vr: the price of buy-in

So yesterday I found myself pondering if I would like to get a Playstation 5 now that the supply chain is not going entirely into the hands of scalpers. I’ll wait until they’re down a bit, honestly, or until a PS5 Slim comes out. There’s very little in the way of games on my radar that I can’t play just fine on the PS4 Pro, and I don’t have a 4k TV to push more pixels to.

This escalated into stonedly estimating how much I have spent on the entire ten-year tenure of my PS4, including every single game I’ve bought on it, and the PS4 Pro that I effectively got for half-price after selling my PS4 to a friend. And then that lead to me contemplating if I wanted to remain on the Sony version of the Sit On Your Ass In Front Of The Interactive TV Channel for the next decade or so.

What if, instead, I got a Windows box and subscribed to the Dance Around In VR And Also Sit On Your Ass Channel? So I asked my friends and followers: I currently own zero Windows boxes; about what would it cost to put together a system capable of letting me bounce around in Beat Sabre and VRChat with a custom avatar of my fursona, and track enough of my body to see that avatar in a virtual mirror as I dance around the studio and/or living room.

It seems to look like the buy-in from scratch is about $1-3k. And now I am going to have a long, boring list of prices and suggestions that I copied out of the various replies.

Continue reading

Wepwawet, Opener of the Ways

Or “How To Tell The Different Egyptian Jackal Deities Apart From A Very Long Way Away, part 1”.

Illustrator, 5h.

You wake up in an endless, grey desert. You’re not sure how you got here; the last thing you remember was– Oh. Right. You just died. There’s a distant echo in the back of your head of wanting to utterly freak out about that, but, well. You’re dead. You don’t have any glands to flood you with adrenalin any more. Just a memory of them.

A little after you realize this, the hazy clouds on the horizon shift in your vision. Nothing moves; you just see them as a man made of stars and jackal, now. Or maybe wolf. You’re not sure. He feels like a friend, though. Smells like frankincense and maple syrup.

His name, he says, is Wepwawet, and he’s your guide to the Duat. Maybe you remember him? No? Ah. Sometimes you do, he says. Sometimes you even knew him in life. He’s solved a few problems for you in some of your past lives. Regardless, here you are now. He’s got a map of the underworld. He’ll guide you wherever you want to go, help clear a path through the more dangerous parts, maybe take you to his cousin Anubis’ court if you think you’re ready for what happens there. But if not? Hey, whatever. He knows some interesting places to show you down here. Maybe a few places to improve your chances when you go visit the judge. Or maybe just some places to have some fun before you go back to the world of flesh. Pick a direction.

Wepwawet (also Anglicized as Upuaut, Wep-wawet, and Wepawet) is a former war deity who moved over to being a scout, and guiding folks through the underworld. He’s found at the prow of the Boat of a Million Years most nights, helping to clear out the various nasties who want to eat Ra on his regular journey of solar rebirth. He’s usually depicted as carrying a mace and a bow; I’ve added a sword, and a bunch of keys, because what Way-opener shouldn’t have a whole bunch of keys to get through locked doors?

outline view, click for more detail

Partway through working on this, I pondered a video game wherein you wander around the underworld with this design of Wepwawet as your friendly guide. It’d be nothing but side quests; the main “quest” is simply “go get judged”. You always get a result of “sorry, you still have things to learn; go have another round of life” when you do that. And then the game politely refuses to let you play for a day or three of realtime. This would also be how you turn some collectable resource into stat/level/equipment upgrades, just to keep you from going through the entire thing in one session. Think of it as sort of an open-world game that’s in the form of a themed short story collection, rather than a big doorstop of an epic story that puts you in the shoes of someone who saves the world. You might make a few friends and trigger interesting events the next time you’re judged by doing them. You might not. Fuck up and die? You just wake up at the starting point again. There’s Wepwawet, with a comment on how long it’s been. Do you say you recognize him this time?

Prints/shirts/stickers/etc, should you want some, are on Redbubble. Illustrator source and a high-res copy are over on Patreon.

Unexpectedly Effective

Awrite, first: this kinda looks like vent art, but it isn’t. Everything’s fine with me.

So last month the SO went out of town for a late Christmas visit home. I stayed behind, made sure the cats were fed, and enjoyed the solitude for a few days – I love my spouse a whole lot, but sometimes it’s a real relief not to have to talk to anyone for a few days.

I spent a lot of this little bachelorette holiday lying on the bed, listening to guided meditations from the Monroe Institute app. During one heart-chakra-opening file, something like this happened in my inner vision. The black chunks of Me just kinda hung there in the air for a while; I tried stuffing them back in but golden goop just kinda oozed out around the edges.

Ultimately I remembered a moment years ago, when I first turned my computer’s mouse upside down, took out the ball, and began to clean it. What I initially though were black rubber tires on the wheels turned out to be caked dirt picked up from my desk, which dissolved under the touch of my alcohol-soaked q-tip. These shattered chunks of dark me-shaped substance seem to be like that: the caked-up gunk of years and years of living in this world, finally blasted out of my aura. It hasn’t really seemed to make much difference in my daily life but it’s definitely interesting to see this shit glowing in there when I try to look at myself with the third eye.

I make no claims about the objective reality of any of these events. But that’s basically what I wrote down in my magical diary over a couple of days, and that’s what I felt was worth turning into a piece of art.

Illustrator, about 4h.

Technical notes:

Lots of use of Astute’s Stipplism plugin here, each of these stippled areas is just a shape with one or more solid or gradient fills, with that effect applied.

The perspective extrusion on the Peggy Chunks was done by Astute’s Block Shadow effect, with various gradients angled and chosen with their new gradient plugins.

The negative-stipple effect is done with two fills: one with the stipple effect, set to 0% opacity, and below it, a solid or gradient fill. The whole path’s got Knockout Group turned on, which means the 0% shapes punch holes through the shapes beneath. It makes for a really nice sort of grease pencil or chalk look.

If you want prints/shirts/laptop skins/etc with this, they’re on Redbubble.

Patrons can grab a high-res copy and/or the Illustrator source file over here.

the joy of physicality

Earlier this year, I impulsively decided to buy a couple of paper calendars and hang them on the walls. I just wanted the physicality of crossing off days, maybe putting symbols in them to track good habits, stuff like that. Today I just bought tickets for a show and realized, hey, sure I could keep this PDF and spend a while searching for it in my email when we got to the venue, probably with shitty reception… or I could send this PDF to my brand new printer, cut them out, and tape them to the appropriate month of the calendar.

So I did. Is it weird that this feels kind of revolutionarily simple? People probably did shit like this all the time in the days before computers ate our infrastructure, but I wasn’t impulsively buying tickets to shows back then so I never did it or noticed if anyone else was doing it. Now there’s a big physical token of this event hanging where I can easily see it and grab it and have it scanned at the show, then maybe have lingering around in a drawer for a decade and trigger memories when I find it again. If I forget to bring it then it’s still on my phone at the cost of several minutes of finding decent reception and searching through my email and feeling dumb for not doing that on the way or something.

Also I sure am glad I got a laser printer instead of an inkjet when I finally got a new one just now. I’ve always had inkjets as an adult and the absurd price of the ink makes me think two or three times before printing anything out; toner for this is a lot cheaper.

Paper is such great information technology.

All Gates Open

Recently, I got a printer. It’s a Brother color laser and I’m pretty happy with it. When I was setting up Frater Printy (as it has been named), I did a couple of test prints of a witch with giant titties to calibrate some color settings, and ended up sticking one of those prints on the outside of my studio door.

I decided I wanted something a bit less openly horny to be on the closed door; I drew a quick sketch of my magicsona, and a few days later I spent an hour coloring it.

I am especially happy with how I made the sparkles on the golden shoes happen.

There’s three fills: an orange fill, and two gradients with Astute’s Symbol Stipple effect applied to them, making use of a new switch in the latest update of that which lets me set the symbols to not be cropped by the original path’s edge. The frequency and size of the symbols varies with the gradient’s brightness. Works out pretty nice.

Full Illustrator source is over on Patreon; prints/stickers/t-shirts/etc are on Redbubble.

shuffling the archives

After twenty-three years, my personal file organization is finally starting to break down.


Since 2001, I’ve used this method: all my art lives in ~/gfx/working, in folders named with the year, with a lot of aliases in there to help me quickly access large projects that may span across more than one year. All the stuff in the top has a space at the beginning of its name, so it sorts at the front.

And then there’s the yearly directories, which now stretch way past the bottom of my screen on the laptop. Quickly finding work from the last year or two now involves scrolling a good ways down here, and that’s kind of annoying – I want the old stuff to be way in the back of the virtual closet, not the new stuff.

Sorting z-a might fix this, but OSX MacOS doesn’t let me do that in column views. Hmmm.Well, here’s an idea:

A folder full of aliases, organized by prefixing them with Greek letters. Conveniently I have exactly as many old yearly folders as there are letters in the Greek alphabet; English letters and numbers sort above them, so I have twenty-six years of continuing this scheme through English letters before it starts to break down, plus about, oh, another decade or so of “I just have a few un-renamed aliases in alphabetic order before the older stuff and it’s not a real hassle”, which means I can keep adding a new alias to this folder once a year until I’m somewhere in my late eighties. I think that’s enough, if Future Me is still in a situation where she can dextrously manipulate a stylus connected to a functioning computer, then she can spend ten minutes thinking of a new way to do this.

Actually now that I put myself in Future Me’s sandals for a second… what if I organized them by decade? Nah. Leave it to Future Me, I don’t need to try to refine this right now.

In the shower, I came up with this, and thought it might be useful, too. “I know I did that thing when I was living in Boston..”

The lower New Orleans folder is mostly a placeholder for if I ever take up Lewis’ offer to try and see what’s on the VHS tape he has that purports to be a backup of my Amiga circa 1997. I never got around to transferring stuff off the actual computer in the time between when I quit using it in 1999 and when it was destroyed in Katrina.

If you’re reading this post when it’s a year or two old, leave a comment and find out if one of these schemes is still working, or if I’ve come up with something else!

an opening

Lately I have been playing around with the beta of some new tools Astute Graphics is building for better gradient management in Illustrator. Today I got a private message from one of their developers telling me that they’d put together a super-hacky little implementation of an improvement I’d suggested: a way to quickly make a lot of linear gradients all radiate out from the same point.

I started fooling around with it and this is what happened. Works pretty well.

40min, Illustrator, no underdrawing or anything, just some gradient shapes I doodled out with the Pencil tool and kept adding to.


current status: looking stonedly at my current desktop image and completely losing interest in Twilight Sparkle’s Goatse Impression to note that, wow, there’s some really terrible jpeg artifacts on the hot magenta of her cutie mark and the stripe in her hair.

Going from a 24″ monitor to a 27″ has been really interesting, I am noticing a lot more of these kinds of things in the endless rotation of my FA favorites through my desktop. I have also noticed that the menu bar is just too far away now. It’s not even any physically further away from what I’m doing, it’s the same place on the drawing tablet, but I find myself using a lot of windows that don’t completely fill up the screen and that extra distance is breaking something in my head a little.

This may also be coming from the fact that this monitor has a super-tiny bezel and the Mardi Gras beads I had hanging over the edge of the old monitor are now hanging over the left edge of the screen. I dunno. Maybe I need a frame for this thing so that everything displayed upon it immediately becomes Art, in the same way the ornate frame surrounding the projector’s image on the living room wall turns every game I play on the ps4 into Art. And which I can also hang these beads over.

(And because I know someone is gonna ask: here is the original image, it is by professional pony porn provider Bakuhaku, and it is fabulously NSFW.)

full moon promises

This just kind of happened when one of the Gateway files came up on iTunes one spring day when I was baked. It’s been sitting around marked as “in progress” ever since; every now and then I’d open it up, fiddle around with it, and decide it wasn’t done yet. Sometimes I’d add stuff, sometimes I’d take stuff away and add something else.

Today I opened it up and decided the only thing to add was my signature. Time Sink says I’ve spent a total of about an hour with this file open.

It’s on Redbubble if you want a print or a poster or a sticker or a t-shirt or an apron or whatever.

Illustrator source and a high-res copy are on Patreon.


So a few days ago, I got crossfaded, and a little horny, and decided to lay down on the couch with my copies of the Gateway audio files. These are a series of recordings from the 70s designed, essentially, to try and teach you how to psychic. And to astral travel.

I have not reached that point with them but I sure did get some interesting imagery this time. I scribbled down something in my Magical Notebook; the next day, I started turning it into a full piece in Illustrator.

4.5 hours, lots of use of Astute’s plugins. Source on Patreon.