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A* Episode 14 
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Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm
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Crazy perspective aside, I had some fun with a few ink washy things on this page. I'd erased the desk a lot (and the figure, but not as much as the darn desk which didn't seem to want to sit right and still technically isn't but for some reason I liked it that way so whatever), to the point that the paper under it was getting sort of worn and knobby--so when I painted in that area, it easily gave the kind of scumbled look you usually only get with a very dry brush. And then I painted a dark-to-light wash across the left side, but thought I'd see if I could get actual drops of water to run along it if I held the page up sideways; I got one--I had to load it up pretty heavy--and for a while it was cruising straight toward Selenis' head; I was thinking I was going to have to dam it off with my hand when it very conveniently stopped above the terminal, where I smushed it into a nice big gray area. Ink wash is fun sometimes!

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A friend tipped me off to a pretty cool time-lapse video of the Milky Way revolving over the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in the high Chilean desert, which came online earlier this year (I wrote about it last month); this video of some of the ALMA radio telescopes was made by José Francisco Salgado in June of 2010:



If you like that video you might also like the second one in this news post from September, which is taken from another array in Chile--the Very Large Telescope ("VLT").

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Episode 14 will end next Monday, I think (toldja it was a short one)! So I gotta get started on the full final draft of the script for episode 15...which I think I'll do right after I'm done posting this.


Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:33 am
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Bonus art day! Erased attempted sketched layouts for today's page on both sides of the paper. This one on the back survived; it's an okay sketch I think, but it just wasn't quite right for the situation (like why would her head be tilted and apparently stuck in a jet stream?) ('Cause it's dramatic, that's why! =p):

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Since last Monday I've been using a Staedtler Mars Technico 2mm Lead Holder to draw the comic before applying ink (much more graphite to erase!), and although this exact branded model isn't listed at the otherwise encyclopedic leadholder.com ("The Drafting Pencil Museum"), you can see hundreds of other leadholders from all over the world there, from those of the modern day to the very first (which was also the very first pencil of any kind! According to the leadholder.com history page, this first leadholder/pencil was "described in print by the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner in 1567.") And you can also get all kinds of info about how they work, how they're made, how they're used, etc. Apparently the leadholder heyday was eh maybe in the '50's or so when they were in vast use in mechanical drafting; lately they've started to be replaced by thinner mechanical pencils and, of course, computers. Hopefully they will still be around in some form for eh the next 50 years or so, in case I ever need to replace mine. >_>


Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:57 am
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Warning: this is eerie. Researchers at Harvard have been working on robots made entirely of flexible materials; they can undulate and crawl like worms or starfish thanks to strategic inflation by air pumps:



Why? Well, according to a quote in this article, at least one of reasons for this is that the "unique ability for soft robots to deform allows them to go places that traditional rigid-body robots cannot."

Yeah, like...crawling up your pant leg. Ew-w-w-wwww *cold shivers* Okay fortunately they can't do that just yet.

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After nearly two days of tortured drawings and paintings (and wasting about $3 in fine French watercolor paper on three of said paintings ;_; which shall go unpublished for the public good), I *think* I figured out what the trouble was. See I wasn't satisfied with yesterday's page (this is not unusual with me), to the point where I couldn't sleep (that is a little more unusual) and had to stay up and try a complete re-do. It was not successful (and I was thinking I'd scan it and show it since it was sort of experimental in some ways but now I just want it to be over with >_<).

And I thought okay well that was aggravating but I think I learned some stuff, onward, tomorrow's page will be better. But it wasn't. So I redrew it numerous times and tried painting another one from scratch and it was still bad--like really unavoidably bad this time because it was a subject with more detail than the previous day's, and it was all just not coming together somehow.

Then I realized that in trying to get a good evaluation of it I was constantly picking it up and holding it at arm's length--to the point where I would do that, then make like one brush stroke, then hold it out again. After an hour or so of that it occurred to me that perhaps I was working too close to it. See I've been adjusting my drawing table now and then to try to reach some ideal point where all my various nerve endings will be happy simultaneously, and over the past few days I had...moved it too close to my face. Yes. Not that it was blurry or anything, but the image-evaluating part of my brain just wasn't functioning properly at that distance. It probably didn't help that I was trying to do a close-up of Selenis, either.

So I canned the close-up, which wasn't all that inspired anyway (we're due for well I guess two more in the next few days so we'll have plenty anyhow AND HOPEFULLY THEY'LL WORK OUT BETTER GAR), thought up another angle for the drawing so as to have something fresh to attack, and...was still having trouble. I lowered the desk, erased and started drawing the pose again for the umpteenth time, and...it sorta worked like it should have. So that was nice. Hopefully that'll be the end of it (at least until I find some other mysterious way in which to discomfit myself). MAN.

I did get an exceptional amount of reader feedback on yesterday's page, though, so that was one up-side to the whole debacle. There were a lot of good comments, although my favorite may have been the one remarking that the examination appeared to have transformed the Selenis clone into Cthulhu.


Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:00 am
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A while back I posted about the Graf Zeppelin, the largest airship in the world in 1928, and holder of the round-the-world air record (21 days) from 1929 until it was broken by Wiley Post in an airplane in 1931. Well fate would have it that I came across two articles with a total of three nifty photos of the Graf in the space of a few days a few days ago! So if you like old photos of huge zeppelins (and who doesn't, I'd like to know), check out the blog post below this "Adventures of the 19XX" comic (man the one of the little biplanes buzzing around it like gnats is so cool) and this article from the "Old Picture of the Day" blog, of the Graf over the Tower of David in Old Jerusalem in 1931 (sort of spooky seeing as how the Graf was a German aircraft and operated "for its final two years [1935-1937] by the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei GmbH (DZR), a company established by Hermann Göring in March 1935 to increase Nazi party influence over Zeppelin operations" (Wikipedia)).

That second article link came up on Google+.


Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:53 am
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I noticed it was in fact was "zeppelin week" on that Old Picture blog I linked yesterday, so if you use the "Newer Post" links at the bottom of the comments sections you'll find some more neat photos, and even videos: here's one showing clips of the Graf arriving in New York City for a ticker-tape parade after completing its record-setting round-the-world flight in 1929 (although according to one of the comments left on YouTube, the footage is from "Farewell," a film by Dutch director Gerard Nijssen, mixing clips of neat things from the '20's and '30's--this part is mostly the Graf, but for instance the commenter points out that the really cool shot of a huge zeppelin flying through a smoke screen just dropped by an airplane is the USS Los Angeles in a 1927 combat drill):



The word "zeppelin" comes from the name of Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin, (1838-1917) a German count ("Graf" is German for "Count"; but I should say a Count of the Grand Duchy of Baden, rather, since that's what it was before the revolution of 1918; also, his family was a noble one dating back to the 1400s, their home town being Zepelin).

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image from Deutsches Bundesarchiv (source)

Like many minor nobles, Zeppelin embarked on a military officer's career, at one point being an observer for the Union's Army of the Potomac in the American Civil War; after that stint, during a later expedition with Russians and Native Americans to the source of the Mississippi, he made his first aerial ascent in the tethered balloon of John Steiner, German member of the Union Army Balloon Corps.

Appointed adjutant to the King of Württemberg back in Europe, he served in various continental wars (Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71) until a bit of a falling out led to his retirement, with the rank of General, in 1891.

He had kindled a fascination with airships since his American expedition, however--he had unsuccessfully tried to convince the King of Württemberg of their efficacy--and once retired he spent his time in researching various airship designs, and in campaigning for government or private funds for their construction. After five years of frustration he found private backers in the Association of German Engineers, leading to the formation of a joint stock company, in which he was the majority investor, in 1898, which promptly began work on the Zeppelin LZ1, the world's first successful rigid airship. The LZ1 flew in three trials on Lake Constance in Germany in 1900

Image
image from Library of Congress (source)

reaching a height of 410 m (1300 ft) and a speed of somewhere above 28 km/h (18 mph), which beat the French speed record by 50%. The trials may (Wikipedia pages conflict here) have ended in a crash; there were certainly more crashes with more development models in the following years, but speeds improved (58 km/h in 1907), and the public became interested; his second model was financed by donations and a public lottery, and the crash of the LZ4 in 1908 worked public interest up to such a pitch that his next collection campaign gathered 6.5 million German Marks (I don't know how much that is in current USD but it sounds good), the military bought his LZ3 model, and his airships, "Zeppelins," became all the rage.

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I noticed the latest page of the webcomic "Hard Graft" is really pretty awesome in its black and white artwork way. I first linked to them way back in 2009 as a way of thanking their author for feedback on a possible ad layout for the A* site (hah you can even see the sorta "horizon" divider I had under the top menu, and a rather wacky old banner ad of my own), and the art has fluctuated somewhat since then I guess, but dang if that isn't some nice work in that newest page, throwing down really sharp, heavy shadow in a deft, graphic way that reminds me of some of the old adventure comic strips.

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Oh and I really won't make you sit through two pages of pretty nearly the same thing in A* very often, but this seemed like one time to do it. Anyway it's a super-short episode--the next page, Monday's, will be the final page of the episode! And then right on to episode 15 on Tuesday; and 15 will really be the first that I've written with the conscious admission that I'll probably only be managing one page of it a day (previously I always liked to delude myself into thinking I could maybe get up to two per day, but reality has proven otherwise! :P), so the overall pace per page will be a bit livelier than what we've had before, I think you'll find.


Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:09 am
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And that's the end of episode 14! Episode 15 starts tomorrow! We return to where we left Selenis 35 at the end of episode 13. It'll have some action and a space voyage and ooh so many wonderful things!

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My dad heard on the radio today that two new really big black holes were found. I hunted around and found this video interviewing two of the researchers; analyzing data from a wide range of instruments, looking mostly at ancient, massive elliptical galaxies, they found two with central supermassive black holes estimated to contain 10 billion solar masses each--the previous record-holder was the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy M87 (I talked about that some back here), weighing in at 6.6 billion solar masses--so these newly found ones would be considerably bigger:



^ Oh yeah and didja notice they talk about Sgr A* a little after 3 minutes in? :)


Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:25 am
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