Figure practice makes for hot bods

A friend gave me George Bridgman’s Constructive Anatomy, so I’ve added that to my study alongside Andrew Loomis’s Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth. Now I really feel like I’m taking an extremely challenging art class. Here’s what I’ve done this week:

I left the construction lines in the sketch, so you can see all the detail. I did my yuppie armor treatment (all black figure, three values in basic shapes for the armor, a few details here and there) and it turned out looking great.

This was when I started working on Bridgman’s book. He builds figures a bit differently than Loomis, concentrating on the masses. Lots of twisting figures, so I tried to draw some. Then I tried to figure what in the heck a real person would be doing to get into some of these poses. Looking over their shoulders, obviously.

Jayesh and Tane from Vid:ilantes

I figured I’d draw a scene from what I was writing this morning, so here are Jayesh and Tane. Tane is a really huge guy, and Jayesh is average, so there’s quite a disparity in their sizes. My grasp of anatomy isn’t great, but I’m working on it. Wish I could say I only had one problem area, but at this point, everything is a problem area. More practice needed!

Artwork: Dresses and guns

It’s been a few weeks since I did an art post, so here’s what I’ve done lately:

Fall fashions

A hastily-painted character in a sweater and scarf, just to show off some possible fall fashions.

Max and Zero sketch
Max and Zero, colored
My hubby’s character from Phantasy Star Online 2. He had this cool dress on her and I was like, dude, can I draw that?
Jadyn and Marcus. They hate each other except when they don’t. They belong to a friend on my Discord server.
Sorrel and Max

This last one took me two days to get the perspective working. You don’t want to know how many layers of discarded sketches this file has. I’ve been trying not to use my 3D reference models, but in this case I had to cave in and use them. Argh. I’d like to color this one eventually.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Different styles and angles and experiments. I love drawing other people’s characters for the challenge it offers. If you have a character you’d like a sketch of, let me know. I always need more fodder.

“Whump” … you have to earn it

The other night, I was up late with the baby and idly scrolling through Pinterest. Pinterest shows me all kinds of weird, random things, and for some reason, it started showing me Whump prompts.

Whump is a splinter-genre that mostly hangs out in fanfiction. It’s the story of a character who is injured in some way, but conceals it from their friends until they collapse (the “whump” is them hitting the floor). Here are some sample prompts:

So, basically, it’s teasing out the scenes in books when a character is hurt, and then wallowing in just that scene via fanfic. Probably some fetish thing.

Anyway, as a professional author, I wanted to point out both the weakness of Whump, and how it make it stronger:

You have to earn it.

If the reader doesn’t care about this character, why should they care when they’re injured?

This works well in fanfic, because the original writers have already done all the work worldbulding, establishing the characters and their arcs, relationships, etc. Readers come to the fanfic with all that background already in their heads, and thus enjoy a story about their favorite character in peril.

But what if the fanfic writer did a little more work? What if they wrote a character arc and a story with actual stakes? That way, when the character is injured, readers have even more reason to care.

What about original stories? You have to work even harder so the worldbuilding and character arcs make sense. If you’re writing any kind of adventure story, the characters taking an injury is one example of conflict and raising the stakes. “If we don’t get medical help, he’ll be dead in eight hours!”

Readers love caring about characters. Make them care about the character first–make them funny, or annoying, or agreeable, or hateable–anything you please. And then put them through hard things to see them react and watch them grow. Readers love stakes and conflict. It’s what makes a good story. Whump is only a small, small part of it. So if you want to write something like whump, make sure you’ve done the work to earn it. You’ll have your readers screaming in anguish. And the screams of readers are a feast for the author. 😀

Last week’s sketches a few days late

“Wait a minute, I think I can figure this out ….”

I kind of missed doing a blog on Friday because the days are kind of blurring together. Also I don’t feel like I had much to show. I’ve been studying Andrew Loomis’s art instruction books and basically learning the basics from scratch.

James Chase face practice

I’m just doing a lot of studies and things like this, concepting characters while trying to apply what I’m learning.

Jayesh face practice

I feel like the more I study and practice, the worse I get.

Figure studies

Anyway, I’m basically putting myself through a very tough art class while juggling babies and older kids starting school. It’s nice to exercise my brain. 😀

Changing art styles

This past week, I decided that I really need to learn the Disney style of faces. So I started studying and practicing. It’s a deceptively simple style that absolutely demands a solid anatomy grounding. People who diss cartooning as “not art” have obviously never tried it.

Kari and Jayesh, Destiny versions

The expressions in the Disney style are the most immediate change. It’s very expressive and fun to look at. It’s also an attractive style that a lot of people like. But it’s not easy!

Expressions practice

I feel like the longer I practice, the worse I get. But I won’t feel comfortable with this style until I’ve sunk a couple of hundred hours into it.

T-rex panting in the heat

Random t-rex I painted in 20 minutes. I was thinking of the way reptiles pant, and wanted to draw a dinosaur panting, too. Giving a t-rex a funny forked tongue amused me unduly.

Jayesh petting Mist the griffin.

Mist gazed at him, her ears flicking backward, then forward. “All right,” she said after a moment. “I won’t interfere with the Bloodbound. But first, pet me.”

Jayesh stroked her feathery head, scratched the roots of her ears, and the back of her neck. Mist made a purring sound and closed her eyes. Jayesh had always wanted to bury his hands in the mottled gray feathers, but he’d never dared before.

“The touch of the Bloodbound brings blessing,” Mist crooned in her throat. “Grant me your healing touch.”

“Are you hurt?” Jayesh asked in surprise.

Her nearest brown eye opened and focused on him. “No.”

“Oh, so you just want to feel my healing magic. I see how it is.” Jayesh summoned his magic and stroked her with healing warmth in his fingertips. It gave him a sense of her bones and muscles, the vibrant life within her. “You’re very healthy. How old are you?”

“I’ve been here since Atlantis fell,” Mist replied, eyes closed.

Jayesh couldn’t hold back a grin. “So … you’re three hundred years old. No wonder you’re turning gray.”

The eye on the side of her head nearest him opened slowly, the third eyelid sliding aside. “I was born gray. Are you making fun of me?”

“Of course not,” Jayesh said hastily. “I’m just used to talking to the wyvern on my island. He’s kind of a jerk.”

“Oh, him.” Mist closed her eyes and rolled her head against his hands. “Yes, he is a jerk. Also, he is old. Tell him I said so.”


It’s fun to draw these silly little scenes. This is from the work in progress version of Mercurion, third book of the Vid:ilantes trilogy.

Lots and lots of sketches

I feel like my brain is backlogged with all this art I’ve wanted to do and couldn’t. So, every chance I got all week, I drew something. Here’s the results:

Jayesh and Cirrus face off.

This was me trying for more dynamic positioning. Jayesh and Cirrus, from Vid:ilantes and After Atlantis, respectively, are facing off.

Fire and ice wizard

I wanted to draw something with a lot of really bright colors. So here is Destiny Jayesh, keeping the ice at arm’s length and the fire close to his heart.

More Destiny characters

I’m trying to draw a bunch of poses I haven’t tried before. I have a huge pose library in Clip Studio Paint, and I’ve only used a fraction of them. This pic came out all right, but not as dynamic as I’d hoped. Ah well.

Drawn for a friend on my Discord. She wanted her character dressed up as a Titan with a pet warbeast. Somebody remarked that warbeasts aren’t cute. I said, “Sad eyebrows make everything cute!”

Kari and Jayesh, Destiny versions

I’ve wanted to draw these two with the gun Lumina for a while (in the story, they built it together). But it’s hard to draw a romantic-looking pic and have guns in it. But I’m going to … wait for it … take a shot at it.

Ba-dum tish

Now I really should work on commissions and stuff. 😀

A little art for Friday

I kind of swing from writing, to drawing, and back. The last week has been all about writing, so I haven’t done much art. Also the baby doesn’t think she should ever be out of my lap, heh.

Waiting for help

Finished up this pic. I wound up compositing in a lot of photos for textures because I didn’t have time to paint everything.

Cal Kestis from Jedi Fallen Order with a bogling pet. Boglings are just Eevees.

I highly enjoyed Jedi: Fallen Order, so I had to do some fanart for it. It’s a throwback to the original Star Wars movies and does characters and friendship the way Star Wars is supposed to be. I’ll probably play it every year like rewatching a movie. The way I do Portal 2 and Bioshock Infinite. 😀

Quick sketch of Robin Stephanos from my After Atlantis and Vid:ilantes books

I’m trying to draw more concept art for my original characters. It really helps to have visuals. I’ve done the heroes, but I haven’t done the villains and supporting cast. Trying to rectify that. Robin is a bounty hunter who sides with whoever can pay the most money, preferably in jewels. She first appears in Guardian’s Awakening, which technically takes place slightly after Islesworn. She’s in Islesworn, too. Heck, she shows up in just about all of them because she’s always harassing the heroes. She’s kind of fun and utterly amoral. 😀

Why don’t publishers hire ghostwriters for the books they want written?

It’s summertime, and writer’s conferences are in full swing across all my social media. My writing groups are full of people writing proposals and summaries, trying to catch the eye of various publishers or agents. It’s a busy time full of hopes and dreams.

I’m sitting in my corner, doing revisions on my own work, and watching this go on. I’m watching my friends get rejected, watching publishers with really weird requirements. And a question has arisen in my mind that I’d love to ask publishers:

Why do you accept submissions at all when you already know what kind of books you want? Why don’t the publishers write proposals and summaries, and hire writers to write those books?

Publishers don’t want authors who write random books. They want particular books: romance, mystery, or whatever. They want particular formulas in those books. They want particular writing styles. Authors who don’t fit those requirements get rejected, no matter how good their book is.

So … why don’t publishers just hire ghostwriters? Any writer worth their salt can write according to somebody else’s rules. Heaven knows that enough authors have to rewrite their books according to what an editor or agent thinks will sell. Why not go all the way and just write a book from scratch that the publisher has ordered? Authors of licensed fiction do it all the time for Star Trek and other properties.

I think my author friends could avoid a lot of heartache by self-publishing their books and picking up ghostwriting gigs from publishers. I mean, there are indies like Bella Forest who are just a pen name for a jillion ghost writers churning out series books. It’s a thing. I just don’t know why publishers continue to use the old model in the modern era. It’s nonsensical.

Rough art: Star Wars and Destiny

As is our usual habit after I’ve had a baby, my hubby plays story-heavy games while I watch. We enjoy them together like a movie. This time, he’s been playing through Jedi: Fallen Order. And I remember what a Star Wars junkie I was back in the day. Although I liked the movies (original trilogy only, heh), my bag was always the games. And I mean the old games, like Dark Forces, X-wing, and Jedi Knight. The new movies haven’t interested me as much, and the games, while interesting, were usually inaccessibly placed on console only (like Force Unleashed). I think that’s why Destiny grabbed me, because it’s a lot like Star Wars.

Anyway, arts:

Cal Kestis from Jedi: Fallen Order

Painted the above in an hour while the baby was asleep. Didn’t get the values bright enough, but it’s not bad for an hour.

Destiny art stuffs

Thinking about adventures my characters might have in the next expansion, which is on Europa. Which is an icy wasteland. Which means my characters get to wear fur! All the fluffs!

Sitting poses are the hardest for me to draw, so both these are sitting poses. It’s good practice.

Launch of Vid:ilantes novella: Waygate

I’m excited to announce that a new Vid:ilantes novella is available!

A novella that takes place a few months after Bloodbound. Kari and Jayesh send emails back and forth, slowly becoming friends. But Jayesh is dealing with a mysterious super, a knight in armor who can destroy supers with a touch. At the same time, Kari is watching a creepy house where the inhabitants are building an Atlantean waygate–technology that has been lost for three centuries. Can Kari and Jayesh trust each other enough to work together, or will the knight and his magitech destroy them both?

Available on most retailers here

I didn’t mean for there to be a novella in this trilogy, but after Bloodbound, the characters needed some space to breathe. It also introduces the Big Bads of the final book, so it’s important to read. I guess it’s not really a trilogy anymore? 🙂