J228 – Maslab 4koma Posted

So, I finally got around to posting all the Maslab comics here. Sorry for missing my updates for the last 3 weeks. It actually didn’t take that long to update them so I should have done it sooner … orz.

First set of 4koma posted to this week. To see the comics in their original context, click here.

So how did we do in the contest, you ask?

0 points.

Basically, we were hampered by our over-sensitive collision-detecting code, which caused the robot to think it had collided while going for a ball. So we didn’t score any points. We did, however, broadcast status indicators to the projection screen during the contest:

Normal Found a ball/goal Crashed
Lost sight of ball/goal Failed to find ball/goal

Well, next week, it should be back to more normal things. We should either have a comic or a colored picture, depending on how hosed the first week of term makes me…



Another couple months, another colored illustration.

Quite frankly, I think this one is pretty good. Almost, if not good enough to replace Yuki as number one on my DeviantART account. It’s kinda depressing that, one year down the line, I can still only barely turn out something that’s better than what I did a year ago. And it’s not just this time, either; it took me a year before Yuki bested the previous number one, gun-toting Chikara and some dead bodies. The gap between Chikara and the number one before her, pencil-lineart Tales of the Abyss group painting was a mere three months. I don’t know what went before that. Nonetheless, the increase in illustration quality isn’t bad for two years’ time.

So I’m sure I’ve commented in the past that a good lineart better makes up for a crappy paintjob than a good paintjob makes up for a crappy lineart. I was watching some Nico video, a time lapse of some guy doing a pretty nifty digital illustration, and I noticed just how often the guy mirrored the image, made an adjustment, flipped it back, and kept going. Well, I took a hint and made sure to flip-check the thing a couple times as I went over the lineart and I think it definitely helped a bit. Helped a bit as in I think this lineart is actually pretty good too; it’s not just the painting.

Here is the original sketch:

Here is the sketch, mirrored:

The final lineart, mirrored:

Anyway, I’ve also mentioned – maybe not on the site, but to J, that I tend to change the drawing significantly between the sketch and the final lineart. This is a good representation of that phenomenon: as you can see, not too many things match up:

The mirroring business does make a difference, but in all honesty, the mirror-attributed distortion in this illustration isn’t half as bad as that of the last illustration:

In color, I think the general trend is that I’ve been slowly moving away from hard color divisions and flat color planes (if that makes any sense at all). You can see in that 2007 Chikara illustration that all the darks are separated from all the lights by this edge, except at the fringes where I kind of tie it together. Yuki, I think, represents the other end of the spectrum with almost no edges at all; today’s illustration is still way closer to that end of the specturm.

Big part of this flip flopping is that I still have considerable trouble painting larger expanses of clothing, especially on the torso. In turn, a big part of this is that I’m still not that good at doing folds and the like, again, especially on the torso. Definitely in today’s illustration, I spent a great deal of time working on the clothing. Even doing the comic I find myself questioning a lot of my clothing lines; that’s not to say I don’t question my other lines as well, but clothing is a sticking point these days. The switch towards the lack of lines I think de-emphasizes the shoddiness of this aspect of the lineart.

I nonetheless actually ended up painting a lot of this twice. Just for kicks, there are four light sources here – I won’t say the end implementation is all that, but it’s definitely better than the first iteration. The interesting point here is that I usually start painting with the lightest shade of each color first, but for the background this time around, I started by filling the entire thing with that dark-ish grey and then putting in the lighter colors. With the figure I put down the lightest shades first, but used the dark grey as the darker shade, and then adding the darker shades of the original color as highlights of sorts.

Anyways, if that’s all gibberish, the idea is that it was done differently XD.

I think I’m going to have to start playing with multiple types of brushes again. Trying to merge some of these colors, especially the real dark bits turns out to be a roundabout adventure in futility much of the time. There’s an awful lot of room for improvement still; if I put in twice the amount of time on this, I feel like it could actually be significantly better. Like I could go in and give all that stuff in the background their own colors and shit; maybe add some real detail in there with paint… something like that. Maybe next time.

Ok, that’s it for today.

dcomic 491


So BKS 0, same as CL 0, is the start of the BKS/Confederate League calendar. In some arbitrary space-faring civilization somewhere out in the galaxy, something happens (we don’t really know what) that causes Bradly and Keno (members of the aforementioned civilization – we don’t actually have an official name for this race, I’ll call them “founders” for simplicity’s sake) and a number of their kind to arrive in the Milky Way 1600 years later. That’s not to say their journey took 1600 years; they just arrived 1600 years later.

A primitively industrialized, humanoid race in the Milky Way (not the one we know as humans) was “civilized” through alien intervention, eventually forming the basis of the BKS Empire. Officially, the start of the Empire is BKS 1770, but by that time it already covered a significant portion of the galaxy (something like 10%?). Standards of living rose with increased technological developement and penetration, and the empire continued to expand as new worlds and resources were brought in.

Somewhere around 1850 marks the height of the BKS Empire in terms of technological capability. There must have been some sort of major conflict during this period, as 50 Symphonia class and 15 Ultima class very-heavy battleships were built between 1800 and 1850. Another 15 Dogma class ships are built at the end of the 1800s. By 1900, the Empire probably covers something like 30% of the galaxy, but some factor – possibly whatever conflict it faced in the middle of the 1800s = has stopped its expansion. As its boundaries start to shrink, colonial worlds are cut off from the core and ultimately “lost” for the time being.

Furthermore, as the number of Founders shrink relatve to the native population, Bradly and Keno (presumably still the leaders of the empire) decide to hand over imperial control to the native population. Thus marks the start of the Senatorial era, starting from BKS 1889. It proves to be somewhat of a bad idea, as the Senate proves itself barely capable of running the still very large empire. The state begins a rapid decline for the next twenty years. Suddenly, in 1912, fueled by the loss of the old BKS capital (due to a technological failure), the Empire finds itself in a civil war, with a Conservative faction supporting the few remaining Founders and a Progressive faction supporting the Senate.

The senate somehow manages to build another group of super-heavy battlecruisers as “proof” of their capabilities, winning a lot of supporters. A major push by the Conservatives is repelled in 1920, and a short truce follows. In 1926, the Conservative faction soundly defeats the Senatorial forces and a compromise, a peace treaty, gives birth to the Confederate League. Another entity, New BKS, is also established at this time, but little is known about it (I’m actually series here – this is J’s faction but he hasn’t really developed it).

Victory comes at a high cost. A lot of documentation is lost in Senatorial dis-information warfare. History of the empire and of the Founders before 1900 is suddenly very scarce. A lot of technological know-how is also lost. Legends and lost-technology come into existence. The number of Founders left in the system is next to nothing. Even Keno is presumed dead, though his brother, partially through popular support, assumes the role of the chair of the Confederacy.

The next two hundred years sees a continual, slow decline in all aspects of the Confederate League, despite it being a period of peace. Much of the League’s BKS-era military equipment is too expensive to maintain. Some of the original Symphonia class ships continue to roam the galaxy; nonetheless, the League’s control over the various ex-BKS worlds is nonetheless limited. The Confederate decline has spurred discontent on some worlds. Lack of resources has meant that recent internal conflicts in 2221, 2229, and 2248 have been brutal and protracted. The Confederate “present” is CL 2051.

Obviously we have some pictures for this update, but the catch is that they’ve all been posted before. Conceivably they’ll make a bit more sense now.


Senatorial Capital, BKS 6, 1885. The BKS capital is originally located at BKS 1, “main planet”, but is moved to BKS 6 during the senatorial era, probably due to the progressive party’s attempt to break from the old reign. When the empire dissolves into the Confederate League, the capital is moved back to BKS 1, which is re-numbered Confederate League 3.


BKS Abyssia and BKS Materia, Confederate League 53A, ex-BKS 53A. Two major battles during the civil war were fought over BKS 50 and BKS 53. As such, these colonial worlds are littered with the remains of old BKS battleships. The Abyssia and Materia are both members of the original 50 Symphonia class ships.


Bradly and Keno, BKS 2, 1912. BKS 2 “jungle planet” is the base of the conservative faction throughout the civil war. It is later renumbered as Confederate League 1, as remains the industrial center of the Confederate League. It is also hosts the headquarters of the state-owned production and transport service BC Inc.


Bradly and Keno. Apparently the lifespan of a Founder is something like ten times the length of a human. Bradly has been alive since before the creation of the Empire and is only recently planning to step down as chair of the League. The lifespan of a Native is probably on par with that of a human – something like 100 years.


Senator Kaska. Originally a [disciple?] of Keno. He is a native. Eventually becomes the chair of the senate; he is probably the most powerful person in the galaxy during the civil war. Eventually gets shot by Keno as depicted in Reflection. As a side note, Reflection should also make a bit more sense after this entry. Reflection implies that, during the civil war, before the 1926 Conservative offensive, Keno went around assassinating key members of the senate. It is also mplied that the loss of leadership of the Progressive faction effectively helped the Conservatives win the war.

Starcrossed also gets a bit more background with this entry (though many of the names of places are still going by an old system). The first battle takes place during the 2221 conflict and the rest of the story takes place during 2229. The lack of Confederate military firepower is evident with the destruction of the Ultima squadron and the heavy-carrier itself by rogue forces. As the original of her class and just shy of 300 years old, the destruction of the Ultima could also be seen as the destuction of a historic entity.

Ok, that’s it for this entry, maybe more BKS/CL ramblings in the next entry.

dcomic 490


Have to upload a new batch of comics after this one. Anyways.

Back in d214 I went on about the “the first real appearance of BKS miscellany” in 484. As early as d63, I’ve written about connecting the Directorate story with what I called the “Confederate League saga”, but I don’t think I’ve ever given any concrete detail as to what BKS or the Confederate League actually is. There will be a brief summary either built into the last part of the story or added as a postscript, but I’m going to take an entry or two to put it in words. I admit this is somewhat of a tangent partially written for the sake of nostalgia, but it’s important to me and never been put into words.

It’s also psuedo-important to the story – hell, almost every story I’ve ever conceived.

In j207, J posted The Adventures of BKS, Tenth Anniversary Redux, which depicts the original comic in a slightly more structured and sensible fashion (not that it makes much sense to begin). While this original comic may be the first time BKs or anything BKS related shows up on paper, the actual saga – like the offline (ha, as if we knew what that meant in 1998!), off-paper saga begins a bit before.

Now my memory is really quite hazy back here, but I won’t say J and I were on terribly good terms ’til sometime in the middle of third grade. Must have been something to do with paper boats, as we were the only two people in our grade who could figure out how to do this thing. Anyways, I recall the two of us sitting around this puddle and re-acting a Calvin and Hobbes strip involving a Marsha and Bradley. This is the birth of the character Bradly (yes, this is now the proper spelling; I have stuck with my original mis-spelling and run with it. I believe it is the same case for Keno) who shows up in the Episode 1 and has actually appeared a few times on NW over the past couple years.

Over the next six months Bradly and Keno turn into these cyborgs with this BKS entity backing them and they run around in their tin-foil boats (I would still have these if someone didn’t effin throw ’em away – I don’t have pictures either as digital cameras were like SSDs in 1998 – expensive) from winter to winter and puddle to puddle. They got this fictional world attached to them (or maybe they got attached to this fictional world) which was developed through word of mouth, the comics, or other drawings.

And then in our last year of elementary school I made J mad and the thing kinda fell apart. Or it’s more like the thing was in pieces to start, and I picked them up and arranged them in a way that J didn’t like. Touchy subject still for me, but J gives some insight in episode episode6; even if my description doesn’t suggest it, J’s really not to blame here, it really was my fault. Nonetheless, we ultimately gave it some thought and eventually consolidated the world of BKS (though I admit – some of the technologies are still somewhat fuzzy).

This rationalized universe forms the foundation of what I now call the Confederate League saga, basically a continuation of this universe’s timeline. While I’d say most of the recent developments have been made by me (I’d say I’m more needy of a kind of framework to build on and build off than J), I still hesitate to make unilateral major additions to the BKs universe. Nonetheless, this framework basically supports all of the short storylines I’ve done over the past couple years – from the original 193 to 200 story to the current Directorate storyline. So you kind of get a grasp on how important this is to, at the very least, my drawing.

Anyways, that wasn’t as detailed of a background as I originally intended, but you kinda get the idea. Next time I’ll actually start detailing the content of this BKS universe. As a sidenote, I’m impressed that J’s actually been doing a 4koma everyday (depsite the varying quality of the humor). Technically it’s like 6 or 7 times his regular volume. Good job.

dcomic 489


A little early this week. Still at 517; probably won’t be able to touch the comic for a while. My buffer was almost at 30 pages with the last update (29 to be precise!), but that’s probably a high-water mark that won’t be touched for a while. Really, I can only see it running down as the story comes to an end. There’s some more complicated pages that need to be done within the next 10; that’ll slow progress some even when I have the time to get on it.

I didn’t say it last time, but, crazy thing, it’s 2009. Yeah it’s been 2009 for ten days now, but it’s still crazy. It’s almost been ten years – a decade – since the turn of the century. Almost a tenth into the 21st century. Ten years ago, Justin and I were in 4th grade sailing paper boats in puddles of the larger than usual variety. Ten years ago, I was ten. The problem there is that I’m now twenty, and that’s downright terrible.

I feel like drawing is kind of like learning a new language. Between time 0 and 5, it’s really quite easy to get better, but between time 6 and 10, it’s hard to very hard and getting exponentially harder. I’m sure I’ve suggested this multiple times in the past, but everytime we reach one of these milestones (in this case it’s twenty effin years of being alive – and when I put it that way it feels just so much effin longer), I’m more and more sure of these things.

I was actually flipping through my old sketchbooks and such this morning, and I was taking photos (yeah, it’ be an ass and a half to scan all of them) of what I thought were “milestone” pictures (and really, just anything I had a comment on), but I wasn’t using my camera and most of them turned out like crap. As in I was going to post ’em, but after seeing how they turned out, I’m not going to anymore.

But I have some other tidbits that are also interesting. In general, I’m pretty disinclined to move away from what I consider a “core competency” in art, but these are somewhat of a departure:

I’m supposed to draw 20 “pictures” a day for a week for Drawing II (that’s 140 “pictures”), which is kind of intense for someone who puts out, at max, one comic page a day for four or five days. There’s a bunch of normal (and less normal) pencil drawings, but these were by far the ones that stood out the most in this current batch (I don’t think I’m going to get up to 140 – depending on how you define a picture, I could be headed for anything between 75 and 125?).

So, that’s probably it for this week. Maybe I’ll update with a new batch of those photos I was talking about.