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Tag: fantasy

And Her Name Was Susan


So here’s a a little Pratchett fan art piece I did, of Susan Sto Helit as Death. I don’t do fan art very often and when I do I prefer doing characters from literature, as I feel that gives me a more interesting creative challenge then going off from a visual design someone else has already come up with. I’ve always thought Susan was a fun character so it was interesting to visualize her.

This turned out to be a lot harder than I thought, as when I started I had this nice vision of having a fleshy face visible with the skull just showing through it as nice and white, sounds good right? I just couldn’t get it to work visually, as you’ll see in the progress pics, so I ended up just going full skull. A more symbolic and less rendered approach might have gotten it to work, and I’m now almost sad I didn’t go that way now. I also ended up having trouble with the character in another way. In the books she’s described as “pretty, in a skinny way” so at first I made her, well, pretty. But I really didn’t feel like the character was just “a pretty face” and ended up in a sort of conflict with myself over it. In the end of course I sidestepped that issue with the more prominent skull.

Here are the steps.

1. Pencil sketch


2. Value sketch on top of pencils, and trying out the color scheme.


3. Played with color until I found something that felt right, Tried to make character less cute – now she just looked grumpy though.


4. Adding more skull, not feeling good.


5. Abandoned fleshy face as not working, went all out skull. At least she feels scary now! Spent tons of time studying ravens, and then painted it in. At this point raven takes way too much attention, so started to doubt my bg and values


6. Redid the cloud shapes in the bg, and tuned the bg darker and lightened the hair – now the attention is back on the character.


Final. Added some secondary lights, refined the clouds and other details.


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Old tree and a Fairy

Did a tree painting, watch the whole painting process on livestream at

This was a really fun experiment on a more spot illustration style, I’m really happy about the way the framing came out. I love old trees and don’t paint them nearly often enough. This was also in foreshadowing of the tree bark tutorial, coming soon!




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Tree Spirit Progress

So I’m finally done with the painting I started at AetherCon, you can check out the streams on youtube for the beginning phases of this one.

My progress did break down here a bit in the sense that I didn’t finish the composition before jumping into drawing as I was in a hurry to get something to draw for the streams, and I didn’t do the usual color exploration at the beginning of the piece, as I felt people would get bored watching that. And yes, it all came back and bit me in the end, I had to do those phases later on and ended up wasting time. But at least I knew what I had to do and didn’t hesitate to scrap stuff I felt wasn’t working.

Arrived at a sketch I liked, yay for getting to paint!

Jumped into painting skin and didn’t even lay in basic values for the background, big mistake.

And lookie, now it looks stupid as I’m starting to darken the background to where I want it!

Did color exploration, basically stuck it into Photoshop and played with sliders until I liked the result. Arrived at a basic shape for the tree thing, I really liked this as the round shapes made me think of a womb.

Continuing with the tree, I really like it! There’s just something bothering me about the whole… I’ll fix the whole by noodling more detail on the tree, it has to work, right!?

Yeah it didn’t work. I felt like I was killing all the movement of the figure by having such a static shape for the tree. Maybe I’ll use my beautiful rounded tree for something else later. But here I felt I either had to scrap the tree or the figure, and I scrapped the tree. Here is the composition I arrived at that I felt accentuated the movement of the figure instead of holding it back.

I printed it out and had fun with pencils. I really liked the occasional pass of detail -look that I got with the pencils, so I started wondering if I could somehow keep that effect I liked in the final piece.

Here I overlayed the pencils on the painting and set another layer of my original piece above them set as color, so that I retained all of my previous color work. I really liked how this looked, but was a bit worried it would appear too messy.

I started using low opacity chalk on top in the hopes it would retain the texture while pushing it back somewhat. Did thicker passes on the light parts. Only the back most tree to solve for final.

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Monster Medley Progress

Here is some progress from my most recent piece. I felt this time the workflow was pretty smooth overall. I think I learned a lot from the dragonrider piece progress-wise, and actually managed to implement what I learned.

I started by spending an ungodly amount of time going through ideas until I finally landed on something I liked. But time really did pay off, because after that progress was surprisingly smooth.

First I took in my thumbnail sketch and tried out basic lightning and values on it, to make sure it was all going to work and I knew where I was going. After that I dutifully printed it out and started drawing on top of the sketch through my light table to get the “final” drawing. Mainly I forced myself to actually decide what kind of details the buildings were going to have, so I wouldn’t spend ages noodling those out in paint. I still left the figure part of the drawing open, with the excuse that I couldn’t get any detail in anyway since it was so small on my paper.

I then started pushing around color until I arrived at lightning and colors that felt good, and started working on the details. Overall no huge roadblocks there. The figures were a bit of a problem though, and I eventually decided I just couldn’t get a readable silhouette out of two overlapping figures at such a small size, so I nixed the less important figure. Naturally that was the figure I liked more, so it had to go.

I had great fun doing the flames, and was really pleased how easily they came out with a good drawing to use as a guide.

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Dragonrider Progress

This piece has been in the works for ages, since the northernlights workshop I took last spring. Not all of that has been me being lazy though, making games has really eaten into my painting time! And alright maybe I haven’t been very well organized.

The whole progress has actually been about improving my painting progress and organization skills. I got a lot of crits and tips at the workshop, mainly about spending enough time drawing and not being afraid of returning to the drawing board if something isn’t working out. I actually bought a light table on Justin Gerard’s recommendation, so that I can print out my sketches and draw on top of them, and iterate drawings faster traditionally, so I don’t feel forced to go digital too soon.

I’ve implemented this drawing progress to a few paintings now and really like it. I just can’t concentrate on drawing once I’m on the computer, so I need to have all my drawing problems solved before that. It’s like pulling teeth not jumping into painting when I’m so looking forward to it, but it really pays off later on in the process when I don’t need to get frustrated at problems that are solved much easier with a pencil.

I started this piece with a the thumbnail shown below, and as you can see I changed my mind about quite a few things as I progressed. I spend my whole time at the workshop just getting the drawing where I wanted it to be, and it turned out to not be far enough. After I got the drawing on the computer I had changed my mind about the color scheme I wanted to use and proceeded with my new idea.

I keep thinking I should have a way to streamline my approach to color, but if there is I haven’t found it. I usually have a pretty clear idea of the colors I want, until I put my brush to canvas and it just doesn’t seem to work. At that point I google for lots of relevant reference and slowly start pushing the color in a direction that works. After lots of noodling and going back and forth I usually have a color scheme I like. Then I can actually start painting the details.

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Art Order: D&D Art Test

My submission for the Art Order Art Test Challenge. I decided to get away from characters for a bit as I always seem to use so much time in backgrounds, I saw a great opportunity to concentrate on just that. The description was a mountanous land with little vegetation, and some example houses. I thought the house designs looked really jolly, and wanted to do a mountain house without everything being bleak, snowy and dead. I figured it’s probably pretty damn beautiful up there, and awesome living above the world. I’d love to go there for a holiday.


Character Portrait

Another character portrait from our new Ars Magica campaign, really fun to paint.

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Sketch of a troll, I just love them.

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Character Portrait

We started a new Ars Magica game with our gaming group, and I’ve been having fun drawing the characters.

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