Monday art megapost

I drew a lot of stuff last week! Some of it was finished last weekend, but my blog post had already gone up, so I saved it for this week. Here we go:

Gift art for people of their characters. I was practicing poses, so I might as well do something constructive with them.
Selfie! This was probably the most fun one.
Destiny had an Easter event, and it was too much fun to tell the Easter story in Destiny terms.
This was an excuse to draw angst and fight scenes at the same time.

I’m definitely improving! But I feel a gratuitous color pic coming on. Probably some kind of crazy sunset, where I can push color around. Black and white is nice, but … color …

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Step by step – Gunslinger

Here’s the progress on last week’s pic: a gunslinger from Destiny 2.

It took a lot of sketching to get the pose right. Then it was really fun doing the black and white, figuring out how it was going to come together. I wanted to do a lot more art, but this wound up taking all week to do.

Step by step – Flirty (and tutorial)

Only one pic this week, but I worked on it all week. As you can see here, each step took a day. In the case of the shapes stage, two days.

These are me and my husband’s Destiny characters.

I was practicing figure sketches, and I liked this one because it kind of tells a story. So I turned it into a full pic. I also tried doing all the shadows with the pen tool, mostly because of this tutorial:

Practice pic by WinXu Xu on Artstation

See how the black shapes and the gray shapes in the first stage are on separate layers? And he colors on them separately? I wanted to try doing that. I’m afraid my first try was pretty tame, but I want to continue experimenting with this technique.

I’ve also been scribbling out a new fanfic. I noticed that it was getting kind of long, so I checked and realized I’ve written 30k. Pretty much just for fun. I love it when a story has that much pull. So I’m tossing it online, slowly, until I get it finished. Fortunately, the last third is in sight, so it’ll be done in a few more weeks.

A couple of comics and how to kill your art

A friend of mine has been dealing with her son’s suicide last year. She wrote a blog post today about how art is fun, and good for your brain–until you start trying to do it for money. Then you’ve killed your joy. She partially credits this for one of the many reasons her son killed himself. It’s worth a read, if you’re feeling society’s guilt that you’re making art and not selling it.

It’s given me a lot to think about, especially since I’m drifting that direction, myself. Where is the balance between art and business? I’m not sure, so I’ll continue to write fanfics, draw fanart, make zero money, and have all the fun.

Here’s the finished version of that comic from last week:

And then this one, which was based on a true story.

One of our friends went to send out Ghost to do a thing, but he punched a dude instead, which looked like he hit the dude with Ghost. Then Ghost didn’t do the thing. So I made the comic for him. 😀

This past week was a marathon of building IKEA furniture, finding we had the wrong parts, exchanging them for the right parts, and in general having a sea of cardboard boxes and Allen wrenches everywhere. I didn’t draw as much as I wanted to, because I slept through my early morning art time every day. But hopefully, next week will be better!

Art I did this week (or didn’t)

I didn’t do as much art this week, alas. I wound up sleeping through my usual drawing time because sleep.

But here’s one, with a self-explanatory joke:

Once you see it, you can never un-see it.

I’m working on another Destiny comic strip, but I only have one panel done.

It’s kind of super detailed, so it’s taking a while to do. It’ll probably be done by my next update.

In other news, we got a new dresser from IKEA, so I will probably spend the next portion of my life assembling drawers. Yay me!

Dawnblade – step by step

Artwork I did this week–some Destiny fanart, which means two people in armor and fiery wings and swords battling it out.

Pretty!
This is my initial sketch, just working out poses and stuff. Erased and redrew a lot at this stage.
Next, more details. The sketch is more refined, and I drew their armor.

Next comes inking. I’m not super good at this stage, and my tablet is uncooperative. The pros do this stage with the pen tool and vector lines, but I’m usually trying to get this done while the baby is asleep and lack time.
Next, I blocked in their colors and added the shading.
Time for background and special effects, my favorite! The inked lines stand out a bit. I color over those last.
The wings needed more contrast, so I added black to really make them pop. The inked lines got some painting treatment, too.
Last of all, a red gradient set to Liner Dodge to give the figures a nice red glow.

I haven’t done a pic like this in a while, and it was nice. Here’s a comic, too, about what happens when our main tank jumps games from Destiny to Fortnite.

Landscape painting practice

Lately I’ve been trying to improve my neglected art skills. If I drew as much as I wrote, I’d be fantastic by now.

Anyway, the internet is awash in tutorials. People are so generous with their knowledge! So here’s three landscapes I’ve painted lately, with the tutorials I used. You know, in case you’d like to try them, too.

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Landscape with ruins, painted from this tutorial

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Draconic horizons, painted from this tutorial

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Misty forest, painted from this tutorial

I’m trying to do very different color palettes and styles, here. Keeps them different and interesting. Eventually I’ll work up to painting landscapes from real photos. 😀

Choosing a word for the year

I don’t think I ever picked a word for last year. I was looking over my resolutions post from last year, and I seem to remember that it was something like Fun or Moving Forward.

This year, my word is Steadfast. It goes along with this Bible verse:

Hebrews 10: 35-36: Do not, therefore, fling away your [fearless] confidence, for it has a glorious and great reward. For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised. 

This year, I’m going to keep on keeping on.

Last year, I was trying to take my art in new directions, trying out streaming with my husband, trying out new school things for the kids. Over the course of the year, what I discovered is that simplicity works best. When it comes to school, a pile of workbooks and read alouds has been great for us. I’ve found some holes in my kids’ education, and we’ve been fixing those this year. It’s been great to have that focus.

Streaming fell by the wayside when we found out that we don’t have the hours and hours of free time necessary to make streaming work. We’ve just been playing games together for fun. Same effect, less stress.

Books published last year were books 2 and 3 of the Puzzle Box trilogy, and the first book of a paranormal cozy mystery with dragons. I also made the decision to unpublish the Spacetime books and completely redo them from scratch. I was still learning when I wrote them, and they were pretty much an unreadable mess.

I also wrote two book-length fanfics toward the end of the year. I just couldn’t get the stories out of my head, and I was very pleased at the way they turned out. It also showed me that it’s better to write for fun than to try to write for money. I’ve been so money-focused for so long that I lost track of the fun. And my writing wasn’t very fun to read. So this year, I’m going to try to balance my writing with more fun. I want to dare to dream and experiment and write crazy things.

I do have the new first Spacetime book in revisions, as well as the second dragon cozy. I’m looking forward to publishing those in the early part of this year, before summer, probably. After that, I want to take a crack at writing a stand-alone fairytale fantasy. Kind of Sleeping Beauty meets Howl’s Moving Castle. Since it’s barely in the concept stage right now, I have no idea if that will be out this year or next. I’ve observed that fairytale fantasies tend to balloon to massive length their authors didn’t intend.

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Howl’s Moving Castle from the Studio Ghibli film

If you followed my blog last year, you saw all these little discoveries and growing pains. I want to thank you deeply for coming back and reading my strange little scribblings. I now have more blog followers than I’ve ever had before, and I’m excited and humbled to see you all.

I also want to blog more regularly–once a week, if possible. And good pithy topics. It’s hard to be pithy once a week, but it’s a good goal to have. Let’s see if I can’t knock the chupacabra blog post off the #1 spot for the year.

My top blog posts of 2017

As we hit a new year, it’s fun to look back and see what bonkers things people came to my blog to read. As usual, the Google image search sent lots of people here for my chupacabra pictures. But aside from that, here’s what else got hits:

#1. Stuff about the chupacabra, or Texas blue dogs

#2. Shouting into the void

#3. Shut up and take my money – a conversation about book piracy

#4. Marketing (and how nobody knows how to do it)

#5. 14 things I learned from urban fantasy

#6. The real reason that Christians don’t read fantasy

#7. Five worldbuilding tricks I learned from the show GRIMM

#8. Waterfall City vs. Theed, Naboo

#9. 23 books reviewed in a minute

As usual, my clickbait headlines did really well, as did anything with interesting pictures, like the angry post comparing Star Wars episode 1 with James Gurney’s Dinotopia. (I later realized that Disney’s Atlantis ripped off his second book, The World Beneath. But I don’t want to watch that movie again to prove it.)

I’ll do some more posts soon about what I learned in publishing and marketing this year. 2017 was a year of revelations, and it’ll be fun to boil them down.

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Sunrise of Baishi Mountain, from InterfaceLift