Eric – more outlines

I went back in and did some outlines on the portrait, and I’m pretty happy with how that came out. The Photoshop portion I’m less happy with; I may end up just scrapping that texture and going back to the original scan and trying something else. I’m not sure what I want to do with the background; might need to do it by hand with pastels. And I’m not sure that all the text I want to put in will fit in that circle, but… that’s a worry for another day. So, a qualified success, I suppose?

Honestly, it’s super hard to think about anything else when what I really want to be doing is playing Hades, my new favorite dad-fighting simulator. Three-headed dog petting, check. Incredibly responsive, beautiful and satisfying gameplay, check. Eternally renewed opportunities to work out deep-seated issues by beating the disappointment out of my dad, check. Game of the year.

Fishbits

I’ve been doing a ton of stuff this week, but unfortunately a lot of it is stuff I can’t show you yet – it’s either unfinished or a seeeecret. I have done some work on the portrait of Eric, though, so here are some details from that. The markers I’m using are… honestly really shit-terrible; I bought this giant thing of like 75 markers in a tube for $20 and got what I paid for, I suppose. They’re fine for now but I’m going to need to look for another option beyond pastels if I want to do a lot of really tiny detail work like this in color.

Never Have Enough Teeth

Finally recuperated from the tattoo enough to do some drawing. Today we have further damnfoolishness with the undead. Teeth are the currency used between sects in Sects (and also sometimes between insects), at least in Tooth City. It’s possible they use other forms of currency elsewhere, but we don’t travel much – the roads aren’t great, ever since all the left lanes simultaneously became sentient.

I’m trying some new stuff both with the color and with lettering. I don’t like the way the fonts look over the hand-drawn stuff, so I’m going to start doing it by hand with the sweet Pigma brush pen I have, which I am otherwise too chicken to use. I like the way it came out much better. We’ll see how it does on more color-dense pages.

Rabies costs extra

‘Lo, child! I hope your weekend is going as well as mine. Made some progress on the Shadowplay rewrite, but you can’t see that yet; I’m still adding even more murder. More murder than your body has room for! I think. Presumably your body has room for, at most, one murder.

On the subject of bodies with room for more than one concurrent murder, Sects has a new page. Will be introducing two more of our cultists, a pansexual fish-boy and a very Texan zombie, on the next page after this one. I think that’s going to involve pastels, so we’ll be back in color. I’m really enjoying working with the Pigma Microns for the black-and-white pages, though – I’m not good enough yet with the pastels to get the kind of gritty precision that I’d like, so when the scenes get complicated or text-heavy I’m switching to the pens.

This page I ended up drawing, scanning in, tweaking it in Photoshop, then printing it out to draw more on the shopped version, which worked way better than I expected. I’m thinking that might be an effective way to combine the pastels and the pens without having to draw directly on pastel with the Microns, which I feel like would destroy the tips. I’ve ruined cheaper pens trying to do that, and I’m disinclined to risk it with these, but if I do punch-up in Photoshop and then come back in to draw over the result, it might produce something both pretty and readable! Imagine!

Apart from the page, I also did a (very) rough blueprint of their house, for my own reference. The layout will probably change a little as I actually start drawing the rooms and figure out the flow of action through the space, and once it’s settled I’ll make a cleaner, sexier blueprint that will be of use to anyone other than me. For now, feel free to bask in the horror that is my handwriting.

Y’all got any more of those… teeth?

Happy Tuesday! I can do things, I swear. Actually there have been a lot of thing-doings, just mostly things I’m cuddling close to my generous bosom; some work on Shadowplay that I’m very excited about but can’t show you yet, and about half of a rant about names that I’ll probably have finished later this week. But today I spent some more time with my new fancy-ass pens (not to be confused with fancy ass-pens) and I have two new pages of Sects I’m pretty happy with. The dialogue may make more sense if you read the rest.

Sects

All right. We’re all set! I’m super excited to share this with you, but because of who I am as a person, it requires a little explanation. And because I live in Colorado, it starts the way most Colorado stories start, with “This one time, while I was high…”

So. This one time, while I was high, I was trying to have a conversation, which is fairly challenging under such circumstances, as you’ll know if you’re consuming this site under the conditions it was created. I can’t remember what I was trying to say to begin with, but I do recall that I was interrupted by a failure of memory.

“I haven’t been to a Baskin-Robbins in forever; they don’t seem to have them as much here. I think I’ve seen one. Hold on… how many flavors is it? Their whole deal. Is it 31 flavors or 51? Fifty-one seems high. That’s a lot of flavors.”

My wife stared at me with ready enthusiasm but little sense. She was also very high.

“Never mind. Whatever. From now on it’s Baskin-Robbins, THE EVERFLAVOR.”

Many of my ideas come from misunderstanding or misremembering what someone said to me, or from offhand things I say myself. One idea collides with another in my head, sloshing together, bubbling in the barrel of my brain until the right words pound a tap into my skull and liberate a brew that knocks me flat. This was one of those moments.

I saw a Baskin-Robbins, and through the glass of the freezer, I saw things that were never meant to be frozen. I saw a little girl totally at home in a world where her ice cream might have tentacles in it. She’s too young to really understand that the world she barely remembers, the world of school and newspapers and governments that didn’t all worship a different unknowable horror, is gone forever.

Her older sibling Johnny understands that very well. They’re the only family they have left, and sometimes it’s tough putting the rent together, but the glowing thing that lives in the router seems to like them, and the cults that make crossing the city such a thrilling all-day activity have a strange aversion to the little girl they call “the Terrible Child.” Which is good, because Johnny can’t make her sit still long enough to finish a sentence.

Instead, Johnny’s been working on a book that maybe someday their sister will deign to read. They write down the answers to questions, advice of the right shape to drip right out the ear, rituals to live by and to avoid. They write down what the world was like before. Someone somewhere should remember.

So here it is. I give you… a pile of pastel dust and a cheap pun! Ahem. I mean, I give you:

Sects: A Young Girl’s Illustrated Primer

A sequence of illustrations in pastel.  A small person in a black robe enters an ice-cream shop, presses themselves against the freezer, and says, "Is there... BEAN?"  They are answered by a figure behind the freezer wearing a hot pink robe, who says, "Still no.  No beans till fall.  I've told you that every day this week."
A pastel illustration of a dramatically-lit woman's face, her mouth messily stained red and open to utter her curse: "Mother, mother, cool your aching teeth once more in the frozen blood of this insect who has thrice denied - "
 A series of pastel illustrations.  A person in a black robe is beaned by a small plastic spoon thrown by the person in the pink robe, who says, "Can you NOT?  I'm not in charge of BEAN SEASON, for one, and two, if you wreck another freezer they will LITERALLY kill me.  Please.  Just order off the fucking menu."  The figure in the black robe answers, "SIGH... woe... woe and human misery illimitable..."
A pastel illustration looking down on the freezer and mixing slab of an ice-cream shop.  A figure in a pink robe reaches for a scoop among various other twitching, unearthly ephemera on the slab, and says, "That I can do.  One scoop or two?  And you want that woe whole on top, or mixed in?"  A black-robed head and upraised fingers are accompanied by the words, "Two.  On top.  Please.  also... smol spoon?  no throw..."
A pastel illustration of a girl holding what appears to be a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cup, filled with some kind of pinkish substance and topped with a translucent pyramid, inside of which is a tiny city.  The page is bordered by a fleshlike tentacle that contains the title: "Sects: A Young Girl's Illustrated Primer."

Cultists page 3

2019-06-13 12.09.34

The pastels are getting more fun and more interesting to use as I work with them!  I’ve got a bunch of pages to scan and tart up in Photoshop, most of which I’m pretty happy with.  Been sticking them up on the corkboard so they don’t smear.  I guess people probably use some kind of fixative on pastel work they want to keep?  But because of who I am as a person, I just scan it immediately and then assume the originals will melt away, like dreams after breakfast.  Yes, all this agonizing over googling “pastel fixative.”  If I didn’t have to contemplate the cosmic significance of every little fucking thing, I would get a lot more done around here.

I’m going to mess with the little pages you see here over the next few days and then I’ll put ’em up.  For now I give you the third page of our little prayer for wi-fi.

Sunset Eyes

Gonna have to figure out how it’d be best to display these all together and arrange a page for them, as it seems likely there’ll be a lot more.  New keyboard should arrive today or tomorrow, which will be lovely as it will almost certainly arrive a fraction of a second before I have chewed off my own arms in frustration with my current keyboard (which is working orders of magnitude worse after I meticulously cleaned it, of course).  The up side is, I could smoke all of you out on the pile of ground bud I found under the keys.  Apparently the keyboard needed that and now it’s suffering.  But I don’t permit weakness in my peripherals, so its replacement is on the way.

Cult doodlings page 2

Lots of pain this week.  My flesh prison is revolting, in every sense of the word.  This pleased me, though – I finished the second page of the cultist thing.  I’m gonna get sick of calling it “the cultist thing” way before we get to the title page and I can start using its name.

Our Mother

None of the working stages were worth saving, although some of them were very interesting.  I did take some reference shots for this one, which involved dangling a flashlight from a fold of a jacket in the hallway, but hey, if dramatically lit hands are your jam, we got those.

Yep, it’s an ethernet cable our cultist is holding.  One more page to clean up still.

Cultist doodlings

I’ve been doing some pastel drawings around an idea I had the other day, something about cultists and ice cream.  Anyway, this is the first page of a longer story.  Figuring out how I want to depict it is interesting, between various traditional media and digital effects.  Here’s the finished first page.

Wifi Prayer 1

Working with pastels helps me get to a more simplified form of whatever I have in my head – just the places the light touches, the fewest possible strokes to use while retaining all the information.  I’m trying to work down to a style I can do quickly and easily, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get there.  I’m growing less and less certain that it’s even necessary, ultimately, but the goal is teaching me a lot, so whatever.

Wifi Prayer B&W
Wifi Prayer Abstract

After the pastels I went back and tried to draw the same scene using only a black marker – trying to work out how I could use the shadows and negative space to get all the shapes in, even while making it clear that the room’s mostly dark.  That came out a lot better than I expected; markers are a lot less forgiving than pastels, but it’s also easier to achieve a gritty kind of feel that I like for this project particularly.  To get the same feel with pastels I’m having to layer in charcoal pencil.  So it’s been very instructive!

One of the stages along the simplification route ended up with this more abstract angle on it which I also like.

I’ve got two more pastel pages to mess with in Photoshop and then I have to get my hands dirty again.  Stay tuned.