San Diego Comic Fest

This is not the San Diego Comic Con, it’s better. Smaller but better.

I had a blast and learned stuff.

They had a full schedule on Friday starting at 10:00. That meant I had to leave the house at 5:00 AM. I made good time through all the traffic jams in LA, Long Beach and Orange county until I slowed for traffic accident about 7 miles before Santa Fe ave 10 or 20 miles north of San Diego. One lane closed and traffic slowed to 5 miles an hour. Took 20 minutes to get around the blockage.

The first talk I attended was by Ryan Magnusson on Basics of Digital Illustrations. He did get into a side talk about working in digital art and how free over time was asked for and demanded at some of the companies. Also, work is being out sourced to Asia and he talked about the glass ceiling at the big houses. He stressed that shops are looking for people with specific talents, like inking. They don’t want artists that are versatile. A versatile artist can free lance (and know what the market will pay) and can quit and go work for someone else for higher pay, start their own business or try to move up in the ranks. The shops just want to pay the least they can. I think Indie publishing never looked so good.

Chris Fox gave a talk about 3 D printing under the name of Moving From 2 to 3 Dimensions. He had many samples to show. They were better than the home machine made things that I have seen, but still had lines and lumps in them. Chris said that, for jewelry he would go to a commercial site and have them make the object from a file he sent them. He could have it made in gold or stainless steel. Some shops will make a wax positive and then mold the object in gold or what you want it cast in. Other shops will laser sinter the object.

This being a smaller convention I was able to get some one on one time with an artist and heavy user of Photoshop, Tom Luth, along with some time with another person who knew the insides of Photoshop. With an engineering back ground I don’t think like an artist.

Simple problem, I have asked five digital artists what the multiply command does and I got seven answers. With Tom going over and over (I attended two sessions) I got a feel for what multiply does. I have problems with blending and these guys were a major help.

On Friday there was not a big crowd, but those that were there were hard core. I ran into two guys that drove in from Las Vegas, and I thought I had a rough drive.

A couple of digital artist commented that they liked to make their own brushes. The ones they showed were roughly round. They like the effect that that gave the edges of a line drawn with a rough shaped brush. Some of the personal brushes were squarish shaped. Having some exposure to traditional oil painting and a painter that said “I can do everything you can do with a air brush. With a number two sable, and faster.” I just use a round brush or a G4 pen, except for drawing grass or leaves. I bought a brush for leaves and grass and it saves a ton of time.

I got some serious information on how to shade in Photoshop that I can use in Clip Paint Studio.

Got more shading information form Anthony Washington. He likes to start with a blob shape and turn it into something. Something I saw Frank Kelly Freas do. Some of Tony’s drawings have over 500 layers (thick?). He showed how to take a picture of a cloud and make it into a fog background. He works with very short and hard time limits to get drawings done, so he needs all the short cuts he can find. He has a disk full photos he has taken of rocks/cliffs, clouds and buildings that he can modify and include in pictures.

In the panel on Saturday on Jack Kirby it was mentioned that Jack wanted to be an editor. I think he could have given Stan a run for his money. They talked about how the Hulk was gray in the first issue and green form there on. It was speculated that he was made green because Frankenstein’s monster was green. Was Kermit the frog green because of the Frankenstein monster?

There was a panel titled Killer B’s. It was not on Bees but a group of San Diego writers whose names can be construed as having a B in it. The four authors were Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, David Brin, and Vernor Vinge. Mr. Benford said he was 77 years old, that’s after he mentioned that he had four books in the works. That puts a lot of young authors to shame. Brin has a coming book I think it’s titled Chasing Shadows with a theme of everyone is so connected and knows what’s going on. It’s taken from a non-fiction work.

Greg Bear is doing a fantasy book The unfinished land.

David Brin mentioned that there are more sword makers now than in the middle ages.

Vinor Vinge is plotting a Singularity. A group of home owners out law the Internet of Things. What happens if they have to go into the connected world.

Gregory Benford wrote the Berlin Project. An alternate history book about the Manhattan Project. The General in charge of the Manhattan Project had to decide between separating uranium 235 from 238 by gas diffusion or centrifugal diffusion. He had the best scientist in the world arguing about which way was best. He chose gas diffusion and is now blamed for delaying the program a year.

In the book he chooses centrifugal diffusion and they drop the bomb on Berlin.

The poor General, and engineer. The brightest minds in the world can’t figure it out, but it’s the engineer that gets blamed when the project doesn’t work right.

Next year the Bowl of Heaven series ends with a book by Larry Niven and Benford.

There is an Author C Clark center for the Imagination at UCSD.

They got into a discussion about Libertarian and how the definition of the word has changed.

They agreed among themselves that Pohl Anderson wrote the first post singularity story.

Vinge wrote Bookworm Run. I remember reading that when it came out in Analog. They need to write more books like that. Benford read the story and recognized the author’s name. He walked down the hall to Vinge’s office at UCSD and met him.

Robert A. Heinlein came up with the word sci fi.

Brin, I think said that there is a 35 year limit on copywrite being held by a publishing company. He is going to offer all his books to the next company that gives him a contract, since his books are over 35 year with the publisher.

More on 3D printing. There are free models on Thingiverse. You take a model as a base and change it to what you want.

Heroforge is for gaming figures.

If you get a 3D printer get one with a metal frame. That’s his advice.

If you get a ABS printer get a heated bed and it should be enclosed. ABS warps. PLA is a better beginners material.

Mars rover.

2000 sols (Mars days) five years and 11 miles. Mars sky is not black because of dust.

The pictures he showed were color balanced so rocks would look like the rocks on earth.

Cameras have had pixel damage, but it is not bad.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Photoshop and Clip Paint Studio bug in Windows 10, caution rant

The April update to Windows 10 has a bad feature in it. If you use Photoshop or Clip Paint Studio and draw fast, after three strokes, the pen or brush tool will change functions and you don’t want it to. I find the pen tool will become the move tool or alternate between the move and pen tool.

I took my Surface Pro 3 to the Microsoft store and they did not know about this problem. The tech there tried three different versions (old, very old, and new) of the pen that goes with the surface. They all gave the same results. He checked my drivers and they were all up to date. They did not have a computer with a drawing program installed other than Microsoft Paint. Microsoft Paint worked fine, so Microsoft knew there would be an impact and spent the time and money to up date the Microsoft Paint program.

At a presentation at the San Diego Comic Fest the presenter had the same problem with a Cintiq drawing tablet. It’s very embarrassing for a professional artist to stand before a crowd and have the equipment go nuts. Makes you look very unprofessional when that happens.

Attending the presentation was a programmer from Adobe. He said to turn off Microsoft Ink. That also turns off many pen functions.

Someone from the audience loaned the presenter an Apple computer and the presentation went on. Microsoft and Wacom lost a user who now is an Apple user.

The Adobe programmer said that Microsoft did not notify any drawing program developers or vendors that they were changing the basic way Windows 10 works with drawing programs. Microsoft did change their paint program. It will take weeks for Abode and Clip Paint Studio to change their programs and make sure the bugs are out of the changes.

This is too convenient and sounds like Microsoft did this to get rid of any old paint like programs. This accident will force users to drop the old programs if the program is no longer supported and go to Microsoft Paint. Microsoft Paint is not a photo editing program and does not have the power or features of Photoshop or Clip Paint Studio. I do not use Coral Painter or GIMP, but I suspect they no longer work correctly. If you are a windows 10 user who makes a living from a paint program you will have to take much longer to do your work. Many users will give up and go to Apple. They don’t have the time or patience to wait for a fix, and there is no guarantee that this will not happen again.

My main computer died and I was thinking of buying a Wacom Cintiq or just settle for Surface note book, but not any longer. I don’t like the over priced Apple computers, but I need a computer that works.

Stay strong, write on, try Linux

Professor Hyram Voltage

The Tortoise and the Hare. The spirit of the turtle is alive and well.

At the WritetoDone ( web site, in her article How to Write and Publish Your First Book 2: Beat the Mid-Way Slump; Create a Book, the author Mary Jaksch (yes, I checked the spelling) writes about a slow and steady runner Cliff Young who beat the young and fast “serious” runners.

I Goggled Cliff and here’s a summery.
Cliff Young was 61 when he entered the Sydney to Melbourne ultra-marathon. That’s over 875 kilometers (544 miles). It takes 7 days for serious, trained runners to make it to the end.
He wore regular pants that he cut holes in for ventilation and his work boots. He was up against 10 young men who ran marathons and wore specialized clothes. His running style is still called a shuffle.The racers run 18 hours and then sleep for 4 to 6 hours. Cliff slept for 2 hours and shuffled on.

Five days 14 hours later with little sleep and a steady shuffle he won the race, ten hours ahead of everyone else.

Cliff did prepare. As a young boy on his family’s farm they did not have a car or truck. He would go out during storms and round up the family’s sheep. This would sometimes require running after the sheep and herding them for two or three days in terrible weather. He claimed he always got all the sheep. Before the race he practiced by herding cows on his farm. I have chased after cows and it’s not easy to catch or herd a cow or a bunch of cows.

The next year Cliff entered the race again. He finished seventh place. Hey, he was now 62 years old and suffered a displaced hip during the race, but he finished his second race and he wasn’t last.
They laughed at Cliff when he entered the first race. Maybe someone laughed at you when you told them you were going to write a book.

Finish your book, that is the best revenge you can get from those who laugh at you. It doesn’t matter how fast you write, how new or fancy your computer is, or even if you have a computer, what counts is finishing. Finish, even if you only have a worn down pencil and the back of an old budget print out from work to write on. Rewrite, edit, learn how to make your story the best story it can be. It wasn’t easy for Cliff (try walking 500 miles in two of weeks, that’s 35 miles a day, not impossible, but a lot of walking), and it won’t be easy for you.

This blog begs the question, “Are you a turtle?” If you were in high school in the 60s you’ll know what I’m talking about. My answer is recorded.
If your wondering, there are no tortoise in Australia.

Stay strong, write on, and shuffle past the hare.
Professor Hyram Voltage.

Gaslight Gathering 2018 report

Just got back from the weekend Gaslight Gathering convention. A nice little convention in San Diego, CA. The drive form Fiasco Manor was not bad this year. No, major stoppage at San Clemente, and the air current were very favorable, I had a tail wind the whole way there.

The gathering was in the Handlery hotel on hotel circle north. Parking for check-in is always a hassle at the hotel. They can only handle four cars checking in at one time and there is no place for anyone else checking-in to park.

The attendance was good. The crowd was very friendly. At the last gathering I was desperate to find out how authors could find Beta Readers. This year I wasn’t in such a panic, but I’m an author and an endless fount of questions.

The vendor area was smaller this year. If you are going to sell clothes bring larger sizes. I’ve got to lose weight.

I did buy several books. As an author I value those who hustle in getting out there and selling their books. Buying their book also gives me an excuse to badger the author with questions. This is quality, one-on-one, face time with someone who is dealing with the same problems I’m dealing with.

I was admiring the large lens of a professional photographer that was at the gathering. Jake Klein and I got to talking about the lens. It’s only f 2.8 but it is a lot of glass and heavy if you have to hold it for a time. He just sent his daughter off to college and she told him to go live life. So, he has sold most of what he had and bought a mobile home. With it he is starting a tour of the country. He’s a friend of Doc Phineas and when the Doc heard he was hitting the road and would be heading for San Diego he suggested, as Doc would, that he stop by the gathering.

Jake said he would post pictures of the gathering, much better than I could take, at You can also follow him via his web site as he photographs his way across the country.

One of his suggestions was to get a Canon 430 EX flash (refurbished)(I use canon cameras, so the flash works with my cameras). It’s small but throws out a good amount of light. He also had some suggestions for closing down the aperture of the lens (called stopping down) to take better flash photos.

It may not have been about writing but it was good information.

Picked up a couple of books from chief inspector Erasmus Drake and Dr. Sparky McTrowell. Of course I extracted my pound of information from them. These authors are good. I was impressed with the plots they generated. Even when I do it myself, it’s hard to figure out where someone get such a good ideas. I’ve had an audio show broadcaster asking me for short audio, like old time radio broadcasts, scripts and this may help me generate some. I find writing short pieces hard. I use to write short stories for magazines (I got a lot of rejection slips for my efforts). Now I find it hard to write short works.

I have a soft spot for brass. I picked up a small cast metal octopus from the vendors Rae Wolf Designs. I took it over to Shannon at Gears & Roebuck where she painted it to look like brass. One of these days I will get the foundry set up so I could cast my own designs, but that would take away from my writing. I did get a lot of information from Gear & Roebuck about how to color plastic to get it to look like metal. Metal is good, metal is durable, I would build with metal if I had a choice, but metal is heavy, very heavy and very expensive.

They had a presentation with a hand puppet. A fun little show. Got some information on puppets and a couple of pointers on the attitude of characters. You need goons in your writing, not cardboard characters (even if they are part cardboard).

I had a good conversation with Roller Derby enthusiast and Steampunk writer Aidan Caisse. He’s turning out books and I bought one. We talked about roller derby and writing. Got some good information from him. He was working on a tablet during the quiet periods and by stealing minutes here and there he managed to turn out a chapter for his next book.

The ice cream social was good. I like ice cream so there is not much not to like. I got to telling old sea stories to a very young kid. The kid was into computers and Tesla coils. This kid could go places.

The talk on casting objects was way more popular than the presenter thought it would be. He ran out of corn starch that he uses for a hardening agent for the molds he demonstrated how to make. They had to bring in several more tables for all the attendees. The smell of vinegar was strong while everyone was making their mold. A few coin cells and some plastic that melts in hot water (Instamold) and you could be turning out glowing objects by the dozens. When I got back home I found that the Instamold, he was making the finial item out of, is sold as a material to make molds. Great Steampunk idea to use something for the opposite of what it was made for. The presenter used RTV that you can buy from the hardware store, (it has to be 100% silicone RTV), to make the mold and the Instamold to make the object. His secret sauce was to add corn starch to the RTV to get it to harden in a reasonable time. The RTV needs water to make it harden and the RTV forms a skin that stops water from getting to the bottom and center of a blob of RTV. The corn starch has water inside it, so it hardens the RTV all the way through quickly.

I will have more in the next blog.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage