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Using CGI in Vector Artwork

March 26th, 2012 | Artwork, Process, Tutorial

I’ve been making some vector icons for a client and one of them involved a slide carousel… not exactly something easy to draw in SVG! However, I took a quick shortcut through 3D which I’m now going to share with you. Take a look:

  1. I started by modeling a simple slide carousel in Blender, which took only a few minutes. I only needed the shapes, not the lighting, so I rendered it with some shadeless materials, thusly:CGI basis for slide carousel
  2. I then used Illustrator’s auto-tracing function to get the shapes from the render. Since the source image was very high-contrast, the tracer did a great job for once. At this stage I also drew in many of the simpler shapes, primarily circles.
  3. Finally, I imported the Illustrator file into Inkscape to apply gradient fills, because Illustrator’s gradient tools are a leading cause of brain cancer in graphic designers. (It’s true!) The slide dividers benefit nicely from some clever banded circular gradients, to give this final result:Final vector artwork, slide carousel

Not bad! Had I tried to draw this from scratch in Illustrator, I’d probably still be working… instead it took less than half an hour, and is about as photoreal as vector graphics can be.

Ten Years of Zarks!

March 14th, 2012 | Artwork, Comics, Et Cetera

Zirconius: Allies and Enemies

This is a fateful date. You are probably already aware that it is Pi Day (especially so at 1:59) but it is also, coincidentally, the day that the Zarks were born. For it was on Pi Day in 2002 that I happened to create, almost absent-mindedly, a creature called a Zark to serve as a bit enemy in the embarrassingly-titled comic Space Kid. I’ve related this story a million times before, so I’ll just give the synopsis:

  1. Zarks turn out to be cooler than Space Kid
  2. Zarks gradually take over comic
  3. Zarks go on to star in video games and stuff

And so, to celebrate the first ten years of Zarkdom, I present the following show of rare and/or unseen images from their storied lineage. And if that’s not enough, I also offer you a digital copy of the complete Zirconius comics, a guide to the Easter Eggs of Into the Titan, and some old backstory: Maz’s journal. (Links are below the fold.) Share and enjoy.

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Starring “The Lorax” as Himself!

March 6th, 2012 | Comics, Et Cetera

The Lorax comic

So, they’ve appropriated a character who preaches not just an environmental message, but also an anti-consumerism message, and they’re using him in advertisements. Advertisements! Advertisements for cars! I don’t care if he is fictional… this is slander.

And, on a side note, how do you make a movie out of Dr. Seuss and get a PG rating? Actually, forget asking how, what about why? Also who, when and where. Someone has to account for this whole travesty.

Myst in Retrospect: The Book of Atrus

March 4th, 2012 | Myst in Retrospect, Review, Writing

Warning: Spoilers abound. If you haven’t read The Book of Atrus, I suggest you do so before proceeding. You can buy all three novels here.

"Just sit tight and shut up until I have more problems for you to solve for me."

Myst: The Book of Atrus was published in 1995, well into the heyday of the original Myst but still two years before the release of Riven. It appears to set two basic goals for itself: to expand the backstory of the original game and set the stage for the new one. The book is credited to Rand and Robyn Miller, Myst’s foremost creators, with coauthor credit to David Wingrove, an SF writer previously known for Chung Kuo, a sprawling epic about a future in which Imperial China rules the world. (In true diehard-fan fashion, I attempted to read the first of these volumes, with no success.) As a work of literature, the novel is probably slightly better than your average science fiction novel, at least stylistically. As a part of the Myst canon, this novel (and the other two) form a sort of backstory-bible, one which became so integral to the series that the games eventually came to depend on it.

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Oops… oh well

March 1st, 2012 | Et Cetera

Today I shut down the old WordPress MU version of this site by simply logging in through FTP and deleting the directory. Very efficient, but unbeknownst to me, all the images from the old blog posts were still stored inside it. So that means all the images older than last July or so are gone. Sigh. There’s not really any way to get them back, either, and it would take many hours to put them back together (assuming I can even find the source files for most of these), so I’m just going to shrug this one off. Should anyone want to see any of this stuff, just let me know and I’ll attempt to piece it together again. I should have known better, really.