Tag Archives: Corel-Draw-8

How to build an alien

There’s been a lot going on in my life the last few weeks so I needed a creative outlet that I could pick up and put down as needed. For me, the natural fit was to work on the iVokh using Corel Draw 8. In this post, I’ll do a quick reveal of how I built an iVokh hand.

First I had to find some reference pictures. I was lucky enough to find a nice one showing the skeletal structure of a raptor ‘hand’ as compared to a human hand:


Next, I vectored each bone of each finger…and tried to get the lighting more or less right using Corel’s gradient colour function:

The hand’s not perfect, but it is in a pose closer to what I wanted, plus the finished bones do give me a second layer of references. More importantly, each bone gives me an outline that can be used like a cookie cutter [the gradient fill is inside the outline]:

Now, I can use the vector outline to cut out textures for the ‘skin’. The following images are a kind of timeline of the process of skinning the bones:

Working from left to right we have:

  1. the vectored finger,
  2. the outline of each individual bone,
  3. the bones broken apart,
  4. the outline of the bones,
  5. the texture cut out by each outline,
  6. the finished finger

The finished ‘finger’ on the far right shows a simplistic view of the skin ‘tunnel’ in which the claws hide until they are protracted – i.e. pushed out. I took the reference from a picture I found showing a close-up of the skin around a cat’s claws.


Now, I suppose some of you are wondering why I didn’t just draw a whole finger, or better yet, a whole hand?

The reason is that I’m not that good at freehand drawing. I’m more draftsperson than artist. So while I might be able to fudge a hand once, I would not be able to redraw that hand in different poses. By creating the basic building blocks of the hand, however, I can use Corel to create different poses using more or less the same building blocks. [To get the perspective right, I’ll have to adjust the nodes on at least some of the ‘bones’, but that’s the easy part].

Is this the best way to build an alien?

Sadly, the answer is no. The vectoring isn’t that hard but finding the correct snippet of texture with just the right colour and light effect is very hard.

The best way to build an alien from scratch would be to create a 3D model using a super dooper graphics package like Maya. Unfortunately, Maya is also super dooper expensive and takes about 2 years of study to learn properly. So I’m making do with what I have, and what I know. I think I’ve done pretty well so far, for an amateur. 😉

Okay, no comments again, but as always, my thanks to all of you for being my sounding board[s].




I’ve been obsessing over this image for days now. Still a way to go, but for the first time this evening, it feels as if it’s finally coming together. 🙂

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Vokhtan calendar – complete

This is the final version of the Vokhtan calendar. It shows the interactions between the two suns and the planet with respect to seasons [roughly] and the day/night cycle [also roughly].

For the days, I made an executive decision and decreed that the Vokhtan day would comprise 24 ‘turns’. I chose the number 24 because I needed to dissect a circle into ‘wedges’ of time. Now, a circle has 365 degrees and a ‘wedge’ of 15.2 degrees goes into 365 almost exactly 24 times. This is something Corel Draw does very easily:

Now, when I place these wedges of time over the visuals of the planet, I get a kind of clock that tells me how many turns of bright light, red light, orange light and dark there are in the day at different times of the year:

Bright light = yellow sun Takh alone in the sky.

Red light = red dwarf, Takhti, alone in the sky.

Orange light = both suns in the sky at the same time.

Dark = truedark, i.e. when neither sun is in the sky.

This is a representation of a day in the middle of Piihoh. The red dwarf is completely eclipsed, so Vokhtah has just a simple, day/night cycle:

This next graphic is from the middle of Tohoh:

The day begins with almost 2 turns of Takh [yellow star] alone in the sky [because the planet rotates to the east]. Then Takhti rises and creates an orangey kind of light. When Takh sets, Takhti is alone in the sky for a couple of turns and it’s like a red twilight. When Takhti finally sets, truedark begins.

This next graphic is what the Vokh see in the middle of Kohoh – half red twilight, half bright yellow day, no truedark:

And finally, the graphic from the middle of Tuhoh. This is a mirror image of the same time during Tohoh but…this time, it’s the red dwarf that ‘rises’ first [because the planet rotates to the east]. It’s alone in the sky for a couple of turns and the inhabitants experience a red, gloomy morning. Then Takh [yellow sun] rises to brighten the gloom. At the end of the day, Takh shines alone. When Takh sets, truedark begins:

So there you have it. Time on Vokhtah has been tamed. Most days start with firstlight, progress to secondlight, peak at midlight, dim with firstdark and end with truedark. Middark is the halfway point of any dark cycle, while deepdark is the ‘dead of night’ and corresponds to the time between middark and firstlight.

Was all this work worth it, given that it was all based on guesswork?

Yes, for me, because I’ve never been good at ‘fudging’ things, and I desperately needed to know what Takh and Takhti might feel like, to a creature living on the planet.

Why didn’t I just get an astronomer to help me?

Because I don’t know any, and none of the websites I visited had what I was looking for. So I made my own. 🙂

As this post is more for my benefit than yours, I’ve turned comments off. 🙂



Binary star systems

Since starting to write the Suns of Vokhtah series again, I’ve tripped up on some unexpected hurdles, one of which is the effect the binary star system has on the day/night and seasonal changes as experienced on the planet.

I thought I’d worked it all out over five years ago, and I do have graphics to prove it, but as I looked at those graphics I realised that I couldn’t remember the thinking behind them:

Was it actually right? I no longer knew. And it niggled so much I knew I had to go back and reinvent the wheel. So these are the earliest of the new graphics:

Creating the day/night cycle in Corel Draw 8 stage 1:

As you can see, the planet obits the G2 [yellow] star in an elliptical orbit which makes EVERYTHING so much harder. The lines connecting the centre of the star to the centre of the planet are always at right angles to simulate the orientation of the planet to its star. Assuming the star and planet exist on a flat plane, I think that’s right, from the point of view of geometry. Seems logical, but I know very little about actual astronomy.

Anyway, the big yellow star is Takh and the small red one is its binary companion, Takhti.

Next step in Corel was to group the positions of the planet, and flip a copy of them horizontally. A bit of realignment was necessary to get it looking like this:

And finally, I filled in the gaps at the top and bottom:

I haven’t modelled the effect of the dwarf red star yet, so it’s hard to see the significance of the example at the very bottom, but mid-Piihoh is the time in the planetary cycle when the dwarf red sun is completely eclipsed by the G2 star.

The example at the very top is mid-Kohoh. This is when the planet experiences virtually no dark – i.e. night time. Again, this will become more obvious once I complete the red dwarf overlays. Of course, working /that/ out requires some hefty mental shifts on my part because the planet rotates in an easterly direction around its own axis, but revolves around the G2 sun in an anti-clockwise direction…

Nevermind, I sort of know what I’m doing, but it still gives me brain-ache.











New cover, image 1

The second KDP how-to is almost ready to go. This one is for a tiny marketplace of those who want to publish memoirs and other graphic heavy non-fiction books. Soooo…I’ve been playing with images. 😀

I found the original image on freeimages.com and it looked like this:

It was a great beginning but I wanted the image to tell the story of the book. So I added some images that are unique to my writing.

Anyway, I had fun. Oh! And the very first IngramSpark print book arrived today! I have to say that the quality is excellent, and I’m now ready to get all my books printed in Australia. More on that in a future post.

It’s been a good day, and I hope yours was enjoyable too. 🙂



p.s. no comments as this is just a little post.

I’m going to hit that deadline…yes!

I have until July 31 to submit ‘How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ to IngramSpark. Missing that deadline means having to pay $53 AUD for the setup fee, not something Scrouge McFlory wants to do, no, no, no…

Yesterday, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it coz the Word index was playing up. If any of you have used the Word index function, you’ll know that it creates a Continuous section break all by itself. That’s normal, but yesterday Word added a Next Page break just before the index. No, it wasn’t me. Anyway, headers and page numbers suddenly went crazy and the more I tried to fix things the worse it all became.

To cut a long story short, I bit the bullet this morning and stripped out all the section breaks, saved under a new filename [just because i was paranoid], redid all the breaks, headers and page numbers and…voila! It works.

To celebrate, I jumped on Corel and began playing with some images I’d downloaded from freeimages.com. These are what I started with:

I wanted to indicate visually that the book referred to KDP but wasn’t an ebook. As sometimes happens, the answer was ridiculously simple. This is just the visual image I came up with:

Now I just have to fiddle with the title and backcover stuff and it’ll be done.






Happy Meeks

Corel Draw X6

I drive a 1988 Toyota Corolla because I refuse to throw anything away while it still works. Or perhaps it’s because I’m a keeper, and I do love that car.  Anyway, given my penchant for hoarding, you can imagine how happy [sic] I was at having to buy the latest version of Corel Draw.

For those of you who have never heard of Corel Draw, it was once the graphics program of choice. Then Photoshop happened, and Corel fell from favour. It’s still around though, so there must still be a core of Corel tragics like me out there.

corel draw 8I have been using Corel Draw for about 20 years, and the version I had to farewell today was Corel Draw 8 [released in 1998]. And before any of you do the math, that does make it 15 years old.

In the computer world, 15 years is like centuries for people, and if I were a real graphic artist, I would have had to upgrade a long time ago. But you see, I’m just a hobbyist – I like to make stuff for my own use, like the graphic of the Vintage Egg, or my maps of Vokhtah – so version 8 was all I needed.

Unfortunately, Corel Draw 8 doesn’t work properly with Windows 7. It will let me resize graphics, and export them, but I can’t save my work. Or, as I discovered today, I can’t even do that if I try anything a bit more fancy.

I knew I’d have to upgrade eventually, but I’ve been dragging my feet because of the expense, and the fact that I have better things to do than re-learn an application I know like the back of my hand.

Sadly, my procrastination cost me over two hours of work today, so I went outside, kicked a few weeds, came back inside and found a reasonably priced upgrade on Ebay.com.au.

I’m still not happy, but I got a good deal on Ebay so I’m feeling a little better.That may all  change when I install Corel X6 and discover I don’t have a clue how to use it, but such is life. Expect a rant later on in the week.

Until then, I hope you’ve all had/will have a pleasant Sunday.:)



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