Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tweaks

Among other things, I made more tweaks on that cover picture tonight. I also laid down some color which looked just awful. Decreasing the opacity helped a bit, but it was a very slap-dash job anyway, just to see what it might look like.



I also did some more rough sketches. Some are OK, some not so good. I'm up to episode 8, plus the front for episode 10. That makes seventeen sketches out of 36.

Unfortunately, I'm going to be away from my tablet for more than a week, and after that I won't have so much time to draw again. Sigh. Maybe I'll get some writing done.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

SFW?



With a bit more cleanup of the lines in her pants, I think I'll call this the "clean pencils" version. It's a long, slow process, even when it's going well. It doesn't help that I spent an hour or so looking for references for clothes that I didn't end up using.

Fun, though. Did I mention fun?

I'm hoping to add a fair bit of background texture in the color. (Hoping is the operative word, here.) But for now I think I'll do some more loose sketches for the rest of the covers. After all, I've only got ten of the thirty six covers even sketched yet!

Hmm

It occurs to me that all this (near) nudity is making my blog NSFW.

Monday, December 25, 2006

It Does Get Easier

At least, it seems to have been easier to do some things today. I redid the concept for one of those cover illustrations I posted earlier, did a bit of editing on another, and then did the set for episode four. Here's the back, with boobie protection:



Here I will take the opportunity to explain two things: Why do I have boobie protection, and why do I need it in the first place (i.e. why is she nekked)?

The reason I cover up breasts is because I'm a little worried that I might run afoul of photobucket's terms of service. I'm only a little worried. I expect illustrations are given a bit of leeway, and I expect far more provocative stuff is left untouched on the service, but still, somebody might complain and then it would be an enourmous pain to put all my pictures somewhere else. (Funny thing is, I'm not worried about, um, between the legs, because I'm not drawing with any detail there. If I was drawing a male figure, and decided to go all out, I might need some crotch protection, too.)

Now, why is she naked? No, she's not going to be naked in the final picture. I would be lying if I denied that there is a certain... frisson in drawing ladies with no clothes on, but really that's just something to keep me interested. I draw figures naked first so that I can be (relatively) sure the anatomy is correct before I cover it with clothes. The best judge I have available of whether a figure is correct or not is my own eye. My eye is better at confirming than my hand or mind is at coming up with things in the first place, and so I spend a lot of time scribbling and re-scribbling while I try to find something that looks right.

Speaking of looking right, I'm not 100% happy with that picture at the moment. Something about her arms and hands, I think. Probably I'll see it next time I look at it.

Merry Christmas

My wife and children are in Japan, actually, and I'll be joining them for the new year. I already opened my presents a while ago. So for Christmas I sat around in my pajamas and drew pictures.

Most of today was spent struggling with Linda's model sheet. It took me far, far too long, but I did manage to draw something that I'm reasonably happy with, for now.

After that, I started doodling concepts for "covers," front and back, for each episode of Sweet Moonlight. Here are the first three sets (some doodled today, and some drawn earlier):



Whee! I wonder when I will finish any of them...

I had a great time drawing those pictures. For one thing, I wasn't worried about getting things exactly right, so I drew quick and loose. It's also a lot of fun to finally start producing some of those images I've had knocking around in my head for a year or more.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Inebriation (Edit)



No, she's not inebriated. I was, when I posted first. However, a post which basically says "I'm drunk" is even less interesting than my usual posts, so here I am editing it.

This picture is quite possibly the first time I have ever been able to draw the same character twice to my satisfaction. It didn't come without a lot of struggle-- about four hours worth of false starts, actually. I'm hoping that it gets easier with practice. Today, I'll see if I can draw her a third time.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Retry

So sometimes you just have to say, screw anatomy, I'm just gonna draw some pictures.



Maybe something will work...



And you might just get the boobies, I mean picture, you were trying to get in the first place.



I'm pretty happy right now, because (not to interfere with the images that any other person has of the character) that is awfully close to how I always pictured Linda, from my long running and soon-to-be-restarted serial on the Dead Channel, as looking. With clothes, of course. Usually.

I'll probably end up changing stuff again before I'm finished, and in a month or two I won't like it as much, but for now, I'm pleased, if not satisfied. It does seem that inspiration is a matter of sitting down and working until it comes. Waiting doesn't get you anywhere.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

F'king Feet!



Lately I've been trying harder than ever to work on anatomy. This makes figure drawing from imagination, without a good reference, at best nerve-wracking, and at worst an exercise in frustration. And yet, I persist in doing it. Why?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stop



Stop it with the race queen already. So, I'm going to try to get back to my other projects now, or maybe try something else at least.

I Had a Bunch of Stuff

I had a bunch of stuff I was planning to do tonight, but instead I got sucked into cleaning up the line work of that last, self-indulgent picture.



And then, of course, I had to take another stab at coloring it. I couldn't just leave those places I had changed with mismatched colors! And once I started doing that...



Well, I stopped before I finished the colors, but it does at least look a bit like what I was planning on drawing when I started.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Self Indulgence

After that ugly painting during the day, I indulged myself in the evening. And you know what that means, don't you? Yes. More pictures of girls.

First, a sketch (if something that takes two or three hours can be called a sketch), of a "race queen" (ladies whose job it is to look appealing at car shows and such, usually in skimpy outfits, e.g. the one shown here):



And then, some color:



If I cleaned up the line art the color would probably look better, but I'm too lazy right now.

Paint Something Saturday 2



Another thing painted on a Saturday. I think I'm learning stuff, but God that's ugly.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

D-Link DSM 320RD

I'd like to post a review of this device on one of those sites which review these kind of things, but a casual Google didn't reveal any review-able entries for this particular one. So, here we are.

The D-Link DSM 320RD is a cheap (for the type of device) networked media player. This is a box that connects to your TV like a VCR or DVD player, and also connects to your computer through your home network (You do have a home network don't you?), allowing you to play video or music, or even display pictures, that you have on your computer. It has wireless 802.11g support (plus ordinary Ethernet), and also has a built in DVD player and a 5-in-1 card reader.

After considering some of the reviews of the DSM 320 (the one without the DVD player and card reader), I decided not to install the included media server software, and installed TVersity instead. It's beta software, but it's free, and it worked pretty well right out of the box. I have a couple of minor issues with TVersity:

  • The menus are a bit funny. They tend to stick open when you click on other windows instead of closing like normal menus.

  • When I recreated my media library because I had rearranged things, it took forever, much longer than the initial creation did.


Aside from this, I have no complaints with the media server software.

Configuring the DSM was not a simple plug-and-play dream, but it did work the first time through with no major hangups. The only problem I had was with the unclear user interface. When there is a list of options on the screen it is a bit hard to tell that the list is selected, and you need to select the list, then hit enter to go into the list, select the item, and hit enter again. I was stuck for a couple of minutes at the SSID (wireless network) selection screen because of this, before I figured it out. But anyway, it was up and connected to the media server pretty quickly.

So, the good news: The DSM plays many different formats of video and audio, including Ogg Vorbis audio and DivX video. It can also play these formats stored as files on a DVD. The picture quality was great. It downloads new firmware fairly automatically with support for new codecs and (presumably) bug fixes. It is exactly the device I needed to get my wife off the computer.

These are the reasons why I probably won't be returning it. However, now I'll talk about the reasons why this is a near thing. Basically, the thing still seems to be in beta (current firmware is 1.04 for the 320RD, it seems, although I haven't downloaded it yet).

  • Startup is very slow. Press the on button and (most of the time) the blue light on the panel comes on. Some fifteen or twenty seconds later the display says "WELCOME", and then the TV display comes on, displaying the "Connecting to network" message.

  • There are problems with video stuttering. It's not consistent, and it seems to get worse the more things you watch between reboots. Video files will start showing static frames while the sound drops in and out, or you may see sound and video go out of sync for a while, and then the video speeds up to catch up. As I kept trying and retrying this, the problem got completely unbearable. Then, after resetting the machine and media server, it went away completely for the first video I played. The second video had a few small, fairly unobtrusive, stutters. I suspected it was a network bandwidth problem, and that might be it (playing from a DVD seemed to be much better). However, and much worse, something similar even happens with DVDs, although it is much less pronounced. This is the thing that I'll be watching over the next little while. If I see this again with DVD play, this machine may be going back to the store after all. I have a DVD player which cost one fifth as much, and it doesn't stutter.

  • If you accidentally hit the DVD button on the initial screen without a DVD in the player, the thing locks up. It may need to be unplugged to get it going again.

  • From time to time the system seems to get stuck while navigating menus or trying to start a video. Usually it comes out of it after a while, but it is very annoying.

  • The remote buttons are a bit touchy, and the thing feels flimsy. The layout is pretty unintuitive, and the labels for buttons are far too small.

  • There are two modes for searching through video: either you can fast-forward and reverse, or you can jump to a specific time you enter with the keypad. Unfortunately, you need to switch between these modes using an option buried deep under the setup menu. Also, fast forward is rather slow, at least on video from the media server. Jumping works better, but you need to have some idea what time you are aiming for. Making it possible to use fast-forward or search without changing modes (they're different buttons!), and having the option of a slider type of interface for selecting the time would be perfect, and not that hard to implement, I expect. Maybe in version 3.0.


Anyway, I'm keeping the machine because it does perform the tasks I needed performed: show video in many formats over a wireless network and from DVD, and it works well when it works. However, it is so flaky that only a determined early adopter like myself could put up with it. I half expect my wife to destroy it within a month. If you are in the market for a similar device and you are anything less than a tight-fisted uber-nerd, you should probably get something else.

Monday, December 11, 2006

How Long

How long must this go on... About a month, maybe?



Anyway, enough of listening to advice. I struggled for ages trying to get those hips right, and ended up with something not all that different from what I started with. Her hips are fine. (Until I decide they're not.)

(Actually, I'll still listen to your advice.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bridgman's Method: Construction of the Head



In George Bridgman's book Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life there is a method for constructing the head (you know, figuring out where to place the features and stuff using guidelines and landmarks) which seemed pretty weird at first. I felt a bit skeptical of its value, but I tried it out and it... well, works. This may not be the best portrait (from imagination) I've ever done, but it was fast and things just seemed to fall in place. Let's hear it for classic texts.

Paint Something Saturday



So, my idea was to start taking an hour or so on Saturday mornings before my wife gets up, and paint something in the room. This is my first, somewhat disappointing try. Of course, the point is to learn, so it only makes sense that it starts out unsatisfactory.

I ended up spending most of the time on the initial sketch, trying to make sure the shapes and perspective were right (which may have been a waste of time, judging from the results).

We'll see how long I can keep this up.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Proportions



In response to Tim's comment on the last post I went and traced a semi-random photograph of a real person in a similar position scaled to the appropriate size. The angles are slightly different, of course, but mostly everything seems to be in place. That hip line might have been a bit high, so out with that. Maybe I should have more confidence in my sense of proportions. Or maybe I'm being stupid and still not seeing something obvious.

Bellybutton too low, maybe?

Lines

Trying to clean up the line work.



Better, but still not good enough. I will try to go through with this picture (because there's stuff I want to try out in the color, and that last colored version was a mistake). I guess it's good that I keep running up against my limits. Maybe that means I'm pushing them. It seems to be a learning experience, anyway.

Jeez, I gotta fix that hand though.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Standards

I quote:

The point is, you must hold yourself up to the highest measure and accept the harshest criticism and you must always come back for more. And you better come back with something new every time.


Yes.

This is why I keep going back to my stuff and saying, while it might not be really, really awful, it is nowhere near what I would call good. High standards. Middleton level standards. If I could draw half as well as that ... guy, then maybe I would have reason to be happy. Until then, I am sticking to the position that I suck.

That's kind of the reason why I hesitate to comment on artists' blogs sometimes. The blogs I visit are generally good, but, you know, sometimes I find myself thinking how they could be better. It's not my place to tell these people what I don't like on their blogs, especially since I suck so much more badly than any of them, but I still end up thinking it. A lot of these blogs end up with a lot of compliments. Deserved compliments, yes, but I often can't join in. I don't want to sound like a goddamn wet rag and pretentious twit criticizing his betters, and I'm sure these people get lots of frank criticism elsewhere (most of them do art for a living, after all).

Cruise on over to Joshua Middleton's site and see some real skill. Jaw dropping skill. I want those clear lines and smooth colors, dammit. I don't want to be messy all the time! (But I know that right now, if I tried, I would take three thousand years to produce a boring, stiff picture, and the colors would still suck.)

Oh yeah, I also want to be able to paint like J. C. Leyendecker. Is that asking a lot?

The point is, I suck now, so that means I can keep getting better, right?

Bloody optimists.

Whoops



Sat in front of the computer for too long again. I was trying to solve some compositional issues, but I couldn't stay away from trying out some color.

Don't look at the perspective though. It's gone all wonky.