Brave New Worlds (from my Patreon page)

Mercury courtesy of NASA

 

Finished what I needed for the Cheetah drawing tonight so I went looking for images of Mercury for an eye.  One of the things I have truly enjoyed about creating this series is that it gives me a reason to poke around in NASA files of their exploration of the solar system.  I used to keep up on this stuff because I am technically a space nut.  Painting the planets has been a real treat for me, as well as, reading up on the missions and how long they take.  The Messenger mission that produced the images I will use for Mercury was launched in 2004, did not really start its mission until 2011, and ended the mission by crashing on Mercury on April 30, 2015.  Wow.

Time to Tease (from my Patreon page)

Well, my day job has really been sucking the life out of me again and I missed posting a reward last week.  I will see about adding something this week, but for now it is time to tease next month’s story reward.

Nathan Anders was a man stuck in a job with an arrogant boss that made life miserable.  He always had to clean up the messes the boss made while the man came off looking pretty in the public’s eyes.  Now aliens were attacking the East Coast and everyone’s minds were turned toward the chaos and destruction but all Nathan could do was continue working to support his boss who was in charge of dealing with this crisis.  The mess was going to be big this time.  Worse yet, it was his anniversary.  Sigh.

This Week’s $5 Reward (from my Patreon page)

Here is what I posted about the attached image:

 

This week’s reward is a pencil sketch I did some time ago but I think the idea behind it is more and more important today.  It depicts creators and their creations.  The background is a giant eye representing God.  The foreground is a set of hands reaching out to clasp.  One is human the other is robotic.  Will we treat our creations with love or exploitation?  Will we consider the responsibility attached to the act of creation or will it just be about profit margins?  Heavy things to think about.  What do you think was on God’s mind?

$5 Reward (from my Patreon page)

 

Here is  today’s Patreon post:

As promised, I took all the separate elements of the Carrie Fisher Tribute and made them separate jpeg images.  I copied in the star field from the main painting into each image.  There are three images, Alderaan, Carrie Fisher/Leia Organa, and the Y-Wing.

Riding the High (from my Patreon page)

As I said recently, I am on kinda a high from reaching the conclusion of the Carrie Fisher project.  It has been a while since I have had such a good feeling, my mind is running around in circles thinking about the challenges I overcame with the painting and jumping about with excitement at what I can probably do now.  The feeling is a pleasant mix of past accomplishment and euphoric future possibilities.

I get this feeling from other people’s work as well.  When I see something done that just amazes me, I find new ideas springing up in my head.  Books, films, art, and music can all affect me this way.  Any creative endeavor that opens my mind to new possibilities from changing the way a story is told (Cloud Atlas – the book not the movie) to new ways of depicting science fiction (Star Wars’ game changing special effects) can do it.  Many of the books in my collection have changed what I viewed possible in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, leaving me in an excited state for weeks.  It is almost as if the books are stored kinetic energy released through reading, exciting the engine of my mind.  I hope that some of what I do has the same result on you.  This feeling is what I live for.

Princess for Ever After (from my Patreon page)

 

Well folks here it is the completed tribute to Carrie Fisher.  This one has been a long time coming and I was so happy with the results I could not wait until Sunday to reveal it.  I started this image back at the beginning of January.  This one took longer than many of the other images because I was again attempting something new, namely smooth transitions in color tones necessitated by the skin of Carrie’s face.  The learning process of the skin shading later came in handy with the silkiness of her dress.  When I decided to add Y-Wing fighters to the image, I added another challenge that slowed me up.  I have generally stayed away from vehicles because I am not that good at mechanical representations and the best image I could find was a three-quarters view.  I could not have copied that if I wanted to; however, I was able to make decent enough measurements to come up with a top down view.

Now, let us talk about the painting itself.  First, I chose this image of Carrie Fisher because it was the way I first fell in love with her.  Yeah, the slave girl bikini was hot but the soft silk of this dress plus her feistier nature just can’t be topped.  In addition, this particular photo from the early promos caught my attention because of the intensity of her gaze.  Understanding Carrie Fisher’s history you can almost see the pain buried underneath the future galactic Princess’ determination.  Perhaps a look at the real person under the fantasy.

I paid extra attention to the creation of the background because I wanted the star field to look like it came directly from the movies.  One thing I noticed while re-watching  The Empire Strikes Back was that Lucas did not put nebulae in the films.  We always see just a splash of stars.  However, if you look closely, you will see areas of soft fuzzy light and darker zones creating patterns.  I captured this effect by tapping lightly with the airbrush function in clusters to make the soft glow and an absence of these clusters for darker areas.

The Y-Wings are basically copies, scaled to different sizes, from two versions I created.  On a separate layer I made the softer glow around the engines and extended the trails to the bottom of the image.  The design reminds me of one of the playbill posters I saw at the time.  The reason I chose the Y-wings is that in one of the first novels to come out after Star Wars, The Splinter of the Minds Eye, Leia piloted one.  Also, I always thought they were kinda cool.

The planet in the background is of course Alderaan.  Nothing tying into the real woman behind the character, but I wanted to stay on theme and putting earth their didn’t feel correct for me.  For me, I depicted what I felt was important about Carrie Fisher by picking the particular image above others I could have chosen.  Everything else was for me.  Finally, I chose to make her look like a returned Jedi Knight for obvious reasons, which works just as well for Leia as it does for Carrie.

Flexibility for the Heretic Mind (from my Patreon page)

I am truly beginning to love digital painting because it suits my style.  I like to experiment with layouts but I am not fond of redoing images set to paper.  Yes, trained artists are used to creating several planning sketches for layout and/or color choices but I never acquired that skill.  Although, on occasion, I have created a few quick sketches to flesh out an idea, for the most part I dive right in and work straight through.  If I later decide that I should have done things different, I tell myself that is for the next image since, to me, the image is now set in stone.  Doing massive changes in a physical painting, while not impossible, is difficult and the results, in my case, leave something to be desired.

On the other hand, since I am doing each element as a separate digital painting and placing them into a background image, I can easily play with placement, size, and additional effects until I achieve the desired image.  I don’t have to redo the whole design to try these things without damage to the canvas or other parts of the image.  For instance, in my Carrie Fisher tribute, I had originally copied Carrie’s image into the background as is, no size change.  After adding a few elements, I decided she needed to be bigger.  In a physical work I would have had to live with the incorrect size or redo the entire image to that point.  I am not big on that.  In the digital realm, I just resized her layer and boom, there it was.  Same with the size of Y-wings and Alderaan.  Plus, since the Y-Wings are copied from only two images, I can add or delete the number I place in the final painting.  Currently I have five fighters in the painting.  I may add more.

Basically, when I get an idea in my head, I like to pin it down on paper.  However, once on paper, I tend to stick with that design whether it works or not.  I do have enough of a sense of layout and format that they aren’t too bad, but in many cases, they could be better.  Digital painting, which in my mind might be a little bit of a cheat, allows me to make the changes I would otherwise not do.  For me, digital painting does for my artwork what a word processor does for my writing.  I am a hunt and peck typist at best, if I had to constantly retype entire pages of text because I rethought a sentence, there would be no stories from me.  Word processing allowed me to explore another side of my imagination.  Now I can do the same with my art.