You might not believe it, but once upon a time, dear reader, I was a Consumer. I didn't realise it at the time, but I was. It was during my first year as a writer at PlayLouder.com. I was getting paid 20p a word to write 8000 word articles on the ODB's criminal history, and things of that nature, and for the first time in my life I had spare money. So, like any good working class boy, I spent it. Frenziedly. I would go into central London after work, and I would buy piles and piles of DVDs and books. I bought baseball caps, rings, fake gold chains, brass Batman knuckle dusters, Wu-Wear suits, Fubu underwear (that's all my stuff in that photo up there - Steve McQueen, on the right, was dressed as me for Halloween). I'd drag it all home in huge plastic bags, then I'd go to the pub and get the rounds in. The next day I'd wake up in some skip or other around noon, drag myself into the office, crank out another 8000 words or so on the trouble I'd gotten myself into the previous night, then go and do it all again.
I remember my friend Druze telling me I should save some of the money I was hemorrhaging. "Ballsacks!" I told him. "I am on the ascendant!"
Not long after that the dot com bubble burst, and I was put on a staff contract at minimum wage. So it goes. I still have one of the brass Batman knuckle dusters, and even some of the DVDs (although nowadays its usually quicker to download the movie off of Isohunt than it is to dig the thing out of one of the many giant Tupperware crates I have stashed under the sofa), but I haven't had spare money for a long time.
In fact, I still don't - music videos and PRs and pluggers and manufacture all add up - but I have worked very hard this year, saving up to pay for my second album to get put out in a half decent fashion, and I have finally found myself in positive credit for the first time in years. So, this week I went out to WH Smiths in Stratford and treated myself - not only to one of those fine digital art magazines that have become my only vice of late, but to some new pens, and a pencil, some drawing paper. And sweet baby Jesus on push bike, has that been a revelation.
Honestly, I forgot how fun it is to just doodle on a piece of thick white paper with a nice soft B pencil, then go over it with a sharpie, and shade a bit with a 1.0 DR pen. I have been drawing exclusively with plastic on glass for years now, and I'd completely forgotten how ice paper and graphite feel together. It's messier, and you can't zoom in or control Z the mistakes, but that's the thing... you can't zoom in or control Z the mistakes. You just scribble away, and grin to yourself.
I was working on the character designs for the next ATD animated video (can you guess what it is yet?!). You might recall that at the start of this year I spent a bunch of time trying to re-imagine my avatar, after my little self-harming incident with the clippers (Zef likens it to the girl who plays Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter films recent crop, after finally completing her tenure on the franchise), but now my awesome mane is BACK the only changes I needed to make to the bugger were the removal of the dali moustache, the addition of the beard, and a little adjustment in poise, and height. After seven or so attempts - which really doesn't take that much time when you're working with pencils and pens, compared to the seeming infinity the limitless nature of working with a Wacom inspires - I think I got him.
With that done, all I had to do was scan the thing into Photoshop, set the layer to multiply, add another layer behind that one, and paint on it. Et voila, aweosme colour. Multiply is one of the illest things I've discovered this year. You know I used to spend hours manually selecting all the white space with the magic wand tool and deleting it, right? I mean, how was I to know there was this magic setting that made white space invisible? Shout out Imagine FX for teaching me the way.
So there you have it. The moral of this story is pretty obvious. It's in the title. Analogue + Digital For The Mother Fucking Win. The future ain't robots. It's fleshpeople AND robots. We shall coexist together in blissful harmony, riding around on hoverboards in bathrobes, drinking fine wines and listening to birdsong. I'd say I can't wait, but I have the patience of an animator, fuck a saint.