The Academy is built out of a series of old mining tunnels that criss-cross through the mountain range that encloses the Sanctuary. No one knows who originally dug the tunnels, as they were already there when the first wave of Lumen settlers arrived in the mid-1600’s, but a few old-timers swear they weren’t dug by human hands.
The Academy Transit Station is the main entrance to the Sanctuary for those on foot.
Classrooms, outdoor dining hall area, mountain tunnels, transit station, entry, etc.
I made this image to use as a banner on my Facebook profile page in 2015. The image includes photos of my dogs and horses with wings and horns added as well as a render of AmyCk and CynCk as fairies.
Here’s a close-up of the AmyCk and CynCk fairies:
Clearly I need to work on AmyCk’s skin tone, as I’m not quite that pale!
Waiting by the Little Fairy Dogs restroom
After attending the Festival of Faerie in Lafayette, CO, I was inspired to make the following image out of photos of my dogs and a variety of media assets I’d saved. All composition work was done in Pixelmator.
And just b/c I could, I also made an animated GIF version:
“CynCk” and “AmyCk” is how I refer to the 3D character/avatar I created for Cynthia and me, using Lady Littlefox’s Cookie figure as the base.
I was originally planning to use a modified version of AmyCk for my character in a graphic memoir, but then I finally figured out how to use Victoria4 and went that route instead. I still occasionally use our Ck characters for holiday greetings and other fun compositions.
Anyone who knows Cynthia will recognize the “Cyn Explains Things” poses!
I started off making this for a specific friend who’s learning how to do 2D animation on an iPad, but I put so much work into it that I ended up making it generic enough to share with any of our friends! I originally started drawing these “shape creatures” a few years ago, when I decided to “go literal” with the drawing advice to break everything down into their component shapes (circles and squares).
Animation made in AnimationCreator HD, by far the best 2D animation app for iPad!
Here are a few characters I created using Lady Littlefox’s Cookie figure as the base. These images were rendered in Poser using the comic effect.
Early on in my journey towards learning to create 3D graphic art, I had intended to develop a graphic novel version of a memoir about lesbian identity, a subject I’ve addressed in a variety of digital formats.
After spending 5-6 months developing the characters and settings — and learning a ton along the way — I came up against the limitations of trying to depict real people and events using the 3D assets I had available at the time. So I decided to switch my focus to developing graphics for my fictional Lumen stories, and I’ve been having so much fun that I’m not sure I’ll return to the graphic memoir, despite the fact that I’m now capable of creating the kind of assets I’d need.
The character in the blue floral dress with blonde hair is based on me when I was in my 20’s, and the others are based on people I knew. My character was the first I’d ever made using Victoria4, as I’d previously been using a variation on AmyCk (based on Cookie) that I’d morphed heavily to look less toony. The other cast members are based on these figures from left to right: The Dude, SuqyQ, Ichiro, Koshini, Krystal, Kyle, Staci, and Aiko3.
When I first got Cheetah3D in 2014, I decided to make 3D versions of two characters I’d made out of clay and wire to use for stop motion. The characters were “born” out of junk drawer items and went on a variety of adventures together.
Here’s the first screen test I did using the 3D characters, animated in Cheetah3D:
Here are the original clay and wire figures:
I experimented with a few avatar makers to see how easy it would be to create a cartoon (and specifically Chibi style) version of myself for comic strips. But I was also interested in exploring what options were available for “performing” variations on conventional gender norms, which led me to create a very popular “gendered avatar analysis” activity for my WRTG 3020 students.
I chose the same basic features (red hair, glasses, purple clothes) in each of these avatar makers, but the results were pretty different! My favorite is the one created on Xiibi.com, which I used as the basis for the hand drawn version (see below for details).
- Chibi Maker on Doll Divine
- South Park style avatar maker
- ToonDoo’s TraitR tool
- Avachara site (manga style)
Making the Custom Avatar
In the summer of 2014, I started playing with Anime Studio Pro and decided I wanted to try animating my Chibi-esque avatar. So I had to draw a version of her with separate moving parts. Here’s how I did that.
First, I drew everything but the eyes in Sketchbook Pro for iPad, keeping each “movable” body part on a separate layer.
I exported the file from Sketchbook Pro in PSD format to preserve the layers, imported it into Anime Studio Pro, and then used ASP’s vector drawing tools to trace each body part. (I had already discovered through trial and error that you get the best results in Anime Studio Pro if you draw the character directly in the app, but there’s no reason you can’t trace an imported raster image!)
I created the eyes entirely within ASP, using overlapping star shapes in varying shades of blue to create the irises and a tiny white circle to create the “reflect.” I also created a version of the eyes with the lids closed, so that I could animate a blink.
The last step was to rig the character using a “bone layer,” which was easy enough. But I quickly discovered the limitations of animating a character who can only face one direction. To create a character that can face forwards, 3/4 view, and side, I would need to draw her in each of those positions — and I lack the artistic skill to do that.
I’m sure I could’ve made some cute animations with her even in her limited position. But I started looking for an animation option that would give a non-artist more flexibility in character positions and discovered the world of 3D modeling and animation. I got so wrapped up in playing with Poser Pro, DAZ Carrara, Vue, and Cheetah3D that I haven’t even launched Anime Studio Pro again!
Here’s a little animation I made using a variety of iPad and Mac tools. The personal experience that prompted this story is fairly specific, but I hope I’ve created it in a way that broadens who it might apply to. (More details below.)
Here’s the inside scoop: I never really fit in among straight people because even though I looked like them, I didn’t think like them. Likewise, the first group the main character in the story encounters shares her coloring, but their thoughts take unfamiliar shapes.
I also never really fit in among lesbians because even though their thoughts were often familiar to me, I didn’t look like them. Likewise, the second group in the story shares thoughts in the same shape as the main character’s, but their solid coloring is different.
It wasn’t until I met my partner that I found someone I could relate to on both levels: neither of us fits in with conventional “straight” or “lesbian” ways of thinking or being, which makes us a good fit for each other!
Ever wonder what your dogs get up to while you’re not home? I scatter the toys across the floor and when I come home, they’re all under Ginger’s blankets. This very short stop motion film shows how I imagine that process happens, although in reality Ginger is the one moving the toys.
This was the first stop-motion video I’d ever made (in early 2012), and I did it the “hard way” — using a DSLR camera with no screen previews and compiling the images into iMovie. I now know better, but this turned out kinda cute anyway!
I created this comic (based on a composite rather than an actual personal experience) for a course I used to teach on the Rhetoric of Gender & Sexuality for two reasons: (1) to demonstrate how to use the comic creator at Pixton.com; and (2) to provide an example of the way conventional femininity is assumed to be a sign of heterosexuality. Students went on to make their own “gender cops” comics, with some great examples!
Students in my Digital Storytelling class are using Pixton to explore various facets of their personalities and experiences, so I decided to do the same. I’ve set up my “cast of characters” as members of the court of Queen Grace, who rules my head!
Here are the cast members (or view as comic on Pixton.com)
Here Queen Grace introduces you to Penelope, the Court Herald (and chief weaver of ideas, hence her name). (Or view on Pixton.)
For other comics in the series, view my Pixton page.
Amber-the Marehaven Lapsitter in Chief
Approximate birth date: January 2012.
We adopted Amber in January 2013, from Rocky Mountain Puppy Rescue. She wiggled her way right into our hearts — and my lap!
We adopted Amber, the Chihuahua-mix, in January of 2013.
Amber Photo Gallery
Amber vs. The Hallway (Dec. 2014)
Amber has many endearing traits and a few odd behaviors. This short video captures one of her notable oddities: aversion to walking on a leash. But once she finally gets going, her little waddle is completely endearing.
Amber Has Guard Dog Dyslexia (Mar. 2015)
Here’s an example of yet another one of Amber’s endearing oddities: instead of barking at “suspicious people” who are outside while I’m inside, she only ever barks when I go outside, as though she’s trying to get me to come back in. And in her mind, it always works!
Amber the Tissue Thief (Jan. 2015)
Whenever I feel the tell tale tug on my pants pocket, I know the Tissue Thief is at it again! (Also featuring Dulcie.)
A Message from Nurse Amber
Made for a friend, but applicable to all!
Holly – Self-Appointed Snuggle Bunny
Approximate birth date: January 2014.
We adopted Holly in January 2015, from Rocky Mountain Puppy Rescue. It was Holly’s Sassyesque coloring that first caught my eye, but it’s her absolutely adorable personality that captured my heart!
Dulcie – Guardian Against Invisible Attackers
Approximate birth date: January 2013.
We adopted Dulcie in November 2014, from the Longmont Humane Society. She had already been adopted out and returned for being too fearful, but Cynthia had her heart set on the pretty blonde Chi with a food name (Coriander), so I worked some Chihuahua-Whisperer magic and won her over.
After not making a sound for over six months, Dulcie gradually began finding her voice, and now she’s our most vocal guard dog. But she does have her kryptonite: the sound of doorbell and elevator dings on the TV.
Here’s an example that shows the difference between the first character I designed to represent me and the second one. The second one is closer to the look I wanted, but she’s also easier to pose and has a wider range of expression controls.
This is a shot from a scene that takes place in a bookstore.
I got somewhat derailed from making progress on my graphic novel when I realized that the figure I had chosen to use to create my character from just wasn’t going to be versatile enough for the job.
That figure was Cookie, by Lady Littlefox, who remains my favorite Poser figure, and she will still serve as the basis for AmyCk and CynCk, when I do renders of us together.
But after endless hours of experimenting with other toon-like figures, I finally broke down and decided to give Victoria 4.2 with the Aiko 4 morphs another try, and lo and behold, the problems I’d had using her in the past were no longer an issue. And WOW what a difference it makes to work with such a versatile figure!
So here she is, with the Anime Eyes add-on, a mashup of textures I made in Photoshop, a refit of Star’s Tilla hair, and the morphing fantasy dress with a custom transmap and texture. This version has red hair so she can serve as my current avatar, but the version for the graphic novel will be blonde.