Today's page features a new white ink! And uh hopefully you can't tell the difference. ;) There's definitely a big difference when using it, though! It's Deleter White #2, which you can get from Deleter's "Manga Shop" right here. An honest to goodness waterproof white ink! Man! Now instead of getting a muddled mess when trying to go in with black back over white, the ink just...stays on the page where I put it. :) For instance, in this page I went back and forth over Selenis' left shoulder a few times, and did a wash over some white ink running down the edge of her face, and they both stayed crisp. This is AWESOME okay? :D
Deleter is a Japanese company and they have some curious ways about them; for instance, on the shipping label, which spent several days in US Customs, they claimed the contents were "comic goode" (which is pretty accurate, actually), "for educational use":
Hm. Is A* educational? Have you learned anything from it? Well gosh, maybe they're right, and didn't just put that there to get some kind of easier/cheaper shipping. What do I know? I'm just an educator, apparently. :P (Dad will be so proud!)
Deleter definitely carries comic goods, though; aside from black and white ink for brush work (I also ordered two of their waterproof black inks, #3 (matte) and #4 (extra dark); I'll have to get my big black pigment ink review done some time soon...eh after that black pigment *pen* review I keep promising...), they also sell their own brand of dip pen nibs, several lines of alcohol and water-based markers (the NeoPiko-2 line in particular seems to be going after the same many-colored comic coloring clientele as the perhaps better known Copic markers), several types of comic paper, and a vast library of stick-on screen tones for adding pizazz to manga-style black-and-white comics. They even threw some small samples of a handful of those in with my order, along with a ton of little catalogues and brochures:
Jeez, the freebies there dwarf the three little 30 ml (~1 ounce) plastic jars of ink that I actually ordered. I imagine the tone sheets are at least somewhat similar to the "Zip-A-Tone" or whatever is/was sold in the West to achieve similar shading effects in black and white print comics--but these Deleter sheets are the only tone sheets I've ever actually seen in person; they're patterns of black dots, in all kinds of configurations from simple solid grays to pretty ornate things like flames or whatnot that could pretty much make a comic page all on their own. The included guide on how to draw manga shows that what you do with them is lay them over the thing you want to gray-up, cut them to shape slightly larger than needed--with a "box cutter" :o--then remove the adhesive backing, stick them onto the page, and cut away the over-sized edges you left; the guide warns not to cut into the paper while you're doing all that razor work on your page, but...I dunno, that sounds easier said than done. The guide also says to use their dip pen nibs for drawing lines and such though, and metal nibs like that (I haven't used theirs) chew up paper pretty good on their own, so maybe actual razor cuts in addition aren't considered a big deal, I dunno.
So anyway, that white ink. It has a smooth, mellow consistency and pretty darn good opacity--at least as good as the non-waterproof Dr. Ph. Martin's "Bleed Proof White" that I've been using. But the Bleed Proof White would dry into this crusty stuff (particularly inside the jar, which is particularly aggravating) that left little white grains flaking over everything (I always had to edit a few out from my scanned pages in Photoshop--they're tiny and get EVERYWHERE); the Deleter White #2, on the other hand, dries a little quicker when laid down thickly, and solidifies into sort of a latexy rubbery state that doesn't flake at all. Nice.
The only down side I've noticed from the Deleter White #2 so far is that it has a distinct, fume-laden odor, something like strong Elmer's glue; I actually got slightly dizzy after I'd been using it for a while with the jar pretty nearly under my nose, and no ventilation going to speak of. Sooo yeah, from now on I'm gonna have the windows open and the jar away from my face when using the stuff. 8P (I suppose glue-sniffing types might consider this all a bonus but I never picked up a taste for it.) HOPEFULLY that will keep the fume effects to a minimum, but I guess I'll wait for a few more days of using it before I make it the official replacement for the Bleed Proof White and order it in bulk--did I mention it's nearly half the price of the Bleed Proof White? Sure, shipping is a little pricey, but that's why you order a bunch of it at once, I suppose.
One final quirk I'll allude to about this order: the invoice features some prominent spelling errors, with one in particular standing out: above the shipping address, instead of "SHIP TO:," it...well, let's just say they used one different letter in "SHIP," inadvertently (one hopes) transforming it into a four-letter word you don't usually find on an art supply invoice!
One thing I should have mentioned about the Deleter White #2 is that, since it dries to a kind of plasticky latexy state, painting back over it it slightly tricky since the ink (in my case) may not adhere to the dried White #2 as easily as it does to the paper around it; for instance, although I did a light wash down the area just to the left of Selenis' cheek in this page, if you look closely you'll see there's still some whiter area there on the outer cheek edge--that's where I had put down some Deleter White #2, and the subsequent ink wash just sort of washed right over without settling on it. Pure ink seemed to stay a lot better, and there were various places around the page where I went back over the dried White #2 with full black ink and it stayed with no problem at all; the one exception was in some heavily built-up ridges of white (me being sloppy :p) on her left shoulder, where I had to go over the highest peaks a second time to get the ink to cover them evenly.
Ooh also you can't just let this stuff dry on your brush in a clump and expect to wash it off easily like I used to do with the Bleed Proof White. :o Guess I'll have to get an actual rinse jar for it and stop treating my white brush (which is a bit of a beater--white ink being so thick and all) like such a second-class citizen. :p
Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:54 am
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm Posts: 2856
I suppose I could worry that this White #2 stuff is acidic or something that will explode and destroy my dearly archived pages; if there is any sort of chemical warning on the jar, it's in Japanese. :P But the Bleed Proof White doesn't promise it isn't acidic, so heck who knows what you're getting with this white ink stuff.
The Bleed Proof White's label *does* say--aside from being an eye irritant, do not swallow, etc--that it contains zinc sulfate; I found one mention by some person on the internet that white inks with zinc sulfate should be avoided because they "separate easily" or something...but I never noticed any kind of problem like that with the Bleed Proof White, so who knows what that person meant.
Hey, it's a name! I didn't have it in this conversation at first, but then I came up with what I thought was a dandy name for him, and wanted to get it out there (it's so much easier to talk about a character if they have a name, after all), so I rather tacked it on to Selenis' line here. Ah, dirty tricks!
I'm not sure how old it is, since NASA's image feature page doesn't have a date on it, but this artist's rendering of an asteroid field around supermassive black hole Sgr A* at the center of the Milky Way was their "Image of the Day" at some point. It seems to me the asteroids are way larger than actual scale, but I guess that was to make them easier to see. The reddish color of the gas and dust around the event horizon would be due to everything being redshifted as it is sucked away faster and faster into the black hole--until it reaches the even horizon, of course, at which point not even photons can scatter back to show us what's going on; although this rendering doesn't appear to be attempting to incorporate phenomena such as gravitational lensing or other crazy effects that could very well be showing up in such unimaginably extreme conditions:
The accompanying text is pretty interesting--it's actually pretty hard to find any clear descriptive text on the internet about the hot space in the near vicinity of our galaxy's central supermassive black hole, but this is a decent chunk:
A new study provides a possible explanation of mysterious X-ray flares detected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory for several years in the region of Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A*. The study suggests a cloud around Sgr A*, a supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, which contains hundreds of trillions of asteroids and comets that have been stripped from their parent stars. The flares occur when asteroids of six miles or larger in radius are consumed by the black hole. An asteroid that undergoes a close encounter with another object, such as a star or planet, can be thrown into an orbit headed towards Sgr A*. If the asteroid passes within about 100 million miles of the black hole, roughly the distance between the Earth and the sun, it is torn into pieces by the tidal forces from the black hole. These fragments would then be vaporized by friction as they pass through the hot, thin gas flowing onto Sgr A*, similar to a meteor heating up and glowing as it falls through Earth's atmosphere. A flare is produced and eventually the remains of the asteroid are swallowed by the black hole.
Yuri's Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate space exploration milestones. The event is named for the first human to launch into space, Yuri Gagarin, who flew the Vostok 1 spaceship on April 12, 1961. In 2004, people celebrated Yuri's Night in 34 countries in over 75 individual events. Locations have included Los Angeles, Stockholm, Antarctica, the San Francisco Bay Area, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, and the International Space Station.
So there we go! Not that I'll remember this next year or anything, although last year I did manage to mention several times, more and more belatedly, that it had been the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's flight. But if you want to be more responsible than me you can keep tabs on this stuff on the Yuri's Night site, yurisnight.net.
Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:37 am
Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:51 am Posts: 81
Um. Just curious... I seem to be the only one that posts to your forum... am I posting in the wrong place? I don't want to be rude by posting somewhere I'm not supposed to? So sorry if I am...!!!
Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:12 am
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm Posts: 2856
No it's totally the right place! And there are/have been a *few* other people posting in these threads, I swear. >_> I put a forum on the site because I like forums, but I think these days most everyone just uses like Twitter and Facebook and such instead. Which is fine and all I guess, but it's not gonna stop me from posting on my own forum. =p ;)
image by NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) (source)
I can't find an entry for this nebula on Wikipedia, so all I know about the nebula comes from that G+ post: it's several light years long, 2,000 light years away, and being blown out into that "angel wings" shape by a large young central star, IRS 4 ("Infrared Source 4"). Infrared studies of the cloud have found it to be home to over 600 brown dwarfs--proto stars less than a 10th the size of the Sun: too small to sustain nuclear fusion. The photo is a combination of visible spectrum (the bluish hydrogen emissions from the central star) and near-infrared (the reddish gas and dust around it) filters on Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3.
Boring internet trivia related to the above photo:
- Hubble's G+ post also links to the entry for the photo and article on hubblesite.org, but for some reason the versions of the photo there, though available in much higher resolution, are way blurrier. I guess the Hubble folks are saving the best for G+? :P
- Sharing posts found on G+ is way more of a pain than it should be. Especially if you're using a page profile (my A* G+ page profile, in this case), when you use the little "link to this post" menu item to get a URL for a post you see on G+, it tends to give you a URL that...only you can see--for other people, it just goes to your profile. Not all that useful, G+. ;P
It was pointed out to me that I can get a sharable URL for a post by reposting it (although I can't repost my own posts, so to link to one of them I have to go view it from a different profile ;P); I had done that with the Hubble Sharpless 2-106 post, but doing that also strips out the identity of the person you follow who had actually shared the post with you, which is not really cool. Credit where credit is due, G+! :P Anyway sometimes people are a little taken aback if they see their name pop up in the blog, so to be on the safe side I'll just link to the sharer's profile. Thank you, sir!
Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:19 am
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm Posts: 2856
Of course, the blurry hubblesite.org versions of the photo are ALL THE MORE IRONIC considering the nebula's name. :P
Another page, another planetoid! I keep wanting to do one that's, well, not spherical or elliptical, but having done some "research" around Wikipedia today, I think I've finally managed to convince myself that gravity more or less make that impossible--at least if you want to have something large enough to have gravity that holds people to the floor, which I do in this case.
So it had to be roundish. But I still wanted to distinguish its presentation visually in some way from the other similar roundish bleak planetoid thingies I've done in the past. I was looking up some photos of pretty much my favorite moon, Enceladus, and noticed something (this is a cropped repost of part of a set I posted ages ago on the forum):
Atmosphere! Actually it's clouds of ice crystals ejected from the moon's cryovolcanoes that now form a faint, thin ring among the many other rings around Saturn. I wanted to do an icy world anyway so I thought I'd go with that nifty space atmosphere look. Wikipedia's page on cryovolcanism says the instances we think we know of cryovolcanoes are thought to get their energy from tidal friction, which is to say the mechanical stress induced on cryovolcanic moons by the gravity of their parent planet slinging them around--and I'm not sure that I want this particular planetoid here being a moon, *but* Wikipedia's page does leave hope for other mechanisms causing cryovolcanism: theoretically they could be powered by radioactive decay, or even a "sub-surface greenhouse effect" enabled by "translucent deposits of frozen materials."
Anyway, back to Enceladus. Here's a nice mosaic image looking south from its north polar region that gave me the idea for the lighting on today's A* planetoid (although I somehow got it exactly backwards in the initial stages but nevermind :p):
The three photos used in that image, like pretty much all the decent photos of Enceladus, came from the Cassini probe--a 2008 fly-by, in this case. But Cassini's still going, and in fact just did another flyby of Enceladus, passing within 46 miles of the surface a few days ago, on April 14th--it flew through some of the geysers of ice crystals shooting out of the moon's "tiger stripe" surface fractures. A fresh photo from that flyby helped give me the idea for showing a planetoid in nearly pitch-black aspect:
image by NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute (source)
I posted a few early stages of today's page to A*'s Twitter, Facebook, and G+ accounts as I was making them earlier today. Here they are and some later ones I haven't posted before now because they were causing me some consternation:
I probably should have stopped with this nice energetic initial outlay of black:
Or after the first ink wash to establish the "space atmosphere" effect:
But I decided that was too bright still--I made this mockup in Photoshop from that ^ scan to convince myself going darker would be closer to what I wanted:
So after a bunch of washes and star spattering (had to use my old non-waterproof white ink for that--the gluey waterproof stuff tends to spatter in strands) and re-painting over the planet with straight waterproof ink which I figured would a) make it extra black and b) give it a bit of maybe ice-like texture from the shine using non-watered-down waterproof ink gives--the gleam of all that lacquer, you know, I had...a blurry, warped, wavy looking planet :P:
That was no good, so I tried dulling the gleam and straightening out the planetoid's profile with black marker, as well as sharpening up the horizon with a thin wash of the non-waterproof white ink:
...which rather backfired, as I now had a super-dark planetoid full of marker-line gleams, and even less round than it had been. So I went back over it with watered-down black ink to kill the gleam, and, after using a Photoshop mockup with a computer-drawn circular overlay to show me where the not-so-round parts were sticking out (as I'd noticed was a side benefit from my earlier computer mockup), touched up the edges some more with marker and white ink wash, and finally white waterproof ink when I wasn't satisfied with the sliver of sunlit area I'd whittled it down to. And then wet down the back and squished it under heavy stuff on the scanner glass for a while until it decided to scan with a reasonably even black on the planetoid--which finally worked after some persuading, thank goodness. (Note to self: this is why you need to do that ink round-up and see if you can't find yourself a nice, really dark matte black ink. :P)
And that's just how simple it was to get the final version! :P
Good gravy I am bad at drawing round things that don't fit the sweep of my elbow or wrist. ;P I should smarten up and just use a protractor or jar lid or something, I suppose--but then what would I do with myself for the rest of the evening? :PP
This was also an interesting one in that I usually use Photoshop's "Auto Levels" function at default setting in my macro to recalibrate the scanned image to cover the full gamut from true computer black (ie RGB 0, 0, 0) to full white (RGB 255, 255, 255), so it doesn't look washed out just as a result of the scanner's lighting and capture ability, but doing that on this one made it come out way too contrasty--turns out Auto Levels' 0.5% black and white clip values (in my ancient 4.0 version of Photoshop, in the Auto Levels window, I have to hold "Alt" to change the "Auto" button to an "Options" button to see/change the clip settings--I didn't discover that until a month or so ago and have kind of been wondering about it ever since) were totally clipping past the stars and light part of the planet here, so the light end as a result was being boosted way too much, since it tried to make a full white out of probably some of the grayish atmospheric stuff around the planetoid. Checking in the significantly less ancient Photoshop CS2, the default clip values there appear to be 0.1%, which doesn't stomp the far ends of the value gradients nearly as much, so I guess I'd better use that in Photoshop 4.0 instead of 0.5% like I had been (which I *think* was the default, although I suppose I can't be sure since there's no way to reset it to the default, at least not within the program :P); the difference is scarcely visible in most of my pages, but for ones like this one (okay so this is the only one I've noticed it really needing tweaking on so far) where there are very few pixels at one end of the spectrum, it certainly makes a big difference. So! That...is good to know, and now my beloved ancient version of Photoshop is riiiiiight up to speed >_> and I can do more subtle shading.
A neat Christian Science Monitor article at abcnews.com on supermassive black holes was shared with me on Facebook. Thanks, Dave! The article describes a theory of what supermassive black holes feed on, and where "hypervelocity" stars zooming out of our galaxy get their high speed--about 20 have been spotted since 2005--and these were predicted by Los Alamos astrophysicist Jack Hills back in 1988, who said that the tell-tale sign of a central supermassive black hole in our galaxy would be lone stars catapulting outward faster than 1 million miles per hour (light speed is about 671 million miles per hour, by the way).
The idea is that when binary stars fall too close to the supermassive black hole--and because they orbit each other at quite a distance, they only have to fall within about one Astronomical Unit (the distance from the Earth to the Sun, about 93 million miles) of A*, whereas a lone star would have to get as close as the distance between the Sun and Mercury, which is close to just a third of one AU--one of the pair gets stripped off by the hole's huge gravity, and flung outward at high speed. The other is pulled into a cloud of similar stellar "orphans" orbiting the hole; eventually, that cloud is disrupted when one star too many drifts in, and their own resulting gravitational interactions eventually result in one of their number plunging down into the supermassive black hole, which releases a mighty energy flare as the doomed orphan star is consumed. Such flares, "a so-called tidal disruption event," have been seen in the cores of other galaxies, and based on that, it is calculated that A* might eat a star and send out a flare "once every 1,000 to 100,000 years" (which seems like a rather wide range, but hey).
The new research behind this article had to do, I think, with calculations of just how much mass the black hole could expect to gain from this binary-eating mechanism: "it could explain how black holes in some of the largest elliptical galaxies, with central black holes of several billion solar masses, can bulk up when the galaxies they inhabit have so little gas to feed on." The researchers hope to refine their estimates as more sensitive telescopes let them spot more escaping stars.
(Nearly a couple years ago now, I made a news post about a similar theory--this one seeking to account for the existence of blue hypergiants flinging out of the galaxy, since their trip from the galactic center must have taken something like 100 million years, and blue hypergiants only live about 20 million years: the idea was that they actually come from trinary stars that drift too close to A*: A* pulls off one, violently flinging off the remaining binary, and then the two stars in that binary merge to form the hypergiant on their way out of the galaxy.)
Stretching the black hole topic even further, I've been playing a re-creation of a mid-80's Gottlieb pinball table, "Black Hole," in a new pinball game collection called "The Pinball Arcade"; it's available on all sorts of portable and otherwise systems--I've got the PS3 version. "Black Hole" was the first pinball table to cost a super-massive 50 cents--and as a result, it was the most profitable of all time, or something like that. These black holes, they're relentless I tell ya!
When you start a game on the Black Hole table, a computery voice ominously declares "NO ONE ESCAPES THE BLACK HOLE." The big gimmick is that you can get swallowed down into a small, reversed pinball table revealed beneath the glass floor of the main table; and that table is really tricky, so basically you want to get out as soon as you open the "gate" that will allow your safe "re-entry" to the main table. It's really scientific! Anyway here's a demonstration play by the game's creators, although it skips the start-up voice, alas:
I'd like to think that if Gottlieb was still around, they'd release a "Supermassive Black Hole" follow-up, that would cost...eh...4 million times the mass of a regular table rather than just two times...where's my calculator...$1,000,000 per play! Ka-ching!
You've probably seen at least one of those online scale demonstrations, where you zoom from human size to very small or very big. Well, a new one this year is (warning: Flash required, music auto-plays after clicking "Start") The Scale of the Universe 2; it isn't radically different from all the others, but it's probably the slickest implementation I've seen so far, and there are a good deal of interesting nebulae and things in there to size up; no supermassive black hole event horizons as far as I've noticed, but you can see that a neutron star--which is kind of what you get if you're just sub-massive enough to miss out on collapsing into a black hole--would just about fit in the state of Rhode Island--although Rhode Island might be a bit worse for wear afterwards.
Thanks to my dad for the link! :)
Some marker concept sketches I started with today for this barkeeper character:
And the first black ink pass on today's page:
Yeesh! Fortunately his face didn't have to stick that way, thanks to the miracle of white ink. Whew!