I have an unfortunate confession to make. It’s a very, very hard confession, but I feel that I must talk about it and be honest with those of you who enjoy what I’ve produced in the past.

As of this moment that I’m speaking to you, I no longer consider myself an artist. You can get technical about the definition of what makes an artist if you really want, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have not created anything new since May 14, 2013. (October 2nd 2013 if you want to include less significant work.)

I’ve been having a massive internal struggle for years, but now it seems to be at its worst. Somewhere between when I was last in college and where I am now, the spark that made me love doing what I did died. The reason as to why that happened is complex, and I don’t fully understand it myself. All that I know is that something somewhere inside of me is dead. And I don’t know how to get it back.

Today, I sit in front of my Cintiq and feel brain dead. When I lift my pen and manage to successfully touch it to the screen, I create meaningless scribbles. When I show my work to people, I’m showing them work created by a “me” that doesn’t seem to exist anymore. By this point, I feel like that artwork may as well belong to someone else.

It’s a deeply terrifying feeling. I tell myself to “just do it,” but it hasn’t worked. The happiness that’s supposed to come from the passion isn’t there. I want it to be there, but I can’t find it. I want to be able to say I’m the inspiring artist that many of you think that I am.

I’m not seeking answers, assistance, or pity. I’m speaking out about how I currently feel, and that there’s more to my lack of updates and new work than any aforementioned life event getting in the way.

I’m still trying to work on this. I’m not one to give up. I’m hoping somewhere, somehow, I will rediscover that passionate spark.

Elsewhere, I sincerely thank all of you who have always stuck with me. Followers, real life friends, you all mean a lot, and I’m slowly attempting to ensure that I don’t ultimately let you down.


Mini Metro.

So, I gotta admit, I’m all about this game right now. It’s a puzzle/strategy that uses the design language of transit maps to, well, unsurprisingly build city-wide transit systems to best appease customers trying to get from point A to point B. New stations pop up over time as you play, and you must continually expand your system over time to connect them. The game ends when congestion gets too high for the system to support. The screenshots above are from a few of my best rounds recently (around 2255 passengers over 70 days.)

This game interests me in a lot of ways. From a design standpoint, it’s very well polished even though it’s still in beta. Nice smooth animations and VERY intuitive mouse-only controls. (It’s obvious this game is built with touch-screens in mind for the future.) It also takes the design language it’s based after and never breaks from it, the entire game (from title to game board) feels like it’s all on one sprawling map. The different city maps even use the topographic style and line/branch colors of their real-life systems! If you’re a designer or interested in UI/UX you’re going to want to play this game. 

Even though the game has no sound yet, I like to wind down at night with a few games to some of my own tunes. (Though apparently Disasterpeace [who did the music for FEZ] is on the job to compose music for this game, so I’m eager to see what he pumps out.)

It’s currently $6 which is a fantastic value for this game as-is already, and it’s only going to be getting better with future version releases. Support the dev and pick it up if you’re into this sort of thing!

Hey Dinosaut Polo Club, I hope you add Boston as a playable city! I gotta re-enact those morning Red Line break-downs as a losing scenario.

There was a supermoon tonight. Patience is a virtue, guys, don’t you forget that. It pays off.

Sony a6000, Minolta 70-210mm F4

  1. Camera: SONY ILCE-6000
  2. Aperture: f/8
  3. Exposure: 1/400th
  4. Focal Length: 224mm

Wacom Cintiq Companion Teardown! Partially! As far as I know, I’m the first person to show it disassembled.

If there’s one thing you may or may not know about me, I love to tinker with my stuff. Wacom did a really good job with the construction quality of the Companion. It’s practically on the verge of MacBook Pro build quality in terms of feel in your hand and sturdiness. No screws are visible on the device, so I figure they must be under the black rubber feet on the underside. Sure enough after some gentle prying with an old ATM card, the feet popped off and the screws were visible. Only 6 screws hold the case together total, which is impressive in terms of how uncomplicated the device is to open once you know how. Here are some observations:

1) Wacom uses NO glue in the construction of the Companion. The entire machine is attached to the front bezel, not the aluminum back. The front bezel clamps to the back shell by a good number of plastic tabs that can be popped, again, with something like an old credit card.

2) While the aluminum backside is CNC’d largely from a solid block of aluminum, it’s also reinforced with a magnesium underframe.

3) The system memory is sadly soldered to the mainboard. BUT the SSD is user replaceable!

4) The machine has no Warranty Void stickers that you have to break or tamper with.

5) I checked all around the edge of the screen with a bright flashlight. No light leaks = good seal to the glass to protect against dust in my model.

6) If you try this yourself, remember to have the Orientation Lock switch in the right position before reassembling. Also, some of the clasps can require a good amount of force to “click” back in. My advice is to try to click those stubborn ones FIRST. Start with the shorter side bezels, then clasp back together the longer top and bottom ones.

I didn’t bother going any further than taking off the back shell. I saw what I wanted to see :)


Eeeeee so adorable. Yanyu drew Maia and Jenna in a cute cartoony style.

Go check out her sketch blog to see more studies and experiments.

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Doing digital art requires computer hardware to do it. And you can honestly start doing digital work on any computer you already own, whether it be an over-the-counter desktop or laptop, even over 5 years old!

But, if you’re getting more serious about digital art and you want a dedicated workstation to do it with hardware that’s more effective for its cost, you’re going to want to build your own computer. Laptops are great for their portability and being an easy purchase, but that’s about all they have going for them. A budget desktop system has price-to-performance ratios that completely destroy laptops and can save you money over time from needing to upgrade less often and only needing to swap out individual parts instead of the whole machine.

Are you in the market for this sort of thing right now? This is a lengthy article, so read all about it by continuing on!

Read More

For those of you wondering about Synthesis, it’s still trucking along. I AM trying to work out the vast majority of the story’s plot first before I even think of getting to drawing. There’s been a lot of discussion about what should happen and how and why. Maia has been the target as of late, getting a load of story figured out for her (including several scraps and rewrites.) This flowchart (created with draw.io!) is the current discussion progress of various possibilities that Maia could have gone through in the story. ‘Til now, most of the story has existed in countless chat logs and a mess of google docs jotting down notes. It’s nice to get a lot of these core ideas down into an organized tree. The green path is the one that consists of the strongest concepts.

I highly recommend planning out your characters/stories this way.

And before you ask, I’m not sure when the comic will be done enough to go live, (2014 is still a maybe — getting that job at Neoscape really messed with my daily routine that I was used to for yeeeears. But that’s evening out now. We’ll see. I’m not striving for utter perfection here, but I don’t want to make a sub-par story either.) And yes, the screenshot is small enough so you can’t read it on purpose. But go ahead, try to pick out anything hahahah.

So, like most of you, I’ve spent money. On things. And sometimes those things just seem to stick around forever and never give me any grief. Whenever I’ve needed them, they just work. All the time. Without any problems at all. Here are a few of my own personal hall of fame “wow I still have this thing and it works great” items:

1. Original Atomic Purple Game Boy Color (1998)

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This is kind of a joke entry for first place but it’s also kinda not. I still have this guy, bought nearly 16 years ago. It went on many family trips with me to Cape Cod annually and I got the Game Boy banned at my school because I also had the Game Boy Camera and I gave some kid a huge nose with it. I don’t use this very often at all now, of course, (it’s just a nerdy display piece now,) but I have to admit: I just picked it up and popped a game in and turned it on and it worked, first time, like a charm.

I actually still own my original Game Boy fat from way way back when I was a little kid — but it’s not working quite so perfectly these days. It’s missing a line of pixels in the LCD and games boot maybe 50% of the time. But my Color? Aside from some scratches on the screen, it’s rock solid.

2. Wacom Cintiq 12WX (2007)
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Yup. I still have this thing. Bought in 2007 when it was introduced, it was my first Cintiq that lead me down a path of complete spoilage. I lugged it back and forth from school all the time for classes, hooked up to my Macbook. In all seriousness this thing beats out the Game Boy Color (except for age) because this has gotten near consistent use almost daily ever since I bought it. After I bought a Cintiq 21UX in 2011, I’ve been letting Yanyu use the 12WX since, and it’s still working just fine. Sure the screen glass is looking a little worn, but not to any extent that keeps it from being useful. At 7 years old, I can’t even tell you how many times this thing has paid for itself. It’s staggering.

3. Apple Airport Extreme (2007)
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When I first moved to Boston in 2005-2006, I had a cheap $45 wireless router I got on clearance at Staples. It gave me wireless, but would have to be unplugged once every two hours since its signal would randomly crap out. It was infuriating to put up with. So in early 2007, I went all out and bought one of these Airport Extremes for something like $180 from the Boston University computer store … inbetween classes? (No idea why.) They had just come out and were the first ones to have 802.11N speeds. How did it work out? Well, fast forward 7 years and it’s still working without a hitch — without dropping the connection once EVER. And since I was a full-on Mac user at the time, I liked the integration it had into Mac OS. (Now I’m just a Win8 user, but Apple still makes the Airport Utility for Windows machines.) It’s come with me through a total of 5 different apartments, so it’s got some good scuffs on it here and there, and it has a tendency to collect a good layer of dust on top. But it still keeps on going.

4. LEXON Cubissimo Alarm Clock (Silver) (2009)

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I used my phone all the time to wake me up in the morning for class and work. However, I kept running into the problem that the alarm was too easy to turn off accidentally when I meant to snooze, and I cannot be trusted to handle such a delicate device such as a smartphone when I’m groggy turning over in bed. I’m a heavy snoozer. I hit that shit like 8 to 10 times before getting up. Since I commonly would eventually hit “Dismiss” instead of Snooze, I very often showed up hours late to work or missed classes from not getting up. So out of desperation I bought this little clock I found on clearance at the recently opened West Elm in Fenway. It’s a little 2-inch square clock with a electroluminescent backlight. It looks like something you’d see at the Macy’s Father’s Day Gift rack. But damnit! This thing has worked for me every single morning SINCE. Forget smartphone alarms. The only way to turn off the alarm is to lift the flap on the top and move a small switch to the Off position. I literally CANNOT turn off the alarm because I can’t access it unless I’m awake and sober. And the battery lasts FOREVER. I haven’t even replaced it yet and I’ve had this clock for…. what, 5 years now? It’s insane. I’ve woken up sleeping on top of this thing, it’s fallen on the floor countless times, and it still wakes me up without fail and works great. Plus it tells me the temperature and stuff. (Each side of the clock tells a different thing — Time, Temp, Date, Day of the week,) it does that quiet alarm first thing then ramps up when I haven’t hit snooze yet, It’s small enough to travel with me (since i’m so used to its alarm sound) — you can even set how many minutes between snoozes. I bought it just as an experiment to see if it would help, not thinking it’d last me very long, but I foresee still using this clock at least another 5 years from now.

And… Actually, that’s kind of all I can think of for now. (.. hm really?) Most of my other stuff isn’t much older than 3 or so years (MacBook Pro, Cintiq 21UX, most of my computer parts, etc.) I have no idea what made me want to write this. Just felt like sharing how cool it is that sometimes things you buy (that seem like they won’t last a while in today’s day and age) end up really surpassing your expectations.

Or maybe it’s because I’m irked at the fact I’ve already had to send my new Cintiq Companion —- UNDER 2 MONTHS OLD —- back to Wacom for a repair due to a issue with the power port being badly soldered to the PCB or something. :|
And before you say anything, the Cintiq Companion is seemingly impossible to open up (or I’m just too scared to try because really, there’s no clear indication as to how to do it) so I couldn’t check on what was happening with that spotty power port myself.

My concept for the next iteration Wacom Intuos hardware. [Click to see full size to read text]

So I was sitting thinking today while at work, I enjoy using physical rulers and triangles on the screen of my Cintiq to quickly make straight lines. (Only plastic ones will work. Metal blocks the signal of the digitizer layer and the cursor loses the pen.) It’s fun, tactile, and practical since it works so well. Allows you to produce natural looking strokes with full-time pressure control and not have to fiddle with snapping of software-based tools.

But what about the intuos? You can’t really use a ruler on one of them because there’s no way to see on your monitor where the ruler is placed on your intuos surface. So I thought, why hasn’t Wacom ever made a kind of smart ruler accessory that tracks the same way as the pen / mouse devices on its surface? The size of the ruler would be exactly known, so the driver software would be able to visualize on screen precisely where the ruler is. So all you have to do is bring your cursor up to the displayed edge and bam, you’re drawing against the ruler. And since it’s communicating with the tablet, why not give it a touch strip and a couple expresskeys to make it pull double duty?

Better yet, Wacom could probably make good use of the empty-unused bezel on the side of the tablet by turning it into a dock for the ruler — the keys of which would still work when it’s docked. Remember the expresskeys on both sides of the tablet during the old Iintuos3 days? Yeah, those were nice. This seems like an innovative progression of that. (And can lead to other cool hardware-based guides. Like a french curve, maybe?)

Think this would be cool to see? I do :D
Let’s see if Wacom picks up my idea! Like/Reblog this if you’d want it!

Edit (Response):
Photoshop’s line tool is a much slower and less fluid way to make straight lines. It requires switching to different tools to adjust the line or make new ones. It also can’t stroke with varying line weight mid-stroke, even if you load the line tool as a selection. A physical tool like this would allow you to draw many more lines at varying desired angles in the time the line tool allows you to draw one robotic looking one. (As someone who does perspective-heavy work on my Cintiq, I’ve learned the value and workflow speed of using physical rulers on it!)

Edit 2: (Response)
The tech behind making this idea work is patented and proprietary to Wacom. As far as I know, if I tried to make something like this myself, [example: Kickstarter,) pretty sure I’d get in trouble. (This is why you don’t see third party accessories that interact with Wacom products.) Current Wacom digitizer tech can also only interpret the position of one device at a time. (But it can power two pens at the same time. The software / hardware can’t seem to track both independantly as there is only one cursor.) Not sure if this is a hardware or software limitation or both.

Edit 3: (Ranty response to Scott-Ruggles)
We have a pretty good selection of different tablets at Neoscape. I use a Cintiq 22HD at my workstation, but we also have two of the Yiynova 19-inch display tablets for general purpose use if anyone around the studio needs it. I used it for a bit just to check i tout. While you could buy 3 to 4 Yiynova’s for the cost of the 22HD, I have to say you really get what you pay for. Compared to ANY Cintiq, (even last generation Cintiqs,) the Yiynova has absolutely atrocious viewing angles (using a cheap laptop TN panel,) terrible color rendition (blue haze over the entire image, low gamut, hard to calibrate,) soft clarity (VGA video connection only,) low pixel density (1440x900 resolution,) AND the air gap between the glass and the LCD is the widest I’ve ever seen. On top of this, the pen has no eraser, requires batteries (though true it lasts forever,) and the minimum pressure required is too high to get the lighter-weight feathering effects I like to do for painting. The driver software is lackluster too. It has some decent customization for its shortcut keys but some of the major features I rely on that Wacom provides are missing. (Yiynova doesn’t have a multi-monitor toggle so you can’t use the pen on your main monitor. This means every time you want to do anything off of the Yiynova, you have to grab your mouse and move to the other monitor yourself, instead of just pressing a button. Drove me nuts.)  —- But don’t get me wrong though, for its cost the Yiynova can get work done which may be all that matters especially if you only have $600 vs $1000 for the 13HD. For me personally, all of the other features (HDMI, 1080p, IPS display, sRGB color, LED backlight, super flexible drivers, crazy good pen, AND having a warranty repair center located in the USA) all adds up to being well worth the cost since I use this thing for hours on a daily basis.

Edit 4: (Response to @mindlessgonzojam)
Actually Wacom does have this. They’ve had their Pen Tether accessory since forever. There’s a notch on every Intuos and Cintiq for the tether. Some of their tablets even have fabric loops for the pen to slide into. The Companions and 13HD come with a holster case. All wacom tablets come with a pen stand that even holds your spare nibs. I think they got this covered, hahahah.

Just got something awesome in the mail! :D

Well, not really. I actually got it last Thursday but it took me all weekend to set it up just how I like it.  Will be posting something of a review about it later, as well as sketches and doodles. (Maybe even s video…)

Edit: Man, I know it’s cool to hate Windows 8 cuz’s it’s what all the cool kids on the internet are doing, but I legitimately enjoy it. A lot. 8 was “ehh.” I’ll give you that. But 8.1 is great. I’ve used Windows 7 since it came out, and now with both 8.1 on my desktop and this little guy here, maaaan it’s hard to look back. It’s fantastic how well they work together. Stuff just works now, unlike before where things would work if I tinkered with it long enough. Plus, on the Cintiq, Windows 8 makes using it as a touchscreen tablet completely painless. Windows 7’s touch and tablet services were awful. (I had extensive first hand experience how terrible it was on my X201T convertible a few years back.) On Windows 8, I can use the on-screen keyboard better than any other touch-screen device I’ve ever used, including the iPad. (I can type at near full speed with few errors.) It’s that much of an improvement. It even communicates properly with Wacom drivers, finally! For once! I don’t have to disable the Windows tablet functions just to get the computer to not bug-out. Use 8.1 for any extended amount of time (I’m talking months, not days or weeks,) and it grows on you in a way that you can’t go back to 7, even on a desktop surprisingly.

—- EEEH I shouldn’t be ranting in this post, not yet. 

  1. Camera: SONY DSC-RX100
  2. Aperture: f/4.5
  3. Exposure: 1/13th
  4. Focal Length: 33mm