Four Talking Boxes 1260

There were a couple of times this week where I couldn’t get anything done. It could have been the sinus headache or it could have been general artistic directionlessness but either way I had nothing going on. So I decided to dig into my pile of drawings that I have printed out in blue line to ink. Sometimes I feel like drawing and coming up with new things but I’m not in the mood to ink and therefore finish things. So I scan in the pencil drawing, print it out on bristol board, and put it on the pile for another day. Today was that other day.

Inking, for me, is mostly about reacting rather than acting. I’m trying to finish off a drawing with a definitive black line rather than the grey of a pencil. That grey can look a bit indecisive at times. You can always go back and fix it later but with ink you’d better get it correct now. But since ninety percent of the drawing is already done it’s easier to get it correct. I find I can ink my own work with less mindfulness than drawing it. I can pick up a brush or pen and just go when I got nothing going on. So that’s what I did.
With Everybody_Drawing_2711

The first piece that I inked is called “With Everybody”. This is a case of the inking taking me longer than I expected because I didn’t have as much of it worked out as I usually do. Instead of the ninety percent that I mentioned above I probably had about seventy five percent worked out. All of the basic shapes were there but I still had to figure out what I was going to do with them, And none of the blacks, greys, or positive vs negative shapes were worked out.

The first thing I notice about this piece is the guy ended up looking like some sort of moth man. He didn’t start out that way since I didn’t have all the black spots worked out but he sure ended up looking like a moth. He has wings that are spotted and even extra eyes on his chest.

I started this drawing, much like I’ve started many drawings in recent years, with a felt tip pen that’s been refilled with india ink. The regular ink in a felt tip pen isn’t really suitable for artwork but if you refill the sponge in the body of the pen with tech pen ink you can get a nice black line out of it. You have to be careful though because it makes a mess out of French curves and straight edges. You have to clean them a few times a day. Make that a half dozen. At least.

After I make the mechanical lines with the pen and straight edges/curves I pull out my brush and bottle of India ink. That’s where those thick to thin lines across the center of the body come from. I also thicken up some of the outlines that I made with the pen. I don’t always want the perfectly even line of a pen. Often the less even brush line is livelier. And if I mix the two I can get the best of both worlds.

I also had to figure out where to put the small parallel lines that make up the greys of this piece. They’re not really grey, of course, but create the illusion of a mid tone. None of that was indicated in the original drawing so I had to figure it out here. That took a while since the space is all about flatness and it’s often easier to organize the illusion of space because that follows rules. Flatness has rules that are different and not always easy to see. I think I figured it out here but it took a while. I’m not sure exactly but I’d say the ink work on this drawing took five to six hours.

The next drawing that I did this week probably took half that time. It’s called “Race Away” and is mainly the marked up face of a person. I think of him as a male figure but he really is a bit androgynous. Most of the black and white parts were figured out in the drawing except for on his shoulders and chest. And they were fairly easy to figure out.
Race Away_Drawing_2712

This one is made up of two of my favorite things. Faces with designs on them and spirals. I’m forever putting triangles on faces and often filling the sky with spirals. Sometimes I make spirals out of hair two but I got baldness going on in this one. I’m not sure why but the whimsical triangles and circles in the background remind me of music or musical notes. Maybe it’s a “Follow the bouncing ball” thing. I’m not sure but I can almost hear a song when I look at them. That’s unusual for my drawings. I don’t think they often suggest sound.

The space in this drawing was a lot easier to figure out than the first one because it’s mostly “Real” space. It’s not real in any exact location sort of way but there is a sky and some ground with maybe a fence on it. Could be some waves and water behind him but it seems like he’s in a real space. The Mothman could be anywhere. His space is more of a story space than a real one. I have no idea where he is. And where is that giant face coming from? Who knows?

In both of these drawings I not only mixed the line of a brush with the line of a pen and edge but I also mixed in some freehand pen work. In the glasses of the man and the spots of the Mothman’s wings I made some short pen marks. They don’t have the perfect spacing of the mechanical background lines and so add to the natural flavor of the piece. Really, too many “Perfect” lines to deaden a thing.

So there you have my week of not having it going on. I always find it a good idea to have something in reserve for when I just want to get zen with things.

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got nine new comics.

  • Butterfly – 2
  • Lazarus – 12
  • Revival – 24
  • Starlight -6
  • Stray Bullets: Killers – 8
  • Walking Dead – 133
  • The Wicked and the Devine – 5
  • Dark Horse Presents – 3
  • 13 Coins – 1
  • Check them all out here:

    I’ve been getting some artwork done on the computer lately. I find working on paper and canvas to be a far more satisfying experience but some ambitions can only be fulfilled with the help of a computer. Specifically I’ve been working on a book where I tie together lots of my artwork with some stories. I’ve been working on it for a couple of years now and I still don’t have anything finished. As a matter of fact I have three separate books started but none finished. That’s because I’m still struggling with exactly what I want to say and what form it will take. That and this stuff takes time. So this week I decided to take some of that time.

    The book that I decided to work on was named “Textures and Art”. I started this one some time back in March or April and I think the concept was to integrate some of my past drawings and paintings with photos of textures that I took while out on some of my walks. And some unknown story would tie it all together. Or at least that was as much of the plan as I could remember. I had completed about fifteen pages back then and then abandoned it. Pretty much because I prefer to draw or paint. But I want to make a book. I really do. So I steeled myself to do some work on it this week.

    I wanted to make it to forty pages but since I was nowhere near that number I just started with the next one in line. Last Spring I had worked out a basic design for the background and the idea was to pick through the scans of my drawings and paintings to find things I could visually tie together and eventually make a story out of. I also would use the photos of textures as design elements to help things out.

    One thing else I would add was some of my street photography. I didn’t want them to be straight up photos so I decided to use some of my Photoshop filter recipes on them that take a photo and make them look different than your ordinary photograph. The few filter recipes I have make them look a little more like illustrations and a little more like pop art. Of course that means even more work.

    My basic process for the whole thing went like this. First I choose a background design. There are four of them and they’re all basically the same neutral grey background only oriented four different ways: top, bottom, left, and right. I also started with a blank white background on occasion and then covered the whole background with a photo.

    The next step was to choose a main image and decide where to place it on the page. The main image could be a drawing, a painting, or a photo. Sometimes the main image became a secondary image through the process but I had to pick one to start. All the work on the paintings and drawings has already been done since I routinely scan my work in so I have lots and lots of them to choose from. But it’s still always more work than I think it will be to design a page.

    If the main image is going to be a photo then I have more work to do. None of the photos are finished. It doesn’t take a lot of work to make one since I have all the filter recipes saved as actions but it still takes a good ten to twenty minutes to get a photo done. And that’s me working fast. If I’m slow that day it all takes more time.

    After the main image I pick a secondary image. I usually like to pair a photo with artwork but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes I’d pair a drawing with a painting. Then I had to find a place to put the text. I chose a yellow/brown box with a black outline back when I originally made the design so I stuck with that. I had no hard-and-fast rules for the size and shape of the text box so I worked one or two of them in as they design saw fit. There is not a lot of text on the pages but I need some place to eventually fit the words.

    After that I put in the tertiary pieces of art. This is where the most creative stuff happened. I usually went small with them and there could be any number of pieces but there were no other rules for this part. I’d interlock pieces and cover them up as I saw fit. No single tertiary piece was that important so I tried to get them to work as a whole. I even made some main pieces into tertiary pieces on later pages to tie things together.

    I ended up getting about five pages a day done this way. I’d say it would take me about three hours to get five pages done and that’s all I could get done in a day. Or at least that was all I could take. I could and have spent a lot more than three hours a day on a painting or drawing project but those are a lot more satisfying to do. With this book design I would get frustrated after two to three hours. I’ve learned over the years that I have to stop then. I actually want to get this project done and too much frustration can make me stop so it’s important that I pace myself.

    I ended up reaching my goal today and got that fortieth page done. That made me happy until I realized I hadn’t though about how to end this thing. I need some sort of visual ending but instead I had an ending they just stopped. It was a weird feeling. I almost always have an ending in mind for whatever I do but for this I had none. And as I ended the fortieth page was when I realized that. I don’t know how that escaped me.

    Oh, well, at least I know the next thing I have to work on when I get back to that project. That pesky ending.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got sis new comics.

  • The Last Broadcast – 6 (of 7)
  • Deadly Class – 8
  • Trees – 6
  • Supreme Blue Rose – 4
  • Deadpool’s Art od War – 1
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – 1 (I bought it because of its cover)
  • Check them all out here:


    Here we go again with hard drive troubles. That happens every so often when dealing with computers. With external hard drives it seems to happen more often than with internal ones. I bought the one that failed on me this week back in 2010. Four years is about how long all of my external hard drives last. And this one didn’t give me any warning. Usually they start acting twitchy and don’t mount properly every time I boot up before they go bad. That’s when I buy a new one and get the info off the old one. This time the drive started clicking and beeping and only mounted one more time before dying for good. I didn’t have time to get anything off it but it was a backup drive so it didn’t have anything important on it. Unless my main hard drive died of course. And my other back up.

    I didn’t immediately order a replacement for this drive as I usually do. I wanted to try and test it first. I’ve read that often when external hard drives go bad it’s not always the drive that breaks but the stuff in the case that holds it. Circuit board, power supply, or whatever. When I test a drive I do it in one of my tower’s four hard drive bays. That is a bit of a pain. I have to power down, pull a drive out of a bay, put the drive to be tested into the bay, and restart the computer to see if the drive shows up. So this time I decided to buy a hot swappable hard drive case ($25). I plug it into the computer via USB and then just pop a hard drive into the case. No screws or plastic tabs to worry about as in a regular hard drive case. And no powering down and removing one of my regular drives.

    Since the new hard drive case is USB 3.0 I decided to buy a USB 3.0 PCI card to put in my computer (another $25). My tower is old (from 2008) and only has USB 2.0 in it so I figured I may as well. After I put the USB 3.0 card in the computer I powered back up and tested the broken hard drive in the new hot swappable case after I cracked the drive out of its old case. The drive was broken for sure. I then pulled a couple of old hard drives out of the garage to crack them out of their cases and test them too. At 320 and 500 gigs they are smaller than the drives I use nowadays but I wanted to test and see if they worked. Turns out they did. I put the 500 gig drive in the case of my newer broken hard drive and it boots up fine now.

    My computer had been running slower than usual all this summer. I think it was because my main hard drive was getting full. It’s a 2TB drive which seems like it should be enough but I have a lot of my image files on that one. I had up to 1.6TB worth of stuff on it. It must have taken five minutes to start up each morning. And often I’d see the spinning beach ball of the computer accessing the hard drive as I was doing my usual work. So I decided it would be that 2TB hard drive, my main one, that I’d replace. I wouldn’t buy another external drive but an internal one. So I ordered and got a 3TB internal drive.

    Replacing my main hard drive is always a bit of a chore. But it’s made easier by cloning software. Some people like to make a fresh install of their computer’s OS when they get a new drive but I don’t. That would mean installing a lot of programs as well and finding all their activation codes or whatnot. No thanks. I prefer to clone. I find that easier and have never found an advantage to starting all my software over again. With the cloning software you tell it what drive you want a copy of and what drive you want to copy onto. Simple.

    By the way, remember that USB 3.0 PCI card I installed? A friend has since told me that I won’t get USB 3.0 speeds with it since my computer is too old for the bus on the motherboard to handle those speeds. Before I knew that I tested the speed of the 3.0 drive by copying a large file onto it and it seemed to copy a lot faster than with USB 2.0. Maybe it was my imagination or maybe it really did copy faster but when I cloned the 2TB drive onto the 3TB drive it sure didn’t go very fast.

    When I did this years ago (with the 320GB drive) I put the new drive in one of the internal bays rather than use USB 2.0 but I got the hot swappable drive and USB 3.0 to avoid that inconvenience. Sure 1.6TB is a lot bigger than 300GB but the whole cloning process took a lot longer than I anticipated. I started it about noon and it went on for twenty four hours. I don’t think I was getting USB 3.0 speed. It also slowed down my whole machine as it copied in the background. I opened up Activity Monitor to see if the cloning program was using a lot of my computer’s power but it wasn’t. It was obviously using up a lot of something Activity Monitor doesn’t measure though.

    I may have taken a while but eventually it was finished and so I powered down and swapped out the old drive for the new one. It booted up remarkably fast. It now takes about a minute to start up. Much better. I had to tweak a couple of setting of things that didn’t like to be copied but overall it went remarkably smoothly. I like when that happens. I’m waiting a week or two before erasing and reformatting my old main hard drive though in case something goes wrong. I can’t see anything too bad with a new hard drive happening but when do you ever see it coming?.

    Along with the new main hard drive and the maybe not quite as advertised USB 3.0 card I put a new video card in my machine a few weeks ago. I want to get a new machine some time next year or so but until then there is still a lot of life left in this old machine. Now if only my monitor would stop acting up.