Ask MerriAuthor
Merri reacts: there must be some kinda tournament in town. A ridiculously multicultural cast of strong fighters are in the cafe, and every time a new one walks in, their theme song starts playing. BONUS: the last one to walk in? The pony version of guile.

Meadow Lark:  ”Mom’s stronger than all of them!”

Merri:  ”That’s a bit of an assumption to make, isn’t it?”

Meadow Lark:  ”Nah.  The stoic, retired fighter in the unobtrusive servile role in the background is always the most powerful one in these kind of stories.  The only way you’d be any stronger was if you were a little old granny as well.”

The only thing worse than art program crashing and you losing hours of work is that WHILE MID-COMPULSIVE-SAVE. With backup not working because whoever designed it had no idea what 'backup' means.

Yeah, I’ve had that happen before while doing 3D animation back in college.  Get some good progress done, keyboard shortcut to Save, and the whole program locks and crashes.  You then get to enjoy the stomach-turning agony of waiting for it to reboot so you can see if it managed to save before it died or not.

Bonus pet peeve: working in a group project when one asshole teammate decides he doesn’t like the agreed-upon naming pattern used for naming rig joints, so he decides to change it.  Without telling anyone.  Hello hours of additional work and non-functioning rigs driving everyone to want to lynch said asshole teammate.

nom nom deliciously refreshing Chocolate Egg Cream nom

Alright fine, nothing meta. How about this: the adult crew reacts to the movie Good Will Hunting.

Never saw it.

I realize this is kind of an unfair question, but how would the cast respond to a depressed pony?

Merri:  ”That really depends on a lot of different factors.  It’s none of my business interfering in other peoples’ lives, but if they seem like they need someone to talk to, I’ve still got one good ear for it.”

Meadow Lark:  ”Uh… try and get them to cheer up?  I mean, sometimes people just want to be grumpy and you can’t really do anything about it, but it’s the thought that counts, right?”

China Saucer:  ”Depressed, like, bad day?  Just hang out with me for a bit and I’ll fix that right up!  Anything more severe and that’s probably something they need to work through with someone a little more professionally minded.”

The Witch:  ”I deal with depressed people all the time.  They are pleasantly simple to negotiate with.  Some of my best customers, really.”

I kind of want to get into digital art. What advice could you give an amateur who wants to try the medium? What kind of programs do you use/would you suggest? Are there any good tutorials you would recommend? Do you know anything about animating/flash puppets?

Okay, so, any one of these questions would involve a massive, highly fluid amount of information to even begin to scratch the surface of.  I can give you some basic tips, but if you want anything really in depth, this is actually the sort of situation that I would require you actually hire me to teach you first.

With Digital Art:

  • Practice.  I know that seems like a no-brainer, but it’s vital.  Digital Art is very different than traditional art and it takes some getting used to.  There is a learning curve, and you will get frustrated trying to manage it.  What’s important is that you keep at it and try different things until you find something that suits you.
  • Don’t have preconceptions about hardware.  You don’t need a tablet if you want to do digital art, or a powerful computer with a king’s ransom worth of cutting edge programs.  Having lots of tech is worthless if you don’t know how to make use of it.  There are people who make amazing artwork in MSPaint or on touch-screen tablets.  It’s simply a matter of finding out what works for you and running with it.  Use the tools that suit your style.
  • Learn your software.  Whatever you end up using, make sure you invest the time and energy into actually figuring out its functions.  Programs like Photoshop or SAI are powerful and have a wide variety of uses, but a lot of users never even get a fraction of the software’s real value because they never bother to learn how it really works.
  • Mix and Match.  One of the best parts about digital art is that you can easily import art from one program into another.  You can draw in one program, color it in another, add in visual effects in a third… just go nuts with it.  Find programs you enjoy, figure out their most useful assets, and use them all.
  • SAVE.  SAVE.  SAVE.  SAVE.  SAVE ALL THE DAMN TIME.  SAVE YOUR WORK.  SAVE IT NOW, SAVE IT THEN, SAVE IT ALWAYS.  Seriously; learn the keyboard shortcut for “save file” in whatever software you use and get yourself in the habit of hitting those keys like clockwork.  I literally shortcut Save while working in Photoshop every few seconds without even thinking about it.  It’s a trained reflex now.  There is nothing worse in Digital Art than having your program crash and losing hours of work.  Save your file.  Save multiple versions of your file as a backup.  Make sure your backups are stored in more than one place in case one fails or dies somehow.  For example, I have my main Tumblr folder for all my blog art, a backup on a separate drive on my computer, and a third backup on an external hard drive.  SAVE YOUR WORK.

For Programs:

  • Photoshop.  My bread and butter.  I’ve used Photoshop CS2 since college and have absolutely no need or desire to update to the newer versions.  All artwork I produce for my blogs is done using CS2 and a basic $5 Logitech mouse I dug out of the clearance bin at Staples.  It suits my needs perfectly, has a stable interface, and didn’t cost me a penny.  Doesn’t get much better than that.  Adobe offers demos of their programs, and some of the older versions are actually free these days, so try them out and see how it suits you.
  • Paint Tool SAI.  A very popular program, though not one I have any particular experience using myself.  Folk who do use it swear by it and it has a solid reputation for being a very reliable tool with a wide variety of brush effects.  It’s very popular with the Eastern art community and there’s good odds that most Japanese or Korean artists you tend to come across are probably using SAI.  SAI has a trial version, so give it a shot.
  • Manga Studio.  Another software with a good reputation.  Like SAI, I’m afraid I don’t personally have a lot of experience with this particular program, so I can’t discuss it too much.  Very much worth trying out though, particularly since it also has a free demo.  Like Photoshop and SAI, there’s an abundance of tutorial information on how to use the software available all over.

For Tutorials:

  • Youtube.  You will be amazed at how much useful information you can pull off Youtube.  Having been to art school myself and having worked years in the gaming industry, I was always equal parts impressed and annoyed at how helpful and informative Youtube tutorials can be.  In a lot of cases they were actually superior in presentation to some of my lessons back in college.
  • Tumblr and DeviantArt.  Both of these social communities are packed to the brim with artists and, as a result, there are boatloads of tutorials on all sorts of things you can find.  Just type “art tutorial”, “reference”, the name of a software, or any similar tag into Tumblr’s search bar and be amazed at the veritable avalanche of useful posts that results.  DeviantArt has lots of groups specifically focused on educating and sharing art techniques.  Do some digging and see what you can find.
  • Ask an Artist.  I know this one seems sort of weird and may be terrifying to even think of in some cases, but there’s no harm in just asking an artist how they do something.  Unless they’re not the type to share or have a desire to keep their techniques to themselves, a lot of artists are usually pretty free and easy with how they work.  I certainly don’t hesitate to offer tips where I can and I know plenty of others who are just as forthcoming.  Just make sure you’re polite, respectful, and don’t be a pain if the artist chooses not to indulge your curiosity.  You’re asking them for a rather personal favor, after all, and they’re not obligated to grant it to you or offer any explanation as to why they may decide to refuse.

For Flash Animation:

Yes I do, but I’m afraid what you’re asking there is a staggering topic to approach.  Saying “teach me about Animation” is like saying “Teach me about Medicine” in regards of just how broad the subject is and how vague a request you’re making.  Spare yourself the grief and find tutorials online to work with.  Again, Youtube and DeviantArt are especially helpful for this particular medium.  Additionally, ask a specific question about animation instead of just a sweeping umbrella question that people can’t actually offer any reasonable answer to.  If you don’t know the terms with which to frame or identify your question, just try and describe its nature as best you can, or what effect you’re trying to achieve.

Merri and co. react to their previous reactions. Time to bring in the meta questions!

The Witch:  ”This is entirely redundant.  We will have no part in it.”

anons eat like waddle dees

You heard the horse, Adurot.  Get busy.

Merri reacts to "Mother Changeling".

I don’t know what that is.

Most disgusting thing the characters have ever tasted, and then the most delicious.

Merri:  ”What’s with all the food questions lately?”

Meadow Lark:  ”I think Anon is hungry.”

Merri:  ”Fat lot of good that does them.  I can’t feed them if I don’t know where their mouths are.”