Artwork: DnD character

A friend commissioned me to draw his DnD character, so here’s what I came up with:

This sketch passed muster.
I’m getting into this black and white shading technique. The eyes got kind of funky, though.
And now with color, the eyes corrected a bit. I want to brighten up the shirt a little before I call it done, but overall, I’m happy with it, and so is my friend.

I think I’m improving. I can now draw something that is fairly close to what I envisioned, even though I still fight the artwork every step of the way. I can’t draw without reference. But even the old masters used reference for everything, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

I have a rant brewing about why artists should never run down their own art, and it also applies to writing. But I don’t have the energy to write it at the moment. :-p

Two progress pics this week

I actually did some artwork this week! I tried out the technique of shading in black and white first, then adding color. Amazing how well it works. No wonder the professionals do it this way!

Now, if only I could learn to draw clothing and armor in ways that don’t suck. Light on fabric is my bane.

Fox in snow, nearly done

Worked on this for a while tonight and got it mostly done, I think.

Here’s the black and white layer.

Here’s the color layer on the fox. It’s subtle.

Now her eyes look alive!

And then the liberal amount of blue airbrushing for the background.

I think the fox’s coat needs another layer of lighter hairs and some snow sprinkles. And I want some red holly berries. Think I could get away with some kind of red berries, because pine trees totally have those?

Spooky face

What is it about a face lit from below that’s supposed to be so spooky? And yet, it kind of is. Also, it does really interesting things to the planes of the human face.

Afraid I don’t have any interesting writing-related thoughts for tonight. I’m currently rewriting the climax of that story I just finished. The story was a world-tour of this shattered world, and yet the climax took place in one room. Letdown much? The climax should involve the interesting bits of the world we just toured!

I rewrite or heavily refine every climax I write, so this is nothing new. The climax is the payoff to the reader for slogging through my prose, so if I don’t blow up the world, the reader is disappointed, you know?

Formative books?

Trying to get my art mojo back on, so here’s a few pumpkins, sketched in digital pencil from life, as I have a couple of small ones sitting on my desk.

Today on Sarah Sawyer’s writing blog, she had a post about the five foundational books for all Christian fantasy writers. You can read her list there.

It got me thinking about what books were the most formative for me, as a writer. The books I read in my tender years stand out the most, probably because I read them over and over through the years. But they’re not fantasy. I didn’t dabble much in fantasy just because I didn’t think much about it. I obsessed over wolves and horses, like any other girl.

In no particular order, the books that I think have impacted my writing style the most:

The Cooper Family Adventure series, by Frank Peretti. He taught me about how to build a story setting, like setting up blocks. And he taught me how to smash it all in a spectacular, entertaining climax. And he gave me night terrors for years.

The Melendy books by Elizabeth Enright (The Saturdays, the Four Story Mistake, etc.) Her characters and crystal-clear prose has stuck with me for years. You know how most people talk about Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimbly with nostalgic fondness? I’m that way about Randy, Rush, Mona and Oliver.

My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara. Her prose went beyond purple to absolute poetry. It was years before I understood Ken from an adult’s perspective, and realized that he did have a serious psychological problem going on. As a kid, I sympathized with his daydreams, and I mourned with him as he was forced to violently grow out of it through his suffering with Flicka, his horse.

White Fang, by Jack London. This and Call of the Wild taught me how to write a great animal fight. I read so many wolf books, by Walt Morey, Jim Kjelegaard and others, that I thought ripping out a jugular was a reasonable way to kill someone, and never batted an eye at gore. It’s taken me years to get re-sensitized to violence.

The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald. One of those beautiful stories that I had to read over and over. It’s like an expanded fairytale, and there’s so much weird symbolism that I kept going back to puzzle over it. Like her grandmother’s lamp that she can make shine so bright that it overwhelms the walls around it and hangs like a globe in the sky.

Notice that I didn’t put in Lord of the Rings or Narnia. Everybody lists those. And you know, I liked those, but they didn’t impact my psyche as deeply as the above-listed books. I think books like Swiss Family Robinson and Bambi struck me deeper, as a writer.

I think that’s one reason I’m attracted to modern fantasy now. I grew up with my imagination running rampant on Earth, seeing the drama and magic of real life and the animal kingdom. So my fantasy reflects that.

Do you find that what you write has been impacted by what you read? What are your top five?

A boy and his dino, with color

Way back in this post, I drew this sketch, based off a lovely photo submitted to one of Pioneer Woman’s photo contests.

I’ve been attempting to color it lately.

I roughed in the colors, keeping this quote in mind from John Singer Sargent.

“Choose simple subjects, near objects at first. Do not try to make a pretty picture so much as to render truthful effects. Paint over the whole canvas with colors approximating the masses so as to obscure [sic–did he mean establish?] relations of tones while working—when finishing, ‘paint into paint’ when possible and in portraits, paint around the features in detail, using small brushes rarely.

“Always use a full brush and a larger one than necessary. Paint with long sweeps, avoiding spots and dots (‘little dabs’). Never think of other painter’s pictures or how some one else would treat a subject but follow your own choice of colors with exact fidelity to nature.” (Lifted from Gurney Journey)

I’m still trying to get the colors on the dinosaur right. I started off green with a red crest, but it was too … I don’t know … Jurassic Park. So I looked at a lot of artwork of Corythosaurus and kept the general color of horses in mind (earth tones), and I think I like this particular color palette.


Got some work done on their faces today.

I’m understating her face because she’ll be pretty small in comparison to the rest of the painting, and you have to go for simplicity when it’s that small. I haven’t got the values quite locked in yet, so she’s still too light.

And the dragon:

I’m going with a couple different methods of drawing scales here. The highlight bits just cried out for iridescence on his face, so I chucked some on to see how it looked. I’m still waffling about it, so we’ll see if it stays in the finished version. Scales do have some limited iridescence, but not as much as a feather, and certainly not as much as I’ve put in here.

I still like this pic every time I pull it out, so I think it’ll be a good one when I’m done.

Dusk beach, problems

Got a bit more done today, still roughing out the main color masses.

The lighting on the dragon is really harsh because I’m still figuring out the shapes of the light and shadow. Not sure I like the color of the light very much, either … it looks good on the girl, but not a blue dragon. I’ll continue to tinker with it.

Also, now that I’ve established that the light is coming from the far left, the color of my ocean is wrong. I’ve been staring at pictures of the ocean at sunset, and it’s always darker than the sky, but it tends to pick up the strongest lights. This, too, requires some tinkering.

Finishing up the cheetah-griffin

I was tying up various loose ends, and it dawned on me that I never actually finished this one commission I had for a cheetah-griffin. I contacted my commissioner, and thankfully she was very gracious about it. So I’m doing my best to finish up.

Anyway, here’s how far I had gotten on it:

It had a few problems, and my commissioner asked if I could raise the head a bit. So I did.

I deepened the shadows quite a bit to add a little more punch, and added more blue in the shadows to cool them off. Moved the head and remodeled the face. Did some work on the legs to show more of those muscles and tendons, but they still need quite a bit of modeling before I’ll be happy with them. Also, fiddled with the dang tail feathers until I got them looking decent. I referred heavily to a nice griffin illustration by Hibbary, because she had the tails exactly how I wanted to draw them.

Hibbary’s griffins
Cheetah griffin sketch
Cheetah griffin rough colors