Going forward we'll be hosting a new challenge every week that runs from Monday through Sunday. So watch your email inbox for new challenge announcements.
I was originally planning to run a color challenge for us this week at the suggestion of ChipperChartreuse. Our good friend Maya came up with the brilliant idea to make it pride themed and use a different color from the rainbow flag for each day. This is perfect for pride month!
The original 1978 LGBT flag had 8 colors, each with their own meaning.
Artists will create illustrations using a different color from the flag each day.
Writers will use a different color meaning as drabble prompts each day.
- Hot Pink / Sex
- Red / Life
- Orange / Healing
- Yellow / Sunlight
- Green / Nature
- Turquoise / Magic/Art
- Indigo / Serenity
- Violet / Spirit
Since there's only 7 days in the challenge, we'll leave it up to you which colors/prompts to use on which days.
Tag your art submissions on PaperDemon with pridechallenge to get 60 XP per entry. We're granting more XP since coloring is generally more time consuming than sketching.
Do you struggle to find good colors for your artwork? This week I'm teaching a few color theory lessons you can use to level up your art.
Each livestream lesson begins promptly at the time listed and will last about 10-15 minutes, with another additional 50 minutes of lesson demonstration, chatting, and answering questions.
- Tuesday 4pm PST, monochrome color palette
- Wednesday 4pm PST, analogous color palette
- Thursday 4pm PST, complementary color palette
Looking forward to seeing the PaperDemon site filled with your beautiful colors this week!
I trust you have fully recovered from our marathon challenge, Create Your Own Adventure. Now it's time to kick things off again. Wait, what's that? Hey, no groaning allowed! I promise this challenge is easy and straightforward so you don't have to think too hard.
Complete one sketch or drabble per day from June 17th to June 23rd to (queue dramatic voice over) unlock the greatness within you. Prompts have been provided below but feel free to diverge if inspired to do something else. If you can't participate all 7 days, that's ok! Do what feels realistic for you.
- A memory
- Unconditional love
- "I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel"
- A Dream or nightmare
- "O, woe is me"
What is a drabble?
A drabble is a short form of fiction roughly 100 words in length. You don't have to be precise with the word count but getting as close to 100 as you can is part of the challenge. Here's more info on how to write a drabble.
To help you get them pencil moving, I'll be livestreaming my sketching on Twitch, Monday June 17th through Friday June 21st from 4pm – 5pm PST. Watch the stream and hang out while you draw your way to leveling up. I'll be sharing various tips and techniques on sketching and answering any questions. If you're a beginner, this can be a chance to get questions answered in real time.
Here's my livestream schedule
•Monday 4pm – 5pm PST → Capturing people quickly with gesture drawing
•Tuesday 4pm – 5pm PST → Using basic shapes when sketching
•Wednesday 4pm – 5pm PST → Using reference to be able to draw anything
•Thursday 4pm – 5pm PST → Thumbnailing, concepting, and layered sketching
•Friday 4pm – 5pm PST → Drawing your requests!
Draw with Jazza has a great set of sketching tips for you as well on sketching.
Tag all the things to earn your points!
Artists, please submit your sketches as art submissions on PaperDemon.com with the tag pdsketches2019. You'll earn 30XP for each submission. At the end of the challenge, collect your points in the dashboard.
We don't have tags for writing submissions at the moment, so just reply to this blog post with a link to your submission so we can see! Sadly I can't offer XP for writing submissions (yet anyway).
See you there! Reply here or in discord with questions.
Topic: Company and community values
Several months back we hosted a rather productive community meet up on discord in which we discussed what our community and company values are. It was very important to me to get input from the community to understand what is most important to everyone.
The discussion resulted in a draft in Google Docs which has now been moved to a Company values page on the PaperDemon wiki. If you have any thoughts on the values, I invite you to share your thoughts by replying to this post or on the wiki discussion page.
In all honesty, I feel that currently we fall short on meeting many of these values. In particular when it comes to usability, accessibility, privacy tools and security. One of the things that has held me back from talking about PaperDemon more to others is thatI'm not really happy with where it is today. There's so much work to be done to improve it. I can “smell my own shit” as Jessica McCabe once told me.
But I think it's still useful for us to know where it is we're going. Overtime, we can move toward that vision as best we can. As we get closer to making these values expressed as reality, I'll grow more full of pride.
Thank you for being a part of this community and helping us move toward this vision of the future.
Topic: Developer update May 2019
The community has spoken about how important transparency is to us. In the spirit of that I am going to try and post a quarterly developer update to let you all know about the progress on PaperDemon.com and what's coming.
Note that there's other work being done such as creating content/videos, marketing and growing the community, running challenges, etc that is not captured here.
Things completed since our last developer update in December.
NOTE: there are things listed below that have been completed but are not yet live on the PaperDemon site. All the things listed here should be live within the next few weeks.
gaining experience points for participating in art challenges
easily toggle between a users red curtain and non-adult artwork
promo features so I can easily update the banner at the top PaperDemon with important community event stuff. Thanks Woozle for this one!
Linking to our community wiki content from the PaperDemon site main menu.
Blogs feature progress
Progress on backend improvements to blogs feature. This is not yet accessible to you. It's a behind the scenes thing.
Little itty bitty fixes
Lot's of misc bugs and UI fixes. Some of these are submitted but not yet deployed
Remember me feature finally fixed. You have no idea how happy this one makes me.
Slowness of loading on the PaperDemon homepage
easier access to the challenges XP dashboard in the user menu
improvements to the art comment box
users who don't have an avatar can still access the menu
making the filter button visible when viewing an art that filtered
fixing artwork so it's viewable if you have an ad blocker
Woozle removed a lot of features that were going unused like the polls and site chat feature. There is also various updates to the code to make it easier to maintain.
There's still a lot of work to be done in this area that will be coming later this year.
We started a wiki. I'll post another blog post about why we started a wiki but one of the reasons is because it's difficult to keep page content on PaperDemon.com up-to-date without having to do a deployment. For example things like the site rules, about PaperDemon, etc. It's really time-consuming to get content updated and isn't easily editable by others. So it made sense to move a lot of it to the wiki.
Upcoming development work
This is work that will likely span the next four months at least.
Lots of spam
We're getting constantly bombarded with spam accounts and I have to spend time each week cleaning it up. I'd like to pause development on other features and build some tools to make it easier for me to find spam and more quickly delete it as well as prevent it. If anyone has suggestions on how to prevent spam being posted, please reply here or post to #suggestion-box in the discord server. I'm thinking we might have to do something that prevents new users from posting links at all anywhere for a certain period of time or until they reach a certain XP level.
I have this idea to make PaperDemon easier to maintain while still providing the rich feature set it has. The basic idea is to make art comics writing and blogs all one type of thing. My next step is to come up with a proposal that clearly explains this idea and share that with the community to get feedback.
Finish migrating the blog feature to new frontend/backend. I'd like to drastically improve the feature set for blogs but can't do that until I migrate it.
Improve art submission flow
I think there's too much friction in the art submission process so I'd like to simplify it. In particular at like to replace the galleries feature with tags. The purpose of tags and galleries is nearly identical so it makes sense to consolidate to just tags.
This is a complex task given that our filtering system is dependent upon galleries so it will take multiple months.
More code deletion
There are more features that are still not use that need to be removed like the groups feature
More itty bitty changes
We've got a pretty big backlog of bugs. I'll spend some time knocking out the ones that are most annoying or quickest to fix. I'll also make little usability and accessibility improvements along the way.
So that we can improve the new user experience I'll be integrating PaperDemon.com with our email list better so that when a user signs up they immediately can start getting emails that help them with their account.
What do you think? I'd love your input if you have any suggestions or questions.
The Create Your Own Adventure Challenge has officially begun! Que fanfair. My co-host Nyatara (Maya from the Silicon Valley Sci-Fi Fantasy Writers Meetup) and I are super excited to have all of you here and to help you along on your adventure.
Many folks are confused about the challenge. So if you're feeling confused, you're not alone. Before I get into clarifying a few things, I just want to thank you all for your patience and understanding. This is the first time were running a challenge like this and we're still figuring things out. So, thank you!
Our main objective is to help you achieve the creative goals that YOU want to achieve and give you support along the way to help make it happen. This is a very open ended challenge putting you in control of your creative goals. There are no prompts. You get to decide what to create, how much of it, and how to go about doing it. All that matters is that you walk away from this challenge having made progress.
This challenge was designed to provide you with motivation, support, and accountability. It's ok to be a little scared. Don't forget your buddy is there to help!
Get in touch with your accounta-billa-buddy
If you registered
Your designated buddy has already been emailed to you. Check your inbox and be sure to get in touch with your buddy as soon as possible to arrange for your first meeting. More details are available in the buddy guide.
Keep in mind your buddy may not be the same type of creator for as you. For example, if you're a writer, your buddy may be an artist.
If you're not registered
You can still participate and join the challenge at any time.
Your first step is to try and find a buddy. Either find a friend to do the challenge with you or join the discord server and ask in the #cyoa-challenge channel if anyone else is looking for a buddy. Then get together with your buddy. More details are available in the buddy guide.
Choose your Goal
For many, the most difficult and/or most confusing part of this challenge can be deciding what to work on at all.
Here are some questions that can help you zero in on a goal. If what you're after is growth...
“Where would I benefit from improving the most? Do I want to get better at drawing? Do I want to get better at world building? At writing dialog?”
If you're unsure in what area you could use more attention, ask someone who is ahead of you in ability for advice or critique.
“Where do I see myself in 2 to 3 years with my art or writing? What is the ONE thing I can do in the next 8 weeks that would help me move toward that vision?”
“What's the most impactful way I can spend the next eight weeks to help me hone my craft?”
Sometimes looking to your past can help you find your future. This might also be a good approach if you're feeling burnt out and need a little fun...
“Of all the projects I've ever done, which one did I enjoy doing the most?”
“Of all the projects of ever done, which one am I most proud of?”
“What's the one thing I want to create before I die?”
This challenge lasts two months but the project you choose doesn't have to necessarily fill that time. If you're anything like me and tend to severely underestimate how long things take, it might be good to use a little self deception and choose a project or task that you think would take no more than a month.
It's ok if you don't have it figured out yet. Ask your buddy for help!
Break down your goal
It's easy for your project to feel daunting which can inhibit progress. Try breaking it down into steps to be completed each week. If that's overwhelming, just start with deciding the chunks for the first week. Your buddy can help you do this.
If you're still having trouble starting on your project, try breaking things down smaller into chunks that would take only 20 minutes to complete.
You can also try the OKR method.
To provide an additional layer of support to the community as we go through this challenge, we are hosting a couple of extra discord meetups (twice a month rather than the standard once a month).
Here's the full list so mark your calendars:
Saturday, Apr 13, 2019 10am PST / 5pm UTC. See in your timezone
Saturday, May 4, 2019 10am PST / 5pm UTC. See in your timezone
Saturday, May 18, 2019 10am PST / 5pm UTC. See in your timezone
As questions come up, we'll add answers here for your future reference.
Are my buddy and I working on the same project?
No. The intent is for each person to have their own personal creative project to work on. However, if the two of you want to collaborate on a project you are more than welcome to do so.
How do buddies work if my buddy isn't an artist/writer like me?
Even though they may not be creating in the same way you are, they can still help you achieve your creative goals. Your buddy is there to help you break down your goals, provide encouragement, and provide accountability. If you wanted your buddy to help you with critique, they may still be able to critique your work by offering a more diverse perspective. You can also share your work in the discord server in the #critique channel and on PaperDemon.
Are there any writing or drawing prompts? What exactly am I supposed to create during the challenge?
This challenge is very open-ended and customized for you. And as such, there are no prompts, requirements, or guidelines provided for what you create. This challenge is meant to be an opportunity for you to work on ANY creative project that you may have lying around unfinished or project ideas you've thought of but haven't quite started. It can even be something like investing in new skills like taking a class on creative writing, watercolor, or figure drawing.
A few folks have been interested in us providing prompts so will definitely consider this as an option for next time we run the challenge.
Can I use an existing project? Or does it have to be a new project?
You can absolutely use an existing project. Perhaps you have a comic you had started drawing or writing a while back but never finished, or a draft for a novel that's been collecting dust. This is a great opportunity to reconnect with that project and make progress again.
Do I have to finish the project by the end of the challenge?
You can set a goal to just complete a portion of your project within the two month period. It does not have to be completed by the end. An ideal scenario would be to achieve the goal that you set for yourself by the end of the challenge.
Does my project have to be art or writing?
Nope. It can be anything creative or related to your creative endeavers, such as cosplay, coding, drawing, painting, papier-mâché, animation, poetry, fanfiction, youtube videos, photography, etc. It can even be something indirectly related, such as growing your audience (e.g. twitter followers) or taking classes. If it helps you bring you closer to your creative goals, then it counts!
Do I have to share what I create on PaperDemon?
Nope! This challenge is all about helping you achieve what you want. Of course we would all love to see what you create so we can help cheer you on. But it is not required at all to post your work on the PaperDemon website.
Will you host this challenge again? If so, when?
Given the interest we've seen so far, I'm pretty sure we'll run it again on PaperDemon.com but I'm not sure when yet. Join the mailing list to be notified of future challenge dates.
I have another question not answered here!
O RLY? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the Create Your Own Adventure Challenge!
Here's a handy-dandy guide to help you make the most of the peer support system. By checking in with your buddy regularly, you can help motivate one another to keep your momentum going and coach each other through difficulties you encounter along your adventure.
With having been paired with your adventure buddy, now it's time to get to know each other and to make your plan for moving forward.
Contact your buddy and set up a day and time for your first meeting. This is just a meeting between the two of you and can be over text chat, video, phone, or by whatever means you two are comfortable with, but this first meeting needs to be real-time since you'll have a lot to discuss in order to help each other through this challenge and in reaching one another’s goals.
Please keep in mind when scheduling that this is a global community and folks are spread across different countries and time zones.
Your first meeting
This meeting is all about helping you set up your account-a-bili-buddy for success and them doing the same for you! Here are some things to get you started:
- You'll be checking in with your buddy twice a week (or more often as needed). Come to an agreement on how best to communicate for your check-ins. For example; phone, text, email, Discord, etc.
- Discuss what the best type of check-in is for both of you; do you just want someone ask “Hey, what have you accomplished so far?” Or do you want some greater level of accountability such as “Did you stick to the first step/portion of your goal?”
- Share your goals with one another. Help each other to break down your goals across the 2 month challenge period.
- Anything else you might need help with?
Your regular, twice-a-week, check-ins don't have to be scheduled, real-time meetings. They can simply be texts/emails back and forth.
Be sure to reach out regularly with your buddy and ask them how they're doing. Don't wait until your buddy asks for help - because people often have trouble asking for help. Instead, offer help. It's super effective.
Is your buddy getting stuck? Just listening goes a long way. And cat photos, inspirational quotes, or GIFs couldn't hurt either.
You may also want to set a reminder on your phone/calendar to help you remember to check in.
Need more support?
Join the PaperDemon discord. We'll have a #cyoa-challenge channel where you can ask questions, share your progress, etc. We'll also be hosting a chat meetup on PaperDemon's discord every two weeks. We'll be emailing you the meetup schedule soon.
That's it! Easy-peasy. Happy adventuring!
A few days ago, I shared my frustrations with Inktober and why I think artists and writers deserve a more flexible creative challenge.
Today, I'm super excited to tell you more about our Create Your Own Adventure Challenge and how you can get started.
As previously mentioned, other challenges like Inktober and NaNoWriMo have characteristics that make them hard for people with lives, jobs, classwork, health issues, family obligations, mental health challenges, etc. With that in mind, the Create Your Own Adventure Challenge will address all of that!
Time frame: Two whole months.
Output: Watercolor paintings? Sure! Poetry? Damn skippy. Animation? Rock on! Python code? def yes(); It's whatever you want it to be.
Quantity: YOU get to decide how much you want to create. You set your own goals based on your own circumstances and what feels realistic to you.
Time of Year: The challenge starts in April and goes through the end of May. There's still tax season and Easter in there, but hopefully this isn't as chaotic or stressful as the end of the year holiday season.
Support: instead of going it completely alone like you would with any other challenge, we're going to be using
a buddy system to help with accountability (an accounta-bila-buddy, hehehe) AND
online meet ups where you can share your progress, get encouragement, and ask for help in real time AND
a dedicated chat channel for the challenge where you can get additional support inbetween meetups (#cyoa-challenge💎 on our Discord server).
How to participate
Because an essential feature of this challenge is the buddy system, we're asking people to sign up ahead of time. Registration is free and helps us pair you up with a buddy and send you information throughout the challenge.
Register for the challenge by end of day Sunday March 24, 2019. Keep an eye on your email inbox for your buddy assignment and additional instructions which should arrive by April 1st.
If you share any of your work on PaperDemon or elsewhere for the challenge, use the hashtag #createyourownadventure so we can track on social media.
What if I join late or miss the registration deadline?
You're still welcome to participate in the challenge. But you'll be on your own to find a buddy. Try asking in the #cyoa-challenge💎 channel on our Discord server and join the mailing list so you get notified about important updates and meetups.
I have questions, ideas, or feedback!
Just contact me at email@example.com or post in the Discord server.
Every year #Inktober happens I watch as my fellow artists take on the difficult task of attempting a new ink drawing every day for the month of October. For many years I just stood in the sidelines watching everyone else and telling myself “I could never do that. I could never stick to a new drawing every day for 31 days. That's beyond my abilities.”
I was pretty surprised to learn from one of our community members that many people actually prepare ahead of time for Inktober. Months in advance they prepare sketches or completed ink drawings so they can stick to the rigorous daily posting schedule.
Is it us? or is it the challenge?
While some would consider this act cheating, perhaps this demonstrates a problem with the challenge itself. People have shit to do. They have day jobs, family to care for, attention issues, time management issues, or whatever things that might keep them from sticking to the requirements of the challenge.
Inktober lacks the sort of flexibility that artists need in order to complete the challenge in a way that feels successful to them. And the realists or pessimists among us won’t even bother to attempt it if we know we can't finish it.
Nyatara, a friend of mine who's also a novel writer and runs the Silicon Valley Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writers meetup, was telling me that similar problems exist with NaNoWriMo.NaNoWriMo, challenges authors to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It's at a time of year when the holidays are gearing up, people are starting to get busy with family obligations, and general holiday chaos. It's no wonder most people don't complete the challenge and end with feelings of failure.
A more realistic challenge for the rest of us
Both of these challenges suffer from the same problems.
- happen at a busy time of the year
- have a fixed goal that doesn't take into consideration the needs of the creative people who participate
- lacks peer support to help cheer you on and keep you motivated from start to finish
So Nyatara and I started asking ourselves “What if...”
- What if we were to create a challenge where artists and authors can both participate?
- and could choose a goal that is realistic for them?
- and not have it happen at the time of year when things are most busy?
- and have regular check-ins with peer support to help cheer you on and help you through the hard parts and distractions?
We've dubbed this challenge Create your Own Adventure and it will span two months, from April to May. It will be a joint challenge for both the Silicon Valley Sci Fi Fantasy meetup and PaperDemon.
Stay tuned for more details. Registration for Create your Own Adventure opens later this week!
Since our community is growing, I wanted to have a way to automatically grant experience points to users who participate (rather than me doing it manually). So I added a new feature that rewards you with experience points.
How it works
When we host a challenge, just submit an artwork entry between the start and end dates of the challenge adding the tag mentioned in the announcement post. For example, for Inktober, you submit art during the month of October with the tag “inktober”. You'll then see entries available to collect experience in the challenge dashboard. At the end of the challenge, just click the Collect XP button and...
BOOM you got XP! w00t w00t!
If you participated in any of the previously mentioned challenges, you should now see experience points ready for you to collect in the new challenge dashboard. Don't forget to clicky clicky the collect buttons to get your XP!
At this time, only artwork can gain experience points for challenges. But I'm working on ways to extend this to writing and comics, too.
What challenges are available?
Let me know what you think
This is still a new feature and it is likely to have a few usability issues. So let me know if you have any trouble with it or have suggestions for improving it.
This post is for adults only.
For the month of February we hosted our first erotic and adult themed creative challenge in several years called Doing It in the Bushes where artists depicted two or more characters involved in an illicit act in an unusual hidden place.
We had five members participate and I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of the submissions. People clearly got really into this and it just goes to show just how important freedom of expression, including the freedom to depict explicit creative works, is to our community.
I was really hoping to participate myself with a Vegeta and Bulma artwork. But unfortunately I was little overextended so I'll have to save it for next time. 😉
Here's a roundup of all the lovely entries...
Warning: these links contain sexually explicit imagery
You can also view the full Doing it in the Bushes collection with your filter settings applied.
Number Three Combo by WANeal - There are couples who make love in the privacy of their homes, indulging their desires in the dark with the shades drawn. This story is NOT about one of those couples.
For those that participated with artwork, you should be able to collect your experience points in the new challenge dashboard.
If you did participate and don't see your artwork above and/or don't see your XP, please contact me and I'll help you out.
Please let me know if you have any feedback on how we can improve challenges like this in the future. Given the participation, we'll definitely do another adult themed creative challenge later in the year. I'm even tempted to repeat the same one because I think there's a lot of potential and I just really love the name.
Were you interested in participating but didn't? What could we have done differently to help you participate? Please post a comment and let us know
Thank you everyone for participating! Amazing job!