Photoshop Painting Catchup #18: Punk

Prompt:

  • This character is Asian. She's got a light-weight frame, standing at what I'd imagine is close to 5'0.
  • Her hair looks something like this, jet black with a silver highlight. No piercings or gauges. Her eyes are a standard brown. She's got a bruise on one of her cheeks and a band-aid on her nose. On her face is a light scowl.
  • She's wearing a black blazer with the sleeves torn off so it's like a vest, but you can see the ripped cloth down to the upper bicep. Underneath is a t-shirt with a picture of a shark on it. She's got a studded belt on her tight fitting jeans dark blue jeans, and some aged looking High-top Converse-esque sneakers. On one of her wrists is a studded leather bracelet.

I'll be honest. I chose this one to draw because of the sneakers.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for a female fantasy character in a zero-drop shoe. So often female characters are put in tall heels for no reason, and it makes me mad because it's lazy and a disservice to the character. Some would wear heels, some wouldn't. It depends on the character. Don't do it just because 'that's what women wear, right?' or even worse, 'But flat shoes are haaaard.' Suck it up buttercup.

Not much to talk about here artistically, this one is well within my comfort-zone. But the shadow came out particularly well (blurred edges seem to matter) and the shark shirt was pure fun. 

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 #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!

Steampunk Character Creation Walkthrough

corset1.jpg

I had never used a character generator before, and it seemed to me that it was past time. This painting brought to you by:

 https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/character-generator

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/character-generator

When I ran it, I rolled:

A selfish mechanic hmm? Also, how am I supposed to have a mechanic with a rifle, I need those hands to be holding tools to indicate she's a mechanic! Although I like that this doesn't specify gender anywhere.  I could have drawn a men's corset.

But I didn't. I like the trope of the female mechanic too much. Two tries at sketching resulted in this. It's not bad, but there are several 'I'll have to look this up later' items: I know skirts can be hiked up with little rings on straps, but I'm not quite sure how that works. And I know that little victorian shoulder-shawls exist, but I can't really remember how they fasten. Ditto those high boots with the little buttons. And I know I'm going to need some reference for that shoulder/arm position, and for the cat. 

Behold, reference. Two interesting things: the good trigger safety on the arm reference, and the stark difference in modesty in women's steampunk attire. Both of these things are good little details to use to add specificity and depth to a character.

First, I drew the parts I absolutely needed the references for, and then rotated and tweaked what I'd inked until I thought it fit reasonably on the vague idea I'd sketched.

These heavily reference lines were then desaturated to the same level as my original sketch, so I could see them all together at the same intensity, creating a franken-sketch. Over the top of that  I re-sketched everything with an eye towards adding detail and making design decisions. For example, the shawl has been nixed in favor of a collared shirt, mainly because I had the idea to give her a mechanical arm, and work out how to show it well under a shawl. 

Once the 'ink' is done, it is desaturated to become the new sketched layer, and the old sketched layers are removed. Ahh. Now I can see what I'm doing.

Then, we do it again. This is the actual ink layer, or the beginnings of it anyway.

Flip, and finish inking. If I had one general 'pro tip' for drawing, the horizontal flip would be it. It's an extremely simple and easy way to instantly see your mistakes in proportion, balance, and flow. This one actually had very little in need of adjustment, although I (as always) had to reduce the legs to some kind of reasonable proportion. I'm not sure where this conviction that legs are 2/3rds of a person's height came from, but I know I'm not the only one with this kind of consistent WTF when it comes to proportion.

Now to the fun part: color. On a layer under the lines, use a basic palette (three or four colors arranged from darkest to lightest is a good limit. For a good mix of color, I like to pull my values from reference ) and lay out the most basic of color areas; highlights and shadows. This is your underpainting.

Put another layer on top. Using the eyedropper tool and a 50% paintbrush, soften the edges between your basic colors, and do some detail of highlights and shadows.

More layer, more detail. See the difference in the blunderbuss and mechanical arm from the last progress image to this one?

Once you're happy with your color distribution, erase everything outside the lines. You can still modify past this point if you like, but I've found that tends to be needlessly fussy rather than helpful.

And if you've read through this far, thanks for sticking with me. I know, it was a long one. Which is why I'm stopping here, and not going into how I did the background! :D (Hint: It was basically the same process, but much less interesting, because it was mostly pipes.)

Villains

My first NaNoWriMo isn't going well exactly, but my story is absolutely progressing.

One of the most encouraging developments has been the fleshing-out of my villains. When I started I had some idea of what they wanted, but very little of the why, and even less of what they looked like. As my eventual plan is probably to draw this story up into a graphic novel, the visual vagueness of these two very important characters was a serious problem. 

Interestingly, I found that as I gave these characters a history and a setting their appearance developed quite naturally. (This is a bit of an inversion for me- historically I'd come up with a cool looking character, and then have to make up reasons that they looked that way. Which maybe had something to do with why, historically, my plots were underdeveloped.)

Her name (at least until I decide to change it) is Ethelinda. He is Ofure. This is a picture of them in younger, happier days. At this point they are the heroes of their own story, not the villains in someone else's.

 

Photoshop Painting Catchup #10 Hecuba

A return to one of my old favorite subjects: A sexy lady.

Now, a nearly naked female spellcaster isn't exactly a rare subject in a fantasy setting, but there was one little detail in the description which nabbed my attention: She's barefoot. This is wildly unusual. Sexy women of any genre are practically always depicted in high heels* whether it fits the character or not. Hecuba's barefootedness says something about her personality, and makes a hell of a lot more sense than heels would.

Prompt:

I would really like to see one of my favorite characters brought to life! She's been in play for almost ten years and has reached legendary status.
Hecuba... [is] a beautiful, voluptuous, mostly semi-naked and self-assured woman in her early twenties. Absolutely stunning and captures everyone's attention - she's got 32 in charisma. She's barefoot and graceful. Ice blue eyes, long flowing black hair and wearing only a very skimpy bronze bikini taken from a succubus. A thin and exquisite waist chain gives her extra strength. A small but deadly looking dagger is at her hip. Her favorite spells are fireballs and Meteor Swarm.

I've spent a long time pushing myself to learn my way around color, detail, and realism. Returning to this flowing black and white style which is so much more intuitive to me is unbelievably relaxing. Not only is it loads faster, it allows me to pull clever tricks to avoid hard bits. For example, by making the boundary between her hair and cape indefinite, I've saved myself the trouble of actually deciding exactly how her cape attaches and exactly how her hair falls. 

Of course, the style also causes some problems- it's particularly bad at depicting a lightsource, or any kind of transparency. So my wonderful plan of showing off Hecuba's casting ability by holding a ball of shining power in her hand is a bit of a dodgy proposition. I pulled it off by using a few conceptual tricks I learned from watching anime: first, explosions are typically shown with radial spikes on the outside, but a smooth inside edge. This seems to convey force, expanding energy. Second, if something is backlit by a very strong light, it's slimmed down- or in the case of this hand, made to look almost skeletal. Which has the added benefit of making Hecuba look just a bit scary.

* An exception to this rule is Salma Hayek's character in the movie 'From Dusk 'till Dawn.'  Quentin Tarantino's got a teeny bit of a foot fetish.

Photoshop Painting Catchup #8

There was a nice complete prompt on this one:

Entropoly (Also known as Polly) is an Unseelie Fae bard. She's 4' 6" with dark red butterfly wings, a black corset, red pants, and a large red jacket over it. Her ears are pointed and pierced, her eyes are black without pupils, iris, or whites, and she is a fan of outlandish make up. She'll often glamour herself to have a gaping, toothy maw to scare others and other things like that. She plays a violin (she has numerous, from simple ones, to blue ones, to ones made of living wood and spider silk strings). Her hair is a blue and black mohawk that hangs over her eyes and is tied in a ponytail on the back.

I love everything about this. A classical musician punk fairy? Oh yeah.

Nothing too new in the figure painting here, although I did play with brush settings a bit, making the stroke edges much less clean and obvious. The pose is the most interesting part of the figure. I chose a very difficult pose because: I wanted to showcase the wings, and I really, really didn't want to try to draw a foreshortened violin.

The new thing is the background. I wanted something that was reminiscent of casting a spell, without being too obvious. This tutorial produced excellent results. I'll definitely be looking for an excuse to play with this more. 

Allison in Armor: Photoshop color tutorial

Okay, so 'tutorial' is overstating this a bit. There will be no 'set your brush to 45 percent opacity' in this post.  This is more like a quick tour of my thought process as I'm working, which I hope will be helpful to people with some photoshop skills who just aren't sure quite how this 'painting' thing works. When I get a good art idea, it tends to be because two previously unrelated ideas ran into each other.

In this case, a friend sent me a link to the winner of this year's The Longsword Competition At the World Invitational Tournament. In passing, my friend added that she would like to have a set of that armor for her very own.

Bingo bongo, time to draw my friend in medieval armor.

I had an armor reference, now I needed a pose reference. Enter google, and the nice people at The Medieval European Martial Arts Guild, who have large images of classical european martial forms linked to from their site.  I chose one of the forms, and got to work on a 'blueline' sketch.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 1.33.55 PM

Doing the first sketch in blue makes it easier to pick out the lines I actually want in black later. Also at this stage I began collecting my pallet. Each major color needs at least three (dark, medium, light) constituent colors, although apparently my natural inclination is to choose four. Keep the number of shades to a minimum though, or you'll drive yourself nuts.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 1.35.19 PM

With the black lines completed, I flipped the image horizontally, so that I can see the perspective and proportion mistakes I made in the original sketch.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 2.16.53 PM

Egad. It's always worse than anticipated.

Once the perspective was suitably unfucked, I trimmed down some of the too thick lines and fixed the face up a bit.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 3.16.37 PM

Then, it was time to flip her back the other way and lay down some colors pulled from my reference images. The first layer of color is at full opacity, just trying to vaguely cover large areas. Detail comes later.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 3.28.14 PM

Now that I had color mostly in place, I needed to complicate it a bit. With a combo of the eyedropper tool and a fuzzy brush at half opacity I turned blocks of color into shades of color. Here it is about half-way along, top almost done but the bottom untouched.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 4.09.21 PM

Not too shabby. I took away the lines for a second just to make sure it was going well.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.13.35 PM

Then I put the lines back and trimmed the color to fit.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 8.11.44 PM

Of course, it's at this point (too late) that I realize I've got a few lingering structural issues. The thigh armor plates leave an awkward gap under the belt, and the draping around the backside is... subtly wrong. Also the blade isn't consistent enough, and the skin needs some evening out.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 11.06.29 PM

With that about done, it's time to start on the background. I thought putting her in a woodland would be nice. Also since I was planning on fuzzing it out, I thought woods would be recognizable without being too much detail. First, lay out the basic blocking, and put in a row of trunks.

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 3.12.40 PM

Aaand not enough trunks. So I just copied the layer and scaled it up to make a second closer row of trees at a higher saturation. Then I went and found the 'leaf' brush and went to town.

Stage 1:

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 3.13.14 PM

And Stage 2:

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 3.14.22 PM

And now enough guassian blur to make things look less obviously drawn in with a pre-set pen. Some blurring was done with a brush, so that nearer leaves will be marginally less fuzzy.

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 3.14.50 PM

Now for some style: cutting to a frame.

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 3.15.24 PM

Time for the really fun part. Texture! I went and found a metal texture, cut it to fit, and used the overlay function. It pumps up the contrast a bit too, which I kind of like.

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 6.42.32 PM

Texture for everyone!

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 6.53.08 PM

The background gets some texture too, just a little even canvassing to separate it yet further from the figure.

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 7.00.04 PM

Background needed a little more separation, so I desaturated it a bit. The last step is to add a bit of key light glow, which helps the figure become more three dimensional. Then it's time to stop fussing, and call it done.

Allison-in-Armor

Military Mech Sketch

robot  

A proper sketch for once. When I saw that the prod from sketchdaily was mechanical in nature ('chicks dig giant robots') I knew I had to do it. Machinery and I have historically not been friends, but it seems that things are getting better. I think this one turned out so well because I could mimic muscular structure (which I understand very well) to make up pistons and armor plates (which I'm not so familiar with.)

The person in the capsule is a chick BTW, I just didn't go far enough in the drawing to make that clear. Other conceptual details that didn't come through- this is a multi-grav general use 'workhorse' unit. It has a compressed gas pack which is good for low G maneuvering/jumping. It can work in a variety of gravity environments, with a range of about .1 to 2 Gs. It has one 'working' arm, and one 'protection' arm- because these environments are not lifeless.

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.

 

Sketchdaily Roundup: I lost count

Prompt: Scary Story One of my favorite scary story classics (although really it tends to be more sad than scary) is the ghost with her head held on with a ribbon. Unfortunately my drawing turned out a bit more on the 'governess' side of things rather than 'winsome dead lass'.

neck-ribbon

 

Prompt: Storybook Characters.

A bit late to the party on this one, but no one had thought of the Gruffs! Apparently, this blog is developing a bit of a 'goat' theme.gruff

 

If anyone wants to follow along, (or participate!) the prompts can be found on r/SketchDaily. Just be warned- if you get sucked into the reddit vortex, I take no responsibility.

 

Sketchdaily Roundup 4

Prompt: Scene from a Book. Watership Down is sort of a major book for me. It was one of the first books I can remember being read to me, and when I came back to it as an adult I was pleasantly surprised to find that it holds up. It's actually sort of two classically structured myths in sequence: The Journey, and then The War.

This is a scene from the Journey portion, and I won't tell you any more because it's dear to my heart and SPOILIES.

 

Prompt: Self Portrait.

I will explain... no, is too much, I will sum up. I am in the process of doing a moderate personal overhaul, both of physicality and personality. I'm hoping these will be my before and after pics.

Prompt: Insects

I think mantises are cute.

Prompt: Illustrate a Recipe.

I didn't finish it, but I do think it has potential so I may at some point finish it. It's also one of the least intuitive and most difficult prompts I've done to date, so I may not finish it. I may just eat the damn cookies.

Sketchdaily Roundup 3

Prompt: A Trip to the Playground. All that sprang to mind was this.

Prompt: Deities.

I was late to the party on this one, so first thoughts like Artemis and Thoth had already been done. So I went with Miyazaki style Kodama.

Prompt: Personification of Subatomic Particles.

Quarks. All I have to say is that particle physicists must have very interesting dinner parties.

I would have liked to develop this in a watercolor style, but I just didn't have time this week.

Prompt: Goats.

Since I did quite a workup on goats not too long ago, I kept it simple this time.

Kimono

kimono2
kimono2

Often, ideas will come to me when I learn a new tool–suddenly I see new possibilities. In this case it was learning how the layer overlay function works in Photoshop. Something about the quality of the colors suggested silk, and from there it took no time at all to need to draw a cherry blossom kimono.

This is version two. Version one met an unfortunate demise entitled 'too much reference, not enough originality.'

General comments:

I am slowly learning the value of contrast and darkness. (I'm a little slow... I read 'In Praise of Shadows' seven years ago, but apparently I wasn't paying attention. It's out of print but if you can find a copy, snap it up: an excellent explanation of a difficult aesthetic.)  'Kill your darlings', the old William Faulkner advice, applies just as well to visual arts as to writing. In order to set up a background that makes sense, I had to draw all of it in some detail. But then I went back and added deep shadows. This is an overall improvement, but there are now parts I drew that I liked a lot that are invisible: The sliding door lit from behind by a single candle is the best part of the background...but I put a lot of work into making the individual squares on the door be lighter in the middle than the edges, and evenly spaced, and textured, and you just can't see any of that with the shadows.

Also, texture. I did ceramic tile, adobe, and woodgrain textures in this piece. Because I decided to use a bit of focal distance blurring on the background and close foreground elements it's not as noticeable as it might be (kill those darlings; it's for the best) but I think it still matters.

Surprise favorite: The slushy streets. The whiteness was actually an accident as I was messing about trying to find a useful textured brush, but I liked it so I kept it. Now with the falling snow it seems like it was intentional all along. An excellent accident all 'round.

Figure comments:

That umbrella... I'm done with umbrellas for a while. It's okay now, but sometimes simple mechanical things like folding staves are much harder to get to look right than something like an automatic rifle.

There are still three nagging problems that I just couldn't figure out how to fix. First, there is something subtly wrong with the angle/width of the near side of the Maiko's face. Something to do with the angle of the hinge of her jaw and near eye I think, but I just couldn't quite get a handle on it. Secondly, her obi seems to be floating off of her rather than going underneath her arm. I tried all kinds of variations of shading, but just couldn't make it behave. I'm having a similar 'floating' problem with her right hand: Some of her wrist should be shown disappearing into her sleeve, but every time I tried to draw that part it looked worse, so eventually I let well enough alone.

But I don't care about the less satisfactory bits, because the kimono works. That the initial seed idea for this whole painting turned out to be the best part? I'm totally okay with that.

kimono2-excerpt
kimono2-excerpt

Sketch Daily Roundup 1

As part of my attempt to get back to myself, I'm listening to the sage advice of Ira Glass. Which mainly means producing more work, more regularly, and not dwelling on how it falls short of what I had in mind. To that end I've starting trying to keep up with the SketchDaily subreddit. Life being the way it is I'm not really keeping to an every day schedule, but having an ongoing prompt-engine certainly helps with actually doing it and with pushing me on subject matter.

Prompt: Western

Apparently, the high plains don't look like much of anything without color.

Prompt: Eastern

Her reaction isn't totally unreasonable- Nara deer can be pushy!

Prompt: Southern

I didn't want to do something too stereotypical... and also I had just watched a Dirty Jobs episode featuring Alligator Snapping Turtles. Oh Mike Rowe, I'd watch you read the phone book. (Actually I kind of did. The dictionary anyway.)

Prompt: Northern

I grew up in a place that had a yearly dogsled race. They started at night, and it was tradition to have outdoor parties/gatherings at trail forkings near town to help the non-local mushers not get lost. In my memory, this is what the teams look like coming towards you.

Women of Star Trek: Kes

Oh hey look, texture.

I'm not really going to do a blow-by-blow of making this picture, because there's something more important I need to talk about. The making of this little painting kicked off a mild dark night of the soul for me. It doesn't look like the sort of picture that would do that, does it?

This is the central issue: for the two years or so I have been trying to learn how to use my tablet, and how to do somewhat realistic oil-painting-style color in Photoshop. I've learned a lot, but I've also picked up some very bad habits... like an over-enthusiastic use of google image search. The secondary issue is one of subject matter- I've continually allowed myself to play in other people's sandboxes. It's comforting to draw awesome things from the universe of WOW or Star Trek or Diskworld, because I don't have to do nearly as much work and I can be fairly certain of a warm reception in the geeky circles that I frequent. But if I keep doing that I'll never get around to drawing *my* ideas. And I do have them- I've even posted sketches of them from time to time. But they haven't had my full attention in years.

So. As much as I'm enjoying this series, I need to set it aside for now. I'm not sure what to tell you to expect to see in this space but I'll be working more from my sketchbook, and I'm going cold-turkey on fanart for a while.

 

Women of Star Trek: Kira

Welcome to Deep Space Nine.

You may have noticed the change in decor. And uniform. And attitude.

Deep Space Nine is in general a very different sort of Star Trek. One with ambiguity, the possibility that someone wearing a color other than red might die, and a refreshing lack of Star Fleet monolithism and moral superiority.

Kira's character is part and parcel of this new worldview. (Universeview?) She has internal conflicts, and a little more depth than 'emotionally scarred tough chick security officer.'

Kira Nerys is the first Bajoran we get to know well. It makes it a little hard sometimes to tell which of her actions and opinions are general cultural Bajoran characteristics, and which are individual to her. She is a survivor, unwilling to forgive, vicious when necessary but also deeply spiritual and with a strong capacity for love and play that she has a long-standing habit of sublimating.

I'm very happy with how this illustration came out. Kira is often in the position of having too much to do: she moves snappily, and has a tendency to multitask. She looks like she is on the way to deal with some 'problem', and has paused to hear a shouted amendment to her to-do list. Her face has both good and bad points- it is a better portrait than I've managed to date on this project, and I love that her makeup came out looking like makeup. That said, the contrast is still a bit wonky, and her hair is definitely more cartoonish than accurate.

My backgrounds are... progressing. This one actually looks like an underpainting, which is a solid step in the direction I want to go. It's just depressingly far from the last step.

Women of Star Trek: Guinan

Guinan.

What can be said? She added charm and emotional depth to every episode she was in, (I think the only character she didn't *always* steal the scene from was Picard) and became a well loved character, despite being almost entirely superflous to the plot.

When I was a kid, I assumed that her backstory was shown at some point and if I just kept watching I'd get to find out what was up. I didn't really realize until I watched through the whole series as an adult that A) she isn't actually in that many episodes and B) you never find out what her story is. Whether intentionally or through a quirk of Whoopi Goldberg's acting schedule, Guinan preserves her mystery.

 

Women of Star Trek: Crusher

In my memory, Dr. Beverly Crusher has a depth and importance all out of proportion with the role she actually played on TNG. I don't have to look very far to figure out why: Crusher is a female doctor in her early forties, head of her own sickbay and a brilliant surgeon who struggles to balance her work with her mothering obligations to her child.

Change out 'sickbay' for 'practice', and that describes my mother as well, at least at the time when I watched TNG on thursday nights on the big TV in my parent's room.

Re-watching the series now, I notice a different aspect of Dr. Crusher's character. Certainly being chief medical officer on the Enterprise isn't a bad gig, but it seems that Crusher never quite gets what she wants. She's perpetually stuck in-between. Between whatever happened with Picard around the time Jack died and a relationship with Picard now, between the challenge of being chief medical officer on a starship and the promotion to head of Starfleet Medical, and between her clear command potential, her desire to practice medicine and her need to raise and protect her son. When she does have something unequivocally good happen to her (falls in love) her partner in a whirlwind romance has a mostly fatal shuttle accident and ultimately switches gender.

She never shows any particular disappointment with her life, but it's hard to not feel a little sad for her.

I had quite a lot of trouble with Crusher's pose, not the least of which because she's a dancer and I wanted that to show through. Eventually I settled on a 'treating the fallen' pose, which worked out great... but left me with some serious issues finding background reference with a matching 'low' POV. I'm pleased with how the Enterprise passageway came out, but it's a bit of a random choice.

And again, the blue/orange thing. It keeps happening. I think it's following me.

 

 

Women of Star Trek: Troi

It always bothered me that Troi didn't look like an alien. Or act like an alien. She was raised on Betazed, yet she appears to have no cultural conflicts whatsoever living in Star Fleet.

Troi rarely acknowledges her mixed ancestry, and is even less often bothered by it. It is occasionally referenced, but in general characters like Worf wind up being a lot more fraught about their cultural heritage. But other than Troi's mother being difficult (which appears to be personality rather than racially driven) she seems remarkably unconflicted.

So when I sat down to draw Troi, I knew I wanted her to look a little... off. Not quite human. I'm not sure I succeeded, but I at least I didn't make her look awkward. I'm pretty pleased about that, given Troi's preference for twisted posture.