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Posts tagged as “The Dresanians”

[drawing every day 2024 post seventy-six]: conceptual sketches

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A couple of conceptual sketches for a planned illustration for my story "Shadows of Titanium Rain." Not very intelligible at this stage, but this is a stage I need to get comfortable at so I am not simply drawing and hoping it turns out, but planning my drawing for it to become a success.

Drawing at a rate of once daily, posting every day.

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four day seventy-three]: independent confirmation at last

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At last! Thanks to Bing, I found an online calculator whose numbers confirm the calculation I did on my own for the interplanetary distances from my story "Shadows of Titanium Rain"!

[ from based on data from ]

This is VERY close to the numbers I got from doing this in Mathematica based on the equations from (as I recall) the NASA page :

AND, despite a good bit of reading [ , ] I was not able to find a ready source which gave me a simple formula without solving a bunch of equations.

But the calculator gave the same result that I got earlier on my own.

SO! Failaka is a quarter million kilometers from Tylos.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

-the Centaur

[drawing every day 2024 post fifty-eight]: porsche redux

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Another drawing of Porsche from a generative AI character sheet (I think this one was from ChatGPT+DALL-E, which seems to be a bit better than Midjourney at taking art direction and creating centaurs). I modified the face to more closely match Porsche, whose ears are located more closely to a normal human's ears.

I've started to build up a buffer, like I am for the Blogging Every Day series, by trying to do two drawings at every sitting. I can't manage to draw for an hour and a half every single day, but if I do it most days, then I slowly creep ahead, and can put more effort and thought into each drawing.

According to my spreadsheet, I'm now about six drawings ahead, drawing-wise, and two posts ahead, posting-wise. Maybe I can take some time to, you know, write about these characters now.

Drawing (more or less) every day.

-the Centaur

[drawing every day 2024 post forty]: stand your ground, redux

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This time, I'm using one of my own drawings as a reference, the old "Stand Your Ground" t-shirt image, for which I recently found a scan of the original art from WAY back in the day (the scan was a BMP, !):

This is from 1997 (!). In some ways it's cruder; in other ways it benefits from the larger aspect ratio (I suspect this was done on 8.5x11 paper, or even larger). But my little notebook has been helping me draw every day:

And so: drawing every day. Onwards.

-the Centaur (the author one)

[drawing every day 2024 post thirty-nine]: last of this set

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My rendering of the last pose from the DALL-E character sheet for Porsche:

Not entirely terrible, though I can see my proportions are a bit cartoonish. These systems can't take art direction yet - I had to clean the character sheet up in Photoshop to really make it suitable, and even then the middle pose should have had the legs more spread apart, which it tried to do erroneously on the right-hand pose with a fifth leg - but they sure can render the heck out of an image.

-the Centaur (the author one)

[twenty twenty-four post nine]: failaka, tylos and dilmun to scale

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The star Dilmun, its planet Tylos, and the hypothetical exo-Io Failaka, to scale. For comparison, if our Sun, Jupiter, and Earth took those positions, this is what they would look like:

What's funny about the Dilmun system is that normally you have to say "planetary distances and sizes are not to scale". However, Tylos is so close to Dilmun, orbiting only 4 million kilometers away with a year of 1.25 days, that the top diagram IS to scale. And this is in real life, not fiction.

What an amazing universe.

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four day seven]: tylos and dilmun from failaka

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So! I'm working on a series of stories set on a tidally locked moon called Failaka, orbiting a "hot Jupiter" called Tylos around an even hotter star called Dilmun. I don't know if anything like Failaka exists, but Tylos is a real planet originally designated WASP-121b, orbiting a star called, um, WASP-121, about 850 light years from Earth.

Dilmun is a yellow-white star hotter and brighter than our Sun (itself white, not yellow), and Tylos orbits so close its parent star that its orbit takes one and a quarter Earth days, cooking the planet to a sizzling 2500 degrees Kelvin (about four thousand degrees Fahrenheit). Failaka is a cometary remnant, and if it exists, it could only survive in the shadow of Tylos, which itself appears as a bright orange, hot as a hot coal.

SO, to make the story more grounded, I worked out where Failaka would have to be (Tylos's L2 point, currently calcuated as about the distance from the Earth to the Moon), how relatively bright Tylos and Dilmun were, and how large Tylos and Dilmun would be in the sky, as well as their colors.

The above renders this in Mathematica. Tylos is the orange circle partially occluding the white disk of Dilmun behind it, and Failaka is the blue plain of ice below - ice which, if it really was this exposed to Tylos and Dilmun, would be rapidly sublimating away, as the plot demands that the planet "roll" due to an orbital shift, leading to plains of former darkside ice shifting into the light and rapidly disintegrating.

Oh, and the tiny dots to the right of Dilmun? The white dot is the Sun, in natural color. The next dot is the Moon, rendered in grey, as the moon's albedo is actually kinda like charcoal.

And now, a helpful safety tip: do not stand on Failaka where you can see this view of Tylos and Dilmun. The radiation would be thousands of times as bright as the Sun seen from Earth, and you would rapidly have a very abbreviated day.

If you see this unprotected, you will die.

The good news? Cremation is free.

-the Centaur

[drawing every day 2024 post three]: not a one-trick pony

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Porsche the Centaur. The joke is, I spent some time organizing my drawing materials, collecting books of exercises to work through, and finding appropriate materials - and she's drawn in a sketchbook which was made from a children's graphic novel called "One Trick Pony".

Adios, 2023

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Wow, what a year. I'd love to say it had its pros and cons, but the stark reality of it is that the one bad thing - getting laid off, not just years before I wanted to retire, but one day after we successfully showed our new project was working, thus throwing me years off course in my research - overshadows all the good stuff. As I was describing it to my wife, it's like falling down into a well and finding some shiny rocks down there. They might be nice rocks - heck, they might even be gold, and worth a fortune - but you've still got to cope with falling into the well, and figure out how to climb back out again, before taking advantage of the good stuff.

And, I have to admit, there was a lot of good stuff. We submitted a great paper on social robot navigation and held a great workshop on embodied AI, which was renewed for next year. Thinking Ink Press published a new book, was chosen for the Innovative Voices program and launched a successful Kickstarter. We proposed the Neurodiversiverse anthology, announced it at Dragon Con, and have almost a hundred submissions as of the close of the year. That inspired me to write two new stories, "Blessing of the Prism" and "Shadows of Titanium Rain", which I think are some of my best work. I even started a robotics consulting business and got a few clients, which is helping to reduce the uncertainty.

But 2023 was the worst year for me for a while. There have been bad ones recently - in 2016 we elected a wannabe dictator and many of my friends and family seemed to lose their minds; in 2019 my mother died; and in 2020 I had the double whammy of the pandemic with the most stressful period of my work life. But, like 2023, each of those years had ups with the downs: in 2016, my current research thread started; in 2019, we proved that our research ideas were working (for all the good it did us); and in 2020, we moved back to my hometown into what we hope is our forever home.

And yet, with the exception of the loss of my mother, none of those seemed quite as life changing as getting laid off. Even for Mom, I was somewhat prepared: my father had unexpectedly lost one of his siblings early, and our extended family had developed a kind of shared knowledge of how to cope with loss. I had already lost my father and grandmother, and knew that Mom, while healthy, was in her mid-80s, and could pass at any time; so I was spending as much time as practical with her. I spoke to her the day she died. And so, after she was gone, I started down a road that I had been preparing for mentally for a long, long time.

But I wasn't in the mindset that Google would kill off half its robotics program just in AI's hour of triumph. We were even working on a projects directly related to Google's new large language model focus. It made no sense, and left this strange kind of void, creating a severance I didn't expect for another decade.

Despite all of what happened this year, I keep coming back to one thing:

Was it worth it if I wrote those two new stories?


So, farewell, you crazy year you: thanks for all you gave me. My wife even said "Supposedly what you do on New Year's Eve is what you'll do for the rest of the year," and today we worked on our businesses, worked on writing and art, met friends old and new, and even moved furniture (which, metaphorically, is her new business venture). So's here's to more writing, more art, more friends, and more business in 2024!

-the Centaur

P.S. I see that I kept up "Blogging Every Day" in 2023 for 91 days, almost a quarter of the year; my earlier attempt at "Drawing Every Day" in 2021 lasted 103 days, a little over a quarter of the year. Let's see if we can break both those records in 2024, now that I have far more free time (and flexible time) on my hands!

Day 087

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kelthani sketch Super quick sketch of Kelthani, an alien character from the "Alliance" universe of my "Stranded" and "Sibling Rivalry" stories. Fun fact: Serendipity the Centaur in "Stranded" is named after Kelthani (her middle name is Keltanya). The barely visible tattoo is the first three letters of "USMC", because Kelthani is literally a U. S. Marine drill instructor born in Darlington, South Carolina ... about 500 years from now. And yes, he can probably kick your ass. He was a Marine for 300 years. Done to celebrate finishing a notebook and switching back to an older (like, 20 years older) notebook with blank pages that features Kelthani quite a bit. Sharpie sketch right over very light roughs, trying to reconstruct his bone structure from memory, cleaned up in Photoshop with the levels tool. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 042

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Sketchy Porsche 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. rough of superman 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. -the Centaur

Day 039

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More Space Hair 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. -the Centaur  

Day 038

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Porsche Face Redux 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: Porsche Reference Far Porsche Reference Near 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. -the Centaur

Day 037

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Cinnamon Sketch 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: Original Cinnamon Sketch 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: Porsche from the first 24hcd 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. -the Centaur

Day 033

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visiting the deaniverse As it says on the tin. I noticed that Travis Hanson uses negative space and shading with layers of flat colors (in at least a couple drawings I happened to have on hand, not saying that's all the time) and tried the same experiment in this little visit to the Roger Deaniverse and all its floating rocks. Though I didn't end up using negative space because clouds were in my composition, but hey. Ehh, not the best drawing, but it's an interesting experiment in coloring without the normal Photoshop filters I use, but instead just using two or three colors per layer (excepting the skin tones, which had a few more and blending). I did use the "stroke" effect on some of the layers to fake inks, but the centaur and fish inks are drawn in a full inks layer, from which I took flats and then did coloring, using the select function to help me keep highlights / shadows to the right layers. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 029

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A centaur in a spacesuit As it says on the tin: I has the ZZZ's, so you gets a real drawin' tomorrow, as Cinnamon would say. The purpose of the exercise is to make sure I draw SOMETHING, every day, in whatever medium comes to hand. This centaur in a spacesuit (well, you can't see the legs, but they're there) was sketched on a Strathmore 9x12 sketchpad with a Winsor-Newton 2B pencil, then inked hot to broad outlines with a Faber-Castell "B" Pitt Artist Pen Brush, with details via Micron 03, 08, and 1 Pigma pens. Scanned on an Epson 7720, retouched in Photoshop to pull up the inks, and then separations, fills, filters and effects to create the starfield, kettledrum starship, Porsche's uniform, transparent helmet section, main Porsche inks, and the glare off the reflection in the helmet. So while it's a quick sketch, I exercised quite a few things trying to pull the whole composition together. Hopefully these exercises are helping. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 028

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transnewtonian overdrive logo v2 Well, not a "drawing" per se, though I went through four pages of sketches of this comic book banner logo before I cracked open Illustrator. (Here are a couple of those, not very impressive though). Sketches for the Transnewtonian Overdrive logo I'm still not satisfied with how this turned out ... there's some image in my mind with this logo which I haven't been able to translate into an actual drawing, much less a realized logo. But what's up with this logo, you may ask? Well, it's from a 24 Hour Comics Day comic I did, way back in the day, but never finished - "Transnewtonian Overdrive: The Front": 3 pages from Transnewtonian Overdrive The "transnewtonian overdrive" proper is that little device in the last panel, an aftermarket component to our protagonists' Porsche Hexwing staryacht (first panel) which enables them to go places where other people can't. The idea, you see, was that in an era of faster-than-light travel, no-one would seriously be interested in the relativistic corners of our universe - but by inverting a normal hyperdrive to go just slower than the speed of light, our heroes could dive headlong into places with weird physics. When I revisited the logo, my sketching - and looking at other logos of other comics - led me to the idea of the Hexwing cutting across the logo, with a thin line connecting it to the "O" of overdrive representing the invisible hypermass that our heroes are bungee jumping off of (and back to) to travel. I feel okay about it - the logo could be sleeker - but I can't quite articulate what the logo as drawn is missing from the image I have in my mind. If I could "see" that, perhaps I could fix it. This will require research, I think: I didn't figure out what was wrong with my Batman page (don't worry! I'm not going back to it) until I looked into DC Comics' book on coloring and lettering and realized I hadn't properly exploited value to make different planes of the page stand out from each other. Fixing this logo will require doing some research (and, likely, coming up with my own logos for other things first, before coming back to this, so I'm not working the same piece of art over and over again). I didn't finish "The Front" that day - it was WAY too ambitious for 24 hours, and I think I only got 7-8 pages in. You know, in a way, I think 24 Hour Comics Day hurt my creativity as much as it helped it. It pushed my boundaries in a way I never had before, but the speed at which you have to work mean that my artwork wasn't up to the standards that I'd set for myself with f@nu fiku. Five years after breaking my arm, when my art was still rusty, I bit off more than I could chew, and may have hurt myself more. Not sure I'd go back and change it, but if anything, I wished I'd taken on a drawing discipline like I have now. Drawing every day forces you to get over yourself, the good and the bad, and to move on to the next day. -the Centaur  

Day 12

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Porsche and the Scythe at the Waterfall, Colored Day 11's drawing, colorized. Lots I would fix in the underlying drawing; many techniques of digital coloring I wished I had learned. But enough of that. Tired, going to bed now. Still ... Drawing. Every. Day. -the Centaur

Day 11

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Porsche at the Waterfall Hello, Porsche, my old friend; time to draw you again. Getting more comfortable with the Cintiq + Photoshop + Humanscale combo. But only had time for the inks today. Colors maybe tomorrow, or perhaps another drawing. Drawing every day. -the Centaur