First, I’d like to apologize for my long absence. The last few weeks have been chaotic with nary a chance to catch my breath. This missive will be a chance to bring you abreast of the current situation and future plans.
Sadly, there won’t be a new Astray3 comic this week nor for some time yet. With the success of the Tex Talks Battletech Mackie Packs and the following march of mech commissions, many lucrative opportunities have arisen. Chief among these is creating new official Battletech artwork for Catalyst games. As one might suspect, this has destroyed the production schedule for future A3 comics.
Don’t panic! Astray3 is not ending! Storytelling is my main passion and the reason I create artwork in the first place. However, the path forward is unclear. I’ll be reexamining the comic’s production process over the next several weeks. It is my hope that I can find a method that will enable me to return A3 to a semi-regular schedule. ( We’ll at least finish the fourth comic volume and epilogue. )
Which brings me to the fate of the Patreon page. With the lack of comic updates, the Patreon no longer serves a clear purpose. I will be shutting it down this weekend. It may return in the future in a different form. That will only be when I can make proper use of the platform and worth the monthly investment. All future A3 news will be right here on the A3 website.
On the upside, Mackie packs are back in stock with new items on the Astray3 store! Vinyl stickers, drink coasters, and prints! Check them out! https://astray3.bigcartel.com/ Merch pictures below!
My estimations continue to be overly optimistic. New comic page is inked and flat colored. I should be ready in a few days. Oops.
In other news, still waiting on the prints to start shipping Mackie Packs. I’ve started poking my print supplier about shipping dates. Should be shipped this week. I hate waiting as much as you.
October is almost here! That means it’s time draw some monster girls! I’ll be producing a series of four stickers based on mythological creature ladies. Look for a pre-order campaign about mid-October. Here is the first lovely lady!
Also, lots of commission work coming through. ( That’s why the comics late. ) The opening image is a freshly completed commission of the client’s first lucky Hunchback shot. Below is another commission. A client’s Lancer mech. ( I have no idea what that is. )
The time has come! I can now reveal the artwork I produced for the Tex Talks Battletech Mackie episode! I’ve been a long time fan of the BT universe and Tex’s work. As such, I reached out to Tex to offer my services. He and the BPL team graciously accepted my help. What followed was several weeks of Battletech art fun! Now, I will share it with you!
This is the first Jacob Cameron piece I produced for Tex. At this point, I had never indulged in creating BT artwork. Had a fun time researching the uniforms and gear. Had to ask Tex about the fancy way SLDF soldiers hold their laser guns.
Charles Kincaid is the first man to pilot the Mackie. Sadly, There is no previous artwork of Charles; not even a description of his appearance. I went with a rather generic, “fresh out of the cockpit,” Chuck Yeager look for him.
This is the second Jacob Cameron piece. I went a bit nuts with the Vincent redesign. In retrospect, I should have stuck closer to the “smoother” original design. ( It looks like it comes from the Expanse show rather than BT. ) HOWEVER, as with a lot of old BT artwork, old designs get associated with all sorts of vehicles. The art I referenced was used for multiple warships. ( The original art has no specific weapon mounts. I suspect the art for the Lola is just the stern view of the Vincent. ) The Sparrowhawks are pretty close to the original designs.
The first crack at my “version” of the Mackie redesign. Tex needed something showing Jacob worrying over Mackie schematics and productions figures. Rather than a boring conference room, I thought it’d be more fun to show him on one of those sleazy “suits in hard hats” factory tours. Originally, I wanted throw in some more hoists, lifts, and scaffolding for the BPL team to animate. I had to drop that idea quickly. The composition was already too busy for superfluous visual elements.
I’m overall pleased with how it turned out. Adding space-ridges and straps to future clothes is fun! Jacob Cameron leaves a bit to be desired in my eyes. He has a real Seto Kaiba thing going on with his trench coat and his head, left shoulder, and chest highlight make everything look wonky. ( Personal note: Work on hands! )
I opened the post with the finished version of this art. Thus, I’m going to drop this version in for the fifth piece of art produced for the video. This would be my redesign of the Mackie going forward. I wanted to marry the modern BT aesthetic to the older Mackie “spaceman” design. I actually love the modern, revitalized mech designs done for MWO and the Battletech games. ( Thank you, Alex Iglesias ) But, I also want to honor the efforts of the artists that initially brought the setting to life. So, I kept the front and dodads largely the same. My biggest adds are the separated torso and the suggested feeding apparatus and shell ejection port on the AC-10 arm. ( It’s always been strange to me how mechs can have ammo caches all over their body with no visible suggestion of how it gets from the location to the weapon. As Tex would say, It’s space magic. )
A few more notes about the image. First of all, the book title and overlay. While creating this piece, I reflected on how much it looked like an old paperback novel cover. ( I laugh at dumb stuff like that. ) As a joke, I threw this version together to send Tex. I guess merriment was had. Also, that Harasser up front is supposed to be an older recon hovercraft called an Asher. Digging though old BT lore can be confusing. It wasn’t until this piece was almost complete, that I noticed the reference photo on Sarna was actually that of a Harasser. So, yeah, oh well…..
The first of a series of narrative pieces created with the intention of animation. This was not originally what I had planned for the composition or camera angle. I really wanted to avoid the old cliche of “BIG SHIP SHOOT DOWN.” After some sketches and much deliberation, I went with this low orbit perspective. ( Get some dimension on those clouds. ) This version would be way easier for the BPL team to manipulate and animate.
I kept the TAS Dreadnought pretty faithful to the old art. ( I tried to avoid going overboard like I did with the Vincent redesign. ) Although, the angle of the old drawing left plenty of unseen space for me to play. The fore of the Dreadnought was a pain to render at this angle.
Yes, I copy pasted all those missiles. Sue me.
The second narrative piece and the flip side of the warship scene. I’m largely happy with this set. My eyes doth see a few flaws and inconsistencies that drive me nuts looking back. But on the, whole, it’s fine. ( Pro tip for the art kiddies: Know when to move on. Cause most people are not going to perceive the flaws you do. )
I created most of the art for this project using Procreate on an Ipad pro. The problem with this is that Procreate puts caps on layers depending on image size and resolution. Thus, working on these larger scenes consistently became layer management. This, in turn, was trouble because I needed to leave plenty of layers for the BPL team to work with. What a hassle. The price of convenience I guess.
The final piece of artwork depicting the 801st Heavy Armored Regiment stomping a Draconis armored column on Styx. There are multiple versions of this finished image. ( This vintagey looking one is my favorite. ) Not a lot of info on this battle for the first deployment of Mackies in combat. That leaves a lot of gap filling for me do. The tank designs are rather generic. ( Again, researching old BT lore stuff can be a pain. So, I fudged it. ) I went with red for the Draconis vehicles to make them stand out from the BG and Mackies. The tank crew uniforms are close to what’s depicted in the old material.
Please note the cartoon turtle on the foreground Mackie; I’m very fond of it.
Annnnd….another early joke version!
And that is it for now. Hopefully, there will be future collabs with the BPL team and more BT artwork to come. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse behind the arty curtain.
Well the last few weeks could have gone better. My prediction about the new Astray3 update being on time last Monday proved woefully inaccurate. As a minor excuse, I’m testing out gradient maps for coloring. ( See the above image and the previous Interstitial cover for example. ) Typically, this has not shortened comic production times at all. You’ll see the fruits of this new approach tomorrow.
In other news, more convention dates have been cancelled and pushed back. That means I’m delaying the artbook production too. Originally, I had planned to have it ready for print by mid-July just in case Kansas City’s Planet Comic-con happened as scheduled. That event has been pushed to April of 2021. The next possible event happens in September. So, look for the book pre-orders to happen sometime in August.
These super shiny stickers will be part of the pre-order bonus.
I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy out there. I’m working from home and trying to stay as isolated as I can. But, the crummy weather here in the Ozarks is really dampening the mood. ( Ha…DAMP… ) Well, that’s a minor complaint compared to what some people are going through right now. If you have the means, I’d like to encourage you to look toward artists and small businesses that could use help right now. I personally know artists who depend on conventions to literally pay the bills. The closures of those events have left them in a terrible bind. So, please, if you can, maybe search out their etsy or other stores to purchase a little something. I’m sure it’ll give you that warm and fuzzy charitable feeling. ( A selfish reminder, there is a sale going on at the Astray3 shop. All purchases will get some nifty bonus surprises. It might be stickers! It might be prints! It might even be bonus comics! Who knows? )
Ok, I’m not done with selfish reminders. Astray3 does have a Patreon page! ( Doesn’t everybody nowadays. ) If you can throw a couple dollars toward the production of Astray3 each month it would be greatly appreciated. The Patreon page usually updates before the home page and I even write some extra bonus commentary on the comic page and art updates. Also, I drop discounts or free shipping codes there for the patrons when new products are released. Ok…I’m finished for real now.
I’m pretty much done with my Spider-Verse mini-print piece. ( Finished as in I’m tired of working on it. Oops, forgot the spider emblem on Peter Parker’s chest. Oh well, not done yet I guess. ) Time to move on to some new sticker designs. However, since all the conventions are on pause due to Coronavirus, I’m in no rush to get them done.
On the comic front, we should enjoy a few more weeks of consistent page updates. Also, the sale on the Astray3 shop will continue till conventions start back up. All orders will get bonus prints or mini-prints during the duration of the sale. Also, if you are in the mind to do so, please consider joining the Astray3 Patreon. Patreon members get discounts on new Astray3/Eldoniousrex merch. And any contributions help during the event closures.
And that is it for now. I will leave you with some new sketch cards and outgoing book orders.
Branson comic con is now in the past. A great and fairly profitable experience. Special thanks to the crew who put the show on. Next, will be Planet Comicon in Kansas City It’s bound to be a busy weekend of comicy goodness.
Now, down to Astray3 comic business. As the last week proved, we are entering the time of update hiccups. Conventions and other businesses have started to gnaw into comic production time. There are three completed pages in the pipeline for the next three weeks. With another page currently in production, we should have at least four weeks of uninterrupted updates. I will try my best to make it five weeks of uninterrupted updates; no guarantees though.
That is all for today. I will leave you with a WIP of a new small Spider-verse print I’m working on. The new page of Astray3 should be posting momentarily.