Told ya we'd get out! Well, one foot so far, anyway. It *was* in the most boring way possible I guess... Hm. But that's what makes it *hard*! Yeah--yeah, that's the ticket! >_>
You'll have to excuse me for going a bit extra abstracty on you with page 23 there, but I do love me some abstraction now and then--good for the circulation, probably. Er. Anyway here's the ol' storyboard for that page:
I was pretty happy with that when I scribbled it out, because after a bunch of standing around it was like woo like at this crazy thing, it's got direction--heck, even inversion! Bam! And so I was a little nervous about executing the final version of it, but hopefully some of that came through.
In fact, I'm thinking about taking a few large prints of that page to have for sale as unmatted and unframed bargains at my art show's reception this Saturday--along with a couple other things I've done too recently to have gotten on the walls. Woo! Reception exclusives!
I think this one will be kind of neat as a print, particularly because the open white parts at the edges--the head, the doorway, the little diminished point of the ankles--will "bleed" into the margins, like this (only, on a big piece of glossy cardstock, mind you):
Heyyy it must be Friday, because that's the day where I usually manage just one, very late page. In fact I should probably be getting some sleep because the reception for my art show is going down this evening--today now being technically Saturday. So if you're in the Seattle area and have nothing better to do between 7-9 pm tonight, or maybe just want some free crackers and cheese and mingling, why, stop on by!
Almost done recapping the first ten episodes (you noticed the report relayed by Mother on page 11:27 here described the end of episode 8, right? :)), I swear! We might get on to recapping some *new* stuff this week, even; I mean stuff that happened between the end of episode ten, and now--which, if you've been reading carefully today, was a not-insignificant lapse of time. This won't be the only time-jump in this episode, either, so stay sharp. :D
The reception for my Seattle art show took place Saturday night, and I can definitely say that I had a fine time--hopefully all the other people who showed up did, too! Here's the one photo I snapped
capturing the rear of the shop, and you can see the mob of people clustered around the rear half of my prints (check the link just above to see what that display wall looks like), in front of which were strategically placed the party's supply of cheese, crackers, pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies, and wine; I don't know who brought the cookies and wine, but whoever you are, you are awesome. A couple other artists had displays back there just for the night of the reception--the blinding light on the right has something to do with that, I think--and there was even a fellow playing a West (?) African harp enthusiastically.
Lots of friends, family, and neighbors showed up--even a bunch I had no idea were coming--and I met some new people too, including several artists, one of which was fellow webcomicker W. P. Morse of Rhapsodies. <-- Yes, that's a webcomic!
Thanks for coming and making it a real party, people! =D And thanks of course to Caffè Fiore for hosting it.
The display will remain up through the end of the year, so there's plenty of time to check out the several dozen prints of my work hanging up there with a party of your own!
Let's hear it for powerful hair dryers and low gravity!
Here's the original storyboard for page 29:
If that looks familiar to you (aside from its reinterpretation in the final version of page 29), that might be because it formed the upper part of the illustration I used for the postcards given out for free at my art show; there's a version of that image in the episode 11 gallery.
Over the weekend conditions were perfect (ie I was super tired, had some time on my hands, and was still wired on the mocha I had consumed sixteen hours earlier) for a poem to pop into my head! So that became the latest of my "word" font poem things, which you can short-cut to by clicking this banner:
Don't worry, it isn't really autobiographical; I never buy milk!
Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:47 am
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:32 am Posts: 103
(Would loved to have gone to the art show...ah well someday they will make a star-trek transporter thing.)
Dude, love the artwork on those last 3 pages!
The shading and detail look really, really cool -
Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:44 pm
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm Posts: 2861
Thanks! I think sometimes a change of scenery helps inspire me a bit. :)
Yes, if you were wondering in what garb galactic assassins lounge around their lunar bases, now you know that flip-flops and cargo shorts are definitely included.
I came across a couple new black-hole science links in the past few days!
NASA announced that they think they may have discovered the youngest nearby black hole; from 1995-2007, multiple X-ray telescopes studied supernova remnant SN 1979C--light from whose supernova explosion reached Earth in 1979--and it seems to have been emitting X-rays steadily for that whole time. One thing thought to result from supernovae, and to emit X-rays, would be a black hole sucking in remaining loose matter.
composite image by NASA (source); X-ray data is in gold
They're particularly encouraged to think that they've detected a stellar black hole in this case because no gamma ray burst was detected with this supernova, but it did contain hydrogen, which means it was a type II supernova, thought to be the type of supernova that produces most black holes. (In contrast, most supernovae detected have been--I think--type 1a supernovae, which are explosions of relatively small white dwarf stars, and unlikely to have sufficient mass to produce a black hole (a star of 20 stellar masses is thought to be required to produce a black hole; type 1as go boom when they hit the Chandrasekhar limit of only 1.38 solar masses).) It's also somewhat exciting because SN 1979C is "only" 50 million light years away (In galaxy Messier 100), whereas the type 1a supernovae detected by their emitted gamma ray bursts are often billions of light years away.
Still, calling it the "youngest nearby black hole" is a neat bit of hyperbole, because--aside from the fact that there are almost certainly many stellar black holes in our own galaxy, on the order of just tens of thousands of light years away from Earth--they can't really be sure this X-ray-emitting-thing is a black hole; even if it is a remnant of the supernova explosion detected in 1979, it could be a pulsar rather than a black hole. Also, because it's 50 million light years away, that makes it at least 50,000,030 years old.
So really this article illustrates just how darn hard it is to find black holes!
Aside, that is, from the supermassive ones now thought to exist at the center of pretty much every galaxy. And the first half of this new Sixty Symbols video has an interesting discussion about what happens when those black holes collide:
Science made the news again today! The ALPHA project at CERN--best known for being home to the world's largest particle accelerator--trapped antihydrogen: 38 atoms consisting of a positron orbiting an antiproton were kept intact for about a sixth of a second. Previously, positrons and antiprotons had been created in accelerators, and sometimes combined into antihydrogen, but nobody had been able to keep them around long enough to get a good look at them before they did this:
Those are antihydrogen atoms hitting the side of ALPHA's antimatter trap, which is a Penning trap: it uses strong magnetic fields to keep the positrons and antiprotons inside, away from any regular matter they might hit and annihilate against. Once those particles combine into antihydrogen, though, they become magnetically neutral, and, in previous experiments--according to this helpful article about ALPHA's trap--those antihydrogen atoms would then be loose and annihilate against the side of the trap within microseconds, which wasn't long enough to get a good look at them.
The current goal of CERN's ALPHA ("Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus") experiment is to be able to observe antihydrogen long enough to measure its spectrum, and compare it with hydrogen: they're expected to be the same, but if they aren't, that could lead to an explanation for why we're in a matter rather than antimatter universe!)
That's great, but how do you get these antimatter atoms to stay still for you? ALPHA's solution has been to incorporate a second, very subtle magnetic field, called a "Ioffe–Pritchard field," or a "minimum-B trap," into their Penning trap. What that does gets into quantum mechanical stuff like "magnetic moment" (here, for instance) that I don't really understand, but it *seems* to be something like this: all atoms, neutral or not, have a quantum property, "magnetic moment," of a certain discrete value, and if you can create some slow-moving (ie very cool) atoms inside a very sensitive magnetic field tuned in just a certain way, the intrinsic magnetic moment of the atoms will keep the atoms inside the field--well, still not for very long, but apparently the ALPHA scientists think that the time scales they can keep the antihydrogen atoms in the trap--currently about 1/6th of a second--will be sufficient to start getting some measurements of the antimatter's properties.
CERN has been producing antimatter in accelerators and catching it via their Antiproton decelerator since 2000 (they've been producing it for much longer than that, I think). ALPHA apparently uses evaporative cooling to get their antimatter cool (ie slow) enough to hold in their Ioffe-Pritchard field: you let the hottest atoms escape, and that cools the ones remaining, while of course significantly cutting down your sample size.
At some point they tried using lasers for cooling, and may still for all I know. In laser cooling, you zap atoms from all sides with lasers tuned to a frequency that matches a specific energy level / velocity in the target atoms, so photons in the beam hit those atoms as they're trying to move outward, very gradually slowing them down (if you continue to retune the lasers to lower and lower frequencies) to really low speeds/temperatures. Here's a nifty Sixty Symbols video on it (direct link for RSS readers):
Particles from the decelerator are--maybe initially?--cooled by passing them through foil. According to one of those articles, they also use liquid helium cooling at some stage in the process--this might be some of it boiling off here:
So why is this interesting for A*? Because the speed at which you can move a space ship is limited by the velocity of its exhaust, and the fastest exhaust you can get from say a nuclear engine, while much faster--in theory--than what we've gotten with chemical engines, is still *only* about 10% of the speed of light, because most of the product of nuclear reactions is not released as energy, let alone usable exhaust. Antimatter, on the other hand, annihilates with matter with 100% conversion to energy, and although you lose about 50% of that as eh neutrinos or well something that just shoots right through normal matter and thus can't be used for propulsion, you're still annihilating an equal amount of matter, too, so added together you can get quite a bang for your buck, and exhaust speeds up to something like 30% of the speed of light. (Here's a handy list of various exhaust speeds.)
So antimatter drives could mean 300% faster ships than you could get through nuclear means! Not to mention a lot of power on hand. But so far, anyway, it doesn't really look feasible. For one thing, producing antimatter is--currently, at least--very inefficient and slow. Some quotes from the Wikipedia entry on antimatter:
- "According to CERN, only one part in ten billion (10−10) of the energy invested in the production of antimatter particles can be subsequently retrieved." - "in 2004, the annual production of antiprotons at CERN was several picograms at a cost of $20 million. This means to produce 1 gram of antimatter, CERN would need to spend 100 quadrillion dollars and run the antimatter factory for 100 billion years." - "The current antimatter production rate is between 1 and 10 nanograms per year, and this is expected to increase to between 3 and 30 nanograms per year by 2015 or 2020 with new superconducting linear accelerator facilities at CERN and Fermilab." - "If we could assemble all of the antimatter we've ever made at CERN and annihilate it with matter, we would have enough energy to light a single electric light bulb for a few minutes." (CERN scientist quoted in 2004.)
So getting any really rocket-usable amount together seems altogether out of the picture for the foreseeable future. Even if you could, though, there's the problem of containing it: according to this article I cited earlier, under current trap technology you'd need a trap 100 meters on each side to hold just a milligram of antimatter (which could yield energy equal to about 50 tons of TNT, which is for instance about 0.0008 the destructive power of a modern thermonuclear missile--ie, really not much).
Incidentally, fusion power also has similar containment problems.
So maybe we won't be using it for space ships, but studying it might teach us some elemental things about the nature of the universe, which would still be cool, I guess. :P
If you've been reading for even just a little while, you know that I like to draw pretty funky perspective stuff; you could probably also guess that I don't draw the vanishing points and plot it all out pretty and geometrically with straight lines on a grid so it recedes from the eye in perfect optical correctness and so forth.
Nope, I eyeball and freehand it: way more fun and--the thought occurred to me after a conversation with a friend of mine this evening--in a way, I think it may actually be more accurate--not optically or geometrically, but experientially, which I think is actually a word.
What am I blabbering about, you ask? How could I, heathen that I am, suggest that all those Renaissance Italian dudes had it wrong? Well I'm not, exactly. But let's take a more recent example, namely Frank Frazetta, whose work I mostly like and have talked about. Here are some examples of foreshortening by Frazetta:
Now, I think Frazetta eyeballed his foreshortenings too, but I'm pretty sure his are much more geometrically accurate than mine. But correct as they may be on a technical level, how much depth do you feel from the arms of these figures? Do they really feel like they're coming out of the viewing plane toward your eye? Well, a *little*, but there's also this nagging feeling of "why are her arms so short"?
And I think the answer to why this doesn't exactly work is that it isn't in 3D; we aren't seeing it stereoscopically, where our depth perception would confirm that yes indeed they are coming at us; the fact is, foreshortening, unless the object is right in your face, is in reality usually pretty unimpressive--the scaling between her fore and aft hands there, for instance, is minor--and we need some depth perception to make it work.
Not to mention that to make a zippy drawing that the viewer is really going to feel, you often need to stretch reality just a bit--not so much that the viewer notices it consciously, perhaps, but enough to make the impression you want on a jaded audience.
So that, at least, is my excuse for being sloppy with perspective and foreshortening. For instance, the recent page 11:32 was pretty much drowning in it:
Comparing the lengths of her shin and arm there will yield some pretty frightening results, and if you try setting this up on a perspective grid I'm sure you'll find just how horrific the so-called perspective there is, BUT I'm pretty sure that you're at least, upon first glance, in no doubt that the figure there is kinda pointing your way feet-first.
Playing fast and loose like that with proper drawing techniques is at least some of the reason why I flub things up in monstrous ways on occasion; if you were unfortunate enough to see that page for the first few hours after I uploaded it, for instance, you'd have been confronted by a woman whose arm was probably five feet long. Here's an amusing animation of it! (It took me two tries to "correct" it; the shortest one is the final one :P):
So that's fun. In fairness to Frazetta--who I do think was a fantastic artist, and whose work has been a great inspiration to me--he usually avoided tangling with significant foreshortening, preferring to arrange his figures neatly along one or more planes perpendicular to the viewer, in classic illustration/cartoon fashion, which enables you to get the strongest, most instantly recognizable silhouettes--just going to show that, contrary to what Marvel Comics may have drilled into my brain as a kid, you CAN get really dramatic images without putting your viewer's eye out with dramatically exaggerated foreshortening. But it's too late for me; I'm usually just not happy drawing without *some* kind of ridiculous attempt at foreshortening--or at least perspective in the broader sense--in there somewhere.
I came up with a new method of drawing background stars! It involves scribbling rather than eh stippling, so it's a lot easier on the hand/tablet/sanity/etc, and let me up the star density quite a bit. :D I like the galactic core looking just packed to the gills with stars; and it certainly is--relative to Earth's spot way out in the galactic suburbs, anyway.
If I was really smart I guess I'd use some kinda fancy Photoshop brush to sprinkle perfect, randomly scaled stars all over with big careless swipes of my hand and be done in like 30 seconds... Hm that sounds nice... But NO! My dedication to caveman drawing techniques remains unshake--uh...firm!