Another Pencase update

So the latest version is looking very clean – I made some serious print setting modifications which make it a little more durable. It’s not bulletproof and it was never really meant to be – but I am confident that with the right materials, the current version will suit people well if they fit a certain customer profile.

And that’s the big rub – one of the things I gleaned from a very small (and thus not dependable) customer sample was that people who got the first version were – uh – on a continuum of clumsiness.

I am REALLY trying to be politically correct about that because everyone who tried out the first version was without a doubt SUPER. But there was an obvious continuum on which they fell when it came to the amount of use and wear they put on the pencase. It ranged from carrying it carefully in some other case, protected from most of the elements to being wielded full bore while riding a Harley (really not kidding about that last one).

Now, there is no way ANYTHING I print using PLA (Polylactic Acid Thermoplastic for printing) will survive a full speed crash off of a Harley on the freeway. I didn’t create it for that. But I am pretty sure if I printed one of these in the current range of Nylons from some of the higher end service bureaus, I would get seriously close to that survivability.

Anyway, I had put this project on hold for a LONG time because of some other interesting and time dependent projects. And the Fuse 1, Formlab’s new SLS standalone solution is nearing market release. Now there is a longshot at being able to afford that full system – which when figured might clear 20K – but it is an ideal way to actually, personally, and repeatedly manufacture the Pencase for real on my own.

If there was enough of a market for them, I would love to go that route. But then again, an SLS Machine of my own? Avoiding the desire, distraction and capability of creating things in that format would be like Ulysses resisting the Sirens. As the meme goes, I would MAKE ALL THE THINGS.

So the next step on this round of the Pencase isn’t really clear.

Gawk or GTFO

I hate to use such a loaded acronym but to be honest – it is just a weird observations to make while sketching this weekend. The odd docent or two at a certain facility (if you know me, you already know which one I am talking about) can be just this side of hostile when I spend time in a museum.

I get it – I know full well the value of the stuff on the walls – probably in ways more meaningful as an artist than to many who walk around aimlessly gawping at the walls.

But I’m ranting. Places like museums have become entertainment complexes and profit centers as well as serving legitimate educational goals. And one of the sweet spots they hit psychologically is that of a “luxury good.”

In one of my favorite movies, “The Art of the Steal” forces aligned to acquire the famous Barnes collection of artwork. The wishes of the man who amassed these works was very different from the goals of the political forces that eventually wrested control of them. And I admit, I am deeply conflicted sometimes about the nature and purpose of many museums these days.

But most of the time, I am incredibly grateful that I get to visit these works of art that I only used to read about. Nearly every time I visit the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, I visit the mausoleum, pay my respects and say than you.

New day, New Haircut

There are a few things that challenge sculptors moreso than anatomy, clothing, details.

Hair. It’s just one of those things you can’t actually represent as a solid object without changing it dramatically just so it can be represented in the medium you’ve chosen.

A few people can rock this haircut pretty solidly – gone are the bullets and some of the locks. Still working on details and elements, and soon – there will be a full final pose. And that in turn will require more sculpting.

But that’s another post.

Check out Emma in Stained on Comixology.

Out of character

A base is something people too often skimp on. A dais, a disk, a square, it’s one way to save money when manufacturing figures but I don’t really like putting a character into – well – nothing. The base should say something about the character standing on it if you have time to do it properly.

I got this one a little wrong – and in light of the recent events, I thought it should change. I asked he creator, David Baron, about it and since the character is more into darts and stun guns than bullets and bombs, some details had to change. So I’m taking out the and and bullet holes of the base and going more tech/urban details.

But the cracked concrete, still kinda cool. What’s a modern dystopia without some broken concrete, right? Emma doesn’t do bullets.

Be sure to check out David Baron’s Stained out there on the internet.

The Super Group

Misleading title – polygroups, if you don’t know Zbrush – is just a way to help organize sections of your model. Combined with the polyframe viewing mode, sometimes you get interesting renders.

In this case, the model looks much more complicated than it really is. What’s more interesting is how easily the model is to manage at this point because of the way it’s organized now.

Panels of cloth, separate details, smaller parts and larger section all get a group. After this, I can get started on the base for the print.

Be sure to look for “Stained” by David Baron in your LCS, or on Comixology.

Project Pile up

So everyone experiences a few project pile ups, and making time for all of them usually means you have to start saying no, juggling, dancing around holidays, etc.

I made a commitment to a few things that took too long to finish which made things look like a bad day on the interstate. But visualizing my time and commitments using a calendar app of some kind makes things looks less intimidating.

I like visualizing data in certain ways, and time is one of those things that looks more intimidating when viewed WITHOUT tools of some kind. Producers, project leads, people of the accounting persuasion all use tools like these to manage large amounts of other people’s time. And it can get overwhelming when something has a lot of moving parts.

But a schedule – a good one, shouldn’t looks like it’s contents – it’s the global view of time and work being done.

I am reading a new book by Jordan Ellenberg which cautions against the linearity of certain problems – how some things appear to be lines when charted and sometimes they are actually curves. The time spent on certain tasks has some of those dimensions – tasks can take more or less time in your schedule, making them shrink or expand in weird ways.

Your plans can change, holidays or emergencies pop up – it can end up making your neat little schedule look like a Sig Alert on a Monday morning. When charted in actual time versus tasks, the chart starts to look pretty noisy.

But tracking things according to much simpler data – whether or not a task is done versus not done – that helps make tracking linear – at least when using an app.

Anyway, I am still reading it and can already safely recommend it.

My top NEIN

I like Instagram, but in terms of my top 9, I think I’d rather not even mention them let alone post them. I didn’t feel like I produced a lot of work that was … I don’t even want to label it. I might invent a new adjective or two that wraps up the feeling. But, oh well, “all the cool kids are doing it.”

Am I disappointed? Somewhat. If I am to be as rigorous as the data driven millennial lifestyle obsessed masses I would have to conclude from my best 9 that I should abandon comics and comic making entirely.

When people keep saying “take my Money” I tend to think they don’t have any to take. But I manage to sell my comics rather easily at shows I do – I’m just getting better at being a good salesman. People are still completely baffled by what they should pay for 3d printed objects or 3d in general.

The psychological effect of valuing your own work more than someone else – you’ve heard of that experiment, right? If you made a widget, you’d value it more than the person in a position to pay for it, typically.

Salespeople disconnected from the creation of a widget have an easier time with this phenomena – they know the value of a thing comes from what the market will support. And I’m still trying to find that part.

Armed and armed

Weapons. I know artists who have made their ENTIRE careers and reputations on the way they design and approach CGI weapons. I got around to adding more of Emma’s weapons – side note on the side arm – it might be a separate piece entirely when 3d printed so users can take it out.

I could fuse the hand weapon into the print, but I always like figurines where discreet parts are made separately – makes it tougher to manufacture and mass produce, but adds a touch of scale and realism.

Eventually, any weapon I make will be fitted to her exact proportions – I think I’ve worked in a few places where a character was modeled by one artist, the weapons by another and when the time came to “Arm” the character, there were issues in scale, fit, and proportion. To be honest, until you take the weapon and put it in your character’s hands, you won’t really know how thing’s will look or work.

Be sure to check out Emma in David Baron’s “Stained” on Comixology.

Or check him out on Twitter and Instagram @MyZombies.

Gray days, grayscale

So Emma is now feeling gray – just going back to simple materials as details begin to take shape.

One of the things I have always been particular about are shoes. I think I see a lot of character models that kind of ignore them – they are after all somewhat tedious to model. Laces in particular are a study in contradictions – they repeat but are unique at a very granular level.

Laces across a shoe have to follow some rules in the way they repeat (if you have ever been in the military you know what I mean) and lace up. But when you look a them very closely, they have a unique shape as they follow the contours of the shoe’s leather and form.

Picky, picky. Haha!

Be sure to check out Stained on Comixology!

Plans within Plans

Other than wanting to quote Dune … just kidding. November and December are always reflective times, planning stuff and sometimes more importantly – abandoning stuff.

This has been a tough couple of years as an indie comics self publisher.  The market, if there ever was one, feels smaller for work like mine. Other friends of mine have been feeling the pinch as well.

We used to do all the local shows, and sometimes travel to nearby states for others. Most of us are in our 40s now and feel that most of those shows simply don’t need our ilk as much as they did when they started out.

If we haven’t already chosen not to do certain shows, they have certainly not noticed as it’s often said ” someone always wants YOUR spot.” If you leave it for a second, you lose it.

So yeah, I’m on more waiting lists now. But hey, I’ve been this patient. Every once in a while I walk past a table in artist alley and can see the same thousand yard stares on some people and you can often hear it in their voices and I say to myself, “that kid ain’t gonna make it without a serious attitude change.”

I have no evidence for it, but it’s a gut feeling. Sometimes, you push people away from your table with that look of sad desperation that says “I just paid hundreds maybe thousands of dollars this year to come to this convention and be ignored by thousands of people.”

And some kid, having barely published one book, is proclaiming that the world is so unfair. My reptilian tears have barely dried.


Independent comics are supposed to be tough. If it was easy money, there would be a lot more crooks, scum and douche-y middlemen scouring the market and plying indie comics to the rafters.

I have been reading a lot of Michael Lewis books lately but one aspect of “The Big Short” really sticks with me. That in order to spot any sort of financial bubble, you really only need to look at a few things and one of them is the amount of criminal activity associated with the sector accompanying that market.

I don’t imagine many independent comics completely rip off, fake, or otherwise otherwise graft their way to success. There just isn’t any money in it UNTIL you do things right.

That’s weirdly comforting.

So planning for the next year, I surf for deals on software I want to upgrade or try, ditch projects or finish them to a degree I can be comfortable with, and try to imagine what my fricking parachute color is. But I hate that metaphor.

I think it’s better to figure out what color your WINGS are. I don’t want to jump out of perfectly good airplanes, I want to be the airplane. But enough metaphor butchering.

SO I got my approval on being an Amazon influencer – I kind of don’t know what that’s going to entail other than me recommending things. Before I get accused of shilling, which it indeed is, I don’t plan on recommending anything I wouldn’t get myself – or that I don’t already own or have used. I simply don’t have the reputation to get paid for a recommendation like some less scrupulous social media butterflies.

I settled on finally digging into Substance Painter, getting a new graphics card and CPU, a bit more memory, and even – for the first time – raising funds to hire a colorist and maybe even a letterer for my books.

Don’t everyone jump up at once.

Hope to see some of you at shows next year (if I get off some of those waiting lists).