Well, something weird happened with my blog which interfered with updates, so, boo, but nevertheless, it cleared up on its own despite my best debugging efforts, so ... yay? #nervous_laughter And updates. First, here's a quick concept sketch from JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE FLYING GARDENS OF VENUS of the antagonist character "the Parasolite" ... or, more properly, one of her bodies: The Parasolite prime interrogating Puck in her throne room. Looking at both of these, I'm not getting the length of the human leg correct; I need to work on body proportions as much as faces. After a long day of writing Camp Nano (oh, I'm doing FLYING GARDENS OF VENUS for Camp Nano) I gave up and did this quick sketch of Brainyon, the brain-jar spider-boy shown earlier, drafted as a mercenary by our "Robert De Niro in Casino"-styled protagonist / antagonist: Concept sketch for the Parasolite Prime. Drawing every day, even if I can't always post. -the Centaur
Posts published in “Challenges”
National Novel Writing Month, Camp Nano, and similar challenges.
SO! Once again, I have written more than 50,000 words in a month - this time, on Dakota Frost #7, SPIRAL NEEDLE, which is close to being finished. (Yes, yes, YES, I know, Dakota Frost #4-#6 and Cinnamon Frost #1-#3 are not edited yet, editing is harder than writing, and pays less than teaching robots to learn. I'll get to them, I'll get to them, I promise). I can't figure out the new Camp Nano interface to make it cough up the usual winner banner, so you'll just get that screenshot instead. This is my twenty-ninth victorious Nano challenge and thirty-first attempt overall. That's great stick-to-it-ness, but I was behind for much of the month, not getting my feet under me until the 10th, but I managed a big pushes two weekends a go and a huge push last weekend, leading to me briefly getting ahead of the game right around the 28th, making today an easy coast (1500 words finished me off, though I wrote through to a notch over 1,667 words just for completeness). According to my records, that 8,154 word push on the 25th was the second most I've ever written in a day, topped only by my 9,074 word mad push to finish PHANTOM SILVER, Dakota Frost #5, on July 30th, 2016. Overall, a bit behind this month, which was pretty rough OKR (Objective / Key Result) planning at work. I love the IDEA of OKRs - say what you want to do (Objective, for example, write roughly 1/3 of a novel) and how to measure it (Key Result, for example, 50,000 words in the month of April), but this time it took us until almost the 20th. 3 weeks is way too long to spend on planning for a quarter's worth of effort. OH, almost forgot, an excerpt:
The questing metal fingers of the Plague Witch's "broom" branched and lunged at me. The Salzkammergutschwert’s black blade swept through the metal spikes, as cleanly as a Larry Niven variable sword through tissue paper. The Plague Witch recoiled, whirling the broom-thing, striking its black kettle end on my overextended sword hand. The Salt Chamber Sword sang out across the street, slamming into a fire hydrant in a hiss of water. But that movement naturally carried me forward, as I thought it would, and the moment the Plague Witch raised her head, I shoved my free hand at her, jamming onto her pointed beak a magical silencing wreath made of glowing vines and Technicolor feathers. “Oh, shaddap,” I said, drawing the wreath tight just as she tried to scream. The Plague Witch squeaked—she had a mask, not a beak, so the wreath couldn’t actually shut her mouth, but it could effectively gag her, and as she flailed her head, I kicked her. “And siddown!” And as she stumbled back, for a moment, I thought it was going to work. The Plague Witch writhed. I seized the Waystaff. Nyissa seized my arm. “I suggest retreat!” she cried. “No argument!” I yelled back—but retreat was not so easy. The silencing wreath wasn’t a free design, like my bluebirds or butterflies, but was an ad-hoc construct made from—and attached to—my vine and peacock tattoos, which tugged at me. “Some difficulty!” “Dakota!” Nyissa cried, pulling me away. “Let go!” “She’s got me,” I said, my feet slipping on the street. Oh, this had been a bad idea: as the Plague Witch struggled, the wreath self-replicated, drawing more and more silencing power from her own strength—but the design was imperfect, and was reeling me in towards her. “Nyissa!” Then things happened very, very quickly. Nyissa—my bodyguard, my bride-to-be, my love—darted forward, seized the Salt Chamber Sword in a burst of spray, and swung wildly at the tattoo vine connecting us. But the Plague Witch, flailing, swung her damaged broom at Nyissa—impacting her stomach. Nyissa didn’t even scream: she just doubled over in a splash of blood. The broom swept through her as the Plague Witch stumbled away, her body taken through a forward tumble, the lethally sharp sword falling from her hand—and severing the magic-tight tattoo connection. My vine snapped back to me, hurling me to the pavement. My wind went out. The Plague Witch tore off her disintegrating crown of vines, and screamed—-the Centaur
Vincent van Gogh from "Vincent and the Doctor". Roughed in non-repro blue on Strathmore 9x12, outlined in Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 and rendered in that and Sakura Micron 08, 03, and 005, plus Sakura Pigma Brush. I erased part of the non-repro blue to try to clean it up, which ended up being a mistake as it destroyed some lines, leaving white marks through the drawing; however, using Photoshop's Black and White feature with cyans almost taken to black and blue taken to white, it dropped out the blue while adding a nice warm shading to it. Overall, not bad, though I am still squashing heads even when I am explicitly trying not to squash heads, and ending up with slight asymmetries, particularly in the left side of the beard, when I am explicitly trying to avoid that. But at least the eyes are not totally oversized this time. Drawing every day. -the Centaur And just ~600 words too, though much of today was cats, taxes and work. Taxes are submitted to the accountant, the cat is home from the vet after a nasty gastrointestinal scare, work is progressing (RL is hard!), and Dakota Frost is having a great time doing SPOILERS with SPOILER, so, no excerpt for you.
Quick sketch of H.P. Lovecraft. Not ... terrible ... per se, but I squashed his head, and there's something about the face that's wrong that also bothers me about the faces drawn by Steve Dillon in Preacher. Don't get me wrong - I love Preacher and Steve Dillon's art, but something has always struck me as slightly off about the faces in Preacher, and the same thing is going on here. If I knew what it was, I could probably fix it. But I don't, so I guess I just have to keep practicing. Drawing every day. -the Centaur P.S. 1800 words. Getting back on track on Nano.
Imagine a man, who comes up tangentially during a writing session, and ends up having his mug featured in a quick Sharpie sketch on 9x12 Strathmore with no roughs whatsoever, capturing his likeness forever ... in the Twilight Zone. Meh, something's off, but I can't figure out what, with my drawing of Mr. Serling. Drawing every day. -the Centaur P.S. Wrote 3600 words too.
Technically not a drawing, but the outcome of some Photoshop experimentation to see if I could turn the Tangerine Dream Zeit album cover into an image suitable for a wall poster. I think it came out well, but the above version #2 - combining the original cover, back cover, and part of an alternate cover - seems a little more jumbled than my next try, version #3, just expanding the original cover a bit: I like this simple version better, but I'm not committing to either right now; it was just an experimental idea to see if it was feasible, and also to practice some Photoshop. A final version would need a little more work on the blend of the cover, which is a quick hack right now. Drawing, designing, Photoshopping every day. -the Centaur P.S. 1800 words. Starting to get a little more rhythm in the story. Rough draftiness:
Nyissa stood in the doorway, thin as a ghost, pale as paper, blood raining down her chin and spilling over her hospital gown like something out of a horror movie. A nurse stood behind her in fear, and for the briefest instant, I thought she’d awakened in the surgery and slain her doctors in a blood rage. But she held a dripping transfusion bag clenched in one hand, no doubt ripped from the IV stand she held for support.Actually, the Zeit album inspired this scene, as the moody first track matched Dakota's mood, and Nyissa awakens from her injuries when she hears Dakota distraught in the next room.
Quick Sharpie sketch of Dita von Teese. Not bad overall, but I ended up badly screwing up the proportions and made her face so tall I had to shrink it vertically about 10%, which ... actually, wasn't so bad, compared to the original: Ran across a more fetish-themed image of her as I was trying to design a waitress for a scene in SPIRAL NEEDLE; I judged said picture was too steamy for this drawing series, and the waitress ended up in a different outfit anyway, so you get a sketch of a glamour shot instead. Drawing every day. -the Centaur P.S. 1700+ words on SPIRAL NEEDLE. Ahead of the wordcount, behind on how much I need to do to catch up, but at least, catching up is happening now.
Super quick sketch of Patrick Troughton. Drawing every day. And wrote 1100 words. -the Centaur
Sharpie sketch of Leslie Nielsen, another actor who has played a vampire (came up with Dakota mocking (in her head) a vampire she met). Roughed in non-repro blue, which was surprisingly easy to remove in Photoshop, but actually made it a little bit hard to tweak the roughs to get the landscape right (hence the tilted smile) and Sharpies, while forcing me to work quickly and helping me learn the role of blacks and whites in composition, are still doing no favors on the rendering. Drawing every day. -the Centaur P.S. 1900+ words on SPIRAL NEEDLE. Onward.
Quick Sharpie sketch of Roger Moore. Head's a bit squashed, but it's not too bad. I admit, I threw my first drawing away and made myself start over, rather than deal with one messed up line in his right jawline. It's interesting to me how much of the character of even a very young Roger Moore is made up not just by that whale of a jaw, but by the subtle lines all over his face. He was strangely old even when young. Drawing every day. -the Centaur P.S. Only ~800 words today, which was quite a struggle. Roger Moore came up very tangentially when Dakota was snarking about a vampire looking like a cross between Roger Moore and Leslie Nielsen.