Monday, December 9, 2019

Studio Open again for Cars Cartooned, Logos Designed and Illustrations undertaken.

We are open for business again, and as far as the customer is concerned, nothing has changed. Even though we have moved from Sydney Australia to Kyoto Japan.

We have the same Website, Email, Bank and PayPal accounts. We still communicate the same way, mostly be Email.

The only real change is our mobile number is not valid, but we have removed that from the website contact info anyway. I do have a land line phone but don't put that on the website any more.

I will need a new SIM card and that will result in a new mobile number, but really, Facebook Messenger, Line and Skype all work as well and that is all still running the same.

We can be contacted at ArtAndTechnology.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Moved to Japan Again...

This Webcomic linked here talks about lots of things including living in Australia and Japan

Well it now needs updating with the December 2019 event of moving from Sydney Australia to Kyoto Japan. This is the 3rd time to pick up and move country.

It is an interesting thing to do, especially as this time we took our cat too!  This requires much more effort than taking babies or small children. 

Still have a month and a half before the last of our things arrive, but most was delivered a month ago. Our new "studio" is mostly up and running. My light table is in the stuff to get here later, but that isn't a show stopper in any way.

Having already lived in Japan for 15 years previously it a different feeling to move back after a long time away.

More like being back with an old friend...

We can be contacted at Art & Technology

Not changing any hosting or email anytime soon, so that all still gives the impression I am in Australia. At the time the was a better choice than a .com in our DNS.

Monday, November 11, 2019

YouTube, Your own website and Blog, Cons, Patreon, Kickstarter or Social Media?


I mean if your a creator, what is most useful to you for you to get your work out there to be found?

We have had our website for 15 years but the Internet has changed a lot in that time, so I wish I knew, but have found plenty of opinions on it, and it is all changing all the time.

The short answer is Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are very poor. They are very poor for discovery and the type of interaction they encourage is useless. The algorithms are against you, and they have also impacted the rest of the internet, website and blogs.  I think mostly by keeping people on the closed Social Media sites, as they are addictive, rather than doing something useful.

Any Social Media platform is just a very fast flowing river, where you throw something into it, and a few may have seen it out the corner of their eye before it rushes past down stream, but is gone before any body actually notices it, let alone decides to have a close look at what ever that was. 

Years ago forums were really useful for learning and getting known in a community. But forums aren't a growing area anymore, and groups on Facebook are no where near as useful as a forum.

I made my own YouTube channel 9 years ago, and I think the results I had years ago are far better than now. Videos back then got 1,000s of views. Anything I make now will only get 1 sometimes.  YouTube changed their algorithms, and continue to do so. My guess is the develops at YouTube have fallen for what appears to be a profitable approach used by Facebook, but in reality most likely isn't at all.

My own website gets far more accesses than anything else I've tried. But everything I do, such as blogs or posts to a forum point back to it.

Website URLs take some time to work their way into Google search if you create a new website. I have now done this twice, and so realize how important the DNS I bought is, and how much effort setting up a site with all the stuff needed to be processed by a search engine is.  I made a mistake at the time to get a instead of a .com but from memory that was the cheaper option at the time, even if it isn't now.

We can be contacted art ArtandTechnology

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Quadraphonic Surround Sound..... again - Dolby Atmos Music?

Dolby Atmos Music looks to be taking another run at the Surround Sound Music format.  Discrete, SQ and QS Quadraphonic came and went decades ago as I wrote previously.

Now this appears to be slightly different from the Dolby Atmos used for Movies.

I haven't been able to workout exactly what that is from the marketing hype I've read. Does it have multiple discrete HiFi Audio channels?  Do not know.

Do know that it only fits on a Blu-Ray movie disc, which indicates that it might.

Will it take off?

Probably not.

I expect it is more about DOLBY trying to get a license fee out of every new music playing device rather than any great benefit to the users who now want to just stream not so high quality sound to their headphones anyway...

Sunday, September 15, 2019

WEBTOONS and their Huge Reader Base.

We did an experiment and put a variation of one of our Webcomics on WEBTOONS.COM

It is called BOTS IN SPACE if you want to search for it.  It took a bit of work to convert it into vertical single panels, 800 x 1135 in my case. Been there a week and put up 4 episodes.

My Dashboard view is like this:

This was an experiment to see if this massive Webcomics site would result in people reading it without me actually promoting it, and seeing if it differed much from my own website hosting.  To see if the fact it was on Webtoons made any difference at all. 

I had read it did.

Found that it didn't...

Now it isn't a teen high school, fantasy or romance thing, which is what popular Japanese Manga and Anime are, and what looks like the bulk of the popular series there are.  So not a typical work for that market, and as I only have 4 episodes there, that may comprise the result too. 

WEBTOONS comics from the front page look very much like Shonen Jump, one of the main Japanese Manga and the place all this hugely popular ANIME came from.  Very much aimed at 'teens. There is also the girls version.  My comic here does not fit that market at all, but think the next things I try must.

But so far being on WEBTOONS.COM didn't mean anything.  Promoting it to people that are interested seems more important than the actual site it is hosted on.  The WEBTOONS Phone App is slick and makes reading even a 1000 pages easy.  That is how I read Sithrah. But I would say Jason Brubaker already had an audience interested in his previous work reMIND anyway, that made it a success on WEBTOONS, independent of the fact they were paying him to do so.

My Historical/Autobiographical work had a lot of interest when I posted it to a small group very interested in the things I developed during my career. They already knew me, and that is why they read it and gave the positive feedback they did.   If I made a version for Webtoons, I expect it too would only have the same 6 views. I had also posted a link to that on a Facebeook comic page that had given some great feedback on a few pages from it, but the group itself was not interested in it at all. After following that group for a while, and seeing many dozens of the members post their version of Batman, Superman or Sexy Girl Superhero it was pretty obvious story and actual Sequential Art isn't upmost in their thoughts.

So getting possible readers to know why your interesting would seem important before anyone will give your comic a try. Is this just the celebrity culture around now or just a case of it isn't what you know but who you know, or rather who knows you in the world of social media?

An interesting Japan Times article:  South Korea's booming 'webtoons' put Japan's print manga on notice

Update: Sep 26 2019. Now a couple of weeks later, and still at 6 followers. Unless you know where to look, the comic is not easy to find now, being lost in all the other new and updated comics. This just enforces our view that the site itself doesn't help your comic with its vast reader base without additional promotion. Webtoons doesn't help you with that at all.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Designing Synthesizers and Electronic Musical Instruments

I did that, how I earned my living, for a bit over 20 years.

Some of the story of that is covered here, with a look at our work at Fairlight Instruments and Roland Japan.

I went to University to study Electrical Engineering. But I learnt most of what I actually used from Electronics and Micro-Computer Magazines ( and there are few of these things around any more) and learning design from everywhere and building things.  I started that learning process 3 years before I got to University.  Don't see how the current web is anywhere near equivalent to that.  At the time I was far more technical than a musician.

All the companies that were doing Synthesizers at the time are either not around now or are dramatically different. Reflects the music of the era as well. Things don't stay the same.

Even Roland Japan almost went out of business around 2011 with the valuation of the company and all its factories worth very little.  If I thought they were doing the right thing I wouldn't have left in 2001, so that did not come as a shock to me at the time.

You can now do with software what used to take much hardware, but that doesn't make it any easier to do, or stay in business.

I then spent over 20 years developing electronics and software in other industries and the reality is most of it is the same. It is engineering work, solving real problems, and time and time again, the skill require for that was completely undervalued in the business in Australia.   

We can be contacted at ArtAndTechnology

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Organic Search Drops Over 10 years

We have had the current website for over 15 years and have had joy and pain with organic search results. This will be a few thoughts on all this from what I can uncover and what seems to be basic trends.

10 years ago Organic Search results meant we did OK doing Freelance illustration just onLine from our website. Customers could find us, and kept us busy enough.  It was all very encouraging that this online world helped guys like me.  We had Google ads and they helped pay our hosting fees. All was good.

Then 9 years ago Google rebooted their database after some design change. That is that BIG dip in the above graph on the left.   We dropped off  the planet and our site was only displayed on the 3rd or so page. We hadn't changed anything and we just have what Google always recommended you do. Content with the keywords and phrases people would search for.  Customer numbers contacting us really dropped.

It proved to me then that I couldn't rely on Google or the Internet to "do the right thing" for people with Illustrator sites like ours, which mostly has samples of our work with text describing it, or articles describing how we do what we do.  Mostly meant we had to that traditional "other job", or "other jobs" as well.

At the time we determined there wasn't anything we were doing, or could do to fix our lack of find-ability.  But after 9 months, it jumped back to close to what it was before. This was good, but meant we didn't always have time to do the jobs customers wanted because of those "other job" commitments we had taken on, and needed for financial stability.

Since that time Google made many random changes that contributed to that download slope, and there is nothing you can do about them, but not be reliant on Google.  One that lasted some time was other sites effectively displayed our images and gallerias via exploiting something in Google Image search. Watermarking all our images with our URL helped a little, but not being able to click the image and go to our site had a surprising large impact at the time.

About this time, Facebook become popular, and my theory (backed up with research from others findings I must add) is that many people stopped using Google search to do something useful and just filled in time watching their Facebook time line instead, and posted photos of their lunch to it.

Many people now pretty much just use Facebook, and don't have any other email or messaging. Facebook is also a great time waster. That infinitely scrolling page is designed to keep you looking for something interesting even when there isn't anything and exploits the "fear of missing out".   Stopping myself from doing that is really hard to do, as it is designed to be addictive.

At the same time, Google decided to prefer sites local to the searching customers location. So being in Australia really hurts us in that, even if the way we work means our location is irrelevant.  We do everything with email.  In reality we have only ever had customers from America, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

We went to Facebook too, but it didn't take long for Facebook to lock out the rest of the Internet, and stop showing your posts to your followers.  Facebook only shows something you post to 1% of your followers  (without paying to BOOST it) , and they may not see it anyway in the scrolling time line anyway. Indications are that any link to an outside website is shown to even less.

Even the way things are now, our website has been far better at getting customers than ANYTHING on Facebook or Twitter we have ever tried.   I just don't believe anything I hear now about Social Media benefits. It is good for celebrities, but not me.  Have heard that an artist with 6,000 followers on Twitter had only 1 customer from Twitter.  Have equally found Facebook Likes to be worthless.
Our YouTube channel has some 170+ subscribers, but have only every had spam comments, so those things aren't working the way you would expect either.

I can be found easily on Google with normal search for "car caricature logo"  or something like that and probably at the top of the first page at the moment in 2019. BUT, You will see that current levels of site visits are about what they were during the big drop 9 years ago.  And this isn't just me, but a general trend for websites like ours from everything I have found.

But if I look at my sites "how did they find us data"  in Analytics, it comes out like this:

56% was Organic Search and 25% was Social Media for this interval. Not sure how that fits into everything else.

I have seen that YouTubers have found that Google changing the recommending algorithm has punished longer detailed content and favours "click bait" published often.  They are also doing the same as Facebook, such that a subscription to a channel does not mean you will actually be informed of new uploads. I assume these same attitudes  have been implemented in standard search and recommendation in the results and so punishes long lived , consistent but only slowly updated content websites, such as our art samples pages.  Makes the web a more trivial place.

It has meant that Google Adverts aren't worth the effort and website clutter, and I removed most of them, and replaced them with  links to my own eBook, T-Shirts and Mugs.  Seen others also say they have done this too, years after I did it.

I get contacted by SEO companies wanting to redesign my website (that I code myself ) 5 times a week, so it isn't that I cannot be found. People just aren't searching, they don't like my Art style, or they find some one else local to them instead, rather than me.

This all just reflects a change in the use of the Internet, and it will only get worse if Internet Neutrality is lost.  Not relying on just the Internet seems to be the safest thing to keep those customers coming and coming back.

Blogs like this also get far few accesses these days.  So when will Google pull the plug on Blogger I wonder?   My analytics show these posts are mainly accessed by Internet Bots and not people anyway. Post a link on Twitter and 9 bots access it in 800 milliseconds!

Love to hear your thoughts on this.  I can be contacted at ArtAndTechnology

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Rough Sketch To Vector Illustration - Dirt Modified Poster

We deliver vector files such as PDFs for printing posters or stickers which are output from the computer, but the work doesn't start out that way.  It starts on paper with pencil lines. 
We have a Scanner/Printer that we used for getting these images into the computer to work from and to generate working test prints and to use as a sketch enlarger.

Or approach is to produce several small rough sketches that the customer can comment on to get the look and view they will be happy with. The customer is very much involved with the process and decision making.

We then enlarge that to A4 size, as that is what our scanner works with. We use a light table then to draw a more fined sketch with cleaner details. Then again the customer has their say and changes are made if required.

We then convert the pencil lines to a blue color, so when we start laying down the actual vector lines, we don't confuse ourselves.  Laying down the vector lines and objects is a completely manual process. 

We correct and straighten things up as we go.  Add color fills and all that and build up many layers of lines and objects.  Lower layers are at the back, higher in front.

Something like 35 layers in the case of this illustration.  We work as fast as we can, but this still takes hours.

And just in case your interested, it is the same process if not cartooned and more realistic.

We can be contacted at ArtandTechnology  

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Our Road to Being a Comic Creator .. and the Future.

Our road to being a Comic Creator (Mangaka)  has been long and on going for over 30 years. It is just one of the things we have spent our time on though. The usual format has been the single panel, such as this one from 2004.

Our longer format "Sequential Art"  has so far involved creating 5 different Webcomics since 2014. Unlike all other Webcomics, these have not been done for advertisement driven income, but as a method of self publishing and learning the craft.  I should mention that none of these are superhero comics, so not American mainstream works.  Have had some interesting email discussions with people I have "met" through these and this is some notes from those, looking at the approach I have taken to them.

The comics have been:

Heavy Metal Garage - A car related strip with 50 so far.
Terraform  16 page SF color work.
Terraform - Earlier In the Steroid Belt... 5 page color
Terraform - The Sales Call 7 page black only manga style.
This is Where the Smoke Comes Out - 36 page Autobiographical/History of the last 60 years.

All can be accessed from our ArtandTechnology website.  All free.

They have all involve different ways of story telling, just to see how they go.

Heavy Metal Garage was done like a daily newspaper strip and is inspired by Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller.  It uses his format in fact. I am a fan. Apart from the car theme and style that changed a bit over the 50 strip run, each is an individual standalone thing. A single panel with a Narrative Caption, maybe a speech balloon and a single illustration.

This had scratchy rough pen work, that become less scratchy as it went on. Note that Miller's comic is always scratchy pen work.
Site logs show me these strips have been read some 300 times. Promotion the issue? You tell me.

Terraform came about after being inspired after reading all of  the French Valerian and Laureline.  This combines the authors take on politics with SF and was a real revelation to me, in the same way  reading Ghost In The Shell was.  This story is more like a future documentary, or the way Arthur C. Clarke, wrote.  Involves Climate Change too but more about a good use of Data mining and surveillance technology.
In the mid 1990s I was involved with Desktop Sc-Fi Production using models, puppets and animation and this work takes all that into a simpler comic format that I can actually do in a reasonable amount of time.

Terraform - Earlier In the Asteroid Belt.  A character piece with a robot having an existential crisis. This is more the way Issac Asimov wrote. It uses my robot puppet from the 1990s, with backgrounds drawn in Clip Studio Paint.  This is a really fast to do format and I think the way it came out is great. Only let down by my writing, but I have seen far more bad TV with worse endings!

Terraform - The Sales Call.  This has the style I would like to continue with. Using black only and manga tone is a way to do longer stories by a single person. This was done in Clip Studio Paint.  What this story is missing here though, is the introduction of the characters, especially Miki.  Without some feeling for who the characters are, it doesn't make much sense.   ALEC is introduced in the main Terraform story, but that too needs more depth.  This story  is following one of the many SHONEN MANGA formats that allow a story and characters to go on for a very long time. They don't have a 3 act play structure. I would also like it to be a bit educational, but we will see.

This is Where the Smoke Comes Out  - A Collection Of Memories  uses the format from Shigeru Mizuki's SHOWA, A History Of Japan.  That work is as much autobiographical as it is historical and I found the autobiographical sections the most interesting with the history sections providing a time frame of reference for the reader.  Mizuki had converted photographs to line drawings for the manga production process, but I have mostly used back and white photos. Early feedback I received on some draft pages said that gave a validity to the work that comic images wouldn't.

Now this is only 37 pages long, and not the 250 pages a proper graphic autobiography would need to be, so it is very brief.  It also only took about 2 weeks to do so it is more of a framework for a much larger work. It does cover one aspect of our story though so it is complete in that regard.  You will note each page is complete with a title, as if it was to be published 1 page at a time.  So far this last work has been the most positively received in that I have actually received comments about it, but that I have lived and worked in Australia and Japan in the Electronic Musical Instrument production Industry gives it an interesting hook for people already interested in that field in the first place.

That seems to be the key. Unless the possible readers know you, and what makes you interesting, no matter how regularly you update a webcomic or put a link to it somewhere, the readership will not grow. Readers need to know you or know enough about you before they will bother to read or listen to your work.  The "I'm that Australian Sampler designer guy that lived in Japan a long time now making jokes doing comics and metal music" comes first.

Some quotes on this last have been:
I really like this
I really enjoyed your short comic
love your comic
This is really interesting
Fascinating stuff and great fun to read! 
Thoroughly enjoyed it
This is fascinating !!!
Great read, thanks for sharing!
It's an incredible insight as to how technology develops

The advantage of doing webcomics, compared to any other type of "vanity publishing" is I have complete control and can monitor promotion vs accesses, and make changes at any time. They have been built around a PHP system, that by default, will display the latest comic.

You might ask " Why are you doing this art stuff and not involved in the Australian Technology Start-Up industry where your experience should be valuable?"   The answer to that is explained in "The Dunning Kruger" principle and that Australia has become a very conservative and a technological backwater, and many of those in it just want investors money, don't consider experience, or actually delivering anything relevant, ... and just like the cartoon at the top of the page.

( update Nov 2019: And months after I wrote that, this article  Australia is rich, dumb and getting dumber  quoting a Harvard University report on Economic Complexity, placed Australia #93 in the world, behind Uganda.  Japan #1, USA #12. This explains a lot... 

"Bangladesh, Cuba, Iran, Mali and Turkmenistan share an unexpected connection to Australia, and it isn't membership of a tourist destination hot list. All are among the economies that are so lacking in complexity, and have such limited natural opportunities to develop new products, that Harvard University recommends they adopt industrial policy straight out of the post-colonial developing world: the "strategic bets" approach."

So now what?  

The autobiography/ history was done as an experiment and is very brief. There are  many stories I could add to it.  Seems to have had some 30 people read most of it in the 2 weeks since I posted it. If that had been hundreds of times more, then spending more time on it could be justified, but not at the moment. It has scratched the creative itch I had.

Pretty sure most of the people that would be interested in these works will never search for or stumble across them. When I stumble across something I find interesting it is usually years old, and the author has given up and moved onto something else.  

Promotion would help, but always problematic for us if it involves more than our website and SEO keywords. Google has manipulated results returned from searches over the years that can completely kill organic results for periods of time that you have no control over. The same has been true of  YouTube, where they changed the definitions of what views were over a number of years and the resulting drop  was obviously algorithmic.  Our YouTube channel had thousands of views but after their changes, the newest videos had just 10s or single digits. YouTube now isn't worth our effort without a change in what we do. Our videos have all been 2~4 minute original instrumental music  with still images, and the current algorithm seems to punish that type of work, preferring 30 minute talking head vbloggers.  And this wonderful Veritasium video explains their change to clickbate titles and long view times! And the curve he has duplicates the obviously algorithmic one I have seen of my own here:

In the last 5~10 years we expect that many now only ever use Facebook for their internet use, and Facebook has over that time built walls between itself and the outside world while at the same time only showing a post to tiny percentage of the people that liked your page, without paying to BOOST the post. We have had an Art and Technology Facebook page for many years, and a post to that is only shown to such a tiny fraction of those that follow the page that always seems like a waste of effort.  The Oatmeal has a cartoon on that called "Reaching people on the Internet".

There are far too many  trolls and self appointed fandom gate keepers in the social media worlds of comics and manga for that to be a viable avenue for promotion for us. Twitter and Reddit are particularly bad, but really they are all the same.  I found it reassuring going thru the brilliant comic artist Jason Brubaker's blog that he as received that treatment as well.  Read and buy his books! Wonderful! 

It is also true that sitting "waiting for the phone to ring" doesn't work either...  

Blogs like this one have also been less popular since 2014. Expect this is the impact of Facebook, but haven't read anything proof of this. With less people actually using a search engine to find things, the chance of anyone finding our work is much reduced. 

UPDATE: SEP 4 2019. Have watched a few more YouTube videos from those in the Webcomic space, that explains a little more to me about the change in Website/Blog use in the last 5 years or so. A major Webcomic advertisement site closed down a few years ago due to the dramatically reduced activity in the private blog/website space. One guy that did have a blog and a website moved to YouTube, Patreon and Webtoons. The feeling is having your own site like xkcd or Dilbert   is something that doesn't work any more for new publishers. Another suggested Patreon and selling eBooks is the way  in the world of Netflix binge watching. In either case, the Internet is a different place now, so people are less likely to search and find works like I have on my site.. they are just watching their Twitter or Facebook streams and that is the extent of their active discovery of material... result is the same, but I now have some evidence as to why. The Vbloggers are all padding their videos though to get their watched times up, probably to win against the YouTube algorithm and be able to get that YouTube advertising right.. Brad Guigar has 3 minutes of info dripped out over at least 30 minutes. 

And I think this is a really well thought out from Jason Brubaker.  It also is more general then just Webcomic creators, but equally applies to Illustrators with traditional websites and blogs.

Am planning to continue with the Terraform - The Sales Call. style of work and have all the back stories in a art diary.  It all comes down to priorities....  paid commissions get priority, which are mostly vector illustrations for manuals, signs, stickers and t-shirts.

UPDATE: FEB 4 2020.  We picked up and moved country again 2 months ago. So I am back in Japan again. This time in Kyoto Japan.  Spent the last 2 months moving and unpacking, and doing illustration commissions as if nothing has changed.
It is all extra material to feedback into a comic in the future.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Is Hi-Fi still a thing in 2019? No it isn't.

Over the last year I sold a lot of stuff that took up way too much space. I really didn't use it any more anyway.

Some of that was 2 Technics turntables, a SL-23 and D2, a Nakamichi 482Z 3 head cassette deck, near 150 vinyl albums and several sets of speakers.  Initially tried to sell it but there were no takers.

Had to pretty much give stuff away to get any interest at all. Did give away some stuff.

People will use their phone and listen on earbuds, and sometimes noise cancelling earphones on the bus.  The quality of that is actually pretty good, better than what was Hi-Fi 40 years ago, as long as your not actually on a bus.

So Hi-Fi really isn't a thing any more. Hi-Fi seems to mostly be a status thing in the way B&O always was.

Things like SONO aren't HiFi but having sound all over the house has more status, and really practical value,  than good sound.  Something about busy lives, and there is all that Streaming Netflix or FetchTV you can watch now that didn't exist when HiFi was big in the 1970s.

I never play a CD anymore, even though I buy them. I now use dBpoweramp and rip them to 320bps mp3. Play everything in the office from the computer. I use winamp to play them in the Office/Studio or I reduce them again to 144bps for use in the car or put on the phone. More likely than not I play any music at a really low level while I'm working on some illustration using small desktop speakers. 
I DO have a super HiFi  X1 audio player, but I use this mostly on international flights teamed with SONY noise cancelling airbuds.  Space and weight is always a problem with carry on.

That the vinyl section is now almost as big as the CD area in the few music stores doesn't make sense to me, but I'm also not one to use Spotify, so I am definitely not your current "marketed" music fan. I think the attraction of 12" vinyl albums is the artifact itself and has nothing to do with sound quality, in a market where 75% of people are only using Spotify for their music.

Times have changed...

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Digital Comic Book File Publishing Formats

We have now done some 36 pages in a comic autobiography This is Where The Smoke Comes out  and that is published online at that url on our website using a php based comic reader.

Our previous SF work is also available, Terraform

The only advantage of the server php approach is that I can track if anybody bothers to look at them. The downside is it is server side programming, not something most can do, and your not getting any money for it. As the web is filled by bots, most accesses are not actually people, and this can be checked in the site logs for a reality check.

The php comic reader displays the page .jpg file and tracks what pages your on, and allows web button randomly or backward and forward access. My version works on mobile devices as well as desktops and laptops.   You can have it if you ask.

I have also made .cbr (Comic Book Reader) and .mobi (Kindle/ComiXology) versions at various times and they work well too. Use CBR for most checking of the content as it is so fast and easy.

The .cbr file is just the sequentially numbered .jpg files zipped together, then renamed. Easy and efficient.  There are lots of free CBR readers available, but I use YACReader on windows and PerfectView on Android.  Works well to show each page with an easy interface. As long as the text is large enough, it works well on a phone screen. The app also starts up fast, which is much appreciated. Doesn't have any DRM to control copying for a commercial work though.

Our first book, Hot CAR-toons, Dudes, Dudettes & Stuff At the Heavy Metal Garage  was for the Kindle and I used the Sigil editor to create it. It was very much like hand coding a website.  But it does allow you to sell it, or try too, on Has that DRM stuff too.

The Kindle Comix Creator is a much simpler tool that builds a comic for Kindle or ComiXology  and automatically adds the panel zoom feature that makes reading a comic easier on your phone if you turn it on. It outputs the .mobi and all you really have to do is import your numbered pages and it does the rest, with options to edit if required.

I don't know what it takes to have a book on ComiXology, or if it is possible for an independent publisher to do or not. My experience with Amazon is it is simple, but the reach they have doesn't necessarily help with your niche title, and their free promotion stuff isn't a good idea in practice.

On a phone, startup of the Kindle Reader is kind of slow, but it really depends how often your using that app anyway.

I could put the .cbr and .mobi versions of my last works on line as well but there doesn't seem any point. But if you want it I will give it to you.

WEBTOON is a Korean server base format that you can upload your work too, that looks interesting if you make work for this layout.  It displays a fixed size  panel to the reader one at a time.  Most comic and manga don't have fixed size panels, so having both styles requires work.  Publishing requires making an account and uploading the files.  I have read a few comics on it and seen the creator videos they have.  Not planning on putting anything on it at the moment though.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Zen and the Art Of Random History Comic - Inspired by Mizuki's SHOWA

Thinking about another attempt at a comic, and this was the first step in scratching that itch. No super heroes. Inspired by Mizuki's SHOWA Manga which mixed recent Japanese history with his own activity of the time. I found it really interesting.. The alternative was to start a CARtoons car related comic, but I haven't found any of those stories as interesting as Miyaks work, and some bits about music production stuff and synths is what I spent much of my career working in. So this randomly starts in 1984 in Sydney.... but the first CD player went on sale in Japan in 1982 which introduced the world to 16 bit sound. That the Series III had 16 bit sound is significant. The Mac hit this year too, but it would take a bit to be musically significant. Was playing around with reference images, a grid of up to 3 x 4 panels and a long text I was writing, and put this page together to see the size of the font vs content and panels.... very little of the text I wrote fitted on this page. Actually haven't drawn anything here, but it is my intent to actually draw it all. A rapid prototyping approach to use a tech term for a dummy page. A lot of Mizuki's Showa has panels that are processed photos and that does work quite well. Clip Studio Paint has tools to do that too. He also has lots of simple cartoon characters that may be on such processed photos. That all helps to get something finished in a reasonable amount of time. This is more NON SEQUITUR than I was planning, but the font size and panel size, when using this NARRATIVE CAPTION style means I need to use less panels a page to do that... the reason I did this to see how it looked. The Narration takes up too much of each panel and that is way too much. The font is too small too to be printed at A5 for me.
After doing 5 pages in this style and showing it to a few people, the reaction I've received is that this is really interesting the way it is. The photos add proof or validity that would be taken away by line art of this true story. That is encouraging. I seem to have stumbled onto something interesting. It is a bit terse, but that would be elevated with more panels on each mentioned topic, but that might also change the energy it has.

Update: Jul 21 2019
Have made CBR and KindleComic versions, so have that process down.  Also changed the name. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" was big when I read it and a book on philosophy, which isn't quite what this is, so a name based on a memory makes more sense. 

To see if I can actually generate any interest, or comment at all, I have made the first 20 pages a free webcomic and put it on our website at this link,  This Is Where The Smoke Comes Out - A Collection Of Memories

Have a look, and leave a comment. 

This is the same as everything else. Finding those interested in it is very hard, as there are 6 billion other things screaming for attention, so no one will notice. "The Long Tail" ended up being not true either.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Car Cartoons and Illustrations

We do a lot of business related vector logo work, but we also do straight cartooning , such as these samples above.

All starts with pencil on paper, but ends up in the computer and digitally colored. I think this gives the best results, but as we blogged before, we do the occasional water color work too.

Have been posting recently to some car truck bike cartooning Facebook groups. Interesting, but everything on Facebook scrolls away never to be accessible again in a few days time.  It isn't like a permanent gallery, so you still need to go to someones website to see their collection of work.

See ours, and contact us at ArtAndTechnology

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Good Taste Just Never Goes Out Of Fashion... or Vectors

Says the pink fox tailed fat guy....

This is a vector design. Starts as a pencil sketch, but is converted into a series of mathematical lines, curves and objects, some with cut outs in them and completed with a solid color or a mathematical graduation between 2 colors.

Doing this makes it size independent. No mater how small or large you print the file, the lines and colors are "perfect". Never get any jaggies or pixelization you would if you digitally painted it at whatever resolution instead.

The thing sign makers and printers love. Of course of it was done in color at 300dpi, that is good enough for a glossy magazine, and we do that too.

We can be found at Art & Technology.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Artists Art and The Artist - A recent Twitter Artist Event.

The Twitter Art community has a few yearly Art promotions.  One is for Artists to post a picture of themselves surrounded by eight of their works.  Such as the above.

An interesting aspect of this is that many artworks look a lot like the artists. Many artists that do character art appear to draw themselves in most of what they do.  Not the case for me, but as I mostly do mechanical/ automotive related commissioned work that wouldn't happen anyway.

Thing is I found it hard to select just 8 artworks. I do caricatured, cartooned, but also realistic depictions AND logos.  The above was the comprised selection I came up with a few months ago.

At another time I would have a different selection.

To see the range , visit our website,  where the range is on display... where you will also find links to our store, videos and music.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The New 2019 and a Realization

Just noticed 12 months ago the post here was on comic printing. Getting those double sided pages in the right order.  Others involved music production and my first try at translating manga.

So if I look back at the year I didn't talk much about the ongoing illustration work I do.  Mostly Automotive related.  As a lot of that is caricatured, it does relate to much of the comic related posts. A picture tells a story, even if a comic is much more about the story. But as I put the new Art samples up on our website, I rarely mention them here.

The translation thing is the topic that stands out as being  very different, as far as topics go on this Blog, but has been a very significant aspect of my life for 35 years or so.  Even if making those 20 or so pages of the manga in English looked like they came out of the blue.

My wife and kids are native Japanese speakers.  So I have been involved with a lot of English to Japanese and Japanese to English translations, without being a "translator" for many decades.

There are a lot of expressions in English that if directly translated don't mean anything. A lot of Slang is the same. And the reverse is true of Japanese.  So a lot is not what it says, but what it means.

I am now following a few different Japanese to English Translators on Twitter, people that do that for a living, and have found them to say what I was thinking all along.  Fluency in Japanese and being a great Translator into English are "almost" not related to each other.  The Translator is the one doing the writing in the new language, and must be a good writer in that language. They also must be an expert in the field the text is in.

So I Realized I was on the right track all along....