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King of Cups

A deerlike being standing in a dark foresty place, with head lowered over a shallow bowl of water. He is staring directly into the viewer's eyes and his long tongue is lapping the water. His ears are cocked as if listening and there are dark circles of fur around his eyes. On his head, instead of horns, is a crown of living tentacles that coil and spiral like a halo around his head.

Photoshop and MotionComputing tablet

Concept was inspired from a sketch by the Spacerobots


There is a lot that could be said about the Nethik King, but very little that he will let me say tonight. Maybe the image can speak for itself.

 

Catching up with sketches

I've gotten behind in posting sketches. I've been doing character studies for the set of stories that Shashigai is working on. I just scanned a few pages of them last night. All of them except the last one are done direct from reference, from photos I found on the internet. Not exactly the characters themselves yet, but working out a sense of them.

Drawings under cutCollapse )

 

Book review

Crossposted to 50books_poc.

Pierced by the Sun by Laura Esquivel

I thought I wasn't going to like this book. I'd rather read about a protagonist I admire, or at least one I might like as a person. There's not a lot to like about Lupita at the beginning of the story, and the first few chapters show all the signs of disintegrating into a preachy literary slice-of-life tale.

But Laura Esquivel surprised me. The seemingly random series of events surrounding the death of a local political figure start to shape up into a compelling mystery. As Lupita stumbles through her days, the reader gets a sense of a vivid social climate surrounding her, and the whole story is saturated with the cultural details of everyday life. It becomes clear she's in a lot of danger, and she barely escapes with her life on more than one occasion.

It's a murder mystery made of feeling as well as deduction. I've read a lot of detective fiction where the main character is coldly rational. Lupita is anything but rational, but she has a powerful intuition that serves her just as well. It was a breath of fresh air to realize that the author was deftly illustrating how it could be possible to solve a crime without high education or legal brilliance in an environment where the police are just as corrupt as the criminals. The character development is handled with grace and realism, and I really had to take back my initial judgements about Lupita's character.

Spoilery discussion of the endingCollapse )

Regardless, I really enjoyed the book and I'd recommend it to people who like mysteries with a dark or unusual bent.

 

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Ace of Cups

A young black boy struggling to hold aloft an overflowing ornate wood chest. Water is cascading out of the chest, leaving puddles in the sand at his feet. The boy is wearing a brightly coloured woven loincloth with geometric patterns. In the background is a mud brick building with a round roof and set of double doors.

Photoshop, Wacom and MotionComputing tablet

All my disclaimersCollapse )

Anyway, it's Sha, struggling to lift an overflowing kifu, in front of Masta Ua.

 

New game

We discovered a new game at GDC that's been my addiction for the past few evenings. It's Niche, a genetic survival game that's sort of a cross between SimLife and Watership Down. You start with Adam and Eve, a pair of little foxlike creatures that don't have an official name yet, and you have to breed your people into a whole tribe while exploring their territory, finding food, and fending off carnivores and illness.

It's made by a small group of people from Switzerland, an indie team, and it's still in the very early stages. They've been Steam greenlit but haven't started a Kickstarter yet, and the publically available build of the game is still a demo version that you can't save. I shut down my computer every night because it has a really loud fan, so I've been obsessively playing the beginning of the game every evening but rarely making it past generation 10 or so.

At GDC they had a little stall and they were running a contest where if you could breed your little tribe to ten members, you would get on the list for a free early access key when they get that far. We are on the list. :) If you join their Facebook playtester's group, you can get a bleeding-edge recent version of the build which is better balanced than the public demo.

The best part about it is it's turn-based. And it has nothing to do with war. It's rare to find a good turn-based strategy game that's not about nation vs nation.

 

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Too many things to do

I'm procrastinating by playing Drawception.

It is a ridiculous cross between Pictionary and Telephone where someone makes a prompt, the next person does an awkward 10-minute sketch of it in a little app like Paint, the next person guesses what the sketch was, on and on for fifteen iterations until the end result in no way resembles the prompt. It is oddly hilarious and also addictive. I figure what the hell, at least it's drawing practice, right?

Three sets of three drawings and prompts.

 

A new place

This one takes a bit of explanation. It's on Karn, but on a part of it that no one we know has explored before. Shashigai found a group of explorers who were venturing as far as the Last, which is the high mountain range out past keegrah (griff) territory where the keegrah go to die. This group of five made it through, and on the other side they came out into a deep rift heated by volcanic activity.

There were people there, who called the place the Kabo. There are huge twisted trees growing in the warmth of the hot springs, and the people make their homes up in their branches. But this picture is of an area out past them, on the other side of the rift, where a few have managed to make their homes in the bitter cold. And here's the part that the grehti can't hear of: some of their shapes are different. There are still tirothi and nethik, a few keegrah, and the taigh, who would be recognizable to Daria and her people. But there are also the woji, like the guy in this picture, and wolf-creatures who call themselves the sangh.

This picture was my Christmas present to Shashigai. The girl is Mikka, one of the people in his latest story.

A young woman with long black hair riding a creature that looks like a cross between a bear and a ferret, with fur the colour of fresh fallen snow. They're bounding across a winter landscape on a sunny day, surrounded by coniferous taiga trees.

 

Palette challenge

There's a meme going around Tumblr with palettes by someone called AskTheStarGazers. The idea is you pick a palette and a subject and request the person to make a drawing. I tried it - no I'm not posting the results - and discovered that while the palettes look pretty cool, they're infinitely frustrating to work with. No tonal range! So I fixed them. I hope. Possibly my hard work will be for nothing the moment they're seen on somebody else's monitor, since I know my calibration is way off.

Anyway I haven't tried drawing with any of these colours, so they might need iteration. But you never know till you try, right?

I'm open to requests, your characters or mine or something else entirely. I don't do external fandom characters, but worldstuff is a maybe, especially if it's Myst or Minecraft.

18 swatches of colour, six colours each, which could be used as palettes for painting.

 

Happy Halloween!