Monday, November 21, 2011

An event more rare than an Ent Moot

The River Onkaparinga, known locally (and unceremoniously) as the Onk. It's a pretty sight right now.

Pine cones of some sort. These are a type that are probably native to Australian, but I couldn't tell you what kind. Well, not without researching them.

I love the colors of the wetlands. The reds and greens, side by side -- it's what artists call "immediate contrast." Very striking, visually.

He (or is it a she?) is a white faced heron. They're peope-shy ... this was taken on extreme zoom, and one second later s/he headed out fast away from the humans.

The gorgeous reds and golds of gum tree trunks. These trees shed their bark, not their leaves. We do most things backwards downunder...

Reedbeds are very photogenic -- but what doesn't photograph is the squadrons of swallows which were dive-bombing the whole area. Some kind of bug must have just hatched, because about a thousand swallows were pigging out on the wing.

Something happened today that hasn't happened in an age...

I had the chance to take a day off. And I took it. In fact, I grabbed it with both hands and ran away! Seriously ... Dave and I headed about fifteen minutes south of here and took a looooong hike in the wetlands where the Onkaparinga River flows out at Noarlunga. Yes, those are real names ... don't believe me? Google them! So I thought I would touch base with everyone today with some photographs rather than artwork. From the wetlands hike, we progressed to the Rimini Cafe at Hallett Cove, and if any of you were following Dave on twitpic, you'd have seen our late-late lunch. Still full. (Urp.) Need nap.

In fact, here are some more images, while I go and take one. A nap, that is! Day off, and all that. (Make the most of it, Jade ... who knows when it'll happen again?!)

Jade, November 22

Still showing a little green along the riverbank. Enjoy it -- in a couple of weeks it'll all be the color of mown hay...

A boardwalk takes out right out into the middle of the wetlands. Today, we were in the heart of that squadron of swallows. Wish I could have captured them in stills. I did get some nice video...

Scotch thistle -- up to four feet high in this neck of the woods -- they're lethal!

The river itself. And yes, there's water in it! There are times when it's not much more than briny silt, but we've had a drop of rain lately.

Reed beds ... this should be a lake, but it's pretty much empty, even though it's not yet actually summer...

Strangler vines on the trees bearing the little cones you see elsewhere in this post. The flowers are gorgous, like mornng glory, but the vines are tree killers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Starship crash in Photoshop

Click to see at full size, 1700 pixels wide

See -- I'm doing the artwork, honest! It's posting that's the problem ... speaking of which, is anyone else having trouble with Blogger lately? Half the tools have vanished in Opera. A few of them show up again in IE, but it crashes all the time. I just installed Chrome in a wild attempt to get back some functionality. Still trying to figure out if it's going to cure the problems.

So, here's a piece I've been working on, in bits, for a long time (as in, months). The figure in the foreground was the work of about three minutes flat. The background, now ... well, that was mostly painted in Photoshop. The only 3D model is the giant spaceship. The ground is just a plane that I deformed with displacement mapping, and colored up with a diffuse map. The hillocks, or dunes, whatever you want to call them, are bits of terrain generated eons ago in Bryce and shipped in here as OBJs. The base render is just ... flat. There's nothing there but the ship and the ground. The sky was hand-painted first and stripped in as a backdrop ... then the render was shipped out into Photoshop, and I've been painting on it since about September! It's built of hundreds and hundreds of details all painted in by hand in about 20 layers. Takes a looooong time.

If you're interested, I've uploaded it a full size -- over 1700 pixels wide. I compressed it a bit to make it a manageable size. It's about 350K, which is not too bad. Looks like a wallpaper? Now, there's a thought! Enjoy.

In fact, I've been asked many times to do wallpapers, and I swear to gods, this is on the agenda. Give me 36 hours in a day and 10 days in a week, and I'll be in business!

Jade, 19 November

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Touching base...

You're asking yourself if Jade gave it away and doesn't do art anymore, right? Not true! I do. really, I do. And if Real Life (and work) would ever just get out of my face, I'd be delighted to post here, all those "digital doodles" that were, and are, my hobby. Everything I've been doing lately has been for work, and while there's been oceans of it, you wouldn't have any interest in seeing it!

Bear with me. Be back soon, I hope. Life has GOT to "come good" and give me back some free time soon...

Jade, November 16

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hellgate: Flashpoint ... check this out!

UPDATE: November 18, and HELLGATE:Flashpoint is out! If you've been waiting for this (your Mel Keegan fix, or your Hellgate fix), here's where you want to be:

In fact, I didn't fall off the face of the Earth ... it's just been the month from hell, highlighted by a death in the family, after which the rest of October and the first week of November passed by like a blur. Work piled up, and I was sick myself, but there's nothing new in that ... long story short: it's been rough. But I'm back, not only working properly again, but also doing artwork.

As you can see, we're packaging HELLGATE #5: Flashpoint at this time. I just finished the cover art -- and if you're sharp-eyed you'll see that there's still a line of question marks where the ISBN ought to be. We're still waiting for the package of ISBNs we bought to become available. In the next 24 hours, they should activate, and we can go ahead with the new Mel Keegan novel as well as this one, which is a gay American historical (for which, read "Western," if you prefer) ...

You can see, I have been busy after all ... just not posting! I hope to remedy this in the days to come. There's still a great stack of 3D toys I bought back around a month ago, which haven't even been unpacked yet -- things just went haywire.

So, what's the deal with HELLGATE: Flashpoint? It's the fifth of the HELLGATE novels, leaving one book to go to finish out the series. This book is long. It's huge. It's the size of two of the ordinary-length HELLGATE books, at 250,000 words. Why? A year or so ago, Mel Keegan made the decision to take the fifth and sixth of the originally-planned seven books, and roll them into one. This actually saves readers a nice bit of money -- six books to buy, instead of five. Also, the two books would have been noticeably shorter than the usual HELLGATE volume, so, rather than have two skinny issues right in the middle, it looked like a much better idea to have a whopping great "thick" in there! Therefore, HELLGATE is now six books, not seven ... and here you have #5, plus what used to be "#6 of 7," both under the one cover and on one title. One more to go, early in 2012 -- the title is Event Horizon -- and HELLGATE is done! MK promises that the next NARC book is already being plotted, and with the slightest bit of luck, that one should be along in 2012 as well.

Jade, 7 November
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