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Glenwood, Western Sydney., NSW
Posts: 1,287
Joined: Sep 2012
[Image: DP8_NAl_O.png]

Hello everypony! In this issue of Great Southern Swag we have another fantastic artist who I have the pleasure of writing about today. She is the artist who produced the fantastic banner for the BAu website, and is an active contributor to the art forums. It is none other than Inkblu.

Inkblu is currently working on an original webcomic, which draws inspiration from My Little Pony amongst other things. Here is a little more about it from her:

Spoiler: Interview with Inkblu on her new comic called, Nerio
[Nova]: When did you get the idea for creating a story in a web comic format?

[Inky]: So the webcomic is actually being done as a school project with very little parameters! I toyed with the idea of a children's storybook (with a different plot and cast entirely, aimed at around 5 year olds which I still might finish), but then realized I didn't want to deal with publishers. So, this is a fun way of getting my work out there, creating something fun, and all the while (hopefully) getting some good grades!

[Nova]: So your web comic takes place in Reef City, an underwater metropolis. Would you please give us a little insight into the atmosphere and ethos of Reef City?

[Inky]: Reef City is the biggest coral reef construction in the known seas, home to a variety of colourful creatures. It's basically the 'New York' of the oceans- very busy and bustling, always something going on. I wanted to create a very alien looking city- so the city is divided into tiers, and instead of spreading out horizontal like land cities, it's more of a big tower with spars that have coral resting on them. A lot of inspiration for the individual buildings was based on a lot of concept art for Zootopia. The city itself has 'levels'- the ones nearer the surface are more expensive, which leads to a lot of the poorer population living in the darker shadows of the Spire... the shadier areas of the city are literally the 'shadier' areas of the city. Wink

[Nova]: The main protagonist is a merperson called Nerio. Could you tell us about Nerio's personality, and how Nerio fits into the world of Reef City?

[Inky]: Here's the bio I have currently for our little protagonist, which will be put up on the website ion the coming weeks:

"Nerio is a child born of two very different cultures. They are very shy, and scared of deep water even though their physiology means they are more comfortable living there. They had a reasonably good childhood, living with their father in Reef City's third tier (meaning their family is middle-class), but were unable to make friends due to their deep-sea physiology. During their Primary Education, they were bullied severely and this permanently damaged their self-esteem issues. They have a healthy relationship with their father Tomas, but are often at odds due to Tomas' insistent nature, even though he only wants the best for his child. Nerio's Secondary Education years were less turbulent: softly spoken, they would calmly do the minimum amount of work while never contributing to the conversation. Nerio is scared of the dark in general, and has no idea how to use their bioluminescent patches... if they even work, that is. "

So Nerio is a character I've always really wanted include in something- the shy and socially awkward forced to rise beyond their low self-esteem for the better. They're very much based on my own life experiences, which helps me to write the character better and hopefully this will make them a much more realistic character to the reader. However, they are in no way a self-insert; there's a difference between basing a character on someone and actually being them, mind you. Wink

The story begins with somewhat of a graduation ceremony for not only Nerio, but their whole class. Each student applies for a job, almost like an apprenticeship for when they leave Secondary Education and venture out into the world. Nerio, whose grades have always been quite average and with no inclinations to any particular field, is unwittingly signed up for every single one. As such, they are forced into a not-so-common job; the job of Guardian. Guardians are expected to take care of any hands-on emergencies that may happen, not so much a cop but more of a rescue worker. Through the first arc we see more of the shenanigans that happen with this job and how this has big repercussions later on.

[Nova]: What can you tell us about other characters? Is Reef City primarily populated by merpeople, or are there other creatures who are friends of Nerio?

[Inky]: The City itself is populated by both merpeople and smaller creatures- it is, primarily, a working reef and as such needs fish and organisms to live it in to survive. Other larger animals, such as whales, live away from the City and visit while passing through in their pods on migration. Sharks still hold a stigma of being ferocious predators, but are accepted into society nonetheless, so long as they do their feeding away from everything else. One of these sharks, Alma, is a old wanderer, Nerio's friend, and a conduit of news from outside the City, feeding Nerio's want for adventure with stories of other reefs and incredible sights.

[Nova]: So there is an imminent threat lurking in the depths after a time of post-war peace. Is it possible that you could tease us by hinting at the villain(s) is behind this?

[Inky]: Well, that would be giving things away, wouldn't it! Happy3
Let's just say, that you should keep your friends close, and your enemies far away from you... very, very far away. I won't say any more because hopefully it will be a big surprise!

[Nova]: Where can our viewers go to find out more about Nerio?

[Inky]: http://neriocomic.tumblr.com/ is where the webcomic will be hosted, as of now it's under construction! Please give me a couple more weeks before pages start to be added.

On behalf of BAU I'd like to thank Inkblu for graciously taking the time to talk about her webcomic, Nerio and for allowing me to feature her artwork. Here are some examples of her pony work:

[Image: caldera_cone_is_a_pone_by_inkblu_d9pm36f.png]
Caldera Cone is a Pone

This is a lovely full body portrait of Inkblu's original character named Caldera Cone, who is a vulcanologist, as one might surmise from her cutie mark. It is a potentially dangerous line of work that, contrary to popular belief, is not actually the study of Spock's species from Star Trek, but rather involves the study of volcanic activity. The use of colour in this work is simultaneously well grounded and explosive, which is relevant to Caldera's area of interest. This is evident in the inclusion of warm reds and oranges resembling lava or magma, working in tandem with earth tones like umbers for the coat with ochre highlights for the earth's crust. In using these colours Inkblu establishes Caldera's relationship and fascination with nature with a synthesis between two seemingly unrelated colour schemes. This may possibly allude to the process of the formation of igneous rocks, where the cooling of hot liquid lava eventually results in the formation of a cold and solid igneous rock.

Even the shape of her manestyle resembles an inverted tongue of flame and her tail slowly and gracefully flows downward, just as lava would slowly seep down the side of a volcano. Not only is the shape of her hair well considered, but the application of colour in her mane and tail is also quite apt. The split between the two colours of the orange and the red could very well reference the layers of the earth, separating the mantle and the outer core. This colouration of Caldera's mane and tail are very similar to diagrams featuring cross-sections of the earth in science textbooks, which may hint that she isn't limited to being a scientist but also a populariser and communicator of science not unlike like Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Caldera's pose resembles an equine variant of the contropostos, which was a pose typically used in Classical Greek sculpture to suggest potential movement and influences under natural forces such as gravity. This suggestion of potential movement in her posing is due to the distribution of weight, as alternating legs are weight-bearing and raised legs respectively. Caldera's lifestyle and line of work is quite active, which is reflected here in her gung-ho body language; and it is also gives of a light, playful mood, particularly in her front left hoof raised to gesture something to the viewer. This engagement with a playful gesture is reinforced by her bright gaze and warm smile, perhaps in greeting, or maybe beckoning the viewer to follow her on a hike up a dormant volcano.

[Image: twibright_bubble_by_inkblu_d9i2ds6.png]
Twibright Bubble

Twibright Bubble is a particularly interesting work, which is another full body portrait. However this time the figure appears to be floating among bubbles, providing this figure a totally different environment and context to the previous work. Twilight's semi-extended limbs don't appear to be bearing any weight at all, and by taking into account the lack of shadows or consistent ground, it explains the effect of suspension. One might think that the bubbles surrounding Twilight would indicate that she is submerged under water, but the hair strands of her mane and tail don't seem to separate under the influence of any water currents, remaining quite neat and tidy.

This is brings to mind the concept of what's called a figure-ground relationship. The word 'figure' in this usage doesn't necessarily mean a human or animal figure, as this term could also include inanimate objects too. So long as the 'figure' is the visually most dominant element in the artwork we are looking at, we may call it the 'figure'. Similarly the word 'ground' in the term figure-ground does not necessarily mean a surface or floor in which the figure stands on (although that sometimes is the case), but rather the 'ground' is meant here as 'foreground' or 'background'. In other words the 'ground' is the pictorial space around the 'figure'. In this work, Inkblu has made good use of the figure-ground relationship in tandem with posing to give the impression of floating.

In terms of technique Twibright Bubble is also different to the first artwork. Caldera Cone is a Pone has a mostly linear approach with some colour blending to seamlessly vary tone through a gradual gradient, however in this work Inkblu has used blobs of homogeneous colour which tie in with the surrounding bubbles nicely. This technique mimics the effect of a screen print or cell-shaded aesthetic to add an element of abstraction. This semi-abstract quality still manages to represent the figure clearly enough, but seeing as Twilight appears to be comprised of smaller coloured shapes with a consistent outline acting as a structural membrane; it gives an other worldly and supernatural feel. Perhaps this suggests that this is some kind of magical event transpiring, but Twilight's cheeky sideward glance seems to reveal that this phenomenon is of her doing.

[Image: her_freckles_are_like_stars_by_inkblu_d9pm3uo.png]
Her Freckles Are Like Stars

I was fortunate enough to attend one of Inkblu's livestreams where I had the pleasure of being able to witness the evolution of this artwork. The sheer speed of how this image was constructed is quite remarkable, especially considering how complex this work is. The numerous blades of grass were almost entirely executed in single brush strokes, with some areas smoothed out through blending; however the illusion of depth in the ground was created by use of tonal layering and transparency settings. This digital painting process actually resembles a hybrid combination of two traditional painting approaches known as alla prima (wet-on-wet) and glazing (transparent layering of wet paint onto an already existing dry layer of paint) respectively.

This artwork of course references the implied fate of Applejack's parents during episode 8 of season 3 in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where on two separate occasions two shooting stars simultaneously fell from the sky.

Spoiler: Scene from Apple Family Reunion: E08 S03.

However the event in the show was so brief and subtle, in addition, Applejack didn't seem to react very strongly to the cosmic event, and it seems that her following expression was more in response to the words of Granny Smith. This symbolism was necessarily subtle considering the fragile nature of some of the younger audiences, but here Inkblu bravely explores Applejack's psyche in Her Freckles are Like Stars. We can see a star in each of Applejack's eyes which again act as symbols of her parents who have passed away; however now we are gazing at Applejack, who in turn is gazing at the sky. The only way we can see those stars in this image is by literally and metaphorically seeing the world through Applejack's eyes. Her eyes act not only as a window to her turbulent soul upon reflection of her parents, but she is also mentally reflecting on her parents just as her mirror-like eyes are reflecting those symbolic shooting stars.

Want to see more work from Inkblu? She posts some of her work right here on BAu in the Artist Gallery subforum in Appleloosa, so check her out. In addition you can watch Inkblu on her Deviant Art or follow her on tumblr. Also don't forget to view her new web comic, Nerio.

Though it pains me, this is the end of this issue of Great Southern Swag. If you know of any underrated Australian Brony artists/ craftspeople or happen to be one yourself, send me a private message and we can arrange to write a future article on your chosen artist!


If you'd like to read reviews on new episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, make your way to the BAu Forums under Ponyville, and find the thread titled: Riku Reviews in the Episode Discussion subforum.
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brsajo, Cameron:D, Clouds in Clouds, DeddStallionTrotting, Deeayen, everypone, ExplodingPonyToast, frequencywavelength, Inkblu, Octavia, Pikachu, Tee Kay like this post


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