Yearly archives: 2009

Good morning Edinburgh

Good morning Edinburgh, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

I’m just grabbing breakfast, then I shall be collecting on Cockburn Street for a few hours.

Sounds of Soldiers cover design ideas

Over Christmas I’ve been doing a final draft and layout for Sounds of Soldiers, because I’ve been faffing for too long and it needs to get published. Admittedly I’ve been using Word, which will cause proper book designers to spit, but this is entirely text so I didn’t feel the need for a DTP program. It’s looking good. 124 pages, before I start putting frontispieces etc. in.

So now it’s time to start thinking of a cover. I sat down and did a few sketches yesterday. Above is the “anti-techno-thriller” cover. As Sounds of Soldiers was written partly as a reaction against techno-thrillers- with their drooling over technology and lack of concern for casualties- this is a vision of the aftermath of battle. Imagine it redone in a painterly style and letterboxed between the title- which would be in big big letters.

I like it, but it’s not really what the story’s about. There are bits about the war, and it’s the reason the characters are in the situations they are, but it’s not the main driver. So I tried a bunch of other ideas out as thumbnails-

Sounds of Soldiers cover design thumbnails

A more minimalist cover is the way to go, I think. The windmill kept coming up as an image, because it reduces down to an icon more easily than solar thermal, composting or biodiesel do. So I’ll probably develop a few variations on that.

The book should be finished and ready for print on demand in early January if I keep up the work.

Roles and ranks in the British Army 1

From the armyjobs website, some information on the structure of the British Army and descriptions of the responsibilities of different ranks. I need to get these straight in my head before diving into Point of Contact. I think there will be a Lance Corporal Lee and Captain Ruaine who shall become important secondary characters as the story unfolds.

The White House in 3d

Part 2 of Point of Contact (I know, I haven’t even begun drawing part 1 yet, after Christmas, I promise) has a scene in the oval office. There’s a White House photostream on Flickr, which will be good for detail reference and images of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton to get a good likeness. Even better, there’s a section in the White House museum dedicated to 3d models of the building, key rooms and Air Force One and Marine One.

Amazon’s MP3 album offer

Until January 7th Amazon are offering 50 MP3 albums for £5 each. Not quite as good as the day earlier this year when someone must have miskeyed some values and a load of albums were available for 29p each, but not bad.

There’s some crap in there, obviously, but there’s also stuff like Lungs by Florence and the Machine, La Roux, My Way by Ian Brown and Hands by Little Boots, all of which I shall purchase after Christmas.

Things to buy myself in the New Year

Or for people to offer to buy me.

I don’t need the full on Photoshop package for working on comics and the occasional bit of retouching. I’d never considered Elements, though, until I had a look at the features. I reckon it has everything I need.

I’m going to be working at US comic size, which is nearly A3. And my old A4 scanner was shafted anyway. So I need to invest in a new, larger scanner.

And for the bits of comic art that Photoshop Elements is no good for there’s Manga Studio. It has all sorts of speed line building features and greyscale patterns as well as some fairly good drawing and image editing features of its own. Hopefully the new version has more westernised speech balloons, something sadly lacking in the earlier versions.

Cry havoc and loose the incendiary pigs of war!

Appearing about 240 BC, incendiary pigs were an interesting weapon thought to have been utilized in ancient Roman warfare. The concept was to cover the pig in tar and a flammable substance and, when lured close enough to the advancing or defending enemy the pigs would then be lit on fire. The hope was that the pigs would run uncontrollably into the ranks of the opposing force, causing a certain level of confusion. In any event, the idea was to make use of the weapon as a psychological tool to harass or scare the enemy into submission, or break his concentration at the very least.

More here. You can buy models of them (unlit) from EM4 miniatures.

Start shopping now for Valentine’s

Okay, it’s too late to get any last minute Christmas presents, but you could always plan ahead. I’m now selling prints through Qoop, such as Deep, Deep Blue below. Click on the image to go to its selling page, check out all the other images in my store.

I’m putting stuff into my Zibbet shop. I say buy now for Valentine’s because, if you’re as dirty minded as I, stuff like the indecent proposal ring is just the sort of thing you want to be getting for your significant other. Coming in the new year will be chainring clocks (I finally found the right backing board, I just hope it’s still in stock when I go to buy it) and other cycle related products.

Wigan Model Railway Exhibition 2009

The Wigan show was much larger than the last time I attended in 2007. It was in the same building, but ccupied two halls rather than one. Copious photos were taken, and can be seen in the Wigan Model Railway Exhibition 2009 set on Flickr.

My bike doesn’t want me to be a hero

All the way home from, and some of the way to, work yesterday I was convinced one of my tyres was about to in flat. There's a strange little shimmy it does as the sidewalls flex because the pressure's dropped. However, both tyres remained resolutely pumped up for the whole of both journeys.


As I cycle down Palatine Road i have to cross over to get to my flat. On that side of the road, a short distance before my house, is a bus stop. Just after I passed it, as I was checking traffic and preparing to cross there was a shout and movement by it.

I slowed a bit more, and it became obvious what was going on. A guy was running down the street, pursued by a woman shouting "Thief!". I thought about it for a moment, then started checking the traffic to see how soon I could get across and start chasing the bag snatcher along the pavement.

Which was when my front tyre decided to puncture, with a distinct pop and dramatic hiss. I wasn't going to get very far with a useless front wheel and I'd not catch him on foot, so I could only watch as the sad little drama headed toward Lapwing Lane.

Next time.

Oooh, Sugru!

I bought a new pair of boots the other day because my previous pair, which have done sterling service, have a big split on the sole of the right foot which means they’re no longer waterproof. It was going to cost £55 to replace the soles because of the way the boots were manufactured (rather well, but as an integrated unit), so I went and got a £45 pair of waterproof hiking boots instead.

I might make plant pots out of the old boots, but not before I see if I can fix the problem with some Sugru.

The Seven Stars hotel has seen better days

I’ve been out to Wigan for the model railway show. I’ll be uploading pictures from that next, but I thought I’d put this one up first.

Rage Against The X-Factor

I’m coming to this quite late, as there are already 600,000+ people in the Facebook group to get Killing In The Name Of to number 1 for Christmas. I’m just going to add my support to the cause.

This was one of the tunes I’d stick on the car stereo and play really loud whilst driving around the Lake District in tourist season. It was also on an album that I kept losing, so I ended up buying it at least three times.

Perhaps this could be the beginning of a trend. There are enough of us with access to iTunes that we could start getting better music into the charts. Next time someone should try it with a band not tied to one of the major record labels though.

Michael Bay’s lingerie ads make more much sense than his films

Or, at least, they don’t last as long but have just as much story. And you don’t have to suffer the horrendous dialogue and there are still explosions.

And there are women in their underwear.

For balance, here’s a Dolce & Gabanna male underwear ad for the girls (and some of the guys, no doubt).

You dirty rat!

I think the paedophile rat could become a collectors’ item, as they’re being removed from sale.If you’re really, desperately looking for something to be horrified by then, yes, the distorted rendition of Jingle Bells the toy sings could be misheard as “paedophile, paedophile”.

One has to wonder why the kiddy fiddler would be jingling all the way, though.