Monday, 3 October 2022

Halloween Horror Auction -- Various Horror/Dark Fantasy A3 Prints/Posters

Here's a new range of items available in the Halloween Horror Auction throughout this month. A master page listing all items as they're added can be found here https://gsdwelfare.blogspot.com/p/halloween-horror-auction.html

Various Horror/Dark Fantasy A3 Prints/Posters

Technically not an auction, but you can satisfy that retail therapy urge and buy one or more right now! https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/364002142966

 

Start setting the mood for a Horrifying Halloween with these prints from original artwork created by the amazingly talented Luciana Nedelea - discover more of her art here:


I will be donating a few original pieces by her from my personal collection - not these ones - I'd want serious money to consider parting with them. Especially The Space Inbetween piece. That started life as a book cover for a Milton/Lovecraft crossover that still hasn't come together yet, There are lots of lovely details and the Paradise Lost influence is evident so I'll post an article with more detail on my Paradise Lost blog soon.

However, it did find a new purpose and became the design for my back piece as you can see below:

 

Treat yourself or someone you know to one of these darkly wonderful art prints. They're exclusively licensed so not available anywhere else.


  

Sunday, 2 October 2022

History of Christchurch Website Launched

I'm pleased to announce that a project I've meant to put together since moving into the village is finally live. The History of Christchurch website assembles the documented history of the village into a single online resource (although it may well become a book at some stage). Although it's now live, it's far from complete, and it's too much for me alone.

I've found the process fascinating and there's a wealth of information still to be uncovered and added. If you have historical knowledge or material that can be added then get in touch.

Help is also needed in preparing materials and text for the site. Looking at the longer term I'd like to expand the site to record more than just the village's documented history, but also to capture the living history of our residents past, present and future.

I'm also asking local businesses to help fund the costs of operating the site. Don't worry it's only £10 per calendar year to include an advert for your business on the website. More details can be found on the local businesses page.

I hope you find the site interesting and feel free to use the contact us form to send me any feedback, I hope you'll get involved :-)


Saturday, 1 October 2022

Two Days Left to Enter Your Calendar Photos

 


We've received a flurry of entries over the past couple of days, but there are still two more days to get your entries in for the GSD Welfare Fund's 2023 Calendar. Whether it's your favourite photo or matching one of the monthly themes, they need to be submitted along with your £3 entry fee before Monday 3rd October. Full details can be found here:

https://gsdwelfare.blogspot.com/2022/09/2023-calendar-comp.html

Please, Follow, Like and Share this post to keep informed and encourage as many entries as possible!


Friday, 30 September 2022

Illustrated Drabbles - A Marriage Made in...

A Marriage Made In...

Hell. You know the place. Lakes of burning sulphur. Torture pits resonant with the wailing of the damned. Not the place you'd expect to fall in love. But I did.

Our eyes met across the inferno. It was love at first sight or first scream at least. At first, the demons didn't approve and tried to smother our love with fire and brimstone.

We endured and in the end, they came round.

Lucifer himself even officiated at our wedding. Love, honour and obey - two of those concepts are welcome here.

But until death do us part could be a problem.

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Birth Pains of a Shared Consciousness

 Content Warning: Hippy Overthinking Incoming... 

Just some almost random musings really, but don't say I didn't warn you as I frantically try and type this before the 'too little sleep crust' clears from my eyes...


I recall as a youth reading about shamanistic rituals and their ability to project elsewhere onto the Astral Plane. A shared space that could be accessed by the power of the mind and with knowledge, talent and mastery could communicate with anyone as they slumbered. Those that knew the secret could access the library whether white, black or indeed of none, or all colours at once. Legend teased that all human knowledge - past, present or future could be found within its abstract walls.

There would have to be sacrificesthough. And much time spent learning, before embarking on a spiritual quest to access these mystical tools. A price more than coin always had to be paid. Even then the reality would be shrouded in myth and obscured by symbols so that the truth of it didn't consume the seeker. 

Simple primitive and restrictive nonsense that the clever monkeys trapped between their Heaven and Hell in a miraculous, yet crushingly mundane world could not bear. Some attribute the jump start in genetics to a lucky hand dealt, others to an omnipotent design, and still others to the code itself adapting and surviving to develop a crude tool. A cruel and brutal analogue of nature from which it spawned. A tool of technology outstripping that of patient adaptation and understanding. No balance, just progress.

And so that what was once considered a path reserved for the gifted ones, those lost to insanity, the outcasts and the visionaries are laid open. Exposed to all in its virginal vulnerability, available to (almost) everyone without consideration of merit or accountability 

Primate fists smash their keyboards, hooting and howling their dreams and fears. Then automatically translated by machine slaves into digital shrieking of political, spiritual and emotional dissonance reverberating through the shared blend of the world and virtuality. Technology is the great leveller, the gun defeats the sword, the enabler of the lowest common denominator. The barely understood impulse, lurking in the shadows of the mind snatched into reality with no effort, and so little time for consideration. No pause for knowing that just because they could...

Or is it all just an interesting story for a Midjourney prompt 😎

Outro...


Ooo a music video seems like a fun idea :-)

Saturday, 17 September 2022

A Midjourney Through the Seasons

You have American horror author Heather Miller and my youngest sister in part as the inspiration for my latest Midjourney exploration. Heather because of she posted some seasonal quotes, and Christine for a similar post regarding the seasons. My favourite quote for the seasons is a rather poetical one from a song called Mythistory by a band called Sabbat.

Corn is the gold that will shine in the summertime
Leaves are the emeralds you find in the spring
At autumn they turn and as copper they burn,
then they fall like the diamonds that bleak winter brings.

I posted many seasons ago about this song and you can read more here

https://thecultofme.blogspot.com/2013/02/my-favourite-song-lyrics-mythistory.html

I need little excuse to to share this quote, but is also seemed a nice idea to run the quotes through Midjourney. Naturally it didn't go as simply as that although I did try to keep to the original lines as closely as the possible to the original lines as much as possible  for the individual images. This worked fine, except for winter as it didn't seem to recognise that it was a winter scene. Overall though I used iteration through regeneration rather than crafting the prompts and I'm pleased with the final result.


Apart from adding the text I resisted any modifications to the images. It was tempting to playe with some form of transition between the images though :-)

 


Sunday, 11 September 2022

Paradise Lost - AI Illustrated Edition

 

Exciting times! My Paradise Lost - AI Illustrated Edition has officially commenced with the Front Matter scans and transcriptions from the 1794 edition on which the text will be based on.


And it has a cover!

https://paradiselostaiedition.blogspot.com/2022/09/paradise-lost-ai-illustrated-edition_11.html

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Ancient Rome Under Assault


Today's Midjourney prompt inspiration is courtesy of Modiphius and their successfully advertised me something that I didn't realise I wanted - Call of Cthulhu in Ancient Rome (well technically it's Achtung Cthulhu in Ancient Rome, but you get the idea) - find out more here -  https://www.modiphius.net/pages/cohors-cthulhu


I'm going to have to revisit this idea in the future. I managed a few nice mood pieces, but some up-close scenes eluded me this time.




Tuesday, 6 September 2022

A (Mid)Journey to a Self Portrait

A self portrait challenge seems to be doing the rounds and I decided that would be a good learning. As well as refining my skill at writing prompts, I thought it would be fun to follow the flow of generated images. But before we look at the Midjourney creations here's a few photos of the target (me).


For the start of the challenge I decided not to use image prompts and see how close I could get with text prompts only. I've included the prompts with each image.

And we start with an immediate spelling fail on the very first image, and likeness wise, not a good start at all with some very strange faces.

50 year old man with a medium cropped beard and long hair::
Blue eyes:: A noise broken many times.

Fixed my atrocious spelling for the second run. I kinda liked V3 as while he didn't look anything like me, I recognised him from somewhere.

50 year old man with a medium cropped dark blond beard and long
slightly curly hair:: Tired blue eyes:: A nose broken many times.

I added some more elements, but rather than bring the faces closer to what I wanted - it made things even stranger. Eventually I realised that using the hard breaks fragmented the instructions and so giving them their own focus and slightly abstracted from the main face construct.

portrait of a 50 year old man with a medium cropped dark blond beard and long slightly curly dark blonde hair:: Tired blue eyes:: A nose broken many times.:: Fat almost jolly cheeks :: Bushy blonde eyebrows

I doubled down on trying to describe elements of my face in isolation and created even more weirdness, although I had started to realise that the language I used didn't always have the expected results. I did appreciate the appearance of the slug across the bridge of my nose.

portrait of a 50 year old man with a medium cropped dark blond beard and long slightly curly dark blonde hair above a smooth broew:: Tired blue eyes:: A nose broken many times.:: Fat cheeks with deep lines from the nose  to the mouth :: Bushy blonde eyebrows :: A smile, but still straight lips

Inspiration struck me - if I added the term 'realistic' on the end, then that would surely fix the oddities. It didn't.

portrait of a 50 year old man with a medium cropped dark blond beard and long slightly curly dark blonde hair above a smooth broew:: Tired blue eyes:: A nose broken many times.:: Fat cheeks creased down and either  side of the nose  to the mouth :: Bushy blonde eyebrows :: A smile, but still straight lips:: Realistic

So maybe it wasn't the prompt, but a setting, so I added a stylise value. This clutching at straws didn't help either. And I still hadn't spotted the spelling mistake introduced two generations ago.

portrait of a 50 year old man with a medium cropped dark blond beard and long slightly curly dark blonde hair above a smooth broew:: Tired blue eyes:: A nose broken many times.:: Fat cheeks creased down and either  side of the nose  to the mouth :: Bushy blonde eyebrows :: A smile, but still straight lips:: Realistic --s 1000

Back to tweaking the prompt, again with little success.

portrait of a 50 year old man with a medium cropped dark blond beard and long slightly curly dark blonde hair above a smooth brow:: Tired blue eyes:: A nose broken many times.:: cheeks creased down and either  side of the nose  to the mouth :: Bushy blonde eyebrows :: A slight, subtle smile :: Moustache just covers the top lip:: In a photorealistic style --s 1000

A change in strategy resulted in some progress. Rather than trying to describe my face, I started simpler and with the archetype of a Heavy Metal fan. While the result wasn't a good likeness, it did look more human. I also picked a less suitable aspect ratio, because why not. And introduced a new spelling error,

a heavy metal fan with dirty blong long hair and trimmed beard, a broken nose, heavily built:: Mugshot --ar 3:2 --uplight --s 1200
Next was further refinement of the prompt, and at this point I can see things heading in a useful direction - hope blossomed in my heart :-)

a heavy metal fan with wavy dirty blonde long hair and trimmed beard, a broken nose the bends to the left, stocky built, slight smile:: Mugshot --ar 3:2 --uplight --s 1200

More prompt and stylise tweaks - it's not looking much more like me, but at least I'm getting some interesting faces now.

a heavy metal fan with wavy dirty blonde long hair and full trimmed beard, a nose that's been broken many times, clear blue eyes with a slight squint, stocky built, slight smile:: Mugshot --ar 3:2 --uplight --s 1000

Naturally I then returned to my earlier mistake of layering on detail, but probably worse was separating it with hard breaks. Some investigation later on revealed that clauses within hard breaks don't necessarily get applied to the subject of the previous section. So I successfully created a quartet of sullen and jaundiced heroin addicts, on the positive side I picked a better aspect ratio, and added new spelling errors while doing so.

a heavy metal fan with wavy dirty blonde long hair and full trimmed blond beard with touches of grey and gihnger beard, a nose that's been broken many times, clear blue eyes with a slight squint, stocky built, slight smile:: Tired lookig, with slight shadows under the eyes:: Mugshot --ar 2:3 --uplight --s 1000

The heroin addicts cleaned their act up a bit with the next iteration and I fixed one of the typos.

a heavy metal fan with wavy dirty blonde long hair and full trimmed blond beard with touches of grey and gihnger beard, a nose that's been broken many times, clear blue eyes with a slight squint, stocky built, slight smile:: Tired looking, with light shadows under his eyes:: A tall brow, with a ridge just above the bushy blonde eyebrows that are well seperated from each other Mugshot --ar 2:3 --uplight --s 1000

I still hadn't learned to spell 'ginger' or spot the other typo. With that in mind it seemed quite natural that trying to add some cheek definition resulted in a band of weirdos with stretched necks and the worst neckbeards in the history of humanity.

a heavy metal fan with wavy dirty blonde long hair and full trimmed blond beard with touches of grey and gihnger beard, a nose that's been broken many times, clear blue eyes with a slight squint, stocky built, slight smile:: Tired looking, with light shadows under his eyes:: A tall brow, with a ridge just above the bushy blonde eyebrows that are well seperated from each other:: Roundish face, with slightly prominent cheekbones:: Mugshot --ar 2:3 --uplight --s 1000

I think I must have entered some form of delirium at this stage. I fixed errors, added mew ones to keep the cosmic balance in order, and upped the stylise option. New and even weirder abominations of the flesh  were spawned including another of the ultra long neck critters who had to be humanely destroyed for the good of us all.

a heavy metal fan with wavy dirty blonde long hair in a centered partition framing his face, and full blond beard covering cheeks and chinwith touches of grey and gihnger beard, a nose that's been broken many times, clear blue eyes with a slight squint:: Tired looking, with light shadows under his eyes:: A tall brow, with a ridge just above the bushy blonde eyebrows that are well seperated from each other:: Roundish face, with slightly prominent cheekbones, and a tight smile:: Heavily built with broad shoulders:: Mugshot --ar 2:3 --uplight --s 1500

Dropping the styliser value back down stabilised the freakishness of the new brood, and one or two of them may have passed as human in the gloomy twilight before electricity.

a heavy metal fan with slightly curly dirty blonde long hair in a centered partition framing his face, and full blond beard covering cheeks and chin with touches of grey and gihnger beard, a nose that's been broken many times, clear blue eyes with a slight squint:: Tired looking, with light shadows under his eyes:: A flat brow, with a ridge just above the bushy blonde eyebrows that are well seperated from each other:: Roundish face, with slightly prominent cheekbones and soft cheeks, and a hint ofd a  smile:: Heavily built with broad shoulders:: Mugshot --ar 2:3 --uplight --s 1000

The replication errors that had persisted for several generations were finally identified and removed. A rewrite of the descriptive code was initiated in the hope that we'd finally see something that could be allowed to survive to see its first dawn. Alas the structural problems remained and fresh horrors had to be reduced to ash lest they breed.

a heavy metal fan, a centered partition framing his face with dark long blonde curly hair, full faced long blond beard  with touches of grey and ginger, a broken nose, blue eyes with a slight squint:: Tired looking, with light shadows under his eyes:: A flat brow, with a ridge just above the wide  seperated bushy blonde eyebrows:: Fat oval face,  prominent cheekbones and soft cheeks:: a hint of a  smile:: Heavily built with broad shoulders:: Mugshot --ar 2:3 --uplight --s 900

For too many generations now we had abandoned hope, and seemed destined to only spawn monstrosities for the rest of our days. We heeded a puritan's calls for the simplicity of the old days, and we witnessed a miracle! 

Only one was deemed a risk to the fragile psyche of our species, and it's gurgled cries soon faded into memory. One was allowed to live, although its line never prospered. Another sacrificed its uniqueness for the possibility of further improved base prompts. And the last was simply magnificent.

a heavily built heavy metal fan with long dirty blonde hair and a scruffy beard

The experiment in variety raised slight evolutions, each potentially viable towards the ultimate goal, but the sheer wonder of the last of the previous generation captivated us. This rugged divinity enthralled our purpose and as its obedient servants we sought to lock its code into the final patterns. And we felt the call of his rugged divinity.

a heavily built heavy metal fan with long dirty blonde hair and a scruffy beard - Upscaled by @TechnoHippy 

For the true believers, our quest ended there. Sadly not all of us were pure in spirit and purpose. Those heretics contested that this wasn't a true and complete likeness. That it wasn't a truly reflective self portrait, oblivious to the arguments it was how others might see him, or even represent more a self portrait of what could, or might have been. And so while the majority celebrated the success of their quest, others continued.

Some found the aspect with the angelic voice.

https://s.mj.run/A00BJovqZQc a heavily built heavy metal fan with long dirty blonde hair and a scruffy beard --test --creative --upbeta - Upscaled (Beta)

Others resorted to forbidden technologies and used an already captured likeness as a prompt of picture, and not words.


The last of the heretics conceived of one final blasphemy - an unholy blending of the real and aspirational, and perhaps that revealed the final aspect. One hidden from the world, but visible all along.


Not a completely successful experiment in the end, but a worthwhile journey nonetheless a couple of valuable lessons were learned and some fraction more understanding gained, and most of all - a lot of fun was had 😎   


Nephew Kian's Endurance Charity Challenge


Sister Christine Brookes and my nephew Kian are generously fundraising For GSD welfare Fund, and to help pay for Brodie's surgery that has worked wonders to improve his quality of life. Young Kian has his work cut out for him with his endurance challenge so good luck ti him, and I hope everyone will be generous with their donations to show how we appreciate his support!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kiansendurancechallenge

Saturday, 3 September 2022

 


As part of our fundraising to keep the German Shepherd Dog Welfare Fund rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming vulnerable German Shepherds we are hosting a Halloween Horror Auction throughout the month of October, and of course including All Hallows Eve.

We're asking for items that we can auction - we've received an amazing response so far with original art, signed books, novelties and signed prints.There's an eclectic range from the spookily lighthearted all the way to stomach wrenching terror.

To let us know if you're donating something for the auction, please complete the short form via the link below, and thank you all for your amazing generosity!

https://gsdwelfare.blogspot.com/2022/09/calling-all-creators-of-horror.html


Tuesday, 30 August 2022

A Wise Shepherd

As the legendary Bob Ross would say, this was a happy accident :-) My journey with Midjourney is on  a bumpy patch at the moment. It can create some truly amazing pictures, and I can prompt something suitable as a general illustration, but I'm finding trying to construct a scene with detailed specifics challenging.

And sometimes it just throws up something unexpected like this lone German Shepherd sat in a hazy poppy field. I have no idea why he's wearing a shirt. It's the expression and the eyes that captivated me - this dog has seen things. Things far beyond our merely human comprehension.

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Illustrated Drabbles - Face in the Mirror

 Face in the Mirror

I stare at my face in the mirror and I can’t be sure that it’s really me. My eyes are hunted and bruised from nights of disturbed sleep. A dread has stalked my dreams, twisting them into nightmares that linger even in dawn’s embrace.

In the mirror I glimpse a malformed shadow lurking behind me, its touch is cold upon my skin and fills me with terror. My will fails and I fall into the mirror, my final scream frozen in glass.

I gaze at my reflection and admire my new face, I think I’ll wear it for a while.


My old drabbles are providing a useful target for my experiments with Midjouney - an AI tool for generating images based upon image and text prompts. There's an art in its own right to creating the prompts - one that I haven't mastered yet, although I have managed some interesting pictures.

For this one I tried a simple experiment - what would the results be if I fed it just the drabble? I wasn't allowed to modify the prompt, all I could do is create variations based on what it generated. To be clear, it's not the optimal approach, mostly because of how it parses the text. It doesn't read the story, and draw all of the elements together. The most obvious example is the classic twist in the tail in the last line. If planning the illustration I would have wanted to capture the moment before the final transformation, but somehow convey its inevitability.

To be fair though I didn't provide direction (if needed) to it as I would a human artist, or if I was using the prompts to guide towards my design. That wasn't the purpose of the experiment, and I have to say that I was impressed by the variety and how well it captured some of the key concepts. It seemed obvious to me that it should be able to do so in a relatively literal fashion, and to an extent it did do so. However it did focus on different aspects and so created some variety, or even concepts that I wouldn't have necessarily thought of myself.

In the end the variation settled into a few suitable concepts and over many iterations I chose the above image. It wasn't the most faithful interpretation, but the facial expression, and slight disjointed appearance to the face, as if it didn't fit correctly sold it to me.

There were other close runners, which I've included below. Which one would you have picked?
           


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