Old Art to New Art       

An Evolution in Imagery




 
I'm much more of a writer than an artist, but I've long enjoyed drawing.  The purpose of this page is to show you where I began as an artist when writing became a serious undertaking, and how far I've come since then. I started with pencil drawings and continued to develop my skills until, one fateful day in 1998, I brought my computer in to a Langley computer store for service and a program called Poser 3 caught my eye.  I asked about buying it, thinking that it would help with the anatomical problems that plagued my drawing, but the store manager told me that it was his wife's copy and wasn't for sale.  The following year, I picked up Poser 4, and since then, I haven't done very much drawing at all.

Garrick and Brenna

 
The image, badly faded, is my original drawing of the couple from 1983.  There were many things I found difficult about composing this, but the part I spent the most time completing involved the foreshortening of Garrick's left shoulder.  I don't draw using models, so there are some anatomical flaws glaringly evident, particularly with placement of eyes.  My sweetheart thinks that Brenna has too much of a tummy, but given the two dimensional curvature of her spine (she's leaning back and turning toward the viewer) I think she's fine.  I have a lot of difficulty drawing expressions, so my drawings tended to depict people looking rather serious.  This expressionless kind of style characterized most of my early art.

Original Edge of Justice Cover Concept
 
This is my feeble attempt to create a "younger" Garrick.  He's supposed to be in his teens, but I think this makes him look more like he's 12, and Brenna, who is supposed to appear very similar in age when they meet, looks like she's in her mid '20s.  I wanted to clothe the characters like they were dressed for cold weather, which was--at that time--a lot easier to do with pencil than with Poser.  I've always liked Brenna's sweater in this picture. She's wearing a collared shirt underneath, with a high-collared flannel shirt under that.  It didn't scan very well, so that detail makes her under shirt look more like a necklace or choker.  This image comes from 1995.

The Evolution of a Cover Image  


First Edition Cover 


It's awful, I know!  But this represents the state of my skill back when I was using Poser 4.  I created the background for this image in a free program called Terragen, then imported it as a background image into Poser, placed and posed the figures I used for Garrick and Brenna, rendered the image, then did a lot of post production work in Photosuite III to clean it up, including "virtual watercolor painting" of the grasses in the background.  Poser's male hair of that era was simply awful, so I painted over it by hand.  Brenna's fingers around the dagger took forever to pose.  (I can do it quickly now, but at the time, the learning curve was very steep!)  Her right arm looks funny because I didn't pose her correctly.  (Her collar is down, while her shoulder is up, which is anatomically impossible.) I thought the image looked a little wonky, but when I submitted this idea to the artistic staff at AuthorHouse--the company who published the first edition of The Edge of Justice--they said my render was simply wonderful.  I don't know what they were smoking . . .
 
Cover Image Redux 


I didn't get Poser 5 because other artists were complaining that it was full of problems.  I waited until Poser 6 came out before I bothered upgrading.  Moving to the newer program meant that I had to create newer figures, based on the P6 people, Jessica and James.  (Jessica is much maligned in the Poser community.  She's got HUGE shoulders, a bulging forehead, and the world's UGLIEST hands, but she was the best I could do at the time.)  Much of what makes this image an improvement over the previous version has to do with using higher- resolution characters, the use of dynamic clothing (I love the way Brenna's sweater fits!), more skillful application of texture maps, an improved rendering engine in the program, and a better understanding of how light works in Poser.  This is my November of 2006 version of The Edge of Justice cover.  The only post rendering work for this image involved adding the glow to Brenna's blade and a lens flare in Adobe Photoshop. 

Second Edition Cover


One of the biggest problems I've experienced using Poser over the years has been that whenever the program is updated, older figures are no longer supported.  That makes it hard to find clothing props and keep up with advancements in materials.  I stayed with Poser 6 for a very long time, but eventually, my image quality began lagging so far behind I felt pressure to upgrade.  I bought Poser Pro, then upgraded that to Poser Pro 2010.  Additionally, I stopped using the older P6 Jessica and James and switched to the DAZ Millenium 4 people, Victoria and Michael.  The Mil 4 figures aren't perfect, especially at the joints, but they're a lot better than the P6 people!  Laura Haskell, a talented artist who is also a kindly and patient woman, created the new Garrick and Brenna skins, body and facial morphs for me.  You will also notice that I've learned a thing or two about posing since 1999, when I first began working with 3D figures.

Garrick and Brenna

Everyone loves a handsome hero and beautiful heroine.  Whether or not you think my characters fit that description is a subjective judgment.  There's a certain "look" that I like, and these two fit my personal ideal of what human beauty looks like.  Everyone else I've created and rendered represents either a variation on that theme, or an effort to create a character who looks different.

Original Garrick Drawing


I don't remember exactly when I drew this picture.  Judging from the style, it's probably from 1982 or 1983.  Prior to this era, I'd been writing a science fiction story that I dropped in favor of developing fantasy ideas.  Garrick, Brenna and Algernon all started out in a milieu without guns, and because I'd practiced with swords in order to effectively write about them, I drew Garrick using this "underhand" technique that European swordsmen developed for wielding very large weapons.  Every link in his mail shirt is an oval, drawn by hand.  It's a little hard to tell the difference in the scan between body hair and shading, but I think most people are intelligent enough to figure out which is which.  Most of these early drawings were done while working graveyard shift at a telephone answering service, and since I had to stay awake, I had a lot of time to draw.

Garrick, the Dork
 
This is my P4 Garrick.  He's based on the male figure those in the Poser community call "The Dork."  I painted his hair by hand because P4 hair, especially male hair, is so awful that it's disgraceful.  (Although, many of the self-checkout machines in retail stores that feature 3D figures use the P4 woman and her pasty hair for their demonstrations.) However, the facial structure and features of this figure are remarkably similar to what I'd been drawing for several years. 
 
P6 Garrick
 

When I started using Poser 6, I had to develop new characters.  This is the P6 James version of Garrick, who bears little resemblance to my original drawing of the character.  I tried to duplicate the P4 face I'd developed using P6 James in the Poser Face Room, but didn't have the skill and patience to effectively pull it off.  So, I settled for what you see here and used this version of Garrick in my artwork for several years.  In this image, I was trying to work with light.  In my view, lighting is the most difficult aspect of using the program, as it's not an intuitive process to get good results.  The rather extreme highlighting of Garrick's hair shows that I still had a long way to go at this point.

Garrick and Brenna Redux
 
It's embarrassing to look at this image now, but at the time, this was the best I could do.  It's a render based on my original drawing of the two characters.  The scale isn't quite right, as Brenna is a much smaller woman than is pictured here, and the lighting is all wrong.  The date stamp on this image is 24 November 2005.

The New Man
 

Image by Laura Haskell

After developing an update for Brenna on my behalf, Laura Haskell agreed to create a DAZ M4 figure to replace my P6 Garrick.  This was the first completed image she sent to me.  I've been using this character in all my Garrick renders since March of 2009.

Original Brenna Drawing

 

This drawing is dated 7 April 1982, so it's probably the oldest drawing in this collection.  She looks very Asian in this picture, quite a bit broader in the shoulders and neck, and smaller in the bosom than I drew her later on.  Observant readers may notice the scar on her neck, which she received at the Casa del Matados in Crisis.  That should indicate how long I've been thinking about these characters and what happens to them.
 
Brenna and Pony
 
This image, from 1987, frustrated me to the extent that I never finished it.  Although her face and upper body are pretty complete, I was never happy with the shape of Brenna's face, particularly the jaw angle, nose and lips. I couldn't make her hands look realistic holding the rope, and became so discouraged about the drawing that I abandoned the image before finishing the horse.


Posette Brenna
 
This is my Poser 4 Brenna.  There's something very special about her, even though she's been displaced twice, first by the higher-resolution P6 Jessica, and then by the DAZ Victoria 4.  I've always liked the proportions of Posette, as she's affectionately known in the Poser community.  Working with Posette is a little bit like remembering an old girlfriend.  I think of her with wistful remonstrance until I remember what a pain it was to get her to do what I wanted . . .

P6 Brenna
 
This is probably my favorite P6 image.  It was created in September of 2006, by which time I'd been using dynamic clothing for awhile and knew enough about light to avoid complete embarrassment.  I created the outfit Brenna is wearing in a vexing program called Virtual Fashion Basic, but that program gave me so much trouble, I abandoned it within a year or so.  The background of this image is a photograph I took at the Othello Tunnels, just outside of Hope, BC.
 
  Lovers
 
  This image shows how far I've come as a 3D artist since I first starting using Poser 4.  (Oooh!  Depth of field!)  Here, I'm depicting the happy couple after they'd married, standing on the balcony of their home in Marvic. (I've been rendering Brenna with short hair after her wedding.) The DAZ V4 and M4 figures that Laura Haskell made for me have come to represent what the characters actually look like to most of my readership.

Additional Characters


Jhiran Vell
 

Garrick and Brenna were not the only characters I was drawing back in the mid 1980's.  This is an unfinished Jhiran Vell, from 8 June 1986, showing rather fashionable hair for someone who doesn't own a brush . . .  In the books she uses a sling, not a bow, and is dressed in ratty clothes.  I didn't draw her wings because I didn't know how to make them look good.  I don't often render her with wings for the same reason, except for the cover image of The Hollow Solitude and the image with the glacier gull you can see by scrolling further down this page.

Aiko 3 as Jhiran
 
This used to be the image on Jhiran's character bio, but I've since stopped using her.  The picture dates from September 2006, which means this is a P6 render.  Aiko 3 was the DAZ figure many artists used for anime.  There are two things I didn't like about her.  The first is that most of the clothing for Aiko 3 was fetish-oriented, which didn't suit my purposes.  Secondly, I didn't care for the way her limbs bent.  I've since changed Jhiran to a diminutive V4 based figure who may not be as cute, but renders better!

V4 Jhiran Portrait



Because she's a minor character, I don't render Jhiran very often. When I do, it's typically from a distance.  I think she's kind of adorable.  This render is Poser Pro 2012 that features subsurface skin scattering.  I've not put this image up in my Renderosity gallery because I don't like the lighting.  It was just an exercise in getting her facial features to look similar to the way I'd described them in the novels.

A Brief History of Algernon


 
This is a 1982 pencil drawing of Algernon that didn't scan very well.  He's wielding a weapon called the Dakkah (emphasis on the second syllable), that was supposed to be the characteristic weapon of the Temple Elsbireth monks.  I abandoned that idea long ago.

P6 Algernon
 


The background for this render is courtesy of my friend, Julian Gray.  I've always thought that the P6 version of this character looked very lean and mean. Anyone familiar with Okinawa Te will recognize that two-knuckled punch.

M4 Algernon
 

Algernon's unkempt hair creates many problems.  The hair prop in this image is from Kozaburo, but it's intended for P6 James, not Michael 4, so it never really fit properly . . .


This render comes from August of 2015, featuring Algernon and Bronwyn. I've begun using a hair prop for him called "Cuffed Tail" which isn't perfect, but better matches the description I've created in the books. The romance between these two is fraught with complications that make for interesting material.

Monsters


Devera is a world very much like our own, with functioning ecosystems and non-human creatures that populate the landscape. But, like many other science fiction / fantasy milieus, it also has some pretty fantastic creatures.  Here are a few of them:


The Glacier Gull

Head detail


Body detail

One early permutation of my story involved fantastically large birds who lived on the cliffs overlooking Broken Wing Lake.  These flight-capable birds were large enough to be ridden by a petite human, so their riders were often small boned females.  (Of which there are very few in Tamaria!)  I wrote an exciting encounter between a Tamarian scout riding one of these creatures who battles an Azgar dragon in midair during the early story sequences, but later cut that entire section out.


 
In Dreams and Missions, Jhiran--who is a clumsy flier because she's heavy--becomes the quarry of one of a glacier gull and engages in mid-air combat with the predatory bird. This is the only render I've done using a modified 3D model of a stork as the glacier gull.  It's also one of the few that features Jhiran with her wings unfurled. These birds are supposed to be about 9 feet tall, with a 30 foot wingspan.

The Deathwolf



Deathwolves feature prominently in The Edge of Justice and make another appearance in Ceremonies and Celebrations, as depicted in this image. I've described these creatures as being selectively bred, but they're actually based on extinct bear-dogs that lived on earth long ago.  The deathwolves are huge, standing over five feet at the withers (nearly as tall as Brenna!), with teeth as long as human fingers.

Giants


When I first saw the DAZ Troll, I felt stunned by its resemblance to the giants I'd described in my novels.  I bought the model, along with armor and weapons props to use in illustration renders.  Here, in a scene from Crisis, Algernon takes on a full-grown male giant with nothing more than his feet, fists and wits, earning respect from their clan leader because he "fights like a man."


From Pencil to Graphics Tablet


Devera


This is a scan of the original map of my created world, drawn in March of 1982.  Like much of my artwork from that era, it took far longer to draw with a pencil than is typical for most of my renders.  This is a freehand drawing showing the outline of the continent, the computerized, colored version of which appears on the "World of Devera" page.  I drew every single mountain as a tiny triangle, which may give you an idea of how many hours of work went into this image.  For you Rush fans, the archipelago on the top of the  map is named "Pegasus", and a tiny island at the very top, left hand side of the map is named "Lyra," from Cygnus X-1, the epic finale of,  A Farewell to Kings, an album that was the soundtrack of my life at the time.

Blade Girl



I felt  rather proud of this drawing when it was completed.  The date on the image is 10 October 1982, and it was probably the most anatomically perfect female figure I've ever drawn by hand.  The blade seems ridiculously big now, but I drew this in the era of the Conan films, and large swords were in vogue back then.  This girl has no name, she was just a study in anatomy and sword design.

The Truth Hurts


One of the things I'd intended to do with my Poser images involved using them to illustrate excerpts from chapters in the novels.  This is very difficult to do because what I'm capable of imagining and what I can actually pull off as an artist are often quite different.  This is a September 2006  render of Kira (on the left) and Astrid (on the right) having a difficult discussion about their relationship.  Though it's compressed and a little jagged (something that doesn't appear in the original image), this render is pretty faithful to my original concept of the scene.  By the time I posed the two figures, worked on their expressions, simulated their clothing and worked on the lights, I'd invested about 30 hours into its completion.  Now, I can create renders in less than half that time.

Astrid's Advice




These two have an interesting relationship and do a lot of talking in the novels. This image is based on a scene in Dreams and Missions, where Kira feels very discouraged about the direction her life is taking, and Astrid offers some good advice. Contrasting this image with the one above shows the difference in render quality between the earlier P6 Jessica versions of these two and the later, V4 models.


As the Deveran Conflict Series has evolved, new characters and relationships have become integral to the story. This render features Tembe, the grandson of Tegene, as a potential love interest for Kira.I created this in January of 2016, which makes it one of my earliest efforts using Poser Pro 11.


Ever wonder what characters do when I'm not writing about them? This is an image I created using Poser Pro 11 in August 2016. It features the new Superfly rendering engine, which handles light much better than the older, Firefly renderer.



I hope you've enjoyed this historical foray into the art behind the World of Devera.





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