Insistent Voices

Yesterday, my SO showed me this sketch from something like fifteen to twenty years ago.

It’s a mind-controlling insect from an obscure corner of Marvel’s comics massaging the brain of an anonymous raccoon. It has survived three purges of their “accounting” directory at this point and they’re still horny for it. Maybe, they asked, I could finish it?

I took it into Illustrator and spent two hours doing just that, using the automatic shading methods I’ve been fooling with lately. It’s really weird how they fuck with my brain, I will knock something out and it looks so finished that I don’t want to do anything more to it, but it’s also nowhere near finished. I need to figure out how to get around this and firmly convince my brain that something that looks the way this technique does is Not Finished so that it’s easy to dive in and add some more shading by hand where it’s really needed, like I did in this one. Overall though I would say that “I can draw something in a few minutes that looks so superficially polished that it breaks how my brain thinks about what to do next” is a pretty good problem to have!

The Illustrator source is over on Patreon, if you’re curious as to how I got this done in two hours. It uses a bunch of Astute’s effect plugins.

The Space Vixen Channel

Sometimes you just gotta make your SO get on their knees and take a photograph of you waving a toy ray gun at them, so you can draw a promotional image for the SPACE VIXEN CHANNEL.


And then you end up having to spend an hour finally getting around to drawing a Fraser spiral because you need some Op art effects and the usual rayed ones just don’t feel like the right choice.

The SPACE VIXEN CHANNEL is not found on your TV set. It is found by getting high as fuck and pointing your pineal gland in the right direction. There is a lot of adult programming on it. (NSFW)

Source files for both this image and the separate file I built the Fraser spiral in are available on Patreon.

The Judgement of Bast

If you keep your local cats happy enough, perhaps this is what will happen after you die. No promises. Cats are fickle.


Illustrator, 4h.

I’ve been doing a lot of experiments in automatic shading lately and I think this is my favorite one yet. I can get Illustrator to do a lot of half-assed shading for me now.

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That’s what it looks like straight out of the stylus. I went back in and drew much more dimensional shading over it, and ended up with what you see at the top of this post with surprisingly little effort. Then I spent a couple of hours obsessing over sparkly effects and whatnot, because, hey, I was stoned and having a good time. Maybe I’ll revisit this look soon and reuse a lot of these styles, I really like the way it feels like my memories of the covers of Epyx’s early C64 games. Luminous festivals of glowing trails that probably took a lot longer to make with camera effects and transparencies than this did.

Here’s the effects stack for Bast’s body. The top fill is a vertical gradient in a highlight color, scaled to 130% with an extra copy made, followed by a Minus Back effect that takes the two shapes that Transform generates and does a Boolean operation that results in a big swath of color at the upper right of the shape. The second fill is similar, except for the Transform effect being anchored at the lower left of the shape. The stroke at the bottom also has a Transform effect to move it down and left a little, creating an extra bit of contrast between the overlapping shapes. It was a last-minute addition that worked out pretty well.

There’s similar styles for Anubis, the gold, their clothing (with pattern fills for the rayed effects!), the heart, feather, and the scales.

If you want to see the source, it’s available on my Patreon, along with a high-res copy of the image.

If you want this on a poster or a sticker or something, it’s over here on Redbubble.


Wepwawet, Opener of the Ways

Or “How To Tell The Different Egyptian Jackal Deities Apart From A Very Long Way Away, part 1”.

Illustrator, 5h.

You wake up in an endless, grey desert. You’re not sure how you got here; the last thing you remember was– Oh. Right. You just died. There’s a distant echo in the back of your head of wanting to utterly freak out about that, but, well. You’re dead. You don’t have any glands to flood you with adrenalin any more. Just a memory of them.

A little after you realize this, the hazy clouds on the horizon shift in your vision. Nothing moves; you just see them as a man made of stars and jackal, now. Or maybe wolf. You’re not sure. He feels like a friend, though. Smells like frankincense and maple syrup.

His name, he says, is Wepwawet, and he’s your guide to the Duat. Maybe you remember him? No? Ah. Sometimes you do, he says. Sometimes you even knew him in life. He’s solved a few problems for you in some of your past lives. Regardless, here you are now. He’s got a map of the underworld. He’ll guide you wherever you want to go, help clear a path through the more dangerous parts, maybe take you to his cousin Anubis’ court if you think you’re ready for what happens there. But if not? Hey, whatever. He knows some interesting places to show you down here. Maybe a few places to improve your chances when you go visit the judge. Or maybe just some places to have some fun before you go back to the world of flesh. Pick a direction.

Wepwawet (also Anglicized as Upuaut, Wep-wawet, and Wepawet) is a former war deity who moved over to being a scout, and guiding folks through the underworld. He’s found at the prow of the Boat of a Million Years most nights, helping to clear out the various nasties who want to eat Ra on his regular journey of solar rebirth. He’s usually depicted as carrying a mace and a bow; I’ve added a sword, and a bunch of keys, because what Way-opener shouldn’t have a whole bunch of keys to get through locked doors?

outline view, click for more detail

Partway through working on this, I pondered a video game wherein you wander around the underworld with this design of Wepwawet as your friendly guide. It’d be nothing but side quests; the main “quest” is simply “go get judged”. You always get a result of “sorry, you still have things to learn; go have another round of life” when you do that. And then the game politely refuses to let you play for a day or three of realtime. This would also be how you turn some collectable resource into stat/level/equipment upgrades, just to keep you from going through the entire thing in one session. Think of it as sort of an open-world game that’s in the form of a themed short story collection, rather than a big doorstop of an epic story that puts you in the shoes of someone who saves the world. You might make a few friends and trigger interesting events the next time you’re judged by doing them. You might not. Fuck up and die? You just wake up at the starting point again. There’s Wepwawet, with a comment on how long it’s been. Do you say you recognize him this time?

Prints/shirts/stickers/etc, should you want some, are on Redbubble. Illustrator source and a high-res copy are over on Patreon.

Unexpectedly Effective

Awrite, first: this kinda looks like vent art, but it isn’t. Everything’s fine with me.

So last month the SO went out of town for a late Christmas visit home. I stayed behind, made sure the cats were fed, and enjoyed the solitude for a few days – I love my spouse a whole lot, but sometimes it’s a real relief not to have to talk to anyone for a few days.

I spent a lot of this little bachelorette holiday lying on the bed, listening to guided meditations from the Monroe Institute app. During one heart-chakra-opening file, something like this happened in my inner vision. The black chunks of Me just kinda hung there in the air for a while; I tried stuffing them back in but golden goop just kinda oozed out around the edges.

Ultimately I remembered a moment years ago, when I first turned my computer’s mouse upside down, took out the ball, and began to clean it. What I initially though were black rubber tires on the wheels turned out to be caked dirt picked up from my desk, which dissolved under the touch of my alcohol-soaked q-tip. These shattered chunks of dark me-shaped substance seem to be like that: the caked-up gunk of years and years of living in this world, finally blasted out of my aura. It hasn’t really seemed to make much difference in my daily life but it’s definitely interesting to see this shit glowing in there when I try to look at myself with the third eye.

I make no claims about the objective reality of any of these events. But that’s basically what I wrote down in my magical diary over a couple of days, and that’s what I felt was worth turning into a piece of art.

Illustrator, about 4h.

Technical notes:

Lots of use of Astute’s Stipplism plugin here, each of these stippled areas is just a shape with one or more solid or gradient fills, with that effect applied.

The perspective extrusion on the Peggy Chunks was done by Astute’s Block Shadow effect, with various gradients angled and chosen with their new gradient plugins.

The negative-stipple effect is done with two fills: one with the stipple effect, set to 0% opacity, and below it, a solid or gradient fill. The whole path’s got Knockout Group turned on, which means the 0% shapes punch holes through the shapes beneath. It makes for a really nice sort of grease pencil or chalk look.

If you want prints/shirts/laptop skins/etc with this, they’re on Redbubble.

Patrons can grab a high-res copy and/or the Illustrator source file over here.

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.

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.

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.

generation dust

Today I learnt that the new term for “the tail end of the disputed territory between Generation X and Millennials” is “geriatric millennials”. At first I thought it was maybe just a new term for GenX? Nope. Just for the latter half of the transitional zone that’s mostly known as “the Oregon Trail generation”.

“Geriatric Millennials” are at least nine years younger than I am. And of course searching for info on this new term leads to discussions of generations that mention every living generation except X. If the tail end of my generation is “geriatric” then what the hell does that make me?

Nothing. Emptiness. Dust.

I am of the void. I am the mystery. I am generation meh, who gives a shit about them?

I am free of attempts to define me by marketers and pundits. The moment my cohort stopped being young adults with disposable income and not enough sense to try to ignore advertising, we stopped existing.

I am the X-factor, I am the mutant lost and forgotten. I am a mystery. I am nobody.

I am nothing, and I am free.

I have revised my infographic of generation dates accordingly.