The Archangel Dragons Of The Directions: Raphael

I have been commissioned to do a set of illustrations of the dragonsonas of the angels one calls upon during the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, if one is a neophyte in a magical system derived from the Golden Dawn documents. This is the first one. There will be at least three more.

Raphael is the Lord of the Spirits of Man. He rules the Air signs of the zodiac, and is also the angel of the golden sphere of Tiphareth in the middle of the Tree of Life. He is helpful in matters of transmitting ideas, safe travels, healing, and the intellect.

He carries a caudceus, despite this direction, element, and color scheme being associated with the Tarot suit of Swords.

If you look at him from the right angle sometimes he has a hat that looks like a pie-plate with wings on it, and a nametag that says “HELLO MY NAME IS HERMES”, with the name crossed out and RAPHAEL written below it. Whenever I ask him about it, he just waggles his eyebrows suggestively and makes the Sign of Harpocrates at me. Sometimes he makes suggestive gestures with his caudceus, too. Maybe you’ll get a straighter answer out of him. Ask him about that caudceus while you’re at it, he’ll probably make some interesting reading material start showing up in your life regarding the snakes that snooze deep inside you.

Hermanubis

So I was sitting around late at night, a little stoned, reading some books of ceremonial magic, when something in the back of my head sat up and said “hey, you should draw Anubis”. And, well. I mostly did. Sorta:

Hermanubis is a Greek deity who is somewhere in the space between Hermes and Anubis in their roles as psychopomps, which is a fancy word for “the nice guy who shows up after you die and gently leads you to the underworld”.

Both of them have other jobs – Hermes deals with commerce, transmission of knowledge, speed, travel, thieves, and sleep, while Anubis is a bit more focused, with responsibilities like ruling the land of the dead before his brother Osiris took over, mummification, and presiding over the judgement of your soul. But Hermanubis is where they blur together into one slightly saucy jackal dude, who definitely shines with the dark light of the Underworld rather than the bright light of Divine Knowledge. He’s still a beacon, though.

Illustrator, one hour, no sketch. I should try to get this printed on very deep blue card in gold.

a fresh coat of paint

According to my file dates and names, I built this version of my website in 2011. Visually, it remained pretty much unchanged – I built a few new styles for the various comics, but largely I just changed it by writing new blog posts and uploading pictures and comic pages.

Today, I found myself suddenly compelled to sit at some picnic tables under a highway overpass in City Park (this is much nicer than it sounds, trust me) and work on a new front page image.

I chose to keep it similar to the old one:

…but holy crap it’s a lot more detailed and fluid. And it probably took less time to do, too. The new one took about an hour and a half, plus some more time digging up my old CSS toolchain and changing the rest of the website’s colors to match. (Hooray for CSS pre-processors.) I’ve got no idea how long the old one took, but I have a vague memory of struggling with that under-chin angle on the face. This time I just knocked it out quickly, and came back for one brief touch-up near the end; I think I mostly spent my time fooling around with more detailed takes on the caduceus, and deciding how frilly to make the big swath of hair. Also this one, like, kind of actually looks like me, if you ignore the fact that I sure as hell do not have that kind of ass, damn. If only.

I guess I’ve changed elemental associations from Fire to Air or something? I have no idea what that will mean for the future. Maybe I’ll be back here in another decade or so with a new take on this.

Anyway. If you wanna see it in its full glory then go visit the front page of my site.

a bunch of commissions

Over the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of commissions instead of working on Parallax. 2020, you know?

 

Here’s some moderately large images of the clean ones; click for the full-size version.

And here’s some thumbnail links to the NSFW ones. Click for full-size.

(The last one there is for me and the SO. I wish I had managed to take a Horny Sex Slave Vacation to Cartoon Saturn during the last few months of 2020.)

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.