Modus Operandi for Space Opera Challenge?


Like they say in some parts of the world: ‘word.’


Smouldering in the still-glowing crater left by my orbital positron cannon. The dropships will descend shortly. No watercolorist will be spared.


If you look closley the judges cover a wide range, each has a specialty or a niche;

Stephen Martiniere:::Mainly a concept artist yet his work focuses not on characters but on technology, especially cityscapes.

Ian McCraig::: Character designer and won awards for character costume design.

Syd Mead ::: Seems (to me) more oriented around society concept construction.

Philip Straub::: He seems to revolve around story illustration concept, not necessarily character specific.

Feng Zhu ::: Character and machine specific, I haven’t seen any “book cover style” illustrations of his that tell a story, more along the lines of concept (as stated elsewhere).

So to me, I see a wide range of disciplines well balanced to cover every aspect for the Grand Space Opera concept, machines, character, people and story conveyed in the illustration itself. I really dig all these artists and thier vision and technical skill is very evident and well documented even by the movie industry. And if you did read the judges closely, the moderators and people of CGTalk vote on artist participation and thier favorites which have no reflection on the actual judges, hence the seperate award for that.


lol :applause:


I read the whole challenge. The title does not describe the challenge in its entirety. It speaks volumes that it is geared toward Sci Fi to start with. The challenge wanted the entrants to think about the whole society, legends and gods. I am paraphrasing.

The funny thing is I did expect a lot of negative comments on this stance. Independant thought is frowned upon. It is so much easier for people like myself to leave CGTalk and go to real CG art sites. This is a pity because not everyone who creates different genres wants to stick to Photoshop and Painter. The ZBrush authors may want to widen their user base. I know that many 3D studios have found it near impossible and still find it hard to find good Head Animators to switch to 3D.

By concentrating on content that attracts teen boys CGTalk members will not help advertisers bring in new customers, just the same old ones. The CGTalk members will also not see any rapid increase in women joining in as few are interested in the same “Schoolboy Pictures”.

And if these competitions have been attracting a line of dissatisfied people, maybe it isn’t the people who are complaining who need to rethink things. I have had no idea that anyone had ever complained. I have also no vested interest in this competition or any previous CGTalk competitions. I have encountered some of the moderators. They seem very sure of themselves no matter how dodgy their position is. I wonder what happened with all the other moderators who may have disagreed with these vocal moderators?

I would like to stay on CGTalk, but I am very worried that I would be wasting my time. I am not going to paint up Gollum with huge bare breasts any time soon, and if I am rebuffed every time I mention that the subjects could be widened, or that the process the moderators use to promote hard working amateurs (of which I am not) can be improved, I find I have no reason to be here at all.


These people have created artwork for many types of media. What I do not see is any covers of Mills and Boon being done by these guys. I do not see them illustrating books on birds. I do not see any of them animating a commercial or fringe animated 2D film. These people have their roots in blowing up space ships, co designing sci fi clothing, and creating oozing monsters.


I really sympathise with your concerns there, stupidkiwi. The overall theme of this challenge, and also the previous two have been somewhat biased towards a sort of pulp sci-fi in a way.

But then there is the fact that every single artist entering is solely responsible for what he will create, either go mainstream or make your own path. The prospect of actually winning a prize should be of less concern. Of course I can only speak for myself, but my main interest is to improve my personal skills while creating something original that actually adds something to a genre rather than reiterate what’s already been done before. If this means I ruin my chances of getting a prize, I really couldn’t care less. And I’m absolutely not trying to make this into a personal issue, I’m merely using myself as an example here. You can check my entry using the link in my signature, and see if there’s anything remotely geared towards teen appeal in it.

Having said that, yes, there is a risk that the current strain of challenge themes moves it all into a dangerous mainstream area, with lesser artistic expression. But that’s really up to the entrants to decide. They/we make the final images, and by doing so, also the grand total, the perceived interpretation of the theme, which will contain more or less of predictable images. I doubt the outcome can be blamed either on moderators or the particular group of pro judges.

In the end, I’m afraid that any form of “cultural expression”, be it visual arts or music or anything else, will always suffer from the mainstream/schoolboy problem. There is probably nothing that can be done about it, unless you want to hide in smaller and more specialized communities… But the way I see it it’s better to try and make something original and out of the box where as many people as possible can be reached. The alternative is to do it only for those already “on your side” so to speak, and thereby achieve nothing.


A Paleontoligist can be intruiged by ONE specific dinasour and choose to study that species his/her WHOLE LIFE… While still having interest in other species and even be a part time astronomer… and cook.


great work JamesMK! It doesn’t always have to be about the great battle :thumbsup:

I was tossing up in the last five days (thats when I found the link to the challenge) if I should do a hero leaping off a 60 meter statue onto the back of an invading creature while armed only with a knife, or a greiving old man holding the body of his dead aged wife (having only managed to get accross the galaxy to be at her side when she died, the death scene need not be in the thick of battle to show heroism and to make it a legend).


I was a fine artist once, but fortunately was cured. In fact I think I recall complaining about the popularity of images with robots in them at some point. Ah, the idealism of youth. At a miserly old 25 (finally, cheap car insurance!), I’ve moved past all that.

You don’t have to be a serious arteest all the time. I got much better at art (and began enjoying it more) when I stopped taking myself so seriously. I can paint myself from a mirror, an impressionistic landscape, or time-travelling robots swordfighting Fidel Castro on the Moon. None is less valid than the others, except in the eyes of a critic, and the eyes of a critic are often less valid than the eyes of a planarian.

Have you followed the sketch of the day at all? Plenty of diversity in subject matter over there. And if you don’t see it, bring it.

As an aside, you shouldn’t dismiss Syd Mead as an SF illustrator. He has shaped the way the entire world looks, not only with his designs, but by proxy through his countless imitators. He was doing futurism in 1962 that still looks plausible today, and that’s an accomplishment as noteworthy as anything fine artists were doing at the time.


Well, being 40, I wouldn’t dismiss the roots of any of these artists. I spent the first 15+ years of my illustration career doing advertising, T-SHirt designs, Landscapes, Potraits, in nearly all mediums I could get my hands on. For myself I choose SF/F, but because it has vehicles of future or other world creation, or creatures fantastic even simple to behold, makes it no less a tangible art form than anything else. Perhaps the art we create would be considered contemporary in another world, not Sci-Fi at all. Then the artists creating the very works you pine for would be considered fantasy on thier world. Texture, lighting, emotion. Its in all art no matter its form.



I suspect one reason the challenges usually have these types of subject matter is more a pragmatic issue rather than any kind of art philosophy. Looking at the majority of art in the CG world, the administrators simply understand that they’ll get more challenge entries if they cater to the sci-fi/fantasy genres. I’m just as interested as you in CG becoming more of a “real” art form, but these challenges have to face the reality of what the CG world is right now.



I was going to enter before I noticed that moderators (at least as a group) judge artwork on the content not the skill. I have seen pieces that show true flaws in construction of the human form and human face getting four stars.

  1. Moderators don’t assign stars.
  2. We (as a group) judge it based on BOTH content and skill.

I then noticed that any girl centric picture that is moderately good or better gets a high score. I then noticed that almost any horror picture and most overtly fantasy pictures get marked highly also.

So you think there’s a tonne of excellent art of other genres filtered out here? lol Personally I wouldn’t mind more quality submissions with more variety and depth to them.

I originally wondered why some artists tagged the “nudity” flag when their work had no nudity.

Have you also noticed that most who do that are severely limited in their english skills?

Then I noticed the extra traffic all art with the nudity flag were getting.

And when the viewer goes there and finds no nudity, do you really think that helps the image rank higher? Most of the wrong labelling is unintentional, and they get no extra stars for it.
As for the fact that nudity attracts viewers - duh. I’m not a teen, I’m 45, and I have to say as I’m aging I’m growing increasingly tired of that attitude “this isn’t art, it’s teen-boy crap”. What do you think the most common subject was, during the golden age of oil painting? Right - naked human flesh.

Going on the amount of views the frequenters to this board give to the images in the 2D finished artwork section it seems to follow the same line of interest.

So you don’t think Rembrandt would be appreciated if he’d been alive today, and posted his work in this forum? I do. I think we’d all go gaga over it; it’s just rare to see work like that here. And if someone’s doing it somewhere else, please post a link, I love great art.

So I decided not to work on an entry for the space opera because it would almost certainly be judged by the moderators. If not the moderators then by public vote. My style and interests don’t meld with the interests of most on CGTalk. With that in mind I will avoid posting

Funny logic, complain about lack of variation then taking yourself out of the mix.
Please finish the idea with the grieving old man and his wife, even if it’s not for the challenge. It sounds like a good one, I’d like to see it. :slight_smile:


stupidkiwi - I think you are underestimating the people you think you know. It’s condescending to assume people like Ian McCaig, Syd Mead…etc are so narrow-minded that they don’t have interests outside of their immediate jobs/career path. Just about all the professional artists I know, regardless of the industry they work in or the style they work in, studies and admires classical and contemporary fine artists. Many of them worship the old masters, and are huge fans of the current ones. Most commercial artists I know also do fine art pieces in their freetime, and those pesonal works are totally different from their commercial works. Yes, it’s true that many of the cgtalk members are quite young and have younger taste, but I can assure you the moderators are not a bunch of kids, and most of us are all quite knowledgeable about classical art, various styles, and have interests far beyond naked chicks and robots with big guns.


No offence but I think you are judging far too quickly, CGTalk is far from being “Gollum with huge bare breasts” (damn I’d love to see that though :smiley: ) look around I think you may well find that their is a lot more varied work in here than is perhaps at first apparent, and above all if you don’t see it why not bring it, otherwise aren’t you just helping to perpetuate what you are complaining about yourself.
James is completely right with regards to the contest, it is up to the individual artist to decide what he/she produces. OK the theme was a bit mainstream, but if you had read through many of the entries, many people were aware of it and were seeing it as a challenge to come up with something a little less predictable, good I failed miserably in that respect myself and it’s part of what slowed me down towards the end, still I think you are being a bit heavy in your generalisation


don’t worry mate, being the quality of your work (the very same that makes you think of yourself as a better of most people around here) you couldn’t have portraied dramatically neither of the two topics.

now, do we want to start on the technical flaws of YOUR work?

not being mainstream doesn’t mean you are good (children books illustration, acquarello and digital acquarellos wannabe are THE most diffused thing btw, and SF/F for the masses only recently made it out of the ghetto).

eat some humble pie, bugger off and stop wasting your time here, as a consequence you’ll also prevent us from wasting any more with you.


that was brilliant


I couldn’t have said it better myself :slight_smile: Personally I’d love to run a more emotive-angled challenge but let’s face it, it wouldn’t get many entries. The Evocative forum we started here on CGTalk is proof of that.

Having said that though, there is nothing stopping people from creating emotive entries for the current challenges. Just because something has a sci-fi theme, that doesn’t immediately make it imposssible to create an entry with depth.

Also, stupidkiwi, please don’t disregard the industry experience and expertise of the moderation team here on CGTalk.


I was going to enter before I noticed that moderators (at least as a group) judge artwork on the content not the skill. I have seen pieces that show true flaws in construction of the human form and human face getting four stars.

Perfection does not equal Art (doesn’t hurt, though); if you want a perfect image of the human body, go buy a photograph instead.


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