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Monkeyblather!
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Hello and welcome.

Happy holidays to all who celebrate 'em.

My name is Eric Trautmann.

I live in the Pacific Northwest. Today, it is cold and wet and gray and thus all is normal.


I am a graphic designer. 

I design logos and trade dress for business and entertainment publishing (notably comics). Ongoing projects include book design and various and sundry tasks for the Image Comics series LAZARUS and BLACK MAGICK, and  THE OLD GUARD, and have become a free-range art and design guy for ADAMANT ENTERTAINMENT, making roleplaying game stuff. I am the book designer for the hardcover (and occasional IDW softcover) collections for ATOMIC ROBO.

I can do stuff for you, too, for reasonable rates. 

Stock vector art I've created for commercial and personal use is available via my vector store.

I write comic books.

I have written comic books for DC Comics (including Action Comics and Checkmate) and Dynamite Entertainment (including long runs on Red Sonja, Vampirella and Flash Gordon). For a complete list of My Mighty Works™, you could visit my website. I co-wrote four of the six issues in the LAZARUS spin-off miniseries, LAZARUS: X +66. 


This is me.

Who are you? What brings you by? 

Drop me a line at monkeyblather@fedoramonkeystudio.com and tell me what brought you here. 

And if you enjoy this newsletter, please share the info around, so I'm not just screaming into a void. More than usual, I mean.

WHERE I'M AT TODAY

That's right. Two, count 'em, TWO mailings in ONE calendar year.

Tomorrow, I'll be hit by a bus or something, I'm sure.

First, a warning: this one is very image-heavy; Gmail asks me if I want to see the images, and maybe your mail does something similar. If you don't see the images, you'll want to check on that.

The holidays are fast upon us, and for a lot of folks, that's a tough and stressful time. For my part, this is the first holiday season without my father-in-law. He passed away a few months ago, and we're still stumbling across these odd, unexpected moments where there's a yawning realization that, "oh, right, he won't be here this year."

Grief is not an easy thing. Not a profound observation, I grant you. But it does have the benefit of being true.

Last update, I had mentioned a bit about grief, and the current social, cultural, and political climate getting me down. Michelle Goldberg, writing for The New York Times:

"The entire Trump presidency has been marked, for many of us who are part of the plurality that despises it, by anxiety and anger. But lately I've noticed, not just in myself, a demoralizing degree of fear, even depression. You can see it online, in the self-protective cynicism of liberals announcing on Twitter that Trump is going to win re-election. In
The Washington Post, Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and a Never Trump conservative, described his spiritual struggle against feelings of political desperation: "Sustaining this type of distressed uncertainty for long periods, I can attest, is like putting arsenic in your salt shaker."

And on Medium, in an article with the chilling title, "This is How a Society Dies," Umair Haque writes "
People who are made to live right at the edge must battle each other for self-preservation. But such people have nothing left to give one another. And that way, a society enters a death spiral of poverty — like ours have."

It seems like the nameless, shapeless thing in my gut that I've been struggling to articulate isn't an isolated thing.

ANYWAY.

On that happy note, how 'bout that baby Yoda, y'all?

Take care of yourself and the people around you. It's been a cruel year, and the best gift we can give each other is kindness.
PROGRESS REPORTS AND NEW STUFF UPDATES AND LIKE THAT

IMAGE COMICS: THE OLD GUARD: FORCE MULTIPLIED

Greg Rucka’s and Leandro Fernández’s The Old Guard returns…earlier! Last update, I erroneously listed issue 1 of the new chapter, “Force Multiplied," as coming out in January. But NO! It comes out 18 December!




VECTOR ART:
Last update, I mentioned I was working on some new stock vector art for sale in my vector store. That work has been completed!

Two sets, 56 vectors apiece, for $6 a pop.

FM 011, the first set, tends towards thinner lines and leaner designs and FM 012, is the "extra chunky" style.

When I complete a set, I start "stress testing" them—mostly monkeying around in Photoshop and kitbashing together scenes out of the ridiculous amount of stock art I've amassed over the years. Here's a look at some of them for these two new sets. (Apologies for the weird layout: Mailchimp's handling of image placement is either a) lousy or b) beyond my technical skills.
)

Purchase FM 11: SCIENCE FICTION GUNSIGHTS & RETICLES ($6US)
PURCHASE FM 12: SCIENCE FICTION GUNSIGHTS & RETICLES ($6US)

PROCESS

You can tune out now; I'm about to start blathering about how I make these silly things and if you're not interested in the technical side of stuff, it'll bore the ass off of you.


I really enjoy making these vectors—probably the same kind of relaxation and enjoyment one can derive from, say, building a model kit.

My process for doing the work usually begins with sketching, looking at user interface designs on Behance, and so on, looking for inspiration. Sometimes, though, I just open up Adobe Illustrator and wing it.

When I do that, these are the basic steps I take:

1. Create an Illustrator file. For this example, I went with 1200 pixels by 1200 pixels. Then, I set about creating a new Illustrator Brush—just kind of a long line with lots of sharp angles. It’s important that each end of the line are level or you’ll get some weird breaks when you apply it to a shape later.


2. Once the shape is drawn, select it and drag it to the brushes palette.


Create an “Art Brush” and hit OK.

Set the brush options as follows:

Hit OK, and boom: You’ll see your new brush populate the brush palette.



3. Draw a circle, with a 1 pt. stroke and no fill; you may want to locate the center point of the circle now and set a horizontal and vertical guide centered on it.

4. Apply your new brush by selecting the circle and clicking the new brush in the brush palette. Bingo! One tech-y, science-fiction-y circle appears!

(Set your guides now if you haven’t already, because the irregular shape of the circle can make it hard to eyeball. If you need to, hit Command+Y to show the underlying shape. A tiny “x” marks the center point. Once you’re done, hit Command+Y again, to return to the normal view mode.)

5. This is where you can start playing. Adding crosshairs or an aim point in the center, as in this case, but you can really go nuts here.

6. Once I have a reticle glyph to my liking, I start locking down the overall shape using the Object > Expand Appearance tool. Select the glyph, Object > Expand Appearance and hit OK. It may take a few times to do this if there’s a lot of elements in the vector. Make sure “Fill” and “Stroke” are checked in the Expand dialogue window.


7. Then, select it all and use Pathfinder > Unite to convert the whole thing to a single shape.

Voila!


Note: in my for-sale vectors, I bunch elements into specific groups, then group the entire thing—Object > Group or Command+G. I do this for a few reasons. First, so it’s possible to rotate, move around, edit, etc. individual “sections” of each reticle. This makes it easier to pick, for example, one color for the center “aim point” of the reticle, and a second color for any kind of rings or dials and so on elsewhere in the glyph. Second, it also makes it easier to knock out elements you may not want and build others more to the user’s liking, or make some parts transparent.

I do a final “group” on the whole thing so it’s easy to select the one you want out of the lineup in one click.

To ungroup, select the item, and then hit Command+Shift+G.


I have a library of these brushes I’ve built over the years, so it’s fun to mix and match. The example below is actually two brushes, three simple shapes, and two lines. The thick outer ring is the main brush from step 1, applied to a circle and rotated around a little. The “grid” is a separate brush I developed, applied to a circle. The hex was drawn using the Polygon tool, and then two short lines of varying stroke weight were added, connecting the hex to the circular “tech” border. Took about 30 seconds.


And there you go!

Thank you for reading. Have a happy holiday (if you partake).

DIGITAL FOOTPRINT


Thanks for giving this a try. 

I can be found online at:
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