Women of Star Trek: Kes

Oh hey look, texture.

I'm not really going to do a blow-by-blow of making this picture, because there's something more important I need to talk about. The making of this little painting kicked off a mild dark night of the soul for me. It doesn't look like the sort of picture that would do that, does it?

This is the central issue: for the two years or so I have been trying to learn how to use my tablet, and how to do somewhat realistic oil-painting-style color in Photoshop. I've learned a lot, but I've also picked up some very bad habits... like an over-enthusiastic use of google image search. The secondary issue is one of subject matter- I've continually allowed myself to play in other people's sandboxes. It's comforting to draw awesome things from the universe of WOW or Star Trek or Diskworld, because I don't have to do nearly as much work and I can be fairly certain of a warm reception in the geeky circles that I frequent. But if I keep doing that I'll never get around to drawing *my* ideas. And I do have them- I've even posted sketches of them from time to time. But they haven't had my full attention in years.

So. As much as I'm enjoying this series, I need to set it aside for now. I'm not sure what to tell you to expect to see in this space but I'll be working more from my sketchbook, and I'm going cold-turkey on fanart for a while.

 

Women of Star Trek: Dax

It's a known problem, but it still surprises me- I have a much harder time drawing things I love than things that just interest me.

And I love Dax's character. I will resist going full fangirl (I'd hate to spew spoilers at people- although when a show gets past about a decade old I'm pretty sure I couldn't be blamed for that) and boring you all, but suffice it to say: She's so cool. I want to be her when I grow up.

Because she is so innately awesome, I wanted to give her a great illustration. Well, I half-way succeeded. I really like how Jadzia and Ezri's faces look and how they are posed, and I'm mostly pleased with the control panel and Jadzia's body.

The background and Ezri's body though? ... Sorry about that Ezri. I know you aren't actually lumpy.

I would have continued to work on the background, shadows, and maybe the feet, but it was really time to be done. There comes a point at which you have to accept the failings of a painting, or start over. And if I'm going to begin from scratch, it's less depressing to just start working on something else.

Women of Star Trek: Kira

Welcome to Deep Space Nine.

You may have noticed the change in decor. And uniform. And attitude.

Deep Space Nine is in general a very different sort of Star Trek. One with ambiguity, the possibility that someone wearing a color other than red might die, and a refreshing lack of Star Fleet monolithism and moral superiority.

Kira's character is part and parcel of this new worldview. (Universeview?) She has internal conflicts, and a little more depth than 'emotionally scarred tough chick security officer.'

Kira Nerys is the first Bajoran we get to know well. It makes it a little hard sometimes to tell which of her actions and opinions are general cultural Bajoran characteristics, and which are individual to her. She is a survivor, unwilling to forgive, vicious when necessary but also deeply spiritual and with a strong capacity for love and play that she has a long-standing habit of sublimating.

I'm very happy with how this illustration came out. Kira is often in the position of having too much to do: she moves snappily, and has a tendency to multitask. She looks like she is on the way to deal with some 'problem', and has paused to hear a shouted amendment to her to-do list. Her face has both good and bad points- it is a better portrait than I've managed to date on this project, and I love that her makeup came out looking like makeup. That said, the contrast is still a bit wonky, and her hair is definitely more cartoonish than accurate.

My backgrounds are... progressing. This one actually looks like an underpainting, which is a solid step in the direction I want to go. It's just depressingly far from the last step.

Women of Star Trek: Guinan

Guinan.

What can be said? She added charm and emotional depth to every episode she was in, (I think the only character she didn't *always* steal the scene from was Picard) and became a well loved character, despite being almost entirely superflous to the plot.

When I was a kid, I assumed that her backstory was shown at some point and if I just kept watching I'd get to find out what was up. I didn't really realize until I watched through the whole series as an adult that A) she isn't actually in that many episodes and B) you never find out what her story is. Whether intentionally or through a quirk of Whoopi Goldberg's acting schedule, Guinan preserves her mystery.

 

Women of Star Trek: Crusher

In my memory, Dr. Beverly Crusher has a depth and importance all out of proportion with the role she actually played on TNG. I don't have to look very far to figure out why: Crusher is a female doctor in her early forties, head of her own sickbay and a brilliant surgeon who struggles to balance her work with her mothering obligations to her child.

Change out 'sickbay' for 'practice', and that describes my mother as well, at least at the time when I watched TNG on thursday nights on the big TV in my parent's room.

Re-watching the series now, I notice a different aspect of Dr. Crusher's character. Certainly being chief medical officer on the Enterprise isn't a bad gig, but it seems that Crusher never quite gets what she wants. She's perpetually stuck in-between. Between whatever happened with Picard around the time Jack died and a relationship with Picard now, between the challenge of being chief medical officer on a starship and the promotion to head of Starfleet Medical, and between her clear command potential, her desire to practice medicine and her need to raise and protect her son. When she does have something unequivocally good happen to her (falls in love) her partner in a whirlwind romance has a mostly fatal shuttle accident and ultimately switches gender.

She never shows any particular disappointment with her life, but it's hard to not feel a little sad for her.

I had quite a lot of trouble with Crusher's pose, not the least of which because she's a dancer and I wanted that to show through. Eventually I settled on a 'treating the fallen' pose, which worked out great... but left me with some serious issues finding background reference with a matching 'low' POV. I'm pleased with how the Enterprise passageway came out, but it's a bit of a random choice.

And again, the blue/orange thing. It keeps happening. I think it's following me.

 

 

Women of Star Trek: Troi

It always bothered me that Troi didn't look like an alien. Or act like an alien. She was raised on Betazed, yet she appears to have no cultural conflicts whatsoever living in Star Fleet.

Troi rarely acknowledges her mixed ancestry, and is even less often bothered by it. It is occasionally referenced, but in general characters like Worf wind up being a lot more fraught about their cultural heritage. But other than Troi's mother being difficult (which appears to be personality rather than racially driven) she seems remarkably unconflicted.

So when I sat down to draw Troi, I knew I wanted her to look a little... off. Not quite human. I'm not sure I succeeded, but I at least I didn't make her look awkward. I'm pretty pleased about that, given Troi's preference for twisted posture.

Women of Star Trek: Yar

In retrospect, Tasha Yar is clearly one of my childhood role models. Though I didn't know the word at the time, I thought she was hardcore. She was also competent: Her opinions were respected by Picard and Riker, and they relied on her expertise. (In contrast to poor shot-down Worf.) She was pretty but not womanly, and seemed to find reminders of her gender to mainly be annoying. This resonated with me, because I was just beginning to notice the surprise or disapproval some adults exhibited when I enjoyed 'boyish' pursuits.

Re-watching the series now as an adult, I am struck by other aspects of her character. Most obviously, she suffers from first season syndrome. TNG was finding itself, (as many shows do during the first season) so her character presentation is a bit scattered and flat. Since she was only in the first season, that's all we have to judge her on. Though her leaving the series did clear the way for Worf (who was a childhood favorite) it means she never got to grow a beard. Yar is good at her job, but she is not a generalist: She's holding a hammer, and by god she's going to hammer everything until she finds a nail. While she is strong, she is clearly also damaged in a disappointingly predictable way. Perhaps they would have developed that in a more interesting direction given more time, but the tough chick with trust issues/romantic anxiety is selling the potential of Yar's backstory a little short.

On an arts level, and am very pleased with how her body came out. There are low points (the hands) but I nailed something about her character with her stance. She is clearly powerful and forthright, but also somehow brittle. I also like the contrast between her figure and Uhura's: both are clearly adult women, but at opposite ends of the hourglass spectrum. (You'd think an ability to draw different body types would be part of an artist's basic toolkit. Unfortunately it's often not. )

The background... I'm still working on backgrounds. Suffice it to say that I didn't just take a photo of the bridge and run filters over it. I re-drew it, even the damn woodgrain. But it doesn't look like that's what I did, it looks like filters. Bah humbug. I would like to note however that I attempted a complementary color scheme that isn't orange and blue for a change. I think it works.

Women of Star Trek: Uhura

This series of drawings brought to you by Neil Degrasse Tyson. If you don't know who that is, it is my pleasure to introduce an astrophysicist whose wonder and love of the universe is contagious. In many ways he is a successor to Carl Sagan, particularly in his effort to publish advanced scientific information in a generally accessible form, and to popularize scientific thought of all kinds.

The spark for the series I'm beginning today is a podcast that Neil hosts called Startalk. Not too long ago he interviewed Nichelle Nichols, whom you may recognize as the original Lt. Nyota Uhura.  While listening to the recent time capsule episode, I was inspired by the juxtaposition of the interview with Nichelle and Neil's interview with Whoopi Goldberg, who of course played Guinan on TNG. (That's [Star Trek] The Next Generation, for all the non-nerds.) Both were amazing and they reminded me of the formative role Star Trek played in my perception of women and gender relations in the future. While I never really fully bought into Gene Rodenberry's utopia, I find I carry little bits of it around. I assume that the future will be full of women and men who can obtain equal levels of professional success, and that promotion is based on excellence. That sometimes even saying 'men' and 'women' will be a bit inaccurate, because not all people will fit under either heading. That no one will assume agression, tenderness, or other emotions are gendered qualities. All and all men, women, and other sentients will be presumed to be equal, without the assumption that they are the same.

I wanted my depiction of Uhura to primarily reflect two things: her competence/professionalism and her almost aristocratic grace. The facts: Uhura is curvy bordering on voluptuous, dressed in a miniskirt, and is typically presented sitting like a telephone operator with a funny-looking doohicky in her ear. I think I met my goals admirably, considering these restrictions.

I'm still not sure about the lack of chair. It works for me because I'm so familiar with the scene that by brain auto-fills that detail, but I think perhaps that her sitting on air may look strange to the general audience. Ah well. Like hell I'm drawing a full background of all those knobs and switches.