Grand Space Opera 2D Entry: Michael Dashow


Michael Dashow has entered the Grand Space Opera 2D.

Challenge Page

Latest Update: Final Image: Swarm! - final image

Okay, then: It’s done!

Andreas: thanks for the suggestions, I think they’re all valid. Certain areas of this piece have proven to be real balancing acts that I’ve been fooling around with since the beginning: I can’t make the platform darker because then the bugs in front of it don’t read. I can’t make the BigBugBot lighter because then it doesn’t read against the background. And so it goes! I did messy-up some of the jets for the spaceships, but i don’t think it’s all that visible at this scale. It works in the large version, though. (Does that count?)

And to everyone else: Thank you all so much, for all of your support, input, praise, constructive criticism, suggestions, votes, comments, and everything else. It’s been a real blast, and I’ve learned a lot. What more can you ask for?



Well, here it goes, looks like I’m actually doing this thing! Winning would be really cool, but realistically, I’m just shooting for a racking up enough posts that I can actually someday get an avatar of my very own! :slight_smile: But seriously, this should be a lot of fun, and no matter what happens, I should end up with a good image out of it.

So on to the artwork: Let’s start with the bad-guy concepts. I don’t want to have the scene set so large in scale that it loses all sense of human perspective. So I’ll go for something more “down to earth,” enemies with a more manageable scale. I’m thinking the size of a tank up to a small building, something where you can stick a human in the same shot and make it work. I’ve always been really into the concept of alien biomechanoids, so I’m going there. Here are some rough initial ideas…

What do you think, any one in particular appeal to you? I realized only after I posted that these might be feeling a bit too Matrix-y, what do you think? Anyhow, looking forward to hearing from you all!



Don’t remind me of matrix at all… I like the first two green ones, though the first green one looks more like a spaceship and it could be a spaceship droping down the friendly second green ones :slight_smile:
Good luck, I’ll be watching!


i love the first column, last row creature, i can;t see any clear concept at the nmoment but the sketches are it going to b some kind of epic battle?


Great start! Interestings designs, also dont feel like you can’t win, in fact don’t even think about it. Just do this for yourself, and push your skills to the max, and then see what people think in the end. And like you said, if you don’t win then at least you have a pretty picture :slight_smile:





Glad we prodded you into entering. You are so talented!!



Great scetches! :thumbsup: Keep it up!


Fist off, thanks to everyone who’s respondedso far… and thanks, Jill, for prodding me to join this thing!

Cocoknight - what, you can’t read my annotation that shows up as 2-point type? :slight_smile: Yes, that is in fact a spaceship dropping thebiomechanoids, not a 'bot itself. I’ve been working on some neat concepts today where the ship drops spherical pots which impact and then unfold into the mobile form. I will, of course, post them for y’all to see, but they’re not quite ready yet. And next time, I’ll be sure to number them so it’s easier to make comments on them!

And as for them being in some sort of epic battle, giza-di, well, at least i hope it comes off as epic! :slight_smile: It will be a battle, anyways.

Catch ya’ll later…



I think the idea of doing an epic space battle is fine, but then so have 10,000 other members so far :thumbsup:. Personally, with your desire to focus on the “human element”, epic battles have to wait until the second or third movie of a trilogy (duh), so stick with showing some sort of drama but keep the scale accessible. I think you can still show “grandness” by a well-developed alien world rich in details and creatures, while maintaining the human element by having characters interacting within that world. With that in mind, I like the right-hand column of tentacled aliens. I’m not sure about their scale, but since they’re sketches I’ll be happy just to see what you do with them.

Good job succumbing to entering this contest. Since everybody has to post works in progress, even if you don’t win, the rest of us peons win in a sense by getting a look at the way a person as talented as yourself puts their entries together. Remember, the real trick to selling the drama of a space opera is take an otherwise comedic and cartoony scenario and have it take itself so seriously that you are forced to go along for the ride.


Thanks for the note, Russell! There’s nothing that takes away the feeling of being a newbie on a board like having a bunch of people who do actually know my art pop in to say hi!

Anyhow, just because I’m planning on doing an epic battle - which is almost inherent in the description of the contest’s theme - doesn’t mean i have any plans to shy aay from the human element. (Or ‘sentient’ element as the case may be!) I’ve been sketching thumbnails today, so I thought i’d post the first (but by no means the last) of them. Let’s see if I can explain what’s going on:

Figure #1 shows the biomechanoid concept I’m launching from. Spheres are dropped from a spaceship and impact on the surface where they unfold into mean nasty bots. I picture the ships in low orbit and being in the shot, as well as dozens of spheres raining down to show that this is a wide scale bombardment, not just an isolated incedent.

the rest of the shots show some sort of a hero on the left, either being the sole one to take a stand against the invaders, or trying to rally the troops. In some cases I’ve taken a low tech approach, in some high. And in some cases he’s clearly human, in others -like #8- clearly not. The rules said it was a clash of cultures, but not WHICH cultures.

In all of them, I’m trying to give a sense of the metamorphosis that takes place in image #1: Showing the spheres dropping from the sky, impacing, starting to unfold, and then the big, unfolded version on the far right. I’m also trying to include the proverbial “cast of thousands” of screaming victims/combabtants around the bottom of the image, while still letting the hero figure stand out.

So please let me know what y’all think. What elements are working, and what aren’t? Which ones do you like or not? Does the general idea seem epic enough? Have I pulled out the “iconic hero” enough? And are you bothered by the fact that the race being invaded might be non-human, like in #8? Feel free to share any thought you have.



great stuff! i’m really enjoying your designs! your entry certainly stands out, as it’s one of the few (if any) that’s taking a pure cartoony approach. good luck with this one!


! great concept ! i like the no.7 it’s very dynamic ! hurry man ! can’t wait to see mmore!
good luck


hey, thats great stuff. like the idea of the primitive guys in 8. And there long hair is really a nice touch, adding to that primal nature. Go with that. Like the composition of no. 7 best though. And your style and quick sketches are very nice. very comic bookish . . . reminds me a bit of joe maduira the way you use action (if your familiar). and some kind of soft touch to the image . . . m,other and baby fleeeing or priestess praying to a statue??? Maybe. But so far it all looks fantastic. Thanks for your comments by the way!


Im voting for the 4th one. It gives me feeling that im looking from a lower place to the whole action, which gives a lot of dynamics and greatness to the pic. Post some more sketches! Its fun looking at them, while the technique is very good.


actually yes. I did not give that a good look before but 4’s composition is a lot better and the perspective does add more to it . . .


Thanks for posting the big numbers on the sketches :slight_smile: . Will be very interesting to see how this evolves. Your insight into drawing is an inspiration.



Thanks for the notes so far, all!

NinjaASSN and Wil - yes I agree, both #s 4 and 7 do the best job as depicting an upwards camera angle, which really is the most dramatic for aliens of this size. #2 is probably the least successful in this respect, as it’s a downwards-looking shot. I like the idea of alien heores like in #8, but I’m killing the ideas of bows: There’s a line between ‘heroic’ and ‘just plain stupid,’ and i can’t get a sense that using a bow and arrow would be in any way effective, so it doesn’t feel heroic enough for me. But it could be interesting to have these very primitive looking aliens using more modern technology, lasers or something

wil - thanks for the comments, I’m a big Joe Mad fan. Compating my work to his is duly taken as a big complement! As for the other stuff going on in the picture, originally I had thought of all of the other people in the shot as fleeing. Now I’m leaning more towards all of them fighting the incursion because that too feels more heroic and epic: Having an enemy that needs the will and resources of so many to combat. Like in the Return of the King and any WWII film. At least that’s where I’m thinking about heading with it…

Oh, hey, I should also make some introductions: teknotek83, meet wil. He’s also doing some beautifully stylized work, you should check it out too! As for my cartooniness level, my rough thumbnails are always really small and use a lot of cartoony shorthand to express emotions and forms. These sketches are and no more than 3 inches on a side. i think it’ll get toned down a little by the time i get to a finished piece. At least they’ll have real faces! :slight_smile:

Anyhow I’ll have a new rough up tomorrow morning, i think. Catch you all later, and others are free to add notes and opinions too!



Nice monsters! I really like the way they seems to move! Can’t wait to see the envirironement where they’ll live!


Okay, here we go with another layout thumbnail.
I’ve kept the same basic idea but brought a lot mroe tension into the foreground. Now there aren’t just house-size biomechs in the background (and many more raining down from the sky,) but there are also a ton of smaller land-units fighting the heroes in the foreground… Finally! The heroes have something to do, not just gesticulate! :slight_smile:

Geez, there’s a lot going on here! It makes it feel epic to me, but it’s sure going to be a load of work… Oh, well, that’s why they call it a challenege! :slight_smile: Anyhow, what do you all think?