I’ve loved art since I was a child, and while I have never taken a formal art class, I have worked to teach myself through books, tutorials, and connecting with other artists. I used to work primarily in pencils and pastels, but in 2005, I got my first drawing tablet: a Wacom Bamboo Fun. I quickly made the transition into digital art, and have been painting in Photoshop ever since. I currently use Photoshop CS4 and a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet. I still do a bit of traditional art from time to time, but my digital work has far outpaced it.
You can find some of the Illustrations for my novels in the top menu. I have also included some tutorials, both to show the way I work and to perhaps be useful to other artists out there. If you are an artist and think you can improve on my methods, or would be curious to see my techniques for something else, I encourage you to contact me. I got to where I am today in my art because there were other artists willing to help me, so I am always willing to return that favor to others.
Just a few quick updates:
First, if you’re in the Fredericksburg area, I’ll be at Salem Church Library tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 2nd) from 2 until 5:30. If you can’t make it, you can also find me at Porter library on the 4th from 5:00-8:30, or at England Run on the 15th from 2:00-5:30.
Also, I’ve begun work on the cover for book four, The Mirror Of Dùmsaro. Hopefully I will be able to show it to you within a week or two! I also got the manuscript for the book back a few days ago from an editor, so I will be able to start the typesetting process for it in another few weeks.
I think, too, that I may begin using this blog for things only somewhat connected to writing, or for posts of a more personal nature. I imagine it’s probably a little boring reading only technical things or professional updates, so I’m going to try to liven it up a bit! I may also start sharing some unfinished sketches, since there are usually several sketches per book that never develop into full illustrations.
I just uploaded a number of new graphics to the store, including crests for Ari and Malachi, as well as graphics for the villains, and the United. A few examples are below. Enjoy!
I finished my reading of the Through Death Or Through Darkness proof today and have made the necessary fixes. I have a bit of exciting news regarding the editing of the book. Each manuscript is read by anywhere between four and six separate people (not including myself), but there have still been errors slipping through to the point that there have been several informal reviews voicing concern about the books’ editing. As someone who is going at this author business on my own, I simply do not have the resources to afford a full time professional editor. However, I recently received a very generous offer from someone who works in the field of professional writing to proofread for me free of charge. I won’t name this individual until I find out if it is ok to do so, but I am very excited. This will be someone who is new to the work– fresh eyes in all senses– and someone who is professionally trained in writing, so I have high hopes that the next book, and hopefully future books as well, will be more up to par in terms of typographical errors (or lack thereof). I’ll be delivering the proof copy to this new reader tomorrow morning.
I’m also pleased to announce that in addition to a glossary and pronunciation guide, there will be a map of Etheria included in the appendix of the third book. There is one other feature I’m hoping will be included, but it did not print as well as I had hoped, so I’m going to try out a new image format and some altering of the image itself to see if that will make a difference. I hope so. I’ll let you know if it works out in the next proof.
Finally, the cover printed fabulously. This is the first time I’ve gotten the first proof of a book and not wanted to make changes to the colors at all. It features one of my most favorite illustrations. Oddly enough, I never created this image to be a cover, or even to go with a particular story. As it happens, I painted this image during the final days of my grandfather’s life about a year and a half ago as a distraction from the pain that was hanging over my family at the time. When I started preparing Through Death Or Through Darkness for printing, I was at a loss as to what to use for the cover. I actually painted a whole other image thinking it would serve as the cover, but once I got all the text in place, I just didn’t like it. That’s when I started scrolling through my file of artwork and this image just called to me. I imagine many of you have seen it before, but I hope you’ll enjoy it as a cover much as I do.
(If you’ve not heard the song that I have titled this post with, you should listen to it. It’s very good, as only One Republic can deliver.)
Big news here for me, and perhaps at least a partial excuse as to why I have been so lax in posting anything these past few months: I am graduating from college, a B. A. in English, with honors, with a focus on Medieval Literature. It was a tough last semester, but I managed and by this time next week, I will have received my diploma. As part of my course load this semester, I did an independent study on Muse figures, from their origins in Ancient Greece, through the Middle Ages, and into their realizations within Jungian psychology. I have uploaded my final thesis for the study if you are so inclined to read it.
Somehow in the midst of all my schoolwork, I managed to finish the re-write of the sixth book in my series, and it came in as longest book of the re-writes so far, at about 90,000 words. I’m pleased with how it came out, and it has gotten good reviews from the few people I’ve had read it for me so far. Late last week, I started the re-write of the seventh book, which is the final book of the main series. I’m about 5,000 words in so far and am very excited about it. I’m sure you’ll be seeing some illustrations for it hopefully in the not too distant future.
In terms of art, I’ve not had a lot of time to do anything more than simple pieces, and even then I’ve only been able to do a handful. I’ve uploaded them to the Illustrations page; the first is a wraith from the sixth book, and the other two are just fun pieces that I messed around with as I had a few minutes here and there. I was very fortunate to receive a new tablet for my birthday, an Intuous 4, and the last piece here was my first foray with it. The fiery one in the middle was inspired by my independent study. As Shakespeare once said, “O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention!”
I also did this very plain piece as an effort to improve on shading and painting facial features. I am particularly proud of the nose.
That’s about it art and writing-wise. I’ve mostly just been enjoying the past couple of days being finished with school. It’s a great feeling. I’ve been able to do all the things I had to put on the back burner while I was buckled down on senior year. Today, for example, I dusted off and oiled my baritone horn. Poor baby probably thinks I don’t love it any more. I need to get back in the habit of practicing regularly. I was rusty enough as it is, but it’s even worse now. I found this piece that I had recorded over winter break of me playing an original composition:
I don’t sound quite that good now, but hopefully with a little practice I’ll be back there soon, and with some time maybe I’ll get back to the place I was years ago when I was first chair in my district.
That’s all for now. I’ll try to update more regularly now I am free from college and intensive school work.
My winter break is going swimmingly, outside of a killer sinus infection that I’m just now getting over. For the past week or so, I’ve been writing about 2000-3000 words a day. It’s been great! I’m definitely making up for the time I lost during my busy semester. The book is coming along nicely, although I think I need to just go through and read it and fix things; it seems a little choppy in places, mostly because I only had choppy amounts of time work on it there for about three months. A little smoothing out and careful polishing should set things straight, though.
I’ve also been able to do a little art; no illustrations this round, but just some doodles that helped me practice a few things. I was working on my trees and snow, and just overall color use. (Yes, there’s a little bit of lens flare in the first one— you may now beat me.) I was very happy with how the costume and colors came out in the last one though, so much so… it’s now the blog header.
Just uploaded four new illustrations. Well, ok, three illustrations and one that was just a fun costume design. Click to view larger. These have also been added to the Illustrations Gallery.
I turned the costume doodle into a new header, because I quite like the colors… and wind makes everything more epic.
I also upload a new tutorial on using Photoshop adjustment layers.
I mentioned these to someone online earlier today, and I thought they might be things not a lot of people know, so I thought I’d post them here to share. Here are some ways to help you get the proper proportions when drawing human figures:
—>People are almost always between 6-8 head-lengths tall. That is, however big their head is, repeat that size 6 or 7 more times down their body to get their height.
—>If you divide your figure up into head-lengths, the waist should usually fall at the line between the 3rd and 4th head-length.
—>When the person is standing straight, the elbows should line up with the waist, and the wrists about with the top leg joints. You can use those spaces on the torso to measure for the length of the arms if you have the arms positioned differently.
—>The arm span from fingertip to fingertip when outstretched is approximately equal to the person’s height.
—>The foot is the length of the forearm, or vice versa.
—>The eyes are one eye-width apart.
—>When looking straight ahead, the corners of the mouth line up with the pupils.
—>If you go around the head, ears are placed between the tip of the nose and the edge of the eyebrow.
—>The length of the hand should be approximately equal to the length between the tip of the chin and between or just above the eyebrows, or vice versa.
I’ll also direct you to Posemaniacs, which is a great resource for anatomy and weight distribution. While they’re not always 100% accurate, it’s pretty cool to be able to rotate them around and get different perspectives.
Finished the illustration of the hydra I’ve been working on. Click below to view the finished piece:
All in all, I think it turned out ok. I had a little trouble figuring out how to realistically/anatomically attach all the heads, and the one looks just kind of stuck on there. The curve on the tail could stand some smoothing out too. Ah, well. We’ll try it again some day. On the other hand, I think my favorite parts are the belly scales and the clouds in the upper right corner. I quite like the way the colors came out on them.
I’m working on a new illustration today of one of my hydra characters. So far I think he’s looking pretty cool, but I am not looking forward to painting those scales.