shatter’d!

Once upon a time, way back in 1985, an artist named Mike Saenz thought he could use his shiny new Macintosh Plus to draw comics. In MacPaint, a simple B&W paint program that predated the concept of “layers”. With a mouse. These B&W images then had what looked like watercolors overlaid on them to print the final, full-color comic. It looked something like this:

(image swiped from Ben Towle’s tweet regarding Shatter that inspired me to do this)

Narratively, it was a bunch of cyberpunk stuff. Saenz left after three issues, other artists worked in more traditional methods before scanning it into the Mac, adding tones, and printing it out for the signature look, until another person crazy enough to actually do it in the Mac (now with a slightly more sophisticated paint program, though still not one much more powerful than MSPaint, and a drawing tablet) came on board for the rest of its run.

It was amazing at the time. Cyberpunk! Made on a computer! SO COOL! Now, of course, it looks insanely retro.

Today I was reminded it existed, and wondered if I could get Illustrator to reproduce its signature look. A half hour later, I had this:

It ain’t perfect but it’s a pretty good start.

Mostly it relies on two effects:

First off, I’ve got a couple of layers that I’m doing some simple B&W art on. One layer’s got the lines and textures, the other’s got a bunch of translucent shapes.

These two layers are crammed into a layer, which has the halftone effect from Astute’s Phantasm plugin applied to it. This gives it that distinctive one-bit MacPaint look.

Below this, there’s a couple of layers for the foreground and background colors, which are also crammed into a layer. This one’s got a Gaussian blur to muck it up. (The white shapes are part of the ‘ink’ layers, and vanish in the final art because I’m telling the halftone plugin to render all of this as an overprint for that extra bit of Four-Color Comics Process authenticity.)

And also here is a quick 15-minute drawing of the Baron from Parallax using these effects. With some slightly different settings on the halftone plugin – Bayer dithering instead of Floyd-Steinberg, which does a better job on large areas of tone.

Now I kinda want to draw a goofy short cyberpunk comic this way. Probably just B&W with a little spot color here and there.

My Star Wars pitch. Call me, Disney! (Don’t.)

So there is this meme I saw making the rounds.

I looked at this for a moment. And I sighed, and rolled my eyes. And I typed this. With some help from Wookiepedia because I sure did not know the names of the Cantina Band until ten minutes ago.

Man fuck all these guys, I want a film about Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes and their path through the world of Jizz music. Was their appearance in the Mos Eisly cantina in Star Wars part of their long coast into obscurity? Was it part of a point in their career where they honed their chops to monofilament-perfection like the Beatles in Hamburg? Was it the turning point where Nalan Cheel got her left thumb shot off in the fracas after one deadbeat shot another deadbeat, and put down the bandfill forever in favor of the hokotaur, developing a distinctive style that would go on to influence a generation? I want a musical biopic with all their greatest hits, all the tunes that left a solid mark on Jizz. I want to know about their pivotal role in the 300th annual Galactivision contest.

Also especially fuck Fett, he got like ten seconds in the original films, most of which were spent getting eaten, and his stupid figure didn’t shoot the little boffers out of its jetpack like it was supposed to. Though I guess if I gotta pick one then I want a comedy about Boba, The Most Hilariously Incompetent Bounty Hunter In The Galaxy.

casual household magic

Today I learnt about the Urmahlullu, a Mesopotamian spirit shaped like a lion-taur who guards toilets against Šulak, the demon who lurks in your bathroom and gives you a stroke when you strain too much while pooping.

So I drew one and put her in the bathroom, right above the toilet. Traditionally they wear a cap of divinity and hold a club; I took the slight liberty of modernizing this loadout with a pair of rubber gloves and a plunger. Which is surely a +6 Holy Avenger plunger given how it’s glowing.

Then two of the three cats who live under the house hopped in the window to investigate, and make sure they weren’t being replaced in their assorted guardian duties. They got petted, and on their way back out, one of them alerted me to the fact that I got both a cable I was waiting on for my new desk, and three unmarked envelopes containing my new credit and debit cards to replace the ones that got stolen a week ago.

Imminent kittens

Tonight I went outside to take out the recycling. I heard this piercing MEW from somewhere on the porch as I did so. I looked around, seeing nothing… until I looked up, and saw a small stripey kitten, clinging desperately to the transom window above the door to the other half of the shotgun double we live in.

Looks like the kittens our neighbor has been helping Shadow (the resident cat matriarch) with are starting to get adventurous. I climbed on one of the chairs we keep out on the porch and deftly plucked the little mewbeast, and Nick rang the doorbell. In a moment one of the neighbors came to the door and was, well, mostly glad to see the little lost kitty – taking care of a half dozen or so kittens has to be kind of wearying!

Soon they will be going outside on a more regular basis, and eventually start vanishing into the neighborhood. Maybe some will stick around, who knows. We have human neighbors, and we have cat neighbors, and we try to be good neighbors to both kinds. Except for that one big stripey orange cat who Shadow always hisses at when he sneaks up onto the porch to swipe the food we leave out. I stick my head out the door and hiss at him too.

a fun day of thieving

Well. That was fun.

 

I was sitting in the park relaxing with a book. A couple of kids came up from behind me on their bikes; one distracted me by asking if I’d seen a lost… iPhone… anywhere around… a… black.. one (guess what was sitting next to me, guess what color my dress was) while his buddy lifted my purse out of my bike basket. And then they took off. A moment later I realized what had happened and gathered my stuff and hopped on my bike; amazingly, I found them a moment later, with my purse in the hands of a third, older person who was going through it. If I’d had the presence of mind to yell STOP THIEF then maybe the little crowd of people passing them when I came up might have stopped them from running; as is they dropped my bag and took off in separate directions. One of them with my wallet in hand.

At least I still had my phone. And my keys.

So after cycling around trying to get lucky again, I gave up and called the bank a couple of times to cancel the cards in there; the second time around I got told they’d tried to use the credit card for $200 at an address a short ride away. Which turned out to be a bank.

I went there, hoping to get lucky and get my ID and wallet, but they seem to have kept that, or just thrown it away. I found a bunch of other junk from my wallet in the parking lot – business cards, stickers, a couple of cards for Seattle’s transit system, shit like that, but no ID.

I am now very glad that I have a passport sitting around the house, because I haven’t gotten around to getting a Louisiana ID yet. I figure it’s a lot easier to get an ID with the proper gender on it with actual F documentation. And I am also very glad I don’t keep my social security card in my wallet, or have any PINs written down in it. I’m just out twenty or forty bucks and some stress. And a nifty leather wallet with the BPRD symbol on it.

Once more: DESK.

I used to have a pretty nice standing desk setup in Seattle but I left it behind; I just didn’t feel like shipping furniture cross-country was worth the hassle and expense. Ultimately I am not sure this was a wise decision as I ended up not having a desk here for most of a year.

For a while I had my monitor perched in some bookshelves at a standing height. It was okay but it was far from great; I couldn’t rotate it to portrait orientation any more, and more importantly, it was way too close to my eyes for real comfort. Sometimes I’d take the computer out and plop it on top of one of the big plastic bins we shipped some of our stuff in and use it that way; this was also not great but at least was far enough away to avoid eyestrain, especially after Cordite got me a little adjustable stand that let me raise the computer to a comfortable height.

Last month, when I made a surprising amount of money streaming commissions, I went to Ikea’s site and configured a desk. It took about a month to get here. But today was the day!

All the parts arrived around 1pm today – a couple hours sooner than the delivery window I’d been promised; I’m glad I made sure I was dressed in case they were early.

I knew exactly where I wanted it to go. After I got all the parts inside I started dragging stuff out of the way, so I’d have room to put the desk where I wanted it when I was done, as well as to actually build the thing. I still have all that stuff scattered around the living room, and should maybe deal with it before I go to bed tonight…

It took me about an hour to go from a pile of parts to the shelf unit that was going to hold up one side of the desk. I’ve always found putting Ikea stuff together pretty easy, and wonder if there is any correlation between this and the amount of time I spent carefully following long sequences of isometric drawings to put together Lego? I know a lot of people are all “omfg Ikea instructions are so confusing” but I just learnt to read that sort of visual language as a child, I guess? I also seem to have pretty strong spatial intelligence, I doubt that hurts either.

Another hour later, with a little help from Nick, I had the desktop hooked to the shelves. I need to visit the hardware store and find some better foot risers but this is good enough for now. It would have been a lot sooner but I ended up chatting with the neighbor’s kid about his new Youtube channel for his skating practice, and offering to use my AI skillz to throw together some fliers for him to post around instead of him trying to do it via mobile apps.

And then it was time to start putting stuff where it belonged. Find the monitor stand. Find the subwoofer and the speakers. Move all the cables over. Realize that the monitor has an audio out that I can use now that I connect to it with HDMI instead of DisplayPort, and make some new scripts for ControlPlane to automatically switch the audio output. Put Mr. Elephant (who was my mom’s when she was a kid) and The Duck Of My Mother on top of the shelves to watch over me as I work. Stuff like that, you know? Important details.

It ain’t perfect, I need to get some longer cables so I can hide the computer in one of the cubbies – most notably, the connection for the monitor’s USB hub functionality is a type-B (the big square one) and I only have like a 2′ cable for that – but holy crap it is so good to be able to work in portrait mode again!

Also it is a delight to have Katrina sitting atop her hoard of doubloons and Canadian money I never got around to exchanging again. Desk friends are important.

I may also end up with a cushion on here for when the local cats want to visit. Shemp just earned some pettings by pointing out to me that I already have a long type-B cable, even if this was because he tried to gnaw on a cable sitting next to it!

Anyway. AAAH I HAVE A HOME STUDIO AGAIN. Just in time for the city to start opening up, of course… but it’ll be useful for rainy days and what we laughingly call “winter” down here.

Knots

Someone on Reddit asked how to do a wireframe Möbius strip sort of thing. In the process of talking about how I might do it I looked up Escher’s “Knots”:

“Knots”, by Maritus Cornelius Escher, 1965. Three-block woodcut.

And then I decided it would be an interesting exercise to try and do this myself. I looked up some knots on Wikipedia for reference, and ended up spending about an hour and a half getting to the point of doing the image featured at the top of this post.


Here are all the brushes I made while doing this. Top to bottom: a brush with three colors twisting across it, only used for reference purposes; a black rectangle of the same size that I thought I might use for some masking, but did not; three brushes, each with two colors twisting across them, used in sequence on the upper left knot; a copy of the middle brush of those three that was used for construction purposes, and a brush that consists of grids masked into the shapes of that brush, with a few extra thick lines drawn on top of it to accent the edges.

And here’s an outline view of these brushes; I feel this should be sufficient for anyone with a decent understanding of blends and clipping mask to construct these brushes themselves.

The knot was originally drawn as one path, but ended up cut into three to create the overlap, and thus the three different brushes happened. I also made a duplicate of one of those three paths and masked off most of it to fix a couple places where the bottommost of those three paths needed to overlap the uppermost.

No 3D programs or effects were used in this.

six pieces of fanart

There was this template floating around. Six boxes. Six pieces of fan-art, as suggested by your followers. I spent three drunken hours filling this in today. I lifted the idea of having the biggest character sprawl through the background of all the panels from Chris Goodwin’s take on a similar template something like a decade ago, where he had Galactus looming ominously behind the other seven favorite characters he felt like including in that one.

The characters are Brooklyn from “Gargoyles”, Mok from “Rock And Rule”, Maleficent from the Disney “Sleeping Beauty”, Bob from “Animal Crossing”, skekSil the Chamberlain from “The Dark Crystal” (who has a terrible sticker of Krazy Kat on his phone), and Lupin The Third from the eponymous manga and its many adaptations.

And here is a closeup of Mok because he ended up tiny.

the leaderboards as of today

Today I got out of bed and spent a couple of hours taking Wikipedia’s lists of the largest movements of the Dow and adding which president it was under.

My initial guess was that most of Hoover’s percentage gains were when the stock price was bouncing off the cliff that began the Great Depression (1929-10/11), but it turns out all but one are later in his term. Part of me wants to add notes to the chart correlating each up and down with whatever was going on in the world, maybe a little mini-timeline showing where each entry was in the president’s term(s), and maybe add in another chart of the overall Dow, and maybe also overlay income inequity on that, but I already spent two hours on this thing and would like to get back to drawing comics.

All logos are traced off of campaign materials. Mostly auto-traced except for that totally fabulous McKinley logo and the FDR letters. I could have just autotraced a cleaner image in both cases but I really liked the look of those font choices.

White/black names and reddish/blueish colors indicate Democrats/Republicans. Older ones are generally more ‘faded’-feeling colors.