alex and holly 12-10-09 032

Now that winter is next week, it’s finally really fall-like here in SoCal. Here’s a nice leaf with an interesting shadow pattern behind it. What’re these trees called? Liquid amber? Whatever those ones with all the spikeballs are.

I have some ideas of stuff to draw, but I’m kind of tired from churning out those last two commissions, so I’m letting that part of my brain rest for now. Photography is so much easier. You point, shoot, and post. You don’t spend hours and hours figuring out the color of the light and where the shadows fall, and how that affects texture, and how much texture to actually put in. Somebody needs to make a Dragon Scale brush for Photoshop.



I know this isn’t art-related, but it’s creative, so I’m gonna talk about it anyway.

I’ve been working on Spacetime Legacy, a joint writing project with my husband. So far there’s four chapters up, and you can read them here. We’ve only been tossing around these characters and concepts for, what, five years now? Maybe longer. And we’ve written this first story three times, at least, and never quite got it how we wanted it each time. So I decided to sit down and write a final version that we could call finished.

I’ve been using my evening art time to cram in some writing, so my art production has dropped a bit. Actually, I’ve hit a wall called “this is getting boring”. I hate it when stories hit that point. Usually when things look boring, I kidnap a character or blow something up just to enliven things.

I sat last night and brainstormed backstory and other story directions. I needed to figure stuff out about the main character’s unfriendly rival. (He has two. The friendly rival and the unfriendly rival.) Used to be when I needed to figure stuff out, I’d just stop writing for a day or two and think about it. But these days, I have so much else on my plate that there’s no room for characters to sit in my head and talk about stuff. (I love it when they talk about stuff. They come up with the best plot twists that way.)

Hence: brainstorming!

…I might still kidnap a character or blow something up, though.

I like drawing men


I have just discovered this. Women, meh … but oh gosh, drawing men is fun!

…nevermind that this is Arthas. And he’s, you know, the Lich King and stuff. His face is very harshly defined, and that’s just tons of fun to draw.

They’ve finally patched in the dungeons to let you fight Arthas in Warcraft, and I was watching that opening cinematic again. And killing Arthas has its own quandary, because somebody has to take the Lich King’s place, just like in the third Pirates of the Caribbean. It’d be awesome if the player got to be the next Lich King and command the armies of the undead, but that would break the game, so it’ll be one of the main characters in the storyline. Maybe Bolvar. He took on Onyxia single-handedly (or her minions, anyway), so hey, he’s good material for it.


I conferred with my client, and we figured that since she needs these pics for a school project about European vs. Chinese dragons, a simple side view would suffice.

I went and looked real hard at Chinese dragons, like this one.


They’re long, snakey things. Temeraire is specifically described as having a frill under his chin and behind his head, like a mane. Chinese dragons have that, and it’s sort of like a lion’s, I guess.

So I churned out this sketch.


Kind of a long, snakey dragon with a mane and whiskers. And big wings, because the books make a point of telling you that he has 6 fingers in his wings. My client liked the sketch, so I started refining it.

Then I noticed something about the wings. They look just like the sails on a Chinese junk. Observe:

CHINESE JUNK side view

Count the poles in the mast. Six! Well, seven if you count the top one. Temeraire is a Chinese Junk! … dragon. Yeah.

Anyway, I started roughing in the colors, and here’s what it looks like so far:


I really want to make his ruff run all the way down his neck and under his belly, but alas, that’s not how Temeraire looks. I’m shading him all smooth-like before I add on his scales.

Second dragon pic, meh

I’ve been trying to sketch up a good pic of Temeraire, but I haven’t come up with a look that I really like yet. Here’s what I’ve come up with:


As you can see, it’s kind of stiff. I hate formal compositions. And Temeraire’s pose is just … meh. I should really just go with what’s in my mind’s eye, but then it would be a pic of Lawrence with Temeraire in the background, and that’s not what my client requested.

I do like the idea of having a pagoda and Lien, the antagonist dragon of the series, in the background. She’s white, and it’s funny to have the good guy be a black dragon while the bad guy is a white dragon. Kind of messes with the archtypes.

But anyway, yeah, I have some ideas, but I just don’t like the way Temeraire’s coming.

Just about finished

Today I tackled the detail work. Lately I’ve gotten into the bad habit of skipping the detail step altogether, and it really shows. But, because this is a commission and I generally work harder for other people, I spent a long time on the details.

First I painted in the scales on a new layer. (Click the pic to enlarge.)


It was a lot like stippling or pointillism, one of my favorite (if time-consuming) pen and ink techniques.

Once I had my layer all finished, I set it to Lock Transparency (which means that your paintbrush now only hits the spots on the layer that already had color) and tweaked the shading. I got a nice iridescent look in some places, too.


Then I added all kinds of detail that you can’t see in a pic this small, like the guys on the dragon’s back and the stuff in his belly-net.

I’m happy with it. We shall see how the client likes it.