Methods to Making Better Pen Spinning Combos

Started by raiz, Oct 22, 2022, 02:49 AM

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In WC22 R2, Nine created a very visually appealing combo that was loved by many in the community. There is a lot to like about this combo: it has a lot of circular motions, cool finger positions, exciting moments, it is well executed, it has cool looking links, and it is even executed on an sc mod.

But what else makes this combo great? And how can we use that information to make combos like this, or just better combos in general? This Document is a guide on how to make combos referencing Nine's Fenspinner board forum post and my own analysis of that post. In this he writes about his process and thoughts when he was developing his incredible combo for round 2 of WC22.

Nine's WC22 R2 Aesthetic Combo:

Nine's Forum Post:

^^^I highly recommend reading this forum post^^^

Thank you Nine, for answering my questions (sometimes the same one...) about your process and thoughts while creating combos. I really appreciate it.

Rules and Tips

*NOTE:* Just because these are Nine's rules and methods to make a combo does not mean that these are the rules for making any or all pen spinning combos. After reading this, feel free to come up with your own rules and methods to create combos with!

This will be split up into two categories; tips for combo creation and Nine's personal rules for combo creation.

Tips for combo creation:

  • Work off of a base. Use pre-existing links as a start for your combo. For Nine, this was the squence starting with the over extended index bak that ended in the tw sonic

  • create the combo from any point. Start creating the combo from the middle or end of it, not just the beggining. If you have a cool finisher idea, work backwards to try and find links/tricks that work well with the idea you want to use. The sequence mentioned above that Nine used as a backbone is what he built his WC22 combo off of. The beginning of his combo was the last part he made.

  • Just because you want to execute a certain trick/link at a certain point in a combo does not mean you should, if it interferes with the overal theme and point of the combo. Think of combo creation as problem solving. If you can not fit a trick/linkage in a specific point of a combo, where can you put that link instead, if anywhere at all? What solutions can you find to replace that previous link?

  • In addition to the last tip, sometimes tricks/linkages/ideas are better left in the vault. If you have a specific goal in mind, and what you are trying to do isn't working, maybe it is better left for another combo.

  • Have some kind of goal in mind. Creating a combo without direction can be slow and difficult. It is much easier to come up with new ideas by constraining yourself, as well as having a goal in mind. A goal can be a theme, a trick you want to lead up to, a linkage you want to implement somewhere, etc. For Nine, this goal was creating contrast by building up to very noticeable and exciting tricks. This created an entertaining combo that constantly keeps you watching with small buildups to exciting climaxes.

  • Use current linkages to help make new parts of the combo; working with a theme in mind.

  • Use descriptors. When watching and creating combos, we often have vague ideas of things that we like and observe in pen spinning that we have trouble putting into words. Do your best to put descriptors on things that you see and that you want to do. Knowing what you want and turning a vague idea into something concrete will help you create more links and combos, as well as improving your insight while observing combos. Examples Nine uses of descriptors can be words and phrases such as: tension building, short buildups into satisfying tricks, creating contrast, and "bombastic" combo structure.

  • Create contrast. Contrast is a goal that Nine had in mind while creating the entirety of this combo. A specific example where Nine created contrast is at 0:11 were he does the PU wiper rev 12. Ine way contrast is created is by the use of a wiper which stands out amongst the other tricks in the combo. This contrast is very noticeable, and it places a visual emphasis. In addition, there is an added feeling of importance when we see the trick because it stands out from the rest of the combo. In addition, during this wiper Nine's fingers are splayed out, and this position is held for a noticeable amount of time. This is contrasted with the previous and later finger positioning where the fingers are curled in towards the palm. Furthermore, he created contrast by using mostly PU hand positioning during the combo. When Nine moves to a PD position, it is noticeable and this contrast creates a sense of importance and a refreshing change in the combo.

Extra Tips From Nine:

  • Minimize random passes and twisted sonics.

  • Progressively make more of your own original content, and try to do things that are rarely or never done.

  • Avoid recycling as much as possible.

Extra Tip From Me:

  • Write down ps ideas and record them: It is easy to forget ideas. Recording them can better convey the appearence, instead of only seeing the notation; as well as helping you become less camera shy.

Nine's Personal Rules for Combo Creation:

Rule #1: Avoid using your thumb. Nine rarely uses his thumb during the combo.

Rule #2: Do not skip slots. Instead, use parallel slots. An example of this would be doing a sonic 34 - 12 opposed to sonic 34 - 23, the latter follows this rule. Nine mentioned that he likes to follow this rule because they are the furthest away from slots he enjoys using such as 34, 24, and 23. He also mentioned that skipping slots makes the combo feel like it is broken into many pieces as opposed to a combo that is a singular coherent piece. Even though this is one of Nine's personal constraints, this rule can also provide its own problems. He also mentioned that when he makes a set of links he likes, he finds it difficult to change them if they do not work.

*NOTE:* Again, I want to reiterate that these "rules" are just ones Nine has prescribed to himself. You can use whatever combo making rules you would like. After reading this, feel free to come up with your own rules and methods to create combos with!

After pen spinning for close to 10 years, I have not seen a conversation about combo creation regularly within the english community. Consequently, I have always been confused with where to start. If you create other forms of art (i.e. music composition, visual art, dancing choreography etc.) you may realize that many, if not all of the tips I listed above work for creating art in general.

Feel free to use this thread as a place to create discussion and constructive discourse about combo creation and the guide I wrote. I am open to criticisms and to other creative input :) Also feel free to chit chat about combo making rules and methods that you use. I am interested to see what others have to say.

Wonderful to read Raiz, thank you. There's a lot of effort into helping people understand how combos like this are made, well beyond the usual "finger position and execution" replies.

Another thing that Nine focuses on a lot when making his combos is his "gestures", which is that he has some ideal hand motion or position, and he works backwards from that to try and find a combination to fit that position, that way he's starting with the appearance of the hand in the combo before making the breakdown.

Thank you for your knowledge sir  8)  8)  8)  8)

linkages have inherent visual qualities and i think good structure can ultimately be summarized as consistent difficulty + max inherent linkage visuals. as for how you max those visuals uhhhhhhh
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