Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.

Inktober Results

Ugh. I know I said I’d blog more often, but I never seem to find the time to sit down and actually write the blog posts. Things move so fast around here. Honestly, I finished work on Inktober just in time to start volunteering with Princess’ drama club at school. Their first play this year opens tonight, and I’ve spent the last two weeks fitting costumes and helping to make props.

But enough complaining for now. I said I’d post some more pics from Inktober, so here we go. I managed to finish 23 out of 31 days this year, and by finish, I mean I honestly and truly finished! I drew the pencil art, colored it in with markers (I love markers), and then I did the inking and posted each piece to Instagram. If you want to see all of the drawings I did, my Instagram is @cynical_woman.

The theme I went with for this year’s Inktober was witches, so I drew a lot of weird little magical girls and anything else witch-related that I could think of.

Inktober 2018 Flame Witch

“The Flame Witch”

Inktober 2018 Magic Wand

“Magic Wand”

Inktober 2018 Sand Witch

“The Sand Witch”

Inktober 2018 Rose Witch

“The Rose Witch”

Inktober 2018 Thorn Witch

“The Thorn Witch”

Inktober 2018 Bone Witch

“The Bone Witch”

Inktober 2018 Pumpkin Witch

“The Pumpkin Witch”

These were my favorites from this year. I especially love the Flame Witch. Her pose and expression and outfit turned out perfect!

Anyway, that’s if for Inktober this year. Hopefully, by next week, I’ll have something new to post. I’m working on unfinished projects for November, and have already completed two, so I’ll see about posting them next.

Inktober- Days 1-3

There are not enough hours in the day. The last six weeks have been crazier than even our usual standard of crazy, by which I mean just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong… with BOTH our cars. I’ll write a full post about that late on.

In the meantime, since I did promise myself I was going to get back to blogging a couple times a week (and still haven’t managed to do that yet), here’s a quick look at the first three #Inktober drawings that I’ve done. I’ve managed to keep up so far, and have a total of six drawings. I decided to go with a “witch” theme rather than use the prompts given for this year’s Inktober. Without further ado, here’s days 1-3.

Inktober 2018 - Witchie

Inktober 2018, day 1 – Witchie

The first day. I knew I wanted to draw witches, but I also wanted to draw cute little girls. I decided on my theme after going through my tee shirt collection and finding an old “Precious Miseries” shirt. I love those cute, gothic little girls!

Inktober 2018, Sugar Skull Witch

Inktober 2018, day 2 – Sugar Skull Witch

Once I decided I was going to do a bunch of kawaii witches, I started thinking about “Adventure Time,” and how the show had so many difference princesses. So this is sort of an homage to Princess Bubblegum.

Inktober 2018, day 3 - Baby Mandrake

Inktober 2018, day 3 – Baby Mandrake

By the third day, I realized I was going to end up putting a LOT of work into coloring each of these drawings. I love coloring with markers, but I have a very specific way of doing it, and it’s very time consuming. So even though I’m doing all my Inktober drawings this year on ATCs (2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches), I’m still spending a couple of hours on each piece. I thought drawing some of the accoutrements of a witch would be simpler than drawing a witch, so I decided to draw a very cute baby mandrake. That’s when I learned two things. First, baby mandrakes are that much simpler than cute witches. Second, I really like the broken line style of inking that I did on this one, so I’ve kept doing that with all the other Inktober drawings I’ve done so far this week.

I’ll share a few more Inktober drawings later this week. But for now, I’ve got to exercise and then I’m spending the rest of the day making fake rocks and boulders for this year’s Girl Scout murder mystery party. I’ll give you a clue for this year’s mystery. Someone gets crushed by a rock slide!

Car is still broke, Hubster still not home, and I fried a colander

Just when you though things might not get worse…

Hubster is still in DC trying to get the car home. He’s contacted a dealer about shipping it (this is the same dealer we bought it from), and he’s hoping to have news on that tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ve been handling all the ADULT chores around the house, which is probably my least favorite thing to do. So far this week, I’ve had to call the exterminator, catch two cats on my own and take them to the vet, and attend Princess’ back-to-school night by myself. If you are a single parent, or a parent with a spouse who must travel a lot or go on deployment, you have my deepest respect. I do not function well without the Hubster around.

In other news, I managed to do THIS today…

Fried colander

Recipe for “Deep Fried Colander” coming to a cook book near you sometime…. never.

Yep, that’s a colander. A plastic colander which happened to be sitting in a cast iron skillet which happened to be sitting on a burner that I just happened to accidentally turn on instead of the burner I wanted to turn on so I could make tea today. Hubster thinks I should use the part at the top of the picture in an art project. I’d LOVE to do that, but until he gets home, I don’t have the time.

I hate being the only adult in the house.

Work in Progress – both artwork and my health

Painting in progress

Playing with paints. It’s not all that easy!

I have taken very few (maybe 3?) art classes in my life. So I’ve never really learned to paint. I could always draw, and I started drawing cartoons very early on in life. I remember filling a lot of grade-school notebooks with doodles of sad, fat, droopy ponies. I don’t know why ponies, exactly, except that for a time, I was really, REALLY obsessed with horses. Also with Crazy Horse, who was not a horse, but who had the word “horse” in his name, so I read every book about him that I could get my hands on.

Anyhoo, I don’t have a formal art education, so I’ve been teaching myself over the years, learning whatever I can from books, online tutorials, and these days, YouTube videos. The above painting-in-progress is inspired by a video tutorial done by makoccino. She did the tutorial for watercolors, which is what I started with, but my paints and paper are so cheap that the paint kept flaking off and taking some paper with it. So I switched to acrylics pretty quickly to keep going. I think the cat eyes look terrible, but I’m not unhappy with the leaves. We’ll see how it looks when I’m done.

Speaking of things that I am working on, my health is also a work-in-progress. In addition to hardware and software problems, another reason I stopped doing webcomic (and pretty much everything else) for a while was because I’ve been ill. It’s not an illness we’ve been able to name beyond “arthritis,” “insomnia,” “constant fatigue,” and “all-over aches and pains.” I’ve been dealing with all the above problems for a while now, and they hit really hard about a year and a half ago, right after I spent a month with my parents after my dad had his heart attack (coincidence? Hmmmmm…).

These symptoms turned my days into never-ending battles to get something, anything, done. I would wake up at 6AM, completely exhausted. I’d struggle through breakfast and getting the girls to school (I drive them to and from school every day). Then I’d come home, do my damnedest to stay awake, and fail miserably, ending up asleep on the couch for three to four hours. That left me with just enough time to take care of Gibbie and get him out for a walk, then drive straight back to school to get Pixie, who got out at 3PM, come home and try to do some housework, and then head out again to pick up Princess, who was staying after school until 5PM or later for drama. Between the driving back and forth to schools, taking care of the dog, and being unconscious most of the day, I only had time left for the basics: laundry; cleaning the kitchen; Girl Scouts; and anything else the kids needed. I had no time or energy left for anything else.

Just so you know, I have been tested multiple times for Lyme’s Disease, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and even Sjogren’s Disease. All the tests keep coming back negative. I talked with my doctor about Fibromyalgia, but the symptoms don’t really fit. I don’t know about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome yet. We’re still looking at that, along with ideas of what else I could be dealing with.

So, after struggling to survive Princess’ first year of high school, I decided I needed to figure out for myself what I could do to get back my health. It’s been a process of trial and error, but I’ve seen some progress. I started by making changes in what I eat. I avoid processed food as much as I can now, and eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as I can stomach. I’ve been teaching myself to cook (another skill I never had any formal training in) and I’ve been expanding the types of vegetables I will eat and how I prefer them to be cooked (roasted cauliflower? Yes. Steamed cauliflower? You go to hell!).

I’ve also been working on my sleep. I try to get into the bedroom by 8PM so I can take an hour to unwind, do some yoga, take a hot bath, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ve weaned myself off Zzzyquil and most nights, if I get in bed by 9PM, I will probably get 7-8 hours of sleep. Some nights, though, insomnia will rear up its ugly head no matter what I do. So I’ve got an appointment with a sleep specialist to see what can be done about that.

And of course, I’ve been working on exercise. I spent a lot of time this summer looking at what activities I could do if I wasn’t feeling well. There are plenty of videos on YouTube and Amazon Prime for low intensity workouts like indoor walking, chair yoga, etc. I’ve made lists of what I can fall back on when I’m too exhausted for an hour in the pool or an hour walk with Gibbie. On the flip side, I’ve also made a list of what I can do when I do feel well, and have been careful not to push myself to exhaustion so that I end up feeling sick again.

I think all this has been working. I have been feeling better. I haven’t had any massive flair-ups of joint pain for a while now, but it’s still summer, so we’ll have to see what happens when winter hits. The insomnia has been a problem this week, but I’ve been working with it, switching to low intensity activity so I still keep moving and get something things done. Like that painting above. Even though I didn’t sleep well last night, I was still able to pull myself together in time today to spend an hour of that, and get this blog post done as well.

And, just like the painting, I got to say, I’m not unhappy about it. In fact, I think I’m pretty danged pleased.

Testing out Clip Studio Paint for the iPad

Gibbie and I go out for a run

A test comic of me and Gibbie going out for a run

Oooooh! What is this? Is it… a WEBCOMIC?!

Well, sort of. One of the biggest stumbling blocks last year to me getting the webcomic done was problems with software and hardware. I had purchased a new Microsoft Surface Pro with a larger screen, in hopes that the larger screen would make Manga Studio EX more readable, thus leading to more regular output of webcomics from me.

Alas, this was not the case. The Surface Pro really isn’t the ideal laptop for me, even with its touchscreen and high resolution. For starters, the stylus for the new Surface Pros last year was not a Wacom stylus. I have used Wacom styluses (styli?) for years, and I love them. They are dependable, easy to use, and work beautifully with a huge list of desktop software and iPad drawing apps. But for some reason, Microsoft decided to NOT use a Wacom stylus anymore and instead sold its own stylus with the Surface Pro.

What a lousy idea. First off, the Microsoft stylus runs on AAAA batteries! Do you know how hard it is to find AAAA batteries in local stores? We had to order the damn things just to get the stylus to work. That made no sense to me whatsoever. Wacom figured out a long time ago how to make styli (styluses?) that didn’t require batteries for power! My current iPad stylus, a Wacom Creative, is actually set up to charge off a USB port or Apple charger (just take out the attached cable and plug in Wacom’s charger attachment and power that sucker on up!).

The second problem I encountered was that Manga Studio DID NOT LIKE the Microsoft stylus. Rather than let me draw quickly and easily, it seemed to reject the stylus at every turn, as if the software instinctively KNEW that I was trying to pull a fast one by using a Microsoft stylus instead of a Wacom.

I struggled with it for a while, but eventually, the problem was so ridiculous that I gave up on Microsoft’s stylus and on the Surface Pro (what a waste of money). I tried searching for apps to draw webcomics on my iPad, but by that point, I’d been spoiled rotten by Manga Studio. It had layers! It had vector AND raster! It had materials and tones! It had so many effects and bells and whistles and I used all that stuff to make the webcomic!  Nothing else had this, except for a few apps that just did not play nice on my iPad. And then life started to fall apart in general and that sort of put paid to the idea of me drawing anything for a while.

Then earlier this year, I discovered that Clip Paint Studio, the original Manga Studio, was available as an app for the iPad. I decided to give it a try, but wasn’t very hopeful as I expected to encounter some of the same problems I’d had with the Surface Pro, that of having a full fledge software program on a small screen.

HOWEVER! Clip Studio Paint did look just fine on my iPad, so I plunked the money down for a subscription (yeah, it’s subscription based, which sucks, but….) and went to work on drawing new webcomics

Then I ran into the another problem that reminded me too much of the trouble I’d been having with Manga Studio on the Surface Pro. THE APP DID NOT LIKE MY WACOM STYLUS.

It liked the Apple Pencil just fine, but for some reason, it wouldn’t see the Wacom stylus as a pressure sensitive device, and so while it would let the Wacom draw, I lost all the ability to make lines thick and thin just by adding a bit of pressure (and if you draw comics, you know what a HUGE problem that can be).

Now, I have an Apple Pencil, but the damn thing is constantly running out of power. Honestly, I just can’t keep it charged. The power will last for a couple days and then FBBTZZ! Nothing. The Wacom can last for weeks on a single charge, so I never have to worry about not being able to use it, but if it wouldn’t work right in Clip Studio Paint… Well, let’s just say that contributed to another 8 or 9 months of hiatus from the webcomic.

Well, last week, I decided to open up Clip Studio Paint (I had paid for the damn thing, after all) and give it another try. I don’t know what they did, I don’t recall any update, but for whatever reason, the app now works just fine with my Wacom Creative stylus. So I decided to knock out a test drawing, see how long it took to make (still takes me longer than I’d like to draw even a single panel comic), and the result is the image you saw above waaaaaaaaaaaaay back at the beginning of this ramble.

Long story short, I may finally be able to get back to drawing webcomics the way I want to. Long story not quite as short, I may still have to suck it up from time to time and find some other way to draw the webcomic. So I’m going to research other apps that I see recommended, including Procreate and SketchClub and others, and I’ll show the results of my research here from time to time.

’Nuff said.

Speaking of engines…

First, I just noticed a couple of typos in my last post. To correct the worst typo… We did not have one child move from high school to middle school. It was the other way around, actually. Princess started high school last year, and she’s been having the time of her life. At the same time, Pixie started middle school. She’s doing well, but not having as much fun. A lot of that comes down to the fact that a number of her best friends no longer go to the same school. I’m hoping she’ll make new friends and start to enjoy school a bit more, but we’ll see.

Second, some days after I wrote that last post, we had some car trouble. The car had started shaking and shuddering a few times while we were driving it, but there was no obvious cause and the shop we take it to for maintenance couldn’t reproduce the problem. Since the shaking and shuddering stopped after we put new tires on the car, we thought the problem had been solved. Then last Friday, the car broke down.

While we were on the highway.

Driving into D.C.

For a weekend visit with family.

Joy.

The car didn’t just break down. The power cut out. Power steering, power breaks, everything. Yet the lights and blinkers still worked, as did the radio, so the problem obviously wasn’t the battery. Hubster managed to get us to the shoulder of the highway, and then we proceeded to call AAA, various family members, and finally Uber, all in order to get the car towed to a garage and get us to our final destination – my brother-in-law’s house.

We had a lovely weekend staying with my brother-in-law and his wife and two boys. Saw lots of sights, played games, ate a lot of good food. Meanwhile, our car sat at a garage that was closed all holiday weekend. Then on Monday, we headed to the airport. The girls and I hopped into a rental car and drove home, while Hubster stayed back in D.C. to wait for the garage to open up and diagnose what was wrong with the car.

Well, Hubster called me just a little while ago and the news ain’t great. The engine is flooded with oil. It would cost $6600 to repair. We only owe about $2000 on the car, and we just put brand new tires on it to the tune of $1000. We are currently reviewing our options, but I don’t think we’re going to bother with repairing the car.

Anyway, we had a lovely weekend otherwise, and I got to revisit the tomb of “The Queen of the Magazine,” who, as far as I can tell, still isn’t dead yet, so she’s obviously in much better shape than our car! I gotta say, I love this woman’s monument. She looks like she’s having a great life.

Tomb for the Queen of the Magazine

“The Queen of the Magazine!”

Headstone for Evelyn Davis

Evelyn Davis is still kicking, as far as I can tell from her headstone.

Restarting my engines

I have been away for far too long. There are a lot of reasons why – family emergencies, illness, having one child go from high school to middle school. I may go into all this more later on, but basically, life got overwhelming, and so I had to strip away everything that wasn’t essential to my day-to-day survival for a while.

I am now trying to figure out how to come back, how to restart the web and restart a lot of those other things that I had to ditch while I coped with various crises and emergencies. It’s hard. I’m not sure what to blog about anymore, or what to cartoon about, but I’m hoping that slowly but surely, I’ll figure it out.

So for the time being, I’m going to blog about whatever comes up. It might be some random art project that I’ve stolen time to work on. It might be about how I’m dealing with my own health problems, or it might actually be about something funny, like how our dog and cats do not get along (I swear, it’s like 21st venture reboot of Garfield in this house).

Eventually, I’ll find topics that I want to write about on a regular basis, but for now, I’ll just be posting the random stuff of my life. Like this little gem:

My dog Gibno!

“Baroo?!”

Yep, that’s my dog Gibno. Not sure what he’s doing, but this picture is a pretty good example of what’s going on in my life right now. Enjoy!

Messy Monday – Cheap paint and used canvases!

Pour painting

Is it eggs on a blue plate special, or a weather satellite image?

So, I made this last Thursday. I’ve been watching YouTube videos on pour paintings, and decided I wanted to try it for myself. My first efforts involved somewhat expensive materials – pouring medium, mid-grade acrylic paints, clean new canvas. That initial experiment turned out… okay. It was sort of blobby and not very interesting to look at. For my second attempt, I went with cheaper materials – craft paint, synthetic oil and school glue from Dollar Tree. That experiment went a bit better, but I made the mistake of picking paints that were too similar in color to really make an impression when they separated out on the canvas. I just ended up with a big muddle of green, for the most part.

Then I decided to try this one. I used an old canvas from a failed Mod Podge project, and added nothing but water to the paints. I made sure to use high contrasting colors, alternating between white, dark blue, bright yellow, and mid blue. There is a touch of gold paint in there, but it shows up more as shading of the other colors than as a bright pop of color. Beyond that, all I did was use an old heat gun to make some of the cells of color appear on the canvas.

I’ve got a couple more used canvases, including one big one that I really screwed up a while back. I bought measuring cups from the Dollar Tree to mix the paint in. I need to make a box bigger than the canvas I want to paint, so that when I pour layers of paint, I’ve got something to catch all the excess. I’ll probably line it with foil tape and lay freezer paper on top of that, in case the excess paint dries into any interesting skins. We’ll see!

ACW Episode 307 – It’s not a horse!

Webcomic!

Click on the image above to see it full-sized!

In all honestly, I never even considered getting a horse. I’ve got no place to put on!

My apologies for the lateness of this episode. Between computer/website issues and a recent family emergency, I’ve been a bit behind getting things done. Hopefully, I’ve got everything sorted out now.

Graphics Apps I LURVE! Pixite Assembly

I made a cute thing in Pixite’s Assmebly app. I’m calling these guys “Shroomies,” because they’re squishie and they’re sitting on mushrooms.

Shroomies art

Aren’t they cute?!


If you haven’t used Assembly, it’s really nice and fun. The app gives you a blank art board and a library of shapes to create artwork with. You don’t draw in the traditional sense. Instead, you assemble the shapes like collage pieces to make an image. Assembly lets you set the color, transparency and outline of each shape, and you can also add shadows. You can group multiple shapes together, as well as combine or cut out shapes from each other. And, best of all, if you make a custom shape, or group of shapes (like my little Shroomie creatures above), you can save them in a custom sticker library to use again and again!

Assembly does have a couple limitations. First, it only offers flat colors, not gradients.  To get the gradient effects above, I exported my original artwork as a PNG, and then brought it into Shift, another Pixite app, to touch up the colors and add some scratchy, old-photo texture.

A second issue is the lack of layers. While you can group shapes, the app doesn’t offer layers to make organizing parts of your artwork easier. In other graphics apps, I like to use layers to separate my background, foreground, and mid ground elements, but that’s not an option in Assmbly.

Still, I love Assembly by Pixite! I’ve made some really great artwork in it, and I can always export artwork from Assembly as an SVG, if I want to bring it into Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator, or another vector graphics app. Assembly is pretty simple to use, and I can do a lot of cool things with it.