Data, Geordi, and Spot (Data’s cat) make their first appearance in this year’s Star Trek themed Inktober.
Though I tried to research all of the prompts for this year’s inktober in advance so I didn’t have to try and come up with an idea last minute, this was a last minute idea.
Hopefully the idea for this strip comes across without explanation (Data’s cat, Spot, hunts a mouse and brings it proudly back to Data) but sometimes I worry that my lack of panel borders and background detail makes things confusing.
If you’re deep into the details of Star Trek, (I’m usually not, but when working on this sort of project, I have to dive deep), Worf has a mek’leth and Jadzia has a bat’leth.
Here’s the sketch I jotted down in last month’s sketchbook, when researching ‘blade’ on memory alpha.
You can see where little guy turned the first drawing into a face with 4 arms.
I did some preliminary drawing in Photoshop.
I printed the preliminary drawings at actual size (5 in x 5 in squares) and then traced them in pencil on the bristol board.
I refined as I went, learning how to draw a mek’leth and a bat’leth from a variety of angles, and figuring out how to get two characters with giant heads and tiny bodies to convincingly embrace and kiss.
Here’s the pencils page before inks.
My inking continues to improve.
A confident under drawing helps, but maybe the most important aspect that has helped improve my inking is simply slowing down. Slowing down my drawing, slowing down each stroke, and slowing down my breathing.
Inking this strip last night was my most confident inking this month. I think it’s because I spent more time on drawing the characters, though I did get lazy on Uhura’s control panel.
I’m also getting more comfortable with my tools, which also helps.
I should also note that I leave the pencil lines on the bristol board
A Note on Yesterday’s Strip
I’ve gotten some excellent feedback on yesterday’s strip. A lot of people couldn’t tell what was going on without reading the description.
Which means a total failure on staging on my part.
Kirk and Spock are walking down a corridor. Kirk isn’t paying attention and walks into a bulkhead. That’s it.
To solve that problem, I need to do a better job of designing the stage and how the characters move on that stage. I need better blocking. Hopefully those of you who come back here every day will see that get better.
Prompt: bulk. That leads me to bulkhead. I looked at a lot of pictures of bulkheads on memory alpha. I looked at a lot of pictures of bulkheads for boats on the internet. I’m still not sure what a bulkhead is.
A quick search of memory-alpha, the online trove of Star Trek knowledge, turns up a game of go fish in the final episode of Deep Space Nine between Quark and the self-aware holosuite program, Vic Fontaine, in Vic’s club.
I haven’t seen this particular episode, or most of Deep Space Nine really, though I’ve recently been catching reruns on the H & I network.
Getting to Work
I penciled in the drawing last month, hoping to get ahead on Inktober this year.
Last night, after first stress eating some Tostito’s scoops and some cheese dip, I got to work.
I worked on my old art board from college, laying on my belly in the living room, an episode of DS9 playing on the tv.
My nib was too thick, but I couldn’t find a tinier nib, so I’ll have to run to the art store today.
My nib was too thick. I want thinner lines, so I’ll have to make a run to the art store today.
Then, every stroke of the pen was a struggle. I’d just start to pull the point of the nib across the paper, and I’d be out of ink.
It didn’t occur to me until the last panel that perhaps my inkwell was simply too low on ink.
I added more ink to the well and dipped my pen, and the inking process finally began to flow, both literally, out of the pen, but mentally as well.
I’ve added ink washes to past Inktober drawings and tried that her as well, but the results were less than spectacular, so I decided to redo the entire strip.
I pulled out my light board and re-inked the piece, tracing over my previous effort, panel by panel. The second try went much faster, looked better, and by the time I reached the final panel I felt like the results were much better. The fourth panel is much better than the first panel.
Why Star Trek? I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek on the H&I network since the pandemic started. Comfort food.
To put that television watching to good use, it’s become… inspiration.
Sometimes I have an idea for a Star Trek gag from the prompt. Mostly though, I plug a prompt from Jake Parker’s official Inktober 2020 prompts list and run a search for the prompt on memory-alpha, the Star Trek wiki, to give me some inspiration.
The other nice thing about relying on memory alpha is that it helps spread the gags around between the different Star Trek series through the years. Otherwise they’d all be TOS and TNG gags.
My plan was to have all of the strips drawn by the end of September, so that when October 1st hit all I would have to do is ink every day and wouldn’t have to worry about drawing, too.
Unfortunately, all I’ve managed to do so far this month is pencil in the panels on half of the pages of bristol. (That’s what you’re looking at in the boring photo at the top of this post.)
My first impulse was to not participate this year. I felt I didn’t have any ideas.
Then your brain starts working on it in the background.
“You could do this for Inktober,” your brain says. “Or you could do this.” Then your brain says, “Of course! This is what you should do.” And your brain is right, so then you have no choice but to do it.
Then you pick up the pencil and get it moving. Just drawing simple shapes and lines suggests ideas.
Before I know I know it, I’m doing actual research to help ignite more more ideas, and I’m off and running.
I’ll talk more about the research and all the prep work I’m doing in September to prepare for Inktober so that next month, all I have to do is ink.
Last night I watched a rerun of Star Trek The Next Generation and couldn’t help but notice how bad the entire crew was at social distancing.
And I guess that’s how this works, right?
Our brains adapt and now movies and television, and maybe comics that were made before the coronavirus just looks, wrong, somehow. Star Trek The Next Generation, through no fault of its own, is ignoring this (new) social norm and now feels, wrong.
They will have been made before the time of coronavirus, and we will know just by looking at it.
It’s weird to think about. It’s weird to think about future art. Especially future sci-fi. How futur-y stuff can’t ignore social distancing, or pandemics, or how we all may have to hide behind masks.
Little Guy likes to grab a few bowls or pots and pans and some ingredients and ‘cook’ at the kitchen table. (Last time he did this, he said, ‘I need to cook this now, and slid the pan underneath the table, just like putting it in the oven.)
Saturday he made oatmeal soup. in the sketch above he’s getting ready to test it. he’s way more optimistic than i was about his dish.
Here’s the recipe, near as I could tell:
3 bowls of water (half full)
lots of cinnamon/sugar
lots of red sprinkles
1/4 cup of uncooked oatmeal (he calls them oatmeal seeds)
(6) grapes. 2 per bowl
Fill your bowls halfway with water.
Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar generously into each bowl.
After sampling the sprinkles, add a generous portion to each bowl. You may not have added enough. After sampling sprinkles again, be sure to add more to your bowls.
Plop two grapes in each bowl. Each grape should plop with a little splash. Splash is important. Keep adding grapes until you get a satisfying splash.
I think he and I both agreed that pretending to eat it was more delicious than actually eating it.
Hi, I’m Tone. I draw. I read. I write. I have no idea what I’m doing. Welcome.
This post is about me having no idea how to make homemade Not -Golden – Oreo cookies. It’s part 2 of a two-parter. Here’s part 1.
The cookies I made didn’t taste like Golden Oreos at all. But they were buttery and kind of…biscuit like. Delicious, especially with a cup of coffee, not cloyingly sweet, as long as you keep the fondant thin, which I didn’t do, more on that later. But, as it turns out, how they tasted was the least amazing thing about them.
Wait for the weekend. Don’t bake cookies after the work day when you’re hungry and your four year old is hungry, that is, unless you want to eat too much cookie dough and fondant and not eat your dinner like you should.
Roll your dough out thinner than I did. Turns out that rolling chilled cookie dough out is much harder work than I imagined. I guess this is why bakers have large forearms? At least in my mind?)
Roll out your dough evenly. And Clearly I did not, as illustrated in the photo above. Some of my cookies were thins, some were thick, and some of my cookies unlike any you could buy in a store, were both thick and thin.
Use a smaller cookie cutter than I did. My cookies came out big. They’re not huge, but they’re too big for a sandwich cookie. Too much cookie in every bite. However, the flip side of a bigger cookie is: one sandwich cookie is all you need. You eat this cookie, and you’re like, ‘Ok, I’m good on cookies.’
What Did I Get Right?
The part that I did get right in this cookie making process: was getting a 4 year old to help roll the dough and cut the cookies.
He was so thrilled to cut circles and to eat raw cookie dough, and to make dough balls, it was amazing. If you can find one, adding toddlers to your baking process is a must.
Note to everyone stuck at home who are excellent bakers: Right now would probably be the perfect time to start a daily instagram story show focused on baking with toddlers. It would kill. I am not the man for the job. Someone else please run with this.
Working With the Fondant
I had no idea what to expect when opening the box of fondant. I’d never even heard of it before tackling this recipe. It’s a block of stiff, but maleable icing. The recipe called for 6 oz. The entire block of fondant was 24 oz, so I hacked off about a quarter of it.
You should hack off less fondant, because you probably won’t need 6 oz. Here’s why: the fondant is sweet, and if it’s thick, it can be overpoweringly sweet to your cookie sandwich. Which leads to the next step for making Not-Golden-Oreos more successfully than me:
You’re going to roll your fondant thin.
You’re also going to select a cookie cutter smaller than the cookie cutter you used to cut the cookies. This is mostly aesthetics, just to give the fondant a little breathing space on the cookie. There’s something a little sloppy about all that visible fondant in the sandwich.
From there, I just dabbed a little water and powdered sugar to ‘glue’ the fondant circle to the bottom of the cookies. They adhered beautifully.
The Best Part
The unexpected part, really. For about an hour all that mattered was making cookies. All that mattered was getting powdered sugar on our hands, and cutting cookie dough, and sneaking tastes of cookie dough, and working with the fondant. And laughing our heads off. A lot of laughing our heads off. (Especially about my powdered sugar hanprint pants.) It felt great.
If you can, take a baking break. Especially if you’ve never baked before. You don’t know how much you need it until you do it.
I can’t wait to try making these again. But do a better job of it.
Roll your cookie dough thin, and evenly.
Roll your fondant even thinner.
Use a smaller diameter cookie cutter for your fondant.
Add a toddler to your baking process.
Make something. Just a little whatever. Whatever you make won’t be as ugly as the cookies we made, but if whatever you make does turn out ugly, that’s ok. Making unintentionally ugly whatevers is the first step towards making beautiful whatevers.
But 2 cookies is 150 calories, and that’s too many calories, when I’m trying to drop a few pounds. (I’ll write about my weight-loss process in a future feature called MuscleTone, get it? Get it? See, it’s MuscleTone instead of Screentone…yeah, you get it…It’s just never very good…Now, I get it.)
The other drawback with Golden Oreos, besides them being addictively delicious with a very high calorie count, (I mean c’mon, who can eat just two of these?) is the list of chemicals in them.
So, I’ve decided to try and make my own version, even though the only thing I’ve ever baked in my life is a couple of loaves of bread, and they’re unlikely to be less caloric, they’ll at least be less…chemically.
Fortunately, I’m not the first person to have this idea. A quick google search later and I found this recipe. So last Sunday I dove in, and made my dough.
Making the Cookie Dough: In Which Our Hero, Who Has Never Done Anything Heroic, Learns A Lot
While beating the butter with my mom’s old mixer, I had no idea, I repeat, no idea, what I was doing. I made mistakes at every turn. First, I didn’t quite let the butter get to room temperature, so it clogged up the beaters and I had to scrape them off with a butter off. (I’m sure there were better ways than a butter knife) Not only that, but I also had no idea how creamy the butter should be. It wasn’t until after I’d stored my dough in the fridge to firm it up and tidied up the kitchen that I would discover exactly how creamy my butter should have been.
It was only when I gave Little Guy a beater to lick clean, just as my mom had done for me when I was a boy, and when I licked my own beater, that I realized my mistake. The cookie batter on this beater was thick and hard, too difficult to lick off with my tongue. I had to scrape the batter off with my finger. But my mom’s cookies, when I would lick off the leftover cooky batter, the batter was silky smooth, sliding easily off the metal tines of the beater on to my tongue, the tiny grains of sugar so crunchy and sweet. (My god, I miss my mom.)
My butter wasn’t creamy enough. It was too thick.
We’ll see how that informed the cookies themselves, when I post part 2.
Epilogue: This may come as no surprise, to you, but I was in no way prepared for the revelation, (even after studying the recipe first), that hit me while Little Guy and I made our cookie dough. It was only after I creamed the butter, added two types of sugars to the bowl, an egg and some flour, that I realized that cookies…wait, for it, because here’s the crazy part: cookies are really just butter, sugar, and flour. I know! Crazy, right?
If you’re like a lot of people, you’re stuck at home, and maybe feeling a little anxious about the world around us.
Many, (most?) of us haven’t been in a situation like this before and we’re all just trying to get through it best we can.
So if you’ve got some free time, dig out the legos, and spend a few minutes with the kids, or alone as an adult, (there are a lot of adult lego builders out there) building something. Then try and recreating your lego build in Studio. It’s a lot of fun and easier than you might think.
Now that I had my model built, it was time to add some color.
It’s as simple as selecting a piece then choosing a color from the sidebar palette. Studio warns you if the color you’ve selected isn’t available for that brick. (If you don’t want to keep getting those warnings, you can toggle the controls so that the colors available are only in those provided by Lego.)
Generating Instructions in Studio
The process for making the instructions is a little more complicated.
When you first look at your instructions, there is only the one step.
I had to backtrack step by step and brick by brick to create all of the steps for my little spaceship, (which I’m now dubbing the ‘Escher’ an interstellar passenger ship with twin rotors that spin up wormholes to travel through interstellar space, and landing and retro thrusters for planetary visits. Not only is this ship capable of creating its own wormholes to cut down on interstellar travel time, it can also land on a planet with an atmosphere. Take that Enterprise.)
Once I parsed out the steps, Studio makes it easy to select different layouts for each page. I experimented with a few different layouts, ultimately settling on a six panel first page, a 4 panel page two, a three panel page 3 and a two panel final page. It’s also possible to select and move the individual elements of the instructions to make sure that they’re all visible to the reader.
To meet the requirements to upload to rebrickable, I’ve got to create a pdf of my instructions. More on that in part 3.
If you have any questions about working in Studio, feel free to drop them by in the comments. I’m by no means a Studio expert, but maybe we can puzzle through it together.
Honestly, that’s a woefully misleading title. Grabby, though, ain’t it?
In January, comics writer Kieron Gillen teamed up with Project Art Cred to write a script, release it to any artist that wanted it, and bask in the wide variation in storytelling that resulted. You can check out the results that resulted here.
Amongst all the brilliant entries, you’ll find one that does not look like the others. Mine.
I did not adapt Kieron Gillen’s full script because I didn’t realize he had written more than one page. When I downloaded it from his newsletter I didn’t realize it was a multi-page document.
I adapted Kieron’s letter to the artist.
When Gillen mentioned in the letter that he was keeping this loose and minimal, I thought to myself, “No kidding.”
Here’s my final inked artwork. There’s another pass at the pencils below, as well.