The Traug Project

deemarie · April 25, 2005 9:09 am

Message2228707.jpg An Idea Gives Birth Have you ever heard of the One-Day Shelf? It's the place in your mind where you store all those little bits and pieces that either don't quite make sense, or can't be used yet, but will one day. The Traug Project arose out of a number of items from the one-day shelf. Two short stories originally sketched out as possible TV series for puppets; the desire to create an illustrated poem that told a story; the desire to start some sort of collaborative fundraising project we could all join in with; a chance conversation with my son Jack and daughter Charlotte while out on a walk one day, and a school art project. A few years back, while walking along the English North Devon Coast, Charlotte, Jack and I were lamenting the shortage of fun PlayStation platform games. We wanted more games like Oddworld. So I asked them what they would do if they could design one. They came up with a hero called Mushroom Bill, a sort of fungus secret agent. We had some fun kicking the idea around and then forgot it. Months later Charlotte came home from school, grinning like a Cheshire cat, and said, Guess what my art project is? Design a video game character! She set to making some sketches of Mushroom Bill. Later that evening she came with a question about how the shadows would fall on a rounded shape like a mushroom. Rather than try giving a lecture, I opened a copy of Truspace3 (a cover disk freebie - bless them) and drew half a mushroom outline, lathed it and did a couple of quick renders to show her. When she'd gone, I moved the mouse to close the program but found that I had a group of polygons selected from the cap of the mushroom by accident. This caused the group to extrude out, and suddenly looked for-all-the-world like a nose. I was hooked! Half an hour later, Widget was staring out at me.
Message2228723.jpg Yoro [Maria Jahn]
It sounds corny, but everything fell into place. My original Traugs (from the short story) had been basically gnomes with big noses to give them a proud, quixotic look, but I was never happy with them. Since the story outline was about Darkness hiding Light, it make perfect sense that they should be mushrooms, which grow in the dark.
Excerpts from chapter one of The Shield of Erebus 2005 Peejay Alaxander A Winters Night Warm and rich the earth is still beneath this icy shell Thus her charges, root and paw, dig deep To sleep within the spell that makes a lie of seeming death. Colder than the deepening frost The talons of the loathsome host of Iglot wait as patient as a snare For one small Traug, alone and lost Who sniffing danger in the air Shakes and sighs with freezing breath What quest, what noble deed could drive our timid mushroom knight To brave the evenings glacial bite And face this legion filled with spite, malice, lust and greed? What need could be so strong That one who should so long ago be tucked up safe in bed Is now in fearful jeopardy before the Mowlip infantry The thistle soldiers evil throng This army fey and dread? To learn the answer to this rhyme Dear reader, travel back in time, across the sea, to warmer climes There deep within a quiet wood where ancient beech and chestnut stand Eternal palaces of grace, Go past your doubts, past things that should Travel to an unknown land, dare to tread beyond Put your hope in things that could, and come into a magic place; A clearing and a moonlit pond.
The second story with the professor and his talking books (the soldiers of Iglot, and the Whale Frog), somehow just decided they wanted to be included, and I had the theme for my poem. I knew it would be much richer and stronger if different artists worked on it. There was no way I could afford to pay them but if we did it as a charity-collaboration, none of us would get paid (so it would be fair for everyone), and we'd get the chance to help other people. And we'd get a chance to show what we could do. Too good to be true!
Message2228689.jpg sbleci [Carlo Traversi]
Excerpts from chapter six of The Shield of Erebus 2005 Peejay Alaxander The falls give way to a deep cold river, which Nestor claims will deliver them To Tanglehorn, if they wish to follow it. The three knights choose to turn about, away from the sunken riverbed, Use the Whale Frog to rout the Mowlip scum above their heads, And liberate the slaves. With Nestor, they reason they cant lose. Since they freed him they consider this a quite fair contribution For they need him to obey if theyre to have their retribution. Widget and Filo wont co-operate, theyve been convinced The survival of the Traugs is more important than their vengeance. Wingnut resents the growing brawl, since Filo wont relent at all, Bort stands over by the wall, snorting his impatience.
Of all the wonderful people who have helped and encouraged me so far, special thanks has to be given to Sharen Custer, from SAMS3D. When the project was initially setup, the project downloads were to be available on another artist's site, who was a Renderosity member at the time (that fell through when her ISP was no longer available).
Message2228695.jpg Message2228701.jpg orbital [Joe Vinton] ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ pjero [Pierre Rondelez]
So, I put the model of the Traugs up on a free-pay site. The response was so great that the site crashed and was withdrawn within 12 hours due to the volume of downloads. At that point Sharen immediately put the Traugs up on her site (and suffered a huge hit to her bandwidth allowance), to give me time to get another site set up. She then followed that up with a wonderful set of textures, based on Traveller's mushroom textures from RDNA, for the Traugs and the Traug house. So, thank you Sharen, you're a star, and thank you Traveller for your Texture bases [used with permission], from his RDNA Mushroomz package. Message2228697.jpgWhy LEPRA? [LEPRA is a world wide charity fighting Leprosy, AIDS and Tuberculosis] First, if I was going to ask artists from all over the world to join in (isn't the Internet wonderful!), then it should be a truly International cause that benefited everyone. Second, rejection is something I have always understood, for various reasons often struggled with, and absolutely hate. Leprosy (and now AIDS) have always been the symbol of that rejection. A double curse; a horrible illness which causes the body to betray itself, and a cause for utter rejection and prejudice from the very people whose help is needed most. I had recently viewed a TV report on Leprosy in South America, which showed a 12-year-old orphan girl, already partially crippled by the disease, who was the sole carrier for her six-year-old brother heartbreaking. AIDS well the same really, I hardly need to spell that out, we all know the situation particularly in Africa. TB is the least publicized threat. Richer nations have consigned it to history. But it is a renewing and growing threat to us all. Third self-interest. As mentioned I have a son and a daughter. How do I protect them, how do we all protect our loved ones from hideous diseases like these? The answer, is destroy the diseases! It isn't even charity to fight these enemies, it's just common sense. If they don't exist, they can't hurt us, or the people we love. It can be done. Smallpox has been eradicated. Other diseases can be defeated too. Finally these diseases, and the suffering they cause, are an abomination because they should not be a threat at all. They are so utterly preventable (and in the case of Leprosy - so easily and cheaply treatable). There are many tribulations we have no control over. These three we can defeat! We have the ability, the resources and the knowledge to beat them. it is utterly insane if we do not. It really isn't a question of morality or even faith. Politics doesn't come into it. It's just humanity and common sense. Artists from Renderosity and 3DCommune have submitted wonderful contributions. It is now time to turn those contributions into a commercially viable book. The task is to find a publisher, or publishers, who are willing to distribute this book in as many countries as possible, and to donate as large a share of the profits as they can afford (accepting that they have to make a living as well) to the work of LEPRA.
Message2228699.jpg Upper right-hand image and above image peejay [Phil Saunders]
That's the hard bit. So the call now is for anyone who has experience or contacts in the publishing world to step up. Maybe you couldn't contribute an image or a model. Maybe your talent is in business, promotion, or even law. Well the project needs you just as much as it needs artists. I know that between us we can do this. Our combined talent and experience is awesome lets do something with it.
Special Note: Supporting images within this article are samples of the work submitted to The Traug Project ... all the submissions to this project are valued and appreciated equally.
Excerpts from The Shield of Erebus and all supporting images are copyright and cannot be reproduced, copied, or printed without written permission from the artist.

Message2228691.jpgThe Traug Project, is a labor of love, with all contributors to the project donating their time and talent [in exchange for a publishing credit and a personal self-promotional bio within the book], with the hopes of finding a publisher who would be willing to donate a substantial portion of the profits to LEPRA [a world wide charity fighting Leprosy, AIDS and Tuberculosis]. To learn more about the project, please visit The Traug Project web site. April 25, 2005

Article Comments

ysvry ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 25 April 2005

great project well done pj and the rest.

Murdok ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 26 April 2005

Very Impressive - it would be nice to see some animation that could be included as a DVD on the inside of the back cover. A very rich word and idea indeed.

Sixaxis ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 26 April 2005

Fascinating! What a journey! Best wishes to all involved.

Lupin3 ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 26 April 2005

Very cool art and wordwork! Reminds me of how I felt when I played Twinsen's Oddysey years ago - more about character and storytelling than about the ole "twitch fest." Good work!

rockets ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 27 April 2005

What a great background story this is and my hat's off to you for having an idea and following through with it! I loved the Traug's when you first offered them as freebies. They're such adorable little characters.

islandgirldesigns ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 27 April 2005

This was very interesting! I really do hope all goes well with this book project as I have in mind a book as well for my daughter's disorder, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, otherwise known as Brittle Bone Disease. It's not well known, and I'd like to get the word out while also trying to raise money for research. I think what you're doing is wonderful and I commend you on putting this together. I will be watching to see how it goes! GOOD LUCK! :)

olitoth ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 27 April 2005

I really love your world and your characters ! Well done !

spetzarv ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 28 April 2005

Fantastic project with superb illustrations!. If this was in print i'd buy it, well done to all involved.

Glasko ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 28 April 2005

Yeah I love this work, really clever stuff. To be honest, I think Pixar would benefit from such a concept :)

KarenJ ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 29 April 2005

Wonderful project and great article!

deemarie ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 29 April 2005

The artwork is amazing, as well as the story, and of course the generosity of all the artists who put so much time, talent, and heart into this project :] Dee-Marie

SAMS3D ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 29 April 2005

This is wonderful and my little part was an honor. Thank you for joy we received from this project.

keweljewels ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 02 May 2005

Wow this is awesome..wonderful what you are all doing...and the kernel starte from your child. I think pixar are disney would be at your doors if they saw this.

pinktwister ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 03 May 2005

What a wonderful, heartfelt project. The best of luck to you, your project, and all the amazing, generous artists involved. I agree that Pixar would probably love this project.

pinktwister ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 03 May 2005

What about contacting Brian Froud at his website, he may just have the connections needed for Pixar or other publishers. Maybe someone already has, but if not, it may be an opening. :)

crusade36 ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 04 May 2005

Love it all!!!

mike1234 ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 05 May 2005

they are so creative.

Myako ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 06 May 2005

Wonderful Idea,I wish you the best for this project, this is so creative and lovely!

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