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.




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.


Rhya and Pavlov

Rhya-and-Pav Sometimes, my fiance and I WoW together. These are our mains, gettin' down with their funky selves.

I think I'm getting a closer handle on a consistent 'WoW' style, but this one is still a ranging shot. While I like it, particularly the poses, it's too busy. I expected the shading to help direct the viewer's eye more than it actually does. I was being too cautious about contrast...again. (Can I just hire someone to hit me with a wiffle bat inscribed with 'too subtle' when I do this? Please post resumes in the comments.)

This is also the capstone to my Valentine's Day self promotion week! So if anybody wants to commission an illustration or a piece of jewelry for their significant other, drop me a line.

Elegant Couple

Dan-and-Allison Originally this was just a pretty drawing. Then one of my friends saw it, and exclaimed 'Oh, that looks just like [me and my significant other]!' As I'm a pretty firm believer in letting my art be what other people think it is instead of trying to keep a stranglehold on meaning, (plus it did sort of look like them) I said 'sure'.

Years later I digitally inked it, and now the person in the suit sort of looks like a crossdressing lady.


Medical Guidelines

megnboy I think we've reached the point where I have to warn the diabetics in my audience: this week's posts may require you to increase your insulin dosage.  Please consider checking your blood sugar after reading your RSS feed.

Just a reminder- all this sweetness and light is a gentle suggestion from me to you. Commission me to make Valentine's Day illustration for you or your significant other! Or both! Or hey, a piece of jewelry if you're into that sort of thing.

Leave me a comment with your email if any of the above piques your interest, so I can get started well in advance. Because overnight shipping charges are a bitch.

It's Dancing, not Rocket Surgery

momanddaddancing Confession Time: I was one of those teens who was afraid to dance.

I thought that everyone was watching me. And I didn't know what to do, because weren't there moves or steps or something? Also I don't like this song, let's wait for a good song.

But I did learn to dance. Mostly,  I stopped caring so goddamn much. It helps  if you're willing to get a little tipsy, and if you have a friend who will (loudly) verbally encourage you. But the main point is that dancing is a form of play- and most adults suck at play. We take it too seriously, and try to think too much in words, rather than kinesthetically.

And that's why couples who dance are always precious and beautiful, even if they're just shuffling around the floor. Because when you are playing with your favorite person in the world, joy just rolls off of you.


photo1-1 Trust me, I hate when people do this.

By 'this', I mean start celebrating an upcoming holiday three weeks before that holiday's date. (I always wondered what fall/early winter holiday would get squeezed out in the merchandise wars... turns out that at my local mall, Thanksgiving didn't happen this year. The decorations went straight from Halloween to Christmas.)

Nonetheless. That Valentine's Day thing is going to happen soon, so I thought I'd attempt to pique your interest in commissioning Valentine's Day illustrations from me. To that end, all this week I'll be posting romantic drawings.  My inner five year old is rolling on the floor mock gagging at the prospect of a full week of mushy stuff, but she's not the best with business skills.

Price depends on level of detail, so leave a comment including your email if you're interested, and we'll talk specifics.