Pictured: Gordon Ramsay's "Finally, some good fucking food," adapted for the Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie, which was, at last, a good fucking D&D movie, and which had, at last, a good fucking gelatinous cube. It also apparently had cameos of the kids from the 80's cartoons, though for my money my favorite D&D adaptation is the late-80's-early-90's comic Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, because it has a centaur and it's set in Forgotten Realms. Anyway, this most recent movie was awesome, go see it, so it will make a lot of money, and we get sequels with more of Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith and especially Sophia Lillis doing their adventuring thing.
SO, one of my favorite characters is Porsche, a centauress warrior from the thirty-first century who populated many of my first tranche of as-yet-unpublished science fiction stories. (I think she only appears in one published story, "Stranded" in the anthology of the same name, and even that, just as a cameo). And while I have worked a lot to improve my art, I wondered what Midjourney could do. And I got the above result from the following prompt:
a centauress with long, rich curly purple hair, very beautiful, with half-asian, half-english appearance, and pointed ears, wearing an armored space costume like a combination of ghost in the shell and star trek, and bearing a double-bladed scythe with black glowing blades
- the Centaur
Wow. This is really spot on. Her hair is right, her face is right, her skin tone is right, her armor is right ... heck, even her slightly haunted look is right, and to go beyond even that, one of the variants looks like a slightly older, more grizzled variant, which completely checks out with her storyline:
Kudos to you, Midjourney, except ... she's not a centauress. She's just a person, a fetching one, I admit, but not a half-woman, half-horse creature with the pointed ears and black twin-bladed scythe of the prompt.
Well, shoot. What if we look at some of the other variants?
This one is creepily good in a sense ... it's got her forehead dot (she's a First Contact Engineer, and wears a pheromone bead she used to communicate with a scent-based alien hive species) and even hints of her mechanical arm and possibly ear. But this is just coincidence. Look at this other variant:
What appears is just chance. Here, her ears are rounded, the dot's gone, and the weapon looks even less on point. A lot of what looked right to me is just random features onto which I was projecting, like cloudbusting.
Well, double shoot. What if we refine the prompt? What do we get?
a centauress (a creature with the upper body of a woman and a lower body of a horse) with long, rich curly purple hair, very beautiful, with half-asian, half-english appearance, and pointed ears, wearing an armored space costume like a combination of ghost in the shell and star trek, and wielding a scythe with black glowing blades
- the Centaur
Yerk. That's ... just jumbled nonsense. Tweaks to the prompt to make it simpler just produced women on horses. Midjourney does not apparently understand the concept 'centaur' in any meaningful sense. I tried just the prompt "centaur", and ... um ... yeah ... no, I'm not going to show you those. They're just a guy with a horse, or sort of on a horse, or ... sort of ... in a horse? A centaur as envisioned by The Thing.
Okay, one last try. What if I give it one of my pieces of art, and then ask it to render it anime style? Let's hold that piece of imagery till the last, but the prompt is:
an anime style centauress with purple hair and a double-bladed scythe jumping in front of a waterfall
Oh, lordy. And I'm not going to show you the one it tried to generate from the prompt "anime style".
Oh wait, I am!
Wow. Evocative - the top left reminds me of Cinnamon Frost - but it has little to do with the image I put in, and the attempt in the top right especially is nonsensical.
I am inspired by Midjourney. It's definitely a better renderer than me, and has good ideas about composition which I have already used in my artwork.
But I stick by my comment that it is an amateur which has taught itself to render very well, and cannot take meaningful art direction. As limited as I am, I'll stick with my own drawing, thank you!
Like this one, the image I gave to Midjourney above. It's not perfect, it's not well rendered ... but it is mine:
And she has four legs, a scythe, and pointy ears, dag nabit.
Aborted character study from the Lace and Steel box cover I did with a Sharpie. I think the drawing is improved, but the composition that I originally did straight on the box is too hard to work with. Better to start over with something that I can use to show off the various parts of the drawing like the rapier and the weird double-bladed fan/shield/thingy. This composition, of course, was totally off-the-cuff:
Based on the Lace and Steel RPG character book cover: you can see the inspiration, but the off-the-cuff composition was too slavish in recreating some of the elements. I need to start over with a wholly new composition to get the effect I want with this drawing.
Apparently you can buy Lace and Steel online at Drive Through Fiction, with art by the incomparable Donna Barr, who has a video about drawing horses, which I am going to watch before trying again.
P.S. ~400 words on Camp Nano, but that's OK, as I am going to bed "early".
Quick sketch of PKD. His face got a bit distorted, but it's not terrible, methinks.
Also, I did the following sketch on a box of the roleplaying game Lace and Steel, which is "centaurs and friends in the age of the Three Musketeers." I'd lost the original box somehow - I seem to recall it being mis-sized or having something wrong with the cover - and the generic white box was easy to lose in the shelves. So I quickly flipped through the character book - AMAZING art by Donna Barr, as I recall - and drew, without roughs, the following character on the cover of the white box, so I could find it later:
Centaurs and rapiers and Sharpies, oh my.
Drawing every day.
Drawn from a small centaur statue I have in the genre toys / reference objects collection on my drawing desk. Didn't come out too bad, and the perspective and angle were an interesting challenge.
Drawing every day.
A deliberate attempt to just sketch in pencil and not ink. I decided to sit down and methodically start working through Wizard's How to Draw: Getting Started, working on roughs, when I noticed that one of the things I like about the book is that it has a mental model of artwork.
That inspired me to dial it back even further and to try to generate my own theories of art. I measured a Green Lantern figurine and a drawing dummy looking at proportions (hips are about midway in the figure), then examined old Superman comics and sketched one trying to see what I'm doing wrong.
Since I cut my chops inking my own webcomic, as fast as I could manage, wherever I draw it, I got in the habit of inking right over my own pencils, trying to get a good rendering in one go, which is a thing people do. But I've noticed many great artists use roughs to plan for success in their drawings.
These roughs often have several levels of shading, which right there is an improvement over my "everything is an outline" style, when in reality, outlines are mostly in our minds, not in reality. So I sketched out a few figures, with shading, in greater detail than I normally would in pencil.
I can't tell you how hard it was to NOT start inking.
Still ... drawing every day.
Another attempt at space hair. I did a better job at creating dimension in the hair, I think, but fell for two classic blunders: first, the face is too large compared to the size of the head, causing the top of the head to appear cut off, and second, this first error was caused by me leaping too quickly from roughs to inks, which may not be a classic error for everyone, but is classic for me. Also the eyes are off angle:
According to Google Image Search, this is also Zendaya. Apparently she would also make a good model for Porsche in addition to Cinnamon, up to heritage (while Zendaya has German, Scottish, and African ancestors - a good match for Cinnamon's mixed-race heritage - Porsche in contrast is Sino-Anglic, a Chinese/English derived centaur ethnicity which won't exist for another 500 years).
Still, the exercise helped me expose a couple new art errors that I can now start to work on.
Drawing every day.
Now that's more like it. Another exercise in making a face look like a face, except this time I was not using a real person as a reference, but older drawings of one of my own characters, centauress explorer Porsche Kirkpatrick-Saint George, from yesterday's entry. Here's a couple zoomed in shots:
Differences in the new version: slightly narrower face to better fit what I currently understand about human proportions; slightly wider nose, because she's a frigging centaur and needs to breathe; slightly thicker neck, because even at 22-23 here she's supposed to be an exceptional martial artist (and lives in 1.7 gravities). Otherwise, I tried to abstract the older proportions and recreate the same person.
I think I got close, but my faces are still not yet stable. I see I still have the same problem with the "errant pen" occasionally jerking and messing up my lines; I also see I could be making her giant mass of hair more dimensional and less flattened to two planes (though I note my time-traveling action archaeologist and her space hair predates River Song by quite a bit, even if Stephen Moffat beat me to the screen).
Lots of work to do, clearly. Took me two hours. Need to do that in half or a third the time. Still ...
... drawing every day.
As it says on the tin. Fell down a rabbithole trying to clean up my files prior to doing my art, decided to cheat by posting a sketch I did earlier today, then fell down more rabbitholes since I apparently can't not experiment with coloring a sketch. For reference, here's the sketch from earlier, the first entry in a notebook that I hadn't written in in over 18 years:
I came across this notebook just trying to find an appropriate notebook for a science idea (my sketchbook is at hand, but the science notebooks are ... buried in boxes?? Not sure) and found this one, a "commonplace book" filled with various ideas, including a life review from almost 20 years ago. I'm ... actually pretty happy with how things turned out over the last 20 years, between my wife, my novels, my comics and Google, but there's so much more to do.
Finally, for reference, here's a piece of art I found while I was re-organize my files. This is from 24 Hour Comic Day, mind you ... a bit ambitious, I think, but this pre-break art I think shows the kind of work that I'm intimidated by when I try to get back into drawing:
Yes, there's a lot to be improved with this art, but (a) my inking was a lot better, and (b) wow, I had forgotten how much the Porsche St. George character was supposed to be a "knockout". So much of what I've written / drawn about her since then has been the workmanlike space warrior stuff, not so much the original romance between the twentieth-century time traveller and the thirtieth-century centaur.
Ah well. Lots of work to do before I can get back to that level of quality, even though I see a lot of work I need to do to improve upon that once I get there.
Drawing every day.