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? 🙂

A little figure practice

Haven’t had much time to draw since the baby was born, but here’s the smattering I managed to do during her naps.

Practicing odd poses that I don’t normally tackle. Sitting poses are super hard for me.
Tane and Jayesh from After Atlantis and Vid:ilantes. Jayesh can summon a magic spear but doesn’t know how to use it. Tane is going to train him, probably with spear fishing.
Participated in the #faceyourart meme on social media. You just show off nine faces you’ve drawn recently, so here’s my nicer ones.

Hoping to get my groove back as the baby settles down into a routine.

Book review: Wilding by Isabella Tree

These last few weeks, being miserably pregnant and watching social media turn into a dumpster fire, I needed to take my brain someplace else. No fiction appealed to me–too stressful. So I picked up a non-fiction book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time: Wilding, by Isabella Tree.

I first read about the Knepp Estate Wilding project a few years ago in this article. It was so strange to me, so backward and refreshing, that I just had to know more.

The farm is on the famously heavy clays of the Sussex Weald. It’s no coincidence that Sussex folk have more than 30 dialect words for mud, from clodgy to gubber: this poorly draining “marginal” soil sets like concrete in summer and porridge in winter, and will never provide high yields of crops.

For 17 years, Burrell did what the conventional farming world told him to do: intensify, and diversify. Tree quotes Burrell’s aunt: “We were all brought up to believe we would go to heaven if we made two blades of grass grow where one had grown before.” They invested in better machinery, unleashed the latest pesticides and launched their own brand ice-cream. They almost doubled their wheat yields. It didn’t work. After 15 years of farming, they made a cash surplus in only two. Both Burrell and Tree enjoyed wildlife. “We’d go all over the world looking for nature, never thinking about what we were doing to it here, or how it could be here,” says Tree. In 1999, the ancient oaks on their land were inspected by an expert, Ted Green. He told the couple that their trees were in poor health because of their farming system’s ploughing of roots and the destruction of mycorrhizae, a vast subterranean fungal network that is crucial to plant health. His visit, writes Tree, coming just when they realised their farm business was unequivocally failing, was an epiphany.

Raising cows among the weeds, the Guardian

This is where the book starts–a failing farm on heavy clay that is no longer good for anything. So the couple take inspiration from a rewilding project in Scotland, where you let the land go wild and introduce hardy, grazing animals like deer, cattle, and pigs. It’s important to use old breeds that still have survival instincts and can feed themselves through the winters. That’s where things got interesting.

When they first let the land go fallow, they immediately had three years of weeds coming up, among them the hated Devil’s Thistle. It sends out a huge root system from one plant and covers acres this way. The surrounding farmers gave them crap for it, but the couple held on, hoping that the whole rewilding thing would work itself out. Then came an absolute plague of painted lady butterflies up from Africa.

Painted ladies love Devil’s Thistle. They blanketed the farm and covered the thistles in caterpillars. By winter, the thistles were so decimated that the wild ponies ate them to the ground, and by the next year, there wasn’t a thistle to be found.

The book is filled with story after story like this–where they assumed one thing and found out it was wrong. For instance, (highly endangered) nightingales were assumed to be a woodland bird–until they began nesting in the scrub brush at Knepp in amazing numbers. Same for the (even more endangered) turtle dove. Each chapter is fascinating examination of things that conservationists believe, and how they were wrong.

Ultimately, the book ends on a hopeful note. The world’s farms are producing food enough to feet ten billion people, and that surplus goes to waste every year. Improving the microscopic life in the world’s soils would absorb the excess carbon in the atmosphere within a few short years. By letting rivers return to their floodplains and letting marshes return, the pollution runoff from farms is reduced to nearly nothing. These observations go on and on–what a positive effect it is to let our over-farmed land lie fallow and let the wilderness return.

It’s a deep, refreshing read, quite different from the hysteria on the news right now. It’s encouraging and hopeful, and backed by pages and pages of studies. I kept joking that I was reading a fascinating book about conservation. But it really is fascinating, and also refreshing, like taking your mind on a vacation.

I highly recommend it for anybody who would like to take a stroll around an English farm and watch it slowly turn to wilderness.

A smattering of art

I feel like my artistic energy has dropped very low. I’m nine months pregnant, and I barely have the energy to do anything, let alone sit in a chair and draw. But here’s a few things I’ve managed to draw in the last few weeks.

Wrathion, the Black Prince, from World of Warcraft.

Here’s Wrathion, from World of Warcraft. I’ve been interested in him since he was born in Cataclysm, basically the only uncorrupted Black Dragon. He immediately set about killing all the rest of his corrupted family, including putting out a hit on his dad. He’s only gotten more and more interesting with each expansion. This is his Battle for Azeroth look.

The Titan Gamer

Commission I did a little while back. Tried some different shading techniques on it and I’m pleased with how it came out.

Concept art for a story, guy with broken arms getting a hug.

One of those pics that showed an idea more than being actual good art. :-p

Taking a rest

After going through a really long slump, I drew this over a base, mostly to try out drawing the clothes. They’re kind of Starfleet, and I liked them. I’ve always loved strong diagonals in design.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately … about 1 drawing per week, which isn’t much for the poor blog. Once I have the baby and feel better, I’m going to draw like a crazy woman.

Art showcase: other people’s work

I drew exactly one crappy pic this week, and that’s not enough to make a blog post out of. So, have some other people’s art! Everything is credited as best as I can.

Artist – Andrey Bogachev Russian Painter.
Waning moon by Warwick Fuller
Artist – Gelena Pavlenko Ukrainian Painter.
Artist – Ralph James American Painter.
Artist – Kathleen Dunphy American Painter.
Painting by Dawn E. Whitelaw

All art picked up from Samuel Cherubin’s Facebook account, where he shares art from tons of artists every day.

Book launch: Vid:ilantes book 2 – Bloodbound

I’m so excited to announce that the second Vid:ilantes book is live!

One by oath, one by blood, one by election.

In a world of superheroes, Jayesh has a rare healing power that he uses in the local hospital. When teenagers are admitted with feather-patterns burned into their backs, Jayesh is reluctantly drawn into the underworld of black market magic smuggling.
A chance encounter with Omniscient, the villain in charge of the smugglers, leaves Jayesh with his magic shattered. A portal to the hospital goes wrong and Jayesh is instead sent to an island in another dimension: an island that has awaited its Bloodbound for centuries. In exchange for healing, he is magically bound to the island, and half his magic is turned into a tiny dragon.
Now, with the help of the Islesworn, James Chase, Jayesh must go undercover to recover the mysterious Pandora. But this means facing off with Omniscient, a villain who can bring a person’s fears to life—and who is increasingly ruled by his own power.

Grab it here!


This is one of those stories that was just so much fun to write. Jayesh is the gentle, quiet, introverted type, very much a healer. And he goes and gets himself into very hot water, just because of trying to do the right thing. I wrote it as an escape, mostly, so all the parts where he hangs out on the island Sanctuary, just walking on the beach or resting, were because I wanted to go to a place like that, myself. I hope readers enjoy the visit as much as I did. I’m already messing with a followup because I just can’t leave this universe alone.

The third book in the trilogy will take it full circle and plug everything into the After Atlantis trilogy. Tane might even appear in Bloodbound. Everybody from After Atlantis will meet up with the Vid:ilantes, and things are going to get really crazy.

Progress on Max and Jay pic

Since I have a few nice progress shots of this pic, I thought I’d share them and show how this pic got started.

Max: She’s gone. I just can’t get past it.
Jayesh: You have to move on, man.

This is the finished pic. I really had fun with the smoky bar atmosphere, and I looked at a lot of bar and grill interiors on Google. They all seem to have the earth tones and low lighting in common. (Heck, I wouldn’t mind having lunch in some of those places. Some of them were really cute.)

Anyway, since I couldn’t find reference of the exact poses I wanted, I posed some of the 3D models in Clip Studio Paint.

It’s a painstaking process, getting the limbs and hands and heads and everything positioned just right. But it’s sure a lot faster than combing Google for somebody sitting in kind of the right position, then the arm doesn’t come out right and you can’t quite fix it because you can’t see it and just … argh.

Next comes the sketch:

Here’s the initial sketch, tracing over the models, adding clothes and gear, hair, faces, etc. The models are a nice shortcut, but I have to look up how to draw eyes every single time. Eyes, why are you so hard to draw?

I’m also trying to draw with more expressive hands, since human beings talk with their hands as much as they do their faces. I was pretty proud of the way the hands convey each character’s mood, here.

I guess I skipped taking a screencap of the inking stage, but you can see it here. My inking isn’t that great because I’m too impatient. So I went straight into making a value study. I wanted my characters to be sitting under one of those lights above the bar, with a darker background. Then I had to figure out what that kind of lighting does to the human face, so I had to go find reference for that. This took a lot longer than I expected, but it made the final version go much faster.

Some of the value study, I just painted over with a color set on Overlay and let the study show through. Other parts I repainted entirely because the study was messy. Since I am abysmal at drawing mechanical things like cups and bottles, I just grabbed some off Google and painted them into the scene.

This pic took me most of the week, so that’s all I have to show off. See you next week!

Sketching hands

I sketched a lot this week, rather than really finish much. I’m trying to get better at using hands to emphasize expressions.

Concept art for Vid:ilantes 2. I needed to draw the wyvern, since he’s kind of important, and of course any excuse to draw Jayesh is fine with me. I also wanted to try a Studio Ghibli style for the background. Landscapes in Studio Ghibli films always have

1. Puffy clouds,

2. Deep blue skies

3. Green landscapes with a complementary undercolor,

4. Flowers,

5. Often a picturesque cottage of some kind.

Well, I put in everything but the cottage, but I might try that in a later pic. This was just a speedpaint, and I left a lot of things undefined.

And now, the sketches:

I really tried to convey the sense of the scene with the hands, here. Max is saying, “She’s gone. I just can’t get past it.” And Jayesh is saying, “You have to move on, man.” The hands are instrumental in conveying their expressions, here. I’d like to finish this one up, even if all I do is ink it. Love my Destiny characters. And their hair. So much fun to draw their hair.

My husband has been getting into Warhammer: Age of Sigmar lately (I blame you, Jeff!). He’s teaching the kids to build models with the eventual intent of playing the game, but you need a ton of minis to even play a small battle. Anyway, there’s these creatures called gryph-hounds, which are like griffins, except eagle/grayhound instead of eagle/lion. I have been amused by the mental image of the warrior dudes petting their hounds and going, “Who’s a good boy?” I mean, somebody has to train these beasts and give them treats when they kill people. 😀

And that’s all for this week. It’s been really relaxing to just do quick sketches and not worry so much about finishing things, so I’m hoping to do more of that this week.

Wizards and critters artwork

I tried to make more art this week, but it’s been kind of hit and miss.

Here’s a Destiny warlock with a bearded dragon, kind of keeping with the pets theme from last week, of the guy with the sun conure. I forgot how much I enjoy drawing reptiles.

This pic started out as anatomy practice in a kind of fun pin-up pose. But anatomy is hard and I got frustrated, so I turned her into a Dawnblade. I also found a really cool fire brush in Clip Studio Paint that does perfect fire feathers. More practice is needed.

And then sometimes, you just have to draw dinosaurs. Dinos have always kind of been my comfort subject, so last night was just this fun scribble.