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Monthly Archives: February 2010
An Airship over the Retro Future

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Airship over the Retro Future

Just a random, unprocessed frame from the bit I’m rendering right now for the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual trailer. This is from the second scene. Now that I’ve pretty well worked out the timing for the first minute, I’m going in and making the final versions of those shots.

I’m not sure when I’ll be uploading the finished trailer (heck, I’m not sure when it will be finished). I may not want to promote the site until I’m done with the first printed volume, and ready to get to work on Part II. But I have a good and mysterious reason for wanting to get it done early – I’m thinking about incorporating it into something else that needs to be ready before I start on Part II.

Anyway, this is pretty fun. It’s always nice to see what happens when I put a camera in Retropolis to see what’s moving around, and I don’t do that often (enough?) these days.

Update: the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site is now alive (alive, I tell you!) at thrilling-tales.webomator.com

Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual: Progress, and a Trailer in the Works

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Retropolis Films Intro

I’m in that last (ish) long haul here, and so I’m quiet; but I’ve got just four more illustrations to go for Trapped in the Tower of the Brain Thieves. One or two are challenging ones, but heck… I’ll take what I can get in the not quite instant gratification area.

I’m actually going slower than I might because I’m splitting my time between these and an animated trailer for the Thrilling Tales web site. It’s weirdly relaxing to switch from working hard on one thing to working equally hard on something different. I can’t explain why that is, but like I said, I’ll take what I can get.

Nat and Gwen Approach the Tower of the Brain ThievesIt’s been quite awhile since I dusted off Premiere and put together a piece of video with it (and why do we still call it video?) My old version of Premiere won’t install on my main computer (16 bit installers: gotta love ’em) and on my second one it looked at the memory available – which was way more than its programmers had believed possible, I guess – and ran screaming into the other room. So I had to remove memory to make it work. Go figure.

But anyway, that’s working, I have some neat period music for the soundtrack from the public domain Prelinger archive, and that, like the story, is slowly coming together. Prrrrrrrrogress!

Update: the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site is now alive (alive, I tell you!) at thrilling-tales.webomator.com

360 Degree Panorama of a Vintage Power Station Control Room

Filed under Found on the Web

Here’s a fantastic 360 degree panoramic view of a vintage power station control room from the Czech Republic. You can zoom way the heck in as you rotate the view. Really nice!

Lots of gauges, displays, switches and whatnot. They just don’t make ’em like that any more :). And here’s the link to the large, large original version.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the link. Now I must model furiously. No, wait, I’m doing something else. Egad!

Thrilling Tales Countdown: 70 Down, 12 to Go

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Mad Doctor Rognvald is PleasedSeventy illustrations down, twelve to go!

Doctor Rognvald, like me, is pleased.

I do have one massive exterior set to rebuild for half of those pictures (I’m not happy with the version I made originally) so it’s not what you’d call a slam dunk. But still.

Then there are three remaining inventory images. That’s because – in adventure game style – characters may pick up and carry items around. You get to see a bit of information about those, hence the illustrations of the objects. Add about four or five redos for illustrations I think should be better… some global adjustments for brightness and contrast… and then the art for Part One of The Toaster With TWO BRAINS will be done. Incredible as that may seem. To me, anyhow.

The brightness and contrast adjustments are mainly necessary to sync the web and print versions together – printed art is always a bit dimmer than it seems onscreen – but I’m also fighting the gradual decay of my fine but aging monitor. Every few months I have to check it out and adjust its display. So I’ll make a final pass through all the art at the end to make sure it’s copacetic.

Once the art’s done I can go back to work on the web site. I need to disable or modify one feature that I haven’t used, add another feature that I thought up while working on the illustrations, and implement a couple of things (saving and restoring your place in the story) that I didn’t bother with until I had a story to save and load. Add in some supporting pages, season to taste, fix the couple of problems the site has in the Chrome browser… and there it’ll be.

I’m still hoping to launch the Thrilling Tales site by the end of March. We’ll see.

Update: the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site is now alive (alive, I tell you!) at thrilling-tales.webomator.com

“Making Of” Article for Alexis Van der Hague’s “Papageno the Bird Catcher”

Filed under Computer Graphics, Found on the Web

Papageno the Bird Catcher

One of my very first posts here at the Web-O-Blog was about Alexis Van der Hague’s animation Stilt Walkers: an animated short that was rendered with 3D tools in such a way that it recalled the style of traditional paintings. That, and the lyrical style of the piece, impressed the heck out of me. Just lovely.

3D Total is hosting a "Making Of" article for a new image by Van der Hague. Here we see a portrait, within an 18th century landscape, of Papageno from Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

This time around we get not just the final product, which is sensational, but a breakdown of how Van der Hague has used 3D tools (ZBrush, Maya, and Mudbox) to build something that’s beautifully not photorealistic. That’s pretty close to a description of what I try to do. It’s just that the "not photorealistic" styles we’re each aiming for are pretty different.

This article’s a great example of how that can be done. Excellent work!

T-Shirt Sale at the Retropolis Transit Authority, Saga Shirts, and Hot Wax Tees

Filed under Works in Progress

Tell it to My Giant Robot T-Shirt
Tell it to My Giant Robot
Celtic Biohazard T-Shirt
Celtic Knotwork Biohazard

My T-shirt printer is four years old this month – and I have to say, anything I did at the age of four just pales by comparison – and to celebrate, they’re having a sale that is slightly less complicated than I’m about to make it sound.

The deal is, you get a discount of up to 20.9% on an order of $25 or more by entering this coupon code during checkout: 4PFBDAY. The exact amount of your discount varies, but for example: on a dark colored t-shirt it’s just over 20%.

I think 20.9% is the top limit. I tried the coupon on a bunch of different orders to see what it would do. ‘Cause, you know, I’m just like that.

The neat thing about this sale is that it’s not, say, $5 off on a shirt: the discount gets applied to whatever your total is. So if you order twenty shirts (please do!) you get a discount on all twenty of them.

The sale runs through February 17.

This is good news if you like the shirts from my Retropolis Transit Authority, Saga Shirts, or Hot Wax Tees. It’s significantly less good news if you don’t like any of them. In which case, those pants make you look fat.

[tags]t-shirts, retropolis transit authority, saga shirts, hot wax tees, sale, coupon, printfection[/tags]

Thrilling Tales, Continued, and Thoughts about Fundraising

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Hijinks in the Secret Laboratory

The rayguns have come out as I near the end of this batch of illustrations in Doctor Rognvald’s lab – and when these are done I think I’ll have nearly reached the "light at the end of the tunnel" stage. Almost.

When I guesstimated that Trapped in the Tower of the Brain Thieves would need about eighty illustrations… I was pretty much exactly dead on. Amazing, seeing as how that involved arithmetic and everything. Next time I’ll track the exact number as I refine the script. It was hard this time because some of the story nodes shared the same illustrations and I didn’t keep a tally of those as I went. Anyway, like I said, eighty pictures was about right. Sixty seven down as of this morning.

I got to thinking last night about Kickstarter. That’s a fundraising web site where a lot of musicians and artists are raising funds for their projects. I’m toying with the idea of trying that when I start Part Two of the story.

The whole thing ends up being a bit like a Public Radio fundraiser in which ever-neater premiums go with the ever-higher contributions. You can see that there’s some math involved there (egad!) to make sure that the total raised, minus the cost of those premiums, still gives you the funds you need. And if the cost of the premiums is high then the project’s funding has to be higher… which makes it harder for the project to reach its goal.

There are some Kickstarter anecdotes here at the Whitechapel forums. Fora. You know what I mean.

And you need an invitation to start a project, so when the time comes I’d have to scramble around on the web looking for one. But it seems like there’ s some potential there. Still thinking.

Update: the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site is now alive (alive, I tell you!) at thrilling-tales.webomator.com

Paypal Payments Newly Added to Some of My Sites

Filed under Works in Progress

New! Paypal Payments

Paypal is now accepted as a payment option at several of my online stores. So for those who are allergic to credit cards and debit cards, or those of you who’ve burned those cards in a wholly understandable protest against the rampant consumerism that is eroding the foundations of our culture while, oddly enough, paying my bills… now’s the time.

Paypal payments are now accepted at these sites of mine:

Celtic Art & Retro-Futuristic Design
at Retropolis: all products except for the ‘Retropolis Transit Authority’ T-Shirts and water bottles
the Non-Conformists’ Union
the Retrovert
Wally Wood’s Science Fiction Illustrations – 1957-1969

Filed under Found on the Web

Science Fiction Illustration by Wally Wood

Golden Age Comic Book Stories has posted a collection of Wally Wood’s science fiction magazine illustrations from 1957 through 1969.

Wood’s one of my favorites among the EC comics artists although I got to know his work later, through his work for the Warren magazines and for Marvel comics. It’s great to see these illustrations for Galaxy. They’re a real departure from his distinctive inking style: "Make everything black that should be black; then make some more stuff black that shouldn’t be black." (That’s my paraphrase, but I think it’s pretty close.)

While you’re there, don’t miss the recent Frank R. Paul and Big Little Books posts. Mister Doortree never disappoints.

Inkling – an iPhone app for Sketching with Variable Line Weights

Filed under Found on the Web

Natural Brushstrokes iPhone app"Fun for everyone, but especially artists and non-artists."

Way to narrow it down!

Inkling is another iPhone app by my old friend Eric Daniels (his first was the Quantum Universe Splitter). This time Eric’s left the fabric of spacetime alone so we can concentrate on doodling with iPhones.

Inkling uses the touch sensitive screens of the iPhone/iPod Touch to give you natural brushstrokes whose width is controlled by the speed of your finger. Neat!

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