A (Humanoid Robotic) Horse Is A Horse, Of Course, Of Course…

Re-design challenge at the He-Man.org fan-art forums for the second half of February–my post is here and the original thread is here. The voting thread is here–I placed second.

The subject is Stridor, “Heroic Armored War Horse.”

The original Stridor toy is a solid, straightforward design without much room for improvement. My solution for the re-design challenge was to instead give him a completely new humanoid transformation. Actually, it’s not too much of a transformation–he pretty much just stands up on his hind legs, and his articulated hands pop out; a few other things shift around, but nothing too complex. To accommodate his humanoid mode, the tail gun is now mounted on the hip, and a protective shield guards what would otherwise be a vulnerable belly. The jousting lance is my addition as well. Color-wise, I stayed pretty faithful to the original–a notable addition being the coppery orange that I used for his joints:

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What’s that? You’re just not getting a feel for my interpretation of the character? The artwork is okay but you wish I had come up with some background info to flesh out and explain my re-design? Well, here ya go:

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PROFILE: On the battlefield STRIDOR is a courageous leader, a shrewd strategist, and a firece fighter. Off the battlefield he is gentle and easy-going. In horse mode he is the size of a large armored war horse, and in humanoid mode, he stands almost twice as tall as a man. His ranged weapons include dual heavy laser cannons, and a rapid-fire hip blaster. His primary weapon in close combat is a heavy jousting lance.

HISTORY: The Stridor Project began in Man-At-Arms’ laboratory as a simple experiment in robotics and simulated AI. His goal was to create a robotic mount with the equivalent of a horse’s IQ, for military use. The Stridor prototype was field-tested by Teela, Captain of the Royal Guard, and over time Man-At-Arms gradually improved on Stridor’s design and programming. The Stridor prototype became the template for a mass-production model that would completely mechanize the Royal Armored Cavalry.

When the Eternian capital found themselves under seige by an army of centaur-like cyborgs–conquerors from the remote planet Equestris–Man-At-Arms engineered an alternate humanoid transformation for the original Stridor prototype, so that he could more efficiently battle this new threat. With casualties running high, and few human soldiers available, Stridor went into battle with his robotic bretheren, a so-called “unmanned cavalry,” and drove the gladiators of Equestris off of Eternia.

However, it soon became apparent to Man-At-Arms that the original Stridor prototype had developed sentience, as a result of the continued improvements to his programming. Faced with a crisis of conscience, Man-At-Arms could only grant Stridor his freedom, rather than forcing him to serve in the Royal army.

For several months, Stridor travelled the lands of Eternia, pondering his place in the world. But when the armies of Equestris returned to Eternia for vengeance, Stridor knew where he belonged. He raced back to the capital and again, lead his robotic bretheren to victory (with some help from He-Man). Stridor was heavily decorated for his heroism, and asked to be reinstated in the Royal Armored Cavalry, under one condition–that the other Stridor models be given humanoid forms and the freedom to choose their path as they developed sentience. King Randor and Man-At-Arms gladly agreed.

Stridor was made Commander of the Armored Cavalry, and he has come to regard Man-At-Arms as his father, and Teela as his sister. Eventually, all of the Stridor models developed sentience, and were granted humanoid forms and freedom, and have chosen individual names for themselves. To this day, you can see Stridor’s descendants mingling with the other denizens of the lands of Eternia. Most have opted to serve the kingdom, but more than a few have chosen a path of their own.

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In Case You Were Wondering:

  • The cyborgs from Equestris are a reference to the Micronaut toy Centaurus.
  • Stridor, is not a reference to this.

Vengeance is Mime!

Um, yeah, so the title of my post really doesn’t make any sense, but it is a terrible pun involving the subject of today’s sketch, so I stand by it. A mime was this week’s challenge for Rick’s character design blog:

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I’ve been having fun playing around with this new, somewhat more painterly style. But, wow… it’s been like a week and a half since I put up a nerdy fan art. I promise I’ll post something very dorky on Tuesday!

Happy New Year! Guh Wha–!?

It’s the year of the pig! (That’s on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, if you didn’t know)

My technique is getting pretty routine now which means two things:

  1. I should probably start trying some new things, and…
  2. I don’t have much to say about this.
As for why the pig is blue and purple with amber-colored eyes… I guess I just felt like giving him some fanciful colors.

Fun Fact: One of the rejected titles for this post was Should Auld Acquaintance Be Pork-ot. Seriously!

Character of the Week: Burglar… PLUS BONUS!

(Posted early because I’m too tired to stay up until midnight, and dishonestly post-dated because I am a liar…)

My friend Rick is teaching a character design class at Cal State Long Beach–he has created a blog for the class, and each week he’s having his professional friends participate in the assignments along with his students. Well, somehow Rick totally overlooked the fact that I’m way unprofessional, and has allowed me to participate as well.

This week’s assignment was a burglar. The entries can be found here. And here’s what I cooked up:

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I took a little time to design this character’s build and costume, did a quick rough in blue pencil, and tightened it up in the inks. My “sketchy” ink style is starting to get cleaner the more I do this–I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing overall, but in this case it worked, because the inks turned out pretty clean on the face in particular, so I was comfortable leaving the lines black, rather than softening them with color, as I have mentioned before. The coloring on this one was again done with the Nina technique, rather than the Skeletor technique. Surprisingly, I think the Nina technique is faster sometimes! The biggest difference on this piece is that I actually added some lighting effects from the gem’s glow. The lighting effects are a little sloppy and a little inconsistent, but for a relatively quick sketch, I’m okay with it. And hey, for me, any lighting effects at all are an improvement, yes?

And as an added bonus… last week’s assignment from Rick was a lumberjack. The entries can be found here. This is mine:

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I didn’t quite have time to finish a new lumberjack illustration, so I sent Rick this, which was originally commisioned by my friend James Bates for an animation pitch a few years ago. This is a pretty good example of the anal-retentive style that I often make reference to. Extremely tight pencils and inks, but not many details on this one, because I was going for a simplified look, knowing that this was supposed to be an animation design. Looking back on it, I wish I had made slightly different color choices on the skin and undershirt, but overall it holds up OK, I guess.

Post Script: For those who did not notice–I posted a couple of reviews. Scroll down to the previous post to check ‘em out!

REVIEWS: A Little Bit of Eastern Culture & A Little Bit of Arcade History

From time to time, I’m going to briefly review the books, comics, movies, TV shows, and action figures that are currently entertaining and/or inspiring me. In a roundabout way, this will give you an idea of what might be influencing me these days, even if it isn’t readily apparent.

Today’s offerings include an illustrated book and a video game anthology…

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The Little Book of Hindu Deities, written and illustrated by Sanjay Patel (144 pages, full color, $14)

After reading an article about this book and checking out the author’s website, I could not resist buying a copy. Patel, who works for Pixar as an animator and storyboard artist, created this book on the side to showcase his heritage, influences, and mad skillz. He also made this book so that I would loathe my own lack of talent. The writing is lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek, and the illustrations are charming and expressive.

Verdict: Awesome. Find it for a few bucks less at one of the usual online vendors and BUY IT!

For More Eastern Religion Mixed With Pop Culture: Vimanarama by Grant Morrison and Philip Bond (104 pages, full color, $12.99)–easily one of my favorite comics of the past couple years.

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Capcom Classics Collection Volume 2 (For Playstation 2 or Xbox, $19.99 )

This anthology contains numerous games from the prestigious history of arcade giant Capcom. With 20 games showcasing everything from bonafide blockbusters (Strider, Super Streetfighter II Turbo) to beloved cult classics (King of Dragons, Captain Commando, Magic Sword) and obscure gems from Capcom’s past (Avengers, Quiz & Dragons) this anthology provides a veritable cornucopia of sprite-based goodness. That’s right, a veritable cornucopia. And the great thing is, these are perfect arcade ports, which means unlimited continues! For once, my complete lack of game does not hinder me!

Verdict: Awesome. Buy it and relive your days of boundless arcade glory.

For More Boundless Arcade Glory, Good Sense Requires You To Try: Capcom Classics Collection Volume 1 (For Playstation or Xbox, $19.99). Dude. Final Fight, Forgotten Worlds, Streefighter II–need I say more?

Cowabunga and Happy Saint Valentine’s Day Eve!

I’m winded from writing long rambling posts. I’ll keep it short today (for once!)…

Hope you all come out of your shells this Valentine’s Day. Eh? Get it? Shells? Like a turtle’s shell? Eh? Eh? No? Okay.

Original sketch in blue pencil, colors in Photoshop (using the same method that I colored Nina MC with). When I draw Ninja Turtles, I try and give them just a bit of a beak, so they’re a bit more “realistically” anthropomorphic. And that’s all I have to say about that!

Come back on Friday for a more involved sketch (not involoving Ninja Turtles) accompanied by a long rambling post–the kind that you have grown to expect from me.

"Uno Gato Muy Peligroso" o "Uno Blog Post Muy Nerdoso"

Yet another re-design challenge at the He-Man.org fan-art forums–my post is here and the original thread is here. The voting thread is here–I placed second.

The subject this time around is part of a line of Argentinian toys called Fuerza-T. These action figures used old He-Man molds (licensed by Mattel, as far as I know), with mixed and matched body parts and accessories, and new color schemes to make each figure appear unique. While they are not officially He-Man toys, Fuerza-T action figures are still of interest to enlightened He-Man enthusiasts. I am one of those enthusiasts.

Felinor is a member of the evil Aracnos faction. His hobbies include drinking the blood of his enemies. His dislikes include the rival villain group Escorpius, and the heroes known collectively as Fuerza-T. The toy version of Felinor is constructed from Mer-Man’s head, Beast Man’s body, Skeletor’s armor, and He-Man’s power sword. My version diverges from this a little, for the sake of making Felinor appear a little more unique:

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This one came together pretty quickly–for whatever reason, I was able to quickly pick colors that I was satisfied with, which I usually find difficult and time-consuming. The key for me was adding more cold colors to accompany the white face and turquoise brow of the original color scheme. His chest and shoulder armor were modified to resemble the Aracnos symbol, and the studded arm bracers are taken from the official illustration of Felinor. I added the nose, the tail, the scaley feet and hands, and the cat’s eye motif (A lot of the other fan-interpretations of Felinor include a cat’s eye motif as well). The cape is my addition too–inspired by the hood-like collar in the original illustration. Despite the wisdom of the Incredibles, I just think everyone is cooler with a cape. And as a nod to Felinor’s allegiance to the Aracnos, his cape has eight points, just as a spider has eight legs.

Man… posting a drawing of an obscure Argentinian action figure with a metafictional lineage that connects back to three of He-Man’s greatest foes just doesn’t seem geeky enough. What could I do to really geek this up? I KNOW. Since very little is known about him, I could write a little background material for this crazy cat (get it? cause he’s a cat)…

* * *

FELINOR is fiercely loyal to Carnivor, ruthless leader of the Aracnos faction. His golden sword was created by a master sword-maker, in a mortal attempt to mimic the divinely forged perfection of He-Man’s power sword. The sword-maker’s intentions were not sinister, but Felinor cast a spell to corrupt the blade, and the cursed sword now shares Felinor’s hunger for blood. To further bolster his strength, Felinor encrusted his power sword’s hilt with an enchanted gem. This gem is another counterfeit–copied from an artifact from the nearby planet Thundera (the gem on his breastplate is simply decorative). In spite of all this, Felinor’s power sword still does not match that of He-Man or She-Ra’s true power swords. It is rumored that the mysterious sword-maker escaped and disappeared, and was even able to forge more power-sword imitations. the existence of these swords has not been confirmed.

Most recently, Carnivor has discovered the existence of planet Earth, and has sent Felinor and a subterranean attack force to perform reconnaissance and prepare the planet for invasion.

* * *

I coined Felinor’s title of “Evil Nocturnal Champion” myself, but in light of the profile I just whipped up, I wonder if “Evil Copy Cat” would have been more appropriate?

Now For Something Completely Different…

It’s far from my standard uber-nerdy fare, but every now and then I get inspired to do something out of the ordinary. This one is for Jacob, who one day linked me to a German Hip Hop video on YouTube by a group named Deichkind. The video featured a female MC called Nina (sometimes referred to as Nina MC). Here is my interpretation of the very striking Nina MC:

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And here is the aforementioned video by Deichkind, entitled Bon Voyage (No, I’m not confused–yes, it is a German track with a French title):

My sketch is a somewhat loose take–it’s more caricature than portrait, and not much of a caricature at that. But I think it captures some of her spirit. Keen-eyed observers will note that while Nina sported a pull-over hoodie in the video, I drew her with a zip-up hoodie. My personal bias for zip-up hoodies aside, I was also looking for an excuse to draw an exaggerated, over-sized zipper.

My pencils and inks were a little bit cleaner this time around, but i was looking to do a little something different with the colors, so I took the suggestion of my friend Charles, and loosened up some. I still used Photoshop, but instead of making my usual super-careful lasso selections, I just colored the whole thing with the paintbrush tool. I chose the brush that mimics a marker tip, and brought the opacity down (30%-60%). I’m pretty happy with the results.

Don’t get me wrong, Nina is Jacob’s gal–as far as raven-haired Euro-hotties go, Nigella Lawson is more my speed (call me, Nigella!). Now, the lovely Nina aside, let’s talk about Deichkind–these dudes are freakin dope! I have no clue what their lyrics are about, but they got “mad flow” as the kids say.

Actually, now that I stop and think about it, there are only two people that I know who understand any German at all, and one of them is my Dad. Dad, if you are reading this, I apologize in advance if you heard any explicit German lyrics, and I implore you to NOT tell me what those lyrics say, because the last thing I need to hear is German obsenities translated into English by my father. Thank you.

Here for your enjoyment, is another Deichkind video, sadly sans Nina, but awesome nonetheless:

For more on Nina MC:


Turning anything into a baby, makes it cuter… right? This baby Dalek is for Karen, who got the entire office hooked on the new Doctor Who:

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I don’t think this piece was completely successful. Instead of looking like a super-deformed Dalek, it kind of just looks like a misdrawn Dalek. What do you think?

Anyways, it’s colored gold, as per the most recent incarnation of the Daleks. A semi-significant art note, for anyone interested in the details–this is the first sketch I’ve posted where I’ve completely left the line art in black. If you go back and look at previous sketches, in each one almost all of the outlines are in color. Even most spots where the lines appear to be black, a closer look will reveal that it’s usually a very dark grey, brown, or blue. The purpose of this is to “soften” up the sketch–excessive amounts of black sketch lines can look very harsh. However, harshness, I thought, would go well with a Dalek.

I always thought the Daleks were kind of silly, I mean one arm is a toilet plunger, and the other arm is a cake mixer. What’s scary about that? And then I started thinking about it while I was drawing this… one arm is a toilet plunger and the other is a cake mixer. Do not, I repeat: DO NOT, eat an unidentified cake, if Daleks are known to be within the area!

Post Script: Regardless of what you think of the old Doctor Who (or even if you know nothing about it), give the new series a shot–it’s a good time.