richardf8: (Default)
There are books out there called the figure; the figure in motion; the figure in deep perspective; the figure in 101 improbable-but-aesthetically-pleasing-in-a-euclidean-sense poses, etc. etc. etc. Where the hell is the book called "the figure doing ordinary things that everyday people do on a regular basis?" THAT's the book I want.
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Basically a piece of Zodiac fan art.

There's art behind this cut )

His name always intrigued me, so I've placed him in the center of a wheel bearing the glyphs for the signs of the Zodiac, because it seemed a fun visual pun to make. I decided to present this wheel as the Wheel of Fortune from the Rider-Waite tarot. Anubis has been replaced with Randy, because it felt right. Alistair is in the place of the Sphinx because, well, he's a cat. The sphinx's sword has been replaced with a flag topped by a cup, because Alistair seems more likely to belong to the suit of cups than swords. The flag itself is a horrible, horrible pun that [livejournal.com profile] morgan1 makes whenever we listen to the Carmina Burana or when she wants Sushi. The Evangelists have all been replaced by Newshounds cast members who have met Zodiac. Like the evangelists, each is recording the scene. Della illuminates it with a Radio Shack flashlight so that Kevin can film it. Above, Renata writes copy while Rochelle reports.

What Waite might say it means
Upright:
Chance favors the querant. You will break a major story, and possibly mediate peace between warring factions. At the very least, you can look forward to tuna sashimi.

Reversed:
Chance is aligned against the querant. You will be manacled by your followers, alpha-rolled by someone's pet, and banished to the wilderness where you will be intimidated by squirrels. At the very least, the tuna salad at your favorite sandwich shop has been sitting out too long; if you order it you will get botulism.

NOTE: I made that stuff up. Newshounds Fan Art should not be used for divination. In fact divination is a bad idea generally: just look at US Foreign Policy!

The line art is Technical Pen on Bristol. This was scanned and printed on to Copic Marker Paper and then colored with Copic markers.
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Staedtler is offering a technical pen set under their MARS brand which includes 1 pen Barrel and 4 nylon-tipped cartridges in different sizes: 0.25mm, 0.35mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7mm. I picked up a set at Wet Paint on my last visit to them, and used it to ink a comic.

The pens feel very nice as they make their marks--far smoother than the PITT Artist Pens. The nylon tips are more rigid than the PITTs' felt tips, giving better control over line width. Whereas the line widths on the Pitts vary as a function of writing pressure, the Mars pens retain their their width regardless of reasonable pressure applied.

The ink in the Staedtler cartridges is more durable than the ink in the PITT Pens, withstanding the erasure of pencil lines as well as the Higgins Eternal ink I use with my dip pens. The ink is also impervious to Copic's spirit markers, making it a suitable choice for the line work on a marker project.

The scheme of packaging the four cartridges with a single barrel has its ups and downs. The barrel is a significant ergonomic improvement over any of the stick-pens or tecnical pens out there (even Rapidograph). However, the task of swapping cartridges when one wants to change line-width is a bit cumbersome and can break one's stride while inking. At about $5.00 apiece, consumable costs are fairly high compared with Rapidographs or nibs. I do not know how long-lived these pens are compared with the PITTS, but both are easily more long lived than Zigs.

It would seem that these pens are designed to compete with the Rapidoliner cartridge based technical pen. The consumables cost is about half of Rapidoliner's and the pens feel better on paper. I liked inking with them well enough to continue using them, but I'm not completely sure I'll replace them as they become spent. That depends on whether I think the ink's durability is worth the inconvenience of swapping cartridges.
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Not only can they be used for creating guidelines for lettering, they can also come in handy any time large numbers of parallel lines are needed. I just used mine to shingle the exterior of Grendel's back porch, and it was quicker and less painful than either my rolling straightedge or my drafting table's straightedge alone.

That also means that here it is, Sunday morning, and Tuesday's Cat-Tharsis is all ready to scan and post. This is probably the most "together" I've been with regard to the strip since it's inception. Of course, it helps that I have a bunch of scripts in the bag, and I'm not doing my writing on the fly.

2003 Redux.

Jan. 1st, 2004 09:16 pm
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Today as I was leaving work I cleared my desk of the papers and vessels that accumulated over the past three days, so that I would have a clean desk to come into come Monday. A year ago today I performed a similar task, but for a different reason: It was the last day of my assignment to a food processing company, and it was my final clearing out of my stuff. On December 31 2002 I donned my coat, shut the lights, and stepped off the precipice into an uncertain future. 2003 brought me another six months of unemployment, with a brief stint at a construction design company for flavor. Finally, in July, I landed where I am now - a health insurance loss control company. It's not my ideal place, but cleaning a desk I would be coming back to in 2004 was certainly an improvement over last year's leap at the abyss. So I am grateful to have four days off in which I can relax rather than too many days off filled with anxiety.

2003 was a strange year for that. When [livejournal.com profile] morgan1 and I tilled the ground and planted our tomato seedlings, zucchini seedling and leek sprouts in the spring, we had no idea if we would still be on this land in the fall to taste those home-grown tomatoes, Zucchini and full grown leeks. She had been laid off two days before Christmas, 2002. After passing seven anxiety ridden months coming up with all sorts of contingency plans, though, we each stumbled into our current jobs; the home grown tomatoes found their way into salads, appetizers, and Morgan and I. (Mostly Morgan; her love of tomatoes is immoderate, perhaps even a little intemperate). The leeks were roasted, braised and stewed for many a Shabbat dinner, and even put in a curtain call in the stuffing at Thanksgiving. The zucchini met a similar fate, spending much of the summer being grilled and served with vinagrette alongside tuna steaks and cod fillets. It too made an appearance, as zucchini bread, on the Thanksgiving table, having been sliced and frozen expressly for the purpose. That's important to us, having produce from the garden on our table at Thanksgiving. Especially so since this year was so difficult that planting the garden was a tremendous leap of faith. But it doesn't end there, for tonight we will be sipping sparkling cider made from the pitted fruit of our senescent Bartlett pear tree. Our land has been kind to us, and we have escaped being cloven from it.

Cat-Tharsis went from concept to reality this year too. Much of my time unemployed was spent developing the concept, developing my artwork (which still bites, but has been improving) and developing the software that runs the site. I thank [livejournal.com profile] kevinjdog and [livejournal.com profile] rain_luong for the inspiration, [livejournal.com profile] morgan1 for all the help with world building and artistic guidance, and Unit423 of If Then Else for the advice and encouragement. And I further thank [livejournal.com profile] kevinjdog for a variety of opportunities to exercise my creative faculties. They've really kept the juices flowing.

What really got Cat-Tharsis out of development and onto the web was the need to celebrate the life and mourn the passing of Morgan's cat Rodent Baby. When I drew this strip I knew I had to display it, so that was the impetus for going live. Rodent was a high strung little cat, bound to hiss, growl, and spit at every tomcat she's met, but very loving and even a bit needy. Morgan had Rodent longer than she's had any other creature currently living with her, myself included, so the loss was, indeed, profound. Rodent herself seemed content to go, and, we think, has even given her blessing to the kitten, Maeve, that came into our lives in October.

All in all this has been a year of want and of bounty, of death and of life, of turning corners, renegotiating old friendships and forging new ones. I can't really say I'm sorry to see it goes, but I'm curious what the new one will bring; I am greeting it with greater hope than I've had in a while.
richardf8: (Default)
When [livejournal.com profile] morgan1 and I first met back in the day when DOS 5.0 was new and Windows was still at version 3.0 and not ready for prime time (not that it ever would be), I made a trip to New York at Christmastime to do some grunt work for my mother. While I was there, I picked up some Lox and Bagels (both of which were unheard of in Binghamton in those days) as well as Morgan's Christmas presents (a Folkways recording of Goethe's Faust and John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces). She, in the meantime, had picked up a Droste (now Terry's) Chocolate Orange and baked some from-scratch bagels and muffins.

Ever since then it has been our tradition to eat Bagels and Lox and a Chocolate Orange at Christmas time, and so we did this morning. We also exchanged gifts which meant an Easel for her (she paints) and a 36-Marker set of COPIC Sketch Markers for me (I turn innocent pieces of Bristol into horrendous messes). We spent much of the morning playing with our gifts, and after a few hours mucking about and our breakfast, I settled down to execute a concept that has been knocking about my brain ever since I noticed that Thomas Dye's "Ferris" and D.C. Simpson's "Millie" have similar fashion sense.

Ozy & Millie/Newshounds Fan Art behind this cut )

I'm very happy with the color on the characters, the background colors in the spotlit region or OK, but the rest of the ground colors are a bit streaky in places. However, unlike with the water based markers, these have the potential to deliver a smooth ground. I achieved it in some places, not so much in others, but I am, overall, really happy with the way this came out considering how unskilled I am.

I hope you are all having joys of your own this Holiday Season.

[Edit: After some experimentation with a Prisma Colorless Blender and a less ginger application of color, I was able to abate some of the streakage. Also, a couple of friends stopped by to drop off some gifts for us. We really weren't expecting them, or anything from them, but fortunately we had a few goodies knocking about that we were able to reciprocate with. Thank God we are now in a position where a bit of surplus is a possibility, it was not so last year.]
richardf8: (Default)
Drawing the strip was tough this weekend, because my mood was very weird and I could barely stay focused. Wound up finishing my pencilling tonight, which is also when I need to upload. So I inked quickly using Copic's new fountain pen which I picked up at Wet Paint on Saturday, instead of my usual Tachikawa dip pen in Higgins eternal ink. It saved me time which was at a premium, and the pen worked well. Way better than Tachikawa's fountain pen, which clogs if you look at it wrong. But generally, I prefer the dip pen. It forces me to work more deliberately. At some point I'll probably review the Copic fountain pen in [livejournal.com profile] arttips. I bought it mostly for sketching, rather than serious inking, but it does the job nicely and stands up well to the eraser.

The other thing that made getting the strip out a little weird is that my graphics workstation is wonky. For the past week or so the house has been filled with this, er, smell, whose source I have been trying in vain to locate. Then the spontaneous reboots started happening. I noticed the computer seemed a little toasty, and there was no exhalation from the Power Supply fan. So to get my stuff done I opened the case and I nearby window. This held my CPU temp at a nice stable 94F degrees, as opposed to the 140F it was reaching before rebooting spontaneously. So tomorrow, I guess I need to snag an ATX power supply somewhere. Ah well, it'll be a great opportunity to actually USE the power driver [livejournal.com profile] morgan1 got me for my birthday.
richardf8: (Default)
is what my spouse imagines this vixen saying.



I was doodling at work when suddenly something very different from my usual style fell out of my pen. I played with it a little, and when I got home I pulled out some Bristol and the Pitt Pens. An hour later this vixen was staring back at me.

I made it too big to scan so this image was made using the crappiest digital camera on earth. I have no idea what her name is.
richardf8: (Default)
I had thought that this idea I had a couple years ago was obsolete when Abu Mazen became the PA's Prime Minister. I had dared to hope. But now that Arafat is once again asserting himself on the international stage, I figured I'd execute it, and use it as an excuse to play with my Pitt Pens.



Pitt artist pens on Arches Hot-Press watercolor sketch paper. I really need to learn to draw Sharon, the figure in there looks kind of like a generic Israeli politician. I am pleased with my Arafat, however.
richardf8: (Default)
After polishing off a story commission, I did a little piece of art which I colored using Crayola Markers. They were, ah, soppy, and the laydown was not real consistent. My skills surely had something to do with it, this being my first attempt at coloring with markers, but there was also as sense in which I felt the markers were at war with me.

So next day it was off to the art store for a some of the new Pitt Artist Brush pens with colored ink. They're no Copics, and they're no Prismacolors, but they're no Crayolas either, and that's the point. After doing a sketch of Willie on bond paper in the art-store, I decided they would do, and picked up the Basic and Landscape sets (I had the greys at home; used them to render a certain rat on the otherwise crayola project) as well as some cheap for-farting-around-with bristol. Next week, I'll pick up the Terra set, which should give me some nice flesh tones.

We then went hiking down by the Saint Croix, where I couldn't resist doing a little sketch of Grendel and Willie camping out, roasting mice over a campfire. And tonight, I had more fun with them, coloring a political cartoon I did about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

In short, I love these pens. They're not priced too badly, they are luscious to handle, and between the colors, grays, and line-art set, everything needed to do some nice, full color illustration fits into a very small space.

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