Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Cartooning Marty Friedman - My Process


It was a rainy day yesterday. A stay home day. While looking at Twitter I saw a few photos of Marty Friedman's current USA tour, and off the cuff thought doing a  cartoon would make my day better.

Making something always makes my day better, so did a rough scribble sketch, showing up his "pinball wizard" boots.  

I thought I was done, and should get onto Japanese Kanji practice. I did for a while.

So I came back and did cleaned up lines in pens. Much of the time I agonize about a likeness. But I didn't here. Just let his hair and chin carry it. But if I was doing this as a commission I would be agonizing over the likeness and spend hours in photoshop moving my ink on paper lines around a mm at a time searching for the "best" likeness.

I uploaded the black ink drawing, with the pens and pencil used over it, to twitter, and thought that would do.

And got back to Kanji practice again.

Then a few people liked that. I did feel like finishing that, so I colored it in Photoshop. I make 2 layers under the inked lines. Make the lines a MULTIPLY layer. Under that I paint the color using my medium sized WACOM tablet. It is kind of like painting color on the back of an acetate sheet doing animation. I use the other layer to help in making the background transparent.

Uploaded that to Twitter, and it got some comments.

And got back to Kanji practice again. For a while.

Then Marty Friedman himself saw it and made a comment, bringing in his many followers.

So I made the image at the top of this post, showing the original scribble I started with, and the colored image and lines. Posted that to twitter.

And got back to Kanji practice again.

Then after lunch it was time to do what I wanted to do, so I added a background to ground the toon in an environment.

This here...

 負けないで ( Makenaide ), Meaning "Don't give in" is a track he made during the Pandemic.

The background was put in with Photoshop, but then the speech balloon and strings on the guitar were put in with CorelDraw, which is still my favorite illustration tool. Small, simple and fast.

So that all happened yesterday. Hadn't planned it.  Also how I do comic book style illustrations. 

UPDATE: April 27 2023

So yesterday did this 2B pencil slightly cartooned sketch, then scanned and colored it. Didn't clean up  and ink the lines. A much more casual approach. A well known young music youtuber who just had his 61st birthday. I feel old, will be 65 next birthday...

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

A Small Collection Of Music for YouTube Shorts

Put together 4 bits of music made and used in some recent YouTube shorts as a single 4:31 minute track.  Did this for myself as a record of where we were at in early 2023.  Not making songs or traditionally structured tracks.  

Used Ibanez RG Electric Guitar, Squire Jazz Bass with humbucking pickups,  Korg MS-20 mini and a few  VST synths in Reaper DAW.  Improvised things edited together. 

In a YouTube short I think the music gets little notice, unless dancing is involved.  The visuals are the main thing, and we put ours together in MOHO Pro 12, and don't do any dancing.

So why make shorts?  They are the only things I have made in the last 6 or so years to get more than 12 plays on any platform I have put them on.   

The view numbers are nothing to write home about, but at least someone gets to see them, that aren't just the 3 friends that play them anyway on Bandcamp.  

Bandcamp is great, but no one is going to find anything there without it being promoted, and all I have ever done is post a track to my twitter or Facebook page, and the way they are now, means no one will see such a post anyway.  I don't go searching on Bandcamp myself either, and only go there from some social media post.

Also made this YouTube video for the Industrial-Electro track 3 

At the time of writing this, it seems Facebook Group posts have the highest change of getting views or plays and the most interaction.  I am not a member of any music or animation groups that might be relevant and have never looked for any.  

Sunday, April 16, 2023

JOHN HUGHES and some of his Films

I re-watched Pitch Perfect again a couple of weeks ago as it has been recently added to Amazon Japan PRIME. A fun movie. I was curious as to why a movie I had never seen, The Breakfast Club, was such a key thing in it. They actually show the movie DVD (with some characters removed, as at the time of filming, they hadn't received the actors permissions to use their likeness).  The movie soundtrack uses the Simple Minds song Don't You (Forget About Me), which was their biggest hit and written for the movie, to great effect in both films. 

So we tracked down the 1985 The Breakfast Club

The first half is the kids talking and some being unpleasant, but it reveals character for the high impact later part of the film. It brought back all kinds of my own memories, as I think it does for everyone who watches it, and now understand why it was such a hit, and a great thing to reference in Pitch Perfect.    The lyrics of Don't You (Forget About Me) have lasting meaning after seeing it too.

From my own experience, the stereo types of people live on, and as I learnt at my 30th Anniversary High School Reunion, the only one I attended, you aren't still friends when Monday comes around. I think I was still seen as an unpopular Nerd (or was that Basket Case?) .

The writer /director was John Hughes. I hadn't noticed that name before, but if you look at the films he made, you will find greats, and not just teen movies. Planes, Trains and Automobiles, is such a great move. So funny, yet has heart.

So after listening to his interviews and talks on YouTube, I found John Hughes to be this quiet observer in High School, that found reassurance in his paintings. Always loved music. I can relate to that. He remembered all he saw and heard and has put that into his writing. Started in Advertising, moved to write for National Lampoon before breaking into the world of film. Funny and heartfelt. Filled with a lot of his own, personnel experiences. It is said he could write a script overnight while listening to The Clash, The Psychedelic Furs or such British band.  He ended up leaving Hollywood as they wanted to change his words without any understanding of the work.  A common complaint.

He died aged 59 from a heart attack in 2009.  

I suggest if you haven't see The Breakfast Club and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, go watch them immediately. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

THE PENTATEUCH: Art + Synth Concept Album

THE PENTATEUCH is an Art + Synth Concept album I first read about in Keyboard April 1981 in a Jim Aikin Record review.

Art by Patrick Woodroffe with music by Dave Greenslade. Originally released as a limited edition 12" hardcover 48 page book with LP sleeves inside the front and back covers.

This is the record review. Note that Keyboard couldn't locate a copy for review themselves, and a fan lent them his copy.

It took me 30 years to get the rerelease as a CD, with the art reproduced as a CD sized booklet. Luckily for me, the art had been added to and reformatted as an Art Book.

This is good, except that some of the art covers 2 pages, with the seam down the middle. This is unfortunate with the type of binding and page size used. I do have the CD booklet version in the original proportions.

Better late than never. I do very much like the idea of combining Art and Music.

Some of my own attempts can be found here.

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Me, myself & I

Watched part of a Japanese documentary last night on recently passed musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and in one part he talked about the versions of himself.

I thought that is so true about myself. I feel I am like several different people. They all have a lot in common though, and generally on the introverted side.   

There is (was) the hyper focused design engineer. Then there is the cartoonist, the guy making his funny music, the dad to my kids, the sculpture, the painter, the model maker and others. And in the last few years, the semi retired old guy thinking about what he really wants to do or achieve in the ending years.

THE BREAK FAST CLUB, that have only recently seen, is wonderful and has the same thing as a theme, we are all multiple different people.   

To show some those different versions, a random collection of some things we have made and done:

None of me are interested in being an Internet Celebrity or Influencer though. 

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Upgrading Squire Jazz Bass Pickups

The HUM of single coil pickups has always driven me crazy. On a Jazz Bass, turning up both pickups does cancel out the hum, and that has been the way I always recorded my bass parts. This is a Squire Affinity J Bass and I must say the finish of the neck and frets or "sound" of the pickups were never a problem to me.  Only the hum when using gain, like I always do. 

But using both pickups on 100% also meant I never got the NECK only or BRIDGE only sound on its own.  With my Strat or RG, I almost exclusively use the bridge pickup. I completely understood why EVH's Frankenstrat only had a bridge pickup. 

To remedy this, I ordered WILDE J-45N and J-45L humbucking pickups from the Wilde website.  They have reasonable postage rate to Japan. May have been $12, which is good.  

Started by removing the old strings. Loosened them, then cut them with heavy gauge side cutters. 

 I noted the pickup height of the original pickups before unscrewing them. 

I took photos of how it was all connected and made some diagrams of what I wanted to change it to.

I used solder wick in removing the old connections. The original pickup Black (-ve) where all soldered to one of the the potentiometer backs. And each had only a black and white wire.  Takes a lot of heat to solder to that much potentiometer metal. A 100W soldering iron would be more appropriate to do that.  Wilde calls one the LEAD (L) pickup, the other Neck (N) .

I have a 60W soldering iron and the gear required. Used solder wick to remove the old connections. The new pickup BLACK (-ve) and BLUE (shield) where soldered to the bare ground wire connecting all the pot bodies together, instead of to the potentiometer back.  Much less heat required, so more likely to not get a dry joint. Used plenty of liquid flux as well as the flux cored solder to make good joints.

Used the original screws and springs from the old pickups in putting in the new pickups. I did like that you didn't have to remove the pick guard, as you do in a Strat, to change the pickups.

Replaced the strings with ERNIE BALL HYBRID SLINKY BASS.  No idea why, but they are almost half the price of the other brands. Is it just because they don't have the thread covering each end (the silk) of the string? Not being a "real" Bass player, they seem fine to me.
I then setup pickup height and intonation.

And now I can use the bridge or neck pick up individually, or in any combination without hum. 

Project a success.

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology