28 September 2013

SABREWINGS (collaboration)

My friend Karla takes these amazing pictures of sunsets, and I really wanted to use one as a background for a spaceship shooter-themed poster. I'm not totally happy with it, but all that means is it's getting a revisit at some point. 


So, on my Tumblr (and to a lesser extent on my Flickr) I've started this thing of taking pictures of cups of coffee I have when I go out. Sometimes there's an accompanying pastry, but I'm a bit strapped for cash, so only coffee this time. Originally, I was going to post the one photo (on the left), and then later post the other with some comment like, "recharged." That's when I started thinking about the Mega Man games with "Ready" at the start of each level. I don't do as much game-themed artwork as I'd like to, and this seemed like a fun little gag to throw out there, get used to more complex layouts (compared to my normal stuff). 
ENMAX is a reference to Thexder, a really neat old-school platformer from back in the days of Tandy (Radioshack's old internal brand of personal computers). It was developed by Game Arts, best known for the Grandia series of RPGs. Thexder NEO is a remake released on the Playstation Network and what I've been playing more recently to get me in the right mindset for another somewhat gaming-themed work I'll hopefully have up in the next day or two. 

Note: The coffee didn't cost 0.50USD, that's only the tip.

23 September 2013

Blue Nazca Four

This one was fun. I don't work with much color, and I wanted to challenge that here. I knew I wanted the line to be orange (because yellow really doesn't "pop" against blue as well as you'd think), but I wasn't sure how to do it. There was no way orange marker was going to show up on blue, and that would have been really tedious to paint around, if not impossible. I tried a color exchange in post, swapping the blacks for oranges (this was on One, since I hadn't finalized the linework for Four), which seemed to work, but not as well as I would have liked. I tried doing the line in a vector program so I could add it over the background in post, but the only vector program I'm really familiar with is the one in Google Drive, and that was really hard to work with. Finally, I decided to scan the background, invert its color (which would be more orange since it's a very light blue), layer it behind the second scan (now with the line work done in ink), and set the blacks to transparent. So, it's not only a nice, orange line, but it's got a texture to it.

21 September 2013

Blue Nazca Zero and One

Felt like making something blue, but not another version of Goodbye, Blue Skies, not yet at least. The numbering is because Zero turned out a bit darker than I meant for it to be and originally I wasn't going to post it at all (or put it in the Scraps folder on DeviantART), but the scanner washed it out a bit, making it a tad more presentable. Could never quite settle on the line pattern, so if there's another one in the future (which will be called Four for a laugh), it'll go for a kind of middle ground. 

20 September 2013


Not exactly what I wanted to work on, but maybe what I needed to work on right now. I may revisit this as a practical item, with the red done as liquids in a clear tank like I did for White Cloud. In fact, I got the idea from an article about Jaws 3, referencing how surreal the poor matte work makes the floating fish head in the beginning. I'd remembered seeing that opening years ago, but didn't realize how flawed the effect was.

Royal Mother's Karibbean Key Lime Pie

Made a Key Lime pie today, specifically from a recipe my mom got from a chef on the Royal Caribbean cruise lines. I would imagine it's fairly stock, but adding "Royal" and "Caribbean" makes anything sound exotic. 

It's a small slice for a reason. I've only had Key Lime pie once before, and it was not exactly a pleasant experience. I was very young, and between my tastes not being very well-developed and having absolutely no idea what to expect from something called "Key Lime pie," the term "acquired taste" was apt. It was extremely tart, not actually sour, but a kind of sweet I was not prepared for. I remember not being able to eat any of it and avoiding it thereafter, even in yogurt flavors. In other words, I was confident I could handle the flavor now, but I wanted to be sure. 

I went back for seconds. 

Next time I'll try making a meringue topping with the egg whites instead of using them in a batch of botched peanut butter cookies.

15 September 2013

Tactile Response Controls

This happens entirely too often. In my defense, it's off-center because some lamebrains think laptops need built-in number pads on their keyboards. Who the heck needs to do 10-key entry on a laptop? 


This photo was the only time I took out my phone the entire time I sat at the booth. I had my notebook, and sketched out a little stick figure comic I'll clean up later as I waited for my coffee and cinnamon roll. I shouldn't have to fight for moments of peace like this the way it feels like I have been lately.
Gratitude is something I think about a lot and wonder how much thought others give it. There may not be a right or wrong way to think of it, but I wonder what kind of values those people have when they think about it.

07 September 2013

Control Issues: Offspring Fling!

So I bought Offspring Fling! which you should totally do as well, and the game is awesome. It's a platform puzzler that many people compare to the Kirby games, though I get more of a Lemmings-meets-Flicky synergy from it, but whatever it makes you think of, it'll always be good. You play a cuddly, floppy-eared... well, I think she looks like a Clefairy or possibly Wigglytuff... something that'll make an awesome plushie. Anyway, this loving mother has been separated from her children, and she has to explore a modular environment, gathering them up, and returning them to safety. The main twist is that, like real children, they're a terrible burden on their poor mother. You can't jump as high depending on how many of the little rascals you're holding over your head, and you can't fit through certain spaces with as few as one. This is where flinging comes in. Don't worry, your little bundles of joy are built like tanks wrapped in bubble wrap and goose down, and won't even yelp a little at being hurled at the walls, as long as you don't throw them into naturally-occurring pools of acid or in the path of ravenous lizard monsters. On top of that, the little guys can actually help you save them by activating switches, breaking brittle blocks, or even stunning those mean ol' lizard things. It's not exactly rocket science, but kudos to them for knowing to sit still and not step off the switch or the precarious ledge they may land on.

There's not that much to say about the game, but that's not a knock against it. It's very straightforward, very pick-up-and-play, and tends to use gameplay to teach you how its mechanics work. Most levels fit on one screen, giving you the chance to think ahead and strategize, and many exist entirely to teach you various gameplay mechanics, like how many babies you can hold over your head at once or how many of them can stand on narrow platforms (the answers being, respectively, a lot and hardly any). The graphics are bright and colorful, with lots of little details and nice animations. The music, while a tad repetitive, isn't annoying and fits the cutesy-but-not-cavity-inducing atmosphere. The puzzles are challenging, but not punishingly hard, overall extremely forgiving (one of the early levels practically forces you to mess up to teach you to restart a level if you get stuck).

My only honest gripe is in the nuts and bolts of the hardware support. Of course, I don't blame the developer for that; developing for the PC (as well as Mac and Linux) is tricky enough without all the hassle that comes with getting controllers to work. For however bad consoles get knocked for bad user interfaces, the PC side of the equation is the wild west by comparison.

Here's the thing: I don't like PC gaming. I don't hate it, I don't think PC gamers are elitist snobs or losers throwing away money or that consoles are better or any of that stupid nonsense. I simply don't like playing with a keyboard and mouse. It's just so unnatural to me and while stuff like Starcraft or most shooters work well with the keyboard and mouse, playing Offspring Fling! that way simply feels weird, downright wrong. Sadly, I didn't have that many great options at my disposal. I don't like dealing with drivers or most config programs, and even if you find a fairly user-friendly one, compatibility with a specific game is still a roll of the dice. I looked around for a few controllers like the Logitech F310 and some wired XBox360 controllers, but they were kinda pricey, the F310 got some real iffy reviews, and I don't care much for the design of the 360 controller (especially the D-Pad, which this game plays best with). I also looked at a retrofitted N64 controller that connected through USB, as well as an adapter cable that would let me use an original XBox controller I had lying around. That's when I remembered my Thrustmaster. It's this PS2/PC hybrid controller I got a few years ago for the first PC I ever bought (grew up in a Mac household). It looks almost exactly like a PS2 dual-shock except for some really nice triggers below the shoulder buttons. I wasn't sure it would work with my current version of Windows, which is 7, as I barely got it to work on XP. Still, I figured there was no risk in trying (unlike the others which would have meant dealing with returns in case they didn't work), and dug the guy out.

Time was not kind to the Thrustmaster. It apparently hated being stuffed in a bag with random cables for years and really let itself go. It still worked fine and dandy, but the rubber for its grips had some kind of chemical breakdown. It's sticky and so far has not come clean at all.

I persevered:

The moral of the story is: NEVER GIVE UP and the best solutions are always the simplest ones.

I may have to take the controller apart and run the casing through the dishwasher or, more likely, wrap the damn thing in athletic tape, so it'll look like a burn victim. In any case, it's all about the games.

Septuple Bypass: A Local Food Odyssey

I won. 

That is the 7X7 burger from Steak ‘n’ Shake, and it’s exactly what it looks and sounds like. They only serve it from midnight to six in the morning, overlapping slightly with their breakfast menu. I slept away most of the afternoon so I could manage staying up to go and have this. It felt like forever, but according to the timestamps for when I posted to Facebook, it took about twenty minutes. 

Never again, though. It’s not unpleasant and I don’t even feel all that full (the fries came home in a box, which I think helped), but it’s not the best thing on the menu by a longshot. I’m chalking this up to being one of those “bucket list” events: eating an absurdly-sized burger. Yeah, there’s bigger out there, but I’m satisfied with this victory. 

It was our waitress’ second night, and she was a bit overwhelmed, so she got a big tip, both cash on the table and that tips line on the receipt. It worked out to 38%. She earned it. 

04 September 2013


This is a visual metaphor for a discussion with someone defending a plagiarist. Needless to say, we didn't see eye to eye, and neither of us were terribly civil about it. In the end, I pointed out we weren't going to convince one another, and so offered them the last word, a draw basically. Apparently, this isn't maturity. Apparently, maturity is where you keep arguing, repeating the same unconvincing statements at each other until one of you gives in. At least, that's what they kept insisting (they had a right to keep talking, and I had no right against listening... doesn't sound fair, but what do I know?). Look, one of my favorite movies is Rashomon. I've practically got the 21 Jump Street parody of it burned into my brain. I know all about multiple perspectives, at least enough to know that simply because you see someone's point of view, does not mean you're going to agree with them. When you accuse someone of not listening because of that, you're actually turning into the very thing you're accusing them of being, whether they are or not. 

This Is Not Sharing

Based on recent events on DeviantART. 
Look, whatever side of the copyright/piracy/sharing issue you're on, no one respects a plagiarist, especially when that plagiarist defends their actions when confronted by the original artists. 

01 September 2013

Old Giant: A Story in 100 Words

Two young girls, sisters only a year apart, set out to play in the fields where lay the giant's husk. Time had buried the old warrior, though its shoulders cast the house in shadow by early afternoon. Their father warned against climbing, tempting as the twisted shapes of warped and rusted plating were to the little mischievous acrobats. Towering splinters of bone wrapped by creepers were as ladders to them. Up they went to meet its gaze, dark circles framed by rust and moss. They turned away, looking back on their darkened home, the ruins beyond red from the sunset.  

Adblock Mendel Test

It is better to believe in science. 

Look, whatever happens with this Adblock campaign to "use ads to get rid of ads," or whether or not you agree with Gene Lee's point of view (about how him working hard sans pay justifies passing judgment on how others earn an income), one fact remains above all else: I cannot tell you not to use Adblock. I don't have that right, something I don't believe the "minds" behind the Adblock campaign have any respect for. 

You are adults, and if you're not technically an adult, you at least want to be treated like one. As such, all I can ask is that, if you use Adblock, please use it responsibly. What do I mean by that? Simple, you understand that while certain content creators insist on not being paid for what they provide for your entertainment or even insist you put up with a few ads, that is not the case for all, and it is unfair to judge or otherwise ostracize them for it. If you do not like the content someone produces on their site, nothing obliges you to continue visiting their site. If, however, you enjoy their content and frequent their pages, all we ask is that you acknowledge the time and effort put into their work, that there are real and legitimate expenses to producing even the most barebones text weblog. Your internet access bill does not offset those costs. That's access, not content. That's a road, not the stores along the road. After all, wouldn't you rather more of your money went to the sites you enjoy than simply everything all at once? Moreover, whatever you're unable to contribute to those sites can be aided by advertising. The point is you have options, very few of them essentially bad. 

Here's where I have to get a little mean: If you're upset by this, or you think what's being asked of you right now is unreasonable or unfair to you, or if you disagree with the outlooks and viewpoints I'm here advocating, that's fine. You are more than welcome to disagree with me, but I do want you to do something for me. I want you to get a piece of paper and something to write with (or open a new text file) and make an itemized list of what makes someone a sellout in your view. If someone says anything along the lines of what I've said above, put that there. If someone earns any amount of money from something you don't think is a proper job, put that there. If someone offers something for sale in addition to whatever they may give away, put that there. If someone takes on a sponsorship from an organization you dislike, put that there. Don't second-guess yourself, put it all on there, fill out that list, and see exactly how many people you can find that don't tick off a single box on it. If and when you do, tell as many people as you can about them, and ask if they agree with your findings. You may be surprised. 

Good night, and good luck. 

Full disclosure: I do not use Adblock. The closest thing to Adblock I use is the "block pop-ups" feature that's equipped with all browsers I've ever used. It does not hide banner ads and has no effect on the ads attached to videos. In fact, when a pop-up is detected, a bar appears asking me if I wish to allow the pop-ups to appear (it's opt-in, not opt-out, unlike Adblock's whitelist feature). I hate pop-up ads as much as you do, if not more. I feel that of all the types and styles of ads out there, the pop-ups are arguably the worst, the most distracting, and the most invasive form of advertising. In other words, I don't hate the message, only one particular medium for it.