Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Domestic Geometry

I made this drawing at a friend's house, because I will draw anything I see. The structures of stairs, walls, and shelves intrigued me as a form of three-dimensional domestic geometry. The books on the floor are sub-sets of this geometry. When you put books on the floor, (no, of course you don't have any books on your floor) the rectangular slabs form their own perspective, unless you are obsessive enough to line up your books with the parallel lines of the floorboards or tiles. If the books have designs on the covers, then these designs or images follow yet another subset of a subset in the geometric hierarchy. The same would be true of pictures hanging on the wall. See, it all makes sense now.

Brown Pitt technical pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", September 27, 2014.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Aurora Exomoon

It's a Photoshop doodle inspired by the incredible pictures of Saturn and its moons sent back by the Cassini space probe. Since there are exoplanets, there are probably ones that look just like Saturn but have twisted aurora bands instead of rings. And they would have exomoons made from rock and ice and liquid which look like the crunchy moons of Saturn that the space probe revealed. I call that "exo-lent." In the endless variety of our universe, anything planetary can happen.

Photoshop, 7" x 3 1/2", September 29, 2014.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Man in the High Castle

Four years ago I posted on this Blog a series of black and white illustrations for books by Philip K. Dick. I did them as frontispieces for a collector's item edition of PKD's books. Somehow, I neglected to post this one, which was done for Dick's "The Man in the High Castle." I probably didn't post it because of the disturbing references to Nazis and the little picture of Hitler at the top left.

"The Man in the High Castle" takes place in an alternative history where the Nazis and Japanese won World War II. San Francisco is dominated by the Japanese military. I did quite a lot of research for this illustration, such as the antique pistol that the Japanese collector wanted in the story, the elderly jewelry dealer, and the martial-arts woman at the top. The image of Hitler is a piece of clip art. Since Dick used the chance-based oracle "I Ching" as inspiration for the plot of the book, I looked up the hexagrams that he used and lined them up to the right. To the upper left are drawings of famous old houses on a hill in San Francisco. The book on the table is an alternate story in an alternate world, where the Americans and Allies won World War II. The whole image is arranged in a vertical rectangle with arched cut-off corners, imitating a Japanese print.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", summer 1979.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Here's a critter from my current sketchbook. The "Porcu-plat" has features of a porcupine and a platypus. His sharp porky quills protect him and he can use his tail to throw quill darts at enemies. He digs for his food, usually grubs and insects, in the ground with sturdy little feet and then he pokes in the dirt with his large birdlike beak. He is not very big, but nobody in the forest bothers him.

"Porcu-plat" is ink on sketchbook page, about 3" x 3", September 27, 2014.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Eddings Horse Lord

David Eddings covered as many stock characters as he could in his "Belgariad." This one, "Hettar the Horse Lord," fills the plot slot of the "Noble Horse Clansman." These are faux-Mongols who spend most of their time on horseback and fight fiercely for the hero's cause. The late fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, in her brilliant and hilarious encyclopedia of fantasy cliche's "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland," calls them "Anglo-Saxon Cossacks." The Horse Lords are also described in the online guide to fantasy cliche's, "TV Tropes." I am not really trying to make fun of fantasy literature here because it is impossible not to use cliche's in your fantasy writing. You just have to pick the ones which sound plausible and likable and avoid racial stereotyping, something which Eddings may not have entirely achieved. 

I drew as many of his characters as I could and then ran out of gas (or horse feed). There were plenty more I could have done but somehow I just didn't want to continue. Eddings (and his wife Leigh) wrote lots more books in the Belgariad series all of them full of illustratable stock characters. I'm not sure anyone remembers them. I took notes which sit gathering dust next to the lined-up series of tales. Dust is everywhere. Now I have digital dust as well. 

"Hettar the Horse Lord" is (was) colored pencil and markers on illustration (Bristol) board, 7" x 10", December 1992.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Eddings Characters

Here are more character portraits from David Eddings' "Belgariad." I borrowed the faces from real people in film stills or photos gathered in magazines. (In the olden days before Google Image Search, Flickr, and the endless Interweb, I used to gather my reference images from these printed paper sheafs.) These three characters are the young hero Garion, his Grandfather-wizard Belgarath, and his Aunt-sorceress Polgara. The Grandfather is taken from Alec Guinness as Gulley Jimson in the film THE HORSE'S MOUTH; the boy is taken from a youthful German ballet dancer. The background is inspired by those of Maxfield Parrish. Garion is holding a royal magic sword, which is topped by the "Orb," the main talisman of the story, because every magic story about a young person with a Special Destiny has to have at least one of these glowing stone talisman thingies.

Acrylic on illustration board, 12" x 16", July 1984. Click for larger view.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Girl and Dragon

This is an older attempt of mine to do the "warrior babe" theme. I added a dragonish-iguana as a friend to the girl. The original title was "The Allies," as I haven't seen too many dragon-and-babe combinations where she isn't riding the dragon but doing action alongside it. This was just an experiment and there isn't enough boob showing, you have to twist your girl model into a position where you can clearly see her chest as well as the arm and hand with the sword. And the creature can't look cute the way it does here, it has to look fierce. I regard this as a challenge, I would do pictures like this just to prove that I could, but I have never been successful at it. Other artists, especially professional comic book artists, can knock one of these off in 15 minutes, perfectly drawn and exaggerated figure and all. 

"The Allies" is mixed media and colored pencil on some sort of paper, 7" x 10", winter 1993.