Skullbaby

ajla_skull

Yes, I’m still alive.

A little surprised though to see that I haven’t posted anything in over a year, and really only because I haven’t done any “serious” drawing in that long.  By serious I mean sitting for a couple hours at a stretch.  There have been the occasional doodles and and 20 second sketches… oh, God that’s just sad.

Well, the other day I decided that, dag-gummit, I was a gonna set myself down and draw.  I had intended on doing this drawing for a very long time, as I loved the source photo when I first saw it.  The girl pictured was one of three I worked with a couple years ago whose face paints I did for Halloween.  This make-up was my favorite of the bunch, especially cause it was so well-framed by her hair.  I altered her selfie a little bit at the collar for the sake of symmetry, but otherwise this is what she looked like.

It’s neat (to me at least) to cover half the picture with my hand, flip it to the other side, then back again… “so pretty…so scary… so pretty… so scary….”

Couldn’t think of a title though, started with “skull…..” and the word “baby” popped into my head.  One of those word association things cause there’s a song called ‘Skullbaby’ by a punk band called the Didjits I used to see (what seemed every other week) back at U of I (Illinois at Urbana) in 1987.  They were usually packaged with another local indie band called the Poster Children.

‘Skullbaby’ always struck me as amusing cause the lyrics began:

“Momma had a skullbaby… and it screeeeamed all night long… you would scream too if all you had was a skull!”

Back then, I had my friend copy his copy of the Didjit’s home-made CD onto a cassette for me… but thanks to the internet I see all this stuff is available on Youtube, and I am blaring what was, in 1987, the new album ‘Hey Judester’.

Holy crap that was nearly thirty years ago.  How is it I still know the songs but couldn’t even tell you what classes I took without looking at my transcripts?

 

Advertisements

Zel’s portrait

zel

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.

1 2 3  45

Art Nouveau style book cover

 

 

dance

 

Oh yeah, I have a blog…

Sort of forgot about it since I haven’t really drawn anything in months… too busy writing.  This last week or two however, I have drawn quite a bit.

First, a facebook friend, a girl I grew up with (literally the girl next door, or one house over to be exact), has a animal rescue/shelter in New Hampshire (PeaceandPaws.org) and she mentioned that they were getting a set of wheels (like an HC chair) for a dog named Derby who was born with seriously underdeveloped front legs.  The post said something about tee shirts for fundraising/awareness and I offered to do a drawing.  I did a pencil sketch of the dog and added a harness and wheels using sample pics from the web.  As it turns out, he wound up getting just about the identical style harness, though the tee design we went with was option 2, showing a bunch of dogs running, with one of them on wheels.  As soon as the shirts are printed I’ll devote a post for those drawings and more info on the shelter.

Second, I stumbled across another tee shirt project… a competition for Dungeons and Dragons upcoming game redesign/themes… the new “season” is called “Tyranny of Dragons” and follows a storyline centered around Tiamat, the 5-headed queen of dragons (remember the 80’s cartoon?).  The pisser was that the deadline was 1 day away… it had already been out for 3 or 4 weeks… so I hurriedly did some sketches and came up with a couple designs… not my best stuff but not bad for short work.  The contest actually opens for voting today, but from what I gather, have the entrants are professional design firms that do these all the time and have the networks for “ballot stuffing” which is allowed.  Its kind of like all star game voting where popular stars, especially if they are from, say, the New York Yankees, get gobs of votes simply cause the size of their market, not necessarily cause they merit it.  Anyways, I’m not gonna kill myself getting the word out for the “public’s pick” and hope for a nod for one of the “judge’s picks.”

And finally, we come to the sketch/paint above.  This was another “you have one day to do it” projects.  It is for the PYA: the PanCretan Youth (Association/of America?).  The Chicago chapter is hosting this year, and they are putting together an ad book for fundraising.  Someone called someone else, who called my mom’s friend, who called my mom, who called me Monday night and said:

“They need a cover, can you do something?”

“Sure, when do they need it?”

“Wednesday morning.”

Luckily, Tuesdays are my day off… so my day involved yardwork, cleaning up the garage after a ton of woodworking (did I post about that already? the Viking stuff? I’ll have to check), 45 minute bike ride, draw 2 hours, make dinner, draw for many more hours with a couple breaks to catch an inning of the White Sox game and watch a little bit of John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart take their shots at Liberty Valance.

The sketch was supposed to be about dancing since the kids have dance troupes, and as I started framing the drawing with Cretan elements like the Minoan styled columns, things started to look Deco/Art Nouveau, so I ran with it.  I love the look of Nouveau, but oddly enough I’ve never attempted anything in that style.  It was kind of a pain painting it, there are methods that didn’t work so well as I went along, and realized that it could have been much easier if I had considered how the paint program works before I drew anything by hand.  It would be easier if I drew less to begin with, and took advantage of the computer’s ability to draw in layers and such…

Anyways, in the end I am pretty happy with it, especially since it was one of those drawings that just “happened” and was not planned.  I definitely need to try some more A.N. styled art, and take my time to make it more complex than I was able to do here.

Thorny Rose (Fabelwald)

thorny-rose

Free download !!!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/381528

 

Above you see a manga-styled cover for a free short story I have published on smashwords.com.  The story takes place in the Fabelwald world, approximately thirty years before the events in ‘The Mythic Forest’ (available in print/ebook at amazon/apple/createspace/etc… search by title or by my name!)

The story serves to introduce you to one of the major supporting characters we will see in Fabelwald Book II, as well as a couple of new races/creatures.  I have too many origin stories laying around, and as much as I’d like to get them into the main books, I’m afraid they would just distract from the main plot line.  I remember reading Lord of the Rings (Fellowship of the Ring) and thinking ‘what’s up with all this Tom Bombadill crap?’ …. And I am no Tolkien, lol!

Fabelwald: Fremde the Strange

fremde

Here is a paint of one of the characters in The Mythic Forest.

Fremde the Strange, a self-exiled hermit, was once called Rikard when he lived among other humans.  He is also called Stranseir by the Elves, and Prexnos by the Faeries… all names that translate as “the strange and curious one.”

He turned away from his own kind, fleeing what he saw as humanity’s ignorance and cruelty, and wound up living in the wild.  There, he met an Elf, a forward thinker who set out to prove men were just as capable and deserving of magic as his own race, and who bound magic to Fremde via tattoos of spells and runes.  These tattoos had the unintended effect of further ostracizing Fremde… the superstitious humans found him frightening, and the elitist Elves saw him as a fraud, a cheap parody of themselves.

It was the faery folk however, who knew his heart and chose him for an important task…

https://www.createspace.com/4461608

http://www.amazon.com/Mythic-Forest-Fabelwald-Saga-Volume/dp/1492849146

 

Figure Study: Knight

ImageImageImage

Ahhhh…

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!