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Monthly Archives: July 2016
The Great Gzhurka’s Space Ship

Filed under Works in Progress

The Great Gzhurka's Space Ship

With its well-stocked cockpit, its stylish beetle-wing doors, and its incomprehensibly alien controls, this is the spaceship of Gzhurka – known, at least to himself, as The Great Gzhurka – and with this I kind of hope I’ve finished my weeks-long alien kick so I can get back to work on something else.

It’s really hard to deal with life when things keep spilling out of the Idea Closet.

I’m not really complaining. I mean, there are all those other days when the Idea Closet’s door gets stuck and I’m left standing just outside, listening to the soft rustling of things in there that I can’t quite identify. Which is sort of spooky.

But now at least I’ve figured out who this little guy is; I even know about something that happens to him. And I expect I’ll get to that later, when that makes more sense.

Later would be smarter.

The Great Gzhurka in his space ship

But I do think that the Great Gzhurka has a story or more to tell, and there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll deal with that… like I said, later, for the reason that, like I said, later would be smarter.

I still need to finish the illustrations for the fifth story from the Files of the Retropolis Registry of Patents; and then there’s the final story in that sequence to worry about too – though we won’t see that one for quite awhile. So it’s possible that Gzhurka will cut ahead in the line. He has very little regard for the feelings of other people.

This space ship is a bit different from my Retropolitan rockets because Gzhurka uses it for such long trips. Its cockpit has to be full of all the stuff that you need when you’re an alien who pretty much lives in his car. It’s the most complicated interior I’ve ever built for one of these and (of course!) along with its gizmos and cabinets and blinky buttons it even contains some reading material. Because that’s important.

And also later, right? Because later would be….

Please consider helping me to continue my creative work and deal with the financial aftermath of cancer
 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story Doctor Petaja’s Parlor of Peril, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
Starting on Wednesday: Doctor Petaja’s Parlor of Peril

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

Doctor Petaja's Parlor of Peril

So in The Purloined Patents of Doctor Brackett we’ve encountered the Retropolis Registry of Patents; and while we were there we met Ben Bowman, Investigator, and Violet, the robot secretary who really ought to be an Investigator… and who intends to make that happen by any means necessary.

Office politics can always be a bit on the risky side. That’s never been more true than in the Registry of Patents.

Violet is resourceful and dedicated and – although she’s quite a nice mechanical person who makes an excellent cup of coffee – nobody’s ever mentioned to her that thing we call the Three Laws of Robotics.

But in addition to Violet’s next move on the new Registrar we’re going to see what can happen when one mad scientist floods the Registry with stack after stack of preliminary patent applications; we’ll wonder what that might mean, especially for the whales; and we may even find out what’s so important about the Registry’s regulation #527b. (Hint: it’s not the one about the "Procedure For Requesting Laboratory Egress".)

All this and more will be revealed in the weekly installments of Doctor Petaja’s Parlor of Peril at Thrilling Tales of the Downight Unusual. It starts on Wednesday.

 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story The Purloined Patents of Doctor Brackett, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
Say Hello to my little acquaintance

Filed under Computer Graphics, Works in Progress

No, I don't know what this is, either

I still don’t have any idea who this is. I can’t help but speculate, though.

I mean, I’ve been wondering a lot about what sort of character he(?) might be even as I cursed myself for working on him/her/it for most of the week when I should have been doing something else. Still – whatever it is – it’s about done, so I should be able to tone down the cursing for awhile.

Fun fact: I added a morph target that I call “Frog Throat”, in which the critter’s throat blows up big like a bullfrog’s. Why? It’s the same old question. I think the answer must be “because”.

I’m sure he/she/it will turn out to be important (maybe even essential!) someday. In the meantime I’ll just keep wondering.

 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story The Purloined Patents of Doctor Brackett, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
My successful human hybrid experiment

Filed under Computer Graphics, Works in Progress

My successful human hybrid experiment

It’s with no small amount of pride that I can now reveal my second, and most successful, human hybrid experiment. I wish I knew exactly what it was; but, as you can see, it’s keeping an eye on us until I figure that out.

Over the past year or so I’ve learned some new tricks with my morph-targeted character heads, and the most interesting tricks are the ones I can play on characters that are already done. Some of this is due to Collapse to Morpher, a very useful 3DS Max script.

Morphs are terrific, but they rely on the source object and its morph targets sharing the exact same topology. That means they need to have the same number of vertices, and (importantly!) those vertices have to be numbered in the same order. If you’re not careful you can end up with two objects that used to share those properties but which now are subtly and fatally different. You just can’t morph them any more.

You can change an object after applying the morpher, and that works because the morphing action takes place before all those changes. But when you do that you end up with a new stack of modifiers on top of the morpher that can’t be collapsed. Every time you make a change to a scene with the modified object present, and in particular every time you change its morph states, all of the post-morph modifiers have to be recalculated in the scene. That slows things down. Slowing things down makes me cranky.

Collapse to Morpher does this crazy, complicated thing in which the entire stack of modifiers is applied to an extracted version of each morph target. Then the morph targets are added to a collapsed version of the original object and then suddenly, or possibly not entirely suddenly, you have a new streamlined version of the object with its new, equally streamlined morph targets, and things are quick again and I’m less cranky.

That’s how I’ve worked out ways to blend between two finished character heads, to optimize existing characters, to save time on operations like calculating vertex colors and UV mapping, and – now – to turn a human being into something entirely different.

I did something like this once before. But at that time I didn’t have a practical way to salvage the original morph targets for the character’s facial expressions.Dr. Lillian Krajnik: unwitting experimental subject

So here’s a little picture of my unwitting experimental subject, Dr. Lillian Krajnik. I started by cloning her (as one does) and then edited her head into the head you see at the top of this post. Once the clone was completely mutated I used Collapse to Morpher to turn it into a new, streamlined character – with all its original expression morphs updated as well. My weird fishy, lizardy human hybrid frowns and smiles and sneers and look surprised, on command, just like Lillian does. Almost automatically.

This stuff is just so cool when it actually works.

I have a little work to do on a few of the morph targets. The nostrils are so different now that any time they rise or expand they behave a little differently, and the eyes don’t close completely as they used to do. But editing that handful of morph targets is so much simpler than starting from scratch, every time.

So now I’m a human hybrid maker. In whatever odd moments I have over the next few months I think it’s going to get all Doctor Moreau in here.

 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story The Purloined Patents of Doctor Brackett, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
Sugar Space, by Russian illustrator George Redreev

Filed under Found on the Web

Sugar Space, by George Redreev

This is Sugar Space, by Russian illustrator George Redreev, and it’s just one of a long series of illustrations he’s posted at CG Society and at Artstation.

The CG Society page has many more pictures, but at Artstation’s page for this image you can see a large animated GIF that chronicles the picture’s progress from a rough thumbnail sketch to the final, full color painting. So both are worth a look.

Drawing for George Redreev's Sugar Space

This picture has such a playful treatment that it’s possible to overlook the pretty obvious objectification that’s at work here. (Well, it was possible for me, anyhow; your mileage may vary.) I look at it in the same way that I delight in the joy and playfulness of Dave Stevens’ pin-ups. The takeaway seems to be affection, and that may be what makes the difference.

His entire galleries show a lot of other work, much of it aimed at childrens’ illustration; one of my favorites appears below. But of course it was Sugar Space’s cheerful retro-futurism that was pretty much up my street. Provided that my street is lost somewhere in an alien jungle, I mean.

Unexpected Meeting, by George Redreev
 
 
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Down in the Basement. Where it Strains Against its Chains and Turns a Gigantic Wheel of Pain, for all Eternity. Muahahahahaha.