Many of you may have wondered about this, as it is not uncommon for webcomics to quietly die before their time. One of my favorites abruptly ended on Valentine's Day a few years ago and I am posting now to re-state my resolution to this website and its comics, video game, and art projects.
Here is the just of what happened. Fans on Facebook know that something unexpected happened to me back in August. I won't go into details, but someone very close to me died. Someone who had inspired me. I just could not post anything on September 3rd.
Since then, I have been focusing on Grad School. But I have not forgotten Ninth Runs Wild.
At this point, I have been absent so long that a complete re-launch is in order. I want to rekindle excitement in this project - both for myself and for my fans. This will be a big event. I am halfways through my MFA program and I intend to showcase those skills.
As of yet, I do not have a timeline for the re-launch and I still have important obligations to fulfill for my degree (this semester I am teaching Drawing 2). Curious fans can check the NRW Facebook page for periodic updates.
There will be an official announcement on this site once things are more locked in.
Till next time!
August 2, 2012
First and foremost of all, I would like to announce that NRW will no longer be updating on weekly on Thursdays. The new update schedule will be everyother week on Monday starting on September 3rd. Towards the end of the semester, when my full faculty review becomes eminent, I may chose to update monthly during November and return to updating every other week in mid-December for Christmas break.
That leaves about one month's hiatus for website chores (like removing "updates Thursdays" from the banner), settling back into the graduate school, and having some worthy content ready for the start of the new update schedule.
Before I go into hiding for a month, I'd like to show a few more things that I have been working on this summer.
This is a sample platter we did in my class using a technique called faux murrini. Each square of glass was cut separately and stacked one on top of the other. When fired, the squares sank into each other forming the pattern.
Comic book panels created using stencils and glass powders. After it was fired once, I used glass stringers (rods) to form the linework. I was very excited about those blue lines.
Finally, here's one last sample of the code that I've been trying to learn in Flash. This is a sample I did of a technique called, perlin noise, that I found a tutorial for online. My understanding of it is still very basic, but it shows great promise for special effects.
You'll want to look closely at the waves. The techique, while very cool is subtle and can be overlooked at first glance.
Apparently some of my younger fans already thought Wave Tyrant looked like a movie - but it will be a long while before Wave Tyrant gets an official flash animation.
July 26, 2012
Hello again, it's been a while! For the past two weeks, I've been out of town and using a different computer which I thought I had set up properly to post on NRW. As you can see, I ended up having to wait until I was back at home with my usual computer.
Before I dive into details about the survey and various travel stories, I wanted to show one last in progess demo of the game engine I've been working on with my brother. The bird is controlled with the A,S,W,D keys or the Arrow Keys for left-handed players. Press W or Up twice to launch into flight. While flying, if no keys are pressed, you can control the altitude of the bird's glide with the mouse.
I'm very pleased with the progress that has been made on the game engine, though there are a few bugs that still need to be worked out. However, I feel that the controls of the bird are much more discriptive of flight. If any one feels as though they have useful feedback on the mechanics of the game engine, feel free to comment on the NRW facebook page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the time I was traveling, as opposed to programming, I had an opportunity to study fusing glass at the Pittsburgh Glass Center and I worked at the digital art camp that I've been teaching at for the past several years (Marjorie from Lepus Studios is also an instructor for this program). Directly following digital art camp, I ended up needing to make an unexpected trip to Maryland.
Calvert Cliffs State Park. Known for fossils from the Miocene period that wash ashore.
View of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and herring gulls from Sandy Point State Park.
In my spare time I was able to explore various areas around the Chesapeake Bay and I took reference photos for both Wave Tyrant and the mysterious grad school project that I keep hinting at (both stories take place around coastal environments). Various other events also occured while exploring: I found fossilized shark's teeth at Calvert Cliffs, avoided jellyfish, got stranded for a couple of hours at night in one of the state parks, explored Fell's Point (a historic site known for shipbuilding and privateers), and stawartly braved Baltimore rush hour traffic (terrifying).
Finally, I'd like to briefly go over the results of the survey:
How often should I update my website during graduate school ?
Split about 50/50 between every other week and monthly.
I had one write in for every week, which I'd love to do. However this semester will be my full faculty review and I don't want to return to weekly updates until I know I can keep up with them.
Are people still interested in blogs about artwork in progress and/or traditional art?
80 percent of you said, "Absolutely", while 20 percent wanted more finished comics and video games.
I'm glad most people are still interested in traditional art and the process of creating art. But it does seem as though the results indicate that a better balance between the two should be strived for.
Any interest in single panel comics in a format similar to Farside? These would be highly random and may occasionally feature Lemon.
75 percent said yes, 25 percent said no, and there was a write-in that essentially said, "random = awesome."
I'm thinking about altering my website's design. If anyone has other ideas on how to improve site design and/or efficiency, I would love to hear them!
I'll just do a brief overview since all of these were write-ins. Many people are content with the webpage's design, but there are plenty who wouldn't mind seeing it tweaked and had usefull suggestions.
Thank you everyone for all of your valuable feedback. Next Thursday, I plan on announcing what I've decided to do based on the results of the survey. I'll announce the new update schedule and what I'll be doing to regroup for the upcoming fall. Once again, thank you very much for all of your support.
July 5, 2012
Happy Fifth of July! I hope everyone had a good fourth. For the past couple of weeks, I've been fussing with code, as I have decided that the previous game engine I was using for my graduate school projects was clunky and I couldn't seem to remember even half of the what I wrote. Here's the latest version - please note that there currently is no code to keep you on the screen. Also note that the placeholder artwork is not cannon with the design of the final project.
Use the arrow keys or "A", "W", "D" to control the bird. The up key or "W" is for jumping. Tap it twice to fly and keep tapping to gain altitude. The bird will always face the direction of the mouse.
My brother, Joe, who's an official computer programmer, is visiting the area and he helped me polish the rotation code. Thanks Joe!
By the way, the Ninth Runs Wild survey is still online for one more week. If you haven't taken it yet, your feedback would still be greatly appreciated.
Just finished the survey for NRW! I'll probably let it run for a few weeks and then let people know the outcome and what the new update schedule will be.
June 21, 2012
Hello one and all, I hope everyone still remembers Nyan Cat! (If not Nyan's very easy to find on Youtube). This Thursday NRW is featuring artwork from a guest artist for the first time. Marjorie from Lepus Studios sent me Nyan Lemon as an early birthday present this winter and I've been waiting for a good time to post her.
Some of you may remember me posting about my rabbit Lemon as a gag on Halloween. Lemon received her name after a week of debating, because she is a very territorial bunny with an approximatly 15 second span of tolerance for human beings. Lemon's vet has told me that lionshead rabbits (Lemon's breed) are know for being grumpy and inbred. Lemon herself is known for growling and boxing at people once she reaches her day's quota of petting or treats. You wouldn't think it, but rabbits can and do growl when they feel like it.
Remember Lemon? I'll never photograph her again with the flash on my camera for as long as I live.
Marjorie has been making prank artwork of Lemon for years back when we both taught computer art to kids on weekends. I'm sure that this will neither be the first nor the last time that Lemon gets punked on NRW.
Next week, I'll post a pole to get feedback for the website. I almost posted it this week, but I want some more time to think about what to ask. I want to make sure I think this through very carefully, because I want to make sure I set this up to properly fit into my schedule with grad school.
June 14, 2012
I had to fill out some online forms for graduate school, so this post is going up later than I thought. Here's some eyecandy to make up for that. I did this sculpture this past semester:
Now, last week, I promised that I would share my plans for this website. First and foremost, Wave Tyrant is in no danger of becoming an extinct project. I've spent years polishing its script and I am still every bit in love with the story and characters as I was when I first started writing it.
During graduate school, when I have free time, I plan on doing a page here and there, but updates on Wave Tyrant will continue to be sporadic. If I can get it on any kind of schedule at all (and we're likely talking once a month or once every two months), there will be an official announcement. After graduate school, I'd like to have some sort of official relaunch of Wave Tyrant and get it back on at least a weekly schedule, put out some bonus material, and make some minor edits in the early pages where things are a bit rough. Whatever I do, it will be something to recapture the excitement of the story for fans, and something to re-establish the comic as a professional endeavor.
That being said, Wave Tyrant is not the only project for this site. I have a web-based project that I am focusing on this summer for my degree in Intermedia that I plan on hosting through this site. There's a huge amount of work that needs to me done on it, so I am not going to post a release date or anything like that yet. But once this project starts running, it will be the focus of this website for a bit.
One last bit if business before I go, I definitely want to change the day of the week that I update on. Updating in the middle of the week has been awkward. I want to post new pages on either Saturdays or Mondays - and possibly updating every other week instead of weekly while I am at grad school. I'll be putting a pole up again to get some feedback in the next week or so. Till then, keep checking Thursdays. There will be an announcement when I change to the new schedule. Thanks for your support and patience.
June 7, 2012
Salutations! I am still alive and well. Things just really got insane at the end of the semester and I needed some time to recouperate and think about what I really wanted to do with my art. Grad school can do that to a person, it is a time to challenge preconceptions and realize what is most important to your work.
This week, however, I want to take some time to mention a couple of cool things that happened to me back in March and April.
Facebook fans already know this, but in late March/early April I was in a national juried show at the Maryland Federation of Art's Circle Gallery in Annapolis (for a while a digital version of the show was online, but it has been taken down). A whimsical little print/collage combo titled, "Puffed" was the piece accepted into the 35th Annual Art on Paper Show. Below, you can see "Puffed" in all if its odd glory.
In a crazy twist of events, however, I didn't realize I had a piece in the show until I actually got a phone call from the gallery. The week before spring break I had to drive the artwork down to Maryland myself since there was no time to ship it.
Since I hand delivered "Puffed" to the gallery, I was lucky enough to see the show being put up. I was able to predict the artwork that won the juror's choice award, but was pleasantly surprised when "Puffed" received an award of merit! To top that off, the piece even sold!
During Spring Break, I was also in a show with the other grads from WVU in Pittsburgh at the non-profit print shop, Artists Image Resource. This was especially cool because I volunteered at AIR for about two years when I was working on my portfolio to get into grad school.
Next week, I plan on discussing my plans for both this website and Wave Tyrant while I am in graduate school. Oh, and before I go, let me give Marjorie at Lepus Studios a heartfelt thanks for mentioning me in this week's comic's notes. I absolutely loved how this episode of Urban Underbrush turned out!
February 23, 2012
Last Thursday, I skipped an update to go an a grueling single day field trip to visit art museums in Washington DC. We rode on the university's football team's coach buses for about 10 hours (round trip) and in between, walked our legs off. We visited the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Gallery, and the National Gallery.
The artwork I was most interested in was mostly the contemporary art - the major work that has been produced in the past couple of years. Here's a picture of me in front of Nam June Paik's Electronic Superhighway:Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii . This huge installation had an entire wall to itself and was made up of a neon map of the United States. Each state contained moniters that constantly plays footage of cultural icons, associated with its region. The artist was one of the first innovators of video art.
I was also very excited to see artwork by Julie Mehretu, Deborah Butterfield, and Chuck Close. Out of sensitivity (and perhaps paranolia) about copyrights, I've included links to images of these artist's work - it's impossible to really discuss any artist without being able to see their images. (I am less worried about displaying a segement of Electronic Superhighway, since the photo is so amateurish).
As I mentioned before, contemporary art is tremendously exciting to me because it means that art is "Now". New ideas and developments are happening everyday. A physicist attending a big conference on the latest scientific breakthroughs would have a comparable experience of viewing the latest important artwork in a renowned gallery.
February 9, 2012
Well, Ninth Runs Wild certainly can't miss an update on the 9th! Here's another piece of artwork that I created last semester. It's actually pretty ironic that I've created a wire frame of a raven in real life, while all of my work on the fine arts video game will be flat 2D.
Technically, this is an unfinished piece. It was going to be the armature for a papermache sculpture, but now this raven will be getting a paper and wax exoskeleton instead. (You'd think I'd have learned the first time I burned myself with hot wax?) I'm very excited about this project - I just ordered the wax this week! Wish me luck!
January 26, 2012
Here's another quick blog. In my work recently, I've been trying to communicate the idea of common creatures from legends appearing in modern settings. Here's one of my first attempts at this: an infamous raven with ill-gotten goods. I call this piece, Take Out.
January 12, 2012
Today, I thought I'd share a print that I completed last year at about this time. It's title is Crow Mountain (self-explanatory), and it was another experimental print project that combined collage. For some reason that I cannot comprehend, last year I was convinced that I had to hand-paint each of the leaves that I collaged onto the image.
January 5, 2012
Happy New Years everyone! Or perhaps I should say Happy Post-New Years. As promised, here is the exciting conclusion of the bronze pour. For those of you only mildly interested in bronze casting, this is the fun post because it involves molten hot metal!
First, the pit and forge are prepped. The molds are placed in sand and partially burried, both for support and for safety. Due to the amount of dust this raises, you'll notice that I am wearing a respirator.
Next, everyone involved in the metal pour must put on protective clothing. You may have noticed in my last post, the two people carrying the molds were already wearing those shiny silver suits. I technically posted that photo out of order because it seemed to make more sense narratively last week. The pit had to be prepared first, because those molds are so heavy that you don't really want to move them around more than you have to. Anyways, here's a picture of me in a weird suit.
Once everything is ready, it's time to pour the metal into the molds. Two people are required to handle the crucible, one person controls the chain-pulley that raises and lowers the crucible, and the last person is in charge of putting out any fires that might happen. On this pour, I was the firefighter, and I am pleased to report that everything went perfectly and I did not have to extinguish any errant flames.
After the motlen metal solidifies and cools, the molds are broken and the sculpture is now ready for an extremely laborious process of cleaning. The spruing that made the path for the metal to flow through the mold must be cut off and ground away to blend in with the surface of the sculpture. Small cracks that form in the mold will also leave a thin ridge of extra metal, and this too, must be ground down.
However, the final results are stunning, and the resulting sculpture could survive for thousands of years. In fact, my fascination with bronze artifacts, especially Chinese and Japanese ritual bells was on of the reasons I decided to try my hand at the medium.
And voila! The cleaned up bells!
Beautiful and perfect, except for one major flaw. All of my bells ended up solid instead of hollow. A vital step was missed before we poured the molds. Therefore, I have some rethinking to do before I finish these sculptures this upcoming semester. My original plan was to hang them from the ceiling, but that is now impossible because the solid bells are much too heavy.
December 29, 2011
I hope my readers have been enjoying their holidays! I definitely needed to get away from grad school for a little bit to regroup. However, for this post, I'm about to travel back in time to November and share the rest of my experiences with the process of casting bronze.
The last thing I wrote about the process of casting bronze was about spruing - making a structure that will serve as plumbing for the molten bronze to flow through (wow, my recap explanation is so much more concise and clearer to understand). Next, a mold must be created and fired in a kilm for the bronze to flow through.
There are many different methods of doing this. The mold-making method we used was surround the sprued sculptures with a protective wall of chicken wire and tar paper. Next they are plastered to the board that the wax sculpture was sealed too. My boards were too small, so I had to make a mess plastering them to the floor. After the plaster hardens, a special mixture (similar to plaster) is poured into the mold. I don't have any photo graphs of this process, as we needed all available hands to continously keep mixing new batches of mixture and pouring it into the molds.
After the molds set and harden, the tar paper is removed (not the chicken wire though, this is an important structural reinforcement). The molds are then fired in a kilm. Once fired, all of the wax used for the mold will be lost. It is also worth mentioning that the molds for creating even a small bronze sculpture are enourmously heavy.
After the molds have been fired and are cool enough to handle, it's time to pour that bronze! Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion next week!
Oh yeah! And one more announcement: I will be leaving last week's animation up for one more week. So just scroll down to December 22nd's post if you missed it during your Holiday Celebrations.
December 22, 2011
Woo! Ninth Runs Wild is back! Finals and Committee Reviews are over! I am home for the holidays, and giving myself an early Christmas present - NRW is back to posting on Thursdays. No comics as of yet, but I plan on using Christmas to work on comics and to prepare for my second semester of graduate school.
And here's an early holiday present to my readers. This is a very short clip of an animation I am working on as a part of that fine arts video game project I keep talking about. It is very short, but very wintery. Happy Holidays!
(*** The snow animation is now offline. However, once it is complete, I will likely post that version online. ***)
As for fans who are interested in the bronze pour, I will go back to chronicling it next week. I have enoungh material for a couple of more posts, though I will try to wrap things up soon, since it is rapidly becoming yesterday's news.
December 1, 2011
I just thought I should post a quick message on the website for those of you following NRW who aren't on Facebook. The end of the semester has hit me pretty hard, and, although I have many more adventures in bronze to tell you about, I'm going to have to finish my death march to my committee review on December 13th before I can think of doing much along the lines of posting.
November 10, 2011
The process of casting even small scale bronze is long and complex. I imagine many people are at least mildly curious about it, so I am going to start posting pictures of the process for the next couple of weeks.
One of the biggest concepts that I had to get my head around was the process of preparing my wax sculptures for creating the mold that we would pour the molten bronze in. This process is called spruing, and basically what you are doing is creating channels for the liquid metal to flow through so your sculpture gets completly filled in. Here's are some images of my bells sprued and ready for the mold.
In the first image, the cup at the bottom is where the metal will be poured into the mold (so you techically sprue things upside-down), and the branches attached to the bells that attach to the board are exits for extra metal and places for gases to escape. Gases trapped in the mold could form pockets where no metal reaches, so it is important that there be plenty of escape routes for the gases.
One more image for you folks, back when I showed the mold I used to create the generic bell shape (as opposed to building the entire wax bell by hand, which took too long), I never documented the process. The other day I saw some other plaster molds being prepared, so I took a picture:
These are one-piece molds. Basically, if your object is a candidate for a one piece mold (you can take it out of the mold without destroying the object or mold), then you use vises to hold boards together that are taller than your object, seal the cracs with plasticene clay, and then pour the plaster in. Once the plaster hardens, you have your mold.
***Also, you may need to spray or coat your object with a release agent to get it out of the mold. I created my bell forms from damp ceramic clay, and therefore did not have to worry about this. As the clay dried out, it shrank and naturally popped out.
***And if you are making a mold for a small object, then you could probably just use any expendable container to pour the plaster into, provided that you can slide the plaster out of it when finished (release agent needed!) or destroy the container (for instance, if you were using a cardboard box).
If you are still uncertain about what types of objects are candidates for one-piece molds, here's an example of what would not work: I could not create a one-piece mold for the spikey bells - the spikes and the handle would not cause the bell to be unable to slide out of the mold. We call these types of obstructions, undercuts, and these are any ridges or projections that would prevent your object from being able to slide out of the mold.
Any object you use for this pouring method of mold-making would need to have a flat side, or be sealed flat to the surface you are pouring into with plasticene clay.
Now doesn't that make you want to go home and make some molds right now?
October 27, 2011
Happy Halloween! Here's a study I've been doing for my game projects - it has monsters!
October 20, 2011
And this weeks creepy post is... Lemon?
That's right, Lemon! At long last, I am sharing a picture of my pet rabbit, who has functioned as my sort of unofficial mascot for years. Teaching computer camp for kids? Need to break the ice with new students? What could be better than to introduce them to the scariest rabbit that ever lived!
For those of you who may already know of Lemon, rest assured that I have kept my students away from this dangerous animal. To the best of my knowledge, no child has ever been traumatized just by the mere digital photograph of the beast. However, for some mysterious reason the opposite reaction occurs. People everywhere love Lemon (although they still think she's scary).
What a perfect date for an October post. This week's image is a detail from a skeletal study that I turned into a collage. Last week's image was also a study from Figure drawing. Now you know why I decided to do a month's worth of Halloween themes.
October 6, 2011
Get ready for a spooky October! In honor of Halloween and the last showing of Pittsbugh's only Zombie Opera: Evenings in Quarantine, created by Liz Rishel (another cousin of mine) and Bonnie Bogovich, NRW will be running a gruesome piece of art every Thursday in October! And congratulations Liz and Bonnie!
September 28, 2011
Here's some follow up pictures of the wax bells that I'm working on. Now that I have some plaster molds of the basic shapes, I'm able to work on a whole bunch at a time.
Here's a picture of the molds with me holding a bell for comparison. Molten wax is pored into the mold and slushed around. As the wax cools and solidifies, it forms a film that can be built up in thickness little by little with more slushing.
The rim of the bell in the picture has already been cut clean, when I first remove it from the mold, the edge is uneven and messy. I now use an oven mitt to prevent the wax from getting on me as I swish it around the mold.
These bells will be used for bronze casting once they are done. I will be using the lost wax techinque, as is obvious since I am working in wax.
September 22, 2011
This week I sliced open the palm of my hand, and burned myself with hot wax, all in the name of creating wax models to immortalize my trademark bells in bronze. What could possibly go wrong once we get to the metal pour?
Here's the photo of some wax models that I'm creating. I'll be using the lost wax technique - something that I will post in detail when we do our first metal pour in sculpture.
I'll also have to take a picture of my plaster molds now that I know how to cast wax without burning myself. The bells in the photo were hand-built, not cast though.
Bells will be playing a big role in the stories that will be told on this website, and my original inspiration for the unusual ones I create came from studying ancient ritual bells from China and Japan - which were created from bronze.
September 15th, 2011
Currently, I'm having the great pleasure of researching sources for my Modern Art Paper. I'm studying James Whistler, an artist who wrote, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, and just possibly may have been involved in smuggling arms to Chile.
Here's another image of concept art I did a while back for the Game Project - another pre-gradschool piece. Imagine a Flash game that actually looks like that! This is what Fields by the Sea was getting at!
September 8th, 2011
According to my Facebook poll, there is at least some interest in seeing what I'm doing in the world of art, so here's the first official artist blog entry:
Here's a collage I made in the spring that I used as an example of my work while talking to my acedemic advisor, and the other intermedia student grad. It is now know for a fact that I will be working on a flash game as my big intermedia project this semester. At long last, I can finally hunt my white whale!
Wouldn't you know, I forgot to take a photo of my recent work? Yesterday, I finished two collages for my Independent Study and over the weekend, I made a wax bell for bronze casting.
Oh and there is good news on the horrizon for Wave Tyrant. I found the new painted textures that had been missing for the past two weeks. Now the only other thing holding up coloring is that I need to paint a few more - specifically clothing patterns. Renard's belt is supposed to have a pattern reminenscent of the kimono patterns scene on woodblock prints (although more painterly and abstract). Plus, if you scroll down to the black and white comic, you'll see that I now have an entire villiage to clothe. When I update the comic next, I plan to have a little mini-documentory to explain my process and what I do with all these textures that I create.
September 2nd, 2011
Success! My NRW email is alive and fuctional. Non-Facebook people can email me at email@example.com to participate in the poll or send feedback. Also, I really need to thank the people who have already participated in the poll on Facebook. There's at least one person on there that I neither personally know or am related to by blood, so here's an extra thanks to you!
September 1st, 2011
Hello one and all. As many of you know, I have just entered my first semester of graduate school. I spent three years slaving away at my portfolio and they must have really liked it because not only did I get accepted, but I was greatly blessed and fortunate enough to be awarded an assistantship.
What this means is that I am very busy, and since I lost my first apartment due to circumstances beyond my control, I spent the time I had thought to use to build up a cushion in Wave Tyrant finding a new home instead.
I do not want to go on hiatus. I've already had a longer gaps between posts than I had wanted - its been an everything that can go wrong did kind of summer.
So I've come up with a possible solution. I've created a poll on Facebook to see if people would be interested in me posting an artist's blog on Thursdays with occasional comic updates. There will be some pretty interesting things going on - bronze casting, peaks at animation I'll be working on, and other forms of awesome art that I will be working on.
I do not think you even have to have fanned me on Facebook to participate in the poll - you just have to be on Facebook already. For non-Facebook people, I'll be posting the official NRW email address once I verify that it exists.
I'm very interested in feedback right now, so the poll is open and people should be able to add constructive suggestions to it. I will also appreciate email suggestions once that is set up as well.
Copyright 2011-2013 by Kristine R. Synowka and Ninth Crow Studios. All rights reserved.