Adventures in 3D Printing by J. Logan Carey

This is more DIY project related than art related specifically, but I thought some people might enjoy this one.

So I like to occasionally browse the internet for vintage things that have to do with local stuff. Living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, there isn't anything quite as iconic as the See Rock City signs you can still see painted on old barns for miles in every direction and I came across this awesome sign that was formally a functional date keeper. Presumably, and let me know if anyone has more details about this one, it would have been hanging somewhere around Chattanooga in what I would guess was the 60s or 70s, very cool.

FullSizeRender.jpg

When I got it, it was pretty dirty and obviously the belts on the inside weren't being held in place anymore. I noticed it actually was two pieces, the front metal piece with the graphics could just slide up and off. I'm guessing whoever made these made a bunch of different versions for different businesses. 

Here's what was on the inside:

IMG_2172.JPG

This was really good actually. The date belts were all still intact and with a light wash of warm soapy water they cleaned up very well. The yellowish tint comes from the sun-stained plastic covering the date windows in the front. It became clear that out of the four original spindles (my word, not sure if it's right) used to turn the day, date, and month, only one was complete and unbroken and two were completely missing. There are four holes in the side for the spindles to project out and then anyone could change the date just by spinning the appropriate spindle.

Here's the one good and one bad spindle:

IMG_2173.JPG

Now this wasn't the biggest disappointment in the world. I figured I could probably tape the belts to the windows in the sign so at least it would appear functional. That's when my ever clever better half, Jacque Nodell, suggested we go to the Chattanooga Public Library. Not to research where to find replacement parts, who knows where you would find replacement date spinners for an advertisement sign from fifty-something years ago, but to check out the library's excellent fourth floor resources which include of all things, a set of 3D printers available to the public.

Now, I pretty much knew as much as anyone off the street about 3D printing. I knew it was cool, and looked complicated, that's about it. We decided to be totally honest with the fourth floor staff and explain how total beginners we were with this project. The staff was super helpful and guided us to a computer where in a few moments I had created a free account on TinkerCAD. Now, while I have a technology background as that's what I do for my day job, I'll say the interface is extremely user-friendly. If you have any interest whatsoever in getting into 3D design, it's worth making a free account and playing with the tools.

After about half an hour spent going through the online tutorial, I decided to give it a try and see if I could mock-up a prototype for the replacement parts I needed. Below is the result:

IMG_2174.JPG

Not too bad if I don't say so myself. The library staff was duly impressed I was able to learn the software and complete a design in about an hour. Proud nerd is proud. 

After a few test pieces and learning some tricks with the FlashForge 3D printer the library uses like spraying a layer of hairspray on the printing deck so the first layer of plastic from the extruder sticks down enough to not go flying as it moves back and forth, we were able to get pieces that very closely resembled the originals.

IMG_2178.JPG

Looks aside, the real test was installing them and seeing if they would hold the date belts in place and turn them as well.

Check out the result:

IMG_2180.JPG

Everything held together fine and turned like a dream! The amount of plastic we used from the library cost us about $1.

After cleaning up the front face of the sign with some more warm soapy water and sliding it back into place, here's the end result we now have hanging on our wall:

IMG_2186.JPG

We chose to leave it on May 20th as that's our anniversary which fit nicely with the whole "Make a Date" graphics on the front. 

I am super happy with how this project turned out and will love looking at this piece on our wall for years to come. The whole thing has made me start looking around our place for other things we could 3D print to fix or organize better. The library of already created designs in TinkerCAD is really worth a look, people have already uploaded thousands of ideas for things from Apple Pencil holders to gaming dice. 

Thanks for reading!

Making a Webcomic - Part 1 by J. Logan Carey

Welcome to the first post detailing the nitty gritty of making a webcomic, or at least, my bumbling my way through making my first webcomic, from pencils all the way to pixels.

Since this is all going to be a learning process, I didn't want to get too bogged down worrying about using only the highest quality supplies and industry standard widths and margins used by all the biggest publishers. I'm just a person on the interwebs trying to make a funny book. So I settled on using a Strathmore Drawing pad, Medium Surface, 9 x 12, 80 lb. This paper is high quality enough that I think it looks good and lends well to finished art while being pretty cheap to get your hands on. While I did purchase a pad of SUPER EXTREMO FANCY 11 x 17 paper made expressly for the purpose of drawing comics on, I'm not using it. It looks awesome, but it's way too overwhelming to think about drawing something that size at this point in my life. 

Now that I've got my drawing medium for my pencils, I've got to decide what dimensions to use. If you're trying to answer this question for your own comic, buckle your seatbelt before you hit SEARCH because there's about 4,000 different answers. While you may be tempted to look at what the big kids are using in their studios...who cares? Just find a size you're comfortable with and can lend well to scanning. I am drawing my comic at 8 inches wide by 10 1/2 inches tall. It's probably a little wider than modern comics, but if you ask me, modern comics are too damned skinny anyway. Plus, this comic is going online, and in the magic of the internet <insert rainbow>, you can make your comic whatever the hell dimension you want. As long as it's no wider than a standard screen ratio or as long as you use a responsive site which will auto-size your images.

I've also decided to redraw the first panel of Gemini on my page seen below:

IMG_2111.JPG

Gemini will take place in the desert so that'll require a lot of desert type landscape sketch practice.

IMG_2105.JPG

While I have Clip Studio Paint, I think I'm going to give it a shot inking and coloring on my iPad. I've been super impressed with the art apps available for it like Procreate which just seems to keep getting better.

Hopefully I'll have the all the panels on the first page filled out for my next post.

Looking for inspiration? Try Instagram Collections by J. Logan Carey

I tend to save a lot of images all over my computer. I use them as inspiration for writing and drawing ideas. Having some visual reference around can really spark my imagination, but I'm always trying to track down where they end up and the folder sizes can start to really get huge. Well I found a super useful alternative courtesy of the latest update from Instagram: Collections

Now when you see an image you really love and want to hang on to, you can select the ribbon icon on the bottom right of the image. Tapping it once will place it in your Saved images, long press and you can create or select a specific Collection to place it in.

FullSizeRender.jpg

This is great considering you really can only save Instagram posts by taking screenshots as they do not support image downloading in the app or on the web and lots of great pictures get lost over time when there's so many to comb through. It's basically a bookmarking tool for images, kind of like Pinterest, except better, and I'll explain how. 

Pinterest is, obviously, a huge digital pin board where anyone in the world can take images, usually someone else's, and dump them online and then sort of get credit for organizing the images together. Now, people can repost other people's images on Instagram too, but it's much less prevelant and typically credit is given to the original poster.  

On Instagram, when selecting an image from you Collection, not only can you easily go to the entire feed from the creator who made the image you really love, but you can personally interact with them via comments or even direct message. It's akin to Twitter in that there's much more of a one-to-one relationship with the person creating the images. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

I have quite a few Collections going and it has really helped kickstart my inspiration levels when I'm stuck and just want to breeze through a stream of images. 

Collections are currently private only which is kind of nice, so you can't see mine, but you CAN connect with me on Instagram at @jlogancarey. Come on over, build some Collections, and gimme some emojis, you might just get some back. 😉👋 

Landscape Learnin' by J. Logan Carey

Starting to work on a webcomic for someone who isn't a very experienced illustrator leads to all sorts of interesting problems. Namely, I don't know how to draw landscapes! The backgrounds, the ground and sky that make up any given comic panel, well, I've never really drawn any of that stuff! 

I've always drawn figures and objects and even plants and animals, but sketching out entire environments has always seemed so overwhelming that I've never actually given it a shot. Well the time to start practicing is now. 

The first story in the Zodiac webcomic I'm working on will be "Gemini". This story takes place in a desert landscape following a small nomadic society who worship the twin constellation of Gemini as their deity. Deserts are beautiful. They're also roughly large chunks of similar colors, so they should be a good entry point into the wider world of illustrated environments. 

I decided to follow a YouTube tutorial on a cloudy sunset in Procreate on the iPad to test the app's capabilities and mine too.

For this I followed one of James Julier's many excellent YouTube tutorials. The end result was pretty meh, but the real key here is learning how to "paint" digitally. The video had some really good tips about lighting in clouds, sky, and horizons.

So, not the worse ever, but there's obviously a lot of learning to do here. Procreate is really versatile and I like how it's simplified visually so it's not as overwhelming to an amateur as something like Photoshop or Clip Studio Paint.

I used Mischief to make this next simple painting of some dunes. Mischief is an amazing digital sketchpad. The tools are dead simple to play with and the infinite canvas is a dream. I don't know of anyone really using it for professional stuff or webcomic type work, but if you know of any, send them my way as I'd love to check them out.

Now that I had a chance to play around, I really wanted to knock out the first panel of Gemini. It's important to finish something and start digging deeper into this. The whole project is a kind of a dare to myself to see if I can follow through and make some progress into illustrated work so now's the time to do it.

Here's the first finished panel of Gemini in the Zodiac webcomic...

Hope you like it. The text will come later. What's really going to be fun for Zodiac is that with 12 different short illustrated stories I can play with many different styles and mediums of art. The Procreate process video is on my Twitter if you want to see the whole thing come together. 

Here's to starting something new with whatever you have, wherever you are!

New project in the works by J. Logan Carey

I've been itching to get illustrating on a webcomic of my very own for a while now. It's going to be an anthology series of of the twelve short stories from my book Zodiac.  Each story is based on the mythology figures behind the constellations in a variety of genres and settings. Some take place in the far flung reaches of space, some at the edge of madness, and some in places all too familiar. 

Now, I've never done a webcomic before. Hell, I've never drawn a comic before. I've written comic scripts and drawn for fun all my life, but I've never combined the two and gotten serious about it. 

Well that's the plan. They'll be released on this site throughout the year and will be free to read. I'll also document the process of making the webcomic from an amateur's perspective and detail any tips or tribulations I run into. Maybe that could help some others looking to jump into the game. The internet is ripe for quality comic content. There are already some great examples out there, but there's always room for one more.

The first story I'll be doing will be Gemini, hopefully coinsiding with the period of the year that we're under the sign. That's the goal. Here's the first storyboard page:

It's rough stuff, I know. Still can't be but a little proud of the first storyboard page I've ever made.

It's rough stuff, I know. Still can't be but a little proud of the first storyboard page I've ever made.

This next fellow over here is one of the desert-dwelling people in the story who worship the Gemini constellation as their twin deities.  He looks a little ragged. Desert living is harsh.

This next fellow over here is one of the desert-dwelling people in the story who worship the Gemini constellation as their twin deities.  He looks a little ragged. Desert living is harsh.

That's a short, but sweet intro to the project. I hope you guys check it out and I'd love to hear what you think!

Welcome... by J. Logan Carey

...to my new website and blog.

I'll be posting updates on various projects here as well as updating the blog on a semi-regular basis. Come follow me on Twitter and Instagram as I'll let everyone know of updates to the site.

Thanks and let's do this.