Memorial Day

This weekend being Memorial Day, I thought it might be appropriate to express my appreciation for the men and women who have lost their lives in all of the senseless wars humanity has fought, and will no doubt continue to fight.

War is a stupid senseless, and unnecessary waste of time, lives, and resources, even for those who didn’t start it, and are simply defending themselves and their people’s way of life.

We do have better things we could all be doing, rather than fighting over resources, ideologies, or whose invisible sky friend is tougher.

That said, I honor the service of those who stood to, when called, and who defended their countrymen, their families and their way of life.  It is a sad world which requires us to have rough men and women ready to do violence on our behalf, and a very fortunate occurrence that we have those rough men and women standing ready to do violence on our behalf.

Thank you.  Rest well, and may your next life be spent training, not in fighting.


The Joys of Soldering:

Or, How to Save a 200 USD Service Fee By Rewiring Your Renderbox’s Power Switch With a Similar Momentary Tactile Switch from Another Source, Namely, The Never Used Reset Button.


Srsly.  I just did that.  Came into the office this morning, a little late, I admit.  I was enjoying the lovely morning out in our courtyard here at RainyDay Studios.  I know, the name may not seem to make sense for people who dwell on a desert world, (okay, it’s not a separate world, but we wish it was like to pretend it is.) but if you’ve ever seen a monsoon season in the Desert SouthWest, you already understand.

Anyway, came into the office a little late, and while the temperature in the courtyard is a paradisical 28C, in the office it’s shivery at about 19C.  The power switch on my Renderbox, Tentaku-chan (an AMD OCTO-core) has been fluky for a while, especially on cold mornings, so I expected to have to make a long press on the button, massage it back and forth, wait for it to warm up, before getting any response.

THIS time though, it seemed to have just packed up and fallen right over.  DOA.  Wiped.  TPK. Ganked.  Totally PWNED!!!1111!1!!!


So, call around to a couple of tech shops I know of in the local area.  Most wanted to say “Hmmmm……Well, bring it in, we’ll put it on the bench and see what the problem is.”

Me:  “I know what the bloody problem is. The switch packed up, left town, and has joined my muse in shacking up with some drug-addled shyabakuze  strung-out on shabu in Osaka.  So how much to just replace the switch?”

Tech:  “Wellllll, it’s not really that simple, little lady…”

Me:  “I’ve got a response for that.  Four Words, and they are most definitely not “God Save The Queen!” click.”

When I could get an estimate it was for at least 200USD.  Plus parts.

I had one response to that.


So, after hanging up the phone and saying “GRUMP!” very loudly, (ok, there may have been other bad words in there too,) I opened up the front panel, undid the clips holding the button’s faceplate on, and press tested the switch itself.  Hai!  Faulty switch.  Like I thought.  If I had another one like this, I could just rewire the silly thing.  I could order one online.

Unfortunately, I need Tentaku-chan running today, not a week from now.  Maybe the parts bin where I keep spare electronics bits and bytes will have something.

Did I mention, I also build lightsabers?  So I’m quite used to dealing with small delicate wires and switches, and soldering of same, and have a parts bin containing all sorts of electronic goodness.  You’d think that this would also leave me with a bunch of switches of the needed size and variety.  Ie, gomen nasai.  It does not.

These happen to be a size I rarely use.  No joy there.  Where do I go to get a switch like that, with no cash, and no car, Waifu being off at her sarariwoman gig.  Then my eyes lit on the never used in the 4.5 years of Tentaku-chan’s life reset button.  It should be the same size, and configuration.  Investigation reveals, Hai!  So desu.  So desu ne!

Now to dismount this switch, pause to remove the polarised filter from over the Temp readout which surprisingly, still works even though the backlight packed up a year ago.  A polarising filter which now only serves to prevent me from reading the Temp indicator with the backlight non-functional, mind you.

…And with a couple of quick snips, the old switch is gone, and the new switch is free for transplant. Carefully, very carefully, strip the 30 gauge multi-strand wires.  They must be using this as a switch for a more robust relay down the line.  Trace wires; Ah, hai, they are. Good to know.

Deploy the helping hands wire vice, realise the alligator clips are going to chew up the wires something awful, slip some shrink tube on them first to prevent that, set up the soldering iron, wait five minutes for it to heat up.  Kuso.  Go have a cigarette while waiting another 10 minutes, pre-tin the tip of the iron, pre-tin the wires, solder them.  Release the clips, slip heat shrink into place, apply heat gun. As always, watch with fascination as the tubing shrinks into place.  Lather, rinse, repeat with other wire.  Nestle switch back into place, test switch.

Hai! Kanpekina shouri!

Reassemble faceplate, log in, start work.

In retrospect, this was a minor victory, but I am going to celebrate anyway.  I didn’t have to pay money I don’t have, to people I wouldn’t want to pay, for something I can do myself.

Moreover, I don’t have to put up with some condescending, patronising, authoritarian wannabe-alpha-male, who knows less about computers and electronics than I do, along with his poor customer service skills, and all of his mommy issues*.

That alone is priceless!

Shinseiko (who totally doesn’t know anything about computers or electronics!)

*あなたはあなたが誰であるかを知っている。 本当にあなたの名前の名前を付けたいですか?

Almost the 1st anniversary of this site…Wow!

Imagine that!  I’ve had this Domain for a whole year and I’ve actually done something with it.  /sarc

To be fair, I have made some postings, and done some things with this site, and this entire project is a Work in Progress, so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

Still, I have not done enough, and I need to do more to make my work, and my site more professionally appealing.  This is sometimes a difficult thing to do when you have  a streak of perfectionism like I do, and are constantly learning and improving.

So, this changes today.

I need to remember the advice of my kenjutsu sensei long ago, and stop letting my quest for perfection be the enemy of good action. Also, I need to remember the advice, “everything is kenjutsu.”

So, have a peek at a couple of things I am working on:


Basic render of an alien starfighter.  Two versions pictured.  Fusion thruster powered in the foreground, and a gravtic drive propelled version in the background.  I’ve about got the basic shape down, and the colors.  Now to start detailing the models, and decide between the two of them.  The starfighter in question belongs to the Guardian faction of the Greys in my Oceanus Noctis universe world-building project.



The world of Stronghold.  A habitable moon, orbiting Psi Aquarii III A, the gas giant orbiting in Psi Aquarii’s habitable zone, this is the last redoubt of the Syndar Confederacy, known to most of the galaxy as the Ancients.

I went through numerous iterations, trying to get the ring material properties just right.  I think I finally succeeded.


I’m really actually proud of this one.  I rarely do much in the way of environment work, but I had an idea I just could not resist trying.

It worked well, after a lot of tweaking.  The mesh is made from a terrain heightmap I painted in GIMP, as is the texture used for the bumpmapping.  Hard to tell in this render what was obviously mesh, and what was achieved through bumpmapping.

Ultimately, this is going to be part of the environment for a Lunar starfighter base belonging to one of the Human factions of Oceanus Noctis.

Speaking of which,  here is a preview of part of that project.

Two SF-31 Starfighters preparing for launch at Serenity Base, Luna.  Gravitic distortion ripples can be observed under them, if you look closely.  This image still has work to be done, but that’s why this is a Work In Progress.  =)


There, I think that’s enough damage done for one day… =)



Whoever said January is the cruelest month…

…was right!  This is always the hardest month of the year to get through.  Between the cold, the dark, and the flu going around, and the post-holiday need to lose weight, it’s unpleasant enough that sometimes, I wind up wishing I could just switch into a prosthetic body, and be done with it.

Most of the time, I just want someone to stop the world, so I can get off and go home.  The nice thing about interstellar travel if it ever comes about, is that it will provide a way to go home, if the technocrats and the government power mongers on the left and the right both are kind enough to refrain from reserving interstellar travel only for the fabulously wealthy and government approved.

In reality, they won’t be, and it will be reserved for the aforementioned snowflakes, just like high quality, fleshly-looking prosthetic bodies will be.  Which really sucks, because as much fun as it is to read or watch stories about people living in dystopian societies, fighting back against a monstrous and bloated corrupt system, it’s not fun to live through, and increasingly, that’s what we’re living with, ladies and gentlemen.

Work on portfolio-worthy pieces continues apace.  I have a couple new pieces that are almost ready to go.  I think I may reorganise the layout of my portfolio when I post the new pieces, most likely into a gallery of clickable thumbnails.  Don’t get your hopes up for anything larger than 600 by 800 though, as art theft is increasingly a problem.

Also, as vast and infinite a place as the net may be, bandwidth and storage space still have costs attached.

Shinseiko, signing off…

Changes! Portfolio Added…

So I’ve added a portfolio to show examples of my work.  Not all of it is starships of course; periodically I also go a little lightsaber-crazy.  Yes, Star Wars (Pre-Disney) has been a major source of inspiration for me.

I also do book covers / book jackets.  I’ll be posting examples of those soon, although most of that is just simple layout work with art supplied by others.  Oftentimes the other is my wife Rohvannyn Shaw.  The two of us make a good creative team, and that’s really a lot of fun.

Lastly, I also do some digital painting / illustrating.  I am still leveling up my skills in that area, so there won’t be as many examples of that posted in my portfolio.  However, I will most likely show things occasionally here in my blog, along with Works In Progress.  WIP’s can offer a lovely amount of insight into an artist’s process.

Anyway, enough out of me for now.


Shinseiko, signing off

Hello Everyone!

On a more serious note, welcome to the blog side of my art site.  I’m Cathryn Shaw, CG artist, sometimes known as shinseiko on the internet.  I’ve been a little bit crazy about the subject of starships for most of my life, and ended up being a very frustrated space-geek, as we’ve failed to do anything beyond going to LEO, or Low Earth Orbit, and just sitting and spinning, for the last 45 years.

Along the way, I discovered that I was also a very frustrated artist.  The kind of visuals I wanted to express, I just couldn’t do with traditional methods.  10 years ago, I discovered that CG modelling and rendering was a lot easier than people made it look, and dove in to the deep end.  This website is the culmination of that 10 year deep dive.

The blog here will contain interesting little bits about my art, life, music, and maybe the occasional opinion.  I discovered heavy metal, as a music genre, many years ago, and have been a self described metalhead for better than 30 years.  Metal has actually shaped my choices in art, as well as many other factors in my life, primarily because it seems to be the last truly free, expressive genre of music with any passion, any guts, or any fire to it.

In fact, I can truly say that Heavy Metal has saved my marriage, and my life.  So be warned, you will frequently notice obscure little shout-outs to favorite song, or groups, usually done as ship names, or companies.

Enough for now, somebody’s calling me.

Shinseiko, signing off

The metal will be with you, always…