There’s no comic today, and I apologise. I’ve been grappling with a deep depressive state lately (I’ll be fine, I’ve been dealing with depression since I was a kid) and it killed my ability to draw a comic on time. This is the first missed update in ages, which is either impressive or sucks, depending on one’s viewpoint. Anyway, instead, here are some pictures from my sketchbook. (Click the thumbnails for pictures.)
The sketchbook is a place to practice things, develop new ideas, and just play without any deadlines or audience. I also try and draw something quickly in my sketchbook before sitting down to draw the comic, because I’ve found it really frees up my hand, in both the literal physical sense and the more existential sense of getting my vaguely defined drawing faculties ‘into gear’.
There’s a lot of Space Dan and Aleya, because a) they’re my favourite characters, and b) they’re very easy to draw while still being fun. Sometimes I doodle a little tiny Space Dan, only about an inch or so high, while I’m thinking.
Lore is my favourite person to draw, but I’m never quite happy with my cartoon of her. In real life she has quite pronounced cheekbones, and you can see in these drawings I tried adding them to her character model.
Here’s Robert and Hibiya, among other things.
Finally, a little while ago I was left alone in a room with a laminator, so I quickly scribbled this Ephemeris bookmark, cut it out and laminated it. Which now really annoys me because I got a bunch of the details wrong and am thoroughly unable to fix them, trapped in a plastic prison of my own design.
Regular comic strips will resume on monday, I promise.
In lieu of an Ephemeris chapter this week (next week is a big ‘un), I present my build of the crossguard lightsaber from the Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer! I made this and tweeted it within 24 hours of the trailer’s release; that’s how excited I was. But I decided to take some better photos and write about the process a bit.
I’ve seen a few other builds of the crossguard lightsaber – which I’ve kept referring to as the ‘plasma claymore’, because of the side emitters and the way the blades ripple like blowtorches – but they’ve all been pretty woefully inaccurate to the visual design, aside from having three emitters. I took a screengrab and played with the levels in Photoshop until the details were visible, just like Screen Rant also did, saving me the trouble of exporting and uploading my own.
As you can see, it’s not just a bunch of tubes (like the internet?) in a cruciform; it has a different shape entirely. The side emitters taper as they join the hilt, and there’s a large bevelled cylinder which all three emitter heads slot into above the grip area. The pommel also expands outwards, like a plastic table foot thing with lines hand-carved into it. I reverse-engineered the measurements of each part by measuring my own hand across the knuckles, and using that as the measurement across the actor/actress’ hand in the screengrab. Then I calculated everything from there.
I made most of the pieces from scratch out of wood. It would have been way easier if I owned a lathe. Instead, I jury-rigged one by connecting the wooden pieces to my drill press via a long bolt and nut. If you try that yourself, just be careful the drill doesn’t vibrate the nut undone and fling your project at high speed across the workshop! I mention this for no reason. Cough.
The emitter cover was the trickiest part to make. I took a section of plastic pipe, then to make it solid I hole-sawed a cylinder of wood and tapped it in with a hammer. To get the bevelling done – and a lot of the other large-scale sanding – I put a large sanding disk into the head of a drill, which I then locked into a table vice, creating a sort of haphazard disk sander. I would not recommend this method. After bevelling it, I drilled a series of holes and cut them out to make the slice out of the front. To make the slots for the side emitters, I drilled a small hole right through to grip the smaller interior piece, then two larger holes either side to snugly fit the actual emitters. The interior piece and emitters I made out of some plumbing parts that I cut and glued.
Then, I fitted all those pieces together and glued them.
The pommel I scratch-made by hand, from a piece of wood and some aluminium sheeting that I made into a cube. The grip part was some dowelling, which I hand-carved the designs into. Since there’s a gloved hand covering the entire grip in the trailer, I just went with an intentionally milquetoast design of my own imagining. Then everything was sanded down for neatness.
To connect all three segments together, I left the dowelling long on either side of the grip, which I carved down to a narrower diameter. Then I just drilled matching holes into the pommel and emitter head, and glued it all together. Before gluing them, though, I painted each part. I sprayed the wooden parts with a satin black, and the metal and plastic parts with a matte black, though I pre-sanded the interior emitter part to get some contrast between the inner and outer parts. It doesn’t show so well in photos, but I also tried to let some of the original bronze of the side emitters show through, because I like how orange they go in the trailer when the blades light up. (I know that’s because they’re heating up, but I figured it adds a bit more tonal variety.) I probably would have done a more careful painting job, but there weren’t any other builds of the crossguard lightsaber online yet, and I wanted to get it done quickly!
Now I just need that little omniball astromech droid (R2-Bchball? P3-L3?) and I’m all set.