Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Don Nichols, Trevor Harris and the CAN-AM AVS Shadow - A Comic

 A 24 page comic on amazing CAN-AM Cars and Team from 1969. One of the several manga like webcomics I've done in the last few years. The later ones using a lot of Narrative Captions.

I changed the style after the first 7 pages. Early the cars are caricatured, but after than I went for a more realistic but INITIAL-D manga action hand drawn look to them. I still keep our main characters cartoony.

It is all based on facts, but I didn't check all the facts as I was doing it.  Doesn't stop it from being an amazing story.

Chapter 2

I change style a bit here, going for a Manga, Initial -D action look to the cars, and not as cartoony. Pen on ink cars and backgrounds. Even if the speaking characters are still vector cartoony. I  like this style for various reasons. 

And it continues. We have the whole web comic on out site THE SHDOW Don Nichols

Monday, November 16, 2020

Miyazaki Hayao Inspired Watercolor Sketching - Don Nichols CAN-AM and F1 UOP SHADOW Race Team


Hayao Miyazaki published boat, plane , tank and other machine watercolor  works in Model Graphix over the years. 

They have been collected into books, such as these:

They are rough pencil sketches with hand written text that has been watercolor colored. They generally describe the development, the structure or some historic detail of the machines and use. They are cartooned and surrounded with cartoon characters and comics.  

They are quite rough in finish. They aren't polished illustrations or comics. I very much like that look and have done something similar with dry markers in the past.

Miyazaki has gone into the details of how he does his illustrations and storyboards. Holbein watercolors, a 2B pencil, a brush and the way he sets out his palette and approach to colors.

Recently I bought some new pens and watercolors and thought I would try something similar again. I have seen may people copy Miyazaki's style, or do Ghibli Studio like Japanese scenes. That isn't what I want to do though. I much appreciate the rough pencil lines and rough watercolor work as it is interesting and looks like it doesn't take much time to do.

Most of the commissions I do are for precise computer based vector illustrations. Making something "sloppy or rough" is actually quite hard to do and takes even longer. 

So as a break from that work I have done a little page here on Don Nichols and some of the Cars he produced for the 1970s CAN-AM and Formula 1 for his UOP  SHADOW race Team. He was involved with some real innovation, even if his team didn't win at first.  

He was also fluent in Japanese and was involved in spy stuff in US-Japan for years before he became a businessman, importing tires into Japan.

It was done on WATSON F4 300g/m sqr watercolor paper. Used Zebra Sign Brush pen and COPIC MULTILINERS. These are pretty rough caricatures of the cars and Don himself. This is the version with the hand written text on the illustration, the way Miyazaki does it. 
I didn't use 2B pencil as I tend to smudge that and I prefer the darker lines ink gives you. 

It has the roughness of the Miyazaki stuff, but it doesn't look like his work at all. It looks like mine, even if I was inspired by him.

We can be contacted via our Art & Technology website.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Helios Chronicles: Revisited - Desktop SF Production as Manga

Decades ago , with the early Desktop Video and Animation tools I wrote a fair few magazine articles on the use of the tools, and the making of the props and puppets for THE HELIOS CHRONICLES.  Published in the UK's SF&FM and Australia's SFM magazines.

Models and stop frame animation all in the time when 320x240 pixels was as big a frame as we could practically have, then could only let anyone see the result by sending an optical disc. This was before zip or DVD drives even. Adobe Premier 2.0 and 3.0 had all the features for doing stop frame animation (onion skinning) and moving and warping images and rendering them in a fast to use interface. 

Early Photoshop also had a film strip format that helped in rotoscoping.

Was also in a Japanese TV show called Super Modeller in a Chapter called "Make The Fake" in 1995. 
Issue N.317 of Hobby Japan has that show documented.

These days I'm more interested in illustration, making comics and cartooning as being a more practical "one man band" approach to achieving the same story telling. Or maybe just make a point, or tell a joke.

So the above single page joke is part of what that could be .

Have been doing vector illustrations for the last 18 years or so and multi-panel comics for the last 4 or so.  It turned out the vector tools are how you do the balloons, panels and text of comics, so those skills kind of merge to do this stuff .

What the layout looks like in outline mode.

The following is an image of some of the props we still have from the 1995 project. The space is black felt over 1m square I airbrush painted . It does need ironing. The planet is a case from a gumball toy machine brush painted with Liquitex Acrylics.

We have other miniatures and props as well. Puppets, sets and furniture as well. 

Sets and props for establishing shots and the like:

It gives a different look to comics and allows the different types of panel use that implies, even if I didn't do any of that here.

This is also fast to do for webcomic resolution, a huge plus for me. I can't ever imagine publishing anything on paper any more, even if my original pages are all 300dpi resolution. The magazine industry is pretty much dead and a ebook wouldn't sell enough to be worthwhile, as I tried that in 2012 and know my numbers. 😀

Interestingly to me, is there are now 2 Volumes of the GUNDAM MOBILE SUITE THUNDERBOLT SUPPLEMENTARY STORY that uses Photoshoped models for the mobile suits , guns and craft. Unusually for manga, this is also full color.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology.  

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Just Thinking, Comic Strip. Random stuff living in Japan in 2020

Had a need to do a short form comic strip. Just had random ideas when studying and doing commissions and putting them into these things was a release.

Have been living in Kyoto Japan since end of November 2019 , but had lived here 1987 till 2001 previously, and have various thoughts about all kinds of random things and news items.

Like my This Is Where The Smoke Comes Out,  I have used grey scale photos and simple vector cartoons. I have a collection of characters so putting together a strip is a fast process. It is more about what it wants to say, or express.

I originally posted these on Twitter, but they vanish into the stream doing that, so have made this a single place to store them. Don't know how many I will do at all. I started doing these when I stopped doing the short Twitter OBS videos...

next 2 go together

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Trying OBS for vblogging and video tutorials

Learnt about OBS a month or so ago from Twitter and have been trying it in the last couple of days.

It allows you to make videos capturing application activity, webcams and other elements. Was developed for streaming, but also produces videos that can be further edited.

Above is the first attempt at a vblog thing talking about using Japanese Environmental Sounds in a composition in Reaper. Pretty rough!

Have done little with YouTube in the last few years as their changes meant that nobody watched anything I made. I didn't have anyway of capturing what I did in CorelDraw or Illustrator before, but as that has now changed with OBS I may do a few vector illustration tutorials.

I was once asked by a signmaker if I could do classes on what I do.  A few tutorials would probably help, as I don't use many features of any of these programs, and that was their assumption that I did.

So my approach to making vector illustrations may be forth coming.

This Corona Pandemic escalated pretty quickly, so expect to have plenty of time to do these moving forward.

Made another and found cannot increase the volume of the video clip player. Maybe you can, but it only showed me video filters.  Of course me trying to find the words isn't so great either.. but it is what it is..

There isn't any point in making such a short video as far as YouTube is concerned though. It will not be referred to anyone now anyway. YouTube's only care is for minutes watched. The reason I see 40 minute videos with 2 minutes of information and lots of padding. What a low quality world they are encouraging.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Home Theater Or Hi-Fi System in a Home?

Another wandering article covering several areas, including Home Theater Sound 😀

I used to have a surround sound set up and a large Plasma TV in the living room.  The kitchen and dinning table were in a separate room, but the living room also had a computer and desk in the corner so it wasn't a Home Theater room, but a shared space.

The only time I used it as a home theater was when my wife was out, as it was too loud to use for family living, and she usually wasn't interested in watching most of the movies I did. To have it loud enough to hear the speaking, anything big in the movie was very loud.
For most TV viewing I didn't turn on the surround system and just used the speakers in the TV that didn't create that volume problem.

We sold that house and downsized to a 2 bedroom apartment in 2019. This had a combined, kitchen, dinning and lounge area.  This is a great arrangement where doing kitchen chores doesn't isolate anyone from the sitting and eating area.  It did mean I didn't hook up the Yamaha Surround Receiver and Speakers at all. Was just not appropriate. The TV was also too large and felt like sitting in the front row of seats in a cinema, which isn't to my liking at all.

I watched most of the DVDs I borrowed from the local library on headphones for the 6 months we were there before moving to our new house in Japan.  During that time sold most electrical things, and for the last month only used a small 24" HD TV that was fine in that environment. It had been the Kitchen TV in the old house.

Our new place here in Kyoto Japan has a very similar combined lounge, dinning and kitchen space as the 2 bedroom apartment. Almost the same size, but we have our own rooms too.  So at the moment, we have a high end Sanyo 22" TV in the lounge room with a connected VHS/DVD player and a separate WD Live Media Player.  Can watch the TV from the dinning table while eating and it doesn't dominate everything. This TV has a larger soundbar style speaker subsystem under it and can simulate Surround sound. For a Smallish TV it has amazing sound.

I have been watching many of PS Audio's Ask Paul videos on YouTube and find myself kind of like him here:

Where he doesn't have a High End Audio System at home at all, but does have a home theater.  In another video  he shows you his home office and the standalone downstairs home theater at his house.  Mine was never that over the top, but good enough for me. He also mentioned he has a small audio system in his office but cannot work and listen to music at the same time.

At the present point in time, most of the music in the kitchen lounge area is coming from my wife's iPad. And that is only sometimes.

Now Paul above isn't a musician, so doesn't have a home studio like I do.  So even though my Studio is mostly a Laptop, small desktop Yamaha speakers and a Roland 2 Channel  audio interface, it is more Hi-Fi than what he has. My studio is also in "my room" in the house and not the living area.  Actually my studio is a small (1.7m x 1.5m) alcove off  "my room".

The Laptop can Bluetooth to some larger DIATONE 8" 3 way Bookshelf Speakers for music or streaming playback as I wrote about in the previous Blog.  Radio Stations  Alpha Station Kyoto  or  2MMM Sydney also get a listen.

I also have in "my room" a 24" HD Hisense TV with HDD recording that is connected to my old 32bit Win10 desktop PC running KODI media player.  The Kode Remote Android App for my Phone makes this system incredibly usable.  This is where I have watched most YouTube.  The sound of the TV speakers is fine, but it does have a headphone out and an Optical Sound Out, that plugs in fine to this little Surround Decoder:

I haven't yet decided if it is worth rearranging the furniture in "my room" to have a Stereo / Surround Audio System connected to the TV yet. At the moment I have two small bookshelf speakers and the 50w/Channel Class D Amp I used to have "in the studio" forming a "sound bar" (the speakers are on their sides with the bases touching, so the woofers are side by side)  under the TV.  The TV headphone out is set so that it doesn't disconnect the TV speakers sound when they are plugged in.

I haven't found turning on this Hi-Fi stereo Soundbar adds much to the TV watching experience.

If I did want surround sound, it would be a small system, but the dynamic range of movies is really too great for me.  I hear it all much better if I just wear headphones.  Like many, I now can have difficulty understanding what people are say in a noisy environment, that has nothing to do with the language they are speaking.

To approach the surround or not from a different POV,  Steven Wilson: Remixing Classic Albums has also done award winning 5.1 versions that I haven't heard. 

Surround music mixes is something I have had an interest in for many years, and have a Reaper setup that allows me to make surround mixes of my own tracks.  I also did an analogue decoder a few years ago.

Of course not everyone thinks Surround for music is a good idea:

The big difference between movies and music, is that music on purpose doesn't have the dynamic range of movie sound and is easy to manage volume. Especially in an environment like "my room".

So if I wander back to my title question. I don't a Home Theater system for family reasons. The Sound is too disruptive due to movie sound dynamic range. Stereo music is much more important to us, but most of the time, Hi-Fi is NOT required.
I only need Hi-Fi sound when mixing and mastering my own music, which really, isn't very often.
And to refer back to Paul'ss video above,  the only work I can do and have music playing is drawing or making something.

I do a lot of drawing, but if I have quiet background music playing, I am not able to hear my wife call from another part of the house if she needs something. So I mostly don't play much music while working either.

Ah, the modern home...

We can be contacted at ArtAndTechnology