This is a visual development project I dreamt up out of a fascination with all things sci-fi and because I have a plethora of awesome friends.


Random Introspection

A really hard thing about all of this visual development stuff is pulling out of your imagination all of the nuances and story that you feel, but don't necessarily see.  I know that's vague, but hang in here with me.  When I am trying to tell a story, visually, there are certain elements that I want to capture; sometimes it's not necessarily a space as much as it is an idea.  Like when Silkwood and Co. head north to investigate the creature - I don't necessarily have a picture in my head of what the north looks like; I know that it's grey and vertical, a lonely and demanding country.  There's steel in both the land and the people.  So when I sit down to try and draw all that, my goal isn't to draw any particular space - the drawings, the sketches are successful if they capture and clearly convey the idea that I'm feeling about a place.  Then it starts to become about design and composition.

I think that's why I like drawing people so much.  People are there in real life, there's no need to try and figure out what they are supposed to look like; I already know what they look like!  All I have to focus on is capturing the essence of who they are in the portrait.  I'm rarely satisfied with what I achieve (what artist is?), but part of the drive is the hope that someday you could find it, someday you can capture in a painting whatever it is that you are wanting to achieve in your art.


Merry Christmas!

I've been having a crappy kinda week so far - I know it's only Tuesday, so I guess it's been a lousy couple of weeks, but anyway.

To cheer myself up and try and banish this overly dreary mood I've been in, I decided to have some fun and threw together this little piece.  

My little gift to all you who have been keeping an eye on my progress over the past few months.  I love you guys!

These were done in Illustrator - I've been working on a Christmas card with a similar "cartoony" theme and started messing around until I had all of these.  Anyway, I hope they make you smile.  I did when I was making them.

Happy Hols!  


We're on G+

If you are on G+ (and you should be!), you can add S&C to your circle and get notified of all the updates to the blog!  So head on over to the S&C Google+ page and say hello!

The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello

Freaking gorgeous.  That's all I have to say.  First because, well, it is.  And secondly; I haven't finished watching it yet.  But it's brilliant, visually.  I might be a little bit biased in that opinion because I love silhouettes.  I can't tell you how many ideas I had in just 2 minutes of video.  


2011-12-20 Update:

I finished watching this, and let me say that it was more than I could have hoped for.  It was inventive, the story was well thought out and well told, the animation was awesome.  It exceeded all expectations.  I've been creeping on the movie's website and it looks like there will be a few more installments.  Can't wait!  

If you haven't already, I definitely encourage you to go watch this movie!


Character Sketch - Shep

Okay, it's finally up!  I've decided that I'm not quite happy with the design/presentation concept yet - I think it still needs . . .  something.  But that's the great thing about this - I can come back and revisit things as much as I need to until it feels right.

As always, I love feedback so let me know what you think!

Justin Gerard's Steampunk Wizard of Oz

Steampunk Wizard of Oz, by Justin Gerard

Justin Gerard is a fan-freaking-tastic illustrator.  Whenever I pick up an issue of Spectrum, I'm inevitably staring down at a piece he's done thinking "Holy crows, that's awesome!  I wonder who - oh, it's Justin Gerard's. Well, that explains it."  Without fail.  Every single time.  And I mean every single time because he's in EVERY SINGLE ONE.

Back in 2009, he did an illustration of Wizard of Oz for Illustration Master Class.  But is was Wizard of Oz . . . as steampunk.  Awesome, I know.  A few other pieces followed and the final art as well as his process are posted here on his blog.

He also posts on Muddy Colors: An Illustration Collective with several other bastions of illustration.  If you have any interest in art at all, I would suggest taking a look at both of these sites.  It's not often that you can really get information directly from the horses mouth, so to speak.  And all of these guys are really good teachers as well.  It's like a gold mine.  But more awesome.


S&C Poster Concept

Here it is! Goal 1.5 for this weekend reached!

This was the unanimous design choice here at the Silkwood house.  It's just a mock-up, but the idea isn't going to change much.  Let me know what you think!


The Beginnings of an Airship Crew

Goal 1 of 3 - DONE!

What's steampunk without an airship and it's crew of fan-freaking-tastic characters?

  • Elle - The owner of a small, varied fleet of airships.  She performs a hodge-podge of services like shipping and delivery, long distance message running, sight-seeing, etc.  She's slightly spastic and usually stressed about something or other, but with her driven work ethic and the help of her crew she's developed a reputation for excellence and getting the job done - no matter the circumstance.  
  • BT - Elle's engineer.  She's competent, capable and she can build or fix anything - out of anything - before you can spit.  All without chipping a nail.  She's kept Elle's ships flying through circumstances that would have crippled bigger and newer ships.  Her inventive offensive security measures have made many a merchant glad that Elle and her crew haven't turned to piracy, and many an air-pirate wish they hadn't.  
  • Sun - an accomplished medic and Elle's younger sister.  She's a little spitfire - and her mouth is sharper than the needle she'll use to sew you up.  She's amazingly shrewd and she can ferret a secret out of anyone - if she has to.  If it's advice you need, she's the one to ask, because ten to one, Sun's already thought of it. 
  • James - a kind of Jack-of-All-Trades, he's Elle's primary helmsman.  A fantastic pilot as long as you're not wanting to, well, dock or maybe land.  But you know what they say about any landing you can walk away from.  An eternal optimist, he can see the humor in anything and he's always ready with a joke.  He's one-half of a rather dynamic and fantastic duo with his friend Shep. Nothing is impossible with the two of them on the job.  
  • Shepherd (Shep) - very much a renaissance man, Shep knows a little of everything and a lot of other things.  He works the communications systems for Elle, and he'd like to see anyone do it better.  He's a visionary with grand dreams.  If you have a moment to give an ear, you might find yourself caught up in his ideas, too.  Just don't get sucked into one of his and James grand and intricate schemes to track down the fabled and elusive Granny Mede's Shack of Snacks . . .

Not Remotely Steampunk

I laughed at this.  A friend of mine sent me the link - and while I'm still trying to figure out if this is supposed to be a subtle hint as it pertains to this project, I thought I'd post it in an effort to establish what Silkwood & Co. will NOT be.


More Photo Reference

I had another impromptu photo session last night when I got back from my business trip.  The lighting was horrible, but the extreme contrast between the shadows and the light gave me an idea for a Silkwood & Co. poster!  I got really excited - because I'm a geek and art is what I look forward to at the end of the day right now.  Sad, I know.

But anyway, here's a little "tease" for ya!  The final will (probably) not be this pose.  But the general idea is the same.

See what I meant about bad lighting?  I was lucky Elle (another of my sisters, you'll be introduced to her later, too) was there to mess with the settings on my SLR.

I really need to take a photography class.

Anyway, as far as "real" art goes, you'll be getting some this weekend (I know, I know, I've promised that before).  I plan to upload at least 2 character sheets as well as a post to start the airship crew introductions.


Airships, Steampunk, and Photo Reference

This probably doesn't matter to anyone else, but I sometimes wonder (as an illustrator) how artists direct and coordinate photo shoots for reference.  I see things in my head, but I have a hard time telling people what I am trying to accomplish in a picture.  For example, if you take three random people and tell them to look contemplative you'll probably get three very different interpretations of contemplation.  

So here is a little glimpse into my (albeit random and disjointed) "process".  Doesn't that sound swanky?

I hated asking people to pose for photo reference for me in college.  You would not believe the lengths I went to to try and get reference without having to ask anyone for help.  Now, that said, I did get some people together this weekend (mainly instigated and accomplished by my very organized and no nonsense younger sister).  I had ordered a few various props and costume articles, and since a few of them arrived just before Thanksgiving, I had mentioned to said younger sister that I might want to get some of the group together to take pictures.  

Now, you have to understand that Sun - this is her character's name, you'll be introduced to her later - is kind of like a force of nature.  Mentioning to her that you might possibly in the near future like to do something is like saying and your very existence depends on your being able to do whatever it is that you mentioned.  Nothing is impossible in her world: if you want to do something, you just do it.  

So, not an hour after mentioning that I wanted to potentially take some reference with the new props, a mass text has been sent to nearly all of Silkwood & Co. and I find myself having to figure out a time to meet and what people should wear/bring and trying to figure out where we can go to take pictures, etc.  At the same time, I'm driving my mother around (on Black Friday) so she can pick up the one or two things she's picking up for other people, running to the grocery store and trying to get back on time for everyone to show up.  By the time I get home, everyone's there and I still have no clue what exactly I'm hoping to accomplish with all of this.

I scrounged around the house for a few more costume articles and then we headed out.  Much hilarity ensued.  I had some worries about the light, it was rather overcast for about half an hour, but the pictures I took during that time didn't turn out to bad.  By the time the sun came out the angles of the shadows were kinda perfect.  So everything actually turned out pretty nice.

I ended up taking over 500 photos, and I'd say about 300 of them were "usable" in some way or other.  In other words if you think this is all there is, you're wrong.  I'm saving the best for later!

When we got back to the house, the doorbell rang and the mail man was there with the rest of the steampunk props - the best ones!

Why couldn't he have been 2 hours earlier?!

I'm drawing as fast as I can!  Hopefully I'll get 1 or 2 character sheets up by the end of the week.  But really, with so much awesome inspiration, I don't see a problem with getting something up!

Wish me luck!


Steampunk Illustrator

I happened across the illustrator Kieth Thompson this weekend by way of Google+.  His art's a little dark at times, but he's got a lot of great steampunk inspired illustrations that are really fantastic and I'm already a big fan of his drawing and painting style.  I also love that each of his illustrations have some kind of literature or a blurb about what they are about or who the character is that he's depicting.

I'm still plugging away at some drawings.  We had an epic photo shoot this weekend with a few of the "characters".  My goal is to post some of the drawings by the end of this week, as well as anything else I do or come across.  We'll see how this goes . . .


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

You're going to have to wait for a new post until this weekend.  I plan on spending as much time as I can on putting together some new sketches over the holiday weekend and posting them before I head out of town next week.  

And in keeping with the spirit of this holiday season, I thought I'd share a little bit of history:

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Have a great weekend everyone!


Cpt. Marcus' Men

I've already introduced Marcus and Matthias in the post A Quick Intro to Some of the Characters, but here are some of the other soldiers on his team:

  • Bob - Bob is big.  And kinda scary - mostly because he's not too bright.  But he's got a heart of gold and he'll never back down from a fight.  Marcus would rather have him at his back in a firefight than anyone else.  
  • Ericson- Ericson is the funny man of the team.  Once he and Marcus get started, they're hard to stop and they can keep a crowd in stitches for hours on end.  Yet for all his humor, Ericson has an abundance of deep wisdom that belies his age and his advice is worth his weight in gold.  
  • Sam - Sam, Marcus and Bob went through training for the military together and were friends long before that.  Their paths parted ways for a few years as Sam pursued officer training, but the threat from the rift has brought the trio back together again.  He is brilliant and has studied under some of the foremost universities and worked with some of the most prominent generals of the ACS.  He's quiet, but don't let that fool you - if you find yourself glued to the outhouse seat one cold morning, it's probably Sam's fault, don't get taken in by that whole innocent face act.  He could convince his grandmother that tiny Martian men tried to abduct him and that's why he's late for dinner.  Really, he had to fight them off, he almost died!
  • Ged - No comments on his height now; he makes up for it with sheer tenacious will.  There's no problem he wont tackle, no fight he wont take on.  And he's possibly the best cook in five states, so really, only comment if you don't want to eat.  


A Quick Intro to Some of the Characters

These are a few of the characters that will take the stage in this experiment.  The names have been changed of course to protect myself from future harassment by the people they are based upon.  This is fiction guys.  As the Law and Order franchise so elegantly states: "The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event" (emphasis mine). I'm not telling who's based on who.  You can't make me.  No, Mark, I said I'm not telling . . . 

  • Marcus - a career military man who now operates on behalf of several ACS governments to coordinate attacks and the gathering of information against the invading enemy from across the rift.
  • Matthias - Marcus' younger brother, a mechanical and strategic genius, he works with his brother to defend the ACS against the people from the other side of the rift. 
  • Cate - a longtime family friend of Marcus and Matthias, she's a brilliant scientist, but very unconventional; she loves to be in the middle of things and is fascinated by the world around her.  
  • Andreas - one of Cate's research assistants, he's a quiet steady young man with an eye for detail who can fix almost anything.
  • Kris - another research assistant of Cate's and Andreas' sister. As quiet as her brother and never without a smile, she has a boundless and fantastic imagination and the mechanical skill to bring some of her more fantastic designs to life.

Eventually, there will be posts on each character going a little deeper into who they are and the part they play in the "story" along with sketches of them and their attire.  There will be a lot - I have a big "family".

About S&C

Putting all of this together is (of course) harder than I thought.  Of course, I'm also a perfectionist and slightly OCD . . . so, really, you're lucky to be getting any updates.  

Every visual concept needs a back story, at least for me.  And while the main goal isn't really to completely hammer out all of the details of this particular story, I do want to start with a solid framework for all of the visual stuff that is coming along (and it really is coming, I promise!).  

The story takes place in an alternate universe (obviously) where the world is divided into allied city-states (ACS).  For years these small states have had to band together to fight against an enemy that travels to their world through a rift in time and space.  The rift is, in appearance, a constant inpenetrable storm located across the northernmost states.  It is impossible to navigate and very few have entered the storm to find their way back alive - or sane.  

However, the people from the other side of the rift have been sending companies of soldiers through the rift waging a slow, but unrelenting attack on the different states who might stand in their way.  No one knows why they come through the rift, what they want or the cause behind their tireless war on the ACS.  Technologically, they are far more advanced than the ACS - who for the most part distrust mass production because of some vaguely remembered tragedy from the far past.  Fortunately, the rift does not allow the invaders to cross with some of their more dangerous technology or with the massive number of troops they are capable of sending. This handicap has been the only thing that has kept the ACS from being overthrown.  

Because of this state of nearly constant war, many if not all of the city-states require their citizens to spend a certain amount of time in the military.  

Now, it comes about that something else has started coming through the rift - a creature that no one in the ACS has ever seen or heard of before.  Once the governments become aware of it they assign a young captain to put together a team of researchers and soldiers to investigate the creature and where it is coming from and why.  

The captain and his team enlist an old family friend to investigate.  She and her team, who were working on a project in the south have been stalled for quite some time because of budget cuts and bureaucratic red tape.  They jump at the chance to look into something new in the meantime and travel with the captain's team up north to the area where the rift is and the creature has been sighted.  

The captain's orders go a little beyond research, though. Information the government leaders have been receiving suggests that the creature is hostile, completely destroying anything in it's path. The groups main purpose - which he has not shared with scientists - is to find a way to destroy the creature as well as finding a way to close or destroy the rift.

So that's the foundation that everything is going to be built on. I'll post some more of the story as I develop more of the art.


The Wars of Other Men

Here's another indie steampunk I heard about recently.  Much more interesting concept for an airship.

On a side note, their website is much better than Aurora's: lots more background info, design pictures, character descriptions, etc.  



Aurora - a Steampunk Short Film

A friend of mine sent this to me.  I thought it was an interesting take on the whole steampunk genre.  It also got me thinking what my airship is and is not going to look like.



About S&C

I dreamt this up on a rainy day.

Actually, I don't remember if it was raining or not.  I do remember being in the middle of one of my streampunk funks and somehow deciding that it would be a great idea to take all of the significant people in my life and transforming them into steampunk characters in a steampunk universe. 

Yeah, that's basically it. 

In other words this site is a purely emotional, imaginative, and creative binge. I can't promise continuity or structure or rationality.  I'll be developing the world and characters as they come to me, and I might post a couple of interesting steampunk articles as I come across them. 

But it is mostly just an exercise in OCD and silliness.