Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stubby In Space

Gregory Manchess started a new series based on their logo, affectionately called, Stubby the Rocket. I designed the rocket with Irene Gallo four years ago. Every year in honor of’s birthday, which just happens to be NASA’s moon-landing day, July 20th, a new story about Stubby’s adventures will be released. The first one was recently published, A Tall Tail, by Charles Stross.

Contrary to some of the other illustration struggles I’ve shown here, this painting went smooth and quick. I did one thumbnail to show Irene, and that was it. I did have rings around a Saturn-like planet, but on Irene’s request, I painted them out. It was a good call. A very subtle change, but without the ring tangency, it’s a stronger piece.

Below is a time lapse of me painting the little guy, flying through space. Throw in some planets, a nice background nebula, light everything with an offstage star-glow, sprinkle stars over it all, and Stubby came to life.

It’s not exactly....ahem....rocket science.


  1. Seriously, do you have to make it look so easy? Hope to see you sometime soon Greg.

    1. You're too kind, Bill.....but thanks! Yeah--I'd come and do a demo for ya.....

  2. Unfortunately for some of us engineering/drafting guys trying to become an artist it's all about rocket science and the geology of the planet, its weather patterns and how the gravity of planet 1 affects planet 2 and if the nebula to the right is going to be outputting x-ray and gamma rays to the extent that Stubby needs some extra shielding by the circular window towards the middle, and hey is it going to have a coffee pot and will that meet OSHA codes??... it's hard to undo 25 years of working in Military/commercial aerospace engineering when you are trying to do a simple space painting...

    Stubby is a great design and I have enjoyed the mulitple images you have done, thanks for talking about this painting.


    PS By the way does Stubby use a sustainable biofuel or is it based on the latest plasma rocket technology?

    1. LOL! That's a great comment, Mike!! That's reality for ya. You're so right to think about all of those things. Yes, I do let go of all of the reality at times in order to present a picture that feels right.

      The planets and the light would not work that way. But if you're planning on painting some space pictures, think about this: if you paint it the way it is, we won't feel it, and if we don't feel it, we look away. (this is true for most images, but not always....certainly)

      In other words, you have to let go of restricting reality sometimes to take the viewer into a realm that feeds their emotions. That emotional connection is far greater than cold reality. John Berkey's ships were crazy odd and likely wouldn't have worked. But man, were they ever stimulating and exciting. I used his influences to paint this Stubby piece, no doubt.

      He was very conscious of science and the realities involved. Yet, he could push through it.

      Love that.

  3. Hi Gregory,

    Do you paint in the whites, or do you leave them out and paint around them like watercolour?


    1. In oil, I paint them in, Max.

      But I've done some b/w pieces for a Conan book that were both painted in, and left out. Takes some planning, but not much. I can correct with opaque white, or paint back over it with black/greys, much like pen and ink.

      In fact, that's what I think about when I paint in b/w: pen & ink....but instead I use oils. More flexible.

  4. Oh man, making it look easy! Wonderful as always!

  5. I've seen Greg paint, that video is in real time. ;)

    1. LOL I believe it!

    2. Actually it's like Bruce Lee movie. They had to slow it down so the human eye can see it.

  6. Greg, is it difficult to stick to your original sketch as you are painting over it? I find that is one of the most difficult challenges for my own paintings.

    Often I end up losing key things that I love about my sketch by accident or I have to remove things as I paint to make it consistent.

    I feel that maybe it's an over-attachment to the sketch I'm sure a lot of artists have, but sometimes it's like I'm banging my head on the table trying to paint over my sketches and keep the original look.

    1. This is another reason why tracing is not necessarily going to save your painting. One still has to paint it and use the drawing as a guide.

      Sometimes I try to stay exactly within the lines of my initial sketch in order to hold on to the precision of something complicated, but most times I have to paint beyond these guidelines to give the painting life. Just following lines can deaden the interest in a painting.

      So to answer your's a both/and endeavor. Just have to learn when and where to follow or not to follow, so that it fits your particular approach. Takes time.

  7. Really beautiful work!
    Glad you did go without the ring, I think that does look better.


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