Experiements In Digital Inking

I’m trying to figure out a way to digitally ink my pencil drawings. I could do them by hand, but am wondering if I could get better results with one of my graphics programs instead. I’ve obsessed about this for three days now and the answer is ‘no.’ I’m better off doing it by hand, although I might consider investing in a light table to make this particular chore a little easier. My preferred inking style does not always lend itself to the projects I want to do, and I’d like to avoid a lot of drawing and retracing to make a clean copy of my artwork. Anyway, here are the results of digital inking from two different programs – Flash 5 and ArtRage 1.

Flash 5 inking experiment

ArtRage 1 inking experiment

ZBrush Tree

Here I am, back with the program I love to hate. Between sick kids, a broken car, and other schedule screw ups, I haven’t been able to put paper to pencil lately, so I’m reverting to some digital work to fulfill my daily art requirements (even then, I’ve still missed a couple of days recently; that’s got to stop!). The above may not look like much, but it’s a work in progress. ZBrush has a nifty little tool that allows you to easily build branching objects, including trees, people, anything with legs and arms that go off in different directions. This is my first pass at a tree. It’s got a long way to go before it reaches it’s final form.

Happy Birthday, Mary!

I can’t remember how old she is (last I recalled, she was a year younger than me, I think), nor can I remember the exact date of her birthday (hell, I can’t remember the exact date of MY birthday), but I do know it’s sometime this month, and she’s still alive and kicking, so happy birthday, Mary! Here’s to not dropping dead from sheer frustration.

The Happy Flower

I decided to play around with ZBrush today, a program I love to hate. This is about the level of success I can get with this program. I just can’t wrap my brain around how it works, and frequently when I try to do things, the program crashes and I lose all my work. But sometimes I can do simple little things like this.


My week was a complete bust in terms of meaningful work, except for this one piece…

I am worn out from breast feeding, chasing a preschooler, doing Halloween decorations and otherwise struggling to survive on my own, but I feel like I accomplished something just because I got this one little drawing done. It’s funny. This is my entry for the Ben Caldwell Weekly Cartoon Challenge, and my cartoons look absolutely nothing like the other entries. Very different stylistically (all their stuff is way neato-keen airbrushed) and I think also in subject matter. It’s like watching an episode of Sesame Street and hearing someone sing “One of these things is not like the others…” I don’t care though. I like Claudia. She’s one gnarly chick, and she knows how to swing that shovel, so watch out.

PS – Yesterday was my day off, and once again, it was a disaster. I spent most of it at Sears Portrait Studio waiting to get Sam’s picture taken. The pictures came out beautifully, but by the time we walked out of there, she was in full crank-meister mode and very ticked off with me. I was hoping she’d at least let me enjoy a brief spell at Barnes & Noble’s, but then she grabbed my lunch (a very delicious Italian Strata) and threw it on the café floor, so that was that. At least she didn’t spill my coffee.

How Do You Like Me Now?

Medusa Painting, 23 September 2006

Ta-daa! What do you think? I finished it yesterday morning while nursing Sam. Came out pretty good I think.

I’m so proud of myself for finishing this thing. I still had a lot of work left to do on it yesterday, and was feeling a little apathetic about it, but then I sat down and just got lost in the process of laying down color and painting, and when I looked up, it was more than an hour later and the painting was done. Oh, and my left breast was completely flat because Sam was nursing the entire time.

Anyway, I’ve finally finished my first digital painting and now I’m going to look at doing another one. This was so worth the effort. So much more fun that the 3D stuff I’ve been struggling with. The results seemed almost immediate, which never happens when I’m doing 3D. I will probably continue to do the 3D stuff, but digital painting is so much more rewarding. I posted this image to 3D Commune last night and have already had a really nice comment back on it. I’m verra, verra happy right now.

In light of the rest of yesterday’s events, this image only seems to highlight to me how much I don’t fit in with other moms my age (or any age for that matter). I took Cassie to a birthday party yesterday afternoon. One of her classmates from preschool turned three last week and his mother threw a very nice bash. They had a lovely house, with a lovely pool, very nice furniture, nice careers, nice cars. They travel to Europe a lot (the mom is French), they both work. The other moms all worked too, and all the kids there were from Cassie’s preschool class. I sort of fit in, but I sort of didn’t, and I’d have to say the same for Cassie. It wasn’t horrendously bad, just little things I noticed that made me realize how far into Mundania I had to travel to get to that party.

You see, I live an odd life. Or at least I like to think I do. I love my artwork and my writing, I love working in erotica and science fiction and horror. I love karate and other hard core forms of exercise. I love being weird and dressing like a pirate and listening to strange music and being conversant in the latest episode of Doctor Who. I love my weird, weird friends. I love being cynical. But these other moms that I met yesterday, they all seemed so… mundane. Safe. Placid, maybe. Not Stepford wives, but too conservative for my tastes. For instance, one mom was commenting about her son. He likes to refer to one girl in class as his “girlfriend,” and he calls one little boy in his class his “boyfriend.” And his mom said, “Well honey, that’s okay for now, but when you get older, that’s going to have to stop.” The homophobia was so subtle, yet so tangible, I cringed. I’ve got a lot of gay and lesbian friends. I’ve got a lot of friends who have traditional marriages and relationships. I’ve got a lot of friends in open marriages and I’ve got friends who live the BDSM lifestyle to the hilt. So that one mom’s remark was like a slap in the face to me.

Then there was the great breastfeeding debate, where the moms all compared how long they managed to breastfeed their kids before they finally gave it up. I didn’t venture to say how long I’d breastfed Cassie, but let’s just say I nursed my eldest longer than all the other moms nursed their kids combined. And I did it while writing the most torrid erotic stories, and I’m doing it now while creating even more torrid art (did you see my lovely picture above? I’m so proud of it!).

Things got even creepier as I listened to the moms talk about the preschool. These are all working moms as opposed to the moms from my previous mommies group, who were all stay-at-home moms. This group of moms has had their kids in preschool and/or daycare almost from day one, so the preschool is a big part of their lives. And they’re very, very serious about it. They all sat around talking about next week’s letter of the day (it’s D, just in case you’re wondering). Each mom discussed how they were prepping their kid with a word for class the next week, so that when the teacher sat down with the kids and asked them to list words that started with “D,” the children would be ready with an answer. This sort of bothered me, because the first week Cassie had to deal with the letter of the day, she couldn’t figure out a word. She just hasn’t made the connection yet between sounds and letters, although she can name most of the letters of the alphabet when she sees them and she can sing the alphabet song. Her teacher, Miss Dorothy, said Cassie was in tears because she couldn’t come up with a “B” word. She finally got some help from the other students and came out with “Barbie.” So I felt a little… I don’t know, threatened, maybe… to see all these other moms talking about “D” words and how carefully they were preparing their kids for next week. It’s like they were already thinking about how Ivy League schools wouldn’t take their kids fifteen years down the line because little Johnny or little Susie couldn’t figure out that “Dog” starts with “D”. It seemed all so competitive.

Of course, I fell for it. When I got home after the party, I told Michael all about the “D” word debate and he and I spent all evening coming up with “D” words for Cassie to use. Being us, the list was rather unusual. Don’t be surprised if I report next week that Cassie chose “disco,” “diphthong,” or “draconian” as her “D” word.

(Then again, she could go the brown-noser route and say “Dorothy,” her teacher’s name.)

What got me most, though, was watching Cassie play with the other kids. She was her usual outgoing, rambunctious self, jumping around, exploring, directing the imaginary play, mixing it up with the boys and their balloon swords and then singing lullabies to the dollies with the girls. She was too girly to be a tom boy, too energetic to be a princess. She was some alien creature, fun and free spirited, who just didn’t realize yet how different she was from the other kids.

I love the person Cass has become. I love that she can wear her Cinderella dress and play soccer at the same time. She’s a bit of a goof like her mom, coming up with crazy songs and rhymes and riddles, and she definitely has a mind of her own. And that scares me because I know where all that leads to. I was never popular in school. I had my friends, and I still have them, but I remember that while growing up people went out of their way to make me miserable because I was different. And that may be why I didn’t really enjoy myself at the birthday party yesterday. I still remember all that, and I’m just waiting to see the reactions from people when they find out how truly different I am. And thus how truly different Cassie is too.

Anyway, I love my painting, which I feel is a true expression of me, and I loathe taking trips into Mundania where I have to listen to other moms coach their kids to be normal and perfect. My kids will not be normal or perfect. It just isn’t possible. They’ve got me for a mom, and we all know normal and perfect just isn’t me.

Mommy As Artist

I took some time this morning to scan in some sketches I’ve done in the past year. I didn’t have a lot to scan in, unfortunately, but there were a few things among the meager pickings I had that I liked enough to post here. Here’s one that reflects what’s really been on my mind lately…

Time Flies

I may have worked out a schedule that I can live with that will let me do the writing, the art, and the computer graphics work all while taking care of two kids, cleaning the house, and finding time to be a real partner to my mate. It’s going to take a lot of discipline to stick to that schedule – it starts at 4:45 AM and keeps going until 10 PM. I’m trying to change that bedtime hour to 9 PM, but that’s going to require a little more cooperation from a certain poop-producing pixie I fondly call Sam. She’s not going down easy in the evenings, although last night she did sleep from 11 PM until 5:30 this morning.

Anyhooters, I made a schedule and I’ve got plans. Now I just have to survive next week, when Michael heads off on a business trip for six days. Keep reading, folks. Things may get very interesting over the next few days.