Hello! I'm Ben Chamberlain, and I make this comic. : )
If you'd like to contact me, email me at
contact me on Twitter (@smbhax) or any of the other networking
sites in the link list above.
After concentrating on oil painting and digital artwork at the University of Chicago,
I quit web design for game design and quit game design—where I had ended
up as the sole remaining writer and designer on The Matrix Online—for A*, which began in 2009 as
a digitally produced animated webcomic and has gone through a number
of production permutations since.
an H-grade Uni Mitsubishi Hi-Uni Pencil with a
Kokuyo Campus B/HB Student Eraser
on 300 lb hot press Arches Bright White Watercolor Paper, cut to A*'s 16" x 6.75" page size with an
18" Dahle Vantage Paper Trimmer.
Colored with the
Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolors
Quinacridone Magenta and
Ultramarine Blue (Green Shade),
using a ½" Winsor & Newton Artists' One Stroke Watercolor Brush and a
size 0 Raphaël 8404 brush; I sometimes use a
W&N 1/8" brush for removing layers and a
size 4 Raphaël 8404 brush for watercolor/ink mixing, and to apply
Deleter White 2 for highlights/corrections.
When I ink, I use a size 0 8404
with Deleter Black 3;
spatter effects like stars come from flicking a
Speedball Hunt #22B nib dipped in Deleter White 2
across an old credit card, like this.
I use a Rotring Tikky Graphic 0.3 mm and a
Big Brush pen for sketches
in a 5"x7" Robert Bateman Cover Series sketchbook, and sometimes I doodle using a
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.
Work happens on a 24"x36" Berkeley Drafting Table
and sometimes a 20"x26"
Airlite Drawing Board.
Art is scanned into Photoshop 4 (the ancient one) with
a Mustek A3 2400S S-Series Flatbed Scanner.
Fonts used for the comic:
- robo-bird speech
- computer speech
- other speech
- A* logo
(The font names above link to where I got them.
Euphorigenic is free for personal and most commercial uses.
Personal use versions of Trebuchet and Georgia are included
in recent versions of Windows. A personal use version of
OCR A Extended came with Windows 98 and old versions of
Microsoft Office and related software; OCR A is a
standardized font and both free and paid implementations
are available elsewhere.)
A brief history of A*'s development:
- Feb, 2009 - work begins—offline—on the first episode of A*
- Mar 18, 2009 - A* episode 1 goes online as a silent Flash movie
- Apr 15, 2009 - A* episodes 1 &
2 redone with sound: my voiceovers, and
royalty-free music from the Internet
- Apr 17, 2009 - First A* episodes appear on YouTube
- Jul 1, 2009 - With the
start of episode 5, began converting daily
A* animation work into comic pages so that viewers would have something to
follow in the long gaps between animated episodes
- Feb 27, 2010 - Switching entirely from animated movie to comic format for
comic image size upgraded from 717x375 to 956x475
- Aug 24, 2010 - With episode
10, page 80, started drawing the comics at 4x their screen resolution (previously
- Sep 14, 2010 - With episode
10, page 109, started touching the art up with GIMP's Ink tool
- Feb 22, 2010 - With episode 12, page 23, started drawing the comics at 8x
their screen resolution
- Apr 8, 2011 - With episode 13, page 2, started
drawing the pages with an Intuos4 tablet; I had
broken my Intuos3 tablet after finishing
most of the line work for episode 11,
- Jun 9, 2011 - With episode 13, page 47,
started putting colons around the main character's subtitles to aid identification—previously
I'd been doing it by rendering their subtitles gray rather than white
- Oct 11, 2011 - With episode 13, page 136,
started making the pages using traditional ink wash, rather than all
digitally with the Lasso Tool in Photoshop as I had been doing before
- Apr 18, 2013 - With episode 19,
page 2, started drawing the pages directly in pencil, rather than inking
- Aug 2, 2013 - With episode 19,
page 116, started applying flat, limited digital color under the pencil
- Oct 4, 2013 - With episode 20,
page 21, threw ink back into the mix
- Dec 17, 2013 - With episode 21,
page 11, started adding watercolor
Older A* links: