Category Archives: Art

Mechagodzilla Designs

Mechagodzilla has been one of my favorite kaiju since its first appearance in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Its design has undergone several changes throughout the years, some better than others.

Showa era Mechagodzilla
The original Mechagodzilla was a remotely controlled robot designed by the aliens of Black Hole Planet 3 whose aim it was to take over Earth. Later, they controlled it through a link to the brain of a cybernetically enhanced human. Its introduction was unique in that it wore a Godzilla disguise and shocked fans during a brutal fight with Godzilla’s ally Anguirus. It shed its disguise when facing the true Godzilla to utilize an arsenal of weapons including lasers, feet jets for flight, an energy shield, and, my favorite, finger missiles. The design is dated but features classic elements and is instantly recognizable as a mechanical replica of Godzilla.

Heisei era Mechagodzilla/Super Mechagodzilla
The first major overhaul to Mechagodzilla’s design. This robot was built by humans as an anti-Godzilla weapon using salvaged future technology from Mecha King Ghidorah. It could link up with another future-tech machine called Garuda to form Super Mechagodzilla and combine their weapons. The design is very smoothed out compared to the Showa Mechagodzilla and is overall less appealing, though the changes in its form did reflect the changes in Godzilla’s design during the same time. I would rank it last among the three older Toho designs. However, the Power Rangers style combining of mechs into a super mech is always fun.

Millennium Mechagodzilla/Kiryu
Kiryu is a cyborg built using the skeleton of the original 1954 Godzilla as its support structure. It uses Godzilla’s DNA combined with advanced technology to give it the ability to act and react with Godzilla-like instincts. Unfortunately, when it hears the current Godzilla’s roar, the original Godzilla’s spirit is awakened within it, and it is able to resist the control of its creators. This design keeps some elements from Super Mechagodzilla’s look such as the over-the-shoulder cannons, but it returns to using slightly more angular shapes and looks more like Godzilla than ever. It takes the “mechanical Godzilla” concept to its epitome. It has a great balance of complexity for interest vs. simplicity for recognizability. Kiryu is easily my favorite design.

All of these versions had in common the base idea that Mechagodzilla’s appearance should be based on Godzilla’s, and they all succeed in that. There was another similar mecha, M.O.G.U.E.R.A, which was constructed from the remains of the destroyed Heisei Mechagodzilla, but it clearly did not resemble Godzilla and so wasn’t given the Mechagodzilla name. Even the Mechagodzilla seen in Ready Player One is instantly recognizable as such, pulling in all kinds of elements from the original Showa era look, especially in the neck/head design and the inclusion of the finger missiles. It’s an agile update to the character that doesn’t toss aside the signature elements of the source.


Ready Player One Mechagodzilla concept art by Jared Krichevsky.

GODZILLA anime Mechagodzilla
This, however. . . .   This machine was co-created by humans and aliens to be the ultimate anti-Godzilla weapon, and by just the aliens to eventually assimilate Earth through the spread of its nanometal technology. Like with the new anime Godzilla, I feel this role should have been played by an original kaiju. Its appearance and abilities are such a departure from the Mechagodzilla we know that it should simply have been given its own name like M.O.G.U.E.R.A.
On its own, without comparison to the previous Mechagodzillas, this design is overwrought and cluttered. Because of the high level of complexity, it’s difficult to identify its overall form (an issue also plaguing the transformers in their 2007 movie series). To improve this design, I would make sure details which are included to look cool and complex also appear utilitarian. This is a machine designed for a purpose, not for display. I would include larger plates of armor over portions of the frame. Not only would this help clean up the busy design, it would, like actual plate armor, aid in deflecting attacks rather than providing hundreds of little crevices/weak points.

As it is, this new Mechagodzilla is a disappointment that makes me wonder what could have been. I look forward to the next iteration of the character in hopes it will be an improvement.

FFXIV Furnishing Contest Win

I love entering these contests, and I’m always amazed at the artistic skill and creativity of the finalists and winners. I’m so excited to have had a submission chosen as a winner in the latest contest for furnishing designs! I’ve thought there should be a curtain object in-game for a long time, so I tried to create one that could be doubled up to frame a window or painting, but that could also serve as a wall decoration on its own. A player could even use the floating wall object glitch to create a curtained division in a room. Sangeet stage backdrops were my inspiration, so I tried to make my design as brightly colored and pretty as possible without being too busy or too difficult to model. It may not happen, but I hope someday I can see my design in Final Fantasy XIV.

I also submitted a trapezoidal bench which could be placed in a variety of arrangements due to the shape. And my third submission was a portrait of the character of Ser Aymeric. This was mostly to remind Square Enix that the player community is still waiting for such an item more than anything. He’s the only Eorzean Alliance leader without a portrait item, and I know I’m not alone in wanting his nation of Ishgard represented on my digital house’s wall. These submissions were all fun to draw up, and I got to practice with GIMP while making them. It’s not as intuitive as Photoshop, but it’s growing on me.

There are so many cool designs among the other contest winners. The aetheryte chandelier, the koi pond, and the kitchenettes are my favorites. I’m already planning on where to put each new object in my house!

These materials are property of SQUARE ENIX

Full-sized Applique Quilt

Early last year my closest friend told me she was getting married. I knew I had to come up with a really great gift. I combined two things she really likes; art and warmth, and decided on a quilt. She’s Anne McCaffrey’s biggest fan, so I knew it would have to have a dragonrider in there somewhere. I reread Dragonflight to get a scene in my head and then came up with a design:

I had a slight problem though. I had no idea how to use my little sewing machine much less make a quilt with it. I have a bad habit of choosing the most difficult thing I can come up with when trying something new. I took my design to my esteemed mother-in-law to ask if it was possible, and she suggested using applique might be best. To the internet I went! I read tutorials and watched videos to learn of this mysterious applique technique. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any examples of projects larger than a place mat, so I knew I would have to adapt as I worked.

I began by printing out my design in full size, taping together several 8 X 11 sheets of paper (R.I.P. my ink cartridge). I think it might have been worth it to use a projector and trace or even pay a copy/print service to do it, but let’s not dwell. I kept a stack of notes handy along with my original design to help me select the ~80 colors of fabric I used. I only needed small pieces of most, so scraps came in very handy. My design was fairly busy, so I used only solids or very subtle textures.

This was the hard part. I went through and numbered each of my notes, lowest layer to top layer to keep track of which shapes would need to be laid down first, and which would be saved for last. I used a very thin, plain white sheet as my base. Then, I cut off a piece of my paper-backed fusible webbing large enough to cover my first piece–the yellow background sky–leaving an inch or so outside the lines for extra wiggle room. I traced the approximate shape I needed onto the glue side of the paper. Next, I cut out a piece of the yellow sky fabric large enough to fit the webbing, and ironed them together glue-side to wrong-side of the fabric. After it cooled, I cut out the shape using the lines I had drawn on the transparent webbing.

After ironing the backing onto several shapes and cutting them out, I laid them in place with the paper still on to make sure I didn’t have any gaps through which the white sheet could show. Once I had all my pieces cut out, it was time to glue them down.

I laid my white sheet over my printed template and marked the corners with a pen so that I could take it up and put it back in the same place every time. I marked the positioning for my first layer (the yellow sky) and then put it up on the ironing board. I removed the paper backing from my piece, situated it according to my marks, and steam-ironed it into place. I closely followed the directions on my fusible webbing for what settings to use on my iron.

Layer by layer I glued down clouds and grass until I had it looking like the original design, pausing here and there to make sure it all still lined up.

I really wanted the dragon and rider to look right, and this was the most intricate couple of pieces in my design, so I saved it for last. I traced the shapes with a marker to make them show through the back and traced from there onto the paper side of the webbing. That way it was easy to carefully follow my lines and fit the pieces together.

Trace each piece onto the webbing and iron onto the wrong-side of the fabric.

Cut out each shape, peel off the webbing, fit into position, and iron down.

With everything cut out and ironed on, I was ready for the next big step. I chose to use solid, dark blue for borders and backing to hold my busy design together. I squared up the edges, sewed on the border, and put together the top, batting, and backing. I decided to sew them together in one go instead of doing the top by itself because I didn’t want to go back over and clutter the design with a single color of thread if putting the backing on later. Plus, just sewing the edges of each shape was plenty to secure the whole thing well.

My mother-in-law gave me a rundown on how sewing machines work, and I pored over the instruction manual to mine before beginning. I collected thread of each color I would need to match or nearly match each color of fabric, I threaded my bobbin with dark blue for the back, and I zig-zag stitched the life out of that quilt.

Difficulties! My machine was quite small, so I really had to roll and bunch up my quilt to fit it in there and turn it this way and that. I’m lucky I had a nice big dining table on which to work. The number of layers of fabric my needle was punching through varied from three up to eight or so, so I had to adjust the tension quite a bit to make sure my bright top thread wasn’t showing through the backing and vice versa. The glue between layers also added some stiffness, so I bent three needles and snapped another clean in half along my way. Nevertheless, after some problem-solving and perseverance, I successfully finished all the major sewing.

All that was left was to trim it up and add the binding. It was strange switching to a straight stitch after months of zig-zagging, but finally it was complete. The thicker layers of applique and lots of ironing made the quilt a little stiff here and there, but I picked a nice soft fabric for the backing to counter that issue, and it seems to become more flexible the more it’s folded and bunched. It would make a nice weighty bed quilt or look great hanging up on a wall.

I’m pretty proud of my first quilt. It was fun and challenging, and I’m probably never doing all that again. Whew! Maybe this will be useful if someone out there needs help figuring out a large applique project. Oh, and my wedding gift was very well-received!

Interstellar Art

I finally got around to watching Interstellar now that it’s available for streaming. Overall it was enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the set-up, the world-building, and of course the visuals were great. Every now and then there was something a little too silly or irritating, but it never took too long to get back into things. Now I get why people made such a fuss over the sound mixing, though. There are few things more frustrating than almost hearing something or almost understanding something. Christopher Nolan’s argument was that it was an intentional artistic decision to occasionally keep the dialogue just too quiet to hear so that the audience could experience the emotional sense of the moment rather than focus on every word that was being said.

When I was taking art classes in college we’d all be focusing on our projects in preparation for a group critique. Inevitably, one of my classmates would accidentally gouge into their sculpture or spill ink across their paper, and it would be the night before the critique giving them no time to fix it. Well, the next day while we all presented our work, this unlucky classmate would have no choice but to present their ruined piece for everyone to discuss. There was something of an unspoken rule for the rest of us to follow: Before the professor can ask about the obvious mishap, someone needs to chime in and say how great the art is. Smiling with excitement, you state that you especially like the big gouge through the center which breaks up the monotony of perfection. You appreciate the way it reminds you of how there can be no order without a little chaos, or how it speaks to you of the unexpected or the complexity of the mind or you feel it’s a comment on society. Invariably, the professor will be nodding along, taking in your views with seriousness and finding a new appreciation for your classmate’s messed up art. The group will have a great discussion, and no one will be embarrassed. I always appreciated the assist those times when the unlucky classmate was me. But really, the truth is that no matter what artsy-sounding stuff you can make up about somebody’s bad art, it is still bad art.

I feel like Christopher Nolan would be fantastic at art critiques.

Dreamink

I dreamed I was painting this on a big canvas on the floor. I remembered it in detail when I woke up, so I decided to recreate it. The little figures were jumping through from one side to the other like it was ink in water. No idea what it is, but it was fun.