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Hi! Today I want to talk about my website, more importantly some of the backend stuff that goes on. There is something I want to implement in the near future.
I’m not sure I have written twice in the same month yet, maybe back in May.
First, I want to show you a sad snapshot of my Google Analytics.
I have been using Analytics for years but I still can’t tell you how to really unlock its potential. I can look at sources, see where people are coming from, where they are going on the site, and some other things. What my suspicions are, because it has been the case since I integrated Analytics, is a lot of this is bot and crawler traffic. The referral source struggle is still going strong, despite Google’s attempts to fix it.
What worries me the most if the 00:00:01 average session rate. One second. I have no idea if traffic is being properly recorded, or if this is further damage from the crawlers. I have looked on Reddit quite a bit, but I am unable to find very concrete advice.
The site has an SEO (search engine optimization) tool. After a recent post, I came to the realization that making content is more important than optimizing at this time. However, SEO is still an important aspect of the site. I have seen my practice here improve the performance of my pages at work.
Now to my plans!
One time I came across an artist’s website I really liked! I know it is in my bookmarks, but I forget which site it actually was. Many art and photography websites I come across simply utilize a lightbox or post the image.
What I plan on doing is keeping the gallery page itself intact. However, when you click on a thumbnail it will go to a page or page-like overlay. You would see a nice large version of the full image on the left. To the right is the title, materials, category, and some artist notes. Somewhere on the page (I forgot about it making the mockup below) would be share buttons. I want to put its available products below. Finally, I would have thumbnails of the previous gallery item and the next.
I think the biggest obstacle is figuring out how to implement it. It may have to be a combination of plugins, coding, and time. I may consult Reddit on the matter and work in Wamp.
I may try a new SEO tactic called A/B testing. From my understanding you make two versions of your website, page or function. After some time Google Analytics will have reports on whether style A or B performed better. There are plugins and stuff, so I may just need to mock up the alternative gallery.
I think that’s about it! These posts are either super quick or take all day to write.
I still need to do a Valentine’s Day art…
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I feel an odd sense of relief now that 2018 is now behind us. It was a tumultuous year in general. I had no luck on the job front, and I had difficulty financially. Then there was the stark realization I spent too much time optimizing my website and the store, and not enough time creating. I get the feeling it was punishing me for having fun during Christmas in 2017.
Here is to 2019! I am a little nervous but the odd numbered years have been treating me better than the even numbered ones as of late. I have a lot of plans provided I do not mess them up.
My Big Update
My main project today was a long time coming. When I graduated from college in December 2013 my mom got me a sweet graduation present. I got a heavy metal and tempered glass studio table! I was saying for a long time I wanted a light table. With some ingenuity I should be able to make it work as a lightbox.
So, I plan on spending 2019 drafting SWMaC 2, practicing more with traditional media, and working on the animation studies again. I wanted to work on markers and watercolor again, however I didn’t have a dedicated clean and flat surface.
I like that it is in front of a window for natural lighting. Right now I am saving up for a webcam and mount for live drawing! There is $25 to go. I am going to upgrade my RAM after the rent and bills dust settles. My friends will likely take me to Micro Center. From there I can dedicate some remainder to this.
2019 Year Goals
I’m not quite sure how to quantify my goals. My Evolving Pre-order stuff (my illustration lineup) will be completely turned over by this time in 2020. I am going to try making a backlog, because I know me, of comic material It will probably be a weekly or twice a week update schedule. I also want to get through a couple requests or potential commissions, and maybe get some others. I’m not concerned about a follower count, but I would like a few more really interactive ones.
Looking forward to a new roaring 20s! Hopefully no economic crash at the end of it… Bring on the electro-jazz!
Happy Holidays, everyone! Christmas is creeping up soon for me. I also hear Hanukkah started at the same time.
Art and Personal Stuff
I’ve been doing a little personal reflection as of late. I feel I do need to make an apology about my drop in creativeness after a productive winter. It looks like I forgot I was an artist first, and a web person second or even third or so. Art kinda got shoved to the side, and it made me a bit sad. I was focusing too much on e-commerce, and not on what brought my friends to my page. Though I am proud of my expansion.
That being said I am trying to make some last minute rights in the fourth quarter. I did make a holiday caricature for Halloween and Thanksgiving. The Christmas art is even in progress!
There is also seriousness with getting SWMaC2 off the ground. It’s going to be a non sequitur with overarching fictional biography and other tales throughout. Each one will get their own release upon completion. I plan on redoing the opening pages with a comic form of the plans for the comic. From there I have the little guys!
Hopefully my time management will improve. I feel compelled to stream all of my arting.
I also have a small coupon code running for anybody looking to get gifts! It is for 10% off your whole order on anything in the store. You simply need to use the code holi2018.
With a little luck I’ll be investing in my own printer in the near future. I may use my tax return. I was tired of sending files to a company, for my prints to arrive dark or banded. If I’m super lucky I’ll even try finding space for a holographic laminate roller.
See you later and Happy Holidays!
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Today I’m going to talk about my computer. It is a custom build from December 2012. It has treated me well and given me numerous headaches over the years. However, I built my PC and therefore it is good!
I mentioned in my previous post that I had a few assignments to work on! I have managed to get about 1 1/2 of those complete.
Comics Vs Art is a Columbus, OH gallery where comic artists, local and non, parody or reimagine classical works in their own image. This year the runner called the show “Variations on a Theme.” In the past we had to choose one painting, and that was our painting. This year multiple artists were assigned the same painting from a significantly smaller list.
The painting I got is Elizabeth Nourse’s “A/The Family Meal.”
Seeing my cousin Katy deal with her son’s PS3 and iPad addiction I decided to modernize it a little. The mother also went to the ‘Shinobu’ school of expressing her anger. I have a feeling the original looks at the problem of poverty or little facing some classes of families. In the modern era the new little is real human interaction.
I’m personally a little guilty, but I keep my phone in my pocket at the table. I’m part of that bizarre 90s kid generation that remembers a time without the internet, but fully embraced the digital era.
Speaking of which, I’m counting down the days remaining of my 20s… It was an interesting run I wish I did more youthful stuff with.
The other thing is my friends’ podcast. It still needs approved, but I may have the icon final ready!
All I have to do now is the banner. It may be significantly more complicated since I need to paint a damaged Arleigh Burke class destroyer with some trippy effects around it.
Finally I have the e-book cover. I have an image in my head, but I still need to put it to paper or screen. I thought it would actually be best to draft a contract first.
Anyway, on to my computer!
Near the end of December 2012 I had a lot of surplus cash on hand. I think I was actually saving up for my computer so it makes sense. My MacBook Pro (remember it?) was still a bit on the curve, but I already maxed out its capabilities. I wanted MORE POWER! I also wanted to be able to play a lot of games I was missing out on. Because, Mac!
A friend of mine recommended I start with a barebones kit. If you aren’t too familiar with builds like I was, this is a good place to start. Mine came with a tower, disc drive, hard disk drive, motherboard, compatible RAM, power, and a CPU. I got to choose my screen, mouse and keyboard, speakers, graphics card, and operating system. I shopped around for gaming PC specs, because their graphic requirements would also work for my art.
It arrived during Christmas break at about 6-7 at night. It was a few days before I had to go up north for the actual holiday. Excited, I opened everything up and spread it across the kitchen floor. I had heard previously about carpeting and the malevolent magic smoke. A friend of mine actually complimented me on knowing better.
I recall the first part was to mount the motherboard. It and mounting the disc/k drives were the worst part! The RAM was super easy, but I wasn’t sure why the four slots alternated between black and white. My main mistake was wiring the motherboard to power or disk components until the thing would turn on. I tried following a booklet, but I couldn’t see any pin id’s anywhere. This was a mistake that cost me a motherboard replacement about 14 months later.
Almost 5 hours later Windows 7 reached the desktop and I did as follows:
Download and install Firefox
Download and install Steam, purchase/(re)install TF2, Amnesia: TDD, and Saints Row 3
Get the free trial of Paint Tool SAI
Download Dream of the Blood Moon (my old ‘friend’…)
Get iTunes and transfer ALL the music over
The first piece of artwork I made on my new PC is ‘Preparing to Fight.’ I did not have Bandicam yet, and OBS wasn’t a thing, so I don’t have all of the footage.
I kept my computer in the living room for a really long time. My brother had an ethernet cord going to the large bedroom I could utilize. When he told me about it I moved my PC in there in January or February.
My first flexing of my computer’s muscle was my independent study project. Some of my longest lasting fans will know this is ‘So We’re Making a Comic!‘ I was still working with my old Intuos at the time, and I can’t recall if SAI had any text functions. A lot of time was wasted fixing the lines. I appreciate Clip Studio Paint’s tools a lot more for this purpose.
Aside from that Blender was MUCH smoother! Render time more than halved compared to my MacBook Pro. However, with the release of the cycles engine I had the first taste of my computer reaching its limit. My long lived intro logo on YouTube took over a day to render those original 15 seconds. By comparison my MacBook Pro could render 90 seconds of 24 fps animation in Maya overnight. I was working with some complicated lighting in Blender, though. It could have also been super big.
Over the next year I bought two large programs: Manga Studio Ex5 and FL Studio. I already had a small piano keyboard for a couple years. Manga Studio has since upgraded to Clip Studio Paint, my main digital art tool. The last time I used SAI was for the still very recent ‘Looking Back.’ I purchased FL Studio to make my own music for YouTube before I discovered some recent Creative Commons sites. It is far more robust than Garageband, but I miss one synth instrument in it.
Did I also mention I may have put a literal month’s worth of time into Minecraft?
In 2016 I finally made the plunge and got a new tablet. I bought the Ugee 1910B tablet monitor. It was a whole new world! I still have tablet envy when I get to use a Wacom Cintiq, but… some day!
The sad part is my PC needs a little bit of a pick me up now. I was looking to upgrade the RAM when the hard drive needed replaced. The graphics card could also use an upgrade. I want to hang on to the build for as long as I can since they can be fairly expensive.
Thermaltake Versa II Mid Tower Case
Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit (You can pry 7 from my cold, dead hands!)
ECS Z77 Motherboard
Intel i5-2500k CPU @ 3.30 GHz, Quad Core
2 X 4GB DDR3 RAM, I forget the rate, upgradable to 32GB (4 X 8GB)
1 TB internal hard disk drive
MSI R6670-MD1GD5 Radeon HD 6670 Video Card – 1GB, GDDR5, PCI-Express 2.1 (x16), DVI, HDMI, VGA, DirectX 11, Dual-Slot
I want a Blender Cycles compatible Nvidia card that likes water shaders (Cry of Fear, among other games)
ASUS 22″ Class Widescreen LED Backlit Monitor – 1920 x 1080, 16:9, 5ms, HDMI, DVI, VGA, Energy Star
Microsoft APB Wired Keyboard and Mouse
Logitech LS21 2.1 Stereo Speakers – 2.1 Channels, 7-Watts RMS, 2″ High-excursion Metallic Drivers, 4″ 4-Watts RMS Max-X High-excursion Subwoofer (Still can’t get this to play right with my PC)
A currently dead disc drive, friend gave me a loaner I still need to install
Current favorite internet browser: Google Chrome
Most played games: Minecraft and Freecell
Most used art program: Clip Studio Paint
The akaneArt.com blog will return in: The Tablet Experience or My Favorite PC Games.
There’s still about a week to take advantage of my shop’s sale! Head on over to the shop and use the code happy4th18 for 25% off when you reach an order of $10 or more. Also, orders $20 or more get free shipping!
I also have a mailing list! You can follow the mailing list to know when there are new blog posts, new art added to my gallery, or sales in the shop. You will also get a coupon upon sign up and on your birthday.
Today’s post deals with the special finishes I want for some prints in my shop. Before we get to it I do have a couple small updates.
I’m holding a 4th of July sale! With the code happy4th18 orders $10 or more get 25% off. That is my biggest discount ever! The coupon counts towards the entire store, which includes preorder and clearance items. The sale goes through July 8th.
Starting yesterday orders over $20 now qualify for free shipping. It also works with coupons, but the amount may need to be post discount.
I added a little new art recently. When things calm down it’s going to be a continuous thing.
Aside from that I am still trying to complete a gallery piece. I also have a book cover to work on, and my friends’ movie blog (plug!). Then back to comics.
Did you know I have a mailing list? Click here to subscribe to it! You’ll get a special sign up coupon, and a birthday coupon. I may only send an email out once every week or, two. There will also be sale or coupon notifications within 24 hours of it starting.
My eventual goal for prints, Artist Alley, and the shop is to print from home. I felt I’d save a lot of time or wait, and money doing so. I want to be able to print thumbnails for color control. Work is done in RGB and I always have the worst time converting to CMYK. If I had a dedicated profile it would probably be doable. It’s my biggest hurdle printing from digital files.
I’ve read about using pdf files instead of jpgs. Have people done this and had success? I think I did it once and it may have gone better.
I may make the equipment a Patreon goal. I’m hoping when I reach it I’d have the capacity to warrant printing from home.
I do have a few specific prints to talk about today, as well.
The only special plan I really had for Icy Glare was a special holographic overlay. I’m having a hard time finding it. I’m sure I have the know how, but I lack the equipment to do it myself.
The two finishes I had in mind were either snow flurries or a frosted window. I was always fascinated by frosted windows and their crazy patterns as a kid. I tried to achieve some of that with the border. Since I know it can be done, I’d want the overlays to reflect in cool colors only.
Other than that I was wondering about silver ink or foil on the embroidery of Helena’s obi.
One of my main pieces and my online avatar. I actually had some of these effects in mind while I was making the print. It has two main components: the chrysanthemums of the kimono and the negative space.
If I were ever to make the kimono the chrysanthemum flowers on it would be lined in gold foil. I want to create this in the print. A friend of mine (plug!) brought in gold foil for me to try, but we had a sizing issue with the fine lines.
What I decided on for a base was a coating of bronze ink. I decided on Dr. Ph Martin’s Iridescent Bronze. The idea was to loosely scratch some on in random areas. Before it dried I would rag some off (hopefully without smudging). I wanted it to be a little textured as well. Another friend of mine suggested gold nail glitter for that. I may mix gold with copper for the warmer tone I want to achieve. It’s very fine so I think it will work.
The biggest headache I’ve had is how I would achieve the pearlescent effect of the negative space. I was looking at Perfect Pearls shimmer spray, but it seems to be sold out on Amazon. They came out with an alternative called Dylusions Shimmer Spray, which could work. My final thought was glitter infused mica powder, provided it would work as a light spray.
My only gripe is not having these in front of me to experiment.
The main challenge may be the risk of ruining the print. I used Catprint for the first batch. I’m not sure what type they use. I may be able to minimize risk avoiding alcohol or other solvents, and too heavy of application.
Future Print Finishes or Other Options
I’ve been looking into foil and special papers. I have already done a few with felt texture paper. I know Catprint also has shimmer papers in white or cream. I’ve also been looking at metal prints, pearlescents, wall scrolls, and puzzles. I’ve been bookmarking recommendations which I can include later.
I feel like I’m trying to achieve something that may be hard to do at the small scale level.
Thoughts or suggestions? I feel like I’m making this much harder than it needs to be. I’m also curious about the demand for these special finishes.
When I do have my solution I will write another post detailing my finds or process.
I also wanted to get into casting. One idea I had was Mr. Snail magnets or ornaments. I also had an idea for Triune portrait coasters or medallions.
The blog will return with: My PC Build
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As the title implies I had to deal with a stupid, and extremely sketchy, piece of company policy this past Thursday. I feel bad because my oldest brother loves this company. He’s actually a brand ambassador for their events. I didn’t have as warm of a customer experience.
I won’t name the company in this public post due to the legal consequences behind it. I’m just going to refer to them as “Athlico.”
Thursday was one of my few days off until recently so I was taking it easy. The day was actually really nice and I needed to call someone back about a potential permanent position.
Then I got the email. A welcome offer from Athlico for a new account I never made.
After the initial shock and confusion I went straight to Athlico’s site. NEVER click on links from suspicious emails. I went to the login page and clicked on the link for a forgotten password. I put in my email, which I’m trying to phase out as it is, and it matched with an existing account! I went into the account upon receiving the password recovery email, typed a bunch of gibberish for the new password, and took a look. My name was right there, but with the wrong iteration of my first or given name. By some sick and twisted miracle my last name was spelled correctly. No address info, no stolen payment info, no wish list, and no order history (whew!).
A quick search brought up instructions on account deletion. However, this was for the UK version of the site. The American .com version, nothing. This will be important later.
After my roommate and I searched the site for numerous minutes we finally figured out how to chat with a representative. The guy was nice enough but not much help. He said there was NO WAY TO DELETE ACCOUNTS! I don’t know what their server runs on, but I know that’s a load of bull. He said I just had to let an account with MY INFO that I DID NOT MAKE die on its own after a certain amount of time inactivity. Being dissatisfied I asked for someone who could delete my account. I got a phone number.
The first person I spoke with on the phone said the same and was apologetic about it. When I was about to accept my fate (I may be a doormat) my roommate told me to demand a supervisor. I politely asked for one, stating I work customer service myself, about a way to expedite it. The supervisor was about to say the same, when I mentioned the UK site and my discomfort with my information being out there. He finally took the account info. With some luck he did send it to IT and it’s down by now.
My roommate was trying to talk to me over the phone thing at the end, but I rated my dissatisfaction with the whole thing. I forgot to ask for a confirmation email.
How messed up is all of that?! An account using my name and they wouldn’t even honor a removal request? That was, until I went through three people and brought up the UK site. What if someone was hacked or forgot about theirs and there was a breach? Why is there no customer side account deletion except that fragile inactivity policy? Why was it so hard to find support?
After scouring the internet I couldn’t find any laws Athlico was violating… unless I was in Europe. The kicker, they’re compliant with European policies only in Europe.
Athlico makes good products, but I have a hard time fitting into their shoes and such. I don’t know if I should tell my brother about this, but the whole thing is still making my blood spike in frustration. I want to remain a customer to them, but I prefer shopping in store.
I still can not believe Athlico was more respectful of my data and my wishes. They may want customers to stay so bad they make account removal impossible. For a company that size it’s a huge red flag. It’s a frustrating trend I’ve noticed.
Is there action I can take? Have a customer experience story of your own? Let me know!
I wanted to get back into writing, and I wanted to see if I could do reviews or retrospectives. Today I’m taking a look at a book from a long time ago, ‘The Moorchild.’
Eloise McGraw (December 1915-November 2000) published ‘The Moorchild’ in 1996 or 1997. In 1997 it received the Newbery Honor, but lost the win to E. L. Konigsburg’s ‘The View from Saturday.’ ‘Moorchild’ had been out for a year or two by the time I read it in the fourth or fifth grade, 1998-2000. What attracted me to it was its historical setting. The European folklore and the characters kept me going.
When I read ‘Moorchild’ way back then the cover looked like such:
The cover has been redone a few times and deservedly so. I remember seeing that cover a few times in my home classroom. One day I finally opened it up.
I remember the opening leaving me very confused. ‘Moorchild’ either opened with Saaski, our lead, in a makeshift crib or in the realm of the Folk. While Saaski is stuck in her crib she may flash back to her life before it. I think we started with the Folk, and then she was suddenly with the humans in the next chapter.
I recall she was seen by a human, which was forbidden but also shouldn’t have happened. The elders of the Folk were deciding what to do with her. Their decision lead to her entering the care of a human couple. Saaski’s parents suspect her of having colic (a word I learned thanks to the book) due to her constant screaming. Her adoptive mother barely manages, and the father distances himself till later.
The story itself takes place many years later in her life. Saaski is about ten or eleven, maybe twelve. She plays on a flute or similar instrument out in the meadows. Her hair is wild and untamable. The feature I remember the most is her long fingers, which she could attempt to retract at the cost of them plumping.
From here I remember a small scattering of scenes. Her grandmother watching over her whilst collecting wood. Meeting a boy who finds her fascinating instead of weird. A scene I remembered well, but I haven’t found any quick research to back it, is a bee scene. I forget if they were collecting honey, or just encountered a hive, but it involves Saaski and her father. What intrigued me the most was Saaski’s quick thinking with a bucket in her possession. She banged on the bottom of it to produce sounds like thunder. It made the bees passive again, or hide for fear of an oncoming storm.
However, Saaski’s time with her village isn’t permanent. Her Folk half begins to awaken again, and it finally brings the villagers to some alarming actions. She has to make a choice, and right something she indirectly caused. I don’t know how far I can get into it without entering spoiler territory.
Now we get to how I got into trouble in class. I was shook by Saaski’s emotional turmoil during the last chapters of the book. I literally could not put the book down. Which became a problem because I think I couldn’t take it home.
So there I was, in social studies class, reading during a lecture. I barely registered the teacher telling a nearby student to take the book from me. After a deserved ‘how rude!’ class continued. Fewer times in my life would I be more embarrassed. I got the book back later, along with a secondary lecture.
I’m happy to see you reading, but there’s a time and place for that!
Afterward there would be other books I would zip through during recess, or even in a light day before Christmas. If I can find them again I’ll be sure to talk about them!
‘The Moorchild’ blew my mind as a kid. I never felt emotion reading a book before that. I hadn’t read anything like it before or since and I think it made an impact on my writing style and artistic choices.
I want to read it again as an adult to see if anything new pops out at me.
If you’ve been watching ‘The Ancient Magus’ Bride’ there is some relative lore here, but not much. It’s not exact but watching the anime made me remember this book. I think it is because of the involvement of the Fairies. There is also a reminiscent theme of belonging and identity.
I’m holding a sale the entirety of Cyber Week after Thanksgiving on my Etsy store! I aptly added the CyberSet. The entire week will have free standard domestic shipping. On Monday only is a day of an extra 20% off! If you need the link to my Etsy store you can find it here! https://www.etsy.com/shop/akaneArt
I am also waiting to hear back from Ohayocon any day now. I’ll be sure to announce when I get the news.
A lot has been going on including more job hunting and a possible move next month.
Right as of now I’m focusing my efforts on the long put-off work for Comics vs Art II. I got Normal Rockwell’s Soda Jerk. For my rendition I was hoping to make a goofy scene with some of the Nox characters.
When I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming animation practice, more pin-ups and illustrations, and the self-referential webcomic are back on! I have been working on more drawings and sketches for my queue. I plan on using Twitch.
The last big announcement is that prints of some of my new work are coming!!! They will be available on my Storenvy and a new Tictail store. I also made a new product of just the bookmarks to make the shipping fairer.
Soon holographic paper (on select prints), 3D anaglyphic (on select prints), edits, and other sized will become available!
I finally found my first corporate-level job! I’m trying to work on my time management more, but it’s been nice having a weekend again. I think the biggest perk is I am finally getting my head above water somehow.
I am trying to find a more concrete time to do the Kitty-Cat Charity Livestream. I made a document to take down notes like a goal and a pitch. I’m still exploring platforms for the fundraising and the stream. I think I may do it on a Saturday or Sunday so I have the whole day and I can carry the computer downstairs for a corded connection to the internet.
I’m also planning donation rewards.
Aside from that a couple of my friends are getting married. I already bought them a wedding present but I was also going to gift them a custom print. I hope they like it. I’m barely 20 minutes in and it may take a while.
Aside from that I’m trying to plan the practice webcomic and animation. I’m trying to animate my new logo for youtube openings and my dA icon. That’s going to take a while, too…