Katrina Talks About Bitcoin

Today, I drew in one of the Rita omnibusses that needs that done, then got stoned and went to Trader Joe’s, where one guy working there who I’d had a conversation with about cryptocurrencies a couple weeks ago asked me a few Cryptocurrency 101 kinds of questions.

And that got me thinking about cryptocurrencies, and about maybe setting up Nick’s old PC as a host for a few graphics cards that’re busy mining some of them, and about the fact that really most of the people who made a lot of money in the Gold Rush were not the people who actually went out and did the mining, but the people who sold things to them, and then I ended up thinking that “a cute cartoon character who talks about this stuff”  is the kind of thing that might end up in people being interested in paying me a mix of cash and cryptocurrency to talk about their cryptocurrency. And something that might help make the cryptocurrency I own have a better chance of being worth obscene amounts of value somewhere in the future. Cryptocurrency cryptocurrency cryptocurrency? Cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency.

Katrina is of course based on an actual toy dragon who lives on my desk on top of some petty cash, and who has a very-forgotten twitter at @bandylegstrina.

I also spent a fair amount of time as I was drawing this on encapsulating a lot of settings into Graphic Styles, so it should be pretty simple to draw her quickly if I actually want to do more of this.

One of those things that doesn’t quite come together.

I thought, “What if I made a skin for my Mac that looked like a leather-bound Magical Grimoire? That could be cool.” So I fiddled with this in the background of my D&D session today. Finally fucked around with Astute Graphics’ “Texturino” plugin while doing it.

I don’t think it really worked out, and I don’t think I want to keep playing with it to see if adding more crap will make it work. I’ll just keep the single white sigil sticker on top of the Apple logo polished into its aluminum body.

Anyway. I should go take a walk in the drizzle.

testing the tootelage

Nothing to see here, I’m just testing a plugin that will automatically toot a link to my posts on Mastodon.

If you’re on Mastodon and not following me there then maybe you want to fix that? I’m @[email protected].

If you don’t know what Mastodon is, it’s basically Twitter with less nazis and a post size that limits you to paragraphs rather than very short sentences. And with development and hosting funded by user donations rather than selling your attention to advertisers. You can find out more of its unique selling points and pick a server to start tooting from here.


Dream me will comment on a school's font choice (one of those circussy ones with heavy serifs and a few flourishes; “well I guess it was the seventies”) but not on the fact that its letter listing every new student for this year alphabetizes “Dhadradessi” after names starting with X,Y, and Z. Then again after I blinked the last few names were listed in awkward attempts at constructing non-English characters out of a monospace typewriter font.

Also that is a hell of a name, which is still bouncing around my head. This post may serve as a reminder to ask Google if it's an actual name once I actually get up; I'm going back to sleep right now.

How To An Illustrator: shitty printing

Because sometimes you want things to look like a crappy, blown-out xerox. Or at least one person on /r/adobeillustrator did.

  1. click on the circle to the right of the layer with your b&w image to target the whole layer for effects
  2. open the appearance palette
  3. effect>sketch>reticulation
  4. effect>stylize>inner glow (set it to white, 100%, probably a pretty large blur)
  5. effect>sketch>photocopy
  6. click on the effect names in the appearance palette to edit them

If you don’t want texture in black areas you’ve drawn over white areas then do a bunch of Pathfinder to make it just white shapes.

Violet Vibrations: The Unconquered Egg

(click for full size)

This started as a group portrait of my D&D campaign. Which is made up entirely of characters with musical skills, so it only seemed natural to turn it into a fake album cover.

The band’s name comes from the campaign; the song and album names are all my fault, and mostly reference events in the story so far. The front cover and their logo is heavily inspired by early Ozric Tentacles releases because that just felt right, even though I doubt they sound very similar.

(Last session, the DM was insane enough to give us a Deck Of Many Things. I drew a card; the thieving kobold with the lowest wisdom in the party now has three wishes. I intend to do my best to make sure this Does Not End Well in the best way possible.)

Illustrator experiments: the chiseled look

So today BoingBoing posted some work by a Russian illustrator named Maxim Shkret.

I’m pretty sure his work is done in a 3D program. But I asked myself “how could I get something like this in Illustrator?” and fooled around a little bit.

After some fiddling with needlessly complex setups that didn’t work anyway, I realized I could do it pretty simply: tell Illustrator to draw two variable-width strokes, one for each side of the line, each in a different gradient.

The above screengrabs are for one of the six related styles I made while experimenting; I’ve got it at different stroke weights (3/6/9pt), and with one of the gradients reversed. The lips are also done with double-gradient strokes; the other shading is simple blurred shapes.

The fun part here is that the hair can be knocked out super quickly with the pencil tool. I could very quickly draw some chunky, super-stylized plastic-looking hair.

It still looks interesting with different colors, too. I may have to experiment with this further and try to do a piece using this. I’m not sure what kind of looks would go well with it.

Anyway. I thought I’d share this little experiment.

respeck yo’ elders: George Herriman

Today is George Herriman’s birthday.

Who’s he, you probably ask?

Well. He was one of the early stars of newspaper comics. He’s most famous for “Krazy Kat”, in which a mouse named Ignatz expresses his disdain for the titular Kat by repeatedly throwing bricks at her head. Or his head. Krazy’s choice of pronoun varied on a regular basis but never really made much of a difference to anyone in the shifting desert land of the strip.

He was born in 1880 and died in 1944. When I encountered his work in the 70s, as a kid reading through the Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics, I was blown away by his full-page compositions and surreal backgrounds.

A few years ago, I took a trip to Monument Valley. This was pretty much entirely due to falling in love with the American desert through Herriman’s sparse, shifting abstractions of the place. There’s something in those jutting alien rocks and the hot sands that calls to me in ways I really can’t put into words. But that call is spoken of at great length in the backgrounds of Krazy Kat.

“Mock Duck” in the bottom tier there is a reminder that old cartoons are full of really unsubtle ethic caricatures. This strip will be a hundred years old on my birthday; the past is a different country.

George’s history is as hard to pin down as the backgrounds of Kokoino Kounty or Krazy’s gender: he claimed to be a California kid, of Greek extraction, but in recent years some deep biographical research has revealed that he was actually born in my hometown of New Orleans, and grew up about five miles from where I did. And that he was born to a white father and a black mother. His family moved to California when he was ten, started presenting as white, and he would continue to do this for about a hundred and twenty years.

Speaking of broad ethnic caricatures of the past: This is one of the three episodes of Herriman’s early short-lived strip “Musical Mose”, about a black musician failing to pass for other ethnicities. It feels like a very different thing now that I know he was doing a bang-up job of just that.

Krazy Kat’s goofy, drifting obliqueness was never popular with most people, but it had a following among the intelligentsia of the day. That plus newspaper publisher Hearst giving him space and money to draw pretty much whatever for a long time let him accumulate a large body of work, that’s survived long enough to still have people like me deciding to put his birthday in their calendars a hundred years later.

Herriman’s scratchy, goofy pen lines bear little resemblance to my inhumanly-sharp Illustrator shapes. But the weird dimensionality I almost always give to moons comes straight from his work. And now you know part of the secret code that marks a fan of his. There are other ones; I’ll leave you to discover them yourself.

RIP, George. Thanks for the wonderful drawings.

If you would like to see more of his work:

  • I cannot recommend the Sunday Press collection enough. It’s got a hundred and fifty lovingly-restored Krazy Kay strips, both color and B&W, as well as a whole bunch of Herriman’s pre-Krazy work. It’s also a hundred bucks and half the size of a newspaper broadsheet. Great if you have the money to spend and the space to keep it, not so great otherwise.
  • Fantagraphics has somewhat less spendy collections, of various sizes and prices.
  • My first exposure was The Smithsonian Book Of Newspaper Comics, which has a decent sampling of Krazy and his other works as part of its wild ride through the entire history of the medium from the 1900s to the 1970s.
  • Check your local library, if you’re lucky they’ll have some of these books.

In Her Natural Environment

The past few weeks have been pretty hot – Seattle’s been seeing temperatures up in the mid-nineties. There are all kind of doomful extreme heat warnings going out.

But those don’t apply to me. I grew up in the South. I know what to do: wear as little as possible, and carry shade wherever you go. So I’ve been wearing pretty much what you see in this drawing iRL. It works even better up here, where it’s not so humid that there’s only about a 2º difference between the sun and the shade.

(Bonus tip: get something designed to protect fabric from UV, apply liberally to bumbershoot, enjoy reduced chances of skin cancer.)


There is a regular, metronomic, metallic THUNK coming from the studio. Every two seconds, a drop of water falls from the ceiling and lands in the bucket on the floor where the corner of my drawing table used to be.

A half hour ago, Nick crawled out of bed. I stayed. I wasn’t ready to get up. Then I heard him saying “Um, Peggy? We have an emergency.” And I got up. And slightly freaked out. But managed to coordinate moving everything out of the way – first a pot went beneath the leak, then we moved the computer desk that’s about three feet to the right of the leak, then I got the stuff piled beneath the drawing board out of the way and finally we moved the board itself.

And then I remembered that I have a huge bucket in the closet for cleaning and I put that on the floor instead of the pot.

A few things got wet. Luckily most of what was under there was a pile of old test prints on thick paper, and a few pieces of Bristol board in a thick card envelope. There may be a couple drawings lost, but nothing really important.

I wonder how long it’ll take for this one to get fixed. The last leak was maybe a week or two, what with all the time it took them to figure out that it was a leak on the top floor running down the walls into my kitchen. I’m just really glad Nick cleaned up some of the stuff in that area yesterday while we were starting the process of him moving in.

Rita’s being finally shipped, Nick’s moving in. And maybe now we’ll push “finding a 3br place to share” up the schedule a little bit, depending on how this pans out. Really there was enough change in my life going on already, I didn’t need this extra crisis. But here it is and it’s been as dealt with as much as possible for now.

So not too long after I wrote this, the landlord showed up and took a look. He investigated upstairs; apparently my upstairs neighbor’s hot water heater sprung a leak. One more crisis dealt with. On to the next one.