pentacles, magic

A nice cup of rabies

Rantings with occasional art.

snoo
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

I just tweaked the logo I did for the Seattle subreddit so it’s in the average colors of all of the town’s professional sports teams.

seattle-reddit

T-shirts available on redbubble.

Illustrator source file is here.

Also if you’re here from reddit, feel free to check out my ongoing graphic novel.

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


stats check
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

I found a link to this article on Ultima IV and found a sudden desire to use it as a personality test – when you start a game, it asks you a series of questions pitting one of the games Virtues against each other, and chooses your class and stats based on them. It turns out that the game is free on gog.com, complete with a Mac package. I tried to answer as, well, basically me, translating the situations posed in a manner most medieval into modern terms. Some of them were really hard. Interestingly enough I really wanted to choose ‘male’ as the gender at first; I think a screen full of lo-res 8-bit art was temporarily tossing me back to who I was when this was cutting-edge tech. I think when I played Ultima 3 it was with a party of indeterminate-gender “fuzzies”; I have no clue what, if anything, I played in U4.

Screen Shot 2014 07 11 at 11 59 08AM

Gnome (I think that’s what the G means?) bard, high dex. So basically a thief, right?

Or if I take it straight, well hey, guess what I do iRL: I tell stories. So well done, Mr. Garriott.

I don’t think I’m going to actually play the game. I don’t have that kind of attention span any more. Given that I never finished any of the Ultimas back in the 8-bit days, I’m not sure I ever did. Maybe I’ll just read through the first part of this here Ultima IV, V, and VI Let’s Play.

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


hacking the tool
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Woo. I finally got around to hacking up some keyboard shortcuts to change stroke weights in Illustrator. It is a horrible mess involving having Quicksilver trigger an Applescript when I hit command-option-control-[/] but it works – I mash the modifiers and hit [, and the size of my stroke decreases by 25%; modifier-mash plus ] increases it by a third. Which is close enough to the inverse of the decreasing to make me happy.

For further ugly hackery, I have bound the touch strip on my tablet to trigger those keys when I’m in Illustrator.

At some point in the future I might want to prettify the stroke weights it ends up with – a weight of 1.0002 points is not pretty – but for now I’m just going to enjoy actually being able to control this at small values without typing a number into the stroke palette. Which is a thing I find myself doing a hell of a lot when using art brushes.

Anyway, if you want ‘em, download them here and have fun: Illustrator stroke width scripts

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


vampire doodlin’
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

vampire-lady-noir-maybe

I’ve been thinking about that vampire lady who lies a lot, and thinking about the look for her world. Basically it’d be doing the same trick Frank Miller does in the Sin City books – stark B&W noir, plus a key color for one character – except each vampire would have a key color of their own. I’d put more effort into it than this but maybe not necessarily too much more.

It’s got something like three years to simmer, I can afford to dabble for a while.

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


(no subject)
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I’m sorry, sir. Saying “hey, hey wassup red hair” while grabbing your crotch is not the proper way to greet a lady such as myself. Thank you for trying, though.

Stay classy, Pioneer Square.

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


Khasubinox
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shatterstripes

Khasubinox

Back in the muck days, Peganthyrus had a cute little niece named Khasubinox, or Subi for short. I guess she’s not so little any more.

I felt like being ultra-precise with this one; a lot more of it is done with the pen tool than normal. I think I spent about three hours being super anal about a lot of the figure, which is why I didn’t bother with a background here – I’ve spent enough time on a drawing that exists solely to fulfill the urge to draw a dragon that is Not Me for a change.

I felt lazy and worked off of something from my ‘pornspiration’ directory; if you’re curious it’s here. I had that open on one desktop, with Illustrator on another, and flipped back and forth while working out the pose, so I got something that was kind of a caricature of the reference image instead of tracing it, slapping a dragon head and tail on it, and calling it a day.

Also yes it is completely intentional that her tailtip points right at her boob.

Also I have this brief desire to pay some of my artist friends to draw her doing various things of various ratings…

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

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Camouflage
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Camoflage

I felt weird drawing my animal-person self for my birthday and not drawing my ex-with-benefits for his birthday, which is two days before mine.

He came over yesterday, and we went out to dinner at Liam’s, partially on my mom – she’d sent me some money and said “go have a nice dinner with Nick”. After that we sat around listening to music, falling into the visualizer, and generally Having Benefits with each other. It was a pretty damn good birthday.

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

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43
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43

Self-portrait as dragon, on the occasion of turning forty-three tomorrow. About two hours of work.

The background is a bunch of ‘abstract techy-looking junk’ brushes, with varying amounts of blur applied. I like how it turned out; I may have to do more of that.

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


A REMINDER
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All the fireworks today are in celebration of the impending anniversary of MY ARRIVAL ON THIS PLANET. Plan accordingly.

Tomorrow you will have shared this planet with my Magnificence for FORTY THREE YEARS.

(Historically I have not celebrated my birthday, or made much noise about it, what with my present for my twelfth one being “a dead father”. But I’ve now lived longer than he did and let go of most of that pain. Maybe it’s time to consider actually doing something for it.)

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


emerging themes
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

A recent comment of a page of Rita got me thinking about how that whole story has become a constant dance between telling enough of the story to make sense, while simultaneously fragmenting and disconnecting it to create just enough discombobulation in the reader to sympathize with the way Rita is constantly struggling to make sense of her broken reality.

And to be honest it also makes me realize that this is a constant theme in much of my work: Five Glasses of Absinthe has a (not well-telegraphed yet) metanarrative of being told by its self-aggrandizing title character. The main character of Drowning City suffers from blackouts, and the reader will not know for sure what happens during them until she remembers. I’m currently semi-obsessed with a few ideas for stories of a vampire who cheerfully reminds her interviewer that she is not to be trusted, because why on earth would an obligate predator of something as smart as humans want to expose all their secrets?*

I’m beginning to wonder why the hell I find this fascinating. Is it merely that I like constructing puzzles for the sufficiently engaged reader? Or am I trying to tell myself something?

I mean, there’s a huge gap in my life called “the black hole of depression I fell into for many years after my father died”. And there’s a few strange fragments floating around that I really cannot remember how they were connected with anything else. Maybe I’m just trying to get people to understand a little bit of what it’s like to be me.

(I do have other ideas lying around that aren’t full of memory holes. Arguably I’m cherry-picking my output to support this thesis…)

* which gives me the idea that possibly her motivation for telling these stories is to gauge the sophistication of her audience, and to keep her dissembling in shape – any audience who can see through her maze of lies ay well be too dangerous to live…

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


Witchin’ Pole
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Witchin Pole

This is what happens when someone who occasionally thinks of herself as a witch takes pole dance.

 

About an hour of Illustratoring over a messy pen rough.

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

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It Was Inevitable
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It Was Inevitable
Really. It was.

For a contest on DA: draw yourself turning into a thing over three panels.

Click for the full image.

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


Dispatches from pole dance class
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but I’ve been attending pole dance class pretty regularly for the past few months. I’m building strength and flexibility, as well as toughening up my skin – your body is not normally ready to support it’s entire weight by the friction of about thirty square inches of arm or leg flesh clenched around a slim metal pole!

Today my teacher praised the way I go at it: most people tend to stick to the moves they know, and avoid the ones they haven’t perfected yet. But I’m repeatedly making myself try the ones I can’t do yet, and asking for crit.

I suspect this is because I’ve learnt two things in my many years learning art: how to learn, and how to not wrap my ego up in my skills.

I mean, I have learnt from master cartoonists, I HAD to learn how to detach my ego from my drawing skills. I’ve assimilated the idea that “people who have done a thing longer than you can probably kick your ass at it without blinking”. Plus I know that while I may be a pole noob, I can draw rings around anyone in class; my ego can afford to suck here. And that probably helps a lot.

The other big thing: How to learn. I’m taking the same tack I tell kids on DA’s forums again and again. Keep doing the stuff you love to do, but also push yourself to the parts of the craft you hate. It’s perfectly okay to hate to draw a subject once you’ve mastered it enough to do an okay job when you have to, but saying “I hate drawing this” to cover up “I can’t draw this” is not okay when you claim to be An Artist. Turns out that this applies to anything. Know what parts of a craft you’re good at, and either push at the ones you’re not good at yet, or accept that you simply aren’t that interested in mastery right now. You don’t have to be great at everything you do – but know that you can be if you’re willing to dedicate the time to it. (Modulo things like “I want to be a great marathon runner but I am paralyzed”.)

Anyway. Now I think it’s time to learn what I’m going to dream about tonight. Going to pole dance class and walking home takes a lot of energy – though not as much as it did when I first started doing it.

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


note to self
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Last night Nick came over, and we watched another of the Asterix movies in the original French with no subtitles. It’s Asterix, you don’t need to know the details, you know? You’re just missing lots of terrible puns.

I said that sometime I really need to take out some of my Asterix albums and do some studies of Goscinny’s amazing drawings of craggy old guys that parade through the pages of those stories.

I have not done this yet but damn I really should soon.

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


self abuse?
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Yesterday I walked to pole class and walked back.

Today I blew off yoga, took the bus to pole class, and walked back.

This is because last week I scheduled myself for class two nights in a row on a whim. I'm not sure whether I should thank Past Peggy or curse her. Ill decide when I see how much I ache tomorrow morning.

Either way I don't think I'm scheduling like this any time soon again. Not until I stop having lurid bruises the day after class.

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


noticing habits
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Well that’s interesting. Moving my dock to accommodate Illustrator’s font menu revealed an interesting behavior pattern: I flick my mouse into the dock to see if I have any new email a lot.

This is really not a productive behavior for someone who pretty much works alone. Turning off the “new mail” badge and reprogramming myself to only check mail like a couple times a day, immediately.

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


Illustrator CC 2014
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New version. Hooray?

Screen Shot 2014 06 19 at 12 44 15PM
It installed next to the old version. This is getting kinda ridiculous. Admittedly I’m making it a little worse by keeping CS6 around, I keep hemming and hawing about reverting to it because of the way the pencil tool changed in CC and never quite decide to do it.

It offered to sync my prefs from the last version and completely failed to do anything. After I manually copied a ton of stuff over, I realized that while the “sync settings” switch had been turned on in the old version, it said it had never actually been synced. Am I crazy for thinking that it should have done this at least once somewhere in the past? Well, after I got everything set up on the new one I hit that obscure little sync button a few times, we’ll see what happens when Illustrator 19 comes out.

Screen Shot 2014 06 19 at 12 12 08PMScreengrab of the bitchin’ new startup screen next to the shitty boring periodic table icon Adobe’s been using ever since the “Creative Suite” rebranding.

Screen Shot 2014 06 19 at 12 36 52PM

Yeah. That’s much better. Looks a little derpy at this size but with a tiny bit of tweaking, and removing the dim gradient over it, this could be a TOTALLY RAD icon. I’ve been lovingly copying that Venus icon from the last pre-CS Illustrator since 2003; I would be completely happy with saying goodbye to her if she was replaced by a succession of stylistic riffs on A FUCKING LION ROARING FROM MY DOCK 24-7. Adobe please fire all your branding people and get on this immediately.

(I’m also glad to see an actual IMAGE on the startup screen again, it’s all been a bunch of abstract stuff across the whole line ever since the CS rebrand.)

Screen Shot 2014 06 19 at 12 54 14PM
It took like three quit and restarts before CC2014 would remember my choice to stop showing me this at startup. I guess it’d be pretty nice if you’re new to Illustrator. It basically leads to a bunch of video tutorials which is a mode of instruction I basically hate so whatever, I’ve also been using Illustrator for fourteen years now so I’m pretty sure I’m not the target market for this. Honestly though I don’t think a company Adobe’s size has any excuse for not providing this stuff in text too.

Pencil tool is still super-aggressive about closing the paths I draw, with no options to control this, ugh. This will continue to annoy me when doing both my roughs and finals.

There still isn’t a tool that lets me draw variable-width strokes that vary with the pen pressure. It’d be nice if Adobe would actually finish that feature someday. Still doesn’t work on scatter brushes or calligraphic brushes either.

Oh hey I just realized that the brush tool hasn’t had the path-closing feature added. Hmmm. Nah, that’s not gonna replace my sketching workflow; it creates just enough lag to drive me nuts, and makes me want to make a “nice” drawing at a time when that’s the last thing I want to do.

Ugh why is “new art has basic appearance” on again ffffff. Adding that to my list of Stuff To Frob In A New Version.

Gritting my teeth and going through the “what’s new” section expecting to suffer a ton of video tutorials with people sllloooowwwwllllyyyy eeeexxxxpppppllllaaaiiiinnnniiinnnnggggg ttttthhhheeeeee nnnnneeeeewwwww fffeeeaaaattttuuuurrrreeeesssss.

Oh good, it now doesn’t show a corner curving handle for every single shape when you have a lot of stuff selected. That feature may actually be usable now. It seems like it triggers based on some certain percentage of corners in the shapes you select? If I draw a bunch of angular stuff with the pen tool then it won’t go away, but if I select those and a bunch of sketchy curvy stuff it does. Checking in the last version shows that it now works this way, I guess they tweaked it in the 17.1 update after I’d recoiled in horror and turned it off. So I guess I may be marginally glad it didn’t sync my prefs. Maybe. A little.

ugh god I don’t wanna listen to this guy with a weird accent tell me about the new features of the pen tool. why does the help function in illustrator never fucking work for me any more, it always just tells me I have to connect to the Internet. Which I am. And I’m not blocking anything in the hosts file either. What is wrong with you Adobe.

Okay I found a text version of the WHAT’S NEW stuff. YAY.

Liking the rubber band pen tool preview and loving the drag unequal anchor points. Not sure I’ll use the “convert corner handle to curve handle” much, we’ll see. And HOORAY they FINALLY made holding down space to move an anchor point around while closing a path work properly instead of having it flicker all around insanely, this is something that’s been happening since the very first time I used Illustrator.

There is some new shit for Typekit whatever. Font menu is still the giant ugly piece of ass it’s been since CC, when they moved from a nice simple system dropdown with the font name written in it to a giant homebrew menu that jams up against the right side of the screen and interferes with me keeping the dock there. I dunno, maybe I’ll try moving the dock to the bottom or the left side, since Illustrator’s clearly not changing their side of this battle any more.

They “listened” to people’s complaints about the CC pencil tool and added a checkbox to revert some of the new behavior but did not fix the aggressive path-closing behavior that drives me bugfuck, oh well. I’ve sort of adjusted to it but it still gets in my way.And there’s a similar “it wasn’t ever broken” checkbox for the new “path segment reshape” behavior from CC, which doesn’t bug me as I really never reshape stuff that way anyway. I may start doing it more, I like the new version better.

Also they seem to have quietly fixed that bug I found where actions involving the Pathfinder palette lost certain important nuances of what you actually did after reloading the action, so yay! I have f1-f3 for non-destructive Pathfinder operations again!

Guess it’s time for some bug reports/feature requests…

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


Illustrator script: Blend color swatches.
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

My first love in digital art was Deluxe Paint, way back in the late 80s and early 90s. The way it exposed the Amiga’s color model really shaped a lot of the way I still work; being able to tweak a “global” color swatch in Illustrator and have everything I drew in that swatch immediately change, the same way tweaking a palette register in DPaint worked, was the deciding factor in me choosing Illustrator over Painter or Photoshop when I switched to a Mac.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with returning to these roots in the way I manage my colors. A common workflow in DPaint was to pick a couple of colors at widely-spread points on the palette, then make DPaint fill in all the intervening palette registers with a smooth gradient between them. I’ve been simulating this workflow by making a couple of global swatches, then drawing a couple of boxes, using Illustrator’s blend tool to generate a series of shapes that have a color gradient, and eyedroppering all of those colors into the palette, then setting them to global swatches. But obviously that is a lot more steps than “select two colors, hit a button”. So I spent an hour and a half doing some scripting…

As the video notes, it only works on global CMYK swatches. If you work in RGB or spot swatches, you’ll have to tweak this some.

Download Blend Swatches.jsx and stick it in the presets/your_language/scripts directory, then invoke it with file->scripts, and enjoy. (You’ll have to quit and relaunch AI if it’s running before the script shows up in that menu.)

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


thinkin’ about ads and printing and stuff
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

I got some email from Project Wonderful this morning telling me that my funds were about to run out. I was surprised – I had campaigns running? And it turns out I did; I’d run a broad campaign, then threw some money at the two top performers in terms of actual engagement, and forgotten about them. For about two months.

Bumbling around Google Analytics suggests that I have pretty much gotten all the archive bingers I’m going to get out of Sinfest and Grrl Power, so I guess it’s time to do a new broad campaign to figure out where to go next. I might put a bit more in and have a higher maximum bid this time; we’ll see how I feel after I go wire a couple thousand bucks to China to pay for printing.

Which is my agenda for today. I was intending to do it over the phone, after an unsuccessful trip out to the BECU by University Village yesterday, but I just looked at my figure in the mirror and there’s a distinct improvement from a couple days ago, so I may well just get my ass moving and walk out there again.

(See, last November, some new federal regulations came down to require a half-hour period of takebacks on international money transfers, due to a rise in scams. Part of these regulations mean that you can’t initiate one after 1pm – at least after 1pm on the West Coast, I dunno if it’s 1pm in Your Timezone or 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern – and you can’t even do all the paperwork for it and have it fire off tomorrow morning. Fucking scammers.)

Also to be honest I really find that doing business over the phone is in an awkward middle ground. I’d rather do stuff either in email or face-to-face if possible. So what the hell, I’m gonna get some serious walking in today…

I would like to run some ads on Girl Genius; I figure a quote from Phil Foglio would go over pretty well with the rabid fans of his comic. But sadly they have switched from Project Wonderful ads to Hiveworks ads, and HW involves actually dealing with a human who has five zillion other things on his mind instead of just poking at an endlessly-ready program.

edit. Oh hey I forgot to actually post this. It was still sitting there in MarsEdit when I opened the machine up at the bank to give them the crucial details. Then I walked back to the U and had a tasty, protein-heavy breakfast at Portage Bay – I’ve got pole class tonight, I’ll be turning that pretty much entirely into muscle I think.

Aaaand I just dropped $200 into PW, and bumped the amount I was willing to let it spend per day on my ‘comics with more than 10k daily views’ from $20 to $40. So we’ll see what happens there.

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

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Piranha
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Piranha

 

Piranha from “Jet Set Radio”. Guess who I pretty much always played once I’d unlocked her?

This is a simplified version of her look from the first game, with a tiny bit of her costume in the second.

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