forget it, peg, it’s halloweentown

So there I was sitting in Bean Gallery thinking “I should try to do a Halloween costume doodle of my fursona that’s not a witch”. Because “witch” is totally the default costume for my fursona.

I tried a couple of things and then I was like, hey, she is completely pitch black, and it is eighty two degrees farenheit at the beginning of October down here in New Orleans, “nothing but some bone body paint” is an option. And some panties because we do have public nudity laws down here.

Since moving back down here after experiencing a decade and a half of Actual Winter, I find it kind of amazing that I never really thought about how different Halloween is down here from the version presented in most American media, which is pretty much always set in a New England fall where it’s actually getting chilly. Same with Christmas, really – all that snow is so foreign to what “winter” is like down here where we start whining about how cold it is around the mid-sixties.

The Dance Of The Fourth Veil

Around a month ago, I was lying in bed, just kind of zoning out. And I had this image float into my head, of a decadent ruler’s court, with a heap of half-naked people around their feet, a dancer swishing away in the foreground, and shafts of light passing through it.

I decided I wanted to draw it. So I got up and roughed something out. Added some quick flat color to distinguish the characters fro each other, and grabbed some cloud styles from a previous piece to let me quickly paint a nice tropical sunset sky. And some numbers on it so I could post it as what the furry scene refers to as a “group YCH” – that stands for Your Character Here, a kind of commission where the general pose is set, and the client gets to have it finished as their character, with varying amounts of input onto costuming and backgrounds.

I posted it on Furaffinity and it ended up having a few slots get bid up a lot. Including the “pet” slot in the front, which I’d kind of added as a joke – there was a new furry art site making the rounds at the time that was having a very loud debate on whether or not it was going to ban horny art of “feral” characters, which is to say “animals who talk but are still clearly animals, rather than animal-head people”.

I collected references, and spent about a month working on it. It probably would have taken half the time if I hadn’t been fighting a laptop whose battery life had dropped to a half hour, though September was a crazy month all around even without that…

Here’s a thread on Mastodon with a bunch of WIP shots, if you are curious how I go about something like this. It’s definitely an organizational challenge to orchestrate reference art for ten different characters, all the parts of the sketches, and the actual finished art.

also here is a naked version, click for embiggenation.

The Empress’ Walkies

This past week there was a bunch of drama in the furry scene over the new site “Furrylife.Online” and their public vote as to whether or not allow “feral” characters – which is to say, animals that go around on all four legs but can talk. It got really complicated and it’s kind of hilarious to see the admin post where they try to find a logical justification for the final vote results of “ferals getting busy isn’t okay, but feral dragons/gryphons/other mythical critters are okay, also so are Pokemon and Digimon and My Little Ponies because the furry fandom sure did end up with a lot of MLP fan-insertion characters holy shit”.

I happened to be working up a multi-character YCH commission during this. For laughs, I decided to put in a slot where the winner would be turned into a feral pet who is getting fed tasty treats.

And this slot took off almost immediately in a bidding war. So I found myself thinking about that subject, and wondering if maybe I wanted to delve into it a bit more. And then when I sat down with Illustrator to explore this, I thought of how Erté did like six hundred variations on the them of “tall fashionable lady taking a big cat for a walk” and decided to riff on it.

And when I was done with that rough, I said, hey, fuck it, I’m just gonna finish this for myself and my SO. So here is Peganthyrus taking Rezeya for a walk on a hot summer day.

 

Also there is a mostly-nude version. NSFW.

Twenty years of no lines.

This is the oldest image in the gallery section of my website. It is not the first thing I drew with Illustrator. But it is the first thing I drew with Illustrator where I went from a scan of a pencil rough to flat shapes, instead of putting color under a scan of an inked drawing.

The date on the gallery is August 29th, 2000. Twenty years ago. The date on the copy of the Illustrator file on my hard drive is 2005, but that’s a lie; somewhere along the journey from a bulky second-hand PowerPC Mac clone running MacOS to a Powerbook running OSX 10.14, all the creation dates on my files got lost.

I’ve been doing this no-lines thing for twenty years. I pretty much stopped doing outlines entirely once I did this piece. It was hard at first, but as I learnt various tricks, I got to a point where using lines feels too easy. Feels like cheating.

And twenty years later I’m finally doing something with this character, too. She was originally the sidekick of “Ensign K”, now Baron K is her sidekick in Parallax. They’ve both got pretty much the same shapes, though the costumes and worlds are different.

That’s from late July of 2001. There’s only a couple finished images between these two, I was mostly busy riding the bus to Spumco, working on Flash animation for a horrible man. And my process was a lot slower back then: I was still learning to draw, to a certain extent. I was figuring out Illustrator from scratch. Illustrator was a smaller toolbox, too – it had just gotten transparency in 2000. I hadn’t found out that the Pencil tool has settings, with terrible defaults; I just thought it was kind of shitty, and painstakingly made all my shapes with the Pen.

The first image is also a skin for Audion, an MP3 player for the Mac that had a very flexible skinning setup. You could arrange your buttons any way you liked, and have whatever weird shape you wanted for your play-control window. Nowadays all my music is in iTunes, which spends its time hidden and being controlled by the media keys on the keyboard; back then those media keys didn’t exist, so we ended up with little desk toys like this.

Or like this. Which was a self-portrait from November 2001, according to the dates in my site’s gallery. It’s a self-portrait of me at the time: a skinny, not-very-masculine guy, who was trying to figure out just what “gender transition” would really entail, and if it was something he wanted to do. I’d been signing most of my art that I posted online as “Peganthyrus” since about 1997 so this was clearly a thing I was playing with; I wouldn’t actually start on hormones until about 2002 or 2003. It’s been a while, I’m not exactly sure beyond “somewhere after Weekend Pussy Hunt collapsed and before Katrina”, which means somewhere between 2000-5.

But I digress.

Here’s one of my earlier experiments in Illustrator. Still clinging to lines but very close to letting go. This is also just about the only piece of mine that involves a gradient mesh, a tool I find to be far more fiddly than its results justify. I think a lot of this might have been experimenting with the pencil tool? Zig-zag effects on simple curves for the ferns – one of my first halting explorations into territory I would end up returning to much later when I started trying to pull on everything I’d learnt over two decades to do full-color comics by myself.

This is pretty typical of my Illustrator-with-lines work. Scanned ink work – this looks like it’s probably some kind of brush pen – with Illustrator shapes below.

Or this. With a badly-drawn version of my then-roomie Gabe Swarr. Who has been spending the last couple of years working on the remake of Tiny Toons. Complete with occasional meetings with Steven Friggin’ Spielberg. I couldn’t hack it in the animation industry but he sure could, geez.

There was experimentation with other tools now and then, too. I’m pretty sure this is Painter. Does that default to saving as a .RIFF file? Because I have this on my drive as both a PSD and a RIFF.

And this. This was done with Creature House’s Expression, a vector package built from the ground up for faking natural media. Sadly by the time I had enough money to buy a legit copy of it they’d been eaten by Microsoft, who made it Windows-only and much less natural-media focused. If they’d stuck around I might be putting out very different work nowadays. But I went with Illustrator because that was the least awkward tool for doing the color workflow I was used to from my formative years in Deluxe Paint I-V on my Amiga, where I could twiddle a palette swatch and see everything drawn in it change. I still rely on that to this day.

Also man I sure did draw stretched-out torsos and necks back then. The arm’s deliberately stretched out to stylize motion; the body and neck, I think, are stretched out because I just… did that a lot.

And finally in this tour of Early Art From Me:

I learnt so damn much about working in sharply limited palettes drawing this. I remember feeling like the whole thing was a complex puzzle: this part has to be this color, but this part that also has to be the same color has to pass behind it – can I make it work solely as silhouettes? or do I find an excuse to use one of the other two colors as a highlight or shadow to create a contrast? Mostly I pushed myself to make it work entirely as silhouettes in this one. I also learnt something important about zooming in; I think it was after finding myself zoomed in and drawing reflections on an iris in this drawing, which were not even a pixel at final size, that I made myself learn the habit of hitting command-1 (view>actual size) on a regular basis to keep myself from getting lost in minutae nobody would ever see.

And for contrast, here’s a piece I did last week:

(click this one for the full size image)

I’ve felt like I’ve been getting too painterly in my recent work so I took this one back towards a limited palette, though I had to expand that out a bit to include the colors of the bisexual and trans flags. Other than that the palette’s only slightly less limited than the “four tints of two colors” that I used in Absinthe. This only took three hours; I don’t have any time tracking on these old files but I am pretty damn sure most of them took a lot more than that, despite their general lack of any kind of background!

(this one links to the full size too)

(yet another link to a full size image)

And some recent painterly stuff: a page of Parallax I’m happy with, and a stream commission that’s actually clean (I’ve been streaming now and then lately, and it has mostly been very horny stuff.). I like the airbrush feeling I have in these; 1990s me really loved the look of airbrush art but found actually dealing with the noisy compressor and trying to organize endless layers of physical masks to be a lot more hassle than it was worth. 2020s me just does a bunch of gradients and blurred shapes and slaps a noise texture on top and figures it’s close enough to airbrushed Dr. Martin’s on cold press illustration board for something that took a fraction of the time. But I’ve been chasing that look pretty hard for the past year and I think it’s time for some fucking around with flat stuff when I’m not working on the comic.

 

Anyway. If you wanna look at more old art by me, the last page of my site’s gallery is here. Perhaps someday I should make it work better on mobile phones and whatnot, it’s full of neat visual effects that happen when you hover your mouse cursor over stuff.

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.

ok, boomer: a concise guide to the generations living in early 21st century America

One thing lead to another and I ended up spending today making this infographic to help you know exactly when you will be annoying a Boomer by saying “ok, boomer” to them, and who you will be misgenerationing by saying that instead of “whatever, x’er”.

 

That’s a slightly truncated version of the chart I initially made; the first version goes all the way back to 1900, when the last few members of the Lost Generation was being born.

Here’s that first one; click for the full-sized version.

Originally I was going to have the “also known as” bits for every generation be something similar to “ok, boomer” but I decided to fill in those spaces with the many names people have proposed for the post-Baby Boom generations. And if you are wondering, there were not any other names for the Boomers that I left out; they are alone among living Americans in having exactly one name for their generation. Unless you count the “Generation Jones” name for the younger half.

Me, I’m smack in the middle of undisputably Bill And Ted’s Excellent Generation territory, unless you believe that one guy who says GenX is the disputed territory between Boomers and Xers, and that most of the rest of X is the Bust Generation. And my parents were both near the end of the undisputably Silent range.

I think the most interesting feature of this chart is how the multiple ranges for Jonesers all end in 1965, and the multiple ranges for the Oregon Trail generation all begin in 1977, quite neatly bookending the Indisputably GenX zone aside from one year of Jones overlap. That and the fact that there is a twelve year span of time between the earliest and latest start dates for GenY and only five years that are indisputably GenY; I already had the impression that the definition of GenX was a messy thing, but damn, y’all have us beat. Well done, kids. Well done.

 

Your Own Personal Lilith

click for naked snake lady

A while back I doodled this out in about a half an hour. It sat around unfinished for a good while. Today I pulled it up to experiment with some texture techniques, and ended up spending an hour getting it to where it is now. I’m still not entirely sure it’s finished but it’s good enough for now.

Dunno why I felt a need to draw my cobra sorceress character as a lamia, but here it is. I should really draw her with clothes again; it’s been forever.

fursona thoughts

So last night I sat around and drew a picture of my dragon self, put it on top of a photo I took of a part of City Park, and then spent a little time making her look vaguely sweaty.

click for full size, contains bare lizard titties

This morning, I realized something. For the past several years I’ve mostly described myself as a dragon from New Orleans. But in a technical sense, Peganthyrus has never been from New Orleans – the player entity on Furrymuck bearing her name was created in fall 1995, and I moved to Los Angeles in summer 1995. She was something I created as I figured out who I was outside of the expectations of the place and people I grew up with. Nick’s been calling me a “swamp dragon” for a lot of the past few years as my desire to get the hell out of Seattle for somewhere warmer grew, but it’s kind of been a lie if I look at the dates like that.

And now here I am back in New Orleans, discovering that running around with a fine film of warm sweat on my body is something I miss. And since she is basically Me, so is Peganthyrus.

I’m just gonna retroactively declare her as also being from here, I guess. Or something. She had her own history once but it’s mostly fallen away as she stopped being A Character and started being Me, But A Cartoon Dragon. I kinda feel like I’m not entirely from New Orleans any more either; I was twenty five years old when I left, and Peganthyrus will be twenty five years old this year. That’s a significant chunk of a lifetime.

This feels like a weird complicated thought to untie, and also not like one really worth spending a lot of time untying. Enjoy the sweaty dragon titties.

sizing

I spent a while today and Monday doing something I’d been putting off for a good while: resizing the styles for the Mixolyne mechs. See, I’d drawn them super-huge originally, and a lot of the graphic styles I’d built out of those drawings performed poorly when I tried to use them at the right size. I’d been resizing them on an ad-hoc basis every time I pulled the styles into a new page, but last Monday I pulled up the first of several rough pages where Kirt and Noa will be spending a lot of time running around in their mechs, emoting at each other through body language, and I just really did not feel like rescaling these styles for every page individually like I’d done for the first few pages.

A few weird Illustrator hangs later, I’ve generated a feature request for folders in the Graphic Style palette, decided to do an ugly organizational kudge in the meantime of blank styles serving as separators to help me find stuff in the giant sprawling pile of styles I’ve ended up with, and created sets of styles for these mechs in both their shiny, healthy versions and the “dehydrated” versions they started the story in.

This took me a few hours but it should help a lot when I start actually drawing these pages; by doing this I’ve piled up a bunch of cool effects and taught Illustrator how to do them for me, and now I can just mindlessly re-use all of them at high speed.

end of an era

For most of the time I’ve lived in this apartment, the living room has been dominated by shelves with my fursona painted on them at life-size.

But now they are gone. Starkatt and her friend came by to haul them off to their new home. I am told there is a very high chance these shelves will be filled with the tools and products of a Dicksmithy. I think I am totally fine with my fursona being FILLED WITH DICKS.


Also I just liked looking at the clear spots in the dust that had collected on top of the shelves. A line of electric candles, the base of  a glass swan I inherited from my mom, and a couple vague blobs where some dragon flags and a plushie lived.

It will feel weird to not round the corner and see my dragon self staring back at me. I may have to set up something similar in the new place, whether by painting it on the wall, or on new shelves… we will see. Between this and taking down the canvas print of the luminous white angel-dragon that I had on the inside of the front door, it definitely feels like I really don’t live here any more. The bedroom and kitchen and bathroom still look inhabited but that should change soon.

I was also pretty glad to not find anything lost in the space behind the shelves. There’s like two or three boxes worth of stuff hanging around the living room still, I would like to see myself make a dent in that before bed tonight but getting the last things out of the path between the shelves and the door felt like significant work for the day…