That Tangled Web We Weave

Or: A story of how I snuck up on myself through the internet

While running an unrelated image search I ran across a digital painting I made two years ago. Shock.

The worst hadn’t come: Type “airship” into google image search — the first result? Mine.

It’s not even a very good painting. I had intending this to be for The Utopian Design Collective, a project I was sort-of a part of, as an artist, but which never really took off. For my part I didn’t consider this painting good enough to use, nor myself a good enough artist at the time to be very useful. I must have been wrong in some respect because this picture appears to have struck a chord of imagination — (as perhaps was the purpose of the UDC in the first place). And it’s surely something to do with the rise of the Steampunk aesthetic with its airships and a connection to eco/green-ness. How interesting that the confluences of these memes has touched me (but how naturally, perhaps, in hindsight because those same influences that affected the subjects of my art back then have in part produced the popularity of the memes today).

Have a look:

I would not say that everyone is their own harshest critics, but I acknowledge that I possess something of this personality trait. If I may indulge: I was very much still coming to grips with digital painting when I made this piece. The perspective of the ship’s body itself is inconsistent (look at the tail, the ribs of the envelope, the props, the props in the front vs. those in the back; it’s really a bit of a mess). The coloration is rather naive (though good on me for having some reflection of the ground on the bottom, and the sky on the top) — I was relying on colors-as-platonic-ideals rather than colors as how they appear in their context (eg. %50 gray looks cold next to orange but warm next to blue), and shading is handled by going straight toward black rather than using a blue tinge for atmospheric diffusion, or maybe something dark-beige for light coming off the ground. And the brushwork! I still had it in my mind to use the soft brushes rather than hard brushes, which kills a painting [a nod here again to Daniel Olofsson].

(My original post describing the process of painting this can be found on my Gamedev journal here, by the way. And amusingly enough I got all my reference material for the airship here by doing a google image search for exactly the keyword for which this painting now appears.)

And for all that, as said, something must have worked because people used this image in all sorts of ways in all kinds of places. Further searching for my original filename revealed:

Okay, maybe it’s almost all steampunk enthusiasts. But I’m rather perplexed that my contemporary/near-future styled airship is so popular to them. Clearly they’re desperate for pictures of airships.

I’ll have to do a better one, steampunk-style.

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