Press "Enter" to skip to content

Days 196 to 199

centaur 0
janeway quick sketch Day 196: Quick sharpie sketch of Janeway, from the below image. janeway headshot The comparison is not great - the face is way too long compared to the original: sharpie comparison Day 197, Sharpie over non-repro blue roughs, from the same image: janeway better sketch Slightly better comparison this time, though still not perfect: with roughs comparison Day 198 was Richard Branson ... in spaaace: branson in spaaace That's from this fisheye lens image ... while it isn't perfect, it captures a lot of energy. I particularly like the smile in the reflection (in both my drawing, and in Branson's window - he's having fun!). No comparison this time; this exercise was in capturing the feel more than the precise lineup. branson in spaaace image Day 199 was Martin Sheen from The West Wing: sheen sketch Not an entirely terrible likeness ... sheen headshot ... but my perennial problem of having a face out of proportion to the head continues. sheen comparison Look at that hair, man. You can make the eyes and mouth line up, but that hair, man. Still, drawing every day. -the Centaur    

Congratulations Richard Branson (and/or Jeff Bezos)

centaur 0
branson in spaaace Congratulations, Sir Richard Branson, on your successful space flight! (Yes, yes, I *know* it's technically just upper atmosphere, I *know* there's no path to orbit (yet) but can we give the man some credit for an awesome achievement?) And I look forward to Jeff Bezos making a similar flight later this month. Now, I stand by my earlier statement: the way you guys are doing this, a race, is going to get someone killed, perhaps one of you guys. A rocketship is not a racecar, and moves into realms of physics where we do not have good human intuition. Please, all y'all, take it easy, and get it right. That being said, congratulations on being the first human being to put themselves into space as part of a rocket program that they themselves set in motion. That's an amazing achievement, no-one can ever take that away from you, and maybe that's why you look so damn happy. Enjoy it! -the Centaur P.S. And day 198, though I'll do an analysis of the drawing at a later time.

RIP Jeff Bezos (and/or Richard Branson)

centaur 0
rip jeff bezos You know, Jeff Bezos isn’t likely to die when he flies July 20th. And Richard Branson isn’t likely to die when he takes off at 9am July 11th (tomorrow morning, as I write this). But the irresponsible race these fools have placed them in will eventually get somebody killed, as surely as Elon Musk’s attempt to build self-driving cars with cameras rather than lidar was doomed to (a) kill someone and (b) fail. It’s just, this time, I want to be caught on record saying I think this is hugely dangerous, rather than grumbling about it to my machine learning brethren. Whether or not a spacecraft is ready to launch is not a matter of will; it’s a matter of natural fact. This is actually the same as many other business ventures: whether we’re deciding to create a multibillion-dollar battery factory or simply open a Starbucks, our determination to make it succeed has far less to do with its success than the realities of the market—and its physical situation. Either the market is there to support it, and the machinery will work, or it won’t. But with normal business ventures, we’ve got a lot of intuition, and a lot of cushion. Even if you aren’t Elon Musk, you kind of instinctively know that you can’t build a battery factory before your engineering team has decided what kind of battery you need to build, and even if your factory goes bust, you can re-sell the land or the building. Even if you aren't Howard Schultz, you instinctively know it's smarter to build a Starbucks on a busy corner rather than the middle of nowhere, and even if your Starbucks goes under, it won't explode and take you out with it. But if your rocket explodes, you can't re-sell the broken parts, and it might very well take you out with it. Our intuitions do not serve us well when building rockets or airships, because they're not simple things operating in human-scaled regions of physics, and we don't have a lot of cushion with rockets or self-driving cars, because they're machinery that can kill you, even if you've convinced yourself otherwise. The reasons behind the likelihood of failure are manyfold here, and worth digging into in greater depth; but briefly, they include:
  • The Paradox of the Director's Foot, where a leader's authority over safety personnel - and their personal willingness to take on risk - ends up short-circuiting safety protocols and causing accidents. This actually happened to me personally when two directors in a row had a robot run over their foot at a demonstration, and my eagle-eyed manager recognized that both of them had stepped into the safety enclosure to question the demonstrating engineer, forcing the safety engineer to take over audience questions - and all three took their eyes off the robot. Shoe leather degradation then ensued, for both directors. (And for me too, as I recall).
  • The Inexpensive Magnesium Coffin, where a leader's aesthetic desire to have a feature - like Steve Job's desire for a magnesium case on the NeXT machines - led them to ignore feedback from engineers that the case would be much more expensive. Steve overrode his engineers ... and made the NeXT more expensive, just like they said it would, because wanting the case didn't make it cheaper. That extra cost led to the product's demise - that's why I call it a coffin. Elon Musk's insistence on using cameras rather than lidar on his self-driving cars is another Magnesium Coffin - an instance of ego and aesthetics overcoming engineering and common sense, which has already led to real deaths. I work in this precise area - teaching robots to navigate with lidar and vision - and vision-only navigation is just not going to work in the near term. (Deploy lidar and vision, and you can drop lidar within the decade with the ground-truth data you gather; try going vision alone, and you're adding another decade).
  • Egotistical Idiot's Relay Race (AKA Lord Thomson's Suicide by Airship). Finally, the biggest reason for failure is the egotistical idiot's relay race. I wanted to come up with some nice, catchy parable name to describe why the Challenger astronauts died, or why the USS Macon crashed, but the best example is a slightly older one, the R101 disaster, which is notable because the man who started the R101 airship program - Lord Thomson - also rushed the program so he could make a PR trip to India, with the consequence that the airship was certified for flight without completing its endurance and speed trials. As a result, on that trip to India - its first long distance flight - the R101 crashed, killing 48 of the 54 passengers - Lord Thomson included. Just to be crystal clear here, it's Richard Branson who moved up his schedule to beat Jeff Bezos' announced flight, so it's Sir Richard Branson who is most likely up for a Lord Thomson's Suicide Award.
I don't know if Richard Branson is going to die on his planned spaceflight tomorrow, and I don't know that Jeff Bezos is going to die on his planned flight on the 20th. I do know that both are in an Egotistical Idiot's Relay Race for even trying, and the fact that they're willing to go up themselves, rather than sending test pilots, safety engineers or paying customers, makes the problem worse, as they're vulnerable to the Paradox of the Director's Foot; and with all due respect to my entire dot-com tech-bro industry, I'd be willing to bet the way they're trying to go to space is an oversized Inexpensive Magnesium Coffin. -the Centaur P.S. On the other hand, when Space X opens for consumer flights, I'll happily step into one, as Musk and his team seem to be doing everything more or less right there, as opposed to Branson and Bezos. P.P.S. Pictured: Allegedly, Jeff Bezos, quick Sharpie sketch with a little Photoshop post-processing.

Day 195

centaur 0
capaldi eyes sketch "No, sir. All thirteen!" Sketch of the iconic shot of Peter Capaldi's eyes from The Day of the Doctor, roughed with non-repro blue and sketched with Pigma Micron and Graphic pens. I've included the roughs below, color-enhanced, to show that process: capaldi eyes roughs This one isn't a quick sketch, so, let's see how I did: capaldi eyes original The eye shape is not terrible, though the one on the left of the drawing has a misshapen iris, and that weird tilt of the eyes with respect to the head is back, as you can see when the eyes and hair are lined up (below) - if those features line up, the cheeks are tilted, and v. v.: capaldi eyes comparison It's instructive to compare this with the Sharpie sketch I did a while back: capaldi eyebrows Not bad, certainly bolder with the dark lines, but how does it compare? I worked from a brighter, if smaller picture last time, but did that help? I can already see the eyes are just the wrong darn shape: lighter eyes The eyebrows are insufficiently Capaldi in both of them, not as exaggerated as his real-life eyebrows, and the older sketch shares the property that you can line up the cheeks (black, below) or eyes (white, below), but not both at the same time: quick capaldi comparison  

Day 194

centaur 0
eyes sketch Didn't like how the re-sketch of yesterday's post was turning out, so I drilled in on the eyes, using non-repro-blue roughs (which you can see below). eyes roughs I'm not happy with how I'm perceiving shapes; the eyes are too wide, and it can't just be chalked up to angle (look at the eye on the right of the drawing in particular). Also, my rendering is still off, as the iris on the left is misshapen from the rounded originals. Oh, and that tilt is back. eyes original Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 193

centaur 0
afghan girl sketch Quick Sharpie sketch of the famous "afghan girl" photograph. Not even going to do a comparison, as I messed up the shape of the face and there's no going back with the sharpies. afghan girl headshot Still, drawing every day. -the Centaur

Days 189-192

centaur 0
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 concept sketch 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. parasolite and puck 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: brainyon again Concept sketch for the Parasolite Prime. parasolite prime Drawing every day, even if I can't always post. -the Centaur      

Day 188

centaur 0
awful capaldi A pretty crummy quick sketch of Peter Capaldi. Not sure where this one went wrong; there is no way to line this up with the original. capaldi headshot And the other drawing I'm working on had its own problems. Sigh. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 187

centaur 0
jones sketch A pretty crummy quick Sharpie sketch of Indiana Jones, if I do say so myself. jones headshot I was about 5-10% off stretched and 5-10 degrees off in rotation. Yes, yes, I know I was doing a quick sketch so I could have time to work on some other drawings I'm doing, but man, this was bad: jones comparison Still, it's drawing every day. -the Centaur