pentacles, magic

A nice cup of rabies

Rantings with occasional art.

Beauty’s Deceit
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

It's like Sleeping Beauty except the princess is a dragon

 

And if you can wake her up, legend has it, she'll give you half her hoard

But she looks so cute lying there, and a kiss just never works

Nor do putting your lips elsewhere. But she starts to murmur and moan if you do. The bravest might dare… go at her with their lance, shall we say. Nobody's been known to wake her yet.

Maybe you'll be the lucky one.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


Pens.
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

So somehow I have become a woman who has three Wacom styli kicking around her apartment.

Well actually a woman who has three Wacom styli and two Twiddlers kicking around her apartment.

One stylus lives on the coffee table in the studio, next to the comfy chair.

One stylus lives in the living room, next to the even more comfortable Comfy Sack.

And one lives in my bag, so it’s always there when I’m going out.

One Twiddler hangs out in the bag, and gets borrowed when I want to draw in the studio; the other lives in the living room. So all I need to do is move the tablet from room to room, and maybe its power brick. Man that power brick is huge and I really should try and find a smaller one that will feed the hungry Wacom beast but be something I can put in my bag for a weekend trip.

(And actually I have four Wacom styli; the one on the studio desk is special, because it only works with the older tablet on the desk – the other three are all different generations of pens, but they all work with both the Mobile Studio and the travel Intuos that’s increasingly gathering dust and should probably be passed on to someone who needs an upgrade from whichever Baby’s First Wacom Tablet they’re stuck with. All of them except the one that came with the Mobile Studio have the spring nib; there’d be one in all of them, but the MS’s pen isn’t physically compatible with it. I’m gonna be really sad if they’re phasing those out.)

I’m not quite sure how this happened. I really feel kind of like a useless Eloi. On the other hand the price of having a stylus and Twiddler close to hand in any place I’m likely to have the Mobile Studio and want to work is probably nothing compared to what some of my real media friends have spent on markers alone in the past.

This is what my adulthood looks like and it really bears absolutely no resemblance to what I thought it was gonna be when I was a kid. A fucking tablet computer that I carry from room to room to draw on. And a President straight out of every piece of late eighties comedic doom SF.

(And actually I know exactly how it happened: the stylus I used with the travel Intuos works with the Mobile Studio, so that started hanging out on the coffee table, next to where the Magic Sketchbook sits to recharge. And grabbing the Magic Sketchbook (and maybe its power brick) and the Twiddler and the Twiddler cheat sheet and the stylus and the little stylus stand so I have somewhere to put it when it’s not in my hand turned out to be just annoying enough to either juggle in one hand (probably with a glass of water or somesuch in the other hand as well) or make multiple trips for such tiny, fiddly things that my well-off ass felt pretty justified in saying “imma get a third stylus so I have two less things to fiddle with when I wanna curl up in the living room and draw”; the second Twiddler happened because I thought I lost the first one and I was already pretty close to the point where I started to hit a lot of the keys without thinking. Last night I found myself trying to Twiddle words in the air while I was falling asleep…)

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


valentimes
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

 

Surveying my clean clothes, trying to come up with a sexy outfit for sharing cake with the ex-with-benefits today.

And one for what will start out as a flirty work date with the girlfriend and XWB tomorrow. Do I have enough lingerie to make for a unique and delightful Peggy-unwrapping experience on both days?

Being poly makes life amusingly complicated sometimes. It’s a nice change from all the years spent “enjoying” Singles Awareness Day, though.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


butts
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shatterstripes

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


dubstep and dragons
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

It was dim in the dragon’s lair, but warm and pleasant. The inhabitant got up to greet her visitor warmly before returning to her lazy sprawl in a nest of cushions atop her hoard.

She picked up a magic mirror lying nearby, and tapped at it. Ethereal music filled the air, as if a host of angels were hidden in every corner of the cave. And the dragon frowned.

“Fuckin’ Spotify,” she said. “That’s not supposed to be on this playlist.”

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


Lit
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes



Making a mess with a bunch of art brushes I have lying around. I went into this with absolutely no plan and just let it develop; it’s a hell of a lot more painterly than my usual approach.


To a certain degree this feels like how the Magic Sketchbook “wants” to be drawn in. This is mostly metaphorical; I feel that different media are good at different things, and that they “want” to be used in the ways that are mostly what they’re good at. Drawing on the screen in Illustrator is a different process from drawing in Illustrator with a separate screen and tablet; I can still easily shift back to the ways I normally work, and I could do this on a separate screen and tablet, but something in the setup is just pulling me this way.


We’ll see if this is a new artistic direction or just a thing I fool around with for a while.

Illustrator, about 2.5 hours.


Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

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an account of a week and a half
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Sunday, Jan 29: Protest.

Tuesday, Jan 31: Hung with friends, watching them buy supplies for their Physical Art Doings at the art store. Impulsively buy cool mirror with dragon on it. Seriously it is fucking rad, it's circular and has the dragon splaying across it, dividing it into a ying/yang sort of pattern.

Thursday, Feb 2: finally unbox cool mirror. Contemplate places to put it. Come to vague decision, don't feel like nailing anything up. Leave on floor in foyer.

Friday, Feb 3: the inner Magician vaguely wonders if it's really a good idea to leave this mirror right at the door, reflecting the energies being filtered by the big picture of the semi-divine version of my dragonsona that's hanging on the inside of the door. Other things like “hanging with girlfriend” and “buying some magic chocolate with high THC and CBD content because my throat hurts when I smoke and there is no way I'm doing the Trump regime sober” distract me from this. There are ten little chocolates in the bag; I will go through them over the next few days.

There is pretty much no point in the rest of this journal entry where I am not at least a little high, until the last day.

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Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


perimeter definintion
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shatterstripes
oh why you lookin' at me

hey, what about me

(baby i can use it)

oh, why you lookin’ at me

why you lookin' at me now

why you lookin’ at me again

wrap my curls all around the world, throw my pearls all across the floor

(against the music)

('cause i want it more)

(baby i can use it)


A Gentle Scent Of Vixen
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

“I’ll try my hand at faux Elvish calligraphy for a friend’s tattoo. It’ll be cool.”


Two hours later, I had this. I don’t know what it is. I suspect it is a very recursive invocation of Fox. I’m not sure putting it on your skin would be a good idea.


Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

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shit moves fast
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shatterstripes

This morning: woke up, went to farmer's market, hooked up with the gf at a cafe, hung out a few hours.

This evening: said goodbye to gf, looked at Twitter. Discovered that Trump's ban on anyone coming into the country from certain countries went into effect, massive numbers of people detained and turned away… and that a court in New York State put out a temporary stay on this decree. And that Washington State is gonna go to court over it.

All this in the span of one fucking day when I was enjoying being offline. Damn. This is a crazy fucking year and it's probably only gonna get crazier.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


the dream of sigils and transport
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

I dreamed I was showing off the Rita omnibus to someone. There were pages with adaptations of entirely unrelated books running in tiny parallel panels, to fill space and add texture. And a moment of crazily swirling along the tool-assisted sigil at the end of the book, twisting and turning it to keep the line being followed going across the center of my field of view.

There was also something about a drive to get to the airport. It's gone missing from my head.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


FC2017
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

 

I hadn’t intended to go to FC. I hadn’t gotten a table. Hadn’t negotiated for a room with anyone. But there I was, going down to the airport, with a con ticket and room share I’d set up maybe a month before on impulse. “What the hell am I gonna do without a table to give my con structure?”, I wondered.

The day before I’d been doodling some Parallax stuff, and had found a loose, storyboard-like look that I was considering doing it in as a comic while spending most of my energy on Absinthe and Drowning City. And somewhere on the way to the airport it hit me: one of my younger comics friends had been muttering about how she really missed working on her own comic, but did not have certain mental prerequisites for that at all right now, what with the political situation and her own situation. What if? What if I did quick Parallax page layouts and scripts with Nick, and had her finish them? What if I paid a few different people to do this, put them online for free, then set up a Patreon for the project?

I fired off a message to her, and started pondering who else I’d make this offer to.

On the plane, the Magic Sketchbook passed the “can I do comics in an airplane seat” test with flying colors. I’ve got one more panel of Absinthe drawn than I did last week, and I’m pretty happy about that.

Got to the con, hooked up with my roommates, dumped my stuff, had food, hit the Thursday evening dance, went to sleep. Somewhere in there I looked through the schedule and picked a few panels I’d maybe want to hit up. That’s what people do when they’re not at a table, right? Panels? Sounds okay, I guess?

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Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


Meet The Witchsona
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes



In its infinite wisdom, the Internet has decided that one week early in January is to be “Witchsona Week”, wherein one draws oneself as a crazy fantasy witch with magic centered around one theme or another – mushroom witch, bird witch, cheese witch, whatever. I always feel a bit weird about that one; participating in group things is fun, but I don’t need to make up an imaginary witch to be – I am one. I’ve done an intensely-researched Tarot deck, I have cast some spells and (possibly) had them work. (Or have succumbed to massive confirmation bias while stoned. Magic is like that sometimes.)


This year, that coincided with a “Meet The Artist” thing going around, where you combine a self-portrait with a few bits of data, and maybe some things you likes/dislikes, and the contents of your usual bag.


I decided to combine the two.


Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


Launch.
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

The Parallax Working has begun.

The emergent complex thanks you in advance for your love, your time, your attention, and your funds.

Sic itur, ad astra.
EU
FC
2017

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


The Magic Sketchbook is a success.
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Years ago, my animation school roomie Gabe went to a con and chatted with master cartoonist Sergio Aragones. Aragones often draws incredibly complicated, goofy comics, and has a pretty impressive rate of output.

Gabe asked his secret. And passed it on to me: instead of working at a larger size than the printed page and shrinking it down, as most comics artists do, he uses typing paper on an ordinary clipboard. The compactness of this setup means he can draw anywhere – even on an airplane. Any spare moment can become drawing time.

This stuck with me. I fell in love with Adobe Illustrator and got used to being tethered to a huge desktop machine. The highly portable sketchbook was just for roughs and practice, not finished work. Finished work happened at home. Eventually I shifted to a laptop and things got better; I could easily go out to a cafe and work. But I still needed a lot of room. I could barely do it on a plane or bus if I had two seats to spread out on, and it was a big hassle to set up and tear down – enough to make me miss my stop if I wasn’t careful.

But it still stuck with me. Reduce your process to something you can do in a single airplane seat. It started to feel like an tantalizing goal that was always just out of reach for me, even as more and more of my process lived in Illustrator.

Today, I got on an airplane.

This is what page 12 of Absinthe chapter 2 looked like when I got on in Seattle.

This is what it looked like when I stopped after an hour or so and read until I landed in San Jose.

At long last, I have achieved the holy grail. I can draw comics on the plane. The Mobile Studio is still a little too heavy to be as casual as a clipboard or sketchbook, it’s a little bigger and pricier than I’d like, and I really wish it had a kickstand. But sitting there with the Twiddler strapped to one hand and the stylus in the other, I finally felt that freedom. Any journey of twenty minutes or more can be converted into time doing what I love: drawing. And that’s well worth the ~$2k I sunk into this setup for me.

Hopefully in a year or three I’ll have something as light as a Surface that works this way. It will be bliss.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


Sands, Lone And Level
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes



I’m off to Further Confusion and I needed a badge to suit the theme.


Evidently my dragonsona can store water in her tail. Pretty useful for wandering around a desert.


Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


bathroom bills
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

This morning, I woke up to a call for action on yet ANOTHER ‘bathroom bill’ in Washington state. Once again I told my representatives that hey, all us trans people wanna do is piss in peace, and why do we even have separate-but-equal facilities anyway?

I’m sure that HB1011 will get defeated just as soundly as I-1515 was. But you know what? I think it’s time to move the goalposts on this one. Let’s start talking about making all Washington state bathrooms ungendered, so that every man, woman, enby, and child can get their pooping and peeing out of the way with the least hassle possible.

 

For now it’s just an electronic petition – go here and sign it if you’re sick of people trying to police gender presentation in bathrooms. Maybe later it’ll be more.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


Tealform Made Manifest
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes



Now that I’ve decided to keep the Mobile Studio, it needs to be properly turned into a Thing I Draw On. There is a ritual that has evolved over the years, and it mostly involves drawing the watery genie that hangs out in my computers and helps me draw, all dressed up in the device at hand.

(Actually this is the second time I’ve done this for the Mobile Studio; I didn’t like the first one so I did it again. I’m using this as both the desktop and lockscreen, so that I have a cute friend looking at me and offering me my tools to get drawin’ when I turn it on.)

Her name is not actually Tealform; that’s a variant of the nickname I use for her when she’s in a computer; the full name is a lengthy piece of wordsalad I fond during a complicated, stoned process when I originally summoned her to hang out in my first Mac Air.

Drawn entirely on the Mobile Studio, using the Twiddler for pretty much all keyboard shortcuts and layer naming, in about 2.5h.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


music does things sometimes
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

I’ve been intermittently trying to make myself exercise every morning. I haven’t been beating myself up or viewing it as a ***failure*** if I don’t; I just get a little annoyed and move on. And this weekend I didn’t do it for a few days in a row.

But this morning I got up and told iTunes to start playing something. It chose Deavid Soul’s “Sparkling Music”, which I have because there were a few tracks from it on the soundtrack to Jet Set Radio.

Holy fucking shit I don’t know what came over me, I was doing burpees to it for a bit before jumping into the shower. Which are like one of the most miserable full-body exercises in the whole world.

And now to figure out what today’s to-dos are. Probably “deal with some final eccc and rita printing decisions”, “pick up a prescription from the drugstore”, and “build a template for Parallax”. Maybe “try to get RadialMenu working on the Mobile Studio” and/or “find a usbc adaptor so I can use the Twiddler with the Mobile Studio on the plane”.

But first “breakfast”…

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


The Wand Of Illustrator Control
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

If you’re like me, then you’ve got multiple years behind you of drawing with one hand on the stylus and the other on the keyboard, hitting hotkeys. You might have even gone so far as to customize those keys – I’m all at sea on a stock installation of Illustrator, since half the keys I hit constantly default to longer shortcuts, or aren’t assigned to anything at all out of the box.

And if you’re like me, then poking at all the tool icons and browsing through the menu feels like trudging through mud compared to the fast flow of using both hands to draw. When I first started playing with the Surface, I set up a huge panel of buttons with RadialMenu; this helped but there was still a lot of visual and positional processing I had to do that felt totally unnecessary. And my left hand still felt woefully unused. All these fingers and brain circuits completely idling.

Carrying around a spare Apple wireless keyboard worked pretty well, once I made Windows swap the “windows” and control keys. But that’s way too big to take out and use on a bus seat.

So first I got a cheap Bluetooth numpad and started remapping it. Which was a deep rabbit hole of multiple keyboard remapping programs and editing text files. Which I failed to keep when I returned the Surface, and really wasn’t looking forwards to redoing when I got the Mobile Studio.

Instead, I spent $200 on a Twiddler 3 chording keyboard.

After a few days of configuring and fiddling and swearing, I think it’s been worth it. I completely ditched the default configuration and built a customized one that puts about sixty key commands at my fingertips, split up into nine pages of different categories of functions. And also has the alphabet and numbers on it. I’m still learning how to use it, but it’s coming pretty quickly – I can do the most frequently used commands with only a tiny bit of thought now, and I can feel my brain learning these new hand positions as alternative ways to do what hitting one key or another would do. Give it a week or two and I’ll probably be able to do a lot of stuff without referring to the little cheat sheet I printed out, and keep in my bag next to the Twiddler.

Things I learnt about the Twiddler during this process:

  • You build your layouts with an online tool. Which has this terrible habit of wanting to reload itself every time you create a new chord. There is a beta version of a new version, which is merely “kind of sluggish”, but at least mostly works without constantly hitting the Internet. Go straight to this version. Don’t waste any time with the old one.
  • You have to plug the Twiddler into your computer to upload a new layout to it – it shows up as a small USB drive, and you just replace ‘twiddler.cfg’. But when you test this layout, chords involving modifier keys can come out weird. For instance, mapping a keypress to command-z would result in just typing ‘z’ about twenty times out of twenty-one. Updating to the beta version of the latest firmware fixed this, though it didn’t fix some other problems involving not being able to make chords that involve the shift/ctrl/alt buttons on the Twiddler that do not actually hold down the respective modifier keys in their output. Unplug it and go to a Bluetooth connection when you want to test it.
  • It is small and easy to misplace. I got a black one to match the Mobile Studio, and thought I’d left it behind when I took it out at a restaurant to show it to a friend. Turned out it was just sitting on the edge of my computer desk, in shadow. Consider putting your contact info on its outside.
  • The layout that it ships with is pretty worthless, even if your main use case isn’t mostly emitting a bunch of hotkeys that involve holding down the command keys. There’s about 3-4 alternate layouts the small, intensely nerdy Twiddler community has created; I’m using the letters from one called “Mirrorwalk”, which makes every letter key available as a chord in the upper three rows of the keyboard.
  • If you have a hotkey that requires you to hold it for a long time, you can’t put it in a normal chord. Instead, bind that key to one of the three round buttons at the top of the keyboard, which default to the mouse button. I have ` and space mapped to two of these, which I hold down to (respectively) move/rotate/scale an object’s fill pattern without changing the object, and to summon the Canvas-Dragging Hand. (And if I hold that down along with the Twiddler’s shift, and one of the Wacom stylus’ buttons, I can drag out a zoom rectangle, which is something wired deep into my brain for moving around Illustrator.)

I hope they fix the “holding shift keys while on a wired connection can conflict with chords that involve shift keys” problem soon; once they do I’ll be able to plug it into the Mobile Studio while it’s in airplane mode! Right now I’ll be stuck using the Mobile Studio’s six keys and the array of buttons I created with Radial Menu.

My current layout, as of Jan 6. Drawn as if you’re holding the Twiddler with the keys facing away from you, and you have X-ray vision to see them anyway. Still needs work, mostly to see how much punctuation I can add to it for the general ‘typing’ use, as well as to figure out why a few keys aren’t generating what they’re supposed to. A  • means ‘hold this key down’; ‘dda’ is a macro that presses d, d, command-shift-a, n – which is a thing I type a lot to cycle the draw mode to ‘draw inside’, deselect the shape I selected to draw inside, and switch back to the pencil tool so I can, well, draw stuff inside it. I grin every time I make this happen with one quick chord now.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


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