Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Geometrikon New Planets

Attention! Our observatory has observed loads of new planets, some of them just like Earth. In fact just a few days ago we detected seven (or is it nine? or ten?) planets in the same system, some of which look just like Earth. Imagine how nice these places must be, equipped with fresh air and splashy water, and a few moons here or there, and some tasty edible manna fungus floating in the air. Wanna go? As the famously uncapitalized writer e.e.cummings once said, "listen, there's a hell of a good universe next door, let's go." And no Turnip there.

Black marker ink on sketchbook page, 3" x 3 1/2", colored in Photoshop, February 28, 2017.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Shakespeare Gets an "F"

Some of the things I did early in my commercial art-making life were cartoons for various magazines. I had lots of friends in the lower echelons of the comic book industry who edited and put out fan magazines. I would work for small change and all they needed to do was give me the idea they wanted. This one was for a pop culture zine which commented on comics and TV as if they were...literature? Naw, couldn't happen. Literary scholars and critics weren't worth the paper (way before Internet) they were printed on. Why, even Shakespeare himself would fail an academic essay question about his own work! Hence this little doodle from pop-academia, plenty of which still exists.

Ink on illustration board, 4" x 4", spring 1981.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Barnard frame 3: Mystic Sight

In this frame, our visionary peers over the bed coverings to find that she has enhanced sight and the figures in front of her are sentient beings. This will be more evident in later panels. The author's visionary recital needs a bit of pictorial explanation as well as punctuation in order to make sense of it. That's what they pay me the big bucks for (this is a purely volunteer, experimental project).

Black and brown marker ink on sketchbook page, colored and lettered in Photoshop, 8" x 2 1/2", February 26, 2017.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


What's a "breezeway?" It just sounds like summer, even if you don't know. Well, a breezeway is an openwork walkway between two houses with a roof over it so you can walk through it and be refreshed by wind even if it is raining. The breezeway depicted here is on the south coast of Massachusetts, part of a luxury house I visited in 1985. You could see the ocean from this house. My memories of just who invited me there have breezed away though I think the hosts were the parents of one of my fellow fantasy and science fiction fans.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 7 1/2", August 30, 1985.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Cat On A Box

This is a drawing of "Cinnabar," my friends' cat, dozing on a big cardboard box. She is a long-haired brown tabby with touches of red here and there, and a nice fluffy black tail. I did this drawing from memory. There are a lot of hairs on Cinnabar and I wanted to draw each one. As usual for cats, the humor factor is there: this box contained a "cat jungle gym" for her to play on, but she preferred to stay downstairs where she could watch over her humans before returning to the scratching post.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 3", February 24, 2017.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Barnard frame 2

In frame two of "The Passing of the Soul," our visionary is paralyzed by fear and awe as a group of seven glowing life forms approaches. Each one radiates in a different color and they appear to be non-human rather than concealed humans. More scary visions soon.

Ink on sketchbook page, colored and lettered in Photoshop. About 7 1/2" x 3 1/2", February 22, 2017. Click on the image for a larger view.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Colonialism of Darkover

Darkover had many species of native humanoids, which are detailed here in Wikipedia. (Wikipedia transcends the notion of "information".) Depicted here are the "Trailmen," who encounter the techno-humans in wilderness areas. The Trailmen were portrayed as "primitives" who could cross-breed with humans in some circumstances. Here in this story the techno-human makes friends with a group of Trailmen, thus offering Darkover fans the possibility of a benevolent colonialism.

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 10 1/2", spring 1985.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Geometrikon Jellyfish

It's "Creature Feature" for a few days here at the By-Product. This one is derived from a small circular Geometrikon and then taken into Photoshop for further details. It's a jellyfish, and jellyfish come in lots of cheerful colors. It is surrounded by bubbles and a sky panel. Kind of a cross between Lovecraft and Disney.

Ink, colored pencil, and markers, layered into Photoshop, about 8" x 5 1/2", February 21, 2017.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Furry Modem

I finally got my WiFi restored, after months of not having it and ignoring it. Some thunderstorm action had put the old one out with a power surge while I was away in Massachusetts in the House of Mildew. I made an appointment with Cox Communications and everything went well with the cable handler. He installed a fresh new modem/router with everything connected and working. You can see from the drawing I did from life that the modem is healthy and well-fed and seated comfortably on its little feet. It has five glowing blue eyes in front and a tiny little mouth although most of its feeding is done through a cable connected in back. In order to prevent animal abuse or damage it is replaced every month with a fresh one, which is interpreted to me as a rental fee as I cannot tell the difference. I won't even notice when the replacement happens (something about other dimensions). But if any of the blue eyes turn red, I must immediately report it to Cox as the creature might be sick or malfunctioning or angry for some reason.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3" x 3", February 20, 2017.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kabbalah Art Finished

The elaborate process of layering images is done and here is the final version of my Kabbalah book cover. The book, "Meditation, Magic, and the Tree of Life," is authored by Andrew Highfield, a British Western-Esotericist concentrating on the non-Jewish Kabbalah and its imagery. Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, has been part of European esotericism since the Renaissance. Kabbalistic ideas have percolated into alchemy and Freemasonry and some of the symbols in this illustration come from those areas. In the center is the "Tree of Life," with its ten "stations of emanation." This is, as I describe it, a "flow chart of the Universe," or how divine energies flow from the Deity into the layers of the world. I like my mysticism with lots of color and symbolic imagery so this, to be sort of British, is my cup of tea. I don't know when the book is coming out but it will be available as both e-book and paper volume.

Digital work incorporating an earlier painting of the Tree from 1986. Photoshop on Cintiq, February 2017. Click on the image for a larger view.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Kabbalah Excerpt 2

I used the pixel-precise image cutting tool to excerpt one of the angels in my Kabbalah book cover. You can see stylized textures and simulated bronze and gold. It's all digital though I use some of my old painting techniques on the electronic stylus and screen. I am now finished with the Kabbalah cover but cannot show you the whole thing until Mr. Client approves of it. This angel has a partner facing toward him, thus suggesting the two bronze angels who were mounted on the Ark of the Covenant as told in the Hebrew Bible.

Photoshop on Cintiq, February 2017. Click to see more texture closer up.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Kabbalah Excerpt

Here's an excerpt from my Kabbalah cover art work in progress. The globe on top of the Black Pillar is now Earthlike and golden ribbons drift in the celestial breeze. There's  plenty more to do but at least I don't have to put faces on the angelic beings (whose glowing heads have not arrived yet). I should be done soon. 

Photoshop on Cintiq, February 2017.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Darkovan Title Page Action

I enjoyed making Darkover fan story title pages because I could use different kinds of type and experiment with styles. In this story, the plot is kind of weak: a Darkover-human wilderness dweller or "mountain man" discovers a super-weapon lost by the high-tech Terrans. It looks like a simple writing pen but can deliver blasts of power. In this scene chosen for the title page, I have the shaggy woodsman sneaking up on a bunch of bandits who are torturing a youth, to save him with the unusual device. 

Since most of the action takes place at night, I had to image scenes done in darkness in the deep woods. There is a little campfire for light around the action area but for the woodsman I created a dark forest with ink and brushwork. I often wonder what happened to my Darkover friends, fans, and creative clients. Faded into a darkness mightier than the pen.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", summer 1985.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Two Pillars of the Astral Temple

In Western Esoteric imagery, a common motif is that of two pillars on the sides of a Gateway, which the astral traveler or visionary must pass through. One pillar is black, the other white. This symbol has been in literature for thousands of years, including a mention in the Bible where they are at the doorway of the Jewish Temple of  Solomon. I am currently working on a book cover on the subject of mystical visualization as seen in Kabbalah, that is Jewish mysticism, and I've put these two famous pillars in my cover design. The blue globes on top of the pillars come from Masonic imagery, which in turn borrowed some material from the older mysticism. The blue globes are not finished; I will be rendering them as planet and sky. The whole cover should be done in a few days. 

Photoshop on Cintiq, February 2017.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Geometrikon Cubist Cardinal

You know Spring is coming when you hear the crowing of the cardinal birds. They are also putting on their mating plumage which is very bright red, like a glowing coal in front of grey woods which are still all twiggy and leafless. They are the Fire Roosters of the Chinese New Year, on the border of domestic and wild. I am all for the brightness on winter days. So far, no snow. My Geometrikon today is a Cubist view of our red-crested friend.

Black ink on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, about 4" x 3 1/2", February 14, 2017.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Geometrikon Brigid marker colors

Here's another version of my "Geometrika Brigid," honoring the Irish saint. The first one, here, was colored in digital format, but this one is hand-tinted using water-based markers. I have a large collection of them and I don't use them enough, so I'll be using them for Geometrika. The marker brush tips add in more texture than the digital flat areas. Since the marker dye colors fade, it's best to keep the drawings inside a sketchbook. By the way as an old Greek scholar I know that the singular of "Geometrika" is "geometrikon" so when creating single designs I call one a "geometrikon." Digital or marker, I might present them both.

Black ink on sketchbook page, colored with water-based markers, 3 1/2" x 4 1/2", February 2017.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Country Woodwork

Here's another drawing of some of the interior of the country house I visited on New Year's night in 2005-2006. I admired the woodwork around the doors and the authentic hand-made rustic furniture. The house was heated by burning wood and the warmest place was in the kitchen where we could sit by the banked oven fire. There was more woodwork going on as the owners were renovating a room. They had bought furnishings and bedding for it, all with a "dinosaur" theme and called it "The Dino Room." This room was not, as you might suspect, for a child, it was the master bedroom for Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner. These folk and I have drifted apart and I miss them and this rural retreat home.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8", December 31, 2005.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Visionary Frame

I have a British online friend, a composer and writer whose prose and notes are some of the trippiest compositions I've read since my New Age/Grateful Dead period. Every so often he sends me and his fans a new prose poem accompanied by music (or the other way around) which seems to arise from a visionary experience which I believe is achieved without chemical assistance. I've been reading some Doctor Strange comics which are also filled with visionary material (Haven't seen the movie yet). So I decided to put some of my friend's weird prose to sequential art or frame drawing in the style of Doctor Strange. Danger: This is experimental material. Not meant for publication. Updates will arrive on an unknown schedule. The other British guy, Kabbalah cover art client, is higher priority.

Sepia brown and black markers on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 8" x 3", February 11, 2017.

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Let Me Take Your Boots Off"

Regis the nobleman and Danilo the commoner served in the cavalry together in the medievaloid world of Darkover. They had a growing affection for each other which neither of them was willing to accept, as homosexuality was still forbidden among the cavalrymen (though it occurred anyway). This illustration is from a fan magazine story in which the noble Regis offers to help his lower-class soon-to-be lover with a task no nobleman would ever do. From my seemingly endless stash of Darkover fan art.

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 4", fall 1983.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Young Sam Jones

This little fellow is Sam Jones, the son of my longstanding  old friend Laura Jefferson. I helped raise Sam, walking around Cambridge, Mass. with him and his mother, dining on sushi and miso at the "Roka" Japanese restaurant, and introducing him to comic books. While I had the chance during his short nap, I drew Sam in my sketchbook.

Sam is now 33 years old, married and the adoptive father of a young boy, Nathaniel, who must be growing up fast by now. I haven't seen him or his mom in quite some time, but I hope they are all doing well.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 6 1/2" x 8 1/2, August 15, 1986.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


For no reason I can think of, Reality has been sending me ocean images, whether it's the visual loop at my favorite internet radio station "Radio Spiral," or a radio hearing of Debussy's "Three Nocturnes: Sirenes" or a comic book starring anthropomorphic sharks and tiger pirates. I've seen a lot of old beach images from the family archive too. So I did some Photoshop experimentation with large curves and splash colors and here it is. Not a "Geometrikon" nor a "K-series," it's just an experiment. What is "Wavening?" It's not a real word. I made it up combining "Wave" and "Evening." I wouldn't mind visiting the seashore sometime, it's been a long time since I saw the real thing.

Photoshop on main desktop station, 9" x 7", February 8, 2017.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Darkover: Back Despite Public Demand

As I said some time ago, Darkover fan writers used to place their stories into other genres, just for the fun of it. There were romance, Western, horror, and detective fan stories, including the one with this illustration. The author wrote it in a "noir" detective style, though the main detective character is an Orthodox Jew. I adopted a style for this story as well, the heavily inked scratchy pen work typical of fiction illustration in the early 20th century. Here the villainous character, the hybrid alien/human Kadarin, appears as if by magic in a familiar noir scene, a dark warehouse.

Lots of black ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", spring 1982.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Geometrika Sea Creatures

In the seas of a far-off world are creatures made of light and energy which live in water but feed on sunlight from a radioactive reflection nebula. Through parallel evolution the waves of ultraviolet, gamma, and glowing water have brought forth a blue shrimp and a red tiny jellyfish. Their matter is not matter as we know it but nevertheless they are still creatures of the sea.  Their forms are geometric and have very little mass or weight and their sustenance is radiant energy. This means that they don't have to eat anything to survive, just bask in the violet waves. Is their nature like ours, where living things have to eat other living things for nourishment? Or could they live without taking other lives, since they are fed by the stars and radiation? Current evolutionary theory says (I think so, anyway) that eventually their Fall will happen and they will start eating each other to supplement and eventually increase their energy use. But it's a faraway place and there are lots and lots of options in our galaxy's sea of stars.

Geometrika are ink on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, February 6, 2017.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mid-century Modern Cat

As I've said, I am pretty good at drawing cats. I love cats and visit them often, though I can't have one of my own because I'm allergic to them. The cat depicted here is "Popcorn," who lived with me in the summer of 1986 while his people, my cousins, traveled in Canada and the U.S. My cousins also gave me a cubic-shaped red upholstered chair, styled in the 1960s fashion, which I found (like most mid-century modern chairs) to be quite uncomfortable. Their cat, though, loved it and spent a lot of his time plopped onto it as you see here. The face in the upper left is another sketch of the same cat. Many years later, long after I had dumped the old red chair when I moved out of the area, I found out that Popcorn's favorite chair was worth big bucks in the "mid-century-modern" collectible furniture market.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 9" x 6", August 23, 1986.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Emergence of the Rodent

Yep, he saw it, the prophetic shadow. But why trouble thy woodchuck labors, this winter so far has been fairly wimpy. No ice storms, no soaking rains,  no blizzards, and unusually warm temperatures. So, fine with me, Mr. Groundhog. It's time for you to come out of the hole and find your lady for Participation in the Life Cycle.

Scribbly black tech pen on bedside sketchbook, about 3 1/2" x 2", lettering added in Photoshop, February 4, 2017.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Cat Wizard

"Radagast the Brown" is a wizard whose powers specialize in cats and cat-related magic. No grand gestures for him, nor special effects or armies on the battlefield. Just cats, all species of them. Cats can do amazing things, as you know. They can sneak silently where other creatures can't even fit. They can solve problems that humans don't even know exist. And they can charm the enemy into inactivity. And every so often, you need the help of a lion or a tiger. In the gameworld of "Haven," Radagast is for the (mostly) non-violent and the quiet character rather than the sword or magic wielder. Yet cats are magic so pay attention to Radagast if by chance you see him.

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 5 1/2", spring 1984.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Geometrika Brigid

It is time for the Celtic festival of "Imbolc," a late winter festival of fire and the birth of lambs. In Celtic Christianity it was adapted into the calendar and was celebrated as "Saint Brigid's Day," especially in Ireland. This geometrika honors the old traditions with a green "Irish" color scheme and a light brown abstraction of a "Saint Brigid's cross," woven out of straw just for the day. No groundhog need appear.

Black ink marker on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 4", February 2, 2017.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Gonna Finish this Crochet Work

It seems at least a century ago, but it was 2005, not 1905. Some friends invited me to stay with them for New Years' Eve and day in their rustic home in central Virginia. They weren't throwing a party or even sipping any bubbly alcoholic beverage. It was the quiet darkness of the countryside, with an owl-hoot here and there. There weren't any fireworks or celebratory shots in the air. The lady of the couple was trying to get some work done. She had promised that she would finish crocheting the afghan she was working on, before the new year. So there she was, crocheting away in the closed-in front porch, warmly wrapped in already-finished footage. This is what people do in winter, no matter what century it is.

Black technical pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 8", December 31, 2005. Click for larger view.