Astrobase Command Fan Art: Shore Leave Humour in Celebration of Upcoming Kickstarter

Even aliens need to have a laugh sometimes.

Today, Jellyfish Games announced the impending beginning of a Kickstarter campaign to support the development of their upcoming game, Astrobase Command.

Big news!

Big news!

In celebration of this momentous news, I thought it would be worth doing up a piece of fan art to support the small team of stalwart indie developers in their efforts.

Keep your sensors peeled for more info!

Away Team Nimbus 5-1: Astrobase Command Fan Art

Nimbus 5-1 is about to have a very bad day. © 2013 - Max Shields

Nimbus 5-1 is about to have a very bad day. © 2013 – Max Shields

You have to understand that I don’t do fan art. Well besides the TMNT that we all had fun drawing in grade school, some Star Wars battling out against Star Trek in high school. Oh, and maybe some Battlemechs beating each other up somewhere in between.

Anyway, the point is that I haven’t made anything like fan art in about 20 years. Since my real-world life (job, family, saving the universe one small spoonful at a time, you know the drill) takes up a lot of my time, most of the art I do have the time for is limited to quick black and white sketches and doodles to keep my hands somewhat familiar with a pen or stylus. Astrobase Command has sparked off some kind of excitement deep in my curmudgeonly heart and motivated me to start a more lengthy project that culminated tonight.

In the process, I came up with a couple test images to try out composition and color schemes.

First composition test.

Messing around with composition and lighting.

Experimenting with color schemes,

Experimenting with color schemes,

Hopefully it will give everyone a good chuckle, and inspire far more talented artists than I to begin populating the interwebs with some awesome art to share their excitement and encourage others to discover Astrobase Command’s amazing potential.

PASABI!

Wasabi's first fusion burn is unforgettable.

Wasabi’s first fusion burn is unforgettable.

We like exposing our toddler to a wide variety of foods. Having an open gastronomic mind creates so many opportunities to appreciate the world, but it doesn’t just happen on its own. Kids have a natural tendency to shirk away from foods that they perceive as unusual. I believe that this has something to do with our primitive survival strategies back when we were still learning to play with fire. Early exposure to a wide variety of nutritional experiences in a supportive environment help plant the seed for the future.

One of the staple celebratory foods in our household is sushi. From an early age, we let our boy have some of the rolls. We are careful not to give him any of the raw fish to avoid picking up parasites, but he is otherwise happy to munch away on the veggie rolls, wakame salad, and other assorted goodies that make up a great sushi dinner. He is extremely fond of the pickled ginger, and would be happy to drink a bucket of the soy sauce all on its own. Thankfully for his health, we are thoroughly grossed-out at the prospect and limit him to a few drops of the dark ichor.

We had assumed that he would be overwhelmed by wasabi, so we never bothered giving him any. I can barely survive the mighty punch a tiny dollop of the green stuff. When I muster up he courage to indulge in a bite, my sinuses instantly combust, and my eyes water almost as profusely as my nose do, sending me scrambling for the closest glass of milk to quench the burn. I am left with a feeling that someone swung a sledgehammer at my head, and my tongue dangles lifelessly from my mouth. I could scarcely imagine what a dose of the nuclear goo would do to a toddler.

A few days ago, he finally noticed the verdant dollop gracing the takeout platter. He stood up on his chair and pointed at it insistently.

“Quoi ça? (What’s that?)” he asked pointedly.

“It’s wasabi. It’s a got a lot of kick. It is spicy.”

“Wasabi!” He pointed at it again.

“It may be a bit much for you, dude.” I try to talk him down from what would probably be one of his biggest mistakes that week.

“WASABI!” He insisted.

“I’m not sure…”

“WA-SA-BIII!” he interrupted.

“Ok, you asked for it. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.” I reached out and poked a tiny speck onto the end of my chopstick. My wife cocked one eyebrow up in the universal spousal signal for “is my boneheaded husband really going to do what I think he is?” She curled her lip, instantly freezing the chopstick’s progression towards my son’s mouth. I found myself in a bit of a dilemma.

“WAAAA-SAAAA-BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!” our child bellowed. That’s it. He’s in for it now. I popped the chopstick in as he was taking a big gulp of air to power another scream. His lips closed tightly around the stick. He held it in his mouth for a moment and then closed his eyes. It was almost as if the little fellow was savouring some flavour that I could not even begin to guess at. I slowly pulled the chopstick out of his mouth.

He beamed a huge smile. “Wasabi!”

I was now thoroughly confused. How on Earth was my son still standing there, not a care in the world? He should have been a babbling mess on the floor by now. Maybe it’s a delayed onset wasabi? Seconds ticked by. Nothing. My confusion began to grow exponentially.

“Papa! Wasabi!” He pointed once again to the platter. Meh. I guess this is an impotent batch. Whatever, knock yourself out. Here’s another scoop, kiddo. I hefted on a slightly larger glob onto my chopstick and nonchalantly placed it on his extended tongue.

I am not quite sure what happened next, but the larger quantity of wasabi must have crossed some sensory threshold, since he started hopping up and down energetically on his chair.

“PASABI” He exclaimed, almost in tears. He had just invented a new word, a mashup of “pas ça (not that!)” and “wasabi.” He had concisely articulated his displeasure in such a novel and memorable fashion that we shall never forget it.

Needless to say, he is much less fond of the green paste, and politely refuses it when we offer it to him. For some strange reason, though, he loves offering me some every time we get sushi. What a little bugger.

Carbonmade Portfolios

I’ve just started experimenting with carbonmade, an online portfolio site, to expose some of my photography. Compared to DeviantArt, it is far simpler to upload imagery, and it provides an elegant way to organize your material, whether a static image or a video. Storage is far more limited than with DA, and appears to be more difficult to link the images to other sites (I was only able to get the image above displayed by digging through the page source), so it isn’t ideal to host images. It is really intended to be a focused tool to expose your very best work

If you’re a visual artist, and you’re looking for a means to expose your work online, this is an option worth looking into.

Breathtaking work on DeviantArt

Okay, so I’ve got a bunch of bits and pieces that have been building up in my notebook that I eventually have to get out on the blog. As Real Life has been busily clamoring for my attention of late, they will have to wait for another day. Part of real life has been waiting for a work laptop to run its way through a variety of self-checks and system updates that have been taking ages to process. As I have been waiting for the poor device to splutter back to a semblance of life that I can make use of, I have been crawling around the DeviantArt.com galleries. I’ve come across some spectacular artists with a wonderful eye and humbling talent. I’ll take the next few days to share some of the stellar work I have found there, hopefully piquing your curiosity sufficiently for you to go out and discover more of their work.

I will begin with a Star Wars urban combat piece by Kai Lim, who goes by the handle Ukitakumuki.

I like my stormtroopers gritty and cinematic.

Videos for illustrators: FZDSchool

 

I love watching the videos that FZD School of Design. Even though these are no substitute for following an art class, I learn so much every I watch one of these videos. I suggest adding this channel for anyone interested in illustration.

This particular video is about getting values right in black and white painting. I’m going to have to re-watch this a few times.

Rummaging through old memories – how The Genius Crucible’s cover was born

Nissigoboro and Nala

Nissigoboro and Nala

Many years ago, my parents lived in Papua New Guinea (PNG). I will not go into detail the reasons for which they were there, but suffice to say that my head was filled at a young age with stories of exotic jungles, villages of rugged tribesmen, and exhausting scientific expeditions through some of the world’s most rugged terrain.

My parents took a few memorable pictures. Back in the 70’s, film was expensive and hard to store adequately in the humid jungle. Since they could only carry so much, only a few pictures remain of their treks. My father had turned some into slides that he used during classroom presentations to his students. Thankfully, a few years ago he made the effort to scan those slides. I now have a selection of the images stored for posterity. They are beautiful and open a window of insight on a world that had remained largely untouched by the progress of history. I will share some of these images here from time to time.

The first to make its appearance is a photo of Nissigoboro and his son, Nala. Nala served as my father’s interpreter in the Karimui, a remote district in PNG. They worked together for several years over many expeditions, developing a close friendship. My brother and I were fortunate enough to meet Nala back in the ’80s when we accompanied our father on his last expedition to the island’s jungles.

It was therefore fitting for the pair to figure prominently on the cover of The Genius Crucible, since they are inspirations for some of the book’s major characters. Thanks to the magic of digitization and a little help from photoshop, a forty year old picture became a central component for a science fiction book dealing with many cutting edge artificial intelligence and environmental issues. Does it work? I’ll let you be the judge.

The Genius Crucible (available at Amazon.com)

Follow @GeniusCrucible if you are interested in science, the environment, artificial intelligence, and the disappearance of genius.