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A* Episode 8 
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Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm
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After looking through a comic called StrYders over the weekend, I started thinking that I'd like to get a more organic feel to the "shading" in A*. For instance, while the simple gradient style I've been using achieved particularly smooth effects in episode 8 page 29, it's also starting to look a little too stiff for my tastes; I want a less predictable, more organic feel. Anyway all those adjacent gradients start getting to be a real pain to line up; at this level of detail, hand-sketching starts to become significantly quicker.

I'm trying to resist dragging out my old copy of Painter, and have played around a bit with what kind of semi-organic "painting" effect I can get out of crusty old Photoshop 4, which is what I use for the underlying black and white lasso drawing. There aren't a great variety of options to be had there, but fortunately one of them seems to be rather promising: the strange "Wet Edges" option on the Paintbrush tool, with pressure-sensitive opacity enabled. Here's a side-by-side comparing the gradient-toned page 29 with a quick and wet brush test:

Gradient filled:
Image
Wet brushed:
Image

I'm liking the brushiness! I think I'll try this for real on the next few pages at least.


Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:53 pm
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Added 4 new A* pages:
I started applying grays in a different way today--with a brushy brush tool rather than with linear or radial gradients. Still getting the hang of it, but it looks a little more organic this way, I think.


Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:15 am
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Random space research!

Venera: The Soviet Exploration of Venus has all kinds of rad details and images from the Ruskie side of the Cold War space race, with lots of drone-dropping, crushing atmospheres, and redundant systems!

And just to get you in the mood, here's a photo of NASA's Pioneer 3 space probe being worked on, probably not long before its 1958 launch. Look how tiny it is!

Image
image by NASA (source)

Pioneer 3 was supposed to pass the Moon and then go on and orbit the Sun, but its launch rocket ran out of gas, and it fell back to Earth after 38 hours, burning up over Africa. But the data it returned in its inadvertent Earth orbit helped James Van Allen in his discovery of the Earth's radiation belts. Way to go, Pioneer 3!


Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:06 am
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Added 3 new A* pages:
My self-appointed business manager, aka my dad, wanted a print he could shop around of the image I used as an icon for the episode 7 trailer, but that drawing was kind of low res and scribbly, so I redrew it today at a higher resolution for printing purposes. I've put this fancy version in the episode 7 gallery, and you can get to it by clicking this sorta tiny version:

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Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:25 am
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Hey I was wasting time reading more interesting stuff about the Rooskie space program, particularly the few deadly mishaps they've had; I didn't bother to note the addresses of these so I'm just kind of paraphrasing from what I can remember of the Wikipedia articles and probably have most of it wrong, but here goes:

- One Russian dude, coming down for landing in his space ship, had the main parachute fail to deploy correctly. He then deployed the backup chute, but it got tangled with the main, screwed-up chute, putting them both out of action, and his ship hit the ground at 90 mph or so, killing him. When they checked the chutes on another craft that had been due to launch earlier but had been delayed, they found those chutes would have had the same problem--so fortunately they were able to fix those, at least. This would have been ehh in the late '50s or sometime in the '60s I guess, as would the next one as far as I can recall.

- The only people to die in space (as opposed to in the upper atmosphere or further down) were three Russian cosmonauts who suffocated when a hatch got pulled off their ship after it fired its thrusters to put them on a re-entry course: it was supposed to separate from some other module, I think, but this hatch thing pulled away with it, leaving a hole that let their ship's atmosphere leak out very rapidly. The ship went through its landing procedure, and although ground control had not heard from the cosmonauts since shortly after the re-entry firing, they didn't really find out what had happened until the recovery team opened the landed ship and found the three dead in their seats.

- (This one was a bit later.) There was a lot of pressure to get a heavy rocket launch vehicle working that could compete with the huge American rocket at the time--one that could launch a crew directly to the Moon, for instance--and during a hurried round of testing, with the managing General or whatever he was of the Russian rocketry program at the launch platform directing efforts, a technician triggered one stage of the huge rocket's thrusters, which had mistakenly been left charged, and they fired into the rocket's other fuel tanks, igniting a massive fireball and explosion that destroyed the platform and killed over 100 people, including the bigwig in charge. American surveillance photos showed the destroyed platform, and hints acquired by European news agencies strongly suggested that a cataclysmic accident had occurred, but the Soviets staunchly denied a rocket accident--they gave out that the main guy and anybody else had died in a plane crash--right up until Glasnost allowed them to disclose it finally, in '89 or '90.


Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:33 am
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BC wrote:
One Russian dude, coming down for landing in his space ship, had the main parachute fail to deploy correctly. He then deployed the backup chute, but it got tangled with the main, screwed-up chute, putting them both out of action, and his ship hit the ground at 90 mph or so, killing him. When they checked the chutes on another craft that had been due to launch earlier but had been delayed, they found those chutes would have had the same problem--so fortunately they were able to fix those, at least. This would have been ehh in the late '50s or sometime in the '60s I guess, as would the next one as far as I can recall.


I remember seeing that covered in a documentary back in middle school. Mission control's only comment to him after the first chute failure was something along the lines of "you will be given a hero's burial".


Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:09 pm
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And he was! I bet that cheered him up considerably.


Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:44 pm
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Heyyy. Have a nice weekend, don't forget to maybe check out some of my other comics, like The Princess and the Giant, which will update on Sunday, and my small daily Sketchy, now up to 60+ silly comics!


Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:34 am
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Something neat happened today as the Princess from my Sunday comic, The Princess and the Giant, got a guest appearance on Nothing Happened Today as what appears to be an exotic bar reveler. So *that's* how she chillaxes after her hazardous weekend adventures! Anyway even aside from the Princess partying, "Nothing Happened Today" is a fine and amusing webcomic that you should check out.


Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:41 am
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Added 4 new A* pages:
Italics alone didn't quite seem enough to set off Niels' lines from Vero's, so I made them gray, too. Hopefully that helps show who's talking here! And I'm using a regular brush tool for those lines or wires or whatever you see in the last two panels, because the lasso tool really isn't cut out (har!) for drawing long thin lines. Hopefully the different look for them isn't too jarring, and hey this lets me get a sorta funky semi-transparent look for them.


Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:16 am
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