Before I tell you about that, let me give you a little historical background.
I was at DragonCon in Atlanta sometime in the 1980s, the year that fantasy cover artist Boris Vallejo was a Guest Of Honor. DragonCon had a little art gallery, and there I saw something that I’ve never forgotten.
It was an oil painting by Boris Vallejo. Undoubtedly it was originally painted to illustrate a seven-inch-tall paperback book, but I was seeing the original (two-feet-tall) painting.
Here’s what the painting showed—
A barbarian man and a barbarian babe were confronting a very large and very unfriendly fire-breathing dragon, who was only a few feet away.
The man and woman were each heavily muscled, were each almost naked, were each holding a ridiculously impractical spear, and each had his/her back to the viewer.
Boris Vallejo had mentioned at DragonCon that he hired models, so it was no surprise that the humans’ muscles looked right, and the lighting and shadows on their bodies looked right. The result was that the humans looked believable (except for those spears!)
But the reason I remember the painting so well is not because of the people, but because of the dragon. The dragon looked like a real animal with sharp teeth, scales, and muscles under the scales. The dragon’s mouth was open slightly, and just in front of that mouth was gray smoke, which was internally lit by glowing orange flame. The orange-glowing smoke acted as a second light source on the dragon’s body. What a problem for an artist to visualize! And yet the dragon, too, seemed utterly real.
I stared at that painting, from just a foot away, for ten minutes, and I couldn’t spot one thing “wrong” about that painting.
Which filled me with despair. I was a good sketch-artist, and in my teens I’d gotten good with drawing with pastels, but I couldn’t make a picture of an image that I was imagining. Looking at that Boris Vallejo painting, I yearned and craved to do what Boris Vallejo did for a living, but I was crushed by reality: I simply could not make a picture of what was not there, no matter how vividly I imagined it.
Flash-forward to 1995. I took no notice of it at the time, but a software program named Poser came out. Poser was designed to show imagined human figures. Poser 1 was very primitive, however: The human figures were bald, naked, and their skin was the uniform color of a clothing-store mannequin.
Flash-forward to 1997. Poser had advanced enough that people could create simple artwork with it, and some artists were starting to do just that. None of these early Poser artists’ artistry could come close to Boris Vallejo’s, but—
Beginning in 1997, Boris Vallejo no longer had a monopoly on illustrating the imaginary.
Doug Sturk, Jr. started working with Poser in 1997, and he’s been rendering imaginary images with Poser software ever since.
Now he has a Tumblr page to show you his current artwork. And some of his pictures give me the same “it isn’t real, it can’t be real, but it looks real” eerie feeling that the Boris Vallejo painting did.
But there are some pictures that Sturkwurk rendered but he may not show, because he doesn’t own the copyrights to those pictures anymore. So since he isn’t allowed to show those pictures, I will.
vvv Cover art shown with permission of Hypo To Helio Books.
^^^ Here am I, Doctor MC, acting all mad scientist-y.
^^^ Here’s the illustration that goes at the top of the front cover for my novel Names Have Power: Tim’s Magic Voice Makes A Harem.
^^^ The front cover for my novel The Bimborg: Part Nanobot, All Woman.
^^^ The front cover for my short story Captive Of The Barbarian King. I think Sturkwurk did a better romance-novel cover than most romance-novel artists do.
^^^ The front cover of my short story The Hypno-Talker Of Zlar (HTOZ1). This picture is definitely a case of “not real but looks real” in the best Boris Vallejo tradition.
^^^ The front cover of my short story Hypno-Talker’s First Download (HTOZ2).
^^^ The front cover of my short story Revenge At College (HTOZ3).
The only one of my novels and stories that Sturkwurk hasn’t created the cover for is Three More Wishes: Be Kind To Your Genie.
For more information about these novels and stories, and for links to free sample chapters, go here.