All Gates Open

Recently, I got a printer. It’s a Brother color laser and I’m pretty happy with it. When I was setting up Frater Printy (as it has been named), I did a couple of test prints of a witch with giant titties to calibrate some color settings, and ended up sticking one of those prints on the outside of my studio door.

I decided I wanted something a bit less openly horny to be on the closed door; I drew a quick sketch of my magicsona, and a few days later I spent an hour coloring it.

I am especially happy with how I made the sparkles on the golden shoes happen.

There’s three fills: an orange fill, and two gradients with Astute’s Symbol Stipple effect applied to them, making use of a new switch in the latest update of that which lets me set the symbols to not be cropped by the original path’s edge. The frequency and size of the symbols varies with the gradient’s brightness. Works out pretty nice.

Full Illustrator source is over on Patreon; prints/stickers/t-shirts/etc are on Redbubble.

shuffling the archives

After twenty-three years, my personal file organization is finally starting to break down.


Since 2001, I’ve used this method: all my art lives in ~/gfx/working, in folders named with the year, with a lot of aliases in there to help me quickly access large projects that may span across more than one year. All the stuff in the top has a space at the beginning of its name, so it sorts at the front.

And then there’s the yearly directories, which now stretch way past the bottom of my screen on the laptop. Quickly finding work from the last year or two now involves scrolling a good ways down here, and that’s kind of annoying – I want the old stuff to be way in the back of the virtual closet, not the new stuff.

Sorting z-a might fix this, but OSX MacOS doesn’t let me do that in column views. Hmmm.Well, here’s an idea:

A folder full of aliases, organized by prefixing them with Greek letters. Conveniently I have exactly as many old yearly folders as there are letters in the Greek alphabet; English letters and numbers sort above them, so I have twenty-six years of continuing this scheme through English letters before it starts to break down, plus about, oh, another decade or so of “I just have a few un-renamed aliases in alphabetic order before the older stuff and it’s not a real hassle”, which means I can keep adding a new alias to this folder once a year until I’m somewhere in my late eighties. I think that’s enough, if Future Me is still in a situation where she can dextrously manipulate a stylus connected to a functioning computer, then she can spend ten minutes thinking of a new way to do this.

Actually now that I put myself in Future Me’s sandals for a second… what if I organized them by decade? Nah. Leave it to Future Me, I don’t need to try to refine this right now.

In the shower, I came up with this, and thought it might be useful, too. “I know I did that thing when I was living in Boston..”

The lower New Orleans folder is mostly a placeholder for if I ever take up Lewis’ offer to try and see what’s on the VHS tape he has that purports to be a backup of my Amiga circa 1997. I never got around to transferring stuff off the actual computer in the time between when I quit using it in 1999 and when it was destroyed in Katrina.

If you’re reading this post when it’s a year or two old, leave a comment and find out if one of these schemes is still working, or if I’ve come up with something else!

an opening

Lately I have been playing around with the beta of some new tools Astute Graphics is building for better gradient management in Illustrator. Today I got a private message from one of their developers telling me that they’d put together a super-hacky little implementation of an improvement I’d suggested: a way to quickly make a lot of linear gradients all radiate out from the same point.

I started fooling around with it and this is what happened. Works pretty well.

40min, Illustrator, no underdrawing or anything, just some gradient shapes I doodled out with the Pencil tool and kept adding to.


current status: looking stonedly at my current desktop image and completely losing interest in Twilight Sparkle’s Goatse Impression to note that, wow, there’s some really terrible jpeg artifacts on the hot magenta of her cutie mark and the stripe in her hair.

Going from a 24″ monitor to a 27″ has been really interesting, I am noticing a lot more of these kinds of things in the endless rotation of my FA favorites through my desktop. I have also noticed that the menu bar is just too far away now. It’s not even any physically further away from what I’m doing, it’s the same place on the drawing tablet, but I find myself using a lot of windows that don’t completely fill up the screen and that extra distance is breaking something in my head a little.

This may also be coming from the fact that this monitor has a super-tiny bezel and the Mardi Gras beads I had hanging over the edge of the old monitor are now hanging over the left edge of the screen. I dunno. Maybe I need a frame for this thing so that everything displayed upon it immediately becomes Art, in the same way the ornate frame surrounding the projector’s image on the living room wall turns every game I play on the ps4 into Art. And which I can also hang these beads over.

(And because I know someone is gonna ask: here is the original image, it is by professional pony porn provider Bakuhaku, and it is fabulously NSFW.)

full moon promises

This just kind of happened when one of the Gateway files came up on iTunes one spring day when I was baked. It’s been sitting around marked as “in progress” ever since; every now and then I’d open it up, fiddle around with it, and decide it wasn’t done yet. Sometimes I’d add stuff, sometimes I’d take stuff away and add something else.

Today I opened it up and decided the only thing to add was my signature. Time Sink says I’ve spent a total of about an hour with this file open.

It’s on Redbubble if you want a print or a poster or a sticker or a t-shirt or an apron or whatever.

Illustrator source and a high-res copy are on Patreon.


So a few days ago, I got crossfaded, and a little horny, and decided to lay down on the couch with my copies of the Gateway audio files. These are a series of recordings from the 70s designed, essentially, to try and teach you how to psychic. And to astral travel.

I have not reached that point with them but I sure did get some interesting imagery this time. I scribbled down something in my Magical Notebook; the next day, I started turning it into a full piece in Illustrator.

4.5 hours, lots of use of Astute’s plugins. Source on Patreon.

a moment of sonic nostalgia

Every now and then something reconnects in my brain and I remember being eighteen and sticking a pirated copy of Shufflepuck Cafe into my Amiga and hearing its weird, wonderful opening music fill my bedroom.

The game itself was a decent conversion of a Mac game from the year before, simulating a tournament of air hocky with an assortment of goofy aliens. But what was really memorable about it was that opening music. Go on. Hit play if you haven’t already.

It’s exemplary of a lot of music found on the Amiga around this time. A little bit off-key and atonal (and a lot harder to listen to because of that now that I’m an adult), but chock full of weirdness for its own sake, and reveling in being on the first home computer to have a sound chip that was based entirely on playing back wavetables instead of producing simple bleeps. This one especially stands out because it was really trying to sell the idea that you were standing outside a bar on some alien planet; are the weird blurbles that come and go part of the music, or part of the ambient noise? What does alien music even sound like? It also sticks out because it tries to cram so much into so little space; it lurches drunkenly from one riff to another over the course of its four minutes, refusing to ever commit to a groove for more than a few measures. It’s a raw, jagged artifact of technology people were just beginning to get a handle on. Unpolished, chaotic, and anarchic.

the future is weird

Today I got a new iPad Mini to replace the old one, which had suffered a few drops and had a lot of tape holding it together. The new one arrived a few minutes ago; the poor bastard delivering it had to submit a couple of photos via an app on his phone… which couldn’t get any reception on my front porch. He tried running out on the sidewalk and waving the phone at the sky, to no avail. Ultimately I had him hand me the phone so I could type in the password for my own internet. Which I had to do twice because I botched it the first time.

Then I got to experience the current iThing data transfer process. It’s pretty crazy now; the new device setup routine starts pinging all the other iThings nearby via Bluetooth, and then it starts displaying this crazy moving dot pattern that you have to scan with the camera of the device you’re transferring from. The new one downloaded an operating system update, and went from “preparing for transfer” with a little pinwheel for a few minutes, to a new screen showing up on both Minis with a half-filled progress bar promising to be done in about nine minutes.

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Greetings from Sunny Yetzirah!

Illustrator, 4.5h.
So there I was minding my own business when suddenly my magicsona kinda poked her head into reality and was all, hey, remember me? we were kinda doing a thing and then we lost contact? wanna try again?
Seriously it was weird, there is this thing Illustrator does where I hit the Appearance palette’s button to bring up a tiny version of the Swatch palette and it decides to flip over to another desktop to bring it up; the preview window stays on the desktop I just left so I get an eyefull of whatever’s on the new desktop. Which is often an endless cycle of the furry porn I’ve favorited on Furaffinity. Last Tuesday this happened repeatedly and had me looking at an extreme up-shot of a horny jackal lady; when I paused to think about this I got a brief sense of incense, and it started to feel Signifying. So I sketched this out and spend the last few days painting it.
Maybe it’s time for me to start doing that daily ritual again.
Also if you are wondering why Stella’s Guide stopped abruptly this is basically why. It felt like it was kinda coming from somewhere else and then suddenly the drive to work on it just… stopped. Magic is weird.
I did some experimentation with baking a lot of the basic shading into some Graphic Styles; I can draw one quick shape and it’ll have a vague shadow applied to it, and have a nice misty, volumetric shadow trailing off of it thanks to Astute’s Block Shadow effect. The shadow even changes direction based on where I draw/move the shape, since it’s calculated based on a vanishing point lurking somewhere above Stella’s head. 
Also I am very happy with the cloudscape I drew. I really feel like I’ve been drawing much more realistic and interesting clouds ever since I moved to New Orleans, where we have spectacular sunsets on a regular basis.
You can get the Illustrator source on Patreon, if you want to look at how this all works. You’ll need the Astute suite for a few things – the aforementioned shadows, as well as some of the stuff going on in the “upstairs” half of the image.
And if you want this on your wall or your clothes or something, you can make that happen over here.