Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Raw Images, Comic Life

From the get go when I started up strongandstacked.com, and later with begiantess.com too, I decided to post not only the pages of the comics I created, with the dialog on them, but also the raw images I had used to make those comics.  I didn't see too many sites doing that, so I thought well maybe this will be another differentiator from other sites.  I also knew that for my own preferences when I'm reading comics from other sites, I often want to be able to see the images without the dialog.  Sometimes I find that the story that's being told in words along with the images is interesting and arousing, and other times I think that just the stories I come up with in my imagination are more appealing to me when looking at certain images.

I'm not sure how many people are like me, but I thought it would be a good idea to always make available the raw images I'd created for the comics, without the accompanying dialog that I put onto them for the finished comic. That way people get both things.  The finished comic, with all the dialog I create, and a set of raw images so they can spin whatever fantasy they want from those images without my accompanying dialog.  I'm curious as to whether people like that, and whether they find that having the raw images available is a good thing for the website.  For all I know, maybe people just download the comic pages with the dialog and skip downloading the raw images.  Or vice versa.  It would be interesting to hear from people on that.

If people do ever want to make their own homemade comics from the images I've created, one program you can use to do that is Comic Life by Plasq.  Plasq actually has two products: Comic Life and Comic Life 2.  I use Comic Life for creating the comics on strongandstacked and begiantess.  I bought both Comic Life and Comic Life 2, but Comic Life 2 crashes for me a lot.  At any rate, if you ever want to just take the images I create and layer your own dialog onto them to make yourself a home made specialized comic, one way to do that is using Comic Life.  It's pretty cheap and I think they may also have a free trial version.

One time I had a request from someone to take one of my BE comics where I'd created it having assertive confident girls, and redo the dialog to make them more submissive and slutty.  I did that one or two times as a one off and made the comic available just to the person who had requested it that way.

Not sure how many people would be interested in having an alternate take on some of the comics I have created.  Say I made a version of some of those comics where I kept all the images but redid the dialog.  Or maybe I should ask readers if they want to give that a shot and I could have a contest or something and post the reversioned comic that wins the contest.  Just brainstorming here.  This blog post mainly is about the fact that I put the raw images on the site, and I am curious as to whether people find that a plus for the site or whether they are kind of indifferent to it and would rather just have the finished comic frames.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Time Balancing - Struggle to Get Things Done

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, when I first started up strongandstacked.com I had this notion that a big differentiator for the website would be that I would frequently update it.  My plan was to create like two comics and two animations every week, unlike all those "other guys" who let their websites languish and updated only infrequently.

Well, it wasn't too long before harsh reality set in, and I realized just how hard it is to update a website consistently on a timely basis.  What I've come to realize is that I have a certain time budget and I am struggling to try to maximize the amount of content I create given the constraints of that time budget.

When I started strongandstacked, I was using a dual core laptop running a 32 bit version of Windows Vista.  The animations I was creating then, and the comic too, I created using no shadow map at all.  So that stuff looks a bit crude, but renders quickly.  So even with that machine, I was able to at least render stuff and not have it take very long.  But rendering time is not usually the biggest bottleneck on time anyway (although it is one thing to consider).

I have a day job.  Strongandstacked isn't really my primary income source (which his probably not a big surprise - and in a future blog post I'll get into the economics of the website).  Sometimes I come home from work and I'm just beat.  So it is hard to create content every single day.  Also I have a family.  While my wife is supportive of the whole strongandstacked thing (thankfully), its something we don't really want to expose our kids to (obviously).  So that means working on the website is something I only do at night when the kids are in bed.  Further limiting the number of hours in the day when I can create content.

Given all that, it is hard to carve out enough time to update strongandstacked (and begiantess.com and my deviant art page and the many requests that I get to do things and the occasional commision - which I'm shying away from now as I mentioned in a previous blog post.....).  But I do feel the pressure to create in a timely fashion.  People are paying money to subscribe to the website.  When I look at the calendar sometimes and realize oh shit, I haven't posted an update to strongandstacked for two weeks, I really start to feel the pressure.

So it is my aim to try and streamline my creation process this year and try to create more content in a more timely fashion.  Part of the motiviation of me starting up this blog was for me to try to brainstorm about ways to do that.

Using time is like investing money in a way.  I can spend time just purely creating stuff.  But I feel there is a definite need to also invest time in technique experimentation and trying to get better at various aspects of animation and lighting etc.  (More on all that in a future blog post as well).  If I just continue to create content, I think it will seem like the same old thing every time and will get very stale.  Sometimes I will need to do things like try to create my own custom breast injectors to get a new look for big boobs.  Or try a new animation technique.  Or try to create custom muscles using zbrush and other things (ala Tigersan - who is the absolute master of that stuff).  All those things take a lot of time for me, so often I just resort to my tried old techniques when a deadline approaches, and I crank out a comic/animation using those rather than trying something new.  Just because of the time pressure.  But I think I will need to actually invest some time experimenting and improving techniques if I'm ever going to have my stuff look better/newer/fresher.

The trade off is that every day spent experimenting or learning zbrush or other techniques is a day where I'm not creating raw content.  Which is another day delay in the update of content on the website...

It's something I struggle with a lot.

I was hoping hardware would help me out a lot and speed things up.  But I still haven't quite come up with a strategy to properly leverage that.  A year or so after starting strongandstacked, I got a quadcore desktop.  Still running a 32 bit os - Windows XP.  I thought ok that will speed my content creation up dramatically from when I just had the dual core laptop.  However, once I got the desktop, I started rendering using shadow maps.  So that is more CPU intensive, and made the rendering take roughly as much time as it had when wasn't using the shadow maps on the laptop.  The images started to look better, but I didn't get a dramatic speedup in rendering time from the laptop.

More recently I got a six core machine, 64 bit Windows 7 OS with a monster graphics card.  Finally I thought, I'll be able to crank stuff out quickly!  And I kept my quadcore so I thought ok I'll have BOTH machines cranking stuff out. Content creation galore!  Well, a couple problems emerged.  One is that now I've started using raytracing when I render.  So it is even more CPU intensive than the shadow maps were.  The images look a lot better, but take more time to render.  So when you average things out, the six core cpu takes about as long to render with raytracing on as the quadcore had with shadow maps as the laptop had with no shadowing.  So quality got better, time didn't really drop.

Other problem is I haven't quite learned how to really get both the quadcore and the six core cranking out tons of stuff in parallel without me having to manually intervene to adjust a pose or move a camera or whatever.

If I could just figure out how to optimize all this, I think it would speed up content creation a lot.  But I'm still working on figuring that all out :)

Another thing I struggle with a lot is keeping the two websites and my deviant art page and requests all updated frequently all the time.  Actually for the deviantart page I've kind of given up on updating it frequently. I just can't do it.  I get some requests there and they often just go unfilled because I can't carve out time to do them.  So mainly I'm juggling time between strongandstacked.com and begiantess.com

Even within strongandstacked.com, I'm juggling time between creating BE stuff and FMG stuff. If I update strongandstacked.com with a BE update, and then I go update begiantess.com with a giantess update, and then I finally get back to strongandstacked.com and make an FMG update, it means the FMG fans had to wait a pretty long time to see what they wanted.

Same thing would go for BE stuff.  Or giantess stuff.  So its hard.  If I could just speed things up it would be a lot better.  Sometimes I wonder whether I bit off more than I could chew when I started up my second site - begiantess.com.  Like I said before, if I could just figure out a strategy to create my content more efficiently and faster and not lose quality (and in fact, I'm striving to actually increase quality...) that would be ideal.  Unfortunately I'm still working on figuring out the magic strategy.

Big Boobs to Big Muscles to Big Butts

Big Boobs and a Big BootyIt's interesting to me to think about what people are into as far as fetishes and preferences go.   For me it all started with big boobs.

As I've mentioned in a previous blog post, from very early on I was into big boobs.  Girls with huge implants - awesome.  Girls who have big natural boobs, awesome too.  So during the nineties I was a huge fan of Minka, Busty Dusty, Wendy Whoppers and Leanna Lovelace.  But I also thought Roberta Smallwood, Susie Sparks and other big girls were awesome too.  So for a long time, big tits were my thing.

When I first bumped into the Amazons Arena BBS, that's what got me into big muscles.  I still had a thing for big boobs, but after reading some stories featuring Sandi Stone, a fictional character who had huge muscles and used them to dominate men, I got into big muscles too.  Something about a powerful woman who could perform feats of amazing strength was just really a turn on.  But I still loved big boobs, and so the type of muscular physique I preferred on a woman was one where she not only had big muscles, but where she had huge tits too.

That's where things stayed for a long time for me.  Was still into all the big boobed girls.  I even went and saw Chelsea Charms dance at a strip club named Market Street Cinema in San Francisco a few times in 2001 and 2002. I'm not a regular vistor to strip clubs, but come on - when Chelsea Charms visits you have to see her.  Or at least that's what I was thinking at the time.  One time I got a private dance from her - not like the ones she does now, but just a 10 minute one in one of the private rooms at the strip club.  All she did was sit on my lap and talk and let me fondle her boobs while she did that.  I remember her telling me then how air travel for her had gotten harder in the wake of the September 11th attacks just because of all the security hassle that got put in after that. 

Me with Chelsea Charms at Market Street Cinema 2002

Anyway, in addition to the big boobed girls I was into huge muscled women as long as they also had huge tits.  So I fished around on the net for artwork and comics of powerful muscular women with big boobs. 

A more recent development for me has been big butts.  I think I'd always had kind of an interest in girls with nice asses wearing tight jeans.  But it wasn't a huge interest of mine.  Fairly recently at some point I think the scales tipped for me.  One reason is Pebbelz da Model.  When I first saw pictures of her and her extremely huge implanted booty, something kind of clicked in me.  It's akin to the fascination with big boobs I guess.  It's another extreme feminine body part.

So the evolution for me has been big boobs lover to busty muscle woman lover to big booty lover.   Still love women with massive tits even if they have no muscles and a flat ass.  Also love muscular women, but they need to have big boobs.  And now I also love women like Pebbelz who have a giant ass even if they don't have big boobs or big muscles.  Maybe the common theme is extreme size in body parts.

So that's me, but when I'm working on content for my websites I try to create images/animations that will not only be appealing to me, but also to members of the website.  As I explained, lately I've tilted toward an interest in huge asses.  Especially ones with massive implants.  And that has kind of drifted into the content I have been creating lately.  I'm thinking of dialing that back a little, because I'm not sure whether the members of strongandstacked.com really do want big butts or not.  It's something I'd be interested in hearing feedback on.

For begiantess.com, I create giantesses with big boobs.  And the giantess fetish actually is not one that I really have myself.  I'm into the big boobs.  If a giantess doesn't have big boobs, well I'm not really interested much.  If she's got big boobs, yeah I'm interested! But I think it's mainly about the boobs rather than her being a giantess.  Having said that, I think the giantess thing is growing on me a bit.  The main angle that I find appealing is when the giantess uses her huge size and boobs to dominate little men.  I'll have to do another blog post some time about dominant women versus submissive women in the work I create and I'd be curious to hear back from people on their preference there too.

There are some things I'm just not into. I completely respect that people have widely varying preferences.  I mean for my own set of turn ons - big boobs, big muscles, big butts - many people wouldn't find them appealing.  So for some of the other fetishes that I'm not into, I would never disparage them. I totally respect that people are into them.  I just am not one of them.  So for example - furry stuff.  There is a huge amount of material out there with women who are sort of anthropomorphized animals with extremely huge boobs or muscles.  I'm just not into that.  I'll confess that maybe Cheetah -  one of Wonder Woman's villains - can be kind of sexy.  But I'm just really not that into the whole furry thing.  Massively fat women is another fetish I'm not that into.  Well need to put a caveat there - if they have huge tits, then count me in.  So Norma Stitz, Anorei/Lexxi Luxxe, Dawn Perignon - yes, they are heavy, but they have massive tits!  So I'm definitely into all of them.  But if its just a woman who is massively overweight without big breasts, or one of these inflatable blow up fantasies (where a woman is portrayed as a giant round inflatable balloon), it's not for me.

So when I create content I try to make it be stuff that I personally like AND that members of my websites will like too.  Since the spectrum of what I like definitely has a few angles to play with (big boobs, big boobs + big muscles, big butts), I can tweak things to hopefully satisfy people and still be fun for me to work on. 

The big butts thing for example - as much as I like it, I can dial that back some and just make girls with big boobs and busty muscle girls -- without the huge butts - if that's what people prefer.  And I'd still find it appealing and fun to work on.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Commissions are hard

When I had been creating BE and FMG animations for my deviantart page for a while, I started to wonder whether I should start offering to create animations on commission

Soon after that, I started up the strongandstacked.com website, so it wasn't until some months later that I actually got my first commission request.  And I got several more after that

At first I thought - great.  I'll be able to have my website going, and on the side I can make a little extra money with commission work!  And then I started to work on my first commission.

What I quickly came to realize is that commission work is very hard.  When I'm creating content for my website, I'm trying to please a broad swath of paying members of the site.  I'll get individual requests occasionally, and I will try to fill those when I can.  But in general I'm creating stuff in sort of free form fashion, rolling with it as long as it falls into the general "has BE or has FMG" category.

Commission work is a whole other animal.  When someone is commissioning you to create something, they usually have very exacting expectations on how it is going to turn out.  Rather than me starting work on an FMG animation and just playing around and rolling with it in a fluid way as it starts to get created, commission work is much more about trying to achieve a very specific set of requirements that have been laid out by the person who is buying the commission.

I want a woman who first experiences some FMG, but just for her upper arms. Then she gasps. Then her skin turns blue and her hair grows longer.  After that, she experiences a bit of BE.  Then she experiences FMG all over her body.  Then her clothes rip and shred.  But her shirt has to shred first.  And her shoes have to rip too.  But only after her pants...

What I've gone through with commissions sometimes is a very long back and forth process where I will create a draft animation or a set of draft images, send those to the customer, then get feedback on what they want changed.

I've found this to be an utter productivity killer as far as work for my website goes.  Often when I've taken on commission work, the work I do for strongandstacked.com grinds to a screeching halt.

That's why I've tended to shy away from commission work now. I just don't have the bandwidth to engage in that kind of work.  Because as I said, it usually involves a lot of back and forth and tweaking and communication and it just takes a very, very long time.

There have been exceptions.  The best kind of commission work for me, the kind that makes it so my productivity for strongandstacked.com doesn't take a hit, is the kind where someone commissions me for something that isn't too hard for me to do and something that I can actually go ahead and use on my website.

Some of the breast implant BE comics on strongandstacked.com fall into that category.  Someone commissioned me to do them and said I could go ahead and use them on the site as well.  So it was a win win.  And the requirements they had weren't too demanding. They had a general request for the way the story would flow and for certain kinds of phrases to be used.  Beyond that, the guidelines were pretty general. So that worked out really well for me.

Its really only those kinds of commissions that I can take on.

I've done commission work for a couple of other websites in the past.  And those were very, very hard for me.  I remember submitting several draft animations and they were always "not quite right".  Again - it just stopped me dead in my tracks as far as creating content for my own site goes.  So I don't generally do that kind of commission work any more

All of that has made me very loose in the requirements I give to people that I commission to do work for my site.  When I ask stone3d to do something, I give him very general guidelines and I really let him run with those and be creative and do things the way he wants.  I know the pain of having to fulfill very exacting commission requirements and I don't want to inflict that on anyone.

I can understand why people want to do that - you pay for a  commission and you want it done in a certain way.  And for people who don't have to crank out content for their own website week after week, they may have time to devote to slowly crafting a commission that meets a very exacting set of requirements.

I just don't have time to do that.  At least not if I want to keep creating content for strongandstacked.com in anywhere near a timely fashion.

BE, FMG, Process

The vast majority of animations I have done on strongandstacked.com and on my deviant art page involve actual BE or FMG.  There's a website called Process Productions where they use the term "process" to describe those kinds of things.  "Process" I guess refers to actual growth or transformation.

To be honest, I'm not actually a huge BE or FMG fan.  That may sound a little strange, so let me try to explain .   I am a big boobs fan.  Love em.  Also a huge muscles fan.  So actually what I really like is just seeing a woman who is already huge.  The actual growth is not something I'm all that into.  Doesn't turn me off I guess, but for me the payoff is when the woman reaches her full size.  And actually I'd be happy if she just started out that size to begin with!

I have been operating under the assumption that people like the actual "process" stuff, and that's why I've created BE and FMG comics and animations.  If there are a lot of people like me out there, who actually don't care so much about the process but are just interested in seeing women with extreme proportions from the get go, I'd probably tilt my comics and animations to be like that instead.

If you go to the Process Productions site and read through some of the postings, you'll find that there are some people there who are really quite insistent that animations or comics or drawings involve process... otherwise they just don't like them.

I'm not really in that group as far as what I like.  But I've been assuming that many of the members of my website are like that and I've been making animations and comics accordingly.

There are exceptions.  In the Ms. Muscles comics I really don't do a lot of FMG.  She's huge throughout the whole comic much of the time

And in some of the other series where there are multiple parts, you'll see BE in the first few issues of a comic, but then the girl is at a huge size permanently and stays that way from then on.

Anyway just something intersting to muse about. How many people out there want there to be "process" in the comics / animations  ?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Starting Out

Baby got Boobs AND Back
Ms. Muscles with her 2013 look
I've started blogging for a couple reasons. 
One reason is that I think it will help me keep things straight in my own head as far as what animations, comics etc. I'm currently working on and their relative priorities.

Another reason is that I thought some people might be intersted in getting some visibility into what I'm working on, the content creation process I use,  and what's in the pipeline/what's coming up on strongandstacked.com, begiantess.com and my deviant art page.

Maybe some quick history is in order to explain how I got to where I am right now with the deviant art page and my two websites.

The way I first got into creating BE and FMG material was by playing with Daz Studio. I'd seen some great BE images and movies out there, created by Ricky Java and others, and wanted to try to make some material like that just for my own enjoyment.

After playing around with Daz for a while in 2006 and 2007 I got proficient enough in making simple BE and FMG animations that I decided to create a deviantart page where I could post them to share with people.

So for a year or two I posted animations and used simple text to speech websites to create dialog for them.  People seemed to like the animations and I got feedback and requests to do more. 

Sometime in 2008 I happened to bump into a site named amazonix.com.  That website featured Poser comics involving muscular big busted women.  It got me thinking that hey, maybe I could create a website.  I contacted the guy who created amazonix.com and had a few email conversations with him about how he'd gotten the website started.

Then in 2009 I decided to take the plunge and create my first website, strongandstacked.com.  I was a lover of huge breasts and so I knew that I wanted BE and big breasts to be one subject area for the site.  But I also loved busty women with huge muscles, and so I wanted to make FMG and muscle women also be a part of the site.

The first thing I did was make set of html pages to make the basic framework of the site.  That basic framework is still in place today.  I made a front door page that had one of those "ok this is an adult site, click here to enter or here to fly away to a non adult place like disney.com" messages.

I had an entry page after that one where people would land when they entered th e site proper.  And then I made a page for all the comics, a page for animations, a page that would list all the site updates.  I knew I wanted to create some publicity for the site, so I created a banner links page where I could post links to other similar sites to mine in the hopes that those sites would also link back to me.

One big dilemna I had early on - and actually haven't completely solved even today - was how to make the site to appeal to both BE/big boobs lovers AND FMG/female muscle growth lovers simultaneously, without turning either group off.

I initially thought well maybe I should split the site into two completely separate websites.  A "strong" website and a "stacked" website.  I abandoned that idea and thought about somehow making a division within the single website so that users could take a fork in the road toward viewing the BE stuff or the FMG stuff.

My big fear was that by having the content all mixed together, I would turn off one or the other of the groups of fans.  For boob fans, if they saw FMG content I thought they might react with "ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww! gross! I just want to see thin beautiful girls with big boobs. Why are you torturing me with these images of women with manly muscles?"  And for the muscle crowd I feared they'd see the BE stuff and react with "why are you showing me these rail thing chicks with huge boobs?  I want to see some muscle!"

I still struggle with this issue.  Trying to sucessfully have both types of content in the site and be able to appeal to both groups of fans without turning the other group off.

There are crossover people - like myself - who like both types of content.  For me the one common thing has to be big boobs. I love huge boobs!  I love them on slim girls. I love them on hulking muscular girls.  But I love huge boobs!

So I decided I'd just go ahead and put both types of content on the site, BE and FMG, and that I'd have huge boobs on the girls no matter whether they were muscular or not.  I'd put all that in the mix and let the chips fall where they may.

So I got all of that basic framework together and then I started creating content.  My naive thought at the time was: I'm going to create TONS of content!  I'm not going to be like all those other sites out there that don't update very often.  I'm going to generate avalanches of content - enough to post like two comics and two animations every single week!

I was thinking, all those other webmasters/content creators out there must be lazy.  My site is going to blow by them all because what will set my site apart is frequent creation of content!

And when I started, I did try to do that.  What I found is that the relentless requirement of creating content can grind a content creator down over time.

It is very, very hard to create content week in and week out.  And I'll get more into that in future blog posts.  It's something that I struggle with a lot and part of my desire to begin blogging is to explore ways in which I can manage to create a lot of content on a regular and timely basis AND keep the quality bar high.

Ok I think that's enough for my initial kick off blog post.

I'll write more soon.