Let’s Talk About Consistency. (from my Patreon page)

Let us talk about internal consistency in writing science fiction or fantasy.  One of the more egregious mistakes I see in science fiction television and movies is a lack of consistency, which is why, to me, Star Trek the Next Generation does not hold up nearly as well as Babylon 5.  Also, by not maintaining consistency on such things as alien natures and historical events in your writing, you miss out on spontaneous ah-ha moments that can make memorable scenes.

One of the things that kept me away from re-watching Star Trek the Next Generation and some of the following series (except for Enterprise, which many fans panned) was the episodic nature of the shows.  For the most part, each episode was like a stand-alone movie that did not necessarily depend on anything that had gone before.   Yes, there were a few things they would remember from earlier episodes and would from time to time give a nod to or reference, but for the most part it was as if the slate had been wiped clean after each show.  The strongest episodes to me were the ones where they came back and explored aspects of earlier episodes from another angle.  Examples of that are when they spent time exploring the aftermath of Picard’s capture by the Borg while the Enterprise was being repaired and Tasha Yar’s Romulan daughter from the episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.

Babylon 5; however, spent a lot of time on consistency, mainly because it was a fully planned story from season one to season five.  Yes, there were a lot of changes during the course of the series, but the overall plan helped to minimize the problems.  I believe that they even had plans set up to cover situations like losing a lead actor.  What is more important is that aspects of character’s personalities, species histories and natures, and episode histories were kept consistent.  Unlike STNG where characters who were portrayed one way in an episode suddenly are portrayed another way just for the sake of the episode.   I don’t mean to jump too hard on STNG because at the time I did enjoy many of them, but as the series and then DS9/Voyager continued, I saw a phenomenon that really turned me off.  To me it seemed that major characters would fall deeply in love with a different character every few episodes.  It felt like the producers were watching the internet, checking to see who fans felt show be couples.

Look at the Worf, Riker, and Deanna relationship.  First it was Riker and Deanna while Worf loved a Klingon, having a child with her before she died.  Riker and Deanna moved on and Worf moved into a deep relationship with Deanna.  Then when Worf moves on to DS9, Deanna is just gone and he ends up marrying Jadzia Dax.  Just because you may not be able to get the former actor for a role doesn’t mean you should just drop the history you created.  For example, look at how J. M. Straczynski handled the loss of Richard Biggs and Andreas Katsulas in Babylon 5: The Lost Tales.   When asked about G’Kar, President Sheridan says “He is off exploring beyond the rim” and is later told that Dr. Franklin has gone with him, handled simply with a line that fits the characters without changing or warping other characters to fit into some new reality.  Also, in the final episode “Sleeping in the Light”, Garibaldi, Sheridan, and Franklin shared a funny story about a Pak’ma’ra that takes advantage of the species traits established much earlier in the series.

Another good example, so far, of consistency comes from Brandon Sanderson’s Mist Born books.  In creating the world, he set down very specific rules for the system of magic used by the people.  In some ways this codification of magic rules could have tied down what characters could do, but Sanderson found ways in later books to accomplish new actions using the same rules instead of ignoring them to write the scene he wanted.  In other words, he allowed the limitations of the world he created to define how he wrote the scenes.   Another example of attention to details comes from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies directed by Peter Jackson.  Just watch the extras to see how much time was spent catching continuity errors.

Consistency can have a strong effect on people who watch movies or read books a lot, possibly damaging their opinions over time by confusing them or forcing them to make rationalizations for errors.  Star Trek and Star Wars are ripe with those.  I find myself cringing every time someone says how good Rogue One was because I want to say “but did you see…”   So, while I still mostly enjoy many commercial science fiction and fantasy offerings, even when consistency is an issue, I find myself irritated more as I grow older.  I even choose to forgo some offerings because I just don’t want a good memory tarnished by sub-par efforts, even from the original creator.

Put Your Word Where Your Mouth is!

Here is a little over six month review of the changes made to this blog since I began reflecting content from my Patreon page here:

Blog Followers are up from 114 to 166, a 31% increase

Blog Views are up from 344 to 527, a 34.7% increase

Blog Visitors are up from 260 to 346, a 24.8% increase

Blog Likes are up from 149 to 277, a 46.2% increase

The take away is that the seven month numbers are substantially up against the entire year of 2016, which happened to be the best year ever for this blog.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, because I have to ask you a favor.  When I started changing this blog it was in support of the launch of my Patreon page that I hoped would become a vehicle for achieving a measure of artistic success and hopefully supplement the income from my day job.  As part of this attempt to have an artistic life, I gave myself a year from the beginning of 2017 to make it an  ongoing venture.  Over six months have gone by and while the blog is enjoying success, my Patreon site is not.  There are going to be some things I will look at shortly to make the page more attractive, maybe even switch to a per project model.  Your feedback would be most helpful; however, your support would be better.  If not financially, then by word of mouth, because the more people who visit this blog, the more chances I have of gaining patrons.

Please, if you like what I am doing, tell your friends who like science fiction/fantasy art and writing to visit this blog.  Send them a link.  I come from a long history of retail work and one thing I know is that out of the people who shop, only a small percentage actually buy, so the more you get to shop the better your chance of a sale.  With enough shoppers you can make a living.  I need to make a living.  Please help me get more shoppers.  Promote my site on your blog, tell your friends, become a patron,or even give me advice.

If the situation does not improve, I will have to switch gears and look for a second job to get my financial situation under control.  I will probably find little time to work on projects or post to the blog, which is something I enjoy.  So send me your starving science fiction fans.

 

I will leave you with a content breakdown so far from my Patreon page Robert Garbin’s Patreon page:

7 Short Stories

18 image files

Painting Projects Completed 2 with one nearing completion and another far along

Two Art Projects in Preparation

Poem in the works

Horror Story started

 

Lights, Camera, Planet (from my Patreon page)

Getting down to the finesse work on the current project.  The basics are all set, it is now just a matter of adding little touches that will make the image really pop.  I have not been spending as much time on this as I wanted to because I got myself hooked on a youtube channel for science fiction space ship modeling.  I admit to being a model spaceship fan.  What a surprise.  The channel is called Trekworks and I created a link to it on the left of this page.

The creator, Boyd Crompton, is a serious model builder who has some stunning Star Trek, as well as other franchise, models.  What I enjoy the most is that he adds lighting and sound effects to the models.  His Star Trek the Motion Picture Enterprise build is amazing and the fact that he knows many of the people who created the actual model for the movie is even better.  So if you like small versions of iconic movie vehicles, definitely check out his site.

Question for Those that Follow this Blog

As you know, from following this blog, I am trying to start making money off of my creative output, both written and painted.  The whole tenor of this blog has changed from thoughts on life, history, and politics to discussions on the mechanics of art and writing.  One of the things I recently did was to create a Patreon page to gain financial support through sharing exclusive content with patrons of my site.  One of the other ways I planned to turn my creativity into a business was to create prints of my work for sale.

To that end, I would like to ask a question.  Would you be willing to pay up front for a print of my work?  The reason I ask is that I would not be able to sell a print to you now without getting the money first to pay for the process.  My thoughts are that I could talk to a printing company, get quotes and a test print of certain images (to make sure the quality is there) then post a price based on a reasonable profit margin.  I would also personally sign each print beyond the signature I have in the painting.  However, I would have to get the money for the print and shipping beforehand since I do not have the cash to make a bunch of prints and sell them.  I basically would order the print as the money came in to pay for it.

At this point, you can buy some prints of my work at my deviantart page but the sizes are limited and I don’t feel they do the work justice.  I am hoping that if the test prints turn out well then I can make the prints in larger sizes to properly show off the detail.  So, if there is enough interest, I will start checking into the possibilities.  The works I am thinking about can all be seen as large size images, except for Quiet Strength – Silent Vulnerability which can only be seen as part of my finished in 2016 recap, at my devianart page.  The images to consider are:

Mystics and Misfits cover with no typography

Quiet Strength – Silent Vulnerability

Universal Eyes – Infinite Sadness

Denouncer cover with no typography

As I create more works, I will expand the list, but these are the ones I feel are worth printing and have no legal issues attached to them. Princess for Ever After; unfortunately, would require asking Disney for the right to sell it and the same for Juliette and Josephus needing legal rights to sell.  If there is enough interest, I will consider checking into the rights.  For now, the ball is all yours.  Let me know what you think.

 

Rob

$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.

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.