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We should be out of this convention in another 4-5 . 2-3 more with these guys, 1 leaving the con, and one does a time skip of about a month. After that we will be in Chapter 4. And the Chapters actually have names for anyone interested. Chapter 1: To the Wolves Chapter 2: Hating You Back (Ellie v Quinn) Chapter 3: Interconvention (Sistercon and the actual con) Chapter 4: Room with a Viewcount Chapter 5: The Royal Buckinghams Now the poster I made is a parody of The Royal Tenebaums, for anyone who didn't get it, and it also doubles as the Chapter 5 intro art. I always intended each chapter to have it's own cover-like splash page (only I wouldn't use it as an excuse for an actual comic post, which is a pet peeve.) This was an idea I had for a while, and since it featured the entire family, I stopped kicking it around and made it a poster as well. Due to time constraints, the illustrations for each chapter more or less fell to the wayside. Chapter 1 did infact get one, which was this: FB banner   The poster, as I said some weeks ago, was also me throwing myself into the fire with my tablet and becoming completely comfortable with it. I've had a Wacom Cintiq 22hd for a while and well, it's fairly intimidating. It's also something that takes time to adjust to. Time I didn't always have. Since creating the poster, I can't live without it. It's fantastic. I'm never going back to using the mouse to finish my lines again. Or color for that matter. In fact, this comic, and the two before it were the first ones done 100% via tablet. So go us, amiright? I did originally have a different 'strictly-seven-sisters poster' in mind for my first poster-type-poster for Society6, but I opted for this since it was a better snapshot of the comic for Patreon, and it featured more characters (such as Quinn.) Here's my initial sketch Original size 13,500px wide by 9,000px high. 01 Sketch   You can click on any of these for a much larger view. The image originally had a rug, which I grew to hate, and you may also notice the young lady sitting on her knees in the center is missing half her head. This is because I completely finished my sketch and realized I forgot Ginger. That's right. I completely forgot a whole character. I'm so used to going 7+Quinn equals eight, that my counts always ended up right if you include the 'yet to be mentioned' character in the center. I'm human. After this, I made a new layer and drew directly on top of the sketch. This time more detailed, and more zoommed in. 02 Starting Lines This was almost the most time consuming process, but not the most frustrating. We'll get to that part.. 03 More Lines   Lines are almost completed at this point. I also decided to make the irises their own layer, and not part of the linework. I know this creeps most people out to where they won't shut up about it, so I made sure I stuck them in as soon as I could for anyone I showed my progress to. 04 Finished lines Added some floating props to be integrated later, but for the most part, lines are all done. It was at this point I had to make a call on whether or not Chapter 5 would include a certain character, which you'll see pop up on the left. 06 Flats w lines This was the second most time consuming process. Setting the flats. Holy crap this took forever. I also saved a version with the lines removed. 05 Flats Only And you thought they were creepy WITHOUT irises. Now we move onto shading: 07 Shading   That image is about half-way through, and with the image as a whole, probably around 2/3's completed. You can click on Cactuar for the "actual pixel" size for an example of the original image I worked with: 11 Size Here's an example of the shading with the line layer muted: 07 Shading 2 So like, jinkies man! This poster is really trucking. My 7-year-old PC I have this tablet hooked up to is running beautifully. Everything is awesome. Huh? What's that PC? I haven't used you in like 4 years and pretty much forgot why I eventually got a laptop? Oh damn. Now I remember. See, with the last comic I posted I mentioned our power outages. We have them frequently. I live in a one-stop-light town that loses power on the regular. But not regular enough to plan for it. I kid you not... in this town, no one relies on an alarm clock plugged into a wall. No one even bothers resetting their microwave or oven clocks. Mine haven't be reset in almost 11 months. Everything has blinking VHS player times. We lose power at the most inopportune times imaginable, and it's typically at around 2-3 am. If we lose power during the day... it's always on the nicest sunniest days imaginable. So that's one issue I may or may not run into. The other, was me forgetting I took this PC into be fixed 4 years ago because it powers itself off at random.  It ran so good for me making this comic for over a week, I totally forgot. But then I stopped forgetting. Sometimes I'd get a start-up sounding WWHHHIRRRR and it would go black (this is my occasional 1.5 second warning to accept my work will be lost..) More rarely I'd get blue screen of death.. Sometimes my computer would boot back up like it just had a fainting spell. Other times it would go FULL BACKUP SYSTEM STAT CHECK CONFIGURING EVERY FILE with a plethora of those counting up percentage notifications that had to hit 100%. I mean this $#!t would take 20-25 minutes. All this waiting around to see how much work I lost since I can't ever remember exactly where I saved. But yeah, wow. Power outages... random system suicides... what next, right? Probably nothing. 09 Color Distortion 1 CORRUPTED FILES!? COLOR DISTORTION!???? !!??? Okay.. don't panic, right. Just gotta change some hues or whatever. It's still good. It's still good. Alright. Fixed it. Took some time... Let's move on. *Save files* *Open on laptop this time*   09 Color Distortion 2 N-- No-- 09 Color Distortion 3 PC!??.. Do you.. ..hate boobs? Are you writing some form of Elvish on Cinnamon's shirt??? In the darkness, bind them...??? I mean... what?  Why!? Anyway.. long story short, I saved tons upon tons of versions of this poster as I went along. RB1,-RB15 or so. I had lots of backups. It turns out it wasn't directly from the computer shutdowns. Perhaps indirectly, but I'm no computer science person or whatever. Or very bright. But what I did conclude was the PSD file reached a size my PC couldn't handle anymore, and was distorting random layers as it saved. Sometimes it was the "line" layer, sometimes the "skin-colors" layer, sometimes the "shirt" layer. I eventually piecemeal'ed it back together using multiple other files and parts of different layers. Good line layer on one file... meet your new best friend: good colors layer from other file.... and so on. I relinquished myself to finalizing the colored lines and background detail on the laptop to prevent anymore time loss on this project. 10 Swirls Background was done mixing tons of swirl designs I made (I wanted something that paralleled the backgrounds on the cast page.) I just inserted that, and came up with a legit looking logo and... TRB Done

92 thoughts on “DKPFX

  1. And some of you are probably wondering who that character is sitting on the table next to Quinn’s brother.

    That’s Quinn.
    I know she hasn’t been in the comic for a while, but don’t worry! She’s still around.

    1. Hey, this season of Dancing With The Stars isn’t going to watch itself. I’ll come back when I’m ready.

      1. the “before times” bit reminds of something that I can’t remember. Probably a show or movie, and I think it was animated? If you’re referencing anything in particular, could you say what it is for my sake?

    2. Aww, Quinnn’s got a cute wittle brudder. ;P

      Seriously, I get the feeling that he’ll be introduced in a manner like…
      -knocking on the door-
      -Ellie answers to find a kid with a duffel bag, backpack, and pillow in hand-
      Ellie: Sorry kid, Halloween ended like…a while ago and I ate the leftover candy.
      Kid: Is Quinn here?
      Ellie: o.0… QUINN!! YOUR FAN CLUB PREZ IS HERE!!
      Quinn: For the love of…(grumble-grumble)…Wha?…What are you doing here?
      Kid: Mom kicked me out…again.

      1. Recalling Quinn mentioning their mom stealing one of her boyfriends (in high school…) I wonder if it’s kicked out or “Mom’s new boytoy is really loud, and I’m tired of sleeping in those noise cancelling headphones.”

        1. Quinn mentioned her mother pestering her about her sexlife. Stealing a boyfriend I don’t think was ever mentioned. That’s too sitcom-y for me to be something I’d include in the story.

  2. Not to bang on a poor dying machine, but it sounds like a disc error. Replacing the hard drive make the whole thing functional. But with that old a comp it might not even be worth it.

    1. You might try SpinRite from GRC.com. But, the price of a hard drive may be cheaper. It’s a good long term investment as a maintenance tool, though.

      But, it really sound as if a new machine is in order. Even a new budget computer will be a huge improvement. Mine died earlier this year, and I found a mid range one on sale for less than the bargain units.I have been happy with it, even with Windows 8.

    2. Agreed, if getting chkdisk on boot a lot a failing hard drive corrupting file system is one possibility. However, if we’re talking 2-10 hard power issues killing the system every week, that can cause the file system problems too.

      I remember SpinRite from 15 years ago being sometimes helpful, but it took forever. While I haven’t tracked SpinRite, I know that changes in hard drive operation since then have rendered a lot of disk wipe utilities of that era questionable, though I assume it’s been maintained and is capable of handling the ATA commands and cluster remapping. I’ve also heard mixed things about Steve Gibson, and they either tend to be very good or very bad with few in the middle. I do remember hearing that he programmed only in assembly, even for things with Windows GUIs, which does imply the special kind of crazy that could go either way.

      If you want to diagnose hard drive issues, you can generally get free tools from the drive manufacturer that sometimes help. They aren’t great, but they’re free.

      You can get free tools to read the S.M.A.R.T. data (which is what the manufacturer tools frequently use) off the drives (sourceforge.net/projects/smartmontools/ has the source that’s included with Linux along with Windows versions that will let you access the data from right-click menu on disks). For Linux you’d do the command `smartctl -a /dev/sda` or with the Windows version right-click on the drive and choose “SMART attributes.” Every drive manufacturer has slight differences in what the values mean and seems to decide to trigger things in different ways, but if you have non-zero values for ID 198 that’s generally cause for concern (and 197 if it stays that way for a while). If it’s in the double digits back everything up and buy a new drive (or call warranty if newer). From work, it seems like a number more than 1 or 2 in ID 198 is enough for HP to send a warranty hard drive (though they use an opaque BIOS tool, so that’s not 100% clear). If I’m trying to test if a drive is failing on Linux, I’ll normally do smartctl -a and save the output, do something to exercise the disk read & write, do smartctl -t long (long self-test), let it finish, and then compare with smartctl -a again. If value for ID 5 skyrockets I get worried and if 199 is increasing at all I replace.

      As a side note, if you’re getting this much file system corruption, regardless of if it’s due to drive failure or power outages, you can have corruption in some of your system or application files which can make things a bit wonky as well (sometimes something obvious like a crash, sometimes more subtle weirdness, just depends on the file corruption). I would recommend backing up your data files and reinstalling Windows and all your programs. Once you get things to a state you’re happy with, take an image (Clonezilla is a free option for that) so you can just restore the image instead of the full OS install and app config next time.

    1. Same. Which is probably the only reason you weren’t first.
      I knew if I kept half-lurking I would take the trophy eventually.

    2. Freeze those knees, my chickadees! Cuz Mr Blue’s in the place and he’s on the case! Yesterday’s frog will be tomorrow’s prince – of Shotgun Shuffle.

  3. Wow, they wernt kidding, those two really DO know their stuff. Thats some pretty good work they’re doing on Pumpkin. If she can get in with them, she’s got a pretty good future ahead of her.

    Seriously, quality costumes rank in a ton of money. I’ve seen Power Ranger’s costumes going for a couple hundred each, and those things still sell even now. With The Walking Dead a current juggernaut in the entertainment industry there is plenty of potential for this kind of work.

    1. Personally, i fear a backlash in the DTV horror market. It’s getting pretty saturated in there, and with world events being what they are, I’m concerned people may revolt and the bottom will fall out of DTV horror.

        1. Yeah, but have you been to a video store lately? Or seen the listings on IMDB or the like? There’s a ton of DTV horror coming out. The shelves are full to bursting. Add in the ebola and such and it may be people will start wanting laughs more than scares. When the news is scary enough, the movies may suffer. Might end up like the mid-nineties again.

        2. You can’t tell with that sort of thing. People go both ways and guessing the proportions of the population tends to be a losing game.

          You did remind me of an article I saw during Bush Jr’s term claiming that the US having a Democrat in the White House led to greater popularity in vampires in the entertainment media, while Republicans made zombies more popular. Zombies have held strong during Obama’s term, though.

          That, of course, made me think of the electoral precedents determined for xkcd.com/1122/ which is a lot of fun “first” type trivia.

    1. That’s their cousin, Cami (Camomile.) Chapter 5 starts with Pumpkin’s 16th birthday, so the sisters rejoin to designate/vote on Pumpkin as “The _____ One” and hopefully never spend forced-time with each other again. As a homage to TRT movie, Cami is the one who really really wants to be part of the immediate family.

      1. I’ve heard that if you supply an e-mail, then that e-mail address is all that’s used. However, you could use equivalent e-mail addresses that are different spellings. For example, Gmail doesn’t pay attention to dots in the user name, and will ignore anything after a plus, so johndoe@gmail.com will receive mail sent to john.doe@gmail.com, johndoe+muppets@gmail.com, or john.doe+ceramicfigurines@gmail.com. However, this site’s avatar choice code probably isn’t set to ignore those things, so you could use those tweak/modify.

  4. So I see your Patreon has a ‘mcfatfat plushie’ option at 2 grand. Mcfatfat is PERFECT for Squishables. You should contact them and see what they can do for you, regardless of 2k! I love squishables :)

    1. Agreed! I have (well, my kid has…) a massive T-Rex squishable from Dinosaur Comics. Excellent quality and also very squishable.

      Massive squishable McFatFat… To scale…

  5. Power loss leads to dead disks…having done IT for 7 years, that is one thing I have learned. UPSes are great things, if you can afford to get one and you get it before problems happen. Hind sight is 20/20 I guess. But, good to see that the laptop is working for you and that you have moved to the tablet. Keep up the great work, but don’t kill yourself on account of us, your readers. We want you to be healthy so you can continue to entertain us.

      1. Maybe, but remember they’ve only been friends a short while, having recently bonded over mutual hatred and shared enemies.

        1. Katrina is much closer to grudging acceptance than friendship with Pumpkin. I’m also not convinced that Pumpkin forms close emotional bonds yet. A “just business”-type mindset doesn’t always mix well with close emotional attachments (seems more like conditional emotional attachments at best). Too soon to tell with Pumpkin in that regard, though.

    1. It’s the perfect costume, just in time for Halloween- Sexy Shambling Putrid Corpse! Just what every little girl wants to be! Well, that or Elsa.

  6. Rusche: File corruption like that is one reason I started using an online backup service in addition to buying a UPS. The backup service I recommend is $4/month from from crashplan.com, but backup review sites should be able to point you to a slew of others if you want to shop around. The most important features that you’ll want (beside reliability) are unlimited storage, and (this is the huge one) version control / file versioning.

    If you aren’t familiar with version control software, it’s basically a system that saves multiple backups of your data files at different points in time. This enables you to restore to earlier versions if/when something goes wrong. (I end up using it all the time when friends in my Pathfinder/D&D group invariably save over my templates with their characters.)

    The nice thing about a system like this is you can set it up to retain copies of recently modified files at very frequent intervals (I do every 8 hours), then keep copies at longer and longer intervals as the time since the last change increases.

    Keep 1 copy every 8 hours for files modified in the last 48 hours
    Keep 1 copy per day for files modified in the last 7 days
    Keep 1 copy per week for files modified in the last month
    Keep 1 copy per month for files modified in the last year
    Keep 1 copy per year for files that have not been modified in the last year

    I generally schedule mine to upload its backups while I’m in bed or at work so that it doesn’t interfere with gaming, personal projects, etc. Since the initial backup will take quite a while, I’d recommend specifying your initial backup set as just the recent comics, then increase the number of folders included in the backup set over the course of the following weeks.

    Hope this helps…

    1. On a side note, the irony that I keep offering technical advice and had a difficult time trying to figure out how to change my avatar is not lost on me.

      *shakes fist at Word Press for not linking to Gravatar when trying to edit one’s profile

  7. I’m curious, how old is Quinn’s brother?? I thought for sure he was around pumpkins age but in the poster he looks much much younger.

    1. Well we saw him first on July 26, 2013.

      Judging that we hadn’t seen braces on Quinn in 5th grade(September 2, 2013); I’m gonna take an educated guess that the scene took place when she was in either late Middle or early High School making her roughly 13 to 14 at the time with Quinn’s brother being (and acting) roughly 6 to 10. With Quinn pushing 20 and a possible 4 to 7 year difference in age, I’ma gonna say that Quinn’s bro stands to be between 12 and 15 with the odds being more in favor of the former.

  8. The original sketch makes it look like they are all on one really exhausted flying carpet. Probably a good move nixing it.

  9. Just noticed something looking at the patreon poster thingy: electric guitar behind Juniper. Is this in any way, shape or form related up the cast page image on the dock?

    Like, litterally just noticed it looking a bit closer at the cactaur.

    Ooh, will all 3 of them zombie-up & “foto-bomb” our resident cosplay-ing assholes for the remainder of the con (or at least give them a good startling)?

    Also (how many points can be reached in one post?) I would be all about purchasing a McFat Fat plush if it were as big & squishy as he appears to be.

      1. Was he? I thought the skinny band member was Quinn’s old ex- (but not ex at the time) but I don’t recall a father ever being distinctly mentioned (and, with her “activity level” it’s possible the father isn’t even known, unless I’m just not remembering it)

        I really want to say at some mention of the pregnancy there was a “narrowing down” of the suspects, but no clear conclusion of who dunnit.

        1. It implies that was him strongly enough enough that either he’s Tag’s pappa or Ellie was being deliberately deceptive to Quinn.

          Comic Anise (26 Aug 2013) identifies Zane as a “wanna-be bass player”

          Next comic (Juniper, 28 Aug 2013) shows and names Zane and that Juniper stole him from Quinn.

          Next comic (Name Dropping, 30 Aug 2013) notes that things didn’t end well with Zane moving out of state and Juniper dropping out when she got pregnant.

          However, the guitar behind Juniper is a six string, and while wikipedia states that there are six string bass guitars, four is most common (and six for a regular guitar), so that might not be the link.

          We don’t have a lot of info about Wandering Girl from the cast page. Rusche mentioned that she was possibly more out there than Tarra, but in more subtle ways and that she’s a character that he seems fairly excited/enthused about. I don’t believe that she’s intended to be an alter-ego of one of the sisters or anything like that, I think she’s a separate person.

    1. It’s related, and I’ll reiterate that Wandering Girl is a separate character. There’s been much speculation she’s someone we’ve already met.
      A grouping of the characters do eventually form a band, but that may not happen until Chapter 7. The guitar in the picture involves Anise, not Juniper.

  10. Rusche,

    I have to say how awesome it is to see how your art has grown and changed over the time you’ve been doing this comic. Only been reading for about a year or so (maybe 2, I can’t remember), but I love seeing how much it has changed.

    Keep up the Awesome!

  11. I would suggest using a backup software like Dropbox to combat the power outages and dying computer. I keep all of my “in- progress” projects in my Dropbox folder. I move finished projects out to keep from going over the free limit for Dropbox. Finished projects can be archived to an external hard drive.

    Dropbox runs in the background uploading every time I save changes to files. Dropbox also keeps a version history. I can login to their website and restore old versions of a file whenever I accidently overwrite it or the computer screws it up. It has saved my butt a few times.

    Another bonus is being able to access my current projects from any device with a browser and internet connection. This has been very helpful when at work or school.

    It does sound like you need a new hard drive, too. You should make backups ASAP.

  12. Rusche, considering the ads are now gone, maybe you should consider tossing out a few fake ads from time to time. I don’t know how many people checked the supplemental pages, but the parodies you did of “Doctors HATE Her!” and its ilk were hilarious.

    1. I’d agree those would be amusing, but I’d keep them as either advertisements for your store or things already done/low effort.

      1. I concur; just do it as a casual thing, like if you get an ad idea when you’re bored. Don’t take this as a suggestion you should overload your schedule. :D

  13. Wow, that poster is looking good! Really worth the work you put into it.

    And on a sidenote, I completely forgot to mention: Hoodie and t-shirt arrived. They’re rather on the small side for an “L” (though not nearly as small as an italian L *shudders*), but I can still wear them just fine. And at least the t-shirt already survived two conventions. I approve.

  14. I saw one interesting difference from the sketch to the final picture: In the sketch Mr. Stevens has his hand on Ellie’s shoulder, but has “dropped” his hand by his side in the following renditions. Looking at the sketch, it reminds me of how I’d stand behind my wife/girlfriend if I was in a picture with her… Spoiler that got by your subconscious and got removed when you concentrated on the final lines??

    1. While I don’t know Rusche’s thinking, I can say that in the first sketch Blind Guy’s hand looks a little off and would’ve needed some redesigning to look right, and the change was in the next version where all lines were drawn in electronically (added the right side of chair back that Ellie’s arm is up on). So that could’ve been just rearranging physical space to fit right.

  15. So, I’m surprised I’m the first to comment, but I’m curious about the next chapter being titled “Room with a Viewcount” where Ellie has just started working for a small website doing video sharing. Seems potentially relevant…

    I don’t think Danny does a porn website, so not thinking anything naked, but I’m wondering if she’s going to be doing some kind of web talk show or reviews or tips or something from her bedroom as a job, a favor, or a hobby. Remembering initial Facebook addiction and activities puts a certain degree of flirtiness on the table too. I could see Danny (if he found her Facebook page) offering her a cheap laptop with a webcam that she could have on the condition that she used a good portion of her online social butterfly/exhibitionist tendencies in conjunction with his site. That could possibly pay for a cheap laptop within a year or two.

    1. Maybe it’ll go the other way, with Ellie trying to get Quinn to be more sociable (if only online)? One of my favorite scenes is still Ellie physically dragging Quinn from her chair to Thanksgiving dinner. I think that was in It’s What the Pilgrims Ate.

  16. Question: How do you do your shading? Is it with brushes and different pressure, or do you use something else?

    I teach a media arts class (basically digital art), but have limited art background, and one of our projects is a digitally painted self-portrait. I teach them how to do some shading with the pressure setting on our Intuos 5 pen tablets, but was curious what you do for shading.

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