Sunday 23 October 2016

Arrival at Furaha V: done!

Here is the result of all the previous processes. Is the painting ready? Mostly, yes. There is always a possibility that I decide to change something one day. Sometimes, when finishing a painting, I feel certain that the way it is then is the way it will stay. In other cases I am much less certain, and the 'arrival' painting is one such. It will probably undergo some changes in the future.

Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk
But here it is, for better or worse. The original is 6000 by 4200 pixels, so what you see here is much reduced version. A problem of this design is that it was difficult to work out how much detail and colour there should be in the foreground. One extreme would be to paint the foreground as pure silhouettes, and the other would be to add strong lights in the spaceship so every detail in the foreground stands out. I decided on something in between, and the balance turned out to be tricky: with too much light on the walls these start to be disruptive, in particular in view of the array of colours I gave them, in an attempt to give them a brushed metal look. But it is easy to darken or lighten specific layers in a digital painting, so I can tweak the settings later. I will not look at it for a few months and then it should be obvious whether the balance needs to be changed.

Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk
Here are the protagonists, Giorgios Bruijningh and Souren Nyoroge. It is interesting that in close-up the colours are much more obvious than in the overall view, in which they are more or less swamped by the planet. The lettering on the window is an attempt to add a bit of futurism. The text is in Neolat, an adaptation of Latin that is very easy to learn for speakers of Romance and Germanic languages. That, at least, is the 'in universe' statement: on our world Neolat does not exist. It could do with another font, but I have not found something suitable yet.

Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk
And here is the ship's cat. This fragment also brings out the Art Nouveau decoration on the floor. I took this from the internet, reworked them a bit, deformed them to get the corrected perspective, and positioned them on the floor as a transparent layer.

So far, I had not painted the technology of this universe. I do not really want to, as it would detract from what it is all about, and also because I do not think I would be good at it. But Spugpow's remark regarding art Nouveau was right on the mark. I may write about that subject another time, but my preference for the aesthetic sensitivities of this future civilisation would be much closer to Art Nouveau and steampunk than to cool, sleek and empty designs. The 'bandes dessinées'  by Schuiten and Peeters come close. Their series on the 'cités obscures' are close to what I would like to see. Have a look at a Google image search of their work here, read the Wikipedia article, or go their own website. The books do not seem to be readily available in English for reasons I cannot fathom.

Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk
Finally, it struck me that the painting would serve well as a book cover, so here is the novel 'An unexpected friendship', by one Sigmund Nastrazzurro, a hack writer of little fame.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Arrival at Furaha IV: progress

Well, here is the next video. It shows some further development of the characters. These were painted against a white background, and what you see in the video is that their silhouettes were then painted in a flat dark brown tone. The layer of the silhouettes is underneath the one with the shading of the characters. By setting that shading layer to 'multiply' the colours in that layer will interact with the layer underneath in a specific way. Generally, 'multiply' adds portions of the images that are dark in the shading layer as additional darkness to the silhouette layer, but any light portions will not lighten the silhouette layer.
  Afterwards, I flip on the 'walls' layer as well as the planet layer, that here is simply a render from my Furaha model in Vue. To get a more painterly effect I will later paint it completely anew; actually, at the time of writing I have already done so.
  In the meantime I also reworked the walls. I liked Spugpows remark that the walls had an art nouveau feeling, so I took that literally and decorated them and the floor with Art Nouveau patterns. I will probably show the result of that in more detail next weekend.       

Saturday 8 October 2016

Painting Arrival at Furaha III: characters

In this video I am trying to get a feel for the characters. I added a cat for some mystery; if you have a very large roomy spaceship, you can have a ship's cat too, I thought. Besides, by having it look at the viewer the painting becomes more interesting.
  In the next stage the feeling will change completely: here, the canvas is very light, but the painting as a whole will be dark. It is just easier to sketch clothing this way. I decided that the temperature aboard ship is fairly high, so people wear loose clothing. 

Monday 3 October 2016

Painting 'Arrival at Furaha' II: how thick is the terminator?

No, this is not about the waistline of an ageing time-travelling cyborg.

A 'terminator' is also the boundary line dividing the dark and sunlit areas of a planetary surface. The Apollo missions made it very obvious that the terminator, in the case of Earth, is not a thin sharp line but rather a blurred zone in which light fades from full sunlight to total darkness. In the case of the moon it is much sharper, suggesting that our atmosphere has a lot to do with blurring the terminator. Once I had asked myself how wide it should be, I felt it difficult to simply guess its width. I thought it would be easy to find on the internet, but to my surprise it was not. So I did some simple mathematics.
Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk

In the scheme above the circle at the left is a planet, and the one on the right is the sun. On a point on the day side of the planet a viewer can see the entire disc of the sun. But when the sun sets, part of the sun's disc drops beneath the horizon; in other words, some of the rays of light from the sun cannot reach the surface. So which is the area on the planet where only part of the sun's disc is visible? That area is the terminator.

Point A above is where a tangent line from the 'top' side of the sun just touches Earth, and point B is a similar point where a tangent line from the underside of the sun touches Earth. The zone from A to B is the terminator, and it is not difficult to express that in angles. But that is all without an atmosphere. I reasoned that the same tangent could travel on through the atmosphere, where it could scatter in the atmosphere, casting some light on the surface. So I also calculated point X as the furthest point where light might be scattered.

The trick then was to put in the proper values, in units of one thousand km. The radius of Earth becomes 6.371, that of the sun 693.7, the distance between the sun and Earth is 149600, and the thickness of the atmosphere is 0.1. Mind you, that latter value, 100 km, is the 'official' border of the atmosphere, but a more relevant value would be the height where light is scattered; I have no idea.

Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk
So here is a close up of Earth with the proper values put in. The thing to remember is how large space is: the distance between sun and Earth makes all the triangles extremely narrow. The angles of point A and B are 179.7 and 180.2 degrees (the angle starts counting at the top of the planet, so 180 degrees is pointing straight down). That is only 0.53 degrees! I thought the effects of the width of the sun's disc would be larger, but mathematics doesn't lie. The angle for point X is 190.3 degrees, so the angle from A to X is 10.6 degrees. That is closer to what space photographs suggest. But how correct is it?

Click to enlarge; copyright NASA

Above is an image from NASA, rotated. I put some orange dots on it, over Gabon, that to my mind define the width of the terminator. I compared that to a map of Africa, and estimate the width to be five degrees. So apparently I overestimated the height where light gets scattered. The lesson is clear: the width of the terminator depends almost entirely on the thickness of the atmosphere. Good; I can now plug in the values for Furaha and paint the terminator at the correct width. Well, a useful estimate, anyway.       

Next time I will show some timelapse video's of the painting as it progresses (as soon as I manage to upload them, that is).