Today’s Art (31st July 2013)

Well, I still seem to be in the mood for horror art today – so all three of today’s drawings are ended up being fairly morbid and foreboding.

Although I had to use a lot more digital effects/editing than usual in both “Nightmare Resort” and “The Deadly Desert” though.

As usual, these three drawings are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"In The Dark Forest" By C.  A. Brown

“In The Dark Forest” By C. A. Brown

"The Deadly Desert" By C. A. Brown

“The Deadly Desert” By C. A. Brown

"Nightmare Resort" By C. A. Brown

“Nightmare Resort” By C. A. Brown

Disillusionment Is A Good Part Of The Creative Process

2013 Artwork Disillusionment sketch

So, you’ve got a new idea for a creative project. It’s something you’ve never really tried before, but you’re eager about it and you throw yourself into it with dreams about producing something wonderful.

But, after a while, it either turns out badly or you end up leaving it unfinished in a single bitter moment of cold disillusionment.

We’ve all been there.

It doesn’t happen every time everyone starts creating something they’ve never tried before, but it happens quite often.

As I mentioned in my post about starting a webcomic, I had to get through two unfinished and unpublished attempts at writing a webcomic before I had the beginnings of a comic that I felt even vaguely confident about putting on the internet. Likewise, this isn’t the first blog I’ve ever tried to write, but it’s already lasted for at least twice as long as my previous attempts at writing blogs.

Also, “Liminal Rites” is my second attempt at writing an episodic story. Although some chapters are better than others and it reads like a first draft sometimes – it’s probably still going to end up being the longest story I’ve ever written. Again, I’ve tried writing longer (unpublished) stories in the past, but the most I’ve ever got up to is about 21,500 words.

So, what do all of these things have in common?

Apart from shameless egotism and self-promotion, they are all my second and third attempts at things. My first attempts at things often seem to fail or at least they don’t succeed in the way that I hope they will. I’m guessing that you’ve probably experienced something similar. But, don’t worry, you haven’t wasted your time.

No, I’m being serious here.

It’s probably best to think of your first attempt at something new as a tutorial period or an experiment. You should never see it as anything other than this for the simple reason that you’ll start your new project with the wrong attitude if you do.

If you expect to instantly be the master of something you’ve never even tried before, then you’re almost certainly going to end up disappointed and disillusioned enough to abandon whatever you are doing forever.

However, if you see it as a tutorial period and an experiment, then there’s room to have fun and, most importantly, there’s a lot less pressure. Nothing has to be perfect – after all, you’re still learning. Plus, you can try out a whole bunch of interesting things which you might not have even dared to attempt if you felt that your first attempt had to be perfect. In short, you can have fun and, dare I say it, play with lots of different ideas.

Yes, you will still be disillusioned, but this isn’t a bad thing. All that “disillusionment” means is that you don’t have any illusions. It means that you know, from personal experience, what to expect. As such, your second attempt at making something will be a lot less daunting. You will be slightly older and slightly wiser and your work will be better as a result.

You will know what mistakes you shouldn’t make and you will know what works and what doesn’t. As such, you will be better than the person you were when you made your first attempt.

If you’re creative, disillusionment is a good thing.

But I’ve wasted so much time and effort on my first comic/novel/episodic novel/blog/webcomic !

No you haven’t. Firstly, you’ve probably learnt a lot when you were making it. Secondly, you’ve got your “terrible first project” out of the way. Thirdly, if you liked your first idea a lot, then you can always go back and improve it when you’ve learnt a lot more and are more experienced.

Plus, as I’ve mentioned in another article there’s no rule against plundering your old, unfinished and failed projects for ideas if you aren’t feeling particularly inspired.

In fact, you may well be able to turn a few parts of your failed project into something much better.


Yes, this is all fairly obvious stuff, but it can be easy to forget when you find yourself face to face with a failed project.

Just remember that it’s all part of the learning process and you haven’t wasted your time.

Good luck with your next project 🙂 Keep going and remember that everyone has to start somewhere 🙂

Today’s Art (30th July 2013)

Well, I made another three drawings today and I’m quite proud of all of them, although “A Dark Doorway” ended up looking a lot more cartoonish than I thought it would.

As usual, these three drawings are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"A Scary Story" By C. A. Brown

“A Scary Story” By C. A. Brown

"Long Messages" By C. A. Brown

“Long Messages” By C. A. Brown

"A Dark Doorway" By C. A. Brown

“A Dark Doorway” By C. A. Brown

Review: “Farscape” (Season One) (TV Show)

I first saw “Farscape” on TV when I was about eleven or twelve (does anyone remember the good old days when they used to show a double bill of “Farscape” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” at 6pm-7:30pm on BBC2 once a week?). At the time, for some bizarre reason, I didn’t really like “Farscape” that much, or rather, I was fairly indifferent to it when compared to the timeless work of genius which is “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

A while ago, I got the chance to rewatch the first season of “Farscape” and, quite frankly, my younger self was an idiot! It’s an absolutely amazing show which is easily as good as “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. However, it is a very different show in almost every respect apart from the fact that it’s set on a large spaceship and there are more than a few adventures.

(Ok, I should probably point out that this will be a fairly long review.)

*** Spoilers for episode one ahead ***

The first season of “Farscape” begins with John Crichton, a test pilot with IASA ( a space agency which is similar to NASA) who is piloting an experimental spacecraft that he designed. He intends to use the gravitational pull of the earth as a slingshot in order to test whether this is a viable means of propulsion. However, during his first test flight, a large wormhole appears which sucks up his craft and transports it to a far-flung corner of the universe.

When he emerges from the wormhole, he finds himself in the middle of a rather large and dramatic space battle between a military force called The Peacekeepers and a large and unusual-looking spaceship. After nearly crashing with one of the Peacekeeper fighter ships ( causing it to veer off course and collide with a nearby asteroid) the large spaceship locks a tractor beam (of sorts) on Crichton’s spacecraft and takes it into it’s cargo hold.

The large spaceship is like nothing which Crichton has seen before. For starters, it looks a lot more organic than most spaceships do. Secondly, when he reaches the bridge of the spacecraft, it is manned only by three very different aliens. One injection of translator microbes to his heel later, Crichton is able to learn that they (Zhaan, D’Argo and Rigel) are escaped prisoners who have commandeered a living “leviathan” prison ship called Moya from the Peacekeepers and are currently in the process of escaping. With little other option, he decides to join them.

But, before they are able to escape, Moya grabs a Peacekeeper fighter ship with her tractor beam and they capture the pilot. Since the crew is also suspicious about Crichton, since humans look remarkably similar to Peacekeepers, he is placed in a cell with the pilot of the fighter plane. Once they’ve argued and fought with each other (after the pilot of the fighter plane believes Crichton to be a Peacekeeper deserter), she removes her helmet and introduces herself as Aeryn Sun.

Eventually, the five inhabitants of the crew (along with Moya’s own pilot – a creature who is biologically linked to the ship) trust each other enough to be able to work together and evade the small Peacekeeper fleet who is trying to recapture Moya.

Meanwhile, on the Peacekeeper mothership, Captain Bilar Crais is informed that his brother died during the attempt to recapture Moya and the escaped prisoners. When he looks at the footage of the battle, he sees that his brother’s fighter ship crashed into an asteroid after encountering an unidentified vessel. Enraged, Crais swears to avenge his brother’s death….

…and, that’s just part of episode one…


There are so many great things to say about “Farscape” and it is unlike any other sci-fi series which I’ve seen (about the closest one I can think of is “Firefly” and even that is very different in a lot of ways) for a whole host of reasons. For starters, the aesthetic of the whole show and the set design is absolutely perfect.

Setting the series on a living spaceship means that it looks very different to 99% of other sci-fi shows and movies and it wouldn’t surprise me if the design of Moya was an inspiration for the design of the Tardis interior during the more recent series of “Doctor Who”. Moya is also maintained by a large group of small robots called DRDs, which vaguely reminded me of the scutters from “Red Dwarf” too (except, unlike the scutters, they actually work properly….most of the time).

Likewise the design of all the various aliens is truly excellent (and they were made by the Jim Henson company too) and, apart from a few short scenes (mostly when Rigel jumps or walks anywhere), there are next to no CGI creatures. They’re all made from models, animatronics and prosthetics. I cannot praise the originality of the alien designs and the general look of the show enough – it really is unlike any sci-fi series that I’ve seen before and “Farscape” is worth watching just for the design alone.

Set design aside, the strength of any sci-fi series lies in it’s characters and “Farscape” certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard either. All of the main characters have their own motivations and most of them are delightfully flawed, and surprisingly believeable, characters too. Plus, unlike many sci-fi shows, Crichton is the only recurring human character and – to most of the other characters, he is an alien (this is explored further in episode four of season one – titled “I, E.T.”). This lends “Farscape” an atmosphere which is quite unlike a lot of other human-based sci-fi shows.

Whilst Aeryn looks human, she actually belongs to a species called Sebacians who are fairly similar to humans, but they have a slightly different history and several key biological differences (eg: they have no method for regulating body temperature and will slowly die, after becoming delirious, if exposed to high temperatures. This is a plot mechanic which features prominently in one episode of serson one).

Zhaan is a Delvian priestess who has the ability to share and remove the pain of others. She also goes into an ecstatic state of bliss whenever she is exposed to intense sunlight too (for reasons which are explained later in the season).

Rigel is a Hynerian who used to be the monarch of his people until his cousin overthrew him and handed him over to the Peacekeepers to be imprisoned and tortured. He is probably the “comedy” character of the series and he is hilariously aristocratic, solipsistic, greedy and amoral. He also travels around on a small hovering throne most of the time too.

Finally, D’Argo is a Luxan warrior (probably at least partially inspired by the Klingons from “Star Trek”) who almost always carries a rather impressive sword (which can double up as a rifle when necessary) who, although it is implied that he is fairly young, often seems to be one of the most experienced fighters on the crew of Moya (second only to Aeryn).

The ship’s pilot (called “Pilot”) is a six-armed creature who is biologically linked to Moya – although his character isn’t really developed that much in season one, he’s always worrying about something or other and he’s usually fairly mild-mannered (even when some members of the crew attack him in one episode).

Also, about fifteen episodes into season one, a new member of the crew called Chiana is also introduced. She is a Nebari rebel who is a fairly cynical, hedonistic and impulsive. Although, since she only appears in the last few episodes of the season, her character doesn’t have as much time to develop as the other characters. Like any sci-fi show, there are also larger plot arcs in the background too

Most of the episodes are extremely compelling and, although a few of the storylines are vaguely Trek-like (not that this is a bad thing…), the storylines are all fairly innovative and interesting. Yes, some episodes are better than others, but even the few slightly weaker episodes are still worth watching just for the characters and the dialogue.

My personal favourite episodes from season one are probably “Through The Looking Glass” (where Moya is split between several parallel universes), “PK Tech Girl” (where Moya’s crew discover an abandoned Peacekeeper spaceship and a Peacekeeper technician who has been sent to repair and/or investigate it) and “A Human Reaction” (where Crichton discovers another wormhole leading to Earth).

Another great thing about “Farscape” is the atmosphere of the show – it’s very different from most other TV shows and, although it is about ten times more cynical and dystopic than “Star Trek: The Next Generation” – it certainly has it’s fair share of humour and adventure which prevents the series from becoming depressing. Yes, it’s slightly darker, stranger and more violent than “Star Trek” – but, if you’re a Trek fan or a Firefly fan, then there’s a good chance that you will love “Farscape” too.

All in all, this is a great opening series for a great show. There really is nothing else like it. If you’re still uncertain about whether you want to watch it, then a Youtube channel called “Nerdist” has produced five-minute ‘Minisodes’ of each episode from season one (basically a heavily condensed version of the entire episode) which are each introduced by an actor from the show. You can find the minisode for episode one here .

If I had to give season one of “Farscape” a rating out of five, then it would get a six. If you like sci-fi in any way, then be sure to take a look at “Farscape”.

Today’s Art (29th July 2013)

Well, I made another three drawings today – and they’re all fairly ok, although I ended up adding a lot more digital effects than usual to “Microcosm” since the original version of the drawing didn’t really look that good.

As usual, these three drawings are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Licence.

"Beach Moment" By C. A. Brown

“Beach Moment” By C. A. Brown

"Microcosm" By C. A. Brown

“Microcosm” By C. A. Brown

"Molten Maze" By C. A. Brown

“Molten Maze” By C. A. Brown

How To Draw A Moonlit Sea

Well, for today’s instalment in my “How To Draw” series, I thought that I’d show you how to draw a moonlit sea.

This effect is fairly easy to draw and it can also be used to show sunlight too (although, if you’re drawing reflected sunlight – then keep the space between the two wavy pencil lines [in the second step of this guide] either completely blank or very pale blue).

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

Review: “The Returned”/”Les Revenants” (Series One) (TV Show)

Well, since this series ended quite recently, I thought that I’d write a review of it. “The Returned” (originally titled “Les Revenants”) is a French drama/horror series which was shown in the UK on Channel Four over the past eight weeks.

One of the great things about this series was that Channel Four didn’t patronise their viewers by showing a dubbed version of the series. Instead, they showed a subtitled version of the series. To use a French term, this series is “VOST” (Version Originale Sous-Titrée, I think) – and all the better for it! Whilst your opinions may vary, I’m a strong believer in watching international films/TV shows in their original language.

“The Returned” takes place in a small rural town where the dead begin to return to life. The “undead” in this series are all fairly ordinary people who just happen to have returned mysteriously from the grave – so, if you were expecting zombies, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. The series mostly focuses on the effect which this has on the inhabitants of the town as old secrets are revealed and families are both reunited and torn apart. In addition to this, the water level behind the town’s dam is gradually receding and there is a spate of mysterious power cuts too….

This show is very difficult to describe concisely purely on account of the sheer complexity of it. It has a fairly large cast of characters and, in just eight episodes, there are at least as many (if not more) sub-plots, story arcs and plot threads as the average 20-25 episode American TV series/season would probably include.

Yes, “The Returned” isn’t really a show which you can just watch casually and it’s a show which you have to pay close attention to, but it’s very rewarding if you do. I’ve watched every episode once and I’ve probably still missed out on all sorts of subtle clues and elements of the show. In essence, it is basically an eight hour movie which has been split into episodes.

One of the best parts of “The Returned” are the characters – all of them are extremely complex and believeable people and this series could easily take place in any town in any country (but, please don’t remake it!) Most of the drama comes from both the complex array of reactions from the living towards the returned dead and also how the returned dead adjust to being alive again. It’s much more dramatic than it probably sounds, although this is mostly done in a fairly subtle and realistic way.

In essence, this series doesn’t really have a “main character” as such – although if it did, then it would probably be Camille – a fifteen year old girl who died in a coach accident a few years before the events of the show. Her relationship with her family (and her – now slightly older – sister, Lena) is one of the central plot threads of the show.

The other main characters include Simon, a (devastatingly handsome) man who returns from the dead to find that his fiancee (Adèle) has married the town’s police chief (Thomas). Toni, the landlord of “The Lake Pub”, who learns that his brother (Serge) has returned from the dead – which dredges up a lot of family history that he would rather forget. Julie, a nurse who takes in a mysterious and mostly silent young boy who wanders into the town. But, of course, there are quite a few other main characters too….

Visually, this show is absolutely brilliant too. Almost all of the settings are fairly believeable places which will quickly become familiar to you and the series has a very understated and cinematic kind of look to it too. The title credits sequence is wonderfully haunting too and it contains all kinds of interesting subtle things which you might miss if you only watch it once.

Although I haven’t really heard any of their songs before, the background and title music for “The Returned” was written and performed by a Scottish band called Mogwai and it is incredibly atmospheric, ambient, dark and haunting too. Seriously, the music is one of the many things which makes “The Returned” such a compelling and chilling TV series.

Being a series about death, “The Returned” gets fairly depressing in some parts – although there is always enough drama, mystery and intrigue to keep the show compelling and prevent it from becoming unwatchably miserable. Although it is a horror series, “The Returned” doesn’t really start to become seriously disturbing until about halfway through the series – but, if you’re a horror fan, then it is certainly worth the wait. This series certinaly goes in some fairly dark directions…

Series one of “The Returned” leaves a lot of unanswered questions and, thankfully, there will be a second series of it next year (I’m guessing it’ll probably be shown in France first before it’s on TV in the UK) which will hopefully continue the story and answer some of these questions.

All in all, “The Returned” is an intelligent, complex and chilling show which I cannot recommend highly enough. Yes, it might not be for everyone, but if you like horror and drama, then it’s definitely worth watching. If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least a five.

Today’s Art (28th July 2013)

Well, I made another three drawings today -although I wasn’t really feeling too artistic earlier, so “Mountain Centre” didn’t turn out that well and the other two drawings look very slightly generic too.

As always, these three drawings are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"A Purple Place" By C. A. Brown

“A Purple Place” By C. A. Brown

"Coin Of The Realm" by C. A. Brown

“Coin Of The Realm” by C. A. Brown

"Mountain Centre" By C. A. Brown

“Mountain Centre” By C. A. Brown