New technologies can often bring seismic shifts like the ones I’ve seen happen again and again, so I can understand the concerns of some artists. If all those more recent typesetters had known they were about to be put out of work by the fuzzy computer-generated type they once laughed at, I’m sure they would have sued, too. But the difference here is that an artist with skill and a work ethic will always find a demand for their services. The key to effective artwork is conceiving an image in your head and breathing it into reality.
I’m using A.I. as an artist’s tool, no different than switching from a quill and ink pot to a self-contained ink pen—using it to generate elements to help illustrate original works of my own thoughts and designs that visualize my written work.
For me, this new tool has been as inspiring as when I created nearly two-dozen illustrations for my stories in The Multiversal Scribe, using a brand new line of Pentel rollerball pens with water-based ink.
[P. Alexander: We’re a little over half-way through our crowdfunding period for Sky Dance of Winter Fire! This could very well be one of Cirsova Publishing’s rarest titles after Relics of the Kangsta, as there is a high likelihood that it will not be kept in Print on Demand. If you miss out on this now, you might miss out on it forever!]
It’s been a long-accepted fact that 90% of everything made is junk, and that is still true here. No matter how much text, nor how many of my photos I loaded in, with this type of generator you still have to wade through that 90% of the results until you can tease out something usable that can then be further refined into a finished work. Faces and human anatomy still remain wonky at best.
A lawsuit was filed recently against this process, claiming that these programs swipe existing artwork. Personally, I use it to create my own concepts using elements of light-dark shading and tone—an effect called Chiaroscuro. This is a process that I doubt the descendants of Rembrandt can claim control over.
Pulling sections from several A.I. images and using all the different skills I’ve developed over the decades, I created an original image. The art plate, Cthulhu man, is a good example of this. I pulled elements from several different versions generated from my instructions, and created a composite that I then airbrushed into the unique image in my mind. Any elements that I didn’t change, I used filters to give them shape and tone.
The Unshrouded Stars By DAVID SKINNER When an astronaut confronts a lamia, she has a proposition for him: she will refrain from eating children for an entire year…if he will take her into outer space!
Hunger in the Void By ANDREW GALLANT Allan Buxley, a daring-hearted Voyager, ventures into an Orion Gate with his robot companion Sigma-6 in the Sagan-12… and finds a black hole on the other side!
The Gold Exigency (Part 1 of 4) By MICHAEL TIERNEY A race of birdlike alien humanoids are being hunted and murdered for the gems grown in their skins! A cop seeking answers and looking to stop the killings is approached by an unlikely benefactor: Achilles Hister of the Artomique Corporation!
Quicksilver By J. COMER Cartmill Station has an outbreak of a deadly virus! Can a daring rescue mission to deliver nanomedicines using a dangerous experimental rocket reach them in time?
Comes the Hunter By BILL WILLINGHAM Following the trail of dead, the hunter closes in on his quarry: the last of the wizard knights! His magic exhausted, can he defeat his dastardly foe with his wits alone?!
Starring Hedy Lamarr By TROY RISER An alien intelligence on the moon with the ability to possess victims engages in an all out secret war against Earth! It’s up to a secret world-wide conspiracy to stop it!
The Feast of the Fedai By JIM BREYFOGLE Kat is intent on raising an army to reclaim Alness! Can she and Mangos arrange to recruit an elite core of highly trained Fedai in Alomar before her secret gets out?!
Egg By JAIME FAYE TORKELSON A geo-seismic research team is stationed on the strange moon Epsilon Epsilon Six, better known as Egg, a smooth and volatile body that could go at any moment!
Search Pattern By WILLIAM SUBOSKI A strange woman seemingly miraculously cures a man’s terminal cancer! His son has devoted his life to data sciences, but can he follow the clues to track her down?!
My Name is John Carter (Part 15) By JAMES HUTCHINGS
I had previously done all the illustrations for my early Wild Stars comics, like I had for The Multiversal Scribe. But being handicapped by the time constraints of operating multiple businesses, for the new millennium issues I hired professional artists to do the pencils, and then finished them out by adding tonal shading with Photoshop.
Photoshop was invaluable when I processed 12,000 images for my Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard Art Chronologies. I sometimes spent as much as a 40 work week on a single image, repairing 100-plus year old magazine covers by going all the way down to the single pixel level to restore the dot patterns of the old letterpress printing process. Repairs of this type were previously impossible in a home setting, and came in handy again when I did the cover restorations for Julian Hawthorne’s previously lost classics.
Another new tool that revolutionized the process of making those Art Chronologies was the program InDesign, which automated the pasting and assembly that I once did with a T-square and art board. This saved an immeasurable amount of time by easily assembling the nearly 3,000 pages of text and art.
I honed my computer coloring skills by airbrush painting over the inked art for the first 100 episodes of the online comic strip, Beyond the Farthest Star, that I also write and letter for ERB, Inc., then deliver in both print and web formats.
[P. Alexander: Tonight Michael will be on Critical Blast talking about the project. Be sure to tune in! ]
Linotype was still around when I was in high school and working nights at the local newspaper. By 1977, I was a journeyman printer and publishing my own artwork and stories in a magazine titled The Multiversal Scribe, which included an early tale of my long-running Wild Stars. By this time the leaden letters of the Linotype machine had been replaced by a new generation of cold print typesetters, and the rigid letterpress plates replaced by offset printing rollers.
That same year I was promoted to managing a print shop, which meant I could do my own camera work for my Across the Distance portfolio and other works. By 1984 was still using a T-square and art board to build another portfolio and my Wild Stars comics, which I printed in my garage with a Chief 17 press. But the Wild Stars comics that I made at the turn of the millennium were prepared print ready using a Mac laptop.
By that time the next generation of typesetters, with their pica rulers always handy, had been replaced by Photoshop. You could copy your manuscript from a text file straight into a type box.