Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Drawing Spaceships Crooked (Isometric Projection)

     Just to be different, RocketFans, I thought I'd actually make a post.
     Kidding aside, I've been working at a day job of late and dealing with getting myself back into the groove of time management, scheduling, and all the things I haven't had to think about since comas and brain damage removed me from the conventional labor force.  I'm not sure how to describe the experience.  Imagine having to re-learn not only the moves and routines of something you've done all of your adult life, but have to re-learn some of the concepts behind the routines and moves.  Only a strict regimen of bi-hourly doses of insulin and daily doses of anti-depressants and anxiety meds.
    I only mention this to explain my sometimes (okay, often) erratic postings and tendency to tail of in mid-series.  I'll put it this way:  Normal blood sugar is between 70 and 90.  Mine has gone from 461 to 39 in the space of six hours.  At least once a week.
    Moving along...
    As the title suggests, I've been playing with isometric projections and cutaways.  If you're not 100% familiar with the concept,  It's like this:
Tantive IV FTW
     I love these kinds of images.  I've got all of the Incredible Cross Sections books and I've dreamed of being able to make my ships into art like this.  After all, I taught myself how to make the deckplans, the orthos, the CG models, and everything else you've seen in my previous work, what's one more technique?
     To start with, I got some iso-grid paper.  This wonderful stuff is great for folks who do not have drafting tables and 3 degree triangles in their inventories and better still, it takes a lot less time to use than blank paper.  After watching a brief YouTube tutorial on how to draw isometric circles, I was off and running!
     Here is an image of what could be a variation of the Heinlein Rocket's Keel:

     Rather than try to ink this little sketch, I did what I think is the smart thing and scanned it into the computer and printed it out at three times the original size:

     This is the version I inked.  I used pens and did it by hand, because I'm old school.  And because it's faster...

     But after that, I put the inked imaged back into the computer, fired up the GIMP, and cleaned it up.  I not only scrubbed out the blue guide lines, I fixed mistakes and added some details that were just too fiddly for me to work in with a hand pen.  Thank goodness for a computers extreme zoom!

A drawing like this can still be confusing if left in un-shaded black-and-white.  Besides, I wanted to capture the style of the ICS books, so I colorized the image and added some additional details.  This is the latest iteration:

     I did not add any shading or people to the image, because this is only a test.  Now that I've managed to create a workflow and get some practice in, I'm going to start working on making some real spaceship art.  I will naturally be posting the results regularly on Patreon and here, and once I've finished a collection for a particular spacecraft, a published volume would not be out of order.  I look forward to it.
     I just want to take a moment and sing the praises of the Patreon system.  Back before the advent of monthly crowd-funding, I would never have felt like I had the time to work on this kind of art.  I had to stay within the bounds of the admittedly narrow style I had already developed for making deckplans and churn out books monthly if I was to expect to see any decent money from the enterprise.  Even then, the money wasn't that decent, but for a family of five living on $17,000 a year, it meant the difference between a real birthday party for the kids or just a present and box cake.  With Patreon, however, I'm at the level I of monthly income slightly above that of when I had to get a thirty-page book out every thirty days.  That means I can actually explore new ideas, like the nano-fic, the maps, and these isometric drawings.  Now I know I can take my time and work on a single, long-term project because I not only have a venue with which to share the progress, I have the support it takes to finish it.  So thank you to all my Patrons out there, for making this possible.
   Got a little sentimental.  It happens.  Anyway, soon-ish, I'll be talking about my next major project and what books Debra and I are working on, as well as whatever Rob Garitta has cooked up in his devious little mind.  See you then!

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