More redone portraits

I seem to be going on a bit of an artwork refactor bend lately. These are intended to go with my next compilation, whenever that will be released, and I have a few more planned.

I’m aware that these aren’t perfect comparisons. In the case of the first one below the fold, I forgot to save GIMP’s .xcf file for that one, so I had to start from scratch anyway.

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Short story compilations

I have about 30 stories in the Connacht Disaster Zone series, and a lot of them share common themes or an overarching narrative. So, I’ve decided that I might as well combine them with some appropriate artwork. All of these will be available via a new page, and here’s the first one.

An unsanctioned laboratory underneath Cruagh Island attempts to discover the origins of the Fomorians.

She couldn’t move. 
Her heart pounded in time with the squeak of the trolley wheels as she struggled futilely against the straps that dug into her limbs and chest. The sharp smell of antiseptic assaulted her nostrils, growing ever stronger, and stronger, and-
“Feisty bitch, ain’t she?” somebody remarked. Her head twisted upwards and to the right, eyes locking onto the dwarf who leered at her, exposing teeth that were stained from smoking tea. Emblazoned on his right chest was that logo – that rounded vertical rectangle around those three letters.
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The Dwarven Tea Machine (First Draft?)

The machine that stood on the counter gleamed. Its shiny metallic body rose from a rounded, well-polished wooden base, curving up towards a boxy tower on one end and an alcove at the other. An array of brass plates adorned the front of the machine, marking the buttons, rounded glass light housings and an embossed slot in a font that appeared to have been delicately carved from the metal itself. In one corner, a thick black cable snaked around behind towards the wall.

“Is that made of silver?” Aoife asked, pointing at the machine, eliciting a few smiles from the other children in the room as they gathered around it. Her twin brother Ciaran gingerly reached forward to tap at the corner near him, where somebody had intricately carved some larger words and the number 418 in what looked like English. His face and body immediately slumped as he found out that it felt too hard to be silver.

“What is it, anyway?”

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Making Tea The Firtollán Way

Two things inspired this:

  • A few months ago, I had the misfortune of trying to get a Tassimo coffee machine to work;
  • Banging my head off the very finicky JavaScript package managers npm and yarn.

So, here’s the fictional instructions for a tea machine developed by a dwarf-owned firm, meant to be performed by one person. I’m considering a larger piece around this needlessly complicated process.

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The Dwarven Inqusition Comes…

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! But what about that of the Dwarven League?


The knock on the door was something that Colonel Munro had been expecting for the last five or ten minutes, after the telephone on his desk had warned him that the visitors had arrived at the inner security checkpoints. Closing the pair of dossiers and the report that lay on his desk, he looked up and barked a command to enter. His adjutant swung the door open, announcing that the visitors from the Containment Office had arrived.

“Send them in, Cole. And have somebody fetch Dr Magnusson,” Munro ordered, standing up. The lieutenant withdrew and stepped aside, revealing a pair of nuns who were both clad in dark khaki habits. The one on Munro’s right was just about four feet high, with larger eyes and a pair of sun goggles dangling around her neck – clearly a woman of the tunnels. The other one was apparently human and, with far fewer lines on her face, appeared to be younger. Neither bore any obvious sign of a particular order, but they didn’t need to.

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Art process: We Are Always Watching

During a slow day at work, I sketched out a couple of images of a face mask or helmet to be worn by the enforcers of the dwarven church in the CDZ series. I had drawn a preliminary one about a year ago, based on an image from this Hackaday article on a Norwegian night vision device and the masks worn by the Overseers in Dishonored. However, it took a few attempts before I was happy with it. I figured I may as well document my process, such as it is.

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Rage Against The Mirror Self

A girl staring at a mirror from behind. The portrait in the mirror is splattered in blood and appears to be grinning insanely

Siobhán lowered her hands into the stream of the tap, savouring the flash of warmth as the lukewarm water hit her soil-covered skin. After five hours of gardening in a draughty, half-leaking greenhouse, it was good to just be alone for five minutes. Unfortunately, it couldn’t last, as one of Maebh’s teasing comments about herself and Diarmuid came unbidden to the fore.

“Come on, Shiva. The doctors aren’t going to care if you hug him once.”

Shiva. Diarmuid’s nickname for her. A name he genuinely hadn’t known was that of the Hindu god of destruction. In fact, he hadn’t even known of them – he’d just “heard the name somewhere”. It was still a pagan god of destruction…

Destruction…

Destruction.

She tried not to look at the mirror as she raised her head, but found herself unable to look away from it. Facing her was herself, just as expected. The same brown hair, green eyes and rounded jaw. She close her eyes for a brief moment, and opened them again to see-

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