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On the Sliding Scale Of Cynicism Vs. Idealism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon, Ko-Fi.)


This story is a sequel to Good For Nearly All Princess Labor, Public And Private

Part of getting Equestria used to having the full Diarchy in place is making Luna's presence into a normal aspect of everyday life. And since few things are more everyday than commerce, that means it's finally time to get her visage back onto the nation's currency. All the palace has to do is commission one of the realm's greatest (and most disconnected) artists, and then...

...actually, that was the first mistake.

((Part of the Triptych Continuum, which has its own TVTropes page and FIMFiction group: new members and trope edits welcome. This story can be read on its own: it just happens to take place after the events of the linked piece. No reading or knowledge of that earlier story is required.)

Now with author Patreon and Ko-Fi pages.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 56 )

Speaking of currency, did you know that you can buy Trump coins from Amazon?

I've been tempted.

Oh dear.
I very nearly don't have words.

The Sisters play off well against each other but- Oh poor, poor Blank Canvas.

Sometimes, it is best if the art does not perfectly represent reality.

This time, it's not Luna who causes problems, it's Blank Canvas! WOW!

The princesses should've talked to his family before hiring him? ... Or did they, and it still wasn't enough preparation? ... 'Cause if they did talk, "Falling" would've been mentioned?

And he's alive at the end! I thought he'd be dead, from starvation!

His family is still paid very well for this, I presume? Hopefully they can get Blank Canvas some really good help?

Lol if Blank Canvas ever meets Discord in the... Whatever Discord's made of!

(I blanked.)

:rainbowderp: :rainbowlaugh: :pinkiecrazy: :rofl:

He even saw beauty in her when she was at her worst. The good and the bad all in one. I kind of understand what he wanted to do.

Art does not judge, only the artist does. Art only represents, whether that means dreams, reality, or a blend of both. And there is very little left in Blank that is not Art.

Excellent piece. Glad I could help with the name. Though now you have me wondering whether this Equestria did have to deal with sirens, or if they're just pony tales of lurid doom.

But for all that, he was still Equestria's Greatest Living Artist and so no matter what his siblings did, there were always a few more ponies who just had to speak directly with him. Two of those had recently made a request which it had seemed could not be denied, and the artist had set out via train to cross the continent which he barely recognized to exist. Most of Blank Canvas' family was currently waiting in a state of perpetual tremble to find out exactly what would wind up going wrong.

They made him an offer he couldn't refuse?

You know, that technique would work very well for a coin featuring Twilight or Cadance in their before and after forms. And come to think of it, the Crystal Empire was in need of new coinage after its return; one could feature a coin alternating between Princess/Empress Mi Amore Cadenza and Great & Honorable Spike, the Brave & Glorious.

I don’t think economically minting metal lenticular coins at actual scale and in volume would be so much of problem as protecting the etching from the inevitable scratches and wear, ruining the effect.

I feel kind of bad for Luna. Given the reaction to the first image, I gather it must have been amazing...seeing that level of detail devoted to her worst moments, worst memory even...ouch. But...I have to say, Nightmare Moon, while being evil, was a beautiful design. Luna doesn't want people reminded of that, but it is a part of the whole... I hope they can use his image of Luna that they loved somehow for the coins. And I think they ought to put that "coin" somewhere special. I wish I could tell Luna, "This may have been your darkest time, but this artist thought that even then you were stunningly gorgeous." I would hope it would make her feel a little better.

A fascinating story. I don't suppose you could commission a sketch of the images on the "masterpiece"? Or at least point to a reasonable facsimile of them?

>put the giant coin somewhere special
Right next to the alternate costumes and the T-Rex.

Celestia wandered back through the courtyard, following the scorch marks of the lightning strikes. She found Luna sitting on a patch of grass, watching the oncoming twilight.

"I've thought about possible alternatives to hiring another artist," Celestia said.

"Do tell," Luna gloomily replied.

"As the Minotaurs were inventing photography, their first attempts produced a monochromatic image. Modern newspapers now use a variation of this process to avoid the expense of full colour printing."


"The first images were produced on metal plates treated with luna caustic, silver nitrate in the modern parlance. Almost any engraver should be able to convert such an image to a die suitable to strike coins."

"Silver nitrate photography," Luna replied. "An appealing process to consider. However, let us NOT employ the greatest engraver alive to carve the die. I have a great desire to only deal with ponies that are merely competent. Somepony with a spouse, and hobbies. I look forward to dealing with somepony with a lackadaisical attitude towards their profession."

"I shall scour the nation for the most mediocre photographer and engraver possible," Celestia smirked.

"What image should we choose for the reverse side?"

"Perhaps, after the photograph of your portrait is complete, we could persuade them to also photograph your tail..."

Celestia managed to dodge the lightning strike, but allowed herself to be overpowered by the tackle in a fit of giggles.

Great stuff here. I know some people like Blank. Getting them out of the studio is basically futile but the art is insane.

The final reveal was appropriately epic and sweet. You enjoy your rest man. You definitely earned it.

"Quick, Robin! To the Fruit-batmobile!"

Bravo, Estee! It's not easy to write about visual arts in such a way, describing things just enough to suggest the image to the readers. Along with the masterpiece of Blank Canvas, I think both this story and Blank Canvas are masterpieces of their own.

Magnificent as always Estee.

deleted double post caused by shonky mobile device reception.

Comment posted by Gyro Pony deleted May 26th, 2018
CCC #18 · May 26th, 2018 · · ·

I was half expecting Discord to turn up to critique his own portrayal when it was made. And Blank to completely fail to recognise him without prompting. And then, with prompting, to admit that the draconequus in the flesh in front of him did bear a vague similarity to the one in the picture (vague only because Blank had faithfully reproduced the image from Lurid Tales of Pony Doom...)


Actually, never really thought about it before, but Estee's signature way of describing sort of around what's going on (sort of literatary use of negative space) is really well suited to dealing with that sort of thing.

*tips helmet to Estee once again*

I think she recognized that, once the shock wore off. Hence him having the best dreams ever, not nightmares.

Poor, poor, socially inept Blank Canvas. Equestria's best artist...with no sense of history or empathy.
But I agree with whoever said that the Princesses should find some way to memorialize the first of the two lenticular images.

Good work as usual, Estee, and I agree: this fic all but required your style of prose.

He stared at her. The hues. The ways the stars in that mane moved. The deepness of her eyes.



Nope. In this case, I very directly wanted 'deepness'.

If it's not grammatical, then neither is he.

Hmm, good point...

8948173 Depth is a quantity. Deepness is a quality.

8948274 "Deepness" doesn't sound right. It doesn't even sound like a word.

This is what a story on fimfiction can be. Well done.


"I shall scour the nation for the most mediocre photographer and engraver possible," Celestia smirked.

Mr. Snap Shot was the perfect candidate candidate for a photographer. Happily married to a loving husband of 40 years, Snap Shot was among the first ponies to embrace the new Mazein photography technology as a hobby. His technique was admittedly crude, and his composition a bit amateur and nondescript, but all his work had one salient feature that made him perfect for Celestia's project; all the ponies, griffins, diamond dogs, minotaurs, and hippogrifs were all remarkably at ease and cheerful in his photos. Mr. Snap Shot apparently had a gift to put beings perfectly at ease in front of a lens. Talented without being unhealthily focused, good inter-pony skills, and just plain fun to be around to boot, Celestia hired him in a heartbeat. What could possibly go wrong?

However, like a bout of Mexicotl's Revenge brought about by a spicy bean burrito, inspiration often struck without warning at inopportune times...

Engraved coins were all well and good, but to really capture the subtle nuances of the Princess of the Night, required something larger. Perhaps a double sided tin-type daguerreotype issued as scrip in lieu of a lune coin? Nothing too large, mind; large enough to show Luna in all her radiant splendour, yet compact enough to fit on the frog of one's hoof?

The tin plates could be rather unwieldy in bulk and potentially unsafe (especially if businesses in Canterlot continued to amortize through defenestrated capital), so why not use paper? Paper (or more specifically a proprietary linen/cotton/paper blend specially formulated for the Royal Eschequer) could be neatly folded up to facilitate carrying in ponies' personal pocket dimensions in their manes and tails, and had the added benefit of gently fluttering to the ground instead of sharply plummeting after a Venture Capitalist meeting.

The paper scrip needed to be designed for the rigours of daily use and for the harsh realities of security. Soft, 4-ply weave ensured the silk-screened dyes were properly absorbed, and the chequered quilting pattern made forgeries far more difficult. The paper scrip would be distributed to banks in convenient little rolled-up spools. A series of perforations would help ponies remove individual squares of scrip from the roll.

All currency needed a snappy motto in an old language, so Snap shot solicited the help of his husband to create the old Equish "Bebod Onmédla Gaderung"; "The decrees are the glory of the assembled".

Fortunately Celestia caught Snap Shot before he could present his new "BOG roll portraits" concept to Luna

Amazing, simply amazing

Excellent story. It's too bad what is certainly a beautiful design will never be seen on Equestria's coins.

ROFL he's a Sherlock Holmes of the arts! The same mannerisms and attitudes lol.

I wasn't sure if I should've done a thumbs up or down at this, but either way it made me laugh :rainbowlaugh: :rainbowlaugh:

It is not only singular to art.
The great mind knows no bounds in its imagination. Which means that he's not very suited for working with restrictions - such as final design being practical for minting in this case.
Image being "Luna-friendly", come to think of it, is also a restriction.

So this was basically a story about one of the Continuum’s typical tunnel-visioned plot device antagonists... except it’s from his perspective, so we see that he literally can’t help it and end up feeling really sorry for him. At least he got kind of a happy ending. (That and soon enough he’ll probably be struck with a new flame of inspiration and have little thought to spare for this irregular period of his work.)

Both mares quickly looked around the room. He didn't understand why, and had no way of knowing they were each making the same instinctive check for a small, highly-offended purple form.

Those word really risked to summon tat infuriated spirit :rainbowlaugh:

It is though. You may think of it as of non-latin version of astuteness.

Books contained words. Words weren't Art.

Ha! Try telling that to Twilight Sparkle.

To be fair, he also works surprisingly well as a reader-proxy (or even author-proxy).

How many stories (and images) are there along the lines of the first painting set? How many of us are there that enjoy reading those stories?

How many fascinating and very-AU stories are there along the lines of the second painting set? Those seem pretty popular too.

Stories exploring the theme of the third piece of art were one of the mainstays of this site for quite a while, and for good reason.

Blank canvas represents writers _and_ us as readers, and it fits impressively well (for better or for worse). :rainbowderp:

I reviewed this story as part of Read It Now Reviews #114.

My review can be found here.

As was this. Glad I read them both.

I want to add something is really important, and I am not sure how many clicked to it. (A few have like 8947272)

Luna is quoted as saying, he had captured,

Myself, my very being in metal,

and that this was the very best portrait ever done of her. Even assuming she only live one lifetime before her initial banishment to the moon (Cannon puts it around 110 years, give or take a few years), she has likely been painted many times and to get this kind of reaction means you captured the personality as well as the appearance in art.

The same will be true of the Nightmare side....and thats bad enough....

But their is a message in the art piece, one that for Luna is a horrific one. Luna and Nightmare Moon are not just two sides of the same coin...they are one side of the same coin. Luna is Nightmare Moon, and Nightmare Moon is Luna, and she will, no matter what she does, no matter how much she tries to suppress it, no matter if she is hit by the Elements of Harmony every day for all eternity....

She will never escape this fact. The dark thoughts, the dark mind, the rage and jealousy it is still their. Suppressed by friendship and kindness....but still their. The Nightmare is ready to embrace her when she is at her lowest once more. And arguably, the more she denies it, the more she fights it, the more she claims that she and the Nightmare are different, the quicker she will fall.

Whether this is true or not is up to you....but this is what that art piece is saying, and given the emotions it inspired when it was first revealed, it is likely doing a VERY good job of it. Luna doesn't want to hear that. Its possible she will NEVER be ready to hear that.


Most artsy analysis that I see just comes off as people being wordy for the sake of wordiness.

This was... literal truth. :twilightsmile:

Well said.

8988614 Well, THIS Luna may not want to admit she and the Nightmare are of the same being, but the show's Luna was so bitter and resentful of her own failure she invented the Tantabus to punish herself every night for giving in to the dark whisperings.

8952580 Twilight is gonna banish him to the... place that... is between the Sun and Moon... maybe a Trojan asteroid? :twilightblush:

8947314 I can draw them!

In stick figures... :twilightoops:

I largely agree with this.

Not entirely, as its POSSIBLE, that Luna believed she deserved punishment, regardless of the fact she can't fall again, a form of flagellation. That she was punishing every dark thought, every possible iota of potential 'sin' that could be linked to Nightmare Moon, regardless of if it actually did or not.

And given her old time view of the world, its quite possible she would believe this is appropriate.

BUT, given she is the mistress of dreams, the cannon version probably has an exceptional good understanding of her own psyche, and thus the nature of her personality and her flaws.

It would still hurt to have those flaws shown the light of day by an artist unless you are 100% comfortable with them, which Luna certainly isn't.

Edit: I now have a mental picture of Luna asking why Celestia isn't undergoing self-flagellation anymore for her Gluttony, and offering to preform the service for her, not in any way understanding that flagellation is now considered a sexual thing, more then a punishment thing.

9007994 Well, if the canon version was really that introspective and sensible in her own self-analysis... would she have become NMM in the first place?

Luna has rather a major self-contradiction in her character construction, which like many other world-building issues the show has not addressed very well... or at all in some cases!

I really want to see his masterpieces. Because i bet every one he did was a masterpiece.

"Ponies all over Equestria," Blank Canvas told them, "still wonder just why she was smiling."


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