This blog is where i will post first looks, concept art, and inspiration for my science fiction book (The Twisted Strand) and its alternate-universe sister series (Citadels of...). I'll also post bits and pieces of the conlangs that will be included in the stories. it's quickly becoming a multi-part series, so if you're interested, follow to see little bits and pieces of my thought process as the stories come together.
Environment Challenge #2 (redo) Urban
i was pretty satisfied with my swamp drawing, so i skipped to the urban one. my city-drawing still needs work. probably would have helped if i looked up reference pictures, but whatever.
i need to get into the habit of drawing every single day. even if i don’t feel like it that day. today was one of those days.
day 3 - urban
kinda wish i’d gone with a daylight scene, because i didn’t challenge myself with this one. maybe i’ll just do this challenge again at some point later in the year. but i’m also learning a new painting program, so i’m not gonna get too hung up about it.
things i learned from this drawing
- GIMP doesn’t play nice with a Wacom stylus unless you make it
- what the hell is going on with the lasso tool oh my god
day 2 - Swamp
i’m a lot more satisfied with this one than yesterday’s drawing. i went way over 10 minutes on the shading and details section, and i might just make it a half hour for a total of one hour for every drawing.
what i learned from today’s drawing: as much as i don’t want to spend the money, i need a better processor for my computer. the way i want to draw fog, clouds, and gas is just not gonna work with Manga Studio unless my computer can handle rendering larger brushstrokes. that’s a bummer.
new addendum to my environment challenge: if something needs a lot of work in my daily drawing, i’ll do that particular thing with a higher level of polish, more akin to the quality i’ll try for in my comics.
i’m a lot more satisfied with the stone and water that i’ve done with these than in the waterfall picture. i still need more practice with drawing water. i’ll get there.
day 1 - Waterfall.
i’ve decided to do this challenge with a few constraints:
- i’ll limit my main drawing time to 30 minutes
- i’ll stop after 30 minutes, take a look at what i have, then figure out what needs to be edited.
- i’ll take an extra 10 minutes to do blending, color correcting, and smaller details.
this one is super lame, but i don’t know if i even gave myself 30 minutes, i just drew for a bit and then decided i was going to use this challenge to improve on my speed painting. hopefully i’ll be able to make some better stuff in the coming weeks. i just knew if i didn’t start now with something, it would sit in my to-do list until i died.
main takeaways from this drawing:
- smaller brushes speed up my computer’s response time and make everything easier.
- dear god i need to work on drawing rocks
- and water
- and everything
finally, things are coming together.
just a quick sketch to test out Manga Studio (good) and my new Intuos5 Touch Large (also good, if a bit unwieldy to both say and handle).
i don’t wanna practice for years to get good and develop a style why can’t i just paint masterpieces right away waaaah
i have 12 stories to tell so far. i’m sure i’ll end up making one or two more by the time i’m finished. for now, here’s a semi-chronological list of the titles, along with quick synopses:
The Twisted Strand: Infomorph
Morgan Fields is one of the first people to upload her mind onto a holographic file system.
The Twisted Strand: Pioneers
Miranda Latham adjusts to a new life in the future after being lost to space for centuries when her ship is thrown off course.
The Twisted Strand: The Second Commonwealth
Kalen Kamma is the first human senator elected to the Infomorph-founded Second Commonwealth after the Colony Plagues wipe out most of the human population.
Citadels of the Resource Wars
there’s a war over resources i dunno i haven’t really hammered out the details yet.
The Twisted Strand: After the Fall
Two sisters, Moïri and Rami, try to keep their family together as a fringe religion, and Moïri’s mind, try to tear it apart.
The Twisted Strand: Q-Space
A military pilot experiences the terrifying beauty of Quartic Space.
The Twisted Strand: Returner
a shipbound artificial intelligence explores the farthest reaches of the universe, and discovers a unique, but familiar, intelligence.
Citadels of Ilsim
Rifen and Anot attempt to save the world from a mischievous runaway of their clan, and the ancient terrors of bygone cultures that he awakens.
The Twisted Strand: The Reclaimed
a new breed of Infomorph takes to the stars, forging its own way into the future.
Citadels of the Fractured Race
Namos and Filiti avenge the murder of their son during the Fracturing War between the two human subspecies.
Citadels of the New Collective
an intrepid group of explorers seeks out a new life in the far reaches of the universe, and explores a new and curious water world to call home.
The Twisted Strand: Reunion of the Seven Species
Yomo, a young woman of royal descent, finally gains an understanding of what it means to be subjugated.
so, since this is my 360th post, and since my next paycheck will FINALLY bring in the last of the money i’ve been saving to buy a tablet, i figured i’d take this time to share what the status of this whole endeavor is.
I finished writing my book. getting people to read it and give me critiques is literally harder than pulling teeth (if you’re quick enough, it’s actually super easy!), so basically i just have to remember to attend my local Sci-Fi workshopping group and have people who actually want to read new stuff and workshop it do that.
like i said, i finally have enough in my savings to buy a tablet and a screen for my computer, so i can stop working from my TV screen. I’ll also be able to start making art! i can’t tell you how excited that makes me. i was going to go with a fancy-schmancy tablet-and-screen but my boyfriend rightly pointed out that going the cheaper, modular route is a better plan than dumping all of my money into a setup that might not earn back what i spend on it for a while. i can get the nice one once i’ve started making some real money.
i’ve picked out a wide-format printer to make prints, so that i can eliminate the need to share profits with a printing company. i’m going to have a year or so of working on my art style and testing out printing methods and materials, and will be using WordPress and its associated plugins to run the website, so hopefully i’ll be able to get the hang of everything before i need to start making really large amounts of sales. unfortunately, that means i’ll eventually be hocking prints and T-shirts for a while. it sorta comes with the territory.
i’m pretty sure it won’t start so quickly that i’ll be unable to keep up with demand and scale my supply as needed. i know i won’t be able to keep up with thousands of sales, so i might need to partner with a printing company at some point, but i’m being realistic here. i’m probably not going to explode in popularity right off the bat. if i do, i’ll reconsider my options.
for now, i’ve got two days before my next paycheck hits and about a week before i’ll be able to start creating, instead of just talking about it. i’ve already had a lot of time to think about what kind of style i want to use, and soon i’ll be able to start getting some practice.
stick around, things are gonna get exciting soon enough.
This is a bit of an impromptu write-up, but it’s been so long since i’ve written any in-universe expanations that i figure one is due.
this picture reminds me of an abandoned form of space travel in The Twisted Strand: The QSUDS Cell.
QSUDS stands for Quartic Space Ultra Dimensional Shunt. if you know that ‘Quartic’ means ‘four-way,’ you already have a good idea of what a QSUDS cell would do to you. Quartic Space is a “higher” 4-dimensional space, which functions on completely different levels of physics than the 3-dimensional space that we’re used to, the same way that 3-dimensional space operates with completely different rules than 2-dimensional space. a QSUDS cell “dives” its ship into this higher plane of travel, leading to increased travel gains, but not without some wonky results.
basically, the development of QSUDS was attempted after the initial push to produce a warp drive, and was almost instantly abandoned because of the aforementioned wonky effects. first, physical perception of the world around you is expanded and pushed way beyond what the human brain is capable of processing. visual perception is overloaded, with QSUDS travelers perceiving seemingly infinite amounts of light from all directions. the picture above is a good start to describing what a human brain would see while in Q-space. The subject of the story that will focus on the QSUDS experiments will describe the fact that he was “catching glimpses of the back of [his] brain” while in Q-space. auditory perception is also expanded, leading travelers in Q-space to hear constant bombardment from the sounds around them, even the most infinitesimally quiet sounds, like air molecules bumping into one another. The other senses are also overloaded, but sight and sound take up the bulk of the information perceived by travelers.
but the most important warping factor of QSUDS travel is the distortion of time from an observer’s standpoint. the warping of Q-spacetime is logarithmic with respect to the distance from a gravitationally-charged mass. This effect wasn’t expected by those who developed the QSUDS cell, so they assumed that launching a QSUDS-equipped ship from high Earth orbit would yield a normal test flight. But the warping effects of gravity on time led the first test pilot to taking a jump into Q-space that was intended to last only 10 seconds, but ended up lasting more than 46 years in 3-dimensional spacetime.
the amount of information perceived by a person traveling in Q-space is less warped, seeming to be only a small amount longer than the duration of the intended 3-dimensional time of the jump, but is still perceived as a significantly longer amount of time due to the increased perception due to their overloaded senses.
obviously, needing to get as far away from any gravitational mass (i.e., the entire galaxy) led to the swift abandonment of the QSUDS cell as a viable means of transport for humans, but i might allude throughout the series that 3-dimensional life isn’t the only form of life in the universe. I’m still not sure exactly how i’ll show it, but i might hint that Q-space entities exist in the dark vacuum between galaxies, observing a totally different way of life compared to ours.
At the very least, i’ll be bringing it up when QSUDS is used by an advanced A.I. known as The Archiver Consciousness.
but to quote Michael Ende, the author of The Neverending Story, “that is another story, and will be told another time.”
it’s been quite a while since i finished a chapter. feels good to start a new one.
So i’ve been making a few decisions about the Citadels-Strand Universe these past few months. at first, i intended to write a bunch of books. like, A BUNCH. i have no less than 11 stories that i want to tell in this series, and so far only 3 of them have been intended as video game entries.
These stories, as you can probably tell from my posts on this blog, are extremely, richly visual in nature. a huge portion of the 50,000 words i’ve written for Miranda Latham (chronologically the second installment) are descriptive, sensory writing. i have a lot of imagery in my head for this series, and i’ve found that coming up with the 80,000 words publishers want out of a new writer is just a bit beyond the reach of the scope of my stories. i only have a few more chapters of Miranda Latham to finish, but i need to write almost half-again as many words as i’ve already written to be considered for publishing. a novel might not be the best option for me.
i’m pretty good at drawing and digital painting. with enough practice, i could become really great at drawing and digital painting. my stories are based primarily on visual inspiration, and the human desire to go out and see the beauty in the far reaches of the universe. i have enough disposable income to save up for a month or two to buy a fantastic drawing tablet.
so i’ve made the decision to forego the book publishing route and self-publish these works in a webcomic format. I know there are a lot of pitfalls with that route that make success a lot more unlikely, and i know that it’s probably never going to make me rich.
but i will have 100% creative control over my work, and i will be able to tell the stories of the Citadels-Strand Universe exactly the way i want to tell them, with every one of my followers able to see the beautiful images that run through my head every day.
i still intend on finishing the book i’ve put a lot of effort into. but i’ll also be turning it into a graphic novel. in the event that it doesn’t get published as a book, i’ll still have the ability to make it available.
if i can manage to merchandise it to the point of making a living, it’ll be fantastic. if i can’t, i’ll still be making the art that i want to make. to me, that’s worth it.
The line between man and machine in the Citadels-Strand Universe gets a little blurry at times. For instance, the Kasona are a race of A.I. entities that have grown to coexist with the Tsrul’s lives and minds.
The Kasona, like the Infomorphs i mentioned in an earlier post, have the ability to upload their minds into a robotic body. however, they also have the ability to download their minds from a robotic body into a compatible host.
The Kasona were, for many eons, reliant on Holographic File Systems to store their minds. They began to move away from strictly humanoid form factors, taking on the forms that worked best for them. eventually they left the surface of their planet and took to the stars. without the need for wasteful life-supporting environments or protection from the cosmic wilderness, the race made a perfect candidate for stellar nomads. they eventually lost spoken language, in favor of nearly-instant wireless communication. One HFS, capable of multiplexing an infinite number of minds, worked as a sort of collective Nexus of minds for the entire race, allowing many to be distributed and redistributed to the finite number of mechanical bodies. However, over the ages, the several million HFSs that had originally existed within their race began to dwindle in number, even if it was only by a small amount. the continual addition of new A.I.s into their system exacerbated the problem.
The Kasona eventually decided that hosts would be required to allow their race to continue. Since their nomadic lifestyle coincided fairly well with that of the Tsrul, a host body, known to both races only as “Template” was discovered floating in a damaged spacecraft. He was peculiar among the Tsrul in that he appeared to have no social connections that anyone could determine. A rare hermit among the almost-universally gregarious Tsrul, he had set himself to go into permanent stasis in one of the sparsest sections of the universe, to awaken eons later, when his minimally-powered spacecraft would wake him with its last bit of power.
However, his stasis was inerrupted by an electrical malfunction, and his nervous system was damaged in the event. his ship sent out an automatic distress signal, and the first to pick it up was a Kasona vessel. after determining that the man was a potential candidate for their needs, the Kasona purged the man’s mind from his body and placed him in one of their HFSs.
with a perfectly functioning body to practice on, the Kasona found a way to download their own minds into it. The Tsrul and the Kasona thereafter used one another as temporary or permanent “storage units” for those whose bodies had become infirm, or whose minds had a need for a biological body.
for the first generations, the Kasona used Template to model their own new mechanical bodies. leaving out most of his soft tissues and damaged portions from their schematics, they created a more streamlined and mechanically appropriate body for themselves. the dramatic wedge shape to the Kasona head was a result of them not needing a brain case for their circuitry. the lack of cheeks and lips was a result of extensive damage to his facial nerve’s buccal branch, as well as the skin and muscles in the region. their body cavities were hollowed out, used for storage or other more practical uses for Kasona tasks. eventually they would remaster spoken language, but even in Tsrul bodies, the spoken language of the Kasona usually lacked many of the anterior phonemes of humanoid languages. Their deep integration with the Tsrul led to many similarities with their spoken languages, keeping the two cultures very well-connected throughout the Tsrul-Uthan Epoch.