2009 News Archive
- Goodbye to 2009. I can't say I will miss it. It started out with me in the hospital having some clogged innards removed and I am only now starting to feel halfway normal again. Compound that with the same economic angst I'm sure you all have been feeling.
So, you've probably noticed that it hasn't been a year for shiny happy wallpapers from me. Still, I think I did some of my best work in 2009. Half of my all-time Top 10 were created this year, including the #1.
If you look over them all you will notice a palpable moodiness. I resolve in 2010 to lighten up and bring some whimsy back. To that end I am taking a little break this week (while the multiscreen "Poseidon" renders) and look to return refreshed in January. I promise to put the blue pixels away for a little while (though I will always come back to them from time to time).
In 2010 I plan on a major site upgrade, learning some new software (Terragen), and getting back to a more regular work schedule. Thanks to you all for sticking with me through this challenging year.
Here's to a brighter 2010!
- Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone at DB (Jessie, Ian, Jason and me). Taking a short break from playing with the kids to let you know that I am putting the finishing touches on something "non-wintry". I hope to have it up in the next few days!
- I've accepted an invitation to give a brief talk at Northwestern University's "Engineering and Science Art Fair" in May 2010. The fair will allow "graduate students in diverse disciplines from mechanical engineering, biochemistry, mathematics, to medicine to submit amateur artwork in different categories and win cash prizes based on student votes".
My remarks will most likely center around the confluence of science and art, how I've applied scientific principles to my artwork, and when to bend science in service of your artwork (which gets at the meaning behind the term "Digital Blasphemy").
I'll have more details about where and when in the future. If you are going to be in the Chicago area in May I hope you will think about stopping by to say hello. It would be nice to meet in person some of the people behind the comments.
- I've added the dual and triple-screen versions of "The Ride (2009)" to the gallery this morning. I had to make some major adjustments to the scene to combat the barrel distortion that Vue adds when you widen the frame. It's still there but I hope it isn't too noticable!
- My new Christmas wallpaper is in the latest stage of development. I hope to have it up sometime this weekend (fingers crossed). While it renders I have been doing a bit of clean-up/tweaking to the new site.
I've brought back the "Recent Comments" page so you can see which images have the most recent feedback. I've also fixed issue with the early (1997) images displaying a broken 1600 x 1200 link. It's hard to believe there was a time when I only rendered at 1152 x 864. Now I produce over 33 different resolutions for each project!
For the non-Member I have brought back the "Multi-Monitor Sample" image and I've replaced the old "Cosmogony" with "Tropical Moon".
Lastly, I'm putting out the call once more for photos of your multiscreen setups. Snap a pic and upload it directly to the DB Facebook Wall. You can see the ones that have already been posted here. I'd like to collect and host the coolest ones on a page here.
The comments link below goes to the general thread that I've set up to handle feedback regarding the new site layout. Feel free to post if you are still having issues or just want to leave your opinion on the changes.
- A few of items to note this morning. I am back working on a new wallpaper and DB is once again "Cooliris Compatible". Cooliris is a cool browser plugin that will allow you to surf my images on a 3d "wall". Enjoy!
If you were subscribed to my RSS feed before (either the Free Images or Members Gallery) you will need to resubscribe to a new URL (since they are now combined). The address is http://www.digitalblasphemy.com/rss/db.xml. If you are signed up for email updates, and you received an update this morning, then you don't need to do anything. If you didn't get an email notice this morning you will need to re-add yourself to the mailing list. Instructions here.
Now back to rendering...
- Thanks so much everyone for the wonderful feedback to yesterday's post. I read each and every comment and have come to the conclusion that I will not be offering the 1152 x 864 versions for free. I will most likely just maintain a page with between 5-10 samples from my gallery (at the same variety of resolutions as I do now) and then rotate in a random image every week.
The random freebies will be drawn from a pool that includes everything I have in widescreen up to the most recent 6 months or so of work (so you all will retain exclusive access to my most recent wallpapers).
I just wanted to thank you all again for taking the time to share your thoughts with me I'm so glad I asked you all first! For the record: Jessie gave me nearly the same advice before I opened it up for discussion.
- I'm busy right now migrating my site to a zippy new server. I have to have it operational before 12/9 and have the old free gallery/members gallery servers offline as well. At the moment another developer is working with me on a new whiz-bang DB with all of the features you've come to expect in a 21st century website (which the current DB is not) and I am working on the transitional site that you will see when the new server comes up.
Both sites will eliminate the "Members Gallery/Free Gallery" division. You will no longer visit members.digitalblasphemy.com. Rather you will visit digitalblasphemy.com and will be required to log in (once per session) to download hi-res files, zip archives, and movies. You will also need to be logged in to post comments and rate images. Browsing the gallery itself will not require you to be logged in and banner ads will be disabled for Members.
Here's where I need your feedback. I want to offer a free version of all of my work. That way everyone can have something to download (and a reason to visit) when I post new work, but only Members will have access to all of the different file sizes I have available (mobile, widescreen, multi-screen). Only Members will be able to rate or comment on the new images (and thus have their voices heard in possible revisions).
Right now I am thinking about offering the 1152 x 864 file for each project for free. People will be able to stretch/resize this to fit their screens and for a lot of folks it will probably look good enough. My questions to you are: Does this lessen the value of being a Member for you? Would you have signed up in the first place if my new work was available as resonably high resolution free file? Would you continue to renew if I offer a free version of new images?
Is 1152 x 864 even big enough, in this day and age, to be an attractive free offering given that I am elimating the free access to my widescreen images?
DB is running pretty smooth as it is right now, especially given the current economic climate. Signups pay my bills, keep my hardware/software current, and allow me to concentrate on making new wallpapers. I don't want to rock the boat too much and once you've given away something for free I know it is difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.
At the same time, I think the "Free Gallery" idea is getting pretty stale and I think my site will suffer in the long term if I don't better balance the free offerings (to bring in viewers and make use of "social media") with the premium (entice those viewers to become Members).
What do you guys think? I welcome any and all feedback but would ask that you keep the discussion between Members for now until I've decided what to do. Whatever that may be, it is important to me you feel that your Membership was a good purchase.
- I've added the dual and triple screen versions of both "Sisters" to the gallery this morning. I'm thinking I might try to use this one as a sky element in a landscape so don't be surprised if you see a view of this constellation "from the ground" in a future project.
- Happy Thanksgiving to you one and all! I've had my share of difficulties over the past couple of years but I feel they are coming to an end now and I have quite a lot to be thankful for besides! I am grateful for my wonderful family, good friends, and a job that allows me to do what I love while also making others happy. What more could a guy ask for?
- I'm up to my elbows in Vue 8 and hope to have a new wallpaper up later this week but I wanted to take time mention a policy change.
From here on out the renewal price for current members will be $12 (down from the original $15). The 2 and 3 year renewal rates have gone down accordingly.
It has long been my policy to allow expired Members to renew at the $15 rate and this will not change. The $15 yearly renewal rate will remain an option for expired Members, but Members who choose to stay current will get an even better rate.
Feel free to post in the comments thread below if you have any questions or comments.
- I had a little database mishap this afternoon and, I'm sorry to say, all the ratings for "Cerulean" were erased (along with one comment). Due to how the database is set up the only way to let people rate the image is to repost it with a different filename ("cerulean2"). If you already rated it and want your rating to count I ask that you submit it one more time.
Sorry for the mixup!
- I've added over 220 wallpapers sized for the new "Droid" phone. You can download them individually through the "Mobile Resolution" drop down by each image or you can download them all at once via a Zip file.
I guess the wallpaper setup for a Droid is a little different than for more other phones (the Droid has 3 home screens, etc). I don't have a Droid so perhaps you guys could tell me how they look in the thread below?
- Afternoon Update: I've added 480 x 800 files to the mobile options to support the HTC Touch Pro 2 and the Nokia N900.
- Second Afternoon Update: I will probably end up posting both the day and night versions of "Canopy Creek (Winter)" in the gallery. I am rendering a new version of the night scene with falling snow and once that is finalized I will get the multi-screen going. The multi-screen of the day version is still a day or two away. The snow adds a lot to the render times.
I also have a new abstract in the works...
- It's been a pretty wild past month or so for me. My Crohn's reared its ugly head and let's just say at I am on a first name basis with the nice folks at BroMenn hospital's surgery center. I've had three (minor) procedures in the past four weeks with the lastest coming just yesterday.
Fortunately I have the best surgeon in town working on me so I think I am in good hands. Once these wounds heal I will be off to my digestive doctor to perhaps get on a medicine regimen (probably Remicade or something similar) that will help keep my immune system in check. This is something I have been loathe to do before because of some scary side-effects of such medicines and the lifetme commitment they require, but I just can't live like this any more. Side effects be damned.
So once again I haven't really been able to devote as much time to my artwork as I would like. My apologies. I was able to put together a winter chapter in my "Canopy Creek" series and I've posted it in the gallery this morning. I may play around a little more with this one, but I think it is at a shareable point right now. I hope you like it!
A few of other items to mention .
First, I upgraded my Vue d'Esprit software to version 8 earlier this week so I will be using that going forward. I'm particularly excited about the new 3D terrain scultping (allowing for overhangs) and the new atmosphere rendering. Second, for owners of the new 27" iMac I have added 2560 x 1440 versions of my last 8 renders. I'll try to add more in the near future.
Lastly Zazzle is running a 40% off sale on all posters. I doubt they will be running any more 70% off deals so this might be as good as it will get for a while. You can check out my gallery here. Use coupon code "HISTORYPOST4" at checkout.
- The file I posted last evening contained a small render error which I only noticed this morning (strange that no one else has though) I've fixed it and have posted new hi-res files in the Members Gallery. Sorry about that!
- "Canopy Creek (Autumn)" was so well received that it made the new autumn project I was working on somewhat redundant. That actually works out well for me because I had become stuck and it was looking like Autumn would be over before I was happy with the new render.
Rather than spin out fruitlessly I decided to switch gears and work on something for Halloween. The result, "Dark Wings" (yes, the title is an homage to George R.R. Martin), is now up in the gallery for your review. Hope you like it!
- My new autumn scene is progressing nicely but it is a complicated piece and I can't say for certain when it will be ready to show. I do know it's taking longer than I would like so to tide you over until it is ready I have added an autumn version of "Canopy Creek" to the gallery this evening.
I hope you guys enjoy it! I haven't forgotten about the multi-screen of "Prismatic Pool" either, it's just that it uses too much RAM for my secondary box to render it so I need to wait until I have some render time available on my new screen. So many pixels, so little time...
- A few weeks ago I received an eloquent email from a soldier stationed in Iraq (here it is on my Facebook page if you are interested). The email garnered quite a response. One gentleman (thanks Bob!) went so far as to purchase a Lifetime Membership for her.
A member named Matt posted in the comments thread that her email "would definitely inspire and oasis", which gave me the idea to refresh my 1999 "Oasis" render.
The first step was to create the pool, but I took a little detour in developing it to render out my prismatic pool. I went back on task a couple of days ago and now my updated "Oasis" is available for your review. I hope you like it. It's dedicated to Alecia in Iraq and everyone who wishes they were someplace else.
- Looking at my gallery page it has become obvious to me (and to many of you I am certain) that my health problems have really slowed down my rendering this year. It has always been my policy that renewals are a payment for the past year's renders but I don't think this past year has been normal at all. For that reason I am going to lower the price for a 1 year renewal to $8 for the one week starting today (expiring at midnight on 10/2). The discount only applies to one year renewals and is only open to current Members (if you let your account expire and want to renew the price will be the regular $15).
I do think my posting will speed up in the future. I've automated the watermarking process which was a major bottleneck for me. I also have a new site launching soon and I hope to streamline a lot the things that keep me from working on art. Stay tuned and thanks for your continued support!
- I should have a new render done fairly soon. The prismatic pool was actually created for something else entirely. You will see.
In the meantime, Jessie gave me a idea for a t-shirt the other night. Instead of using one image, why not use them all? I've created a couple of different mosaic designs so far and the first two are available in my Zazzle store. It's strange looking at them all, nearly 15 years of rendering, in one glance.
The "spectrum" was created using a program called "AndreaMosaic". The program is free but I will definitely make a donation to support it.
The 25 x 25 grid was created by using a modified version of my gallery page. I used the "Screengrab" Firefox extension to snapshot the whole screen (not just inside the browser window) to create a 5000 pixel wide semi-chronological grid. The grid only has images from my main gallery while the spectrum has picklejar images as well (a lot of stuff that I hadn't seen in years).
Both are available on t-shirts and as prints if you want my whole collection on your wall.
I am hoping Jessie will design some other items for my Zazzle store. Anything you would like to see? Comments and questions welcome.
- For the past week or so I've had the option up for people to purchase trial Memberships using a service called TrialPay. It works like this: They show you a bunch of offers from various merchants, you pick one and complete it, I get paid by the merchant and you get your Membership.
It's worked pretty well so far so I am adding it as a renewal option. It's a pretty easy way to add a year to your account, and I often get reimbursed more than if it you bought the membership directly from me. It's a win-win (as long as you can find an offer than genuinely interests you). I may add TrialPay options for the pay-it-forward program down the line as well.
Have a look if you are interested.
- I've posted another "Prismatic Pool" update. I've switched out the red for something a little more natural and toned to the green and yellow a little more. Yes, there are birds in the scene if you look closely. They should be easier to spot in this version ;)
- I've posted a 15 month calendar on Zazzle. This one is customizable so you can use your own images if you like. Just download the 2560 x 1600 images that you want to use, upload to Zazzle, and swap out the images I picked for your own. At least that's how it should work. Any questions, comments, or requests please feel free to post in the thread below.
- No, I'm not discouraged by the lower ratings for "Prismatic". I've come to expect that when I veer into the abstract.
Regardless, I did have some improvements I wanted to make so here they are. I've cleared up the water some, and changed how the light penetrates. I've also toned the green down. I've made a few other changes but I'll leave those for you to find out (you might need a big monitor to see them all clearly).
Expect to see this mesh (re-textured) used again in the future. It also looks pretty cool from the ground view ;)
- On the mend from yet another Crohn's related surgery yesterday. This disease is really starting to get old. Doesn't look like I will be seriously sidelined by this one though, just more PITA for me.
- I've added "Afterglow" to my Zazzle collection. I had to brighten it a little from the wallpaper version (wallpapers are backlit) so the thumbnail on Zazzle looks brighter than what you see on my website.
I've left the white border off of this one and put the title and signature in the bottom right corner (like my wallpapers but smaller). I am trying to convince Zazzle to allow me to set all of my posters as "customizable". That way I could post them all with the white border but you choose to crop it out (and add a your own title, leave it blank, or whatever). I'll let you know how it goes. If anyone has a preference one way or another please feel free to post in the comments thread below. Thanks!!
- The reaction to my new multi-hued version of "Fluorescence (2009)" has been so positive that I have decided it will replace the blue version in the gallery (it will remain available in the Pickle Jar).
- I've posted the dual and triple screen versions of "Afterglow (2009)" this evening. Rather than leave the trees where they were in the single-screen version I have moved them out to the edges of the frame so the composition is mostly the same (but with more sky showing). Hope you like it!
- The multiscreen of "Afterglow" should be up later today (fingers crossed). In the meantime I wanted to draw your attention to a couple of items I have posted on the DB Facebook page. The first is an email I received from a soldier stationed in Iraq that touched me greatly. The second is a write up of our recent visit with Rackspace (with some photos and a video of me giving a short speech and, um, dancing).
It's pretty easy to post those sorts of things on the Facebook page (usually while I am waiting for a test render to complete), but I wonder how many of you actually see those items or if I should take the time to post them here as well for those of you who do not wish to join Facebook.
As always, you can subscribe to this feed or follow "dbnewimages" on Twitter if all you want are notices when new graphics are posted.
- I've posted a revised version of "Afterglow" this evening. I decided to remove the flying pelicans (they didn't scale down well) and I've decreased the star density somewhat. I've also removed the moss from the beach rocks (but the rocks themselves are staying). The moss was a relic from when the scene was set in the northern latitudes rather than the tropics.
The first version will remain available in the Pickle Jar, along with an early version with a completely different sky. I was actually trying to emulate the sky from the current (August) picture on my Sierra Club Calendar, but at the last minute I changed the sky to the colors you see now.
I've also tweaked the watermark a bit more. It shouldn't cut cut off by any more taskbars, but feel free to post in the comment thread if it is still looking funky on your screen. I took the advice of one Facebook user (Graham Robinson) and set the transparency to 40% so it should be a little less in-your-face now. The transparency will be more obvious on the lighter images of course.
Onto the multi-screen versions now...
"Afterglow" was the first wallpaper to use my new watermark. This one is a ton easier to apply for me. I developed a number Photoshop Actions to so I can resize/crop and watermark around 25 different files in under 1 minute where it used to take me about 30 minutes.
This will make it a lot easier for me to post files and will probably lead to me posting more files that might not have because of the busy work involved with creating the different sizes (like the Afterglow Pickle Jar version that I uploaded last evening). I'm a little ashamed that I didn't think of this earlier!
The whole reason for doing this was that the watermark wouldn't be hidden by the Windows 7 taskbar. In the process though I've added a few new text effects so it does look a little different than the old one.
I would be interested to hear what my Members thought of it before I moved forward. Does it sit over your taskbar (windows users) or does it look strange on other OSs? If I need to make changes I would like to do it now rather than post more images. Please leave the screen resolution you are running if there are problems. Thanks!!
- My render finished this afternoon (it took around 52 hours if you are counting), but a doctor's appointment, Ian's Tae Kwan Do, and putting the kids to bed had to come first. I've called this one "Afterglow", though it doesn't really bear much resemblance to the original.
As long as I have been using landscape programs, I have never been able to work with a real (round) planet. I've always built my scenes on infinite plains. This only really comes into play if you move the camera really high or move the sun below the horizon. It is basically impossible for the sun to cast light on clouds if it is below the horizon of an infinite plane. Being able to render my scene on a giant sphere makes possible (without cheats) scenes like "Afterglow" where the clouds are lit by a sun that has set. The only light in the scene comes from the clouds and the sky (so it may seem a little dark to some of you).
It is a scene that I have always wanted to do (this probably won't be the last you see either) and I'm glad it is now possible. Unfortunately, Vue d'Esprit crashed every for minutes while making this. The planetary render mode was designed to render these spheres from high altitude (think pictures of planets rather than the surface of them) so perhaps that it why it got unstable.
Anyway, sorry for the long explanation. I hope it was worth the wait!
- If you didn't catch my Twitter/Facebook updates the past couple of days, I was in San Antonio yesterday with Jessie. The nice folks at Rackspace flew us down to tour their offices and meet the crew. I don't take many business trips so this was a special treat for me, even though I had to give a little speech (shudder). Anyway, they were wonderful to us and I left with the feeling that my site was in good hands. We even got to see the Alamo(and will never forget it).
- Just a quick note that some new pricing will be rolled out in the next few weeks. I'm not going to say much else beyond the fact that if you like the current price I offer for Lifetime Memberships I would recommend you not wait too much longer.
- What would guys think if I added a smallish thumbnail to my status (see right-hand column) displaying either a tiny version of, or a crop from, the current project I am working on? People could then track a project as it evolves from germ of an idea to "finished" wallpaper.
The biggest snag that I can foresee is people not liking the direction a project is taking and trying to suggest that I follow their vision rather than my own. Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there and see what you guys thought.
On a related note: over the past few weeks I've been trying to make a post of some kind (on Facebook, Twitter, here or the free gallery) every day. These aren't always directly related to my work.
I enjoy checking in from time to time and reading the comments that accompany the post. Since I work out of my home I only have Jessie and the kids to keep me company while working. They are great but I like to hear other viewpoints from time to time.
Interacting through DB, Facebook, etc helps with the isolation that comes with going it solo. If you are only interested in reading my my wallpapers efforts then I hope we can find a way to make the updates less intrusive but still "discoverable".
- After receiving the umpteenth email regarding the "Fireflies" Firefox Persona ("is this stolen?") earlier this week, I decided that it would be a good idea if "MaDonna" just transferred the Persona to my fledgling account. I wrote her(?) and asked if she could do it.
She wrote me back saying she would just remove the Persona, but this was not a good option. It had become the number 3 theme popularity wise and the link she had added to the description was bringing me some nice traffic to my Free Gallery.
I was sorry to see the link go but happy I would not be receiving any more emails regarding the manner. Then, somehow, the staff of the Mozilla project stepped in and said they would move the file to my gallery (popularity intact). Sweet! The move was made last evening.
To celebrate I've renamed the Persona back to "Summerwood" and added "Autumnwood", "Winterwood", and "Springwood" versions. Big thanks to the folks at Mozilla Labs!
- I've added an updated dual and triple screen renders for "Fluorescence (2009)". I've removed the DOF for these and brightened the background illumination so it should all blend together better. On to new projects now.
- I've posted my "final" version of "Fluorescence (2009)" in the gallery this afternoon. I know some of you would probably rather I move on (and I am working on other projects simulaneously) but I really want to get this one right. I will be doing a revised multi-screen as well so I have removed those links ffor the time being.
I have also added a version with a white background to the Pickle Jar. I was getting a lot of requests for red, green, etc but those people can easily do themselves by shifting the hue of the blue image. I thought it made sense to post a color variation that only I could create.
What do you guys think? Should the white version have a place in the gallery (as with the day/night scenes)?
- A couple of items to mention this morning. On the wallpaper front, I'm stirring a number of different pots at the moment. I have two new Vue d'Esprit projects going and I am putting the finishing touches on the "final" version of Fluorescence (2009). "Enshrouded" multi-screen is still rendering on my quad-core box and shows no sign of being finished any time in the near future. Sorry guys, I guess I made it a little too complex.
I recently upgraded Jessie's (and the kids') 5 year old computer to one of those all in one touchscreen models. It's pretty nifty. The machine runs at 1366 x 768, as does my little laptop. Setting it up I discovered, to my horror, that Firefox is not as good as IE at scaling down my 1920 x 1080 images to fit the screen (I did some quick comparisons here).
To rectify the situation I have added 1366 x 768 as a resolution option for all of my most recent work (some 175 images). You should see the new download option next to the thumbnails. Or you can download them all at once in Zip file.
- I was messing around with Twitter last week, wanting to update my Avatar, and I decided to open up Lightwave and render "Fluorescence" in the size I needed. Well, I started playing around with the scene and made a couple of tweaks. One thing lead to another and I ended up doing making quite a few changes. The result is now up on the new images page.
I didn't change the mushrooms themselves, though I did play around with them in Zbrush. I decided that I liked the original geometry. The ground is new though and I've added some volumetric /dof effects which may or may not be controversial ;-)
Anyway, I know this image is a favorite of a lot of people and is probably my most well known piece. I don't take changing it lightly. I hope you all enjoy the updated version, and if you don't then remember that the previous versions aren't going anywhere.
- If you missed my post about the new Pay-it-Forward program please read the news post below. I have updated the program so you may now purchase multiple gifts at a time and I've added a PayPal payment option. Thanks!
- I've added a "Pay it Forward" program to the Members Gallery. It basically allows you to purchase a 1, 2 or 3 years renewal for a complete stranger. The user is picked at random (only users with less than a year remaining are eligible) and an email is sent to them with a notice that their account has been renewed. I've even lowered the renewal prices by a few dollars to make things a little more interesting.
No information about the buyer is given to the recipient, and no information about the recipient is given to the buyer (though each is welcome to make a post in my "Pay it Forward" comments thread). So watch your emails folks, you just might be the recipient of a random act of kindness. If so, I hope you will consider paying it forward.
- I currently have two projects going. One is ready to post, but is a reworking of an older image. The other is something new that isn't quite ready. I'm still trying to decide which to go with first.
- I tweaked them a day or two longer than I thought I would, but the dual and triple screen of "Canopy Creek" are now available. "Enshrouded" is still rendering on my other box and will probably be doing so for at least the next week or so. Sorry about that. Hope this one holds you multi-monitor users for a bit ;-)
- Wow. I hit a little rough patch healthwise over the past few weeks. I had to go into surgery 3 times (nothing life threatening), most recently last Friday. I think I am coming out of it now though and I did get a chance last week to do some sitting at the computer and do a little creating. I was going back and forth about entering my project in a contest but in the end I decided it was far more important to post it here than wait until the contest was over. Nothing I could possibly win in any contest could be better than the what I have going with Digital Blasphemy. Let others win the prizes.
My new project is called "Canopy Creek" and it's up now for your review on the new images page. You could call it a reworking of my "Canopy" wallpaper from 2000 though I chose a different title for this one. Thankfully it only took a few hours to render ;-)
I have another project that I am still working on and I hope to have that one up before the end of the week. Be sure to check out my news posts below if you only visit the site when I post new images. Thanks!
- Time for a little update. First off you will note that I have added my "status" to the upper right corner of the page. Upon looking at the items I list you may wonder to yourself: "What do I care what games Ryan is playing on his phone?". Well, I'm posting that stuff because you may get a better idea where my inspirations come from.
For example, I am pretty positive that "Beginning of the End" was inspired by my reading "Dying of the Light" by George R.R. Martin. By knowing what I am into at the moment I hope you all might have a better insight as to where my ideas come from. If you have comments on the "Staus" section please give them below or follow the link at the bottom of the box itself.
- I also wanted to mention that I have finally found a use for the "ryanbliss.com" domain that my Mom purchased for me many years ago. I'm using it as an extended "artist bio" with pages about me, my family, and a brief history of my artwork. It is a work in progress but check it out if you are interested. If you have any feedback feel free to share it below.
- A few items to report today. First, I am starting work on a new project and leaving the site alone for now (everything will stay as you see it). I'm finally starting to feel normal again.
Second, I was making some changes on my server a couple of days ago (adding a couple of domains) and apperently the changes broke the script which allowed Members to purchase renewals. I just wanted you all to know that the renewal script is working again and anyone who wasn't able to renew can now do so.
Lastly, I am thinking about entering one of my images in the Vue d'Esprit "Environments" contest. I would like to hear which you guys think would have the best chance of winning. Thanks!!
- If I hadn't been laid up the past couple of weeks I probably would have stopped my workstation in the middle of its epic re-rendering of "Enshrouded". Since I didn't have anything better for it to be doing I let it go.
The render finally finished this afternoon and I've posted it on the New Images page for your review. The clouds look more like fog to me now and that is what I was going for. Too bad my workstation isn't fast enough to render these sorts of effects more quickly.
I will set my other renderer going on a multi-screen render ASAP.
- As far as the site tweaking goes I think I am done for now. I've taken some of the advice given and I have dramatically shortened the links on the left. Access to the gallery is now through the "gallery" link (or the "Newest Images" link above) and once there you can browse my images in a number of ways.
I've removed the background image. The people who hated it really hated it a lot and the people who liked it were like "sure whatever". I've also added a comment form to the top of each comments page so you can more easily add your own.
Yes, this site is due for a majhor overhaul using the most modern technology. That will have to wait until I am on my new server though. To be honest, I'm thinking about bringing someone on to help with the web design part of the job. I would rather concentrate more on my artwork.
Anywyay, thanks everyone for the feeback thus far. Let me know what you think of the newest layout.
- Thanks for all the feedback! From what I can gather, the background will only work if it doesn't contain a focal point. Makes sense to me. I've replaced the Phraxis background with something a little more neutral. Somewhere down the line I will make it so you can choose to have a background or not (and maybe choose from a number of different styles).
I've made one rather large non-cosmetic change. I've removed the gallery links from the left hand list. Rather than go year-to-rear, you can now just hit up the "gallery" page, see them all, and go from there. I've removed the "Lightbox" script so clicking the thumbnail now takes you to the larger thumbnail with download options. I may tweak the navagation options on the gallery page a little (make it so you can download the size you want without clicking to the new page for instance). I'd like to hear what you guys think of the change.
- Late Update: After hearing from a number of Members I have decided to leave the "year" links in place.
- You might notice a few cosmetic changes here and there. Sometime soon I will be migrating to a new server so I am refreshing my CSS/HTML skills by tweaking my site design. Comments welcome!
- Time for an update. As you may have noticed, things have slowed down somewhat around here during the past month. The truth is that my medical condition has flared up again and I had to have surgery last Tuesday. The surgery was a "redo" of a procedure I had done originally in December, which turned out to be unsuccessful.
The recovery wasn't too bad last time so I assumed the same would be true this time around. My Doctor had other ideas though and added some hardware to the procedure to give it a better chance of success. I hope it works because the last week has really been hell on Earth for me.
I'm pretty much bedridden now (typing this on my laptop) and I don't know how long this will last. At least I am not in the hospital I guess. I sure hope this works (and I never have to go through with it again).
I have set my workstation rendering an "improved" version of "Enshrouded". The clouds look a lot more like fog and are less busy.Realism comes at a price CPU-wise though. It still has a couple of days left to go and I will try to post it as soon as it is done. I will get a multi-screen render going on another machine after that so I can get busy on a new wallpaper as soon as I can stand sitting at my computer.
I also have a few renders sitting around that I didn't think were "gallery-quality" but that some of you might enjoy checking out. I'll try to get those into the Pickle Jar shortly.
- One thing that has made the last week a little less terrible is that I finally got an iPhone. I've been exploring it the past couple of days and I can already see some DB-iPhone possibilies. My kids bought me an iTunes gift card for Father's Day so I've been raiding the AppStore. If any of you can recommend some apps/games that will help me take my mind off all of this please feel free to share. I've already downloaded "Enigmo" and "Flight Control" am they're both really cool.
- I hope to have my new wallpaper ready by tomorrow. As I mentioned on the Twitter feed and Facebook page, we took a little family trip last week to visit some friends in Austin, TX. I've been working on this project since Friday.
Lately, I've gotten a number of emails from folks alerting me to the fact that my work is being used by another designer in the "Firefox Personas" gallery. Personas are a way to apply an image to your web browser interface, kind of like a skin. Just so everyone will know, I haven't decided what to do about this MaDonna person. The Persona gallery doesn't really allow you to contact the designer and she/he doesn't have any links that I could find. Guess I will have to go through the site.
Anyway, the experience inspired me to create a few of my own "Personas" (while waiting for renders) and you can check them out here. If the response is positive I could see making a few more.
Look for the new render hopefully within the next couple of days. TGIF.
- Added the dual and triple-screen versions of "Beginning of the End" to the gallery this evening. I would have had them up sooner, but I chose to render each version separately. I chose to split the dual-screen version down the middle because it just didn't look right all shoved over onto one side. Hope it looks okay!
- Here in the States we are celebrating Memorial Day, but before we load up the kids for the family cookout I wanted to post my latest project. It's called "Beginning of the End" and it is a near complete 180 from "In Full Bloom". Sort of bleak, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless!
- This is the last day of Zazzle's 70% off poster sale. Coupon code "MEMORIALSALE". Enjoy!
- Lastly, I will be increasing the fees for Lifetime Memberships at the end of the month (though not all the way back to their previous level). The price will be $75 for new Members and $60 for renewals. Please act now if you want to lock in the current low price!
- I am currently putting the finishing touches on my latest render but this news couldn't wait. Zazzle is having a big sale for Memorial Day weekend. All posters (including mine) are 70% off!; Just enter code "MEMORIALSALE" at checkout. Get em while they're hot!
- As I mentioned last time, "In Full Bloom" is a work in progress. I read all of the comments with great interest, reworked some things, and I've just now posted a new version for your review. I've changed the background, lighting, some of the colors and, well, see for yourself. I hope you like the new render!
- I'd also like to mention that I made a post in my blog regarding yearly vs. lifetime memberships. Have a look if you are interested.
- Added "In Full Bloom" to the gallery this afternoon. I may play around with this a little more over the weekend, but I think it looked nice enough to share as it is. Don't know about you but I am seriously ready for spring!
- A couple of things to mention. First, I've decided to experiment a little with my prices. Forthwith, or until I decide to change it back, the price for current (and former) members to purchase a Lifetime Renewal will be $49 (down from $99).
If the price is attractive to enough people, it will stay that way. Otherwise this may be a limited time offer. You guys are reading this right now because you enjoy my artwork. I want it to be affordable for more of you.
Secondly, work is progressing nicely on my latest project and I expect to have a render up shortly. Looking good so far!
- Added "Temple of the Leaf" to the gallery this morning. I wonder if anyone can place where I got the inspiration for the pyramid design (hint: I'm re-reading one of my favorite series right now). I may do a little more tweaking on this one, but I thought it looked good enough to post as is. Hope you enjoy it!
- After looking at your comments and ratings I've decided to switch the versions of "Desert Dawn". The darker version will remain in the Pickle Jar and the brighter version will be available in the main gallery. dual and triple screen (all of the "Desert Dawn" sizes can be found here). Thanks for the feedback everyone!
- I've posted the dual and triple screen versions of "Desert Dawn" this morning. I'm pretty much decided that the "blue sky" version will be the one that ends up the gallery so I am going to render a multi-screen version of that, make the switch, and then move on to something new.
- One of the byproducts of being laid up for weeks is that I've had a lot of time to watch TV (something I really didn't do that much before the surgery). A lot of "Good Eats", "Modern Marvels", and old movies on TCM. One of these old movies was "The Searchers" (watched this one on Blu-Ray) and it provided the inspiration for my latest wallpaper.
The wallpaper is called "Desert Dawn" and it is now up for your review. I would have had it up a couple of days ago but I decided at the last minute to change up the atmosphere. I version I settled on is up on the new images page, and the first version is available in the Pickle Jar. Which do you prefer?
Either way, I hope you enjoy them.
It looks like Zazzle is offering 50% off all poster prints. If you've been waiting to purchase one now might be the right time. Just enter the code "ZAZZLEPOSTER" at checkout to apply the discount.
- Lastly, I wanted to mention (in case you hadn't looked at my blog) that I trying to sell one of my Quadro video cards. If you are in need of a high-powered worksation class 3D card for (relatively) cheap let me know. See my blog post for more details.
- Lately I've been experimenting with Apophysis, the freeware flame fractal program, and trying to integrate the fractals into my 3d work. The comet in "Harbinger" is one example. My latest render, a planetscape I call "Phraxis", continues these experiments.
I would have had this one up a few days ago, but I did some attempts at using this scene as a backdrop for a Vue d'Esprit landscape render. I wasn't happy with any of the results so I've posted it as a pure space scene. I may play around with it some more in Vue, but I thought the scene itself made a nice enough wallpaper so here it is. I hope you enjoy it!
- By request I've added 640 x 480 images (designed to fit the G1) to the Mobile Resolutions. A zip file is also available. I had actually prepared these files for my "Gallery-at-a-Glance" page, but it turns out they also have use as a mobile device resolution. Happy Valentine's Day!
- I've added 360 x 480 and 480 x 360 images, designed to fit the BlackBerry Storm and Curve models, to the Mobile options. It took me a little longer to put the Storm wallpapers up because the "portrait" aspect ratio required me to do a lot of the cropping by hand to get a pleasing result. A zip file is available on the Downloads page. Hope they work for you BlackBerry users!
- Recovery Update (hope this isn't TMI): If everything had gone according to plan I should have been close to 100% by now. Unfortunately I came down with an infection in my incision a few days after my operation and we are still dealing trying to get it healed up. A few days ago my surgeon had to reopen part of my incision (not fun) and we may have to reopen more next week if things don't improve significantly.
Jessie has been great about changing dressings and keeping everything under control, but this is all going way to slow for me.
Just thought I would keep you all in the loop.
- I'm not going to lie to you guys. The last 3 or 4 weeks have been pretty rough on me (see the posts below if you haven't visited in a while). Slowly and steadily, though, I am getting better and this past week I was able to settle in at my workstation and finish the wallpaper I had started before I had to go into the hospital.
I think the piece is ready to put in the gallery and I'm sure a lot of you are ready for something new. It's a reworking of an image I did back in 2001 called "Harbinger". "Harbinger (2009)" is now up on the new images page for your review.
It feels good to be posting pictures again. I hope you like this one.
P.S. Happy Birthday Jessie! Thanks for taking such good care of me.
- I thought you all might want to know that I was released from the hospital last evening and I am resting comfortably at home now. My kids were thrilled to see me this morning, but didn't quite understand that I can't play like I used to. My two year old keeps putting things on my IV scars trying to fix my "boo-boos".
They gave me fantastic care at the hospital, but nothing compares to the comforts of home. I'm going to be going slow for the next few weeks, but I feel stronger every day and just being at home is an immense psychological boost.
Thanks again for all the great comments. They've really kept me going throughout this ordeal!
- I just wanted to thank everyone for the kind words you've left regarding my previous post. The operation, they tell me, was a success and now I'm dealing with the aftermath. I'm still in the hospital and don't really know when I will be released (they are waiting for my insides to start working again). It's difficult to do once simple things like get out of bed and walk around (though I managed to do both the day after my surgery). Yesterday they allowed me a couple of popcicles which were the first non-water food I've had in a week.
Each day I am getting a little bit stronger though and it is a great comfort to know that a malfunctioning part of me has been removed. Thanks again to all of you for your support. I've really enjoyed your encouraging words and even the jokes (though it hurts to laugh).
I also need to say a big thanks to Jessie for (among many other things) purchasing me an AT&T laptop connect card so I can still be online. You would think that a modern 21st century hospital would have wi-fi, but I guess that is not always the case. At least they have cable ;-)
Until next time...
- Once again I find myself in the hospital. I've been pretty vague with you guys about my condition up until now for a couple of reasons. First, I was in some denial about the diagnosis. Second, the problems I was having were in a sensitive area that I don't like to talk about even to close friends. It's past time I gave you guys the scoop though, so here it is.
I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in July. The problems started back in December 2007 when my doctors found a couple of infected areas near my rectum (TMI, I know but it's part of the bigger picture). The areas were opened, drained, and left open to heal. It was pretty painful stuff. If it had ended there things probably would have been ok, but my surgeon apparently didn't explore well enough because some infection was left behind which led to a wound which wouldn't heal.
Other doctors tried to heal me up using course after course of antibiotics, and I tried to keep my pain under control by taking far too much Advil (just so I could sit for more than an hour at a time), Taking all of these medicines over several months I started to develop stomach aches which lead to the (surprising) diagnosis of Crohn's in July. I've just recently had another surgeon do a procedure to finally root out all of the infection in my nether regions, but my intestinal problems have been increasing steadily over the last part of the 2008. Just since November I've had to run to the ER a number of times with uncontrollable stomach pain and vomiting which I've discovered is a result of a blockage in my small intestines. An area is literally swollen shut with scar tissue and inflammation. Even my good days were pretty painful, and my bad days sent me to the ER.
The most recent incident was the past Saturday and I've been in the hospital ever since. My GI doctor has advised me that my best shot of getting back to normal is to have to diseased part of my intestine removed. I am sitting here waiting for the operation now. They tell me the piece is a relatively small part of my overall supply so I should live pretty normally after this (though I will have to take medicine to keep the Crohn's at bay and get a monthly vitamin shot because I will no longer be able to absorb one of the B vitamins from food). I will be fine in the long run.
I will be in the Hospital for another week or so, and then resting at home for another couple of weeks. I won't be returning to work until I feel up to it, but I do have a rather cool new project at around the halfway stage which I should have ready to go in short order when I am back online.
Wish me luck everyone, I'll be recovering by the time you read this but I will accept retroactive good wishes. Things should return to full swing around here shortly and my doctors tell me that I should be in the clear for a long time to come. Just gotta get past these next few weeks.
- I've posted dual and triple screen versions of both "First Light" and "First Moonlight" in the gallery this morning. I would have had them up a day or two ago, but I got sidetracked working on a new project which popped into my head all of a sudden. Stay tuned for more on that....
- Late Update:I was working on the mulit-screen version of "First Light" today when I remembered one of the comments I had read in the feedback thread for that image. The jist of the comment was the person usually requested night versions of my daytime images, but this one was pretty good as is so a night version wasn't needed.
That got me thinking about what a night version would look like, so I tweaked the atmosphere and lighting a little bit and did a few renders. I thought the result was a pretty nice wallpaper in its own right so I've posted it up here for you. I call it "First Moonlight" (kind of cheesy, but it fit the theme).
I hope you like it. I have the multi-screen of First Light rendering now and should have it up soon (and a multi-screen of "First Moonlight" shortly thereafter).
- I hope to have a multi-screen version of "First Light" up shortly. In the meantime I have added 1024 x 600 images for those of you using Netbook computers. The new size is in the list of options to the right of the image thumbnails, or you can download them all (I have just over 200 available) in a Zip file.
- I've done some tweaking to "First Light" and posted a new version with a (hopefully) improved shoreline and calmer sea (less noise). I'm still trying to figure out Vue 7's new water (and battle it's many bugs) but I am happier with this version than the first render.
- Happy New Year! First of all, I want to thank everyone who sent me kind thoughts and posted in this thread. Your support really helped me get through a tough time and I appreciate it.
As my post-op pain has started to ebb my itch to return to work has risen. I started on back in on something simple after Christmas and I've posted it up on the New Images page tonight. It's called "First Light". If you've followed my work for a time you'll know I like to follow up my Christmas/Winter images with an immediate trip to someplace warm. If I can't really be someplace warm I can do the next best thing and make a warm picture.
I hope you guys enjoy it. Still trying to figure out Vue's new water settings. Thanks again for all the kind words. I'll do my best to get things back to normal around here in 2009.