Some work in progress material from ‘Spacecraft of the First World War.’ I’d like to have one of these done this weekend, but we’ll see. I also need to consider the overall length, style, and organization of the book in a more concrete way soon.
I reworked an earlier piece to better deal with the realities of the sRGB color space on a wider range of monitors.
I’m also coming to the conclusion that tablets aren’t really suitable for art production on a serious scale. I think I’ll stick with my sketchbook.
This is about as far as I think I’ll get on ol’ Thol this weekend. I didn’t mean to work on him at all, with everything I have to do, but he’s turned up on his own again, demanding a reboot and ingratiating himself with my current project.
I think people can tell the pieces I’ve put my full love into, and those I have not. Sometimes I pretend that I cannot tell, but inferior material always finds me out in the end. For my book, I seek profit and exposure not so much as something like salvation, or at least hope. It’s one of those tuneless songs our heads sing in the small hours, stringing together vision and loss into a spider’s web of tears and delight.
There is a trap in working professionally, at least at times. You have to satisfy the desires of others, and to work too closely makes you sometimes mistake their vision for your own. Skillful but empty work is like a living death. Of course there’s no shame in work, but the internal distinctions can seem small from outside, and sometimes the inside loses its way.
I’m repainting sections of an earlier piece, and giving the vast bulk of this ship the love and quiet fear it always deserved. It’s maybe a little closer to what the audience deserves as well. A ship this size is an ant farm, a steel city of two thousand souls. I dot in glowing portholes and minute railings, dreaming of the conversations of able seamen and commodores, encompassing the fate of Earth and inadequacy of the food. I like to think some of this comes across, and if not all of it shows, then at least the louder voices dictate the next chapter of the story to me.
I’ve made a conscious decision to keep my entries here about art for the most part, as my personal life is either quite dull, subject to an NDA, or matters best not explained (as they’re even *more* dull). I certainly don’t mean for you to accept my political views because I paint adequately. I would share the little things I’ve noticed about art though- doing it, seeing it, and making it a part of a life.
"Where do you get your ideas?" is one of those simple questions that provokes blather, lies, and various crash courses in brain surgery that end about as well as you might expect. For my own part, it’s layers of things. To explore the relationship of thoughts that make up an image is a sort of archeology. This space dreadnought has bits of the IJN Fuso in it, as well as Giger’s vision of the Harkonnen homeworld. Super star destroyers, flying boats, and stranger things. The glint of starlight on steel is like the eyes of friend saying goodbye, or maybe the embers of a dying fire at Christmas. The portholes glow like beveled glass windows with snow beyond, descending in cones beneath the streetlights.
The most wonderful thing I’ve learned is also perhaps the most terrible: You can’t die of a broken heart, or at least I can’t. Hairs grey and cat’s eyes close, but I cannot quite depart. The streets of our youth vanish utterly, and joys yield to bargains, but still there is this music pinning me in place upon such a stage as I might command. The laughter of friends is so distant, but there is the portative organ and the harpsichord. There is no river and no green hills here, but there is the spice box of desert colors as dry consolation. There is much I won’t speak of, for reasons we must both guess at.
I’m glad for this opportunity, this boon, to do what I can to make dreams real. I’ll try and do a good job, at whatever this happens to be that I’m doing. Thank you watching. Thank you for helping turn this diary into a sort of conversation. Perhaps it will ease the journey for us both.
Death in a perfect sunset, somewhere at the edge of the Venusian atmosphere.
Italian short range fighters with oversize Le Prieur rockets attack an Austro-Hungarian air vessel during the blockade of Phobos by the Central Powers. Smuggled aboard a cargo vessel, the ‘Gattina Spettrale’ squadron was not particular effective against the forces there, but the presence of allied fighters so far inside their own lines had the Imperial forces searching for carriers that didn’t exist for nearly a month. This splitting of their fleet made the blockade untenable, and Phobos was relieved.
There’s a lot to like about these great new character posters from Fox’s upcoming Batman prequel TV series Gotham. The ridiculous new name of the girl who will grow up to be Poison Ivy, however, is not one of them.
DC isn’t my jam, but you know what is my jam? Lackadaisy. A pretty damn well known webcomic. What with the webcomics awards and the nomination for that Eisner and all.
You know who else is named Ivy Pepper? A major character in Lackadaisy.
And you know, names can be pretty common. Duplications happen! But if you were renaming a major character in a major franchise, wouldn’t you, I don’t know, GOOGLE the name to see if someone else had used it somewhere, to avoid confusion, lawsuits, or at least a crippling case of side-eye from the internet? And since a quick google of “ivy pepper” brings up a page-full of art, cosplay, character bios, and everything else, it’s not what I call obscure. It is, however, something I’d either call an embarrassing oversight, or (if I was little less generous with my benefit of the doubt) an outright ripoff.
tl;dr: GOTHAM, you didn’t need to rename Pamela Isley anyway, but you could at least have renamed her something original.
Well…that kind of makes me sad, however irrational that is. =/
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed, cowed and immobilized by all the media out there. So many things are shinier and bigger and louder than what you can do as an individual; there’s so much material, so much overlap of theme, time, place and story, it’s hard to conceive of how you could approach anything from a new or refreshing angle, or how you could say anything without unintentionally parroting everything around you. You grow secretly resentful toward things that seem to encroach…and secretly embarrassed at yourself for reacting that way. Meanwhile, someone somewhere is stealing your work outright, repurposing it and selling it while you gape uselessly, knowing you have little or no recourse (except perhaps to berate yourself for your naivete and to grow ever more resentful). And things come and go so fast, it’s like a stampede - if you stumble creatively, you fall into the dust cloud and get kicked to the wayside. Even if you were able to keep pace with demand, the labor would ultimately be lost and forgotten amid a morass of other similar things.
I guess, though, that’s why it’s best when your primary motivation is a smaller, quieter thing unto yourself - a source of personal gratification…and a place you can disappear into sometimes, where all the rest is just noise.
Ugh. Sorry for all the whiny angst lately. It’s difficult to rein it in some days when things like this crop up….and most especially when other things are holding me back from doing what I really want to do.
(She doesn’t sound whiny to me. Not sure what that says about me, but whatever.)
I’ve been thinking about some of the same issues lately, retreading the threadbare cloth of industrial fantasy and invaders from Mars. Lackadaisy is a big inspiration for Spacecraft of the First World War, though in ways that may not be superficially obvious. I find the magic to be in the specific, and the personal. Mass media will always be there to sell our daydreams back to us, but they don’t really make anything new. They can’t. It’s ultimately a mechanical process that will recur until it’s no longer profitable, for whatever reason. Keep in mind that the original stories and characters were created by a handful of people over a half century ago for a fairly small audience. The founder will rarely recognize the empire they spawn.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Lackadaisy shows a newness to me that you can’t fake. There is a new perspective in this view of the adolescence of a dying city. There’s a fine mix of the comedy and tragedy of life, but not over mixed into the mud of a Henry James or the thin cardboard of a Damon Runyon. Anthropomorphic cats may seem like an odd choice for subtlety, but sometimes it’s easier to say something interesting if it’s done indirectly. (I aspire to a similar sort of narrative hook-shot, but we’ll see if it works.)
As much as I can feel such things, Ms. Butler’s work gives me hope that there are still people making beautiful things for the joy and interest they hold, rather than for the aspiration to cash in or stay a child. Slim hope and pessimism are better weapons for living than nihilism and empty amusement.
The USS Upshur on a torpedo run, her engines at overload.
Another illustration for Spacecraft of the First World War. My workflow continues to evolve. In this case, the subject was done purely digital and in grayscale, then worked back in to with adjustment layers and overpainted color details. Certain earlier pieces might need to be reworked to keep a consistent style, but as work will be attributed to multiple fictional illustrators in-universe, it could work to my advantage.
I’ve been sitting on these since winter, although I’m not sure exactly why. I still think about doing a playing card deck someday and started working up some face card designs when I had a little time off over the holidays. I couldn’t settle on a standardized backdrop, so I began tailoring them to each character instead.
If I were to do a Kickstarter campaign for something like this sometime, would anyone be interested, or not so much?
This is ferocious work, and I recommend looking at her sense of craft and balance between form and decoration.
We sang songs to drown out the rumbling of the engines, and at least challenge the shrieking of the wind. We were bright blades piercing the breast of the night, recalling Roland and Oliver at Roncevaux, as was only fitting. We perched on columns of fire, arcing in a gentle parabola and feeling none of gravity’s curse, having solved the riddle of the Martian gravity engines.
It was just a drill, just a show for our allies and enemies. We all knew though. We knew we were going to Mars. We knew we were going to fight something ancient and terrible, and dig it out of its hole. It had tried for us, tried to conquer and harvest our world, and failed. The ogre and the dragon are terrible, but how much more terrible is the knight with revenge in his eye and steel in his hand? Well, we all know how that turned out!
Still, we were young and the universe was a new thing. Those old ships were deathtraps, with their fulminate fuses and the engines we really didn’t understand yet. It was intoxicating, though. Intoxicating not like any wine that mortals know, but like falling in love and foreseeing your own death at the same time. It was a different time.
-Michel de Traci-Bocage, Mémoires du Futur
The Incroyable class was a stopgap class of vessels designed to intercept a third wave of Martian landers that never came. Fast, lightly armored and terribly fragile, they were the first space vessels to be fielded by the Third Empire in any number. While cursed with a number of design deficiencies and poor serviceability, they did give the French crown an edge in practical engine design that extended up to the time of the loss of the Gloire.
-Dominic Rossignol, Origins of the Fall