effects to increase the intensity of the motion, Jan tried to emulate this in the illustration. But he removed it later in the process, because I had the feeling that it doesn't go well together with the rather traditional drawing style . So here is the intermediate version including that special effect:
Chapter06Intermediate.jpg
Chapter 6 - SWAT Kats on speed

Doing this recap of the drone design actually reminded me of the movies and novels which apparently influenced me and subsequently some bits of them found their way into the plot of War Games. I forgot about that when I was working on the first part of this retrospection. But as I think that these sources should be mentioned here, I'm gonna talk about them in my next post as a supplement to part 1.
Last edited by Mr. Goodkat on Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby Cait » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:19 pm

I heard of some peculiar ways to find inspiration, but this one takes the cake.

About the effect, maybe it could work if it's intensity varies according to the dept of the background: more deep, less intensity (as you can see in that screenshot from Oblivion). But there's a problem anyway, there isn't anything close enough to our heros to be blur. That's why I think it looked bad with the effect.
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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby Mr. Goodkat » Mon Dec 28, 2015 4:03 pm

Part 1 (Supplement) - Inspirations

I think the movie Oblivion was an important inspiration when I wrote War Games. Although this isn't one of my favorite movies concerning the plot (which I think is rather unexceptional and even gets a bit dumb at the end), the creators were successful in making me feel very uncomfortable. This is because of the way the drones are set in scene and the way they act in that movie. It actually scares the hell out of me thinking of being confronted with one of those things, as this would be a fight of the unfairest kind, no matter if it would be controlled by an AI or a human being.
Now that I think of it, the whole "spaceships-are-absorbing-water-from-a-planet"-thing has been done before. I wonder where I saw that too... :lol:

When looking at the Cyberspace chapter, there is another movie that obviously inspired me and this is TRON and its successor TRON Legacy (the latter was actually directed by the same guy who directed Oblivion). In these movies, programs are human beings, circuits are freeways, etc. Actually, I have the feeling that Razor's cyclotron was inspired by the lightcycles of TRON. The following scene from the rather disliked [http://swatkats.info/encyclopedia/entries/special-report]Special Report[/url] episode also looks a bit TRON-like, doesn't it?
Image
(source: swatkats.info)

Maybe I should ask the Tremblay Brothers about this if I get the chance someday. :lol:

As this similarity is crying out to be used, there was no way around letting Specter create a virtual version of Razor's cyclotron and letting him ride it on his way through Cyberspace.

Another similarity to TRON is, that time passes by much slower when being in Cyberspace. Near the end of my story Specter makes the notion that he felt like that he had been in Cyberspace for days. I assumed that he spent about two and a half Cyberspace-days in there although it was only 15 seconds in reality. This means, when you have the feeling that a second has passed in Cyberspace then only about 70 microseconds (1 microsecond = 0,000001 seconds) have passed in reality (I hope I did the math right :lol:). I never mentioned that in the story explicitly as this isn't really important for the reader to know. ;)

In case that you still aren't convinced that TRON was an inspiration for the Cyberspace chapter then please take a look at this illustration once again :lol::
Image

There are also two novels which I should mention here: Daemon and Freedom (TM) written by Daniel Suarez. The premise of their story is that the CEO of a video games company has secretly distributed a very sophisticated daemon (a daemon is a computer program that runs as a background process, rather than being under the direct control of a user) to a countless amount of computers which are connected to the world wide web. The daemon sleeps and waits for the announcement of its creator's demise being published by the media (the guy suffered from a very severe disease and knew that he was going to die). When that happens the daemon awakes and takes control of the web and of the world subsequently. As the only person who could stop it is actually dead, it seems to be unstoppable.
(If you like these kind of stories and haven't read these novels yet, I recommend that you get your hands on them. I'm sure you won't regret it as they are really awesome IMHO.)
In this story machines whose behavior is based on the algorithms of a computer game appear on several occasions. I think that they in combination with the daemon were my inspiration for Sally, the AI which Hard Drive steals from Matthew and uses to control Dark Kat's drones. The name Sally actually originates from a band of musicians called Subway to Sally whose songs I like very much. My original intention was to use it as a placeholder until I would find a different name which would fit better to an AI. But in the end I got used to it and so I didn't change it.

Daniel Suarez' novels also seems to have inspired me in my subconscious, as the CEO's name is Matthew Sobol. I've read the books months before starting to write War Games such that I wasn't consciously aware of that name anymore. But when I noticed this I also realized that the name Matthew and the term Hacker come together suspiciously often.
So let's take a quick look at the movie Live Free or Die Hard (which wasn't an inspiration for my story at all). In this movie John McClane is accompanied by a talented Hacker named Matthew Farrell who is involved and partly being responsible for the mess that happens in the plot.
Another example is the movie WarGames which actually inspired the title of my story, but has nothing else with it in common except that the main character of that movie is a hacker, of course. Well, the hacker's name is David... "So what?" you might ask now. Well, if you take a look at the cast of the movie then you'll notice that David is starred by the actor Matthew Broderick.
Although I'm sure this is just a series of coincidences I would be very, very careful with guys having that name who are experienced in the art of programming. :lol:

In my next post I'm gonna show a list of recommendations concerning the information that I think should be included in an illustration description in general and I'm gonna show a few descriptions of illustrations I had to drop. :cry:
Last edited by Mr. Goodkat on Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby Cait » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:30 am

I enjoyed a lot the cyberspace chapter cos all those details you tossed in. Cos that, and cos I always liked the cybernetic world idea (not for something tron was my favorite world in Kingdom Hearts or I liked so much series and games like Sword Art Online, .hack, Digimon or Ape Escape xD They all have their own concept of a cybernetic world). Some great detail I saw in War Games were that the buildings were connected by wires, how Matthew looked at the time or the circuits emerging from the chair in Hard Drive's tools. Details like those are gold. <*_*>

I wonder how Cyberspace will look if Tremblay Brothers animate War Games... (Let me dream, LOL!) <x_x>
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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby Mr. Goodkat » Fri Jan 01, 2016 9:43 am

Cait wrote:I wonder how Cyberspace will look if Tremblay Brothers animate War Games... (Let me dream, LOL!) <x_x>

A fanon which becomes canon... this is probably the dream of every fan fiction writer. :lol:
But I'm sure the Tremblay Brothers, Glen Leopold and all the other people working on (or gonna work on) SWAT Kats - Revolution have plenty of cool ideas themselves. ;)
Cait wrote:Some great detail I saw in War Games were that the buildings were connected by wires, how Matthew looked at the time or the circuits emerging from the chair in Hard Drive's tools. Details like those are gold. <*_*>

It's good to know that the Cyberspace-chapter is written well enough for the readers to imagine it. So, thanks for your compliment, Cait. This also reminds me that I should underline some additional details I probably would have missed to mention otherwise:

Part 1 (another short supplement)
The Cyberspace-chapter is actually the one I had to put a lot of additional effort into describing the environment as this place never appeared in the show. This made this chapter a real challenge to write especially for a non-native speaker (I know that I must sound like a broken mp3 by now, mentioning this again and again :lol:). All other places except for the Leviathan already existed in some way. Therefore, I could keep my focus on the dialogues and the actions most of the time and leave it to the readers to fill out the visual gaps in their imagination by telling them in which episode they could see the places I'm referring to. That's why I wrote such a detailed foreword before starting to tell the story.

I put way less effort into describing the details of the Leviathan on the other hand as I assumed that everyone who watched a few episodes knows how the technology of the Enforcers looks like and therefore should have enough visual material to imagine how the Leviathan and its interior may look like.
But the first Leviathan-chapter (chapter 7) still has something special to offer and this is Lieutenant Sawet's detailed description of the electrolysis process applied to water. As I only vaguely remembered what I had learned at school about it, I did some research in order to make sure that he explains it correctly (please let me know if I still messed it up somehow ;)). This way, the story also serves an educational purpose too... :lol: Nah! Not really. :)
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Re: In retrospect on writing a fan fiction story

Postby Mr. Goodkat » Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:23 am

Part 1 - TRON and the cyclotron

Mr. Goodkat wrote:Actually, I have the feeling that Razor's cyclotron was inspired by the lightcycles of TRON. [...] Maybe I should ask the Tremblay Brothers about this if I get the chance someday. :lol:

Well, I've asked and actually received an answer from Christian Tremblay about this (and I'm still being surprised that I got it):
Christian Tremblay wrote:The idea was more of a missile/transforming bike, which was not really a Tron thing. But I liked the movie back then, so subconsciousness could have played a role, if not in the name.

Seems I was wrong with my theory that this similarity was desired. But I'm frequently fascinated how our subconscious mind picks up stimuli we perceive in order to fuel our own creativity if we let it flow through us.

But now, let's get back (or rather forward?) to the point where I stopped with part 2.


Part 2 (continued)
In this post I want to present a list which might be helpful for an illustrator to imagine what you're imagining. Furthermore I want to show you a few more of the descriptions I've created. In order to make this a bit more interesting I've decided to select some of those which have never been created. So, let's go...

When looking back at the illustration descriptions I've written, I think the following information makes it easier for an illustrator getting an impression about what you have in mind:
  • Who is (and which objects are) depicted in the illustration? (e.g. T-Bone and Razor, a TV)
  • Where are they positioned? (e.g. on the left, on the right, in the center, in the foreground, in the background)
  • In what kind of angle do the actors stand, looking from the viewer's perspective? (e.g. the viewer looks at Razor's front, looks at Razor's left side, looks over Razor's back)
  • Does the viewer's perspective have any specialties? (e.g. looks from behind the couch and over Chance's and Jake's shoulder into the TV in front of them)
  • In what kind of pose or action are the actors displayed? (e.g. Razor points with his finger at Specter while shouting at him, Specter is running)
  • What kind of facial expressions do the actors have? (e.g. T-Bone looks a bit surprised and skeptical into Razor's direction)
  • Are there any specialties concerning the actors? (e.g. Hard Drive is surrounded by electricity)
  • In case there are surroundings to be displayed, describe them too (e.g. the Megakat City skyline is displayed in the background)
  • If possible, add images as additional references to your description (e.g. screenshots from the show), because an image can say more than a thousand words.
Please remember that this is more of a guideline than a set of rules. It's meant to give the illustrator a feeling how the illustration should look like without restricting his/her own imagination.

So let's take a look at the descriptions for some of the illustrations that I had to abandon:

Chapter 3 #2
  • The observer looks over Razor's shoulder onto his weapon's system console inside the cockpit of the Turbokat
  • Razor grabs his joystick with his right hand and pushes a button on the console in front of him using the forefinger of his left hand
  • A schematic of one of Dark Kat's drones is displayed as a white wireframe on a blue background on the console's display
Image
Viewer's perspective (source: swatkats.info)

Image
Weapon's system console (source: swatkats.info)

Chapter 4
  • Matthew is displayed from the front sitting in front of his laptop (the laptop partially covers Matthew's upper body)
  • Only Matthew's upper body is visible as the rest is covered by the computer console he is sitting at
  • The laptop is placed on a free space on top of the computer console
  • Matthew looks shocked and even a bit desperate at the laptop's screen
  • Matthew has opened his mouth in a way that fits the shocked look on his face
  • Matthew's right hand is in mid-air moving away from the laptop's keyboard
  • T-Bone, Razor and Commander Feral (if possible, also Callie Briggs and Felina Feral) are standing in the background
  • T-Bone and Razor (if possible, also Callie Briggs and Felina Feral) are looking concerned and a bit surprised into Matthews direction
  • Commander Feral being skeptic, starts to look angry into Matthew's direction
Image
Reference for Commander Feral's facial expression (source: swatkats.info)

Image
Reference image for the console Matthew is sitting at (source: swatkats.info)

Chapter 12 #1 (this is the "It's payback-time"-illustration I've mentioned in an earlier post)
  • The illustration shows the interior of Megakat Tower's elevator
  • Specter is displayed from his right side being in the left part of the image
  • Hard Drive is displayed from his left side being in the right part of the image
  • Specter's fur has the same color as Razor's in this image
  • Specter goes one step further into the elevator and into Hard Drive's direction while giving him a blow to the jaw
  • Hard Drive is taken from his feed by Specter's attack

Chapter 14
  • T-Bone is displayed from his right side
  • Hard Drive is displayed from his left side
  • Hard Drive is NOT wearing his surge coat in this image
  • T-Bone has grabbed Hard Drive at his collar with his left hand while clenching his right hand into a fist in order to punch him
  • Hard Drive already looks pretty beaten up because of his previous encounter with Specter
  • Specter is laying on the floor in the background being unconscious
  • Specter's fur has the same color as Razor's in this image
Image
Hard Drive without his coat (source: swatkats.info)

Image
Hard Drive without his coat (source: swatkats.info)

So, were you been able to create mental images from that what I've described above? ;)

I should also mention that the chase scene in chapter 6 initially wasn't a P1-illustration. But I favored it over the P1-illustrations of the previous chapters, because the gap between the illustrations would have become to large otherwise. If I would have picked the illustration for chapter 3, for example, then there would have been five chapters without illustrations in between. I'm actually still not happy about the gaps between chapter 2 and 6 and between chapter 9 and 12, but I had to keep the scale of this project to a reasonable size.

In my next post I'm gonna start talking about integrating the illustrations into my document. This may sound trivial, but I actually ran into a few issues and I also made some interesting observations.
Last edited by Mr. Goodkat on Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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