Saturday, October 22, 2011

Now with added WWW action!

As of today this is now I finally got the DNS records sussed out with my domain host (Hostway) and we should now be running smooth on Googles servers with the domain name still with Hostway. Took awhile to sort this out because of Hostways limited functionality in the dashboard for editing DNS entries (it only allows one DNS A record and Google requires 4 entries when you transfer a www domain over). So the old site that was terribly neglected on any updates or makeovers is gone and the blog is now the official home of our Vulne Pro domain name. Also the old URL should forward to now so everything should be a smooth transition. It's been a crazy year but expect renewed activity soon.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Five Movies You Should See NOW

I've been getting typhooned here in Japan... two in September alone that caused floods in my area and cut us off (literally) from civilization for several days when the roads leading out of town either collapsed or were covered by rockslides. Not much else to report, but I wanted to give my list of five movies you should see right now, and some reasons why...

1.) Blade Runner- I doubt there's anyone reading this particular blog that hasn't seen this film, but if you haven't, or haven't seen it in, say, the last 48 hours, by all means do so. There's a reason it's been copied, referenced, paid homage to, served as inspiration, and just plain been ripped off so many times. It's one in a million, a perfect alchemy where everything fell into place and no one who worked on it (even Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott) has ever scaled quite those heights again. It's a world unto itself, beautiful-looking and beautiful-sounding, and it reveals the ugliest and the best of what it means to be human. This is what movies were invented for.

2.) Amadeus- A pitch-perfect period drama with the best single acting performance ever (F. Murray Abraham as Salieri), it's also the single best meditation / exploration of creativity and its ups and downs ever put to film. Great sets, beautiful locations... oh, and the music's pretty good, too.

3.) The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Beyond the 8th Dimension- An homage / piss-take on every cliche in comic books and science fiction and adventure serials and the 80s, made during the 80s. It grows on you like a virus and every time you watch it there's another weird background joke that'll hurl itself in your face. Oh, and no one has ever chewed scenery as thoroughly (and joyously) as John Lithgow chews it in this film. Unapologetically clever, this film refuses to slow down for its audience, and is a whole lot of fun.

4.) Spider- One of the (criminally) lesser-known of cult director David Cronenberg's films, Spider is a brutally realistic look at the life (both exterior and interior) of a man living with mental illness, told in an unhurried and strangely beautiful way. Ralph Fiennes and Miranda Richardson anchor a stellar cast.

5.) Tideland- Now we come to Terry Gilliam's most criminally underrated and ignored film, about the imagination and resiliency of children in the face of hell. You have to meet this one head-on, and surrender to it. You'll be glad you did. The less you know, the better, so I'll say no more. Just see it.

Okay, so I liked these films and think you will, too. But you want to know the real reason you should see these films? It's because you'll likely never see anything like them again.

Blade Runner? Yeah, there's been a lot of other stuff based on / inspired by Philip K. Dick since then, but... this is big-budget SF that the director refuses to dumb down, with real solid practical effects over every beautiful square inch of it... no CGI lazinesss here. Amadeus? Sure, it's based on a play, and Hollywood loves its adaptations, but it's too highbrow, and there's too much focus on character and not enough on angst to satisfy the bean counters. Too slow, I guess. Buckaroo Banzai? Come on, an ORIGINAL SF movie? One that's not based on a comic or novel? Mwahahahahahaha. Right. Spider? You mean a film about mental illness that doesn't include action and splattering guts and / or alien conspiracy and... huh. Better get your art friends to fund it. What? They did? Yup... this film nearly bankrupted Cronenberg but he did it anyway. And Tideland? Yeah... weird childhood film... uh-huh... no, it's not like High School Musical. It's... What? No, I won't let the door hit me on the ass on the way out. Thank you.

Enjoy... and I do mean that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thundercats ho!

Between punching polarbears and fending off the yeti here in the southern regions of the norselands, I drew some stuff for WB’s new Thundercats show.

Here’s my concept art for the lizardman mecha that appears in the series. The show version ended up quite a bit chunkier though, as you can see.

I’ll try to post some more stuff as they pop up in the series.

- Karl (genocidalpenguin)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Badan Song: Nasford District 21-E Bloc cut 2 Background

Welcome to Genuaä

OK, time to get back to dropping some new TKP posts here. The past month has been busy with some internal studio related freelance but now it's time to get back to work on Theos KE Polemos material. 

Continuing from where my last post left off here's another look at some background art for the Theos KE Polemos: Badan Song project. This would be a shot within the Nasford district in the political bloc of Genuaä. Nasford, though located in the relatively populated bloc of Genuaä, is a largely abandoned industrial sector with aging buildings and several outdated wallrider wide tracks (current standardized tracks and vehicles are narrower and wide tracks were outdated and deemed unsafe). The power is still on in many of the buildings but, for the most part, it's a no man's land with occasional squatters, rouge sendai, and criminals. 

Nasford is sitting just on the edge of the border with the larger political bloc of Jaämas, which also has rather sizable expanses of abandoned no mans land real-estate and the criminal elements that can be found occasionally in Nasford often are based there, being out of Genuaä's juristiction. The policers of Genuaä and Jaämas often will cooperate regarding the border situation but policing dimensional borders is difficult. Borders are tricky in general, because Indus is more dimensional in laying out political territories, that is to say it accounts for the 360 degree nature of the purely architectural environment. Nasford isn't really overrun with criminal elements, it's mostly a ghost town but any I.P.I.O.s (Inter-Bloc Private Investigations Organization) or Policer's answering a call in this area would be on heightened alert.

Nasford was abandoned some 50 years back when one of Jeindel's FOIL component manufacturing plants (nobody really knew, even many of the workers, what the components they manufactured did) had a catastrophic leak of a deadly airborne toxin. A huge number of workers and civilians perished. Though Nasford is now safe to live in the incident left such a stigma that it was abandoned long ago to be left to the squatters, criminal elements, and nomadic travelers. It will become the stage that sets a chain of events in motion that begins Badan Song.

Below we have two stages of the shot. The final color image and the base pencil illustration with the shadow augmentation layers turned on.
Final paints done in Photoshop CS3 and Painter X

Foundation illustrations have always began as pencil to be augmented/edited digitally.

The color shot is just the background only as there will be a character element to be added in for the final scene. This is the full un-cropped image as the final shots will be in 16:9 widescreen format. Because Indus is a completely enclosed architectural landscape the lighting is artificial. For the Nasford shots I went with a sodium vapor look with the lighting being in amber and green hues. Indus will be lit with a variety of familiar and fictional lights, from the familiar sodium vapor, florescent, neon, and incandescent, to exotic bio-gel and organic bio-luminescent lighting. So, depending on location, Indus will have a rather varied range of hues and lighting styles in the environments though the familiar sodium vapor hues will be one of the most common. The nature of Indus's environment alone really makes it a classic film noir setting thus cementing further Theos's noir trappings.

Although posts had slowed to a trickle to none during the last 6 months (due to my Father's Magical Medical Mystery Tour. Yes he continues to do well) or so it's now time to catch up on a lot of this work and begin to share peeks at things in the works. You'll continue to see TKP concept work (including DA gallery favs the FOILs), work from Badan Song (the nature of the project to be revealed later), and some new TKP stuff developing. It's been a tough year but we're still here, still working, and still excited about creating new worlds. 

More to come...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Japanese School Life... the reality, not what the otaku think

In my travels around the internet I run my nose into a lot of dark and strange corners. Those corners inhabited by fanatical otaku and clueless Japanophiles are interesting in the same way that watching a train wreck is.

Uh-oh, here come the rotten tomatoes. Let me clarify: I don't judge anyone by what they like, mind you. I don't look down on anime and manga fans, since I'm one myself. Even if our tastes differ, what you dig and watch and relate to is your business. Note that my description said fanatical and clueless. Luckily for humanity, fanatacism and cluelessness, while serious conditions, are curable with a good dose of reality. It's just a matter of getting the medicine down.

So what am I on about? Well... in the aforementioned dark Intertube crannies, I sometimes read posts on blogs and on message boards that go something like this:

I will never experience Japanese school life. Woe is me. Bawwwww.

And I shake my head for several minutes. Where in heaven does this come from? I have a pretty good idea. Could it be... anime series that feature multi-hue-haired girls with cute sailor suits battling demons and giant mecha while wielding ancient mystic katanas? Or perhaps groups of giggly kawaii girls who spend their school days chatting with friends, eating cute box lunches and occasionally being instructed by a goofy and eccentric teacher whom they have a crush on?

Who actually buys any of this crap? Do you think life in the USA is accuratly represented by Beverly Hills 90210 (uh-oh, showing my age here) or Jersey Shore (that's modern, right?)
Yes, kiddies, open up. Time for some medicine.

I've lived in Japan on and off for a quarter of my life... nine years all told. I've worked in the Japanese public school system (mostly junior high) for eight of those years and I have a pretty good idea of what Japanese school life is really all about. Ready?

Generally speaking, it's a lot like school life in the USA, except much more regimented and stifling.

How about Japanese students?

Generally speaking, they're pretty much like kids anywhere at that age- balls of hormones, self-doubt, awkwardness, and acne, except they also have the crushing weight of compulsion on their shoulders.

Japanese kids rise at dawn, eat breakfast, and head to school, where they often have pre-school club activities. What's that? Yeah, clubs. Like you see in those shows. They aren't technically compulsory, but if you DON'T join a club you're pretty much marked to be a social outcast by both your fellow students and teachers as well. It's one of those things that everyone in Japan does because society dictates that there's no other true choice. Back to our day. School begins with the morning meeting. Rise. Bow. The teacher tweaks his or her class into a fine-tuned machine. Six classes plus lunch. Cleaning time. End-of-the-day meeting. Then club again, often until five or six o'clock. Then homework, usually lots of it. Weekends? More club, Saturday practices for half the day, Sunday matches for half the day, tournaments, etc. Summer vacation? Only a month long, if that, and not only are there summer projects to do (i.e. enough homework to last every day of the summer) but you are also restricted by rules... my current schools just distributed their summer break guidelines to the students (and we had a special assembly to teach them). They include such goodies as not being outside after 6 pm and knowing that if the teachers (who live in town) catch you riding a bike without your helmet, you're in trouble. The only actual vacation time is the five or so days of Obon. That's it.

If that's not enough, many kids also attend juku or other night schools or are forced into activities (like piano practice) by their parents. All of this is a really good dress rehearsal for Japanese corporate life (7 am to 11 pm) but not so good for anything else.

My students have to (by school rule) greet any teacher each and every time they pass them in the hallways, even if they see them fifty times a day. They have to show similar deference to their upperclasspersons (sempai). When entering the office they have to bow, greet, and state their purpose before being recognized and then granted permission to enter.

Not to mention that in some schools, there are the bullies to deal with.

Oh, and yes, they wear uniforms. Which at most schools are made of cheapass, ugly polyester (that melts if, say, you get too close to a bunsen burner) yet cost hundreds of dollars (the uniform manufacturers have sweetheart deals with the government and collude openly). They're hot and uncomfortable and while you do get lighter uniforms in the summer, everyone has to follow the changeover rules- no summer uniforms before June 20, say, no matter how frigging hot it gets... and remember that Japanese classrooms are rarely air-conditioned. I taught a class last week where, I kid you not, it was 37 celsius (that's 99 farenheit) in the classroom.

Colorful hair! Actually, kids aren't allowed to color their hair. Or wear it over a certain length or in certain styles. Or wear jewelry. Or makeup. Or paint their fingernails or allow them to grow over a certain minuscule length (there are clippers in every teacher's desk if they find violators). Or wear socks other than brands specified in the school codes. Or have pencil cases that are too ostentatious. Or carry any money. Or eat anything other than school lunch (no candy).

Add all this onto the normal pressures and mood swings of adolescence. Still having fun? Still baww-ing that you don't get to experience this wonder?

I'm not saying it's all bad. Japanese schools still recognize the value in music and art classes and these activities are well-funded (though still regimented and creatively not so exciting). I do like the fact that students clean the school, too. I try to have as much fun with my students as I can and try to let them be as casual as they please around me. They're good kids. And yes, I do go and watch the clubs play baseball and volleyball and other sports. They're fun to watch and when finally just allowed to play, they have fun with it.

Some of you out there might be applauding the regimentation and thinking what kids in your country need is a good dose of this. Well, the problem is that the rules in many places are breaking down and, as a result, the teachers and schools have no instructions and no idea of how to discipline the kids, much less a set of procedures. I taught for two years in one school that had kids in self-mutilated uniforms wandering the halls, disrupting classes, and taking swings at teachers that tried to intervene... and the teachers had no recourse to any authority to stop it. Generally, you cannot expel a student in Japan, and everyone graduates whether or not they do the work, so there's no way to get rid of bad apples. If the parents want to ship them to a private school or juvenile academy, great. If they don't, you're stuck with them.

Look, you know Japan doesn't have mystic swords and giant mecha (at least not yet). So don't believe the rest of the BS either. It's different, and it's not necessarily better. It has warts. Big ones. Japanese people are, after all, people. Their systems are run by flawed humans, for flawed humans. To ascribe anything else to them is, I think, ultimately downgrading their humanity.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Childhood's End

I'll always remember where I was on April 12, 1981. At my grandmother's house in Clinton township, Michigan, sitting on the floor of her living room, watching the TV as the first space shuttle lifted off. I remember it so clearly that I can now recall the fuzziness of the picture (ah, the days before HD everything), the rug burns I got on my hands from running them to and fro in pure excitement, even the texture of the corduroy pants I wore. It's like it was yesterday.

I was nine years old. I was very much into space, and at the time I wanted to be an astronaut (I would soon grow too tall and clumsy and have awful eyesight, all of which kind of put a crimp in those plans.) Young and Crippen, the two men test-flying the shuttle that day, were my heroes. It was the beginning of a new era, one that would open up cheap and easy spaceflight to all. And there I was, witnessing it. Anything was possible.

As I write this, I'm on the cusp of forty. I'm sitting in my apartment, in Kawanehoncho, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, in my living room, on a futon on the floor. I'm watching the very last space shuttle launch ever, my wife at my side.

Thirty years gone by!

I finished elementary school, junior high, high school, college. I worked crappy jobs. I worked cool jobs. I went to Japan, worked, got married, came back to the States, watched the economy crash, went off to Japan again.

In those thirty years, I've seen a lot of wonderful things, and a lot of bad things. I saw the space program fall far short of expectations, saw the promise of cheap spaceflight go by the wayside as the system was still too delicate and balky and complex. I saw far greater advances made in computers than I could have imagined, as I sit here watching TV on my laptop, a device smaller than, and almost as light as, the three-ring binders I carried around as a nine year-old. Here I sit, blogging to the world, with all the information of our world at my fingertips. All of this, all those times, all that progress and heartache, bookended by a pair of fiery launches, a beautiful spacecraft rising in a familiar arc, taking to the sky.

It's gone now, the pad empty, off into orbit and into history. And as I watched it rise for the last time, I reached back across those years, and shook the hand of my nine year-old self, and I shared a moment, and a dream, and the adult that I've become felt, if only for a moment, that anything was possible again.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Nasford Omnisense security cam feed

Although I do have more and more time of late it's still been a fairly busy time since admitting my Father into extended care. I've visited him every day and he's doing really well. He'll be discharged on the 8th, to stay with his brother for a short time before heading home, and is on track for full recovery. That said I've gradually been getting to a heavy backlog of all kinds of work and will be posting a lot of new stuff soon. Here's a peek at what's to come with some new Theos KE Polemos work.

Living on Indus, Polemos, and within the SOL system one becomes accustomed to the ever present watchful eyes of Omnisense, the SOL wide information and optical monitoring network. To the average citizen it's simply a reality of daily living and, depending on level of access, a handy information system. For criminals and covert operatives Omnisense is a problem many solutions had to be devised circumvent it's watchful presence. In order to navigate Indus covertly one has to contend with the ubiquitous eyes of Omnisense so, often, the Omni-cams are hacked or jammed in order to keep your movements discrete. Sendai, especially high end combat taedus systems, are often responsible for Omni-tapping (hacking) into the system. Here we have an example of an Omni-tap (hack) in it's initial stage before the feed is cut:

This is a test shot (testing filters to get that cam look. The illo is complete) for the black and white "security cam" look. The illustration is a rendered pencil BG with digital gray scale tones in CS3 and the wallrider vehicle is a digitally inked pencil illustration with cell cut tones in CS3. In this image we have a wallrider truck, of some kind, driving along on it's track system though a very dark and dreary industrial Nasford sector of the political bloc of Genuaä. This shot is from the Badan Song project and is one of many images to come. I'll post an unfiltered image, along with the pencils, etc later. For now I wanted to drop in a post with a peek into the neon, bio-gel lamp, and sodium vapor lit architectural caverns of the industrial planet Indus.

Welcome to Genuaä

More to come...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Well, we all still seem to be here...

What a surprise. Another doomsday has come and gone and we are all still here.
Look, if you want to try and predict doomsday, that's fine. It's especially fine because it really seems to have no consequences. Just once I'd love to see the followers of these doomsday prophets stop and say, "You know... my glorious spiritual leader has been wrong about this stuff time and time again. Perhaps he is full of hot air."
But no.
I was wondering, though... would the time of the apocalypse have been on Eastern Standard Time? Mountain? Hawaii? Here in Japan we're 13 hours ahead. What about us? If it happened at 2:00 pm EST. then it's 3:00 am the next day here. Seeing as how the earth is divided into 24 time zones, it's kind of hard to pin an event on a single day.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New post surgery update regarding my Father...

It looks like this may be one of the last updates regarding my Father's surgery and recovery for awhile.

Firstly, he's doing really well overall. The bad news, if you want to call it that (really it's not), is I had to put my Father in extended care, on the 19th, directly after his discharge from the Hospital. Unfortunately he unknowingly picked at (and picked out a few) his incision staples a couple of times, while in the hospital, thus making the healing of the wound a little more complicated and delicate. So really it's only bad news in the fact they he would have been home otherwise. Amusingly ironic is the comment the doctor that performed the surgery dropped on me that in his 20 years of doing surgery my Farther is the ONLY patient that picked at his incision like that... just what I wanted to hear 9_9

 As grave as this might sound the incision is healing well with no problems of infection, and he's doing well overall, however he needs a more professional hospital environment for extended recovery than being at home. The incision is wrapped in a binder now so he can't get at it (though I don't see why they didn't do that immediately after the fist time he picked... apparently not). There's also the issue of extensive post surgery water retention swelling that has extremely impaired his mobility. I had hoped they would have gotten that swelling down at the hospital but he still has a little ways to go. So he's also in extended care for physical therapy, which is actually rather common for post surgery of this magnitude.  All said, he's doing great and I expect him to recover fully. What this means for Vulne Pro is, finally, I have some breathing room and time to get things rolling again. I have had no problem, what so ever, with helping my Father through all this at all but, now, I really do need to get things back on track. The studio is a business after all and we really need to get back to work. Expect activity from Vulne Pro to gradually ramp up once again. My deepest thanks for the support from everyone through all of this.


Friday, May 20, 2011

It's About That Time

Hatrax here. Time to get back on the blogging horse again. I'm still living in Japan, in a town so small and remote that it's an hour to the nearest large grocery store and 20 minutes to the nearest convenience store (and in Japan, where you normally can't swing a raw squid without hitting one, that's the most amazing stat of all).
I haven't been avoiding blogging. I've just been really busy with all of my own projects, plus holding down my day job as educator of Japan's next generation. School is back in swing and my students (I teach everyone in this town... EVERYONE... between the ages of 3 and 15, preschool to the end of junior high) are as fun as ever. I've also been writing hundreds of pages of fiction.
Since I'm writing this, you can all guess I survived the earthquake and tsunami. The leaky nuke plant is 200 miles away, so while I'm not as far as I want to be it's far enough. Life goes on.
I'm working on a project with Pam Bliss right now, which can best be described as a traveler's notebook for a very strange place. Some of the interior art will be by Mike. More details later. It'll be on sale at Wizard World in Chicago, which is where I'll be in August. Yes, after three and a half years abroad, I'll finally be coming home for a visit. I can't wait to eat real pizza again.
More to come.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Father's surgery went well...

UPDATE 5/11/2011 My Father's surgery apparently went really well with no problems to speak of :) To say that was a relief is an after statement but, oddly, I seemed pretty calm today. I just had a good feeling about it going well. he's in ICU under observation but that's expected to go smoothly as well. Just taking it as it comes. Thank you, sincerely, everyone again. I really appreciate the kind words and support. Now... I shall crash (time fer sleep).


Saturday, May 07, 2011

My Father's continuing medical adventures

I have kept posting about the situation with my Father's medical issues to a minimum because it would be draining to do so in any frequency matching the continuous weekly developments.  I also imagine it wouldn't be much fun to read on a daily basis as tweets, blog posts, etc. Sure I have noted it in various posts as a factor in delaying or slowing work on some of our projects but details I've tried to keep to a minimum. Naturally it's more fun writing about the work we're doing and sharing it with all of you than posting about endless doctor visit tedium. That said, of course what's been going on is deeply personal and of obvious concern to me so I felt another, more substantial, update was in order.

It's been a Magical Doctor's Fun Club roller coaster ride since my Father fell and broke his arm Thanksgiving eve (which has healed up just fine). That unfortunate event led to future doctor visits discovering an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) which, in turn, led to his admittance into the hospital for just short of a week. All considered the news from the parade of various doctors, during his time in I.C., was continually rather good. Having come through that relatively well the doctor visits continued, along with a truckload of medications including the happy fun-time drug coumadin (blood thinner). Ahh the joys of coumadin with its exciting weekly INR blood tests as part of the package. Blood thinners... making simple cuts potentially more problematic or a fall even more serious than the potential injuries you may incur, 'cause blood takes longer to coagulate being... well, thinn-erd and all.

As these doctor visits continued an ultrasound was scheduled to check my Father's kidneys for possible renal failure. This was scheduled because his blood pressure had dropped to unsafe lows (due to being put on, apparently 3 blood pressure medications which were dropped immediately thankfully). Instead of any problems with his kidneys they discovered an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This led to more exams and a CAT scan. Unfortunately it became apparent surgery was the recommendation so he's scheduled to go under the knife, next week, May 11th. Since the date was set there have been further appointments, exams, and tests including a cardiac stress test in order for him to be cleared for the surgery to occur. The good news is he passed all those exams and tests with flying colors. Prognosis, low risk for surgery so I'm hoping it all goes well.

So it's been a veritable circus of modern medicine excitement (I won't even go into the absurd bills and costs thus far or pending. I imagine anyone familiar with our super awesome health care system knows all too well). The whole thing has been rather exhausting and time consuming for me just simply playing the part of chauffeur and, more or less, care-giver (which is getting off easy as my Father has to endure all the medical issues not me). Now am I complaining? No. I'm glad I'm here to help out my Pop and he's doing better than he would otherwise for it. Sure a situation like this can be disruptive and time consuming but I'd rather my Father be doing well than worry about how much art/freelance I'm getting done. At the end of the day we're just drawing toons and robuts and cool sci stuffs while hoping to spin a good yarn around them and that can wait until time permits. Real life is far less exciting than the fictions we can create but far more important to gracefully face during situations like this.

This blog's focus is the work, ideas, and observations of this little indy studio Vulne Pro, a studio that had, and has, a lot of plans for 2011. At the moment, more important things have been commanding my time but I, and we, do not plan to quit working away on what we love to do, nor will we stop sharing the work with you. We had started some pretty cool stuff last year and much of it has been delayed or slowed due to the events laid out above. It's been difficult, though not impossible, to take on contract work because of the rather unpredictable schedule at the moment and posts have been sporadic from me personally (or more sporadic than was planned) as I can only work on stuff during moments of calm throughout this storm. I know you folks out there are more than understanding so I'm not worried, none the less I wanted to address this. There's a lot of cool stuff on the way, just sit tight. I expect things to hit a more even keel at some point in the future and work will continue to trickle out until then.

As to my Father's pending surgery, I've noted before that any positive vibes, prayers, well wishes, kind words, etc, I imagine can't hurt so if you wish to extend any, by all means please feel free. I appreciate all the support. As much as it sounds like, "holy crap dude that's a lot to deal with!" I'm pretty sure he'll come through this just fine. My outlook has been pretty positive through all this as well (save the disgust at some of the absurdity in medical costs, especially prescription drugs) as I see little point in not doing so. As overwhelming as all this may seem my Father's been coming through all of this remarkably well so my hope is the surgery, though serious, will follow suit.

My thanks for reading.


Friday, May 06, 2011

Odd Google Chrome malware warning for

Just about 45 minutes, or so ago, I got a malware warning for the Vulne Pro site. I checked the FTP and did see something that might have been recent activity last month (I haven't uploaded in some time) but it didn't look suspicious. Of course I called my host and they checked over the site as well, apparently finding nothing there. The site isn't showing the warning now so it was likely just a false positive.

This incident allows me to note that we'll soon be deleting the site anyway and migrating the domain name to this blog. So, eventually, this will be

Friday, April 08, 2011

NEW TKP FOIL line art: Atha Dharma

This one's been waiting to drop as well due to delays related to my Father's continuing medical situation. He's still doing reasonably well but there are new issues, I won't get into now, that he faces. Hopefully he'll come though this as well but more on that later. Now, on to new work...

The 5th gen Oshen Atha Dharma RES-CM is FOIL design evolution at it's apex. The result of over a century of FOIL development all converging on this bold new direction to meet an even bolder and more dangerous threat than ever before. Once again we have a FOIL with the naming conventions directly influenced by the growing sendai Hindai movement. The Atha Dharma is aptly named wedding the common understanding of the term Dharma, as "duty" with the true meaning of Dharma; natural law. The Faedi face duty with the unyielding honor and Oshen has always expressed design philosophy as "in concert with the natural flow".

Oshen is a company renowned for the finest taedus systems in the SOL system and their highly sought after custom combat FOILs. Any pilot skilled, enough to bond with an Oshen FOIL, as his combat frame, would be confronted with great caution on the battlefield. Oshen had always been a company manufacturing, one of a kind, custom masterworks but the situation that confronted Polemos during the "Siege of the Black Son" changed all that rather dramatically. As the looming threat, that facilitated the evolution of FOILs into the 5th generation, approached Oshen took a proactive leading role in developing the technologies that became synonymous with the 5th gen FOILs. It could be said that Oshen was responsible for the 5th gen evolution. This was the first time Oshen mass produced their products but they did so with no less emphasis on the finest quality and reliability. Although mass produced Oshen's flair for visual design still shines through as mutated deco pastiches are seen subtly throughout.

One of the few mass produced FOILs by Oshen themselves (not including machines made in collaboration with other companies like Dies) the Atha Dharma is an incredibly formidable FOIL. The machine, like the Nal-Farbute (also by Oshen partnered with Dies) is equipped with a powerful RES counter measures sensor array and radome. A common feature of 5th gen FOILs are these new, enigmatic, jamming devices, but jamming what? That's for another time.

Again, a design that began with a small thumbnail illo that I blew up in CS3 to print out for a tighter light box refinement. From there the refined pencil illo goes back to CS3 for digital ink clean up and fine detail work. This guy is another collaboration, of sorts, between myself and Karl (genocidalpenguin) as Karl actually came up with the forward head design (the head apart from the housing cowl. It can pop out and forward). When I sent him an early WIP he asked, "Can I has doodle?" and I was, "Go for it". The result was the head design so I kept it pretty much unchanged. The rest of the FOIL was my madness, again with the legs owing some cues from Karl's aesthetic sense wed with my own. This one has a lot of hex and perforated textures to imply the new materials common to 5th gen designs. A full color version will show up sometime in the future. More works to come...


Sunday, March 20, 2011

NEW TKP FOIL line art: Harma Bhatra

I delayed this post for obvious reasons due to a time of mournful pause in light of the tragic events in Japan. We continue to support Japan in this time of crisis and, again, suggest you donate to the Red Cross tsunami disaster relief fund if you're able to do so. I've also had a busy week taking care of my Father due to his blood pressure being far lower than normal because of  medications he's now off (at doctor's suggestion). He's doing OK now. So... onward to new work...

This bad boy has been a long time coming... the epic Faedai Omni Icar Leviathan beast: Harma Bhatra. One of several delayed collaborations between myself and Karl Östlund (genocidalpenguin) this design is, in every way, a true collaboration of both of us even more so than the, now Vulne Pro Deviant gallery favorite, FOILjaeger 3aMF Gottheitzerstorer. This new design is based on one of Karl's orphaned scrap designs simply titled 'modular mech' (also pictured below for comparison). I had always loved it's look, much like the design that became the Gottheitzerstorer, and during many of our conversations about the Theos material I suggested possibly doing something new with it in collaboration. Karl thought it was a cool idea and agreed so off I went with a notion of seeing what might come out of the exploration.

Karl's original design was clearly a rough he planned to evolve further but didn't get around to it, instead moving on to other work. I've been there more times than I can count myself, I suspect most artists have. What was there was defined enough to launch off of with some really cool new ideas. While evolving my thoughts to paper, as to what it would transform into, it became apparent going with a covered limb style of the 5th gen FOILs would look rather striking on this guy. I altered the torso configuration the least and due to the modular nature of Karl's design it felt like it would be a late 4th generation FOIL with clear visual cues of the movement toward the 5th gen machines. Where Karl's original ends and the new work I did begins is what you will see looking at the two designs. Anything different from the original was where I took it. A list of the significant changes in order to evolve into a FOIL are thus:

  • Adding fin binders on the back, which are both thrust verniers and ECM/sensor equipment.
  • Additional sensors, on both sides of the head, and one off the left shoulder armor plate.
  • A new head design.
  • Right shoulder armor with dual barrel machine shettier. Strobe bombs (kinda like a flash bang for FOILs) attached.
  • Mortar or smoke grenade, depending on load out, launcher on right shoulder.
  • Long range heavy rail gun sniping rifle (as I progressed it hit me this thing needed an epic weapon).
  • covered limb 4th gen arms and legs with much longer legs more akin to the FOILs typical design silhouettes while still maintaining Karl's original overall look.
  • Some adjustments to the mechanical bits connecting the legs.
  • New added armor plates in the center torso along with beefing  it up a bit at the waist.
  • Various other bits and bobbles and greebles.

The Harma Bhatra MJ-11a was developed by the Waimanu FOIL Works, the company also responsible for the dreaded Gottheitzerstorer FOILjaeger's of the wildly experimental 3rd generation of FOIL development. There are some clear visual cues that nod back to the Gottheitzerstorer. Though the Harma Bhatra is a very formidable Faedai combat frame it's nowhere near as massive as the Gottheitzerstorer was so the similarities have more to do with the manufacturer's distinct visual design cues than anything. Begining service toward the very end of the 4th gen period the Harma Bhatra might as well have been a 5th gen. Clear design cues point to what was to come in FOIL development; the covered limbs with equipment ports for customization, the appearance of enigmatic sensor equipment, the more streamlined aesthetics. The FOILs were changing before   anyone, not in the know, knew why. Change was on the horizon as the sendai moved more, and more toward spiritual and political concerns, more freedoms. As such the Hindai movment (derived obviously from Hinduism in name and some core concepts but also having aspects of Buddhism and Taoism as well) spread and it's influence began to inform the naming conventions of the FOILs.

To say that this was a blast to work on is an understatement. Karl's original design was a fantastic foundation to launch from and I'm grateful and happy he both agreed to give this a go and utterly loved the end result. In discussing the notion of our personal styles having distinct visual cues I suggested he create a FOIL manufacturer name that would define his designs and he came back with Waimanru (look it up, it's rather apt). In naming the FOIL we both threw around some ideas but, I eventually landed on Harma Bhatra MJ-11a, the MJ referring to a specific FOIL artisan that had a hand in this design (me). As with the Kharma Actura the Harma Bhatra's name, within the Theos setting, is due to the growing influence of the Hindai movement on the Sendai community. In later posts I'll dive into the Hindai movement further. More to come...


The unintended connection to Sendai in Theos KE Polemos

I should take a few moments to comment on the use of the term sendai in the Theos project because it's meaning in the real world now carries some immediately painful associations. I do this more for those who are new to the work we're doing and unfamiliar with the project Theos KE Polemos we've become known for round the infowebs. Most of you following the TKP project are likely familiar with our use of the term sendai but some of the info here might still be interesting.

It's rather strange writing the terms Sendai, for the Theos bio-mechanical population, now for obvious reasons. When I named the bio-mechanical creatures in TKP the sendai, back sometime in the late 90s, I actually wasn't aware at that time there was a city in Japan named Sendai, a city now very much on the world's mind due to the recent disaster that struck Japan. Although I did eventually learn there was a real city named Sendai and continued to use sendai (with unrelated meanings) in the Theos project I would have never imagined anything, like the tsunami, would happen there. Of course nobody could.

How I came to the term and spelling sendai for the TKP bio-mechanicals was from expanding upon an already established Theos term. Co-creator of the foundation material Steve Loveland and I, developed the singular to plural terms for T.D.S. (telepathic defense systems) units called taedus (singular) and taedai (plural), eventually sendai became the term for all the bio-mechanical creatures in the story. Sendai, as the name for the non-human characters in Theos, was never intend to refer to the Japanese city now in such devastation and pain. In TKP history is a very fractured and foggy picture to the populace of the setting so naming conventions can come from any number of places, past and present and meanings that are accurate or outright inaccurate gibberish contextually (to real world terms) are commonplace. Humanity has been recreating itself through a distorted filter of it's past. I suppose not too unlike how we are now but in Theos it's far more an acute phenomenon.

 It seemed like a good idea to note why sendai will appear in various place on this blog to describe our bio-mechanical characters. Names having utterly different meanings to their real world counterparts are common in fiction and I'll note one here from my favorite sci-fi novel series; Frank Herbert's 'Dune':

Bakka in Dune: In Fremen legend, the weeper who mourns for all mankind.
Bakka in the real world: Japanese (baka) for idiot or fool. 

Bakka in Kvam municipality, Hordaland, Norway
Bakka in Aurland municipality, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
Bakka in Kvinnherad municipality, Hordaland, Norway
Bakka-Phoenix, a bookstore in Toronto.

I wasn't aware of the locations in Norway until looking them up. Ahh, Wikipedia. The term "baka" in Japanese was the one that immediately comes to mind for me (simply due to the similarity in spelling) when reading Dune but you get the idea. Herbert created his fictional setting with in service of his story and often parallels, intended or unintended to the real world will occur.

I can't imagine anyone would misunderstand the meaning of sendai in the Theos work once you become familiar with the material, even what has been presented so far online. If anyone wishes to see an association with the real city Sendai (or mistakes our usage of the term as callous, which it is not in any way) I'd prefer it to represent the incredible spirit Japan has always shown in the face of crisis. The city of Sendai has been stricken with a terrible tragedy of unimaginable proportions and if anyone wants to see a connection to our sendai let it be Japan's unyielding spirit and dignity. In that sense it does have a connection to our sendai as the bio-mechanical creatures in the Theos project will indeed faces many hardships and turmoil often with a strong sense of dignity and honor... but just as often not.

     Thank you for reading.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Our hearts go out to those in Japan

Waking up to the news about the tragedy in Japan wasn't the way I, or anybody, would want to start their day. I had to take my Father to a doctor's appointment (he's doing pretty much fantastic) and it was hard to focus on that with this news coming out of Japan.  I've heard directly from Jeff Lilly (hatrax on the blog. Jeff lives in Japan and he may weigh in at some point as well) and seen posts and tweets from several other folks I know in Japan hearing they're all OK, however that doesn't diminish the tragedy and loss for those who were not so lucky. There isn't much I can say beyond our hearts go out to those in Japan who have weathered this disaster and those that have been lost. May you be safe over there and best with the road to recovery. Rest in peace to those lost :(

Nature can be an awesomely frightening and cruel thing at times :(

Edit: I found myself at a loss when I posted the initial update earlier... and I'm still, rather at a loss right now. I've been glued to CNN, BBC (web feed), and Twitter, social networking, etc since I got home from my Father's doctor's visit. What strikes me is the surreal, yet devastating, nature of the footage that is all too real. This isn't some stupid Hollywood disaster flick. The weather has been chaotic as the planet has been changing and it can be awe striking in it's cruel raw power. Japan is a country well prepared for such disasters but this one is beyond forecasted estimations. We can only be so prepared and so vigilant. With daylight arriving in Japan the true scope of this disaster will become apparent and I don't expect it will be any less heartbreaking. Again our hearts go out to those in Japan during what will be a terribly rough time.

For those who can, donate here is a direct link to the Red Cross tsunami disaster relief.

Monday, March 07, 2011

TKP FOIL line art: Kharma Actura

Here's another of the recent Theos combat FOILs in line art presentation, this time the Oshen-Dies Kharma Actura. As with the previous posts this design began as a thumbnail rough and went through the same basic process arrive at a final digitally inked design. The legs on this one owe a bit to Karl's (genocidalpenguin) design cues to a large degree though still my own stylistic approach. Also that little armor plate, right under the arm socket, that's sitting over the  torso segments, was from Karl's Giza production model FOIL. They're sometimes little cues but important to imply a sense of cross pollination by the various fictional artisan's, a variety of parts manufacturers, and FOIL companies in the TKP universe. As we continue to explore possible FOIL designs it seemed a good idea to begin mixing some visual cue between all of us in order to express this more. This will likely continue to evolve with various TKP design work, FOILs or otherwise.


This machine is a late 5th generation evolution of the enigmatic bio mechanical combat frames that came to be known as FOILs, an acronym for Faedai Omni Icar Leviathan. The 5th generation FOILs evolved into a more utilitarian stripped down design philosophy. Less emphasis on artisan driven visual flamboyance with pure sculptural expression and more movement toward mass production with solid performance. This new approach to design was in response to a perceived pending change in the combat situation due to a looming new new threat. The threat assessment, by various tacticians and insiders deep in the political intrigue of SOL, was dire and the Faedai could no longer remain steeped in their code of honor driven controlled warfare by point spread. By the time the 5th generation of FOIL development had arrived it marked the end of a long tradition of battle tactics singularly unique to the planet Polemos. A new paradigm would emerge and things would never be the same again.

I'll continue to discuss the ideas behind the visual design cues of various FOIL timelines, naming conventions, and equipment as the blog continues, along with a great deal of other TKP information. Stay tuned as a brand new FOIL collaboration between myself and Karl Östlund will drop here very soon as well ;)


Saturday, February 26, 2011

TKP FOIL line art: Ileman-Loch Aetarius and Auaris SOMR

Here we have another pair of line work presentations for Theos KE Polemos combat FOILs. Both of these designs began as a small thumbnail rough. The thumbs would then be blown up in CS3 to, roughly, an 8 1/2 x 11 page size in order to do a quick grayscale print. These would get light boxed for a more detailed and refined version. Once I have a design refined to where I want it, it goes back to CS3 for digital ink cleanups and color. The digital ink clean ups are what we have below (sans the gradient color field added here for a more pleasing presentation then simple black line art on white background). 

Most of my concept and design work begins as small thumbs in this manner. Thumbs are often one of the best ways to go as they force you to focus on form and silhouette rather than detail. Although concepts can be done, as large illustrations, right off it's often problematic as it tends to compel one to try to fill in empty space with detail. This can often result in losing form or boxing yourself into a corner so it's, typically, best to design in small thumbnail illos in order to rough out the silhouette before going to a more refined illustration. That said, there really is no best way to do anything, whatever works for you IS the way. This is simply the way I've found to be most effective and it's widely used, pretty much, for that simple reason. At the end of the day if you get the results you want, you must be doing something right so just keep it fun and the work will follow. I'll continue go into more detail as to my approach to designing the Theos material as the blog marched forward.

Ileman-Loch Aetarius:

Ileman-Loch Auaris SOMR:

Also I want to give a shout out and a big thanks to Don Suratos (who runs the rather cool modeling blog DC23) for his feature of the newly relaunched Vulne Pro blog. We really appreciate the kind words and support and, are more than happy, to send some compliments back. If you dig Mecha and sci-fi modeling, by all means drop in on his blog, there's a LOT of great stuff to explore there. Thanks again Don!

 I'll have some more FOIL line art soon, along with a first look at the line work of a rather epic Östlund (genocidalpenguin)/Majestic (VulnePro) collab FOIL. More and more we'll be posting new stuff here so stay tuned. 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Theos combat FOILs line art and the spirit of old school

As I had noted in previous posts we intend to publish more and more peeks at art, on the blog, that hasn't gone up in any of our Deviant galleries. We plan to share peeks at process, roughs, and work like those below; classic model sheet line art. With this posting I thought I'd explain, in a bit of detail, why I have approached the presentation of the Theos KE Polemos art in the manner I have.

When I was young there was a comic shop, called Comic Kingdom that used to be on 7 mile and Gratiot Ave. in Detroit. I, actually, don't remember how we found it but my Father would take me there, on weekends, so I could sort through the impressive collection of Macross, Dougram, Orguss, and Gundam kits, at least it was the fact they carried such kits that led me there (my Father bought me a bunch of the Revell Robotech kits the X-mas of 84 and I was hooked). However, it wasn't the kits as much as the discovery that this little Comic shop also carried anime art books and magazines, straight from Japan. Back then it was just really cool animation to my eyes, something new and exciting. They were doing things I had never seen before with the medium of animation and for a young artist the idea of such creative freedom with "moving drawings" was immensely impressionable.

I remember always being excited to see previews in the magazines or getting the actual artbooks of these fantastic films soon to hit theaters in Japan, films like; 'The Wings of Honneamise Royal Space Force', 'Akira', 'Castle in the Sky Laputa', and 'Venus Wars' (this was during the late 80s so that does indeed make me very old school). All films that STILL to this day I find as impressive as when I first saw these previews in Animedia, Animage, or Newtype. It was always seeing those previews of screen caps, background art, or cool peeks at model sheets and such that sparked my imagination. Even more impressionable was the fact that the cool fellow who ran that section of the shop, Bill Sikoro (not sure if I have his last name right but I do wish to extend my thanks for encouraging a young upstart to follow his dream of making his own works) would have showings of these films as they got them on Laser Disc, and, usually, it was within a month or so after release. I saw Akira on LD, like right after it came out in Japan. So all this stuff really inspired me to both strike out on my own creative ventures, but more importantly to pursue my own original creative voice. Seeing all the imagination in those films, back then, ingrained a drive in me to settle for no less than my own original vision and I've had no interest in aping anyone else's work since. I find it FAR more rewarding to strive for something I haven't seen while honoring the works and genres that inspired me in my youth.

Well, many, many years later and I'm producing my own work with that spirit in mind. My approach to presenting much of the Theos art has been designed to evoke those days of seeing all those previews for some anime film, or project, that just grabbed you with wonder, or some cool box art for a plastic/resin kit.. Back then you wanted to see it because it looked wild, imaginative, thoughtful in execution, or just plain cool... impressions I sense less and less in current anime offerings (though there are still some impressive works produced to be sure). The TKP art is presented in a manner to, hopefully, achieve that same sense of wonder, like seeing those previews, back then, before the internet and the tidal wave of media we have today. The FOIL art has especially been tailored toward a sense of seeing some old school box art for a cool resin or plastic mech that would catch your eye. Seeing as how I've had a few people tell me the art gave them that impression it seems I've succeeded in evoking that vibe. Eventually we'll need those FOIL kits in our hands for real, but for now we have the art to inspire that path forward.

Below are the line art works for the Nal-Farbute and the Strumgeist 5th Gen EVO. These line art presentations will go up here first, then later to DA and Pixiv.

Comments are welcome and feel free to stay a spell. More of these to follow soon!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

'And the Signal' Process

More and more we plan to post peeks at work in process or material like this where it's a peek at the process throughout to completion. I planned to post this on Deviant, way back when I completed 'And the Signal', but I got sidetracked by other stuff and simply forgot I made this set of progression images. This isn't a comprehensive tutorial type of piece, simply a peek at some of the stages.

With these image art shots I have always tried to both experiment with new ideas and maintain my own personal style. A good deal of Theos KE Polemos is very much film noir, in the classic sense, so it's always been a blast to work on atmospheric scenes such as this and the previously posted update of 'Blood Wake'.  There's more material waiting in the wings, stay tuned.

Return to posting at Pixiv

I've returned to posting work at Pixiv, which is sort of, Japan's version of Deviant Art. Nick Maradin and I had stated posting there in November of 2008 but hadn't kept up due to other work. I've wanted to get back to posting there again so, in the last few days I've been posting up some of the Theos work that never made it up there.  Being a lot of that work never went up on Pixiv I have a lot to post every now and then.  I'll also be posting work for Karl Östlund (genocidalpenguin) on his behalf. 

Vulne Pro on Pixiv

The reasoning for posting there certainly isn't any Japanophile kind of mentality (my view of the creators over there was always peer respect not a view through fan obsessed goggles) as it's simply to expose the work to an audience obviously far more familiar with the troupes and genre they, more or less, created in the first place. Seeing as how we have a very different take for how we plan to approach the notion of mecha it's of interest to post there.

Monday, February 07, 2011

New TKP FOIL post and updates to old TKP Image art pieces

It's about time to gradually get this little blog a cookin' again. With things calming down a tad I have bit more time to get to working on art again. I'll be getting to a lot of backlog work and older pieces so there will be a lot pending. I recently uploaded to DA a long delayed collaboration piece with Charles Liu (N'vos Tessai FOIL), and two updated versions of older TKP image art illos; ORO TDS Station and Blood Wake (below).

Updated 2011 version:

Original 2008 version:

There's a lot of work to get to and, over time, we plan to post a lot of work here that's not featured on any of our respective Deviant galleries so stay tuned, there's more to come!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Had to take my Father into emergency.

I spent the entire day, yesterday, with my Father at the hospital.  His routine doctor's exam (unrelated to his exams regarding his broken arm, which has been healing fantastically) turned into discovering an aryhtmia in his heart so he was admitted right away (though it wasn't anything immediately life threatening).  So far the news hasn't been mortally grave or horribly alarming , however it's serious enough to warrent observation and a battery of testing. It's still too early to say how it might go but my hope is, what I'm gathering as somewhat on the positive side will be how it goes.  They more or less said this is treatable and he should be OK, so we'll see.  He was in good spirits overall, though not wanting to be there naturally. I'll be heading back today of course keeping him company. Please, by all means send best wishes, prayers, or whatever positive vibes are your inclination.

Thanks for reading.

Update: Sat Jan 29

I'm happy to report my Father is doing really well and the arrhythmia isn't life threatening or as serious as it was first diagnosed (he wasn't in any pain or discomfort, what so ever, when we admitted him to emergency, nor has he been in any before admitting. Only the arm pain). It was good he was admitted to ensure it doesn't get serious but, overall, he's doing really good and the condition is treatable. The testing is over and he's just in observation likely heading home in the next day or so. Thank you to everyone who expressed kind wishes, we really appreciate it. I have no idea how much that kinda thing helps but it certainly can't hurt.

Update: Mon Jan 31

My Father was discharged from the hospital, yesterday, and is doing very well so far. I expect more doctors visits but the situation doesn't appear life threatening and he's well enough to be home. Gonna have a busy few days though, much to take care of and catch up on.

Thank you all immensely for the kind words, well wishes, and comments. We really do appreciate it.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

2011 and a return to activity...

Last post here in 2006... DOH!

Well a lot happened since that time and there were some good reasons why the posting dropped off. The primary reason being we got really busy in 2007 working on animation TV series pitches so the blog kinda was an afterthought during those crazy times.  Also the migration to Deviant Art, with posting current Vulne Pro works, shifted focus there.  Deviant art was a huge success in growing the Theos project so, naturally, posting there continued. Well, it's time now, at the onset of 2011, to revive this little blog as the official hub of Vulne Pro studio.  There's a lot of catching up here, a lot of stories to potentially share about the missing blog time, a lot of new things to explore, and some cool things planned. So with this brief update we return to our little home here and invite you all along for the ride.