Archive for the ‘Serious Mode’ Category

Autumn Children (Take 1) – Pages 33-35

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

I was going to hold off on posting last week’s update until Sunday, but I decided to do something for Thanksgiving.

I’m thankful for many things, but today I will focus on one person who I have yet to properly thank.

Albert T. McNea (1940-2005) was an Irish-American industrial design illustrator. He was a senior designer for the Ford Motor Company for 30 years, and when he moved to the west coast he worked for Boeing and Walter Dorwin Teague. As you might expect from his work experience, his skill at drawing vehicles, whether cars, planes, or boats, was unmatched. Unfortunately, very little of his work can be found online. I wouldn’t have known of his legendary skill if he hadn’t been my illustration professor at the Art Institute of Seattle.

Professor McNea’s job was mostly about vehicles, but he drew all sorts of other things in his own time. As a member of the Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters, he would also do landscapes and seascapes. He also did a little cartooning, and admired two comic strips above all others: Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland and Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.

I sometimes talk about how my work derives from the work of Japanese moe-specialists such as Kito. But I owe just as much to Professor McNea – probably more, since he actually gave me feedback, showed me how to correct my mistakes, and pushed me to keep improving. My style looks more like Kito’s than Professor McNea’s, but if you look carefully, you can see the influence of the old Irishman in my work: vehicles, natural landscapes, cartoons of heavy black lines. I’m obviously not as good as Professor McNea (or Kito, for that matter), but to become great, you have to strive to emulate the best.

Professor McNea was the first Irishman I met in my life. While he didn’t introduce me to Irish food or music, I don’t think I would have gravitated toward them if he hadn’t given me a positive impression of being Irish. It is said that the Irish are fighters, and Professor McNea approached his work and his students with great energy and passion, even late in his life. As he liked to say, “There’s snow on the peak, but there’s fire in the furnace”.

The “Irishness” of Lunasa in Autumn Children, as well as what Shizuha learns she can do to help the people of Gensokyo throughout the year (as you will see in the December updates), are inspired by Professor Albert T. McNea.

Thanks for everything, Professor.

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Page 34
Page 35


Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Two weeks after I was told I was being laid off, my job search has ended. I start my new job at Paperless Business Systems in July.

Special thanks to the real-life friends who helped me with my job search: David of the University of Washington, Jon of Rapid Systems, Cameron of Cray, Kyle of WildTangent, Dylan of Pokemon USA, and Jun and Apurva of Microsoft. While I ended up not getting a job at any of your companies, you went above and beyond to get me leads. It is because of you that I have kept my house, my job, and my visa. I will pay you all back someday.

Now it is time to draw again.


Thursday, May 31st, 2012

I got laid off from my job.

I have 29 days to find a new job or fall out of status.

Let’s see how many job applications I can complete in the coming week. I’ll mention the applications in the comments as I send them out. Hopefully someone will hire me before time runs out.

Shooting the moon

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Those of you who read MTG Color Pie, the blog that publishes Lotus Cobra is Evil, know that the administrator, Robby Rothe, is one of the 100 or so still in the running for the Wizards of the Coast Designer Search 2 – a contest whose winner gets an internship in Magic R&D.

As he has said, this is a dream job that he is putting forth his best effort to get, and this contest is something he has been preparing for ever since he was eliminated from the first one.

Game design is like drawing or writing: anyone can do it, and you may think you could do reasonably well at it, but once you try to get a job doing it, you realize just how viciously difficult it is.

I may have graduated from art school, and those who read my blog may think I can draw, but let me tell you what happened during some job interviews. Edit: these interviews happened at least four years ago, and I have gotten better since then, but the weaknesses that were discovered by my interviewers have not disappeared.



Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Back in 2002, I was at my aunt’s house in Chicago, complaining to my grandmother about having to go back to get another college degree after my art degree and general lack of artistic skill failed to get me a job, or a worker’s visa for that matter.

“Our family used to own lands,” said my grandmother.

I blinked. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“You are the eldest son of my eldest son,” she replied. “Those lands would have been your inheritance.”


Sixten’s Perfect Math Class

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

To my cousin, who is in high school and asked me for help with this problem on his homework: Why are you asking me for help with math? I’m an art school graduate. Find the smartest person in your class (usually a quiet girl with glasses and long dark hair) and ask them to help you. Don’t laugh; it works.

Look for a girl like this. Such girls are often mathematical.

Anyway, I think this problem is simple enough so I can help you. Just keep my advice in mind for next time. It’s hard to deliver detailed explanations over the internet from all the way here in Seattle, especially when I’m trying to play Toho. Find someone in Chicago to help you.

(High school level)

Problem 25: A car is driven at a constant velocity of 25 m/s for 10.0 min. The car runs out of gas and the driver walks in the same direction at 1.5m m/s for 20.0 min to the nearest gas station. The driver takes 2.0 min to fill a gasoline can, then walks back to the car at 1.2 m/s and eventually drives home at 25 m/s in the direction opposite that of the original trip.

Draw a v-t graph using seconds as your time unit. Calculate the distance the driver walked to the gas station to find the time it took him to walk back to the car.

(click for larger image)



Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

From Yume Miru Kusuri, illustrated by Kiyotaka Haimura

On April 27, H.C.Staff was hacked for the second time. Getting a hold of my FTP password, which I hadn’t changed in over a year, a malicious individual was able to attach scripts to the ends of my HTML files and WordPress templates, scripts which contained words not normally discussed outside of H-games. And folders containing HTML files with unmentionable names appeared in various web folders. Google got word of this and blacklisted my site, resulting in “This site may harm your computer” in Google, and “Reported attack site” in Firefox.

After changing my password, I was able to purge the web directory and database, and restore them both from backups. Then I submitted a request via Google Webmaster Tools to have my site removed from the blacklist. They confirmed the removal of the “badware”, and now Google and Firefox have stopped warning visitors.

Two posts were lost: the Tsumugi Love post, and the post about Magic the Gathering player Yuya Watanabe and his profession, light music (軽音楽, “keiongaku”, or “kei-on” for short.)

Hopefully the hacker doesn’t have the means to get my password again with a snap of the fingers. I tried to ask my webhost’s support about how a hacker could have gotten my password, but they weren’t of much help. The only information I got was from my CPanel web stats analyzer, and while there was information that pointed to the FTP use of the unauthorized party, there wasn’t any sign of SQL injection or other exploits. Of course, I may just be looking in the wrong places.

From now on I’ll back up more often and change my password more often, but I don’t know what else I can do.

A darker and more dangerous place

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

So based off of Christopher’s advice in the last post, I went and set up the WordPress plugin to make the database backups automatically and have them emailed to me, once a week. I also kept my promise to always have the latest version to minimize vulnerabilities and updated to WordPress 2.7.1 (backing up manually first, of course). To be honest, I was starting to get annoyed with all the people giving me advice. I wanted to say, “Leave me alone! I haven’t had a four-hour span alone at my drawing board since the hack. Don’t you want to see Miao Diary get done? Why can’t I just draw in peace? Right now there are three posts on the site and all of them are about the hack!”

It was at that time that I remembered what happened in Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. Pursued by the soldiers of the empire as well as a hungry earth spirit, Prince Chagum has to undergo self-defense training from Balsa, the spearwoman who has sworn to protect him. In the climactic battle, when Balsa’s attention is drawn by a powerful enemy, what he learned from Balsa allows him to survive without her direct protection. Times have changed and I can’t just draw in peace. There are people out there who will vandalize an innocent and unprotected blog for no other reason than it is innocent (relatively speaking, of course; my projects, although modest by lolicon standards, are seldom innocent) and unprotected. I have come to the attention of those people and I have no choice but to learn how to protect myself.

So I have no right to get mad at those people who are offering advice. This isn’t the unsolicited, opinionated advice that Steven is so strongly against. These people are doing it because they want to help me. So I have to do the right thing and take their advice as I stumble through my first attempts at protecting my website. I may be almost 29 years old but I’m still a child when it comes to stuff like this. I’ve made some big mistakes already (the biggest being erasing the folder and database before determining the nature of the hack) so I have to do what I can to not make things any worse.

So what more advice is there? Should I spend the money to have the hack analyzed? Should I learn how to collect site access statistics (with like, say, Google Analytics), ban people from my site, or block ranges of IPs? Should I learn how to back up my database without the use of the plugin? When will I know when I’ve done enough and can get back to my work? I don’t want to have my operations paralyzed from fear. That’s what terrorists and hackers want to happen. I want to go back to the days when all I had to do was draw, scan, and post and never worry about hackers or the safety of my site. But it seems those days are gone, and I have to deal with it.

To all of you who have been offering advice, thank you. You make me want to tear my hair out, but I know it’s because you care.

(Now to sneak in a few hours of drawing before the next wave of advice. Hurry! Hurry!)

Recovery report

Monday, February 9th, 2009

For certain definitions of “grown”

Today I called my webhost (Lunarpages) and got to talk to a person (unlike over the weekend, when all I could get was a recording.) They helped me fix stuff. Here’s the results:

Images: Every image I ever posted was intact, except for the lighthouse banner. The hackers didn’t get into any folders besides the /heartscontents one, so no work was needed.

Permissions: The hackers had changed the permissions of the files in the /heartscontents folder so that I couldn’t overwrite or delete the hacked files. The Lunarpages tech restored my permissions and I was able to get rid of all those files and replace them with a notice.

Email: I couldn’t send or receive emails from addresses for a while. I got messages like “550 verification failed” and “send limit reached”. I was suspecting that the hackers had turned my email into a spam-sending robot, but that probably wasn’t the case. My email capabilities have been restored, but I’ll keep using my Yahoo address as my primary email and as the email of this blog. Those who have been trying and failing to email me can try guuonearth (at) yahoo (dot) com. It worked for one of my friends who was having trouble reaching my old address.

Database: The database is recoverable (they could restore it from backups), but it would cost $75 per hour.

It seems like I could have made a full recovery if I was willing to pay for it. Big props to Lunarpages for actually keeping regular backups of both the database and the files. If Heart’s Content had important business data, I’d be glad to hand over that money for the recovery. Unfortunately, I’m cheap, and I also like the chance to start fresh, erasing all the mistakes I made during the almost two years that this blog has been operational, and promising never to repeat them. Every post on the old blog has been read by its intended audience during the time that its information was relevant. I’ll only restore the posts I have to, such as the Miao Diary ones.

For some reason, the old blog isn’t worth $75 to me. If I had lost all the images as well, then maybe I’d think about it. Apologies to Author (who was so kind as to send me a text file of the blog posts from his reader) and everyone else who lost their links to Heart’s Content. For the community’s sake, I can and probably should do something to recover the lost blog, but for some reason, I who am normally diligent can’t seem to be bothered in this case. Maybe it’s because I would rather spend my time creating, rather than restoring.

The end of Miao Diary and the start of a new project

Come this March, upon finishing Miao Diary and taking care of some old debts like the Ravnica series, I’ll be a free agent. People have started asking me if I want to illustrate their project next.

The last collaboration I worked on was never completed.

I’m in demand probably because I’m at an odd skill level where I’m good enough to stand out from among the beginners, but I’m not yet good enough that a company would hire me or people not named Stripey would buy my full-color artbook if I made one. (Case in point: if I offered commissions for US $5 per hour, which is below Washington State minimum wage, none of my readers would be willing to pay.)

So people who think they have a project that suits my taste enough for me to work for free have started pitching their work to me. If they can offer me enough enjoyment such that it would be the only payment I need, then my skill is enough to make them happy. After I finish the Ravnica project (there are still two main characters left to design as well as one of the old characters who needs to be redesigned) I’ll have to decide which offer to accept, or whether I would just work on a project of my own creation.

But that’s not my concern right now, because finishing Miao Diary is my priority. I promise to repost Miao Diary in its entirety when I complete Chapter 4. There will be a preview and a release date announcement this Sunday, 15 February.