Wednesday, January 31, 2024

More sketching from the Idaho Museum of Natural History! Have I mentioned lately how much I love living five minutes away from a natural history museum?

This one was inspired by a chat with Dr. L. J. Krumenacker at a recent museum event where we discussed the mobility range of Oryctodromeus tails (pro tip, if you come give a paleontology lecture at the museum I will badger you with weird questions afterward). Oryctos, like most ornithopods, had tails that were strongly reinforced with tendons, limiting up-down flexibility (so no, no tail-dragging hadrosaurs like you see in older art), but Dr. Krumenacker said these tendons didn't affect lateral movement. I was seeking to understand how it is that oryctos had tails longer than their bodies but lived in burrows only 25 centimeters in diameter, and I suspect they curled up rather like this.

If you'll notice, a little friend is peeking in to say hello; fossil orycto burrows have indeed been found with much smaller burrows off to the sides, strongly suggesting that mammals co-opted the tunnels like a Cretaceous apartment building.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Why I'm not going back to Neopets

It's time for another highly opinionated rant, and with a provocative title like that, you know you want to read more. Actually probably nobody cares, but sometimes it just feels good to blog out my feelings, especially when it's a subject that I feel passionately about and has been a big part of my creative life. Besides, on the off chance that people actually pay attention to my Neopets work and are wondering why I no longer submit to the Neopian Times, am not pursuing a more prominent position in the fan community, etc., this post will explain it.

Spoilers: If you actually like the direction Neopets has been going lately, you will not agree with this post. You have been warned. I'm not trying to start an argument, I'm just feeling some feelings right now and want to air them for anybody curious, since at one point I was a mildly prolific Neopian Times writer.

Also, this is a long read, so buckle up. I've got several bones to pick.

Friday, January 19, 2024

A bit of costume design doodling for one of the novels I'm working on. These are the outfits Arun and Liu use when the Plainsmen winter over in Toba, a coastal desert city that stays nice and balmy in winter (which sounds really good right about now). In Toba, the Plainsmen go into vacation mode and dress up a little more than their usual lifestyle allows.

Also, that really is the size discrepancy between them. Plainsmen are huge, and the Xiaohe (Liu's ethnicity) are a bit on the small side. That's why Xiaohe don't ride kelenken--they're just not tall enough to get into the saddle. (Kelenken are about six feet tall at the hip.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

A few more concept sketches for that novel idea I've been tossing around.

Pashta is Arun's kid sister. High-spirited and a bit mischievous, she is curious about the culture of the simplefaces (the Plainsmen's somewhat derogatory term for non-Plainsman humans), and is excited to have a simpleface join the tribe so they can both learn from each other.

Liu is a most peculiar simpleface from a small, remote village who learned to read and write from traveling merchants, and is always hungry for more knowledge. She hated her life in the village, so at the nearest opportunity she joined the Plainsmen, and upon discovering that they transmitted all of their history and culture orally, she invented a writing system for them so they could keep things documented better. She wishes the Plainsmen and simplefaces could get along better, but perhaps the key to peace between them can be found in the mysterious origins of the Plainsmen.

I actually came up with the idea of Pashta and the Plainsmen waaaaaay back in high school. Back in my initial concept, Pashta was the main character, but I struggled to come up with a plotline other than "Pashta doinks around". It wasn't until very recently that I realized the sort of narrative I wanted to tell involved an outsider from another culture finding her place among the Plainsmen and helping them resolve centuries of conflict. It may have relegated Pashta to being a secondary protagonist, but her effervescence adds some levity to the plot and it amuses me when she messes with Arun just to see him squirm. She's a good little sister like that.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

I've been tossing around ideas for a new novel and I couldn't help but do a sketch. The Plainsmen are a race of nomadic warriors who inhabit the Sogen, a vast steppeland. They ride giant birds called kelenken, and are distinguished from other humans not only by their larger and stronger build, but by the fact that they are all born with blue markings on their faces, with designs unique to each individual. The Plainsmen have an oral history that states their ancestors sailed across a vast ocean long ago and landed their ship on the Sogen, which is peculiar since the grassland is hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean. 

This is Arun, one of the main protagonists, and his mount Vy. While a formidable foe in battle, Arun is a super nice and friendly guy who is very devoted to his family.

(Also, I totally based the kelenken on phorusracids because I can't resist a good paleontology reference.)

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

More old art, experimenting with a more vertical format.

A lot of these older pieces were from two 100-picture challenges I worked on over a number of years. I challenged myself to create one finished piece for each item on both lists, so it took quite a while. That'll teach me to hop on the bandwagon of people doing things on the Internet. :)

Monday, January 1, 2024

I was going through my hard drive and realized I actually have a lot of my older art still floating around, so I thought I'd share it here on the blog. A lot of this art was previously shared on social media accounts that are long dead, so if any of this looks familiar, that's why. I think my blog is a much better and more permanent home for it.

First off, here are my best pieces from my sculpting class in college. It was the only art class I took that semester, and definitely my most challenging and work-intensive class that semester. It doesn't help that I'm rubbish at working with my hands (just keep me away from any home improvement projects), so going outside of 2D drafting was a big stretch. My teacher was fantastic, though, and I somehow managed to pass the class.

I decided to try for an overarching theme with most of my work in the class, trying to make them look like artifacts from a vanished civilization. The exception is that first piece, where the assignment was to make a kinetic sculpture out of objects purchased at a grocery store, so I tried to make a representation of microbes on a microscope slide.