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 #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 #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.