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 pink hoodie

Now and then, some artist finds a really hilariously impractical piece of clothing, and draws one of their characters wearing nothing but it. And sometimes the combination of clothing and drawing is strong enough to become A Thing that circulates around the Internet for a few days.

Every now and then I end up drawing one of my characters in one of them.

The item in question is a short pink hoodie, with a huge half-circle cut out of the front. Kind of a bolero hoodie. It could probably look pretty good if it was accessorizing the right outfit, really; I feel that matching the claw polish to the hoodie went a long way to making it look less terrible. As did being a tease who’s deliberately not using it as an excuse for full frontal nudity.

The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To Cartoon Adaptations

This morning I got stoned and decided that a galaxy-pattern catsuit under the bathrobe I still hadn’t bothered changing out of was a really good fashion choice for the morning. Then Nick said I looked like a far-future Arthur Dent who has truly become a hoopy frood who knows where his towel is. Because really, what is a bathrobe but a towel you can wear? He had it with him all along.

When he’s not travelling, that spacesuit is always with him. It probably converts into a useful backpack or something. Because after what he’s survived, there is no way Arthur would want to let that thing out of his possession. Ever.


In the shower I thought about this drawing as a pitch for a H2G2 cartoon adaptation.


* The spacesuit has invisibility capabilities; when Arthur’s not using it for that he has it just display whatever random imagery/video we feel like genlocking in there.

* The spacesuit can recycle his fluids into a substance almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

* Perhaps it is the latest model of the Guide? Compacts into an easy-to-carry box of roughly Gameboy size when not in use. It does NOT have a Genuine People Personality. Nobody wants that when they’re floating alone in the void of space.

* Every episode starts cold with Arthur in some tranquil setting (possibly wherever he finished last episode), when suddenly, disaster strikes and he is, once again, floating in the cold void of space. He sighs, dons the spacesuit, and begins reciting something similar to the Litany Against Fear centered around the words “Don’t Panic”. Cue “Journey of the Sorcerer” or some imitation thereof, opening titles are a montage of bits introducing Arthur and the main characters of this episode with Arthur still floating in space waiting for the Thumb to say something’s in range. As the opening titles come to a close, there’s something detected; Arthur turns on the Thumb capability of his suit via a closeup on his hand making a hitch-hiking gesture. Music climaxes, smash cut to episode title as the music fades, then we rudely drop Arthur into the middle of whatever mess we’ve thought up for him to muddle his way out of this time.


“You’ve essentially just reinvented Doctor Who”, said Nick when I pitched these ideas to him. Arguably yes, though I feel there’s a big difference: the Doctor is good at solving huge problems like “an entire universe has been converted into Daleks, who are now invading this universe with the aim of turning it into even more Daleks” while Arthur is good at averting problems well before they get to that point, or just not being where they are when they happen. His primary skills are being that super chill surfer dude who is really, really good at staying calm in the face of crisis and helping other people de-escalate. He does not necessarily solve the problem he’s dropped into in every episode; sometimes he just ends up running.

Also another way this is different from Doctor Who is that the Doctor is not costumed so as to look like she’s naked under her bathrobe. Arthur is. Because nobody really takes you seriously as a threat when you look like you’re naked under your bathrobe.

dailysnek: coffee smirk


So lately when I’ve been feeling unmotivated to work on the huge, complex backgrounds of Parallax, I’ve been trying to at least make myself open up Illustrator and do some drawings of my cobra character Kalinda. (Who is also sometimes an archaeopteryx, it’s complicated.) I have been referring to these drawings as “#dailysnek” even though they are not a thing I do every day.

Today, I went out to the Meowtropolitan (a coffee shop with a room full of very very jaded cats) with Nick. On the way I decided that it would be nice to work on a bit of design I need to do for Parallax but it was by no means necessary; if all I did was to do a color version of a Daily Snek, that would be perfectly fine. I’ve generally been sluggish and unproductive lately, and I figured actually finishing something would be a nice change from “slowly picking away at complex two-page spread backgrounds”.

Worth noting: the smoke coming off of her cup is one path, with a moderately complex Appearance stack on it.

The bottommost stroke has an asterisk next to its weight because it’s got a variable width profile applied to it.

And here are all of the #dailysnek doodles thus far. Will I keep doing these? I dunno. It’s been fun so far, and people seem to like them. Click them to embiggenate.

the is is the only one that involved looking at an actual photo of a real snake, I should do that more often to figure out how to properly pile up her coils.

And then, having done this, I used the last half-hour of my Mac’s battery life to rough out a spaceship design for Parallax. Yay!

Still needs some work to turn it into something I can drop into Silo and use as reference to model. But there’s a good start there at the bottom, with some shapes that evoke assorted 70’s spaceships (mostly the Liberator from Blake’s 7, which always looked like it was going backwards, and maybe a little of the Vipers from Battlestar Galactica. Though I think I’ll try to downplay that as I work on them, as this is an eight-person shuttle with its own stardrive rather than a two-seat fighter that lives on a carrier.)

Illustrator experiments: the chiseled look

So today BoingBoing posted some work by a Russian illustrator named Maxim Shkret.

I’m pretty sure his work is done in a 3D program. But I asked myself “how could I get something like this in Illustrator?” and fooled around a little bit.

After some fiddling with needlessly complex setups that didn’t work anyway, I realized I could do it pretty simply: tell Illustrator to draw two variable-width strokes, one for each side of the line, each in a different gradient.

The above screengrabs are for one of the six related styles I made while experimenting; I’ve got it at different stroke weights (3/6/9pt), and with one of the gradients reversed. The lips are also done with double-gradient strokes; the other shading is simple blurred shapes.

The fun part here is that the hair can be knocked out super quickly with the pencil tool. I could very quickly draw some chunky, super-stylized plastic-looking hair.

It still looks interesting with different colors, too. I may have to experiment with this further and try to do a piece using this. I’m not sure what kind of looks would go well with it.

Anyway. I thought I’d share this little experiment.

Fuzzy shading.


A quick (~15min) doodle of Baron K from Parallax, mostly done to test out a shading method someone asked about on Reddit. The uniform is probably off-model, I didn’t bother pulling up the pitch bible.

I’m not sure about the Baron’s eyes here. I need to do some exploration of how to show expressions and keep his eyes looking like cute little beady mouse eyes. Does he look like he’s looking in a particular direction to you?


This is what I ended up with for the shading effect. Choose color, opacity amount, and blur/mezzotint settings to taste; if you make a Graphic Style and draw all your shading using that, you can tweak the appearance then do ‘redefine graphic style’ to apply it to the whole drawing.


And this is what it looks like if I turn off the blur and mezzotints. Just a bunch of shapes drawn with the pencil tool and occasional use of ‘draw inside’.

Parallax: towards version 2

Or, “how the sausage is made”.

So remember that show pitch I made to show to Nickelodeon at SPX? They didn’t take it, but I’ve been continuing to work on it, with a lot of help from Nick – to the point where the front page of the pitch now has both our names.

We’ve been hanging out and figuring out things about the characters and the world. It’s starting to become fairly strange and very much its own thing; hopefully soon it’ll be in shape to toss a new version of the pitch by my friend who works in Nickelodeon’s development department and has offered to pass it around there.

Recently I decided we had enough textual revision for me to start fooling with a theoretical intro for the show. Or rather for a pair of intros, since there’s one for each side. I spent a morning watching cartoon intros on YouTube, and ultimately decided to start by borrowing the shot sequence from the “Real Ghostbusters” cartoon from the 80s. It’s a pretty efficient minute-long sequence that nicely introduces the team, gives you a tiny hint about their personality, tells you what they battle against, and that they are pretty confident in their job.

I rendered this down to its bones – just a quick list of shots described in the most generic terms possible – and started drawing versions of each shot that fit Parallax. And as I did this, I had to make some visual decisions I’d been putting off. Namely, what everyone’s spaceships looked like. And what each side’s logo looked like, since I wanted to swipe the way the Ghostbusters intro filled the screen with the logo like three times. That’s a nice piece of sigil work right there.

But mostly the spaceships. I’d been putting off the spaceships. I do not love drawing spaceships and didn’t really know where to start. It needed doing, though, so I finally sat down and came up with a good way for the two sides’ battle craft to combine: the Federacracy’s fighters would just happen to be the right size and shape to be carried around by the Union’s mechs. Which are faster-moving and more maneuverable, but lightly-armed.

This choice cascaded into other things: I wanted the Federacracy’s ships to be better-armored than the bigger Union mechs, but I also wanted them to be light enough to be carried around, so I ended up deciding that their Lucky Ancient Technology Find was great force-field technology. Which then gave me some inspiration for their logo.

I also figured out things like explicitly codifying the Union’s spooky take on VR – every ship/planet/etc they own seems to be much larger on the inside than the outside, because a large percentage of the people there are actually simulations being run by the local AI, in a sprawling virtual world. Conveniently these people are referred to as “ghosts” who live in the “ghost halls” of the ship, and can’t be seen by non-Union folks without the standard augmented reality implants they all have, so they come off as Creepy People Who Talk To Ghosts We Can’t See. And that gave rise to a plot idea about a Union “ghost ship”, drifting between stars in power-conservation mode with the whole crew living as ghosts. Who then become fitful holo projections, then half-finished “zombies” crawling out of the respawn tanks when the Federacracy crew finds them and digs through what they think is a dead hulk looking for intelligence/a mcguffin/Ancient artifacts/whatever.

We’ve got a nice little list of A- and B-plots that we’re in the process of winnowing and shuffling into about a dozen episodes. Turn those into a couple paragraphs apiece outlining each episode, and I think I’ve got a pitch. There’s still some art to do – I’m redrawing all the character portraits now that I’ve redesigned the uniforms, and taking a second design pass on at least the Union crew – but I feel like that’s not a ton of work. I could be wrong on that. We’ll see.


Anyway. The rest of this post is a bunch of the sketchbook pages I filled up while thinking up all this nonsense. Enjoy this glimpse into the process of designing a whole world.


Next: design Union mechs (which is coming along), do a round of work on the Federacracy characters who are not already Just Perfect (Olivia and the Baron were designed back around 2003, and I really just can’t improve on them, I’ve tried), do nice drawings of the revised cast in their revised uniforms, (possibly in ZBrush, which I am attempting to learn this week) make at least one decent picture of each capital ship and a drawing of the fighting craft, and of course hammer on that list of a dozen episodes and that list of plot ideas until it feels like there is some flow between them all and a decent balance of standalone/arc-y stories, and turn those into nice tasty little paragraph summaries. Then it’s ready to start pitching to the various Sausage Factories as a tasty new kind of sausage they could hire me to make.

executive genie fashions

“I like the way you bring your identity of ‘witch’ into your daily life. I’ve been wanting to do that with ‘genie’.” “It’s been pretty powerful! Doing that with ‘genie’ while remaining street-legal feels like it’s gonna pose some major problems, though, hmm.” (because cartoon shorthand for ‘genie’ is always ‘sheer harem wear that doesn’t hide much plus a lot of bangles’)

And then my brain wouldn’t stop turning it over after I got out of bed and I doodled this out in like 10 minutes. Street-legal powerful businesswoman wear, with a genie theme.


Turned-up collar to create something like a veil effect. Smoky accents to suggest fading into vapor. And a canvas bag with a bit of gold-toned hardware and embroidery to carry everything one might need to grant the odd wish. Heavy coat? Opaque dress? Depends on the season.