Discussion thread for A* episode 13. Lucky 13! >_> Eh anyway I've still got most of the 165 or so storyboards to do for this episode, so for a bit here at the beginning we'll be at one real page a day while I also work to get the storyboards done--but it'll be a nice long episode and *eventually* we'll get into full gear of more like two pages a day.
And there will even be a real page and real update coming later today, woo!
Phew! I think I'm sort of getting closer to what I want space in this part of the galactic core to look like, but, hm... As I was making the stars and nebulae in the background, I was thinking "man, next time I should just paint this part" because...that was a heck of a lot of layers, and I'm still not quite sure how I feel about the hard look of it back there. So maybe I'll try painting the next spacey background in GIMP or something, just to see how that goes.
It's late and I continued to be plagued by various technical problems today--some new ones, even!--so I'll just run through those and some self-serving links quickly before calling it a night, dear reader:
A big "gosh, thanks!" to the guys at Mannie Marine for adding an A* link banner to their site, which hosts their neato black and white animated webcomic set in a grim, militarized future. Also, the banner needed to be at a size I didn't have one for yet--150x30--so I made one at that size:
which you can always find along with a lot of larger ones on the icons and banners page, which is always linked off of the big list of links on this site's about page.
Speaking of the about page, I updated the A* development list at the bottom with notes on stuff I started doing in the last episode--12--like gray for the primary skin tone (instead of white), and semi-transparent skin highlights. Oh and notes about when I started using the Intuos4 tablet, which was basically halfway through the last page of episode 12, when I broke my Intuos3. :P
Speaking of the Intuos4, although I said yesterday that I got it to be cooperative with the lit button labels showing in wireless mode, it decided to stop doing that today, at least on a regular basis, and even sort of to go into a pretty crippled mode when switching to wireless where it loses all its tablet settings and behaves like a very sluggish, generic mouse. Hrrrhh. Uninstalling and reinstalling my Bluetooth and Wacom drivers didn't have any effect. I can get it to make a good connection--but still not with lit buttons--by redoing the connection manually. It would be *nice* if it did it right automatically, but currently it's deciding not to. Not sure what else I can try for that, and Wacom has pretty much zero Intuos4 Wireless troubleshooting documentation on their site--two articles as far as my search found: one about a wireless version of their old Graphire tablet, and one actually for the Intuos4, basically saying yeah if it doesn't work go check with Apple or Microsoft--but I'm pretty sure this clumsy auto-handshake I'm having a problem with is run by the Wacom tablet drivers, so, blug.
Technical issue with the post office! Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate! I'm pretty sure that's carved in stone over like the capital post office, right? >_> Come on, guys! =P
On the plus side, the rest of my computer virus scanning procedure came up clean, so yay, cured! :D
On the briefly incredibly depressing although it shouldn't really have been side, while juggling my tablet and keyboard during testing the wireless pairing by using the programmed function buttons I've got for it to work with Pandora, the Pandora station I've been carefully training since like mid-January suddenly...disappeared. Like I'd deleted it, but with a single stray keypress or something--not going through the menu and "are you sure you want to delete" dialogue in their stand-alone desktop player. It was gone! Checked the web player too at pandora.com, but it wasn't showing there, either. Noooo! I'd have to listen to at least the first parts of all the 500+ songs I've weeded out over the past months, re-tag the (what's 65*5? that many) I'd said I liked...
But then for some reason I thought maybe I'd see if I could at least find its old info page, and that might help me re-create it if Pandora tech support couldn't magically restore it. I thought I'd posted its name as a link to its info page at some point -- Trippity Hoppity -- either here or on Facebook or something, so I googled for it, but Google just came up with the direct info page link in the top results. So that was handy! And I clicked through and it was all there, along with a "Listen" button, so I clicked that, and...it was back! And it showed up in their desktop player too, and played as if it had been there all along. So... I don't know what happened. :P Fixed with Google magic, maybe! :o
(What's funny too is that when I use pandora's own station search, it comes up with three other "Trippity Hoppity" stations, none of them mine. I guess I'm so unoriginal it doesn't even want to know about me. ;_; Also I have no idea why on the station info page it says it was created in 2009--more like beginning of this year!)
While waiting for the new tablet to arrive I was catching up on various non-drawing things, like posting some of the more successful pages from episode 12 on my deviantART, along with sort of way too much information about what went into them, what I thought about it, etc. I still have some to go from episode 12, and who knows when I'll get myself some spare time to do that, but hey you know what would really encourage me to do that? If you headed over there and Followed my dA page (you need a free and easily-signed-up-for dA account to do that), because when people do that it makes me inexplicably happy--like, way more than it should. :D Anyway, if you can't get enough of my babbling about how conflicted I am about my latest drawings, that's a pretty good place to get extra helpings of that bitter medicine! (I'm pretty good at talking this thing up, aren't I?)
Speaking of non-drawing things, thanks to the relative mess that has been my working life this week, I made no further headway on the 165 thumbnails I'll need for this episode; I have ten that I managed to squeak out yesterday...and none of those are particularly presentable...eh, maybe one is. But I don't think it's "let's stay up at the top of the front page of the site in the top news article all weekend long"-presentable, sooo maybe I'll just put that off 'til Monday.
See you then!
Oh wait, also since this weekend I *have* a working tablet, I'll have a new page of my Sunday comic, The Princess and the Giant, done up for you on that day this weekend, unless some *other* technical issue comes along and-- Well, I'm not even going to think about it. Positive thinking! Comics! Yar!
Geez, apparently I'm so ready for this week to be done that I optimistically converted this Thursday update into a Friday update in my head. Garrrrrr! So no I *will* have another A* update for Friday, and another A* page, and maybe I'll get some kind of leaked storyboard scribble to head up the news for the weekend after all. And I should probably go get some sleep now.
Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:25 am
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm Posts: 2856
Will have a page somewhere in the wee hours, but here is a horrid in-progress preview...
Still not happy with how I've been drawing stars, either they're too big and fuzzy or too small and chunky, or just kind of weak--and any way drawing them takes forever and kills my hand. What I want is something that implies millions of stars, without having to draw millions of stars. :o
Think maybe I'll try this next, basically lassoing successive areas and layering on low-intensity plain dithers:
^ Their distribution is too bland and spread out there, but anyway I think the technique has some possibilities. It does make for 2-3x larger image files, but hey, nobody said millions of stars would fit into 50 KB now did they?
I've been doing this comic for what...two years now, in one form or another (it started off as an animated thingy, you know), and you'd think I'd have settled on a way of drawing SPACE, but no. I threatened with the last page that I was going to try a more traditional painted approach for stars and gasses next time, sort of forgetting that next time was the very next page! So after trying three other approaches first (the second one being a lasso + Noise filter one for which I even posted a quick test example on the forum; but I ran into difficulty when trying to push it to high contrast and detail, and then when I was at wit's end and just googled "photoshop starry sky" or something to see how *other* people do it, I found that, like, everyone uses the Noise filter for stars--so obviously I couldn't settle for that ;P), I finally settled for a somewhat paint-like method on the space background for this page (in GIMP, airbrush with some funky settings for the stars, and Ink Tool with various opacities for the dark clouds blocking them).
I think it worked...okay? I mean, I need some practice with it, but it at least seems to offer the flexibility, speed, and detail I want. So I think I'll probably have at least a few more cracks with it, although I think there's only hm one more space shot in the near-ish future--but there will be more further on down the road of this long episode.
Oh yeah, I also promised to present my most presentable storyboard for this episode so far--which isn't far at all. Haveta do better on those next week. Anyway here's the one, a layout for what will probably be page... Wait no that one's way too scribbley. Huh! Well, okay, so I don't have a presentable one yet. Dang. Hm. What to give you... Oh well here's today's Sketchy comic, which I draw more or less the same way as the storyboards (GIMP's Ink Tool):
The biggest difference with this new Intuos4 tablet over my old Intuos3 tablet, as far as drawing A* goes, is that the drawing surface has some bite to it--versus the slick surface of the Intuos3 and the ancient Calcomp Drawingslate I had before that--so it takes a bit more effort to move the stylus across the page, but the up side is that it's easier to stop and change drawing direction; so it sort of favors a more detailed, intricate drawing approach, which is somewhat in contrast to the spazzy, wrist-flicking, sliding-over-the-surface style I'd gradually developed for drawing on the computer. It's taking a bit of getting used to, and I kind of miss the effortless glide of the smooth old drawing surfaces, but it *does* help with detail work, and if you look over the past two and a half pages (not counting the title page for this episode, but counting the shading of the last page of the previous episode), I think you'll probably be able to spot a slight difference in that respect.
Gar, up too late again. :P See you next week!
Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:34 am
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm Posts: 2856
By the way, here's the secret for GIMP's airbrush: to get anything that doesn't look like a plain straight line--well, a sorta lumpy line--out of it, you have to raise the "Scatter" setting. But even at the Scatter slider's max value, 5, the dots it draws aren't very far apart--they're still touching, for the most part, which isn't right for stars, generally. So the trick is to type a larger number into the numeric field to the right of the slider; the field tops out at 50, so that's what I was using.
Sat Apr 09, 2011 5:02 am
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:57 am Posts: 2
I had similar feelings when I first started using the Intuos4 -- that the pen had nice grip but this was not what I was used to. I also discovered that due to the friction, the pen tip wore down very quickly. However, I eventually realized that there are a number of different kinds of tips, and the one that's installed by default is a "grippy" one, and there are much smoother options (as well as even grippier ones) in the little pen holder magazine. You can also use the old plastic tips from previous versions, as they still fit.
Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:04 am
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm Posts: 2856
Dang I didn't think the old one would fit, already tossed that pen out. Dar! Thanks for the tip about the tips (ohh bad =p)! Tried them out just now and I see the one with the white ball on the end is the slippery one. I guess I should at least try to get used to the default tip though since it came with five extras of those, and only the one white-tipped one.
And boy, the tips do wear down fast with the i4, don't they? I see I've already shaved the side of mine down flat. :P Have you noticed if the slippery ones wear any slower?
Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:54 pm
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:57 am Posts: 2
Yes, the harder plastic ones wear much more slowly.
Well I think I'm going to go ahead and draw a second page tonight instead of working on storyboards for further ahead in the episode, because it's Monday and I've been to the dentist and pages are less brain-killing than storyboards. But I'm not going to put it up whenever I finish it this evening, because I kind of like the look of page 4 here, and anyway we haven't had a nice smiling picture of Selenis in a while. :P But that should mean two new pages tomorrow, so yay.
Here's a video I forgot to drop on you on Friday! It is the best video I have seen of Moby in a space suit.
It also actually refers to some very fundamental astrophysics science, since all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium are thought to have formed, by and large, in the nuclear furnaces of stars. So good work there, Moby! And here's a fun helium factoid I just noticed: according to Wikipedia, the superconducting magnets that guide supercharged particles around the Large Hadron Collider (the big particle accelerator at CERN on the border of France and Switzerland; a hadron is a particle made of quarks, of which there are two flavors: baryons, made of three quarks, and including things like protons and neutrons, and things with funnier names like "charmed double bottom Omega" (oh dear), and mesons, composed of a quark and antiquark, and having names like Pion, Kaon, and "strange D meson") are cooled to 1.9 Kelvin (that's −271.25 °C) by 96 metric tons of liquid helium, making CERN the largest cryogenic facility in the world at that low temperature. That's a lot of squeaky voices if it boils!
And actually, that liquid helium coolant made the news in 2008, shortly after the LHC came online to much fanfare, because a malfunction in some of the huge magnets that guide the particles around the collider track led to a rupture that spilled six tons of it into the tunnel around the accelerator. (The big problem though was that the magnets were damaged and took a while to fix.)
Hey two pages! Now I gotta get some storyboards done, finally.
I was excited a little while back about the new Firefox 4, being all fast and stuff, and I still like it and it's my main browser, and/but in using it, I noticed a few things it does differently than Firefox 3 that slightly inconvenienced my online lifestyle! OMG rage! :D
The first one actually forced me to learn how to do something for the site the right way, namely managing server HTTP cache control correctly; I had a popular hack in there instead, which worked find in FF3, but I found that 4 wasn't always delivering the most up-to-date version of the front page after I posted a comic or news article. So I had to learn how to do that the technically right way.
The second thing is that now when you go to upload a file--like I upload the A* comics not only to this site, but also to mirrors on DrunkDuck, Smack Jeeves, and ComicFury--the browser stores the last directory you uploaded from to that site and starts you there, which would be great, except that I upload from two separate directories each day, since I also upload my daily Sketchy comic to those sites as well.
Waaah! Well probably nothing will happen and I'll just have to suck it up and live with it, but I did at least enter "Questions" about those two things in Mozilla's uh support database thingy, here and here, and I guess in theory maybe if enough people have the same problem, they'll take it under consideration or something, I dunno. In any case I at least got them documented all official-like. :P