Needlemousevember 1-14

2018: Well look what I found in my drafts when I wanted to link to the big post I did about Needlemousevember last year. Apparently I never posted this. It’s been sitting in my WordPress drafts since September 21st. So I’ve added Needlemice 15-20, which covers all of the work I did for Needlemousevember. Everyone is talking about Inktober again and maybe I will do Needlemousevember again, because it sure is fun to start most days by making a really stupid picture of Sonic.


So back in 2009, a dude decided he was gonna brush up his inking skills by doing a drawing in ink every day for the entire month of October. He gave this the name “Inktober”. Since then it has grown into a Major Thing for a lot of internet artists.

This year, though, it started to get a little out of hand IMHO. I saw one friend debating which set of prompts they were going to build a buffer of Inktober drawings back in the middle of August. I started seeing this ongoing argument over whether you could do Inktober properly if you were working digitally. People will do these crazy, elaborate drawings for it; it’s become a big Thing.

One day, I found myself doodling a crappy Sonic, using none of my usual working methods in Illustrator. It made me laugh. It made me laugh even more when I posted it with the hashtag “#needlemousevember”. Especially because it was still August.

I did another one the next day. And another. And pretty soon I’d started drawing these things most days. There have been some missed days, but I don’t care.

Here’s the first fourteen. More to come, I’m sure.

The rules of #needlemousevember, if you care to participate, are:

  1. Draw a Sonic.
  2. Don’t spend more than 5-10 minutes drawing your Sonic. GOTTAGOFAST.
  3. Trying new tools, new workflows, and new methods is encouraged, but by no means mandatory. Making your drawings gleefully off-model is also encouraged.
  4. Personally I try to avoid using ‘undo’. If I make a mistake who cares? It’s just a stupid goofy drawing of Sonic.
  5. Stop drawing Sonics when it stops being funny. If it’s before the end of whatever month you have declared to be #needlemousevember then that is perfectly fine.

waste site RLYH

Late last night, I woke from uneasy dreams of apocalypses with an idea sitting heavy in my head:

R’lyeh is an ancient waste storage site, and C’thul’hu is the waste itself.

The weird “architecture” of the place is just a bunch of nasty spiky stuff the Elder Race put on top of the buried waste, to mark it as a place to leave barren, ala the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site. The seven-pointed Elder Sign? Their symbol for “radiation hazard”. Or for whatever kind of hazard can be found at Waste Storage Site RLYH, one of many such sites spread out across the galaxy wherever the Elder Race stopped.

Perhaps Cthulhu is just an abbreviation for something like the giant mass of corium known as “The Elephant’s Foot” that’s deep in the heart of the ruins of the Chernobyl reactor. Somewhere in the long chain of translations from the Elder Race’s writing to modern English, there was a language that required everything to have a gender, and thus a giant psycho-radiactive pile of KL5-LO got called “he” and had people trying to pronounce its chemical label as a word.

It is dead – it was always dead – but it still lays there, still has power, still can kill you with its invisible tentacles of radiation. Stay away; do not approach. “But in strange aeons even death may die” – its half-life is measured in billions of years, and eventually this remnant will be safe. Good luck, whatever creatures come after us.

I doubt I am the first one to have this idea.

Shared Wish

Today I wandered around with no real goal in mind. I had a book and I had my computer and I didn’t feel like working on the comics. Instead I drew some weird smut based on a fantasy that’s been kicking around my head.

NSFW art: explicit cartoon nudity, weird cartoon perversions, self-love.

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summon bird, Type I

I go outside and put peanuts on the stump outside my door. There are no crows or ravens in sight. I whistle the little tune I always whistle when I do this, and immediately I hear a far-off AWK. A couple seconds later I hear the same AWK much closer. And when I get inside and look back out, there’s a raven perched on the railing, eyeing the peanuts.

I’ve been seeing the ravens more than the crows lately. It’s been weeks since I last saw 5-7 crows clustering around the stump; I wonder if a couple of ravens have muscled in on their territory?

saturday morning story clinic time!

Saturday morning. Went to the farmer’s market with Nick. We talked about Parallax and how much it’s changed since the versions where it was a TV show pitch. Pondered if we still want it to lead to where we originally wanted it to lead, now that it’s so different. (It’s kind of fascinating; it feels like it’s undergoing a reverse form of adaptation decay, where we start with the “Magical Truth-Saying Bastard Spidey” version and make our best guess at what “Transmetropolitan” was like based on that.)

We came up with a very clever and kind of horrible way to collapse two slightly-similar characters from the TV show version into one, which fits into the themes of that character’s personal narrative pretty well.


also we decided that another character is going to speak entirely in lowercase

with as little punctuation as we can get away with

because her voice is very monotone and either droning or calming depending on how you feel at the moment

and maybe even some e e cummings concrete poetry kind of stuff in her word balloons

because she is just that cool

(and because hey, i’m both the artist and the letterer, i can do things that require strong integration of the text with the imagery in a way a production line’s crew can’t)


So it was a pretty good morning, and we got some steak for dinner somewhere in this upcoming week to boot.

A bullet I just realized I dodged a decade ago.

Damn. I suddenly feel like I dodged a serious bullet.

Back in the 2000s, I started working in the animation industry. Doing Flash stuff. It was a pain in the ass. I burnt out and left around ‘05, not liking the future I saw of endless Flash jobs.

Flash forward to now. Pringle, one of the people who worked under me when I was a Flash director has been at WB for a while. Foster’s, Teen Titans Go, stuff like that. He’s been posting some process videos on Twitter.

One of the things we always wished for was a way to bend stuff in Flash. On Foster’s, Pringle came up with some clever workarounds involving making an art brush in Illustrator. A hassle what with having to export to AI, then export back to Flash, but clever nonetheless, and less hassle than drawing stuff by hand or trying to control a shape tween.

He was still doing this, apparently, as late as LAST YEAR. Adobe added bones to Flash in ‘15 but he says they’re pretty useless (and I am inclined to believe his professional opinion on this), and in the past couple years they FINALLY added custom brushes in Flash to let him do this trick easily.

Pringle says they are, of course, buggy and unstable as of now. Because why would they be different from anything else in Flash?

There is an alternate universe where I found more Flash work for the past decade. I am pretty sure that I am much grumpier in it, despite still living in Los Angeles. Holy shit.

Microblogging

anyway I should have some breakfast

and holy crap I just wanna go move into a cave and delete all my social networks except for dreamwidth or something, yes even including this place, “microblogging considered harmful”

and it developed this culture of just reflexively *acting* without *thinking* because actually thinking about what you’re doing on twitter is *fucking hard* due to the inherent limitations of the system

because you can actually emit a coherent, nuanced fucking *thought* in one fucking *go* and you can even sit there and think for a moment and *edit* parts of a larger thought before you put it out in the world (and fix typos!)

And in that moment I found myself really appreciating Mastodon, and moreso really appreciating the generous character limit I’ve set in place on dragon.style

and, well, dear reader, I just skimmed right over that. Maybe they had something worth saying, maybe they were just saying the same old same old, I’ll never know.

and a newest-on-top timeline (modulo all the Algorithmic Bullshit)

which of course you have to read backwards i chunks of about one or two sentences because Twitter has a stupidly harsh character limit

I was looking through Twitter just now and I came to that one person I follow who regularly posts long rambling Threads

stylized gradient trick #67

Here’s a little stylization trick.

It kinda falls apart on anything besides rectangles; here’s some extra magic to fix that. With slightly different colors because I closed the file and wanted to play with it a little more.

The tilted rectangle on the lower right lacks this extra magic.

The fill is offset by enough to hide the ugly white edges; the stroke is the same width as that offset, and is offset by half its width. Making the stroke 0% opaque and turning on ‘Knockout Group’ makes it work as a built-in opacity mask for this shape – an ugly, but very useful hack. You could also just have some really thick outlines instead, or build a lot of clipping masks; both of those feel like Work to me and I’m generally allergic to that.

The rasterize effect is set to add 0 points around the path, which varies from my usual Document Raster Effect settings of adding about 35 points to give me room for most blurs I’m likely to use. You can also change the resolution, the tilted rectangle’s at a lower resolution than the rest of the shapes.

I might have to try doing some art with this look.