Photoshop Painting #23: Mouse Druid

  • Name: Damian
  • Occupation: Druid, leader of the forest animals.
  • Notable Features: Grey fur, brown eyes.
  • Character's Race: He's a mouse.
  • Character's Equipment: He has a twig he uses as a walking stick/quarterstaff.

As I've shown before, I have a soft spot for mice. Maybe it was just too much Brian Jacques as a child. 

Photoshop Painting Catchup #17: Theva Nemmonis

Prompt:

  • I just created a new character to play D&D with some friends for the first time in 25 years and am quite excited. I will be playing a female dragonborn paladin. She is 6'5" and about 265lbs with white/silver scales. She was a soldier for about 8 years before her clan got wiped out and now she is looking for payback...I looked for images on the web but most are of male dragonborn and higher level with fancy armor and weapons. And while I will eventually want something like that I figured I should have something that is appropriate for her current state at level 1.
  • She wears chain mail armor that while well worn, is kept in meticulous condition. She has a greataxe that she uses as her primary weapon and a warhammer for fighting from horseback (she also owns a horse)....She also carries with her a dagger that her first kill had on him as well as a war banner from her clan that is old, worn, and torn. Of course she also has the usual equipment (backpack, bedroll, saddle, saddle bags, etc).

This drawing was pure fun. Part of that was of course that I enjoy the hell out of drawing Dragonborn, and part of it was the challenge of figuring out how to put a Dragonborn on a horse.

A big difficulty with drawing mounted figures is getting the legs to plausibly wrap around the ribs of the horse without looking too long, too short, or extremely stiff. Make that figure Dragonborn, and suddenly you can add digitigrade legs and big toe claws to your list of difficulties!

Reference material pro-tip: Need to draw a mounted figure brandishing a weapon? Polo.

This also earns its place among my favorites because of the brilliant conversation I had with the Prompter about the final image. She liked it, but was the tiniest bit disappointed....

Prompter: 'That's pretty awesome! I think you captured pretty much exactly how she would react to an attack, charge in with weapon drawn. I love the look on her face too, even the look on the horses face matches. The only thing that conflicts with my mental image is that since she has a 20 STR and is 6'5" I just envisioned that her weapons would be a bit oversized and look more menacing looking, though the warhammer you drew is exactly what your typical one would look like. But that is just a minor thing. I love it and thank you!!! 

Me: 'I imagine she's a bit disappointed about the size of her hammer too! :D But this one works, which is all level 1's get most of the time. After she adventures a bit, she'll get a shinier hammer. :) She'd also like a bigger horse while she's at it. This one is tall enough, but tires too quickly. (Theva's not a featherweight.) She'll get a proper warhorse eventually.'

Prompter: 'Perfect response. :) Thanks again! And yeah, I was gonna badger the DM for a warhorse instead of a regular one, but then I saw how much they cost and figured it would be a lost cause. Only problem I have now is waiting until we play again...'

Photoshop Painting Catchup #14: The Duck Wizard

Prompt: 

  • Name: Oliver Drake
  • Race: Duck. I'm thinking Mallard, but if you think a different breed would work better go for it.
  • Height: 10", Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Outfit: Wizard hat, goggles and spell component pouch.

I'd try to explain this one, but there really is no explanation beyond the prompt. Because isn't that enough?

But in talking with the poster, some interesting details came out. It seems that the duck-wizard has a familiar. And it's a cat. Who has to carry Oliver's component bags.

And does the cat hate that his master lives in a swamp? Why yes, yes he does.

Some design notes: The center of gravity on waterfowl gives them a very particular stance and sway that is just a pleasure to draw. They stand a little like some physical comedians do–like you'd better keep an eye on them or you might miss the punchline. Of course this wobbly body feel is in sharp contrast with their heads, which are held with catlike poise and dignity at all times. And nothing is funnier than a ridiculous character that takes themselves too seriously.

 I did totally forget about the goggles on Oliver in the second painting, but it's easier to read his facial expression (such as it is, with a beak) without them. 

I threw in some details on the cat that I thought were interesting, and relevant to character-building: He's a polydactyl, and his tail is a little... short.

Artistically, the most interesting thing here for me is the shadows in the second painting. Shadows have always been difficult for me, so I tried out something new this time: I simply duplicated the character color layers and distorted them. This isn't a perfect solution, but it's far better than drawing the shadows by guesswork!

Just for fun (and because I don't think I show enough of my process sometimes) here are some other sketches of Oliver- no digital manipulation other than bumping the contrast a bit. This is pretty much what my pencil drawings look like.


Photoshop Painting Catchup #12: Skyfire

Prompt:

  • Skyfire resembled a normal blink dog, but as we're almost epic level, he's partially fused with a dead deity's (homebrew deity called Set-Osir, a good-aligned death god associated with the moon, and appeared to his people as a ghostly white jackal.) power. His fur is now glowing white with a full silky tail, with bright blue eyes. He wears a long silk-like scarf that is flame-colored. Skyfire is very kind and gentle and caring, and like all blink dogs, he's lawful good.

I'm going to share something unsurprising with you: I love animals.

I particularly love dogs. I've spent a lot of time with them, and I've come to the conclusion that they are a species full of zen masters.

Sure, there are some anxious ones, and some needy ones. But if their needs are met, and they aren't damaged by circumstance, they have an amazing ability to both live in the moment and draw happiness from simply existing.

With Skyfire, I knew that I somehow needed to convey that lesson-by-example, that joy, that dogs are trying to teach us all the time. Because it is the kind of lesson a god of death would try to teach.

And on a practical level, I was intrigued by the challenge of drawing a character that is a light source. (The requestor mentioned in discussion that the character's 'glow' had occasionally been a problem during gameplay–makes it hard to hide!) I had to think ahead of how that would work, but I think I nailed it: Ferns behind and under him are lit, and the ones in front of him are no more than silhouettes.

What I did not nail was the scarf. I wanted it to feel a little heavy instead of gauzy, but it came across stiff instead. I clearly have to work on draping, and research how that works with different weight fabrics.

Photoshop Painting Catchup #11: Cacia

Prompt!

  • Name: Cacia Martinus-Laurel
  • Occupation: Bounty Hunter
  • Race: Sabei - basically anthropomorphic wolves (like wolfkin).
  • Notable Features: 22 years old, 5'9" with an athletic build. Her appearance is based on the red wolf: thick russet-colored fur with brown and black patches on her face and tail and gleaming orange eyes.
  • Equipment: Wears light grey carapace armor under a half-sleeve leather jacket with navy cargo pants. No shoes. She wears fingerless spiked gauntlets, keeps a highly advanced plasma pistol in a holster on her belt, and carries a glaive.

Anthropomorphic animal warriors are always a good way to get my interest–put her on a space station, and you have my attention.

love this background and setting. I've shied away from doing gritty machinery before, but this time I decided to find some reference material and go for it. I am slowly learning that the details of the machinery are important, but the color palette and shadows are the key. And I can do color and shadows.

In retrospect, do wish I'd toned down her armor shine a bit more, or at least roughed it up. Every time I use the dodge tool, I wind up with this problem- patches of what looks like over-exposure.

Having the character stepping through a submarine-style hatch really sets the scene, and conveys the claustrophobic feeling I imagine one would have on a spaceship. Which also gives me a nifty excuse to not have to draw her glaive. She's smart enough not to bring a swinging weapon into a tight space!

Photoshop Painting Catchup #5.

After the serious investment of my previous drawing, I wanted something a little faster and less complicated. So we're back to 'isolated character on an inoffensive background, with essentially no composition' for the moment.

Here's what I was working from:

She is tiny sized with blue skin that alternates from dark blue on her back to a lighter shade on her belly and stripes of yellow down her back, tail, and limbs. Her skin is similar in texture and looks to that of a salamander along with having a tail such as one as well. She stands primarily on her hind-legs when not flying and has a similar body type to that of western(not Chinese shrug) style dragons. Her front claws can be used to carry items such as her staff, scrolls, or longspear.
She has a much shorter snout to that of full blooded dragons and has writhing long tentacles sprouting from her scalp. Eyes are as yellow as her stripes. She has long claws and talons and only wears a loincloth as clothing as she has no chest. She also wears various amulets, decorative armbands, and rings.

Welp, I screwed up the lighting pretty hard on this one. Usually for shadows, I duplicate the 'finished product' layer, darken it the one on top, and erase away so that the light bits show through. But with the color distribution this time (light color belly which is supposed to be in the shadowed area) everything just wound up a bit muted. The shadows on the items like the gold are fine, but the skin shadows result in a sort of weird interior glow, rather than an exterior light source. I should have made the shadow layer darker but also a slightly different color- maybe green/brown.

This was also an important learning experience for chilling out and letting my brushstrokes show. The absolute best part of this drawing is the stripes- which show brushstrokes. So I need to really internalize it's okay if people saw you drew it. It doesn't have to have appeared there magically.

On a subject matter scale, I did several little things I think are worth sharing-

Her 'spear' is an arrow. She's about two feet tall, so for her it's a convenient size. Her large gold amulet and bracelet were originally made for humanoids. That's a regular size pendant and ring. She had to make her belt and loincloth herself, because there just isn't much familiar-sized clothing out there. And she's a bit pissed about it, because she's a crap seamstress.

Photoshop Painting Catchup #4

Larger version.

Okay, so before we talk painting technique, clearly I need to give you some context for this... silliness.

A pack of Orcs were captured by the fallen angel Bwana, the one responsible for minotaurs and owlbears. Using the corpse of a captured rabbit, he twisted the orcs, making them somehow more grotesque than they were previously. They thanked their maker, and dubbed themselves "rabi-tork".

That, plus a few details from the poster about weaponry and faces, and this is what happens. It's not my fault. 

Now then, on to business: If you go back and look, something changed since my last painting.

It doesn't have much to do with the nitty gritty of painting. My brushwork is basically unchanged. (Although I did do a little texture experiment with the fur on the legs, it wasn't really worth the amount of effort it took for how it turned out.) I think the real difference is composition. This is a full, of-a-whole piece: Not a figure by itself, and not a subject on a consistent but essentially irrelevant background. Here, things flow together, so the eye makes the rounds of the whole thing.

Part of that is the placement of the components– the mountains and the Rabi-tork themselves. But this is the first time I've really done anything resembling lighting. I try from time to time, but rarely do I actually make myself to a full range from almost white to almost black... While I'm working in color, at least. (Looking back on it now, I do wish I'd been more bold with the highlights on the bodies, but it's not bad.) When working in black and white I have no problem, which is possibly why I haven't been paying enough attention to it in color. 

Mello the Molekin

molekin  

This mole brought to you by morajel over at the character drawing subreddit. He asked for a mole monk, complete with cassock, holy symbol and snow goggles, and I did my best to not make it look like Redwall.

Items of note- doing better with contrast (having a good range from brightest to darkest) in this, but haven't got it arranged well to good effect. The lighting isn't wrong per se, but it just isn't helping anything. It's not dynamic.

I used texture overlay layers here, and I don't think I'm doing it right. The cassock is ...passable. It's clear what I meant to do, I just don't think I did it. The fur texture works better, it really helps the transition on the nose and adds a sort of stumpy fluffiness to the head/neck, but it's not quite as good on the extremities.

I'm pretty proud of my solution for not knowing what the 'holy symbol' was supposed to look like. Though while I enjoy his giant mitt hands, and I think I didn't do them justice. Too flat, and I'm not sure how to fix it. Probably just draw them better in the first place, but ain't it always the way. :D

 

 

Battle Dragon

Battle-Critter This prompt is from a subreddit called Artbattle, which I admit I haven't quite gotten the hang of yet. There are... fights? Except kind of more like a rap-battle, because there's this one-upsmanship turn taking thing. But with drawings.

I didn't win this round. Despite deciding that there was no way I could make it in color before the deadline, I still didn't get it done in time.

On the bright side, I finally figured out how to armor a dragon. It just bugs me when fantasy armor doesn't make sense, and a dragon is a particularly tough case- the armoring needs are kind of like those of a horse, but the critter is flexible like a cat, plus it has some of it's own naturally grown plates and spikey bits that have to poke through.

This scene came out of this old story, but I've made a few changes: There are only two sizes of dragon (the ones shown here) and the difference isn't species. It's gender. Humans have only legends of the big ones and consider them mythical, but are quite familiar with the small ones and think of them as clever animals, so tame them much like hunting hawks. Although they are confused as to why the critters won't breed in captivity...

 

 

 

Stag Beetles

stag-beetles Prompt: Bug Brawl

In one of the many nature documentaries narrated by David Attenborough,  there's a slightly silly scene of beetles battling on a branch. These are not those beetles exactly, but who needs realism when neon orange will do?

The beetles take the business quite seriously of course, but given that they look silly doing it and that the loser is unharmed (he is flipped off of the branch and suffers an extremely long fall, but due to his exoskeleton and low weight he's not the worse for wear) the deadly earnest attitude just makes it funnier.

This is the beginning of the fight, from the point of view of one of the combatants. I wanted to draw from a bug's eye view to show that they consider this serious business. The godlike top down view trivializes the business too much.

Regarding the nuts and bolts: From the start I wanted this drawing to be in a photographic narrow range of focus style, reflecting the bug's priorities in that moment. In retrospect I wish I had used some sort of motion blur, because while the narrow focus does the job of making the picture emotionally immediate it also really immobilizes the whole scene.

The texture on the bugs is wrong, but I'm not sure what would be better. The problem is exacerbated because the texture on the branch and the blobby leaves in the far background are both pretty excellent.  I'll need to find something shinier and less blobby next time.

 

American Pit Pull Terrier

_American-Pit-Bull-Terrier

Mickey: Good dags. D'ya like dags? Tommy: Dags? Mickey: What? Mrs. O'Neil: Yeah, dags. Mickey: Dags. D'ya like dags.. Tommy: Oh, dogs. Sure, I like dags.

- Dialogue from the movie Snatch.

I like dags.

I like dags so much, I wonder why sometimes some people don't like them. At a guess, it breaks down like this.

  • They smell.
  • They can be loud.
  • They need your attention all the time.
  • They'll put anything in their mouth.
  • They're unpredictable.
  • Their behavior, good and bad, is ultimately the caretaker's responsibility.
  • They can be dangerous.

Now, every one except for that last one applies equally to children. Which is probably why most of us like dogs so much.

I thought that with my first entry I'd go ahead and address that 'dangerous' part. American Pit Bull Terriers are only the most recent breed to be considered uniquely dangerous. Before that it was Rottweilers, and before that German Shepherds.

Part of the reason Pit Bulls are considered dangerous is that a Pit Bull bite tends to be a scary bite. A Rottweiler bite is no joke, but a Pit Bull may exhibit 'bully breed' behavior- Which is to say they bite and hold. And shake. And hold. And are not dissuaded by such interventions as being hit over the head with a bat.

Studies are inconclusive, but seem to indicate that the most dangerous breed at any given time is whatever is large enough to bite fatally and popular enough to skew statistics. So really the way to reduce bites from 'dangerous' breeds is to reduce bites overall. Which puts the blame squarely back on people. We need to take dog ownership more seriously, and education about dog psychology needs to be more than a 45 minute show that only dog nuts watch. It's a public health issue.

As much as Pit Bulls have a reputation for being dangerous they also have a reputation for being excellent companion animals, particularly for children. This aspect of their character makes them good therapy animals. They typically don't come across as intelligent on first meeting but that characterization is usually unfair. They have the ability to conveniently ignore whatever isn't important to them (including verbal commands and physical discomfort) which can come across as either stubborn or stupid. While they don't have anything resembling an independent work ethic they are strongly motivated by an eagerness to please. This quality plus strength, endurance and enthusiasm means they are regularly highly trained for use as rescue dogs or service dogs-  professions which don't recruit dumb dogs. Some are stalwart and some are goofy, but they are all a little needy. More so than many other working breeds they need affection and affirmation from humans. They make particularly poor guard dogs because they are usually too friendly with strangers.

On an artistic note, I'll be working on two things with this series- paintings that don't take two weeks, and paintings that don't look like plastic. I'm pleased with this as a first effort... even if that one on the left looks like she's got a screw loose.

 

Dance Party

dance-party1 An update of some really old linework. In the linework I was trying to recapture a bit of the attitude of a certain series of drawings I made in highschool, but add some definition. Turns out that was a bit paralyzing when it came to coloring it, so it sat in the figurative drawer.

But recently I've been really working on this 'colors' thing (you may have noticed) and have managed to uncramp my hand a bit when it comes to getting things just right. I still sort of want to make a background for it, but it's really time to just get this one out of the 'waiting' drawer.

 

Poké-me.

Absolutely awesome prompt from sketchdaily: Draw yourself as a pokemon! Now I will admit, I never actually played pokemon myself (a little too old to have caught that particular wave) but doing a personality portrait of a person by drawing an animal? That's one of my favorite things. Plus the 'evolving' aspect really appealed to me.

Pokeme

The Wild Hunt Begins

Damn Sketchdaily. You keep coming up with awesome shit for me to draw. In this case, the prompt was pretty broad: Norse Mythology. Being at least passingly familliar with Norse mythology, I thought I'd draw Sleipnir. But since Sleipnir is Odin's horse, I thought he should be ridden by Odin. And one of the best ways to make it clear that you're drawing Odin is to include Geri, Freki, Huginn, and Muninn. And by that point I realized I'd drawn the beginning of the Wild Hunt.

Sleipnir

 

This turned out much more awesome than expected. It will definitely be worth returning to at some point to do a full-color rendition.

And yes, that is actually the sort of thing horses do with their legs over high jumps. It's just that it's only very, very athletic horses that can clear jumps like that, so it turns out looking more deer-like.

Fractured Crow

Totems This is a revamp of a very old drawing, curtsey of SketchDaily. (Prompt: Totems.)

The 'fractured' style was something I was very into for about a year in highschool. Of course I was making this sort of thing entirely with Sharpies, so can only assume I was high on marker fumes a lot of the time.