Steampunk: Tempest Huckstep


July, 1879

Tempest Huckstep, also known as the Angel of Death, is an expert sharpshooter who lives as a gun for hire in the American west.  Her weapon of choice is the Spencer repeater rifle.  She is also known as Hell’s Belle, for rumors claim she also has otherworldly abilities that could only be the result of witchcraft.  She rarely stays in one town for long because she is constantly hounded by lawmen of a federal agency called the “Secret Service” who seem more concerned with any books she may have in her possession than with any crimes she may have committed.

Tempest was born in Illiopolis, Illinois in 1855.  The “City of Illinois,” virtually the exact geographic center of the state, was at first a small collection of log cabins which were destroyed by fire and remained little more than abandoned grassland for nearly twenty years until the railroad came through in 1853.  This sudden link to the state capitol of Springfield, twenty-five miles directly to the west, spurred the town’s rebirth.  Tempest’s father Abner, known as an ingenious inventor by the general public and a talented sorcerer and occultist to a few close friends (including a Springfield lawyer named Abraham Lincoln) owned several hundred acres outside of the town.  It was here he designed specialized steam-powered engines and experimented with electricity over twenty years before Edison and Tesla would. 

By the time Tempest was seven years old, the war between the states was shaping up to be a drawn out conflict, and Abner’s old friend, now President of the United States, called upon him to improve upon artillery range and accuracy. Few people in the future would know that it was no coincidence that Abner’s property would be part of what would become the Sangamon Ordinance Plant in 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, for Lincoln had also directed Abner to secretly use his other talents to design weaponry unlike anything the world had ever known. 

Despite her young age, Tempest acted as her father’s apprentice in all of his works, both occult and mundane, as had been the custom among sorcerers for over a thousand years. 

Abner’s exotic weaponry, such as an armored steam-wagon that could shoot controlled bolts of lightning, were never manufactured because he did not turn over his designs and diaries to the government.  The civil war had claimed too many lives, and he feared his weapons would contribute to such carnage across the world.  Upon Lincoln’s assassination and hints of deeper conspiracy, Abner set fire to his own laboratories in an attempt to convince the world that all of his work was destroyed in a tragic accident. 

The ruse seemed to have worked for years, until he learned of unknown parties making discrete inquiries about him.  Fearing the worst, he hid his diaries among his now young teenage daughter’s text books and sent her off to a private school in Texas.  The last time Tempest saw her father alive was at the train station, where instead of loving words of encouragement and promises of reunion, her father told her to remember all that she had learned from him, to keep these things secret, and to trust no one.


May 13, 2016

Artwork, characters and story: copyright, Louis Eliopoulos


Ah, what can I say.  The inspiration for this piece is a photo by Annette Kerstin  (Annette Kerstin Photography) of a friend of mine back in 2015.  I loved the lighting and the pose, and there was something about the look on her face that every time I would look away and back, the expression seemed to read differently… mild happiness, amusement, smugness, boredom… it was sort of “Mona Lisa smile-ish”… so I thought one way to lock down a look of “I’m a badass” was to add guns, lol.

As I had bought a new computer since the last paints I did, I had to reinstall and set up the various paint and tablet software and in doing so stumbled across obvious brush settings I simply never looked at before, and to save a lot of techno babble, avoided traps I had constantly fallen into previously.  I played movie soundtracks on Youtube for background music, mostly Star Trek I (majestic vibe) and II (courage under conflict vibe) and at the end tried out Conan the Barbarian (yes, Arnold’s movie) which turned out to be ridiculously great, with sections reminiscent of Verdi and others of Bolero.  Truly epic fantasy music.

In the end, this paint went rather smoothly though there are at least fifty layers of drawn elements in this thing.  I also did it at a large size and resolution, so you can zoom in really close and it still is detailed and can be printed in large format.  For example, you can see the individual threads of the scraped up knee of her jeans, or the engraving on the rifle, and the stitching on her bags and corset.  I still use the “burn” tool a lot though other artists say to avoid it… I just love the way it adds texture to fabrics and skin instead of having to overlay textures on separate layers.

The piece perhaps took 8 hours of drawing time spread across five or six sessions. Its hard to say, because in between sessions, and often in the middle of them, I did a lot of internet searches both for historical accuracy and source photos.  Searches involved history of rifles (settling on the Spencer, the one I created is a combo of 3 different rifles I found), Victorian clothing and patterns, saddle bags, steam engines, trains, peacock feathers, Civil War history, Abraham Lincoln, Illiopolis, Illinois, and more.

At first I had intended on full-blown steampunk, but the engineer in me has a problem with how SP fans have turned the characters into steam powered people as opposed to Victorian era people using steam engines and contraptions.  I was going to replace some body parts with robotics in my earliest sketches, and even designed cable/gear/pulley systems to replace tendons in the hand and forearm, but kept thinking that though it would work mechanically, how would this connect biologically?  And if things are steam powered, who the hell wants to carry a burning furnace and boiler on their back?  This is the issue I have with a lot of steampunk creations… either its overdone and impossible, or people simply glue a bunch of gears to their costume for aesthetics.  As if a vampire would wear a shirt with a bunch of batman logos all over it to make him look more vampy.

When the drawing was looking more Western than Steampunk though, I decided to come up with a story or character bio to maybe inspire me or direct me in which way to go, or at least let me trick myself into satisfying the need for steam.  I knew the general time period, I just needed a location, and that’s when I found Illiopolis, which was too good to pass up as it is almost identically pronounced as my last name (Eliopoulos).  The tiny town had, as a local historian put it, “narrowly missed” history on several occasions… it’s geographical location and name was meant to set it up as the state capitol (as Indianapolis is to Indiana), but the capitol wound up 25 miles west.  The Lincolns likely came into Illinois through here, and Abe himself likely slept here a few times as he had friends here, and ever the Donner Party (who’s hungry?) had ties to the area.

Overall I’m pretty happy with this, though I could add on a few more trinkets and gadgets, and I learned a little bit of history to boot.





Yes, I’m still alive.

A little surprised though to see that I haven’t posted anything in over a year, and really only because I haven’t done any “serious” drawing in that long.  By serious I mean sitting for a couple hours at a stretch.  There have been the occasional doodles and and 20 second sketches… oh, God that’s just sad.

Well, the other day I decided that, dag-gummit, I was a gonna set myself down and draw.  I had intended on doing this drawing for a very long time, as I loved the source photo when I first saw it.  The girl pictured was one of three I worked with a couple years ago whose face paints I did for Halloween.  This make-up was my favorite of the bunch, especially cause it was so well-framed by her hair.  I altered her selfie a little bit at the collar for the sake of symmetry, but otherwise this is what she looked like.

It’s neat (to me at least) to cover half the picture with my hand, flip it to the other side, then back again… “so pretty…so scary… so pretty… so scary….”

Couldn’t think of a title though, started with “skull…..” and the word “baby” popped into my head.  One of those word association things cause there’s a song called ‘Skullbaby’ by a punk band called the Didjits I used to see (what seemed every other week) back at U of I (Illinois at Urbana) in 1987.  They were usually packaged with another local indie band called the Poster Children.

‘Skullbaby’ always struck me as amusing cause the lyrics began:

“Momma had a skullbaby… and it screeeeamed all night long… you would scream too if all you had was a skull!”

Back then, I had my friend copy his copy of the Didjit’s home-made CD onto a cassette for me… but thanks to the internet I see all this stuff is available on Youtube, and I am blaring what was, in 1987, the new album ‘Hey Judester’.

Holy crap that was nearly thirty years ago.  How is it I still know the songs but couldn’t even tell you what classes I took without looking at my transcripts?



trapeze3 trapeze2trapeze1


Well, I finally found the time to head over to another figure drawing workshop.  This was a five hour session, but I had missed the first hour since I was at work Saturday morning.  There were about a dozen artists, and the media used was quite varied: digital painting, oils, watercolors, pencils, charcoals, etc.

The petit model had brought in her trapeze set up, which was hung from the exposed ceiling structure of the converted warehouse which serves as the art studio.  She was up at about six feet off the ground, and did a variety of poses in five minute intervals, where she would sort of stretch and get the blood flowing and all that, then get back into the pose again.  There were perhaps three or four poses over the course of the afternoon.

Early on I was griping to myself about how my butt was uncomfortable in the metal folding chair, but then I looked up at the model who basically was perched on a bar as thick as a towel rack, and decided my suffering was paltry compared to hers, ha ha.  On the other hand, I must weigh 2 or 2-1/2 times as much as she did, so at least I have a smidgen of justification.

My line drawing seemed to come relatively easy today; I didn’t have to scribble-erase much.  If I find the time, I think these would look nice with some digital touch-ups like a toned background and playing with the page dimensions to improve the composition.

It was nice to be drawing again instead of writing!

Zel’s portrait


Well, I’m still plugging away at “Fabelwald Book II: Dandle & Lion”, which is why I’ve completely ignored this blog.  Actually, I’m reworking Book I as well a little bit. I have settled on a consistent cover layout for the series, so will reissue “Mythic Forest” with a new cover (the first design I had painted, but then not used) AND inserting a handful of character portraits AND adding a very short chapter at the end to allow for ‘loose ends’ to be picked up in future novels.

The portrait here is a 4×6 digital paint of the main character (Zel, aka Rapunzel) for Book I.  The following pics show the process… I sketched directly into the computer, then messed around until I came up with something that looks like stone for her window frame (on a separate layer).  On a third layer I underpainted the sketch with basic blobs of light and shadow.  I then duplicated the sketch layer (to save a clean copy) and merged it with the light/shadow layer… this allowed me to smudge and paint around the sketch, instead of having to essentially redo the sketch in a new layer of paint.  Finally came the long process of detailing and refining…. eventually getting down to adding individual strands of fly-away hair, freckles, birthmarks, etc.

I also tried adding a little bit of blur as you get towards the edges of the pic, and I kind of like the looseness of those areas.  The problem I keep running into is that I zoom in too much to smooth out the fine areas of color change on the face, which looks great zoomed in, but then when I zoom out to the “actual size” the paint looks strange… Its obvious there’s too much drawn in detail and there is a sort of harshness about the whole thing.  I need someone to stand behind me and slap me upside the head when I press the zoom button!

Sticking to a “rougher” paint will likely not only look nicer (more like oil paint) and save me hours of work no one can see.  Well, actually, the detail DOES allow me to print much larger sized work and even print out zoomed-in, individual areas… but really, unless by some miracle these drawings go viral and people start demanding poster versions, I’ll never use that option.

So, its back to having someone just slap me upside the head.

1 2 3  45



A few hours ago the news was released that a 10’x 15′ mosaic floor was uncovered in one of the Amphipolis chambers.  For those who have not heard, Amphipolis is one of the largest if not THE largest tombs found in Greece, dating back to the time of Alexander the Great.  Its looking like this may be the tomb of one of his more important or at least favored generals.  One report I read says it may be the tomb of Laomedon of Mytilene, who was given Syria when the empire was carved up.

Anyways, there is a big circle missing in the middle, and because of the amount of detail of the surrounding artwork, they can pretty much reconstruct it.  What I noticed was the slightly different coloring of the stone/earth beneath, and that it sort of matched the shapes of the artwork above.  A simple adjustment of contrast in a paint program enhances this ( itraced out the lines).  I’m guessing that the discoloration either has something to do with the chemistry of the different colored stones used in the mosaic, perhaps leaching into the base “cement”; or perhaps because the “cement” batches themselves were not identical, controlled mixes as the different sections of the artwork were laid out (I’d guess they did the foreground details first to get the right shapes, then filled in the layers of background as those dried).  Since the mixes were slightly different in the colors were slightly off as well.

Oh well, just my amateur archaeological thoughts…

Art Nouveau style book cover





Oh yeah, I have a blog…

Sort of forgot about it since I haven’t really drawn anything in months… too busy writing.  This last week or two however, I have drawn quite a bit.

First, a facebook friend, a girl I grew up with (literally the girl next door, or one house over to be exact), has a animal rescue/shelter in New Hampshire ( and she mentioned that they were getting a set of wheels (like an HC chair) for a dog named Derby who was born with seriously underdeveloped front legs.  The post said something about tee shirts for fundraising/awareness and I offered to do a drawing.  I did a pencil sketch of the dog and added a harness and wheels using sample pics from the web.  As it turns out, he wound up getting just about the identical style harness, though the tee design we went with was option 2, showing a bunch of dogs running, with one of them on wheels.  As soon as the shirts are printed I’ll devote a post for those drawings and more info on the shelter.

Second, I stumbled across another tee shirt project… a competition for Dungeons and Dragons upcoming game redesign/themes… the new “season” is called “Tyranny of Dragons” and follows a storyline centered around Tiamat, the 5-headed queen of dragons (remember the 80’s cartoon?).  The pisser was that the deadline was 1 day away… it had already been out for 3 or 4 weeks… so I hurriedly did some sketches and came up with a couple designs… not my best stuff but not bad for short work.  The contest actually opens for voting today, but from what I gather, have the entrants are professional design firms that do these all the time and have the networks for “ballot stuffing” which is allowed.  Its kind of like all star game voting where popular stars, especially if they are from, say, the New York Yankees, get gobs of votes simply cause the size of their market, not necessarily cause they merit it.  Anyways, I’m not gonna kill myself getting the word out for the “public’s pick” and hope for a nod for one of the “judge’s picks.”

And finally, we come to the sketch/paint above.  This was another “you have one day to do it” projects.  It is for the PYA: the PanCretan Youth (Association/of America?).  The Chicago chapter is hosting this year, and they are putting together an ad book for fundraising.  Someone called someone else, who called my mom’s friend, who called my mom, who called me Monday night and said:

“They need a cover, can you do something?”

“Sure, when do they need it?”

“Wednesday morning.”

Luckily, Tuesdays are my day off… so my day involved yardwork, cleaning up the garage after a ton of woodworking (did I post about that already? the Viking stuff? I’ll have to check), 45 minute bike ride, draw 2 hours, make dinner, draw for many more hours with a couple breaks to catch an inning of the White Sox game and watch a little bit of John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart take their shots at Liberty Valance.

The sketch was supposed to be about dancing since the kids have dance troupes, and as I started framing the drawing with Cretan elements like the Minoan styled columns, things started to look Deco/Art Nouveau, so I ran with it.  I love the look of Nouveau, but oddly enough I’ve never attempted anything in that style.  It was kind of a pain painting it, there are methods that didn’t work so well as I went along, and realized that it could have been much easier if I had considered how the paint program works before I drew anything by hand.  It would be easier if I drew less to begin with, and took advantage of the computer’s ability to draw in layers and such…

Anyways, in the end I am pretty happy with it, especially since it was one of those drawings that just “happened” and was not planned.  I definitely need to try some more A.N. styled art, and take my time to make it more complex than I was able to do here.

Ukraine: the Soap Opera

What good is a political crisis that affects millions of people’s lives if you can’t mock the idiot politicos that create them?


As the World Spins:

A soap opera based on the Ukraine crisis



Eunice: (Ukraine) shares an apartment with her husband Viktor

Viktor: (Russian leaning govt. of Ukraine) abusive husband of Eunice

“The Bear”: (Russia) Viktor’s Mafioso uncle, landlord of the building Viktor and Eunice live in, has important business dealings with E.U. West.

E.U. West: (Europe) night club owner who lives in the apartment across the alley from Viktor and Eunice, often flirts with Eunice

Sam: (USA) close friend and ally of E.U., richest, loudest member of the country club across the street.


(Scene:  EU’s and Eunice’s apartments, split screen view, EU and Eunice on the phone, looking at each other from across the alley thru their apartment windows)

EU:  “Hey.  You’re looking cute this morning.”

Eunice:  (giggles) “Thanks, you too.”

EU:  “Mmm… I can’t wait to get my hands on you.  How long till your divorce is finalized?”

Eunice:  “Just a few months, then I can kick Viktor out.”

EU:  “I’m counting the days.  I’ll call you later, I have plans with Sam this afternoon.”

Eunice:  “OK, love you.”

EU:  “Uh-huh.  Bye.”


(Scene:  Country club, EU and Sam teeing up on the 4th hole)

Sam:  “So, dude.  You get in Eunice’s pants yet?”

EU (bragging):  “I’m working on it… using my charms, you know how it is.”

Sam:  “Not me, dude.  I see a chick I like, I’m just like, Bam!  You’re my woman now!  So anyways, you love her?”

EU:  “Puh-lease.  She’s cute, having her on my arm will be nice for a while.  It’s delicate though, her husband’s uncle and I have dealings… messing around with her could cause problems there.”

Sam:  “Who is the uncle?”

EU:  “Bear, the mobster.”

Sam:  “Oh, I hate that guy!  He’s like, my arch enemy, dude.  He’s been kicking my ass all over the golf course lately, too… making me look like an idiot in front of everybody.”

EU:  “Yeah, everyone has talked about it.”

Sam:  “Duuuude.  I hope you get Eunice, just to stick it to the Bear.  I’ve been telling everybody you two make a great couple… that she should be free to love who she wants.  You know, trying to get some good vibes all up in this place.”

EU:  “Yeah, I appreciate it… but maybe dial it down a little.”

Sam:  “No way, bro.  Eunice should be with who she wants to be… I totally believe in like, free choice and all that shit.”


(Scene:  EU’s apartment, 3 am, phone rings)

EU:  “Hello?”

Eunice:  “It’s me.”

EU:  “Me who?”

Eunice:  “Eunice! Who else?”

EU:  ”Oh, hey.  I was just teasing.  What time is it?”

Eunice:  “Three in the morning.”

EU:  “Oh.  Why you calling so late?  I just got home from work, I’m kind of tired… can we talk in the morn-“

Eunice:  “I’ve left Viktor.”

EU:  “You what?”

Eunice:  “We had a terrible fight.  He hurt me, so I cracked his head open with a frying pan and chased him out of the apartment.  Now we can be together.  Can you come and pick me up?”

EU:  “Ummm…..”

Eunice:  “Its ok, Viktor is not here.  He probably ran off to his uncle’s house.”

EU:  “The Bear?  Aww, shit.  You didn’t tell him about us, did you?”

Eunice:  “Of course I did.  That’s what the fight was about.”

EU:  (mumbles) “You stupid bi—“

Eunice:  “What? I can’t hear you.”

EU:  (looks out the window into the alley between apartments)  “Nothing.”

Eunice:  ”So are you coming over?”

(multiple black sedans drive up to the building, Bear’s henchmen pour out and surround the place)

EU:  “Ummm….”

Eunice:  “Hello?  You still there?”


(Scene:  Country club driveway; area is crowded, members from all the surrounding neighborhoods gossiping about the Bear’s actions)

Sam:  “Come on bro, we gotta rescue Eunice!”

EU:  “Why couldn’t she wait?  Just a couple of months and she could have been free.”

Sam:  “What’s done is done, dude.  We just can’t let the Bear go and like, take over people’s apartments and girls and stuff.”

EU:  “He kind of does run the building already.  Besides, he sort of has me by the short hairs.”

Sam:  “No way, dude.  You should go and like, slash his tires… teach him a lesson.”

EU:  “I can’t mess with his car.  I get the gas for my car from him… I told you, its complicated. “

Sam:  “Well, what about Eunice?”

EU:  “What about her?”

Sam:  “I thought you loved her.”

EU:  “Ahhhhh, no.  She’s not worth this trouble, that’s for sure.”

Sam:  “Well, we gotta do something!  We can’t just let the Bear do whatever he wants and get away with it!  Next thing you know he’ll go after all the girls in the building!  Don’t forget, most of them are his exes!”

EU:  “Seriously, they’re not worth it.  I like to flirt, maybe get a little action now and then.  Not going to get into a fight over it though.”

Sam:  “Dude!  I’ve started fights for less!  Sometimes out of boredom!”

EU:  “Yeah, I know… ah, just let it go.”

Sam:  “I can’t!  I got a reputation to uphold, dude.  I’m always talking about freedom and all that shit, I can’t back down now!  It’s all about respect!  Everyone here in the club looks up to me.”

EU:  “You know, you’re not as popular as you think you are…”

Sam:  “No way, bro.  Everybody loves me.  I rock!”

EU:  “Ugh…  I suppose we should do something though, everyone is watching…”

Sam:  “I know, let’s kick the Bear out of the country club!”

EU:  “You can’t… he’s got a lifetime membership.”

Sam:  “Well then, let’s ban his tennis court privileges.”

EU:  “Does he even play tennis?”

Man in crowd:  “Hey, isn’t that Eunice up in the window?  I think she’s trying to get your attention.”

Sam:  “Where?”

EU:  “Don’t look.  Act casual.”


To be continued….

(Cue dramatic organ music)