More Symbiosis Than Parasitism

Last week, my SO and I were watching “What We Do In The Shadows”, and came to the episode where Colin Robinson, the Energy Vampire who feeds off of peoples’ boredom and stress, gets a promotion at work and becomes dangerously powerful.

This lead to the SO insisting that, no, really, that’s kind of them, and some discussion of the internal mythology that their several equine fursonas are all really just their changeling character playing different roles, so I decided to draw Schadi sitting on top of the serpent-dragon version of myself I’ve been drawing lately and having a nice glass of hearts. Which are pretty consensually given, I definitely get stuff out of this relationship. Like “help with bills” and “cuddles” and “writing scripts for our comics” and whatnot.

Illustrator, about an hour? Maybe two? I didn’t formally track this one and it’s part of the “horny doodles 2021” file so squinting at Time Sink’s tracking data is a matter of guessing when I was working on this and when I was drawing whatever weird stuff my loins wanted me to.

Illustrator source on Patreon, no prints today because I’m tired.

Total Peganthyrus Vortex

that moment when the drugs kick in and you realize that there is absolutely nothing in the universe except you and your infinite reflections


So one of the things I do to put off getting work done is to go to the Illustrator subreddit and answer people’s “how do I do this” questions. Yesterday there was someone asking how to do this:

 to which I replied

  1. draw a thing, select the thing
  2. object>distortion mesh>make with mesh, just make it 1×1
  3. mesh tool, click on the edge of the mesh around where you want to make stuff wavy, zoom in close and click slightly above this place so that there are now two mesh lines very close to each other
  4. select the top two points of the mesh and the upper of the two mesh lines you just created, drag upwards
  5. make a couple more mesh lines in this space you’ve opened up, move ’em around
  6. also play with the settings in object>envelope distort>envelope options, a low setting on the “fidelity” slider can make some really interesting glitches.

(You could also go old-school on this and find a photocopier; moving stuff around on the glass as the scan head is moving creates similar effects. Do a dozen or so tries until you find one you like, then scan it, and autotrace/work over it in AI.)

And today someone asked how to do this:
…where I suggested

Draw one vertical line of arches. Make it into a pattern brush. Draw a circle using this brush. Duplicate the circle and rotate it a little and change its color; play with opacity masks.

Making the varying blur/sharp parts is something I’d have to think about for a while in front of Illustrator, offhand I’d probably do it by drawing three arches with a green stroke at 0%, 100%, and 0% opacity, blending them, then duplicating the blends to make the line of arches to use in the pattern brush. Might have to expand the blends before making them into a brush.


I’d verified that the warp effect worked by doing it to a copy of the picture I drew yesterday, which is where the “play with the distortion effect settings” part came from – I liked how a low fidelity made a total mess of things.

So after spending about fifteen minutes fooling around with those circular patterns this morning to see if my idea worked…

…I realized that I could very quickly use this as a tool to make something akin to Escher’s “Circle Limit” images with a lot less work than he had to put into those. So I fooled around a while and this was the result.

Here’s the outline view, with the distortion mesh on and off – stuff you put inside a distortion mesh goes to a weird netherland, and vanishes from the main canvas unless you say “swap the dmesh for the stuff inside it so I can edit that”.

The two dragons at the corners are repeated by use of the Transform effect; getting the right settings was made a ton easier by using Astute’s “Stylism” tool, which provides nice interactive on-canvas controls for this effect and several others instead of Adobe’s modal dialogue boxes full of numeric fields.


If you wanna see the source, it’s up on Patreon. If you want a print of this, it’s on Redbubble.

Research (III)

I am still into “my fursonas sitting around lavish libraries”. This one was started back in 2016, and left at a pretty rough stage because I just really did not feel like drawing all those books at that time; now I’ve got a pretty good workflow for this, so when I remembered it existed, I pulled it out and spent about six and a half hours finishing it.

The unicorn on the ceiling is Noelle and the dragon is November-4; the dragons on the bottom are Enmerkar (seated) and Peganthyrus (sleeping). Noelle and Enmerkar are my spouse’s; originally this was just a picture of Peggy visiting Enmerkar at his home in the Library of Babel, but the way I drew the books above the arches made me decide to make it clear that space is a bit broken in there, and put someone on the ceiling.

High res and AI source are on Patreon; prints are on Redbubble.

branding revisions

Back in 2012 when I made my current website, I did a little drawing of the god-mode version of my fursona that’s hiding at the bottom if you scroll allllll the way down until the background peels away to reveal her.

Earlier this year I re-did the first thing you see when you open the site. And today I found myself looking at that old drawing of November-4 and feeling like I could do it a lot better. To be honest I was never entirely satisfied with it, it always felt a little off. But there were some technical reasons why it was hard to re-work (it’s all drawn in an opacity mask). Now I have some new tricks for doing transparency, and a few new tools to use as well.

I think I like this one a lot better. We’ll see if I still like it in about another ten years.

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.

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…

Resolute

So the other day I was reading a book about astral projection when the back of my brain said “draw your dragon self in cool fantasy armor”. I was also very stoned at the time. I then worked on this on and off over the next few days.

Did you know that drawing cool fantasy armor is kind of a pain in the ass?

Technically, I’m happy with this one. There’s a lot of use of gradients in ways that come together quickly, that make it look a lot like a painstakingly masked out piece of airbrush art. Which ALWAYS makes ten year old me ecstatic to be able to knock out.

looks great, plays terrible

Somewhere back in August, I made a file titled “Peggy At The Con Of The Crimson King”, and meticulously reverse-engineered Roger Dean’s logotype for the 80s/90s computer game company Psygnosis. There’s a font out there that claims to be based on it, but half of the characters are swiped from his logo for Shadow of the Beast and they only sort of work together, so I just ended up making a bunch of art brushes based on his shapes and using those.

And then I let it languish in my working directory for the rest of the year because I didn’t like any of the sketches I’d done for the character. Today I loaded it up and did a decent rough, then did my best to pretend I was an airbrush jockey via a bunch of gradients and blurred shapes and masks.

Now I just need someone to do a furry con whose theme is “vaporwave” and I’ll have the perfect badge for it. But I probably won’t do badges in this style at the con because holy crap the typography took at least twice as long as the figure. I could re-use the brushes and styles I made but it’d still be like twice the work of “type name in a font, draw character” and I dunno if I really feel like seeing if there’s any market for $100 badges.

also here is a closeup showing the amount of detail I made Illustrator do in the eyes, because I wanted to capture a little bit of the INSANE STARING GLARE that Dean put into the stylized owl-head of Psygnosis’ secondary logo.  There was also a bunch of angular bullshit around the eyes based on that but it got covered up by the chrome hair, oh well.

Someone on FA asked for this on a t-shirt, so I posted it on Redbubble. Go here if you want one too.

an account of a week and a half

Sunday, Jan 29: Protest.

Tuesday, Jan 31: Hung with friends, watching them buy supplies for their Physical Art Doings at the art store. Impulsively buy cool mirror with dragon on it. Seriously it is fucking rad, it's circular and has the dragon splaying across it, dividing it into a ying/yang sort of pattern.

Thursday, Feb 2: finally unbox cool mirror. Contemplate places to put it. Come to vague decision, don't feel like nailing anything up. Leave on floor in foyer.

Friday, Feb 3: the inner Magician vaguely wonders if it's really a good idea to leave this mirror right at the door, reflecting the energies being filtered by the big picture of the semi-divine version of my dragonsona that's hanging on the inside of the door. Other things like “hanging with girlfriend” and “buying some magic chocolate with high THC and CBD content because my throat hurts when I smoke and there is no way I'm doing the Trump regime sober” distract me from this. There are ten little chocolates in the bag; I will go through them over the next few days.

There is pretty much no point in the rest of this journal entry where I am not at least a little high, until the last day.

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