Zel’s portrait


Well, I’m still plugging away at “Fabelwald Book II: Dandle & Lion”, which is why I’ve completely ignored this blog.  Actually, I’m reworking Book I as well a little bit. I have settled on a consistent cover layout for the series, so will reissue “Mythic Forest” with a new cover (the first design I had painted, but then not used) AND inserting a handful of character portraits AND adding a very short chapter at the end to allow for ‘loose ends’ to be picked up in future novels.

The portrait here is a 4×6 digital paint of the main character (Zel, aka Rapunzel) for Book I.  The following pics show the process… I sketched directly into the computer, then messed around until I came up with something that looks like stone for her window frame (on a separate layer).  On a third layer I underpainted the sketch with basic blobs of light and shadow.  I then duplicated the sketch layer (to save a clean copy) and merged it with the light/shadow layer… this allowed me to smudge and paint around the sketch, instead of having to essentially redo the sketch in a new layer of paint.  Finally came the long process of detailing and refining…. eventually getting down to adding individual strands of fly-away hair, freckles, birthmarks, etc.

I also tried adding a little bit of blur as you get towards the edges of the pic, and I kind of like the looseness of those areas.  The problem I keep running into is that I zoom in too much to smooth out the fine areas of color change on the face, which looks great zoomed in, but then when I zoom out to the “actual size” the paint looks strange… Its obvious there’s too much drawn in detail and there is a sort of harshness about the whole thing.  I need someone to stand behind me and slap me upside the head when I press the zoom button!

Sticking to a “rougher” paint will likely not only look nicer (more like oil paint) and save me hours of work no one can see.  Well, actually, the detail DOES allow me to print much larger sized work and even print out zoomed-in, individual areas… but really, unless by some miracle these drawings go viral and people start demanding poster versions, I’ll never use that option.

So, its back to having someone just slap me upside the head.

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A few hours ago the news was released that a 10’x 15′ mosaic floor was uncovered in one of the Amphipolis chambers.  For those who have not heard, Amphipolis is one of the largest if not THE largest tombs found in Greece, dating back to the time of Alexander the Great.  Its looking like this may be the tomb of one of his more important or at least favored generals.  One report I read says it may be the tomb of Laomedon of Mytilene, who was given Syria when the empire was carved up.

Anyways, there is a big circle missing in the middle, and because of the amount of detail of the surrounding artwork, they can pretty much reconstruct it.  What I noticed was the slightly different coloring of the stone/earth beneath, and that it sort of matched the shapes of the artwork above.  A simple adjustment of contrast in a paint program enhances this ( itraced out the lines).  I’m guessing that the discoloration either has something to do with the chemistry of the different colored stones used in the mosaic, perhaps leaching into the base “cement”; or perhaps because the “cement” batches themselves were not identical, controlled mixes as the different sections of the artwork were laid out (I’d guess they did the foreground details first to get the right shapes, then filled in the layers of background as those dried).  Since the mixes were slightly different in the colors were slightly off as well.

Oh well, just my amateur archaeological thoughts…

Book Proofreading


I have nearly finished reading my novel in long sessions to get a feel for continuity and pace and all that fun stuff, and though I had reviewed it a million times for grammar, word choice, etc., I still find tiny things to change.  My biggest pet peeves are the occasional instances of “I used that word too much in the last few paragraphs!”.   So off we go to the online thesaurus!

Hmm… thesaurus.

Let me jump off track here.  I remember back before there was an internet, when I was in grade school I needed to buy one of those little “Roget’s (?) Pocket Thesaurus” for class.  I was in the local pharmacy buying an X-Men comic, and on the off chance they had such a thing I asked the cashier where I could find one.  That’s not so strange, is it?  I mean they always put in those racks at the beginning of the school year with packages of pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, glue, compasses, etc…  So the lady who bore a strange resemblance to the mom of the family of thieves in “The Goonies” :

Says to me : “What’s a fasoris?”


Anyways, back to proofreading, I would like to share a little gem I discovered weeks ago when researching medieval life to make sure what I was writing was accurate.  I don’t recall what I was looking for, but somehow came across this Brit’s youtube videos.  He has a wonderful sense of humor, sort of a Hugh Laurie vibe.  He apparently does a lot of historical reenactments, cosplay and so on, so not only has a good historical knowledge but a practical one as well.  He found out (the hard way sometimes) about little details like uses of fire, weapon and armor details, etc.   He mocks the Hollywood versions of things, like sound and lighting effects, which are done simply cause they look or sound cool, but are completely wrong. Of course, the world has grown up seeing these things in movies, and we assume its real.

I had a scene in a castle, and described a scene where the flicker and sputtering of torches created all this tension and mood and yadda-yadda-yadda…. and then I saw the following video and went back and rewrote it all.

In my proof reading last night, I caught the mistake of mentioning “torches” instead of “lanterns” pages after my rewrite.

Which is what got me on this sidetrack.

Or was it a sidetrack?  I was talking about proof reading.

I think.

What the hell did I start this post for?  Ah, never mind.

Just enjoy the videos.

Book Proof is In!


I finally got the physical proof of the fantasy novel I have been working on since the beginning of the year!

Being of grumpy nature, my first words upon opening the package were “God damn it!”  Ha ha ha.

I was of course referring to how dark the cover printed- most of my painting simply came out black.  As I have griped about in previous posts, what you see in you actual drawing file versus what gets saved when converted to a .jpeg or .pic or .png is a whole other animal.  Over the last year I have searched for clues online on how to get things to come out right, but have had no luck. 

I actually thought my prayers were answered when I had to submit the drawing file to the printer, cause they required a PDF file.  When I saved it as such, I was shocked to see that it looked identical to my drawing file version.  No way! I cried… finally I had found a format that looked like what I had intended.  Well, now I know it looks good, but prints terribly.  The other formats look worse, but print better.

Back to the drawing board (no pun intended, but what the hell, it works).


Figure Study: Knight



I have nearly forgotten how to use this site.  Its been that long…

As I have mentioned before, I have been busy working on a fantasy novel, which is finally finished!  I should get my proof in a few days, and if all is well it will be available on amazon (print or electronic).  The series is called “Fabelwald”… book one is “The Mythic Forest”.

Anyhoo, above you see three pencil drawings I did last night at the figure study group.  Its the first time I’ve been there in three or four months.  Same complaints about the poor lighting, LOL.  Its also the first pencil drawing I’ve done in months… I’ve only done two digital paints since then as well (damn that book of mine!)

This costume was not so bad, but overall not so great either.  The model had the biggest complaints… metal parts were pinching and poking him, he repeatedly lost circulation in his hands, the suit somehow got heavier over time, it was too hot, his head and shoulders were crushed under the weight, he could not move, etc.  All this meant he had just one pose available, to last 3 hours (with breaks every 15 minutes to half undress cause of the problems).

This was not so bad for the painters in attendance, but for me it was monotonous.  I pretty much finished in one or two sets of 15 minutes for each detail.  I even ruined the second pic you see cause I kept going back to add contrast in the face, and the final result is worse for it.

I did get to play around with new pencils I had bought long ago but never used.  I especially liked the ‘woodless’ pencils (basically a giant piece of “lead” wrapped in plastic); they stayed pretty sharp even though they are on the soft side, and oh boy did they make such nice BLACK color.  They felt funny to use, gliding on the paper smoothly and “waxy” like a crayon, compared to a more scratchy feeling by regular pencil (I was using slightly textured paper, sort of rough like a business card or construction paper.)

It was funny to watch our host playing the squire and dressing the knight.  Mind you, this is a cheapo, light replica without all the details… no padded shirt, skirt, short on straps and fasteners, etc.  This thing was supposed to be easier to wear than the real thing.  So what sort of grief did a Knight of old go through?  He had to lug around expensive heavy armor, have help getting dressed, and constantly have an armorer repair the suit.  It must have been like owning a Ferrari and having to go off-roading in it every day… cringing with every dent, but telling yourself you’re still special and super-cool.

What must have been the biggest heartache was to be the knight standing next to the first armored soldier taken out by the longbow…. realizing that all that money and a lifetime of training meant squat cause somebody just invented a bow that could shoot through you!

Circe (WIP revision)

It is a wonder what a difference a fresh look makes.

Last night I posted the image on the left, and mentioned it looked a little goofy.  I knew the lips were a bit off, but tried sculpting her jaw to compensate. This morning, I tried a technique that helps you easily find errors or inconsistencies: flipping the image.  As you see in the second image, her face really shows how far off the entire jaw was… she had a banana shaped face!  The third image shows where I cut out pieces, and pasted them back in closer to where they should be.  The final image shows the re-blended shadows and such.

Subtle changes, but those little details have great impact.  Thank God for computers, eh?  If I was doing this on paper it would be a real mess.