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Steampunk success at the Valparaiso library

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Community News

Published on July 18, 2012 with No Comments

Steampunk is a movement in fashion and literature that’s been building for several years now. Ever since it became a distinct genre this unique style that blends the traditional Victorian science fiction with modern storytelling style, Steampunk has been gathering fans left and right.

Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words as local artist Bill Halliard showed at the Steampunk Character Art Workshop at the Valparaiso Public Library on Friday, June 22.

The event was well attended, with a crowd of 20-plus eager and curious artistic hopefuls watching Halliard’s sketches evolve, showing them step by step how he created two unusual but classic examples of Steampunk characters.

The first was a robotic brain in a jar, the second an adventuress boasting a clockwork appendage, goggles and a heavily modified parasol.

“It’s harder than I thought,” Halliard remarked during the session, referring to the difference between drawing straight on, and drawing at angles so that the piece and the movements involved may be seen.

In addition to the strokes of the pencil, the interested and aspiring artists (many of whom showed a surprising aptitude and talent) also saw one of the key elements of character design: questions. Halliard took pains to show that, while you can draw a character and make them look interesting, you have to know why it is they look a certain way. That knowledge gives you an insight similar to Sherlock Holmes, telling you little things about who your characters are, where they come from and what they’re like in the context of their worlds and stories.

“I like to ask questions while I draw,” Halliard said, remarking on some of the intricate details he had put onto the chassis of his robot. “Why is there a little glass nipple on top of the jar? Because it was hand-blown, and that’s the left over from where the pipe was broken off.”


Bill Halliard showing every pencil stroke for his Steampunk cyborg character: a brain in a jar that can still solve Victorian England’s most nefarious crimes.

The class lasted for roughly an hour and twenty minutes, with the students able to ask Halliard any questions they had about his profession, his style or the pieces that they’d been working on.

All of the paper and pencils were provided by the library, and there was a display of popular Steampunk books and props for those looking to learn more about this genre.

At the end of the class, everyone left with a smile on their faces, and Halliard announced tentative plans to return next year for another art class. That would make the third, including last year’s class on comic book artwork.

Halliard, whose resume includes previous artistic experience as varied as creating graphics for digital slot machines and working as an artist for comic book company Dark Horse, is currently working on a graphic novel project of his own. Details, and more information about the artist, can be found on his website www.roughbeasts.com.

For more information on the Porter County Public Library System’s upcoming events and activities, visit www.pcpls.lib.in.us.


The Steampunk Character Creation Workshop was well attended, with every hand in the house holding a pencil.

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About Neal F. Litherland

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal: neal@thechroniclenwi.com.

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