The Magic in Your Eyes (from my Patreon page)

So, let us talk about magic systems.  I am fairly well read, so I have encountered many magic systems in numerous universes.  In addition, I have played many fantasy video games that can take these kinds of magic systems and make them usable through button pressing combinations.  They range from the simple expressions of inner power to complex rituals requiring particular materials and symbolic gestures.  Over the years I have seen great examples of magic systems and poor examples.

For a poor example, I give you Terry Goodkind who has no rigorously vetted system of magic; thus, leaving himself open for inconsistency in applying the rules his characters follow.  He makes the rules up as he goes so that you feel that what ever magic rules he has are just created to get the results he wants for the scene.  Consistency is left for the reader to rationalize out.

For good examples, I give you Brandon Sanderson who creates some of the most interesting complex magic systems with unique and consistent rules.  Instead of making the rues fit the situation, he writes situations that fit his story based upon the rules of his magic system.  The use of metals to fuel three different types of magic in the Mistborn series is a joy to read.  Each system is well-defined as is how they interact with each other.  So far, I have not noted Mr. Sanderson writing scenes that are not consistent with the restraints he created in the magic system.

So, where do I sit on the issue.  Well, to be truthful, I am a bit lazy and impatient.  While I love the stuff that Brandon Sanderson is doing, I don’t have the patience to work out such detailed magic systems.  In addition, all my work to date has been short fiction with little room to spend detailing the magic rules.  The closest I have gotten is in next months story “Lepidoptera” where each young Sindain that enters the Woods of Calling are marked with a tattoo by their God Sky Father depicting the need they will fill in the Sindain tribe.  Mostly I tend to represent magic as an aspect of the person or the person’s intelligence and imagination.  This way they can create almost anything with reasonable consistency.  In some cases I source power from the land, which in some ways is how we work in our technological society.

Which ever way you chose to go, magic is almost always an essential part of fantasy fiction, maybe the best part.  So feel free to explore the magic in my stories.

Y Wing Update (from my Patreon page)

y-wing-painting-b

 

Here is where I am with the Y Wing part of my Carrie Fisher tribute.  I have had to back track a few times and undo parts I was not happy with.  I finally decided to work from the cockpit backwards, which seems to be working better for me; however, this will never be an honest reproduction.  My goal is to create a strong enough image that at a smaller size will not be off so far that it is jarring.  I am glad I was able to finally add the R2 unit and I think the cockpit module looks good although I have to place the forward guns yet.

Speaking of Star Wars vehicles, I tried to make my own Imperial Walker out of cardboard from a picture in my vinyl soundtrack slip cover.  I never got further than the head but it wasn’t too bad for the time, given I was in junior high.  They are the coolest vehicles in the series.

Building a Painting (from my Patreon page)

There are certain processes I have come to follow when creating a digital painting.  First and foremost for me is to draw the individual elements.  At one time I would have tried to set them on the same piece of paper and worked with them where they were, not allowing myself the freedom to rethink the layout of the final image.  Because I struggled so much to find time to draw or paint, I had a bad habit of giving up on ideas if they did not work out right away.  I am now thankful for Gimp allowing me to correct parts of an image without affecting the larger painting, much as word-processor allows a two finger typist to complete a large number of short stories.  Another thought on drawing the initial images is that mine are always drawn freehand.  Even if I struggle to get the image right, I still use my drawing.  It is an integrity issue for me.

Once I have the drawings done, I scan them into the computer as a jpegs.  As I have gotten more comfortable using Gimp, I have learned to keep the elements separate until I am ready to place them into the final picture.  I take each image and make the drawings sit on a transparent background.  Then I create a transparent layer above or below the drawing layer, depending on where I think I will have trouble working on the image.  This is where I will paint the actual artwork.  In addition, I will add another layer below these, which will become a temporary background that can be changed as needed to better see the painting I am working on.

Next comes the under painting.  This is where I just put the basic colors on the image such as skin tone, hair color, or fabric color.  I don’t work on details at this point; I just want to completely fill in the areas I intend to work on with their basic colors.  After the under painting is done, I will begin the true creation of the individual pieces.  The detail work is the longest part of any painting for me.

When I have the parts done as much as I can or want, I will copy them into a larger final image as different layers.  I like to keep them in layers until the very end in case I need to adjust their position without affecting anything I have done on the background piece I placed them on.  However, there comes a point in most images where I have to combine the layers into one to help with connecting them into one coherent picture.  My current habit is to hold off as long as I can.  At this point it is all about making adjustments around the parts to make them fit the larger image.  Then I tinker with the painting until I am done.

Shades of Gray (from my Patreon page)

The Calling - pencil

Believe it or not, until maybe the 1990’s, all I used for my art was a number 2 mechanical pencil.  I never tried any type of graded pencil.  I was slow to embrace the need for different grades of pencils to achieve more dynamic images through contrasts.  My works after investing in a set of drawing pencils are substantially better, but the lessons I learned trying to create pictures with a simple mechanical pencil helped me take advantage of my new tools.

Wild Pig

 

A lot of the techniques I had learned, using blending stumps and soft erasers, were just as important with the graded pencils.   Only the degree of use changed.  Now I have finally moved into the digital age by using my laptop and Gimp 2.8, yet, some of the same principles still hold true from my pencil work.  I think that pencil drawing was a fundamental necessity for becoming the artist that I am and I will always have a soft spot for great pencil works.

Finding Inspiration (from my Patreon page)

Please take time to browse my favorites at my deviantart page.  You can find them by following the link on the left column of this page and scrolling down on my deviantart page.  I have over 2600 examples of artwork that caught my eye from sketches to paintings and small sculptures to life-size ones.  If you work your way through the pages, you will find an amphibian tiger and a horse made out of driftwood.  You can also find great examples of comic book artistry.  These are the people who drive me to get better at what I do and sometimes make me itch to experiment.  Again, please consider rummaging through because I believe there is something for everyone including landscapes, portraits, and animals, as well as, science fiction and fantasy.

Well Shame on Me (from my Patreon page)

I just realized that I had not posted anything for my $5 a month patrons.  I ask for forgiveness since I have been fighting a sinus infection, which is making me queasy a lot.  To make amends, I will post last weeks and this weeks pictures together.

The first image is a photo I did for art class back in the eighties.  The title is “Healing the Dark Crystal”, which means it is a painting of the Gelfling Jen preparing to make the Dark Crystal whole again.  This is one of the few acrylic paintings still around from that time frame.  I loved working with the colors and contrast of light to dark.  Also, trying to capture the translucency of the crystal was fun.  Obviously, the image comes from the movie “The Dark Crystal” directed by Jim Henson after the success of Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

The second image is a collection of random drawings and sketches I have done over the years.  There are a lot of skulls and a dragon.  Also, an early study for the painting “Rodeo” that you can find on my Deviantart page.  I started reworking “Rodeo” as a digital painting, but put it aside when the Tiger kept begging me to work on it and the fact that I could not come to terms with the background for “Rodeo”. Hopefully, as I work on other images, something will come along.  Anyway, enjoy these scribbled ideas and painting from my past.

Teasing the Month of March (from my Patreon page)

It is time to tease you with next month’s story.  This is a change from what I had planned to place for March but I thought it would be nice to give you guys a hopeful story.

The Sindain have been at war with the Hadar for a thousand years.  Without the warnings sent to them by their God and the Woods of Calling, the Sindain race would have ceased existence for the Woods of Calling returned the youths that entered as warriors and craftsmen to battle the Hadar.  Unfortunately, as the warriors emerged from the woods, artists, singers, and musicians disappeared from Sindain society.  After a thousand years of war, the Sindain were losing hope.

Maia and her brother Diocles will soon take their initiation into adult society by entering the Woods of Calling to receive Sky Father’s directions for the need of the Sindain.  Both are nervous and hopeful for change in the peoples fortunes.  The two siblings are closely bonded and spend much time in the Shrine of Memory where the ancient works of art have been kept for the Sindain to remember better times.

The changes these siblings undergo will ripple through the tribe, changing everything.  Be sure to subscribe to my Patreon page for $1 a moth so that you can read “Lepidoptera” next month.