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I draw my own book covers, occasionally illustrate my stories (see http://miriam-english.org/stories/index.html), and sometimes (rarely nowadays) draw pictures for no particular purpose at all.
This was drawn in 2015 Feb 23 over about a week using the wonderul, free, paint program GIMP and my Wacom Intuos graphics tablet. It is the cover for my book Selena City, which I wrote in 2007.
I'm very happy with this picture. I think it manages to convey a lot of things about the story. The two main characters of the story, Brenda and Adele were lovers, but have been separated by circumstances. Now they are brought together again. The story is set inside a casino city named Selena City on the Moon.
Brenda was fairly strightforward to draw. I did what I often do: I looked at many, many pictures of Indian women to fill my head, then I selected one in particular to base the pose on. It doesn't actually look exactly like the image I worked from because I used aspects from other women to make her look more like the character in my story.
The other character, Adele, who is the voice of the story, was more difficult because she has to be someone who doesn't stand out in a crowd as this is how I describe her in the book. I was unsuccessfully struggling with the image when a friend suggested I draw Margaret, an old girlfriend. (We're still good friends and when I next spoke to Margaret she was quite flattered.) I made her much younger in the picture (we're both now in our 60s). I think I achieved a very good likeness.
Because the story starts with them meeting again after having been separated I wanted a touch of sadness, yet tenderness in the picture.
The name "Selena City" is in sparkling gold to indicate the attraction of fake wealth that casinos represent, because the city is built around a gambling casino on, or rather under the surface of, the Moon. The image of the Moon serves the secondary purpose of indicating that this is science fiction without betraying too much of the story. I wanted to add some hints of the grand internal architecture of the city, but couldn't find of a way to do it without cluttering the cover too much, so I left it simple.
This cover was drawn 2015 Feb 27, also using wonderful GIMP and my Wacom graphics tablet.
Because this story is more about ideas than anything else and the settings are mostly quite ordinary places with ordinary-looking people I spent quite a while trying to come up with a suitable image. I started re-reading the story in the hope an image might jump out at me. Eventually I got the idea of using a metaphoric image instead of an actual scene from the book. At first I thought of a picture of a woman kissing the Earth's globe, but couldn't get the kiss looking right, then I thought a hug might work better. It did. I started drawing the picture of the woman, but it bothered me as the AI in the story is mostly inside computers, so any body I gave it wouldn't be "right". While looking at the sketch superimposed over the globe of the Earth I suddenly realised that I could make the character ghostly. It fits nicely the idea of something insubstantial that lives inside computers.
The picture of Earth is from an amazing free program, Celestia, which lets you fly around in space and visit the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and spaceships in our solar system, and even venture out to other star systems. I arranged the image with the South Pole at the top because the common depiction with the North Pole at the top is quite arbitrary. (The globe I keep on my desk has the South pole at the top.) Also the story is set mostly in Australia (as most of my stories are), so I wanted to indicate that too.
This was the first book cover I tried drawing. Initially I was just fiddling around with using the incredibly versatile commandline graphics program ImageMagick to render a logo. I produced a logo which was interesting, but unsatisfying.
(Click on the logo to see the command I used to get ImageMagick to generate it.)
Later I was scribbling out an idea for a cover and created a sketch that I felt conveyed something of the story, even though it doesn't actually depict any event in the book. It shows Christine, the main character, flying unaided in a dreamlike fashion, and a marsupial lion posing danger to her, even though it doesn't happen like that in the story. I scanned the sketch in, cleaned it up and colored it, then faded the image to give a dreamy feel.
Nobody I've showed it to likes the font I used for the title, but I love it because it feels to me unconstrained, loose, flyaway, and the book is written for me, so I kept it.
I've redrawn this in ways suggested by Drew, owner of Urban Fiction, the comicbook shop in Nambour. It is much more satisfying to me now. The story is about the social effects of the non-sexual companionships between various characters -- human-human, human-android, human-dog, android-dog. I thought a symbolic image would convey this best, hence the differently colored hands. Blue, of course, suggests the non-human androids, though none is actually colored blue in the story.
Probably should add dates to these. Most are pretty ancient. Eventually I may sort them in some kind of order. At the moment they are all higgledy piggledy (now there is a strange expression... wonder where it comes from).
Almost all these pictures were drawn using ordinary pencils and cheap typing paper. When I was in high school an art teacher said one day that we should spend as much as we can on art supplies, because the better your tools, the better the end result. That didn't seem right to me, so then and there I resolved to use the cheapest tools I could get my hands on: ordinary paper, cheap pencils and pens.
- DemonGuitarist (159k) pencil and paper
- (I've rescanned this picture at higher resolution.) I love to sit in on band practice sessions. They tend to have more energy and gritty edge than their more polished and perfected stage performances I drew this while a few friends were brushing up on their music. The character illustrated here is a very dynamic and charismatic person, Mark Sneddon, who I've known since we were kids, though lost track of lately.
- Linda (51k) pencil and paper
- Linda, at the time I drew this sketch, was pretty young -- in her early twenties I think. There was always something about her. She is one of the most attractive people I've ever met. Some of that comes from her obvious physical appearance, but most of it came from her impressive personality and quickness of mind. Something I wish I could portray.
- MoonGirl (43k) pencil, chalk, pen, chinagraph pencil, crayon, cartridge paper
- This comes from the bad old days when I used drugs. The only reason I sat down to draw this picture was that I was in such a rotten mood because I was withdrawing and didn't want to interact with anybody. This picture reminds me that even bad times can produce good things. There is no sense in saying "Oh I don't feel well enough to do anything good today." You don't know what can result. These days I don't use any drugs. It certainly makes life a heck of a lot easier. Regarding drugs, the law is an ass. People shouldn't use drugs, not because they're illegal, but because they make life worse. I enjoy life a lot more now.
- alone (85k) pencil and paper
- I was very depressed when I drew this. I'd broken up with the woman I'd loved for many years. I very rarely get depressed, but I had good reason this time. The thing about depression for me is that even though it is a horrible feeling it is still quite useful because I become very methodical and logical. I'm normally very easily distractible and flit from idea to idea, my mind constantly bubbling, but when depressed I become slow and deliberate. Very useful.
- bird (70k) pencil and paper
- Okay... another depressed picture. Can't remember why I was down here. One of the things I like to do in my pictures is very clear here. I have developed an understanding of where people look in a picture. I've drawn those parts in detail and the rest is fairly undeveloped, but because people don't tend to look at the sloppy parts they get the impression the picture is more detailed than it really is. Speaking of detail, because the bird is an even white I had to fill the area around it with some detail to prevent the picture becoming mostly blank, so I took my chair out to my unpaved, dirt driveway and drew some of it as the background (I'm not imaginative enough to pull it out of my head).
- star (68k) pencil and cartridge paper
- I'm not a party animal. Parties freak me out a bit. I went to a party with my girlfriend and felt too nervous to interact so I went and sat in the corner and drew. People leave you alone if you draw. This picture came out. The girl is Julie and the two critters were based on our two dogs.
Recently I decided to add to this, widening the image as a banner for my social media pages. Here's the result.
I might work on it further... I'm not 100% satisfied with it.
- dancing (150k) pencil and paper
- Not much to say about this one. It was drawn as entry to a film and TV school. Attending it was among the greatest mistakes in my life.
- hall (84k) pencil and paper
- This picture illustrates a (rather crappy) story I wrote many years ago. In the story the girl is wearing a living dress that warms her, and her way is lit by a glowing robotic light that floats near her. These lights wander about the area, looking for creatures to illuminate. The scene is a large hall, kilometers across, inside a spaceship (there is no restriction how big you can build structures in space). The picture was something of a revelation for me. It was the first time I'd used all of the page in a full, detailed scene.
- Android Hooker (60k) ink and paper
- An experiment using a cheap 25 cent nib pen and a bottle of ordinary india ink. The main, girl character is re-used from a much older pencil drawing.
- sunset (63k) pencil and paper
- This was basically a doodle.
- beach (142k) pencil and paper
- Just a bit of fun.
- VR Author (small) (40k) computer using a graphics tablet
- What it feels like for me to build virtual worlds. I feel ephemeral in my dark room with my glowing monitor, and the world I'm constructing feels quite real.
- VR Author (big) (280k) ditto
- And a higher resolution version. Incidentally, this picture was drawn on computer using a Wacom graphics tablet.
- the article (33k) pencil and paper
- This was a poster for a band many years ago.
- mechHands (140k) pencil and cartridge paper
- Centaur (71k) pencil and poster paint on cartridge paper
- This picture is ancient. I drew it back in the 70s. I always had a bit of a thing about centaurs. The weapon always grated with me though and I wish I hadn't added that. I distinctly remember why I did: The way I drew the hand it needed something under it.
- what weapons do (108k) pencil and paper
- I hate weapons. They cause many more problems than they solve. This picture is meant to illustrate that. If you pick up a weapon to use it against someone then you'll need it again when their friends or family seek revenge, and then again, and again... Weapons hold you in a cruel grip when you grab them, and they don't let go. I should have drawn the person as burning in flames instead of drowning in water, because the water is too peaceful and reminds everyone of the lady in the lake of the Arthurian legends. Maybe I'll redraw it one day.
- what weapons do in flames (84k)
- I finally did it. I altered the weapons picture to make it better fit the original idea, having the person wielding the weapon engulfed in flames instead of the previously peaceful water scene. This says what I wanted much better. What prompted me to do it was that I needed a backdrop for a meme about hate that I wanted to make and realised this would suit it.
- hate (119k)
- Here is the meme image that prompted me to fix the original.
- meuse (179k) pencil and paper
- Decades ago this was done for the cover of a magazine, but was never used. Easy to see why. The picture illustrates a story I wrote once about two characters who pass the time chatting and doing tricks like card sharps. The character on the left has an inscrutably alien kind of mind. The one on the right is more like us in its way of thinking. It is wise and gentle. They are both very knowledgeable and capable. At first glance the one on the right is the more talented of the two, but a closer look shows that it uses machines, the rings on its fingers, to concoct the illusion of the human girl. The character on the left however, is able to generate and levitate a real object (see how it reflects the things around it?) using forces from its own tentacles.
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