Steampunk: Tempest Huckstep

el31

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

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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.

 

 

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Art Nouveau style book cover

 

 

dance

 

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 (PeaceandPaws.org) 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.

Fabelwald: Fremde the Strange

fremde

Here is a paint of one of the characters in The Mythic Forest.

Fremde the Strange, a self-exiled hermit, was once called Rikard when he lived among other humans.  He is also called Stranseir by the Elves, and Prexnos by the Faeries… all names that translate as “the strange and curious one.”

He turned away from his own kind, fleeing what he saw as humanity’s ignorance and cruelty, and wound up living in the wild.  There, he met an Elf, a forward thinker who set out to prove men were just as capable and deserving of magic as his own race, and who bound magic to Fremde via tattoos of spells and runes.  These tattoos had the unintended effect of further ostracizing Fremde… the superstitious humans found him frightening, and the elitist Elves saw him as a fraud, a cheap parody of themselves.

It was the faery folk however, who knew his heart and chose him for an important task…

https://www.createspace.com/4461608

http://www.amazon.com/Mythic-Forest-Fabelwald-Saga-Volume/dp/1492849146

 

Book Cover 1

cover 1

Boy, its been a while….

Where have I been the last 3 months?

Let’s see… in Feb. I had some water leaks in the basement, and my free time was eaten by cleaning, tossing damaged stuff, knocking holes in drywall to find the cracks, having them repaired…

March I went to Puerto Rico during spring break week with the wife and kids, it was very nice…

April was Easter stuff at work, doing some big yard work, etc

May, just taking it easy.

number of drawings made: ZERO

I did scribble once or twice, and worked on novel covers (one drawing is at perhaps 40% complete) the other is shown here, perhaps 95% complete (I want to redo her face and punch up the lighting).

What novels you ask?

Last year I toyed with writing a fantasy story to go along with a dozen or so drawings, and actually had a rough outline and perhaps 10 drawings completed or thumb nailed… well, that project sat on the shelf until I finally committed to doing something about it.  I began writing months ago, and because I nit pick, looked at a chapter and thought ‘that needs some explaining’ so I wrote some more… and then that needed explaining, so I wrote some more.

Fast forward to today, the story has stretched to three books between 200 to 300 pages each.  Needless to say I gave up on illustrating it!  The first book will be perhaps 200 pages or so, introducing the “world” and the background of the parents of Dandle and Lion (the kids who are the subject of some earlier drawings posted, which my own kids modeled for).  Book 2 will deal with their preteens, book 3 with their late teens, and then (hopefully) more illustrated works will lead into their adulthood (standard fantasy art).

I am pretty close to finishing the first book, I have maybe twenty pages  I want to add at some parts that I have “yada-yada’d”… then its going thru the draft to punch up word choices, etc.

 

Its been quite an educational experience working on this, but I will go into the details in a later post…

till then…………..