2017-07-10

Well it's been a while! After letting it sit for some time, the Grey Imp has been finished - considerably better than the original Red Imp design, more mechanically sound and overall more plausible.

It's also been serving as a first foray into 3D modelling, something I've been wanting to do for some time. Progress is slow, but for a first model it's not shabby. In the process however I have been running headlong into the limitations of ZBrush Core, which may make some of the more ambitious follow-up projects difficult to execute without some creative problem solving.


Asks:

[Working on a half-decent format to post these in - bear with me!]

I'M EXCITED, TOO! Answering Asks was easily my favourite part of being on Tumblr.

Heaven is pretty anemic in both the written and arted department, alas! That's my fault because for the longest time Heaven was relegated to "it's just full of bird people" because I didn't really know what to do with it beyond filling it with snobby assholes. That's begun to change, though not especially quickly. The recurring concept since the project's inception way back was that Heaven was a mineral plane, unlike Hell which was organic, but there was a lack of personal understanding to allow this to work. There is still lacking info, but some new research has let this idea actually go somewhere, which is letting Heaven as a location ferment and grow overall in the project. The best compact information regarding Heaven and Angels overall I can give currently is the following:

Heaven is sterile, its people grown from minerals [silicon-based]. Angels function by way of absorbing energy from almost any external source. Depending on the species, the type of wavelengths compatible can vary. For so long as there is energy to be absorbed, an Angel can survive or otherwise be active, though by how much is dependent on the strength of the energy source.

ORACLES / AURACLES are Angels that gain considerable energy from and further emit mechanical waves. The most common of these are the Ouroboros, ring-shaped abstract Angels.

PRISMS are Angels that gain considerable energy from the further emit electromagnetic radiation. The most common of these are the Pyramids and Hydrons, abstract Angels that develop in polyhedron formations.

Depending on its molecular construction and formation, Angels can theoretically be "indestructible" by conventional means, requiring extreme measures to destroy or otherwise defeat. Extreme kinetic force, rapid temperature fluctuation, and "overloading" are considered the most "effective" means to destroy an Angel.
All Angels possess a heat tolerance range, and the exceeding of either end of the spectrum will result in freezing or melting of the external structure, leading to structural and systematic failure of the entity's external and internal components. Depending on the species, the tolerance of an Angel's internal structures can differ from that of its external parts, which can result in "cooking / boiling / melting / freezing from within", or the exposure of the intact internal systems as the external layers shatter, peel, or evaporate away.
While many species can be accurately described physiologically as "machines", others manage to ape the appearance or "fluidity" of organics. These particular Angels are still composed entirely of minerals, but manipulate their outer layers as a malleable clay purely by way of maintaining internal temperatures that near the external layer's melting point, making the "skin" pliable. It is for this reason that upon death, many Angels "turn to glass". These same species can also enter a protective or hibernative state in which the outer body "freezes" to preserve the interior during times of low wavelength absorption. This state can be maintained for extended periods of time, but the creature will eventually die of deprivation.
The cracking of the external shell is often enough to destroy some species of Angel, as the internal materials can oxidise in catastrophic ways, resulting in exposed inner layers turning to sand or immediately combusting. For some other select species, envelopment in total darkness will destroy them.
The blood of most Angels is clear, with some sporting chemical blue, yellow, or orange. Red is uncommon. Some Angels will overall possess no "colour", instead possessing a general staggered translucency / opaqueness to their bodies from layering of internal and external structures.

If these points bring the screaming hydron from Evangelion to mind, you're on the right track. Seeing the series for the first time way back in 2008 implanted the idea of abstraction for Heaven's inhabitants, and it's stuck ever since. However, it never truly went anywhere because abstraction as a design foundation was incredibly difficult to grasp for me overall as it was beyond my artistic approach and understanding in terms of execution, very "where would the organs go?" and etc at the time. As an issue this is steadily subsiding the more I learn about unconventional / non-traditional life forms. Single-celled and generally incomplex organisms are the primary source of inspiration for Angels at large. Brutalism in architecture is also an inspiration.

Because Heaven's role in IO isn't especially highlighted in the primary narrative (for now), I can't say when designs will start showing up. For now only the Pherim exists in visual format, and some others are so simple in appearance I don't see myself really depicting them when a basic written description will do just fine. However, since many are based in multi-lateral repetition, some designs will probably start getting spitballed once I begin to learn 3D, where repeating shapes can be dealt with easily and quickly.

 

You're pretty close! Hell is stacked much like a tower of disks, but each Level down gets smaller. Altogether, hell looks a lot like an inverted triangle.

If you're first instinct is somewhere along the lines of "that's very Dante", you'd be correct. This layout is pretty much directly based off of the Divine Comedy, but with a slight twist. Each Level is more or less enclosed - Hell isn't a massive pit mine. Each Level does have at least one pit that will open into the Level below, which is generally located in the centre of the disc, and by association, the centre of that Level's Capital (if it has one, only the first seven have a capital city, while the eighth disc, Dis, is a city in its entirety).

The size of the discs themselves can be measured in light years. Hell is immense, and it needs to be to accommodate so many sentient species of life that find themselves there. Its layout is the result of Hell tearing itself apart in the far past, back when it was just one disc divided into states and provinces. When it split, it tore multiple cities apart, destroyed cultures, sent entire species into extinction, and rewrote the geography and ecology of each sundered landmass. While the discs no longer shift, they do move. Each one rotates in place, going clockwise or counter-clockwise, each at a different speed. The speed of a disc's spin contributes to its weather, its ambient heat, and its geographical stability.

 

Hi, Anon! Haha, hopefully you don't mind this answer being late.

There's a couple of ways to tackle this. For your first point of "a human rib cage with the ability to press into a deep chest", one solution could be the use of the diaphragm to extend or "move" the base of the lungs and stomach lower into the body, permitting them to largely operate as they had before at the expense of a compressed intestinal tract. Another would be to eliminate conventional breathing altogether and incorporate what crocodiles use to respire, which is to breathe via movement of the diaphragm. Crocodiles don't breathe the same way we do, which is the expansion and contraction of the rib cage; to breathe, they move their diaphragm up and down in the body to force intake and expulsion of air from the lungs. These two suggestions, thankfully, would not involve much alteration of the spine, this is all internal. The only surface alteration would be how the creature would appear to respire from the outside in terms of the second suggestion - taking breaths "into the gut" as opposed to "into the chest", something you may be familiar with as a concept if you have ever taken classes in choir or playing band instruments.

Something else you could consider, especially in regards to quadrupedal movement, is the removal of the collarbone to your creature (assuming this is not a werewolf). If you look at any four-legged animal, such as the cat, dog, or a horse, you're notice that they do not possess collarbones. This in part facilitates effective quadrupedal movement. The leg and scapula is given a limited amount of free movement against the rib cage.

It is important to note though, that this is not the same for monkeys and apes, which still possess a collarbone.

Monkeys and apes are not especially fast or powerful long-distance runners - if they do move about on all fours quickly it's generally for a brief amount of time, and it is not their only mode of travel.

Another thing you could consider, is that along with a deepening of the chest, there is also a widening. if you look at a cat, dog, or horse's skeleton from above, you'll notice that the chest starts off quite narrow and widens considerably towards the base. You could incorporate this into your creature for, probably, the least number of headaches. This would still shift or compress the organs of the chest towards the top somewhat, but we'd be banking on them either shifting with the rest of the body, or just being able to adapt to the new constraints with limited trouble if any.

Another thing to keep in mind is center of gravity. As the chest itself changes and organs are shifted about, the center of gravity in the body will move, which will affect stance.

In terms of the spine, depending on how your humanoid moves, you may not need to change too much. What you'll be more concerned about is the construction of the pelvis, which anchors the grand majority of the leg muscles. If the muscles aren't properly originated from a location that essentially permits quadrupedal locomotion to happen, your creature's not going to get very far because they won't be able to run on all fours very well! To help illustrate this, take a peek at the studies below:

The studies are colour coded to help recognise the same bones and muscles altered to fit the animal's evolutionary path and adaptations. You're going to notice that the construction of the pelvis is way different between the bipedal man and the quadrupedal horse - one is fanned in a bowl-shape while the other rather looks like a horse shoe. Outside of the general shape, something you'll really want to pay attention to is the crest of the pelvis, highlighted in red and blue:

The crest is where muscles and fascia that power the movement of the legs anchor. Where these muscles and sheets of fascia anchor greatly, greatly affect how the legs move and how much power they will have when making that movement. It also affects the diaphragm. If you try bending over to stand like a horse, aside from your arms not being long enough to touch the floor with your back parallel to the ground, you're going to notice that your legs really don't feel very good and will have trouble moving forward to let you make a step. That's because in this position the muscles in your legs can't accommodate much further contraction or relaxation to swing forwards to make that step. If you do manage to make a step, you're probably swinging your legs in an awkward waddle-step, or the step itself feels "weak", or that your breath is affected. This is a limitation of the human pelvis, which is shaped specially to help with bipedal travel! If your creature is adept at moving on all fours, it will need a pelvis that permits its muscles to work well when in quadrupedal stance. A hybrid between these two would probably be just what you'd be looking for!

Overall, in terms of a general humanoid more suited for quadrupedal travel, I would definitely say an animal like the baboon or similar would be a very good place to start design-wise - thankfully an animal like that has a lot of relevant questions related to yours answered! As a creature this humanoid wouldn't be much for long-distance four-legged sprinting, its anatomy wouldn't afford it, but it could climb and still travel long distances at a moderate walking pace on all fours. It could still walk and move about on two legs, but a lower center of gravity would mean it would be most at home on all fours when in motion.

I have, too, a suggestion for two catch-all explanations for a metamorphosis to help shove away the "cop-out" feeling that magic can give, and those are "apoptosis" and "ossification". Apoptosis is programmed cell death - this is not necrosis, but a natural process. A tadpole loses its tail thanks to apoptosis! Ossification is the remodeling and growth of bone. If you wanted to be a heretic (like me) and proclaim that magic is b.s. and boring, you can throw these two concepts around and more or less get away with it. Obviously, to make either work you'd need energy, and if your subject was, say, a werewolf, this could mean that they become ravenous to feed the immense energy need to fuel the transformation, and that a lack of needed energy results in botched, stalled, or a straight-up failed transformation that causes death.

There's a lot of options for you to consider, Anon! I hope this helped at least somewhat; if it didn't and I missed the mark of your question by a mile, definitely let me know and I can take another shot!


Other things:

Sonic has resurfaced art-wise - as he tends to do around my birthday if I don't simply settle for a personal Game Gear marathon. I was sharing these on Twitter for a short while before deciding to keep the newest run of fanart off of the platform. The visual clash of the characters' original designs versus my working style creates some pretty uncanny results, which started to drag in weird and unpleasent / unwanted commentary on the work that I have no interest in encouraging.

Anyways, Sonic is getting a revisit. Some of you may recall there was a short-lived transitional period between TUZ The Original and TUZ The Remix that involved uncanny-valley Sonic and an incredibly ugly rendition of Super Sonic. This brief time frame resulted in a small smattering of never-finished fanfiction that was more or less "what if the Sonic-verse was just a little bit more 'real'?" and by "real" I meant "uncharacteristically violent" because that's obviously what "real" means. Metal Sonic featured prominantly in this Alternate Universe switch, because I found (and continue to find) his character to be a fascinating hotbed of possibilities.

I won't speak too much regarding the "point" of revisiting Sonic and the Unknown Zone other than to pick up and dust off some old ideas that I thought still had some creative, artistic, or narrative merit.


Unlike what's shown here, Stirba is shorter than Matilda by a fair margin - at least three feet if Hell 2525 maintains the general scale of species from IO's primary narrative or not. This is just a sketch mash-up. The two are flat-mates, doing dirty work for money in the midst of a struggling economy filled with angry, frightened demon-folk.

Something a tad different style-wise. I haven't been happy with my work for a long time, in part because a certain itch of sorts was just never getting scratched with how I approached my work in general. As a personal outlet, I wasn't letting it do its job outside of a portion of what needed to get out, as it were. This is the start of a new personal project, an off-shoot narrative for IO called "Hell 2525". In terms of style the "point" of Hell 2525 is to develop something I always wanted to see in own work, exaggeration, "anime", more Rule of Cool, and a lot of trash. I want something that compliments and makes use of the knowledge I've gained, yet at the same time "goes against" my standard body of work - the approach and end-goal aren't the same, etc. It's an entirely self-serving project that just acts like a dirty playground more than anything else. It's the only project I've made that plays host to distinctly R18+ material as opposed to just being "suggestive".

Below is the original set of style explorations done for Matilda the Great, reincarnated as a prostitute in the fringes of Dis who works part time as a mercenary alongside similarly reincarnated Queen Stirba. Exaggeration is more or less the name of the game for the project. I'm not entirely where I want the style for Hell 2525 to be, but it's close.


Lastly:

A few sketch commissions were taken over Twitter over the course of the last few months. No real plans for taking bigger or more regular commissions, these are very much "every so often". Completion times are slow to accommodate working full-time. I have been toying with the idea of keeping digital sketches open as a permanent fixture to be done as time allows, but that will depend on what happens after my current contract expires at the end of July. I don't see taking anything heavy for the remainder of the summer overall, as the heat has been ramping up throughout the month and will keep doing so until the end of August. The strain on the power grid has resulted in unscheduled blackouts already.