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.

Art showcase: Three Griffin Moon


Three Gryfon Moon, lineart by Rachel Meenan, color by me!

The griffins are from the Song of the Summer King books, which feature a griffin cast in a lovely high-fantasy story, kind of like Lion King, only better.

Book 3, A Shard of Sun, is about to come out, and Rachel and I got to read an ARC. It was so good, we enthusiastically collaborated on this pic.

(If you can’t tell, it’s based on the Three Wolf Moon shirt.)


Pony and griffin, and other art

I’m trying to get back into my art mojo, and the first pic I’ve finished in a long while has been for Jess Owen’s griffin contest. The contest stipulates that since the griffin island is more or less Iceland, you can only use creatures that are found on Iceland. I wanted to try to draw one of the pretty little Icelandic ponies. And a griffin.


Click to enlarge

For a pic done while coming out of an art hiatus and being very rusty, I’m satisfied with it. I might go back and tinker with it, though. I wanted it to be a little more sparkly.

I’m also messing about with this sequential art story idea thing. Not sure what it is, because it’s not a comic or a graphic novel. It’s just a series of pics with an ongoing story in the description. Kind of like a concept album, like Pink Floyd or the Decemberists do. Only pics. I have a little Sonic story I’d like to tell, and I need to brush up on my Sonic art again.

Not to mention composition and landscape skills. I did some sketches and every single one of them had two figures. Ugh!

I’m dabbling a bit with Spacetime book 4, too. It still needs a lot of thought, but it’s finally coming together. I had to reconcile the political thriller plot with the magical plot.

Don’t leave it in rough draft

I’ve been crazy busy the last couple of weeks. Nothing physical–all the work’s been inside my head.

Finished the complete rewrite of book 3.

Accepted and finished a heavy critique of a book for a friend.

Started work on this pic for a contest.


Guess which task has fallen by the wayside.

This pic is a rough draft. I did it in an hour and a half in one sitting, scribbling furiously away with my tablet. It has lines. It has gaps. It has issues with lighting and shadow molding and what the heck is up with their legs?

But hopefully you can see that it’s a pony and a griffin. And it has nice colors.

The story I just finished, book 3, is the word-version of this scribble. Holes. Gaps. But that’s what revisions are for. Hopefully the finished product will–well–be art, and not a further mess.

The story I finished critiquing was somewhat the same. It was messy and unfinished, but beneath the plotholes and thin characters lurked a really good story. I’m hoping the author takes the time to really polish it, because it’ll shine. If not, well, it’ll be one more scribble posted to deviantArt (I mean Amazon) that people will glance at the preview, say, “Meh” and move on. But with polish, people will notice the sparkles and stick around for a longer look.

I’ve dumped “speedpaints” to DA before. They get a meh and a tiny bit of applause for effort. That’s it.

The same thing happens when folks dump a rough draft to Amazon. Passers-by glance at it, shrug and click to the next thing.

Of course, amazingly-painted masterpieces sometimes get that treatment, too. Maybe it’s the cover. Maybe the blurb is boring. Maybe the thumbnail’s composition looks lame. But given enough time (and if the author/artist pushes it on people), its hits/sales will start to climb. I’ve experienced this on Wattpad. It’s like a snowball you start rolling downhill. It takes a bit of pushing to keep it going, but after a while it gains momentum and rolls by itself.

I’m positively metaphorical today!

Anyway. Fix up those rough drafts. If you don’t know how, find somebody to critique it who does know. Give it your best shot and move on to something else.

Random fantasy sketches

I’m trying to keep my creativity mojo going, here. My hubby’s been asking me to play World of Warcraft with him before he goes to work–and I can’t resist the chance to play with him.

Here’s Charr and Dusk, my dragon and kitsune characters. Their short story is submitted to an anthology for publication. If it gets rejected, I’ll post it on here. I think they’ll get their own book someday. 🙂


And a guy in armor and his griffin mount, preparing for war. And looking awfully happy about it.


Spacetime revisions are progressing pretty well. I’ve been trying to strengthen the bad guy’s motivation, and it’s had me looking up narcissists and sociopaths. Very interesting stuff.

Two commissions

I’ve been working on two commissions over the past few days. Now that Spacetime’s sixth draft is finished (confetti falls down–the good stuff–our last bag), I can get back to drawing.

First, Zyearth-Defender’s characters in a scene from one of her stories.

The foreground guy has just used his magic to set his butt afire. The girl throws a bucket of water on him while the guy in the background laughs.

Next, a griffin from Jess Owen’s Song of the Summer King:

Mostly conceptual stuff and trying to figure out what pose looks good. I tossed these back to Jess tonight and we’ll see what sort of pose she prefers. The griffin’s half-eagle half-falcon (his name is Halvden), so I was trying to come up with a look for that. Also he’s wearing armored gauntlet things on his claws, so I had to figure out how that would work on long skinny eagle toes.

So yeah! Busy busy. 🙂

Author interview: Jess Owen

I loved Song of the Summer King so much (the griffin book), I asked Jess Owen if she’d do an email interview. And she agreed! Here it is, complete with some of her artwork, plus the book cover spread at the bottom.

First, tell us a little about yourself. What got you interested in writing?

Jess: Reading probably got me interested in writing. I’m one of those who’s “been writing since I could hold a pencil.” Mom and Dad read to my sister and me, and I think that’s how a lot of people fall in lovewith writing. My first story was when I was six, about Buzzie the Bee (I guess I’ve always loved animal fiction?) I have always, always written stories. It’s only been in the last five years or so that I took a true, professional interest and really worked to make my writing “good.”

Gryfons and wolves. Why gryfons and wolves?

I’ve always loved wolves. They were an obsession when I was a teenager and still are. As a fantasy creature they’ve got everything-beauty, loyalty, ferocity and a wonderful animal mysticism. Gryfons are an incredible creation–sort of the centaurs of the animal world; caught
between heaven and earth. When people ask what ‘animal would you be’ I could never chose between eagle or lion. With gryfons, you get both!

As far as the combo…I have a series of drawings I made when I was about twelve that involves gryfons and wolves in some sort of rivalry. Those images came back to me one slow day at work–one of a gryfon and wolf battling to the top of a cliff (sound familiar?) This idea got me asking all the writerly “why” questions and I realized it could be great ground for a story. The world and the war and the ideas came to me. Then I found Shard.

Did you expect to exceed your kickstarter goal the way you did?

I had a secret little hope that I would. I’m really optimistic most of the time 😀 And it’s a good thing I exceeded it because with shipping and costs, the funds are turning out to be Just Enough! It was really amazing, and exciting. Still is. I’m planning to run another one for book 2, next year.

I loved the differences between the Aesir and the Vanir tribes. Eagles and falcons, respectively. How did you come up with them?

I knew they had to be very different. I drew the names and essence of Vanir and Aesir from the old Norse legends (I didn’t want to go with typical English/Welsh based fantasy names). The Aesir I saw as conquering Vikings in a way, and they had to be bigger, stronger and fiercer. The Vanir are quieter and more closely knit to their past and the earth, but they had to have great strength too. So they’re more like sea birds, smaller and faster, but still powerful raptors.

I thought the wolves had a bit of Native American inspiration to them, especially as Catori wore feathers in her neck. Is that what you intended?

Yes! With all the respect to the real, living people, I used the Hopi Native American tribes as a launch point for the wolf culture.They’re an intrinsically peaceful people, close to the earth, and that was how I saw the wolves. I say “launch point” because there are obviously
things that are my own creation, just like they aren’t truly like real wolves, and I’m well aware of things that aren’t realistic about the pack. But it’s fantasy, and they had to have their own culture.

I see the wolf packs and the Vanir of the Silver Isles interacting the way the Inuit tribes and early, more mellow Viking settlers did (there’s record of their interaction!). To each their own, sort of thing. Then the Aesir came.

Do you have a sequel in the works?

Summer King will be a trilogy. The second book is slotted for next fall (2013), with hardbacks out by Christmas (2013).

Without giving too much away of Summer King, will the sequel involve dragons?

“One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of
firing it.” ~~Playwright, Anton Chekhov

The Silver Isles were a fascinating setting, filled with surprises. I loved the Daynight, and the caves, and the volcano where the Aesir burn their dead. How did you come up with all that?

The Silver Isles are based heavily on the geography of Iceland. It’s an incredibly diverse and fantastic landscape. When we were closer to the earth, our culture, beliefs and habits were built around the geography we came from. These animals are completely a part of their natural element so their behaviors have to match it. As I built the history and the cultures of the gryfons I also had amazing writer friends who suggested that they needed specific burial rituals and connection to their dead and so on. So you play with what the setting gives you.

Have you done artwork of your gryfon characters? I’d particularly love to see what Stigr looks like. Or Sverin in full war regalia.

I have old pictures of them. But I want to do new ones before anyone
sees the old ones 😉

Thank you so much for participating in this interview! Any last tips for aspiring authors?

Finish your book! Then write another one.

Song of the Summer King illustration by Nambroth