Food isn’t mana, but being topped up on calories definitely doesn’t hurt when you’re recovering from most sorts of deficits.

I like a little 4th wall humor now and then, but I don’t usually get this deep into it. Actually, what’s happening here is Sydney is being mindful of the inevitable comic-format autobiography of her travails as a superheroine, and doesn’t want to inflict a lot of tedious technical drawing on the eventual artist.

Actually, she wouldn’t care about that, because as one of the world’s first superheroes, any comic about her would have a team of inkers, colorists and background people working on it, not one single guy who will never draw a car if he can avoid it, and also can’t seem to make heads or tails of 3D programs like Blender despite like… 4 separate attempts to learn it. It’s not that I can’t get my head around the programs, but I honestly think that unless you have like a whole summer to sit down and really dig into them, you just aren’t going to actually learn and retain anything. An hour a few nights a week just doesn’t do it. The only way I’ve ever learned anything was by having a project I wanted to accomplish. Back in the day of dot-matrix printers, I wanted to make my own D&D character sheets, and the stupid things could only do 40 columns of characters, but I figured out a way to force the printer to an 80 column mode, and I figured out how to make the extremely non-WYSIWYG word processors format just how I wanted to fill up the whole sheet with useful information.

Basically, if I want to learn Blender, I need to come up with a simple project to force myself to learn it – which I have done, BUT, 3D programs are incredibly unintuitive. Like with photoshop, you can just start making marks and selecting stuff and messing around with it. Yeah, you can screw up and make it so you can’t seem to make any progress, like you could hit a keyboard shortcut and lock a layer, then you can’t draw on it and none of the tools seems to do anything, but for the most part, people can mess around and kind of figure out what most of the program does.

With Blender… well, let me tell you about two of the projects I tried. One was the shower room that has appeared a few times. I figured it was a staple set piece that I’d come back to over and over, and while drawing it by hand was not too much work, laying all the tile in perspective with the transform tool does take a while. So I made that room in Blender. Honestly it wasn’t that hard. It’s a box with some 4′ high walls evenly spaced. I think the parts that took the most time was finding a plugin so I could use Imperial measurements, and then figuring out how the hallways outside of the room attached and what was in them. The part that derailed me was trying to lay in the tile textures. Sure, there’s a million tutorials for “drag this rock texture onto your sphere and now you have a round rock.” That’s easy, but I couldn’t figure out how to UV unwrap the interior of a room. Not only that, but I needed the tiles to land in specific spots, not “rock goes on ball.” Each 4 foot wall has the blue trim tiles that matches a line of blue tiles on the floor, and each tile has that white caulk around it, so the caulk like has to line up with the edge of the wall exactly. So do I cut the wall into a separate piece of geometry so the blue tile is it’s own object that UV unwrap that? I don’t know. Of course there are people who can do stuff like that in their sleep, but it totally derailed me. Honestly, just doing UV unwraps and texturing stuff was way more intimidating than it should have been.

The second project I tried to create was Maxima’s gun. That seems pretty straight forward, right? Well, me, being the dumbass that I am, thought, “While I’m at it, why don’t I add rifling to the inside of the barrel so I can do some cool, gun pointing at camera shots.” But it turns out that rifling might just be the single hardest thing to model. (I’m sure it isn’t, but for someone who is an absolute amateur at the program, it ain’t easy.) So, there’s a modifier you can apply to geometry to twist it. Sounds easy enough, right? Make a cylinder with some ridges in it so it looks like a gear was pushed through it to create the negative space inside the cylinder, then use the modifier to twist the ends of the cylinder, right? Nope! That causes the middle of the cylinder to pinch, just like how if you twist anything in real life would. The only way I could figure out how to do it was to cut the barrel into like a 1/4″ section, use the twist modifier to put like a 1/12th twist so it didn’t pinch down noticeably, then use an array modifier to copy that section of the barrel like, 40 times. It didn’t look great and I got derailed trying to discover a more elegant way to do that and never finished the rest of the gun. I also got distracted trying to figure out how much twist actual rifling has in a pistol with a long-ass barrel like that. I’m sure the information is out there, but if you look up a gun online, that’s not usually a stat that’s front and center.

My point is that if I had a summer to just fuck around in Blender, I could probably make some substantial progress learning it, but my fits-and-starts method of wildly overshooting my technical ability and then quitting for 6 months has not lead to positive results.

You know that Yotsuba manga I linked a few pages ago? Given that I assume most comic artists, and manga artists especially, are probably fairly speedy when it comes to drawing people, I think 3/4 of the work on that comic is actually done by background assistants. There are some pages that are just like, here’s a picture of a transformer on a telephone pole, and here’s a shot of a shop with 4 bicycles parked in front of it, and here’s a shot of a shinto temple with all those wavy roof tiles and a bunch of trim on the wood and paper stuff dangling in the breeze, and the last panel is Yotsuba’s foot coming down on a puddle. Yeah, that kind of page will probably never happen in Grrl Power, which is honestly too bad because when I do go back and reread a few pages because I was looking for a character’s last appearance or some other reference and then I spend an hour reading back pages, the comic definitely lacks that kind of subdued pacing. Not that I’d want a lot of that stuff, but the occasional page with establishing shots, especially when entering a new setting would be nice now and again.

The September vote incentive is up! Let’s call it the November vote incentive and just say I’ve still got two I.O.U’s, eh?

Well, Dabbler is doing her Dabbler things, and the Patreon version has a nude variant and a comic that… I don’t know, expounds on the goings on of the initial picture?



Double res version will be posted over at Patreon. Feel free to contribute as much as you like.