When creating a storybook app, there are a number of tedious things happening completely behind the scenes; some of those tedious things are remarkably time consuming. My least favourite tedious jobs:

1. Redoing something because I was working on the wrong layer.

When I’m working in as state of ‘flow’, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi might say, it’s easy to forget that cat number one is on a different layer from cat number four. Digital artists need to  be constantly mindful of layers.

2. Getting rid of unwanted artifacts. 

I don’t know how I manage it, but quite often, Dan finds that when he goes to put my art assets on a sprite sheet, there’s a coloured dot somewhere up on the X hand corner of one of my illustrations, which completely mucks up positioning of that asset until the artifact has been removed. An ‘infected’ asset seems to happen about once per page, no matter how careful I think I am not to drop the pen. I think misplaced specks happen when I’ve suddenly realised I’ve been working on the wrong layer.

3. Naming files for export

I’m conflicted about this tedious job because on the one hand, the feeling I get from having finished a page of artwork is magnificent. On the other hand, naming files properly is a right pain in the butt. (There’s no spell-check in Windows Explorer!) Since I have to name the files something, it was decided after The Artifacts that I would do it properly at my end. Here are the rules I must follow when naming files. If I don’t name my files properly Dan only has to go through and name them again himself. This takes at least half an hour per page of art assets, and I’ve discovered that I can’t even listen to music while I’m doing it, else I muck something up.

As you can see, we work with png files. Png files are not ‘lossy’ like jpegs, but they’re much bigger. I send the pngs via gmail to Dan, even though our computers are networked in the same house. Having our files on Google’s server is an extra back up.

Once Dan gets the pngs, he sometimes makes the decision to turn them into jpegs to cut down the file size of the final app, but I’ll only let him do this if I can’t see the difference! I’ve no idea how many arguments there are going to be with the latest retina iPad out. I’m told any benefits of the hi-res screen are lost on anyone over 40 anyway. Dan just turned 39, so he’d better spend the best part of this year gazing lovingly at the retina display before his eyes implode on him next year.

Or something.