Luxray and Shadow step by step

For some reason, playing Pokemon again made me want to draw Luxray. He’s an electric type that looks a lot like Shadow, only black and blue instead of black and red.


I threw Shadow in there for kicks.


I dropped a purple-to-gray gradient in there. I wanted them to be summoning down lightning. It makes sense for Luxray, but not so much for Shadow. Eh, what the heck, it’ll look cool.


I grabbed my airbrush tool and slathered in some background clouds and rocks. These later got reworked with other brushes and liberal application of Smudge, because airbrush looks like … airbrush.


Now Shads and Luxray get some love. Nice high-contrast shading, because of the whole lightning thing. I actually drew the lightning on a new layer and this point, and turned it on and off to make sure the lighting on the characters made sense. I had to keep brightening the highlights and darkening the shadows.


And here’s the pic with all the special effects. Lightning’s so much fun to draw. Also I made Luxray’s eyes glow, as well as the silly star on his tail. If he has to have a star there, it ought to glow. Period.

Also Shadow’s hand is glowing because of the whole lightning summon thing. Maybe this is actually Chaos Spear in disguise! Except … not yellow. And spear-shaped.


Wheels within wheels

I had the sudden inkling to draw an angel. Since I don’t draw angels very much, this struck me as kind of odd.

Odder still was how I knew exactly how she’d be positioned: with her wings swept out in front of her, and for some reason, her hair in a ponytail. Kind of an informal angel.


But my stylus keep doodling, and before I knew it, she had these giant spike wheel things on her wings. I laughed to myself and recited from Ezekiel 1: “And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.
Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. “

One of those Bible passages that has made people scratch their heads for centuries. Anyway. This diverting post courtesy of Drawing Late At Night.


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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.

Glorious color

I blocked in the colors on my dragon today. Check it out:


I went back through the first Temeraire book and found the nearest location to their training-covert that I could, a town called Inverness-Shire. So I googled it and came up with some really gorgeous photos. I’m using some of those as reference for the background, along with a partly cloudy sky, since it’s the UK. 🙂

Something about the colors and the lighting in this pic really excite me. Maybe it’s the contrasts?

Big ol’ dragon

I got a commission to draw two of the dragons from His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik: Temeraire, the hero dragon, and Maximus, one of his friends.

Seeing as drawing Temeraire is a lot like eating chocolate cake, I decided to draw Maximus first and save Temeraire for dessert.


Here’s a sketch. I might do a few more if my client doesn’t like this one. Here’s Maximus getting harnessed up in preparation for battle. He’s one of the biggest breeds, and is really big even for his breed. Maximus isn’t really described in any detail in the book, aside from being big and red. Fan renditions vary widely, and the sketches at the back of the books are so samey as to be very little help. So I’m going with what makes sense to me. And he’s supposed to be a European dragon, so I’m going with the features that European dragons tend to have.