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  Trying a thinner penAug 30, 2014 7:51 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here's a sketch I sent off to a wonderful reader recently as the reward for their support through the A* Patreon campaign in the month of July <333:
 
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I thought that ended up being a pretty neat look. I used a finer pen than I had been before—a Rotring Tikky Graphic 0.1 rather than my usual 0.3; it allowed for sharper detail, and the thinner lines gave a greater contrast with the large Faber-Castell artist series "big brush" marker used for the thick lines. But I can't really do nice long smooth lines with it, so here I disguised that by leaving the long outlines to the big brush. Not sure I'll ever be able to do nice long independent lines with a thin marker, but I'll try practicing with it more. : )
 
 
 
 
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  A*'s RSS feed is more self-serving than ever!Aug 29, 2014 12:06 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:If you're one of the super power users who reads A* through the A* RSS feed (or through an RSS reader like Feedly), you'll be delighted to know that I've added a link to vote for A* on Top Web Comics right below each comic page directly in the feed—similar to how there's a Top Web Comics button under each comic page on the main A* site—so it's now much easier for you RSS-using folks to vote for A* over on TWC. Huzzah! Voting for A* raises the comic's position on that popular webcomic list, getting it in front of a lot more new readers every day, which is how webcomics thrive and survive. A big thanks to all the folks who've been voting for A* over there every day, or even just once in a blue moon, 'cause it really is a big help. : ))
 
 
 
 
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  Notice how they don't form a peace symbolAug 28, 2014 3:48 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:As if we needed more proof that robots will one day conquer humanity, we can now see that their insidious swarms now have achieved advanced hive-mind capability, allowing thousands of individually frightening units to form themselves into an organized mass of any deadly shape imaginable. It takes them a while to do it, currently, but when you're an un-aging automaton, you've got time, all the time you need...
 
 
 
 
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  An A* musical composition by Gunwallace!Aug 27, 2014 12:57 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Gunwallace of "The Duck" webcomics site composed an A* musical theme for episode 181 of their "Quackcast" podcast. His piece starts at about 5:00 in the recording (well, after the host Ozoneocean finishes saying some very nice things by way of introduction), and it's some blissfully far-out, soothing electronic tunes. Wow! Thanks for the cool A* music, Gunwallace! : ))
 
 
 
 
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  Art party + chocolate & coffee = O_OAug 25, 2014 10:47 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:The art party I showed a bunch of A* art at this weekend was a lot of fun! I got to meet other artists and see actual original Beatles vinyl records and just hang out with people and get totally loaded on caffeine—this thing took place at a chocolate / coffee shop, after all. Oh yeah and I even sold a framed A* print (of episode 20, page 27)! And Chocolat Vitale even liked having A* livening up one of their walls so much that they've kept the display up, so if you happen to be moseying around the Phinney/Ballard area in Seattle, you can go check it out. I'm not sure how long they'll keep it there, but you can always check on current A* art show status by going to my store page and clicking the original art link therein (in this show it's all prints but they're very nice prints and in frames and stuff and drat I forgot to take a photo : p).
 
Thanks are due as always to my folks, who pretty much made this entire thing happen.
 
At least some of the other artists' stuff from the art party was still there the next day when I went back, so you might be able to catch it, too. The real conversation piece was the to-scale sculpture of a pair of slightly over-sized six-sided dice, made of this really cool-looking stone composite, with real gold in the number dots! Only a little over $700 for the pair, too! >_> (That was the one that was definitely still there the day after the party.) That sculptor also had a tasty glass piece that looked kinda like yellow rock candy. : d Another artist had nifty jewelry made out of things like tiny pocket knives and old nails and toy cars and binocular lenses, and then there was the artist who had little abstract paintings done entirely with nail polish! Sparkly. 8 )
 
 
 
 
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  A* at Seattle art party tonight!Aug 23, 2014 7:40 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Every buck or two or even more that people contribute each month to the A* Patreon campaign helps in a very real way to keep this comic going, so it's always a pleasure for me to be able to draw and mail out sketches as rewards to contributors! Here's one I sent out to a supporter a week or so ago:
 
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Thanks everyone for your support!
 
Still catching up on showing the sketches I've already mailed out here in the blog; I came up with a kinda new style/method for some of them that I'm itching to show you next week!
 
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I'll be at this art party thing this evening (Saturday, that is!), along with a bunch of A* art, and even an oil painting I did back when I was into that sort of thing in college (last-minute update: whoops, looks like the oil painting will *not* be there after all!)—and there will be a bunch of other artists there too, and I'm definitely looking forward to checking out all their stuff, and it's open to the public so if you're in the Seattle area you could drop by too! Here's the flyer with the details, and there's still that typo with the address that I crudely corrected (the street is 3rd Ave NW, *not* "NE"; here's a map, and a link to the web site for the tasty venue: Chocolat Vitale)—they did make a corrected flyer but I seem to have missed the link to the file, oops!
 
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  Still behind on showing you sketches!Aug 22, 2014 4:01 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here's another sketch sent to a reader for their support of the A* Patreon campaign (which they and other readers have helped make my steadiest source of income!) in the month of July:
 
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Thank youuuuuuuu <33
 
 
 
 
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  Selenis hits the society page?Aug 20, 2014 11:42 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here's a sketch I sent off recently to a very kind reader as the reward for their splendiferous support of the A* Patreon campaign in July:
 
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When in doubt, draw Selenis in elegant evening wear. : )
 
 
 
 
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  Rainbow power sketch!Aug 19, 2014 10:56 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here's a sketch mailed to a reader as the reward for their support of the A* Patreon campaign for the month of June:
 
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Thank you readers and supporters! : ))
 
 
 
 
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  A* at a Seattle art party this Saturday!Aug 18, 2014 10:25 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I'm on a poster! : o :
 
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(^ Note that there's a tiny typo in their address that I have crudely corrected: they are on 3rd Ave NW, *not* "NE"! — Here's a map.)
 
The last show opening I was in at Chocolat Vitale was quite a hoot (and full of tasty refreshments!) so pop by if you get a chance and I think you'll have fun. I'll have a bunch of framed A* prints there and I think maybe even an oil painting from my ol' college days!
 
(I guess that "destroyer of worlds" sobriquet they give me on the poster isn't entirely inaccurate since I did have Selenis wipe out a Core Sys planet back in episode 11!)
 
 
 
 
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  Squinting? Super Selenis to the rescue!Aug 16, 2014 11:22 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Did you know A* is still going thanks in no small part to the great generosity of those readers who are kicking in a buck or several a month on A*'s Patreon campaign? It's a huge help! And I get to send them little rewards back like thank you emails or free e-books or even mailing them sketches; here's a sketch I sent to a reader last month for their support in the month of June:
 
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^ I figured out why artists are always drawing super heroes: it's fun! What with the crazy poses and costumes and all. Um. I haven't come up with a name for this particular ensemble yet. :"P
 
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Sometimes my eyes have been sore after drawing for some hours and I always thought it was due to having too much or too little light or something, but after drawing today's page I realized my eyes were sore because I'd been drawing a squinty face and had been squinting the whole time, I guess just subconsciously to get the right squinty feel in my head while drawing it. -_- I know I do this with other expressions but it's the squinty one that ends up making it hard to work after a while! : o And I seem to draw a lot of squinting. >_>
 
 
 
 
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  Hide the art, company's comingAug 15, 2014 3:43 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:There is an interesting A* art phenomenon transpiring, which is that the original art for pages 57 and 58, a couple of the more technically and aesthetically accomplished things I've ever managed to paint, aren't getting any nibbles in their auctions (57's ended with no bids, and 58's has just one day left, still no bids), which, thank goodness—or more specifically, the goodness of some dedicated A* art collectors!—is highly unusual these days, at least for a reasonably competent page featuring Selenis solo. I wonder if it's because they're also among the more risque pages I've done?
 
At any rate it's just as well there's still such a thing as Patreon, because every buck or two or ten (: o) that people choose to send my way each month through the A* Patreon campaign goes to helping keep this crazy comic going! This vital assistance is *very* much appreciated, and people supporting the comic through Patreon can even qualify for cute little monthly rewards, like free e-books or actual sketches mailed to their door. Here's an ink sketch I mailed out to a supporter as the reward for their help through Patreon for the month of June:
 
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And I don't *think* any of my supporters over there dropped me because of that last scene, so, whew! They are wonderfully tolerant and generous folk. : )
 
 
 
 
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  Get happy! It's brush pen heads!Aug 13, 2014 10:44 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:More brush pen head doodles! Posted these on my Instagram/tumblr/Twitter this morning and afternoon (they started as before-bed frustration sketches last night : p):
 
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Doodlin' heads with the brush pen always makes me feel better. : )
 
 
 
 
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  Sharpened watercolors; Neuromorphic computersAug 12, 2014 9:47 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Over the weekend I went back and sharpened up all the earlier watercolor A* pages, so they should all look just as sharp as the latest ones now. Read them again with new eyes! or something like that. : D They start with episode 21, page 14.
 
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"Brain-inspired chip fits 1m 'neurons' on postage stamp" says the BBC. The article describes a different type of computer, whose integrated memory/processor operates something like the human brain, using a scalable network of "neuron" computational units bundled in "neurosynaptic cores" to tackle computing problems. Each of these "neurons" connects to 256 others, in theory allowing this type of computer to be better at certain computational tasks, like image recognition, than traditional computers, whose processing pipeline is not so interconnected. The current "TrueNorth" prototype chip isn't powerful enough to be practical, yet, but of course the scientists involved are optimistic that it can get there some day.
 
 
 
 
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  'Cause I'm freeeee, free ink-in'Aug 11, 2014 11:32 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here is an ink kinda thing I did over the weekend:
 
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Don't ask me! I guess it was kind of a vague image I'd had in my head for a while. I was thinking I'd try to get into doing some quick kind of expressive freehand ink drawings, for some reason. Not sure if this one got the urge out of my system yet. ; )
 
 
 
 
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  We're on a rocket pla-a-aaneAug 09, 2014 8:07 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Hey, A-stars! Did you know that you've already helped make the A* Patreon campaign the best stable source of income I have in this crazy, mixed-up world? Yep! Every peso or two people are throwing my way through that thing each month really helps a bunch, and I really, *really* appreciate it! Here's a sketch I drew up and mailed off to a reader some weeks back as my small way of saying thanks for their support through Patreon for the month of June:
 
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Thanks everyone for reading, and thanks for all the various ways in which you all (yes you, even if you didn't mean to : D) help keep A* jetting along to wherever the heck we're going! WHOOSH! (Okay, *now* I know I've been reading way too many old Marvel comics lately : PP)
 
Hey also, did you know that the latest week of A* pages—I mean the actual watercolor paintings I slosh onto fancy French paper each day and scan into the interwebs for you to see as an a new A* comic page—are always up for auction on eBay, where they start at just $9.99 each? You could even get one! Just look for the blue and gold "original on eBay" link at the lower left corner of the latest pages. : ) (The auction for today's page is right here if you don't want to look that hard. : D)
 
 
 
 
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  Don't Want No JuiceAug 08, 2014 12:41 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:After watercoloring I always wind up with a jar of purple drank:
 
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  Rosetta orbits comet; Sharpening upAug 07, 2014 1:04 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:The big space news today is that the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe entered orbit around comet 67P, the first time a man-made spacecraft has accomplished such a feat. It is currently in a thruster-assisted sort of triangular orbit around the bizarrely peanut-or-rubber-ducky-shaped comet, which measures 3 to 4 km across...very roughly. Its path to the comet was even more complex, covering some 6 billion km and utilizing gravity assists from both Earth and Mars—and then it had to match the comet's 55,000 km/hr velocity almost exactly. So, neat. Once the comet gets close enough to the Sun, gasses will start shooting out, and it is hoped that Rosetta will be able to enter that gassy "coma" and take measurements—and eventually, if all continues to go well, it will launch a lander that will harpoon itself to the comet and drill into it.
 
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Tried a bunch of various techniques on today's page, probably twice as many as I should have used on any one page, buuuut I suppose this experience will stand me in good stead for next episode's all-underwater (different planet, mind you) action. ; ) One technique I tried today, but not on the page itself, was something a reader told me about oh probably a year or so ago, namely sprinkling salt onto wet watercolor; the salt sucks the watercolor in, then (if it was wet enough) dissolves, leaving the pigment in nifty crystalline patterns:
 
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Another reason why my going maybe slightly slightly overboard with the layers of murk on today's page was helpful is because it made me realize, once it came time to process the watercolor painting into a digital image, that I haven't been applying sufficient digital sharpening to these watercolor pages, so, if you compare today's more fully Sharpened one to the previous ones, you'll notice that the previous ones, by comparison, look slightly out of focus. Sheesh! So hopefully this weekend I'll be able to go back through the last two episodes and Sharpen 'em up.
 
 
 
 
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  Putting off Heat Death for one more dayAug 05, 2014 11:40 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:This page was about to look like this
 
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but that was too neat and tidy boring. I had also ignored my admonition from a week ago about the anti-atmospheric effect of too much white space. Fortunately, some follow-up swipes of purpley blue over the middle provided the missing depth / chaos / obfuscation. And I hadn't been sure what the watercolor would do when applied over the white ink I'd used for foam below Selenis, but it ended up making a pretty nifty overlay effect. Whew! Saved from entropy...for now. : o
 
 
 
 
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  What a pain in the subterranean!Aug 04, 2014 11:09 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Phew! All this agonizing over the lengths of necks and darkness of caverns has got me beat! Hopefully this worked out okay 'cause I'm goin' ta bed! = PP
 
 
 
 
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  Yes it's another Patreon reward sketch!Aug 02, 2014 8:36 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here's another sketch I mailed to a reader last month as the reward for their support of A* through Patreon in June : D:
 
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Every dollar that comes my way through Patreon goes directly to supporting me and my work on A*, and is super-duper appreciated!
 
 
 
 
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  Genesis Climber SelenisAug 01, 2014 4:19 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Here's a sketch I mailed to a reader this past month as their reward for supporting A* through Patreon in June : )):
 
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