Thursday, October 31, 2013

Old to New 12: Vavnica, Tough as Nails, yet Sweet as Antifreeze

{Theme Song: The Ghost Inside, Broken Bells}

For a change, today we venture North to Siskad.  Here is a small island that's managed never to be conquered by convincing the world they want neither the miserably cold, unyielding land, nor the contrary, abrasive Siskadians.

While this strategy works well in deflecting would-be tyrants it doesn't exactly make Siskadians a Popular people.  Fortunately, they don't particularly care.  It's a hard life in Siskad and sometimes little things like "feelings" must be overlooked.

Yet here again Siskad is as contradictory as its people.  While everyone is expected to work hard and use any special talents they have for the good of all, their personal lives are considered just that - personal.  Despite a Siskadian's general prickliness and well fortified heart, almost all marry for love and a Separating (called just that with a Capital "S") is almost unheard of and mourned like a death in the family.

Vavnica is a fairly typical Siskadian, if perhaps more internationally aware.  From an early age Vavnica trained in infiltration, stealth and information gathering.  She excelled, but hated the life.  Using those same skill sets, Vavnica escaped her schooling in order to run home to her mother.  This ended after her mother's death in Vavnica's teen years.

Vavnica only lasted a few years longer in her selected profession before she was "retired" due to perceived instability.  With such an unusual resume and not much in the way of job prospects in Siskad, Vavnica chose to leave and offer her services to the Humanitarian-minded United Champions of the Defenseless (UCD for short).

Her background combined with her intense, but cool facade can make other UCD members nervous at times, but no one doubts her abilities.  Time and again she proves you Don't want to come up against Vavnica Peerkchnes.

My first drawing of Vavnica has been touched up a bit, so I also included my second - my update is something of a mish-mesh of the two pictures anyway, rather than a straight redo.

I know when I posted Aiya I complained about the difficulty of dark skin - now I must add that extremely fair skin isn't a breeze either!  It's ridiculously easy to "muddy" the color, and my first layer in marker had WAY too much pink.  I had to go over her skin several times with colored pencils before I finally got it right - though even now I worry she has too much color...

I also included another picture, an early attempt at greater realism.  A straight take on picture one, this was done on scrapbooking paper using Crayola colored pencils, so be merciful =]

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Old to New 11: Emis, the Noble Commoner

{Theme song: Please Don't Find Me, Civil Twilight}

Another day in the dichotomous world of Tierrine...

Emis (said Ee-mis) is Benedette's distorted Noble reflection.  Whereas Benedette was a winged child born in a common family, Emis comes from an Elevated family, but was the only child in her generation to turn out Common - wingless.

Her family lived in denial for a long time, claiming their beloved daughter was just a late bloomer.  After they finally came to accept reality they continued to use their influence to ensure she received the best of everything and was that rare Commoner welcome in Elevated circles.

Even at an early age Emis recognized the futility of this, but tried to belong for the sake of her family.  When her childhood friend declared his love for her and intention to marry her, common or no, Emis realized she also had to stop pretending.  She could never marry her winged love.  What kind of life could they have when he was destined to live in the clouds while her feet were stuck firmly, pragmatically on the ground.  It would condemn him to the same limbo she occupied.

Emis left home that night, firmly but lovingly cutting ties with her well-meaning Elevated family and friends.  She needed to learn to be Common if she ever wanted to find her place in their world.  It's never easy to start over from scratch, but Emis has so far managed to resist giving into the temptation of self-pity or bitterness.

Another straightforward update - just a bit of extra embellishment.  Redone in Copic Markers.

Character of the Week: Olis - The Tightrope Walk between Personal Ambition and Volatile Talent

Storyline:  A Wingless Flight of Fancy
Height:  5'6"
Weight:  140 lbs
Race:  Tierrine
Birthplace:  Opaline, Tierrine
Theme Song: You Need Me, I Don't Need You, Ed Sheeran

Fourth child of eight in a dirt poor, unwinged, common family.  He came from humble beginnings that could never, ever satisfy such an innovator.  Fortunately he's used to making the best out of a tough situation.

From an early age he was saddled with the thankless task of keeping his twin sister Uli out of trouble.  After realizing this was impossible, he determined to make her talents into their ticket to the rest of the world.

Olis is clever and likeable - both by nature and necessity as he has to constantly work at balancing his talented sister's brash and abrasive personality, rebuilding bridges she heedlessly burns.  This became especially important once he determined they should turn her acrobatic performances into a business.

Taking their show on the road Olis added the even larger challenge of marketing.  His twin is of no help here, so he relies on his childhood best friend Sephon and the other people that are drawn in along the way.

The question is will living such a tough, hand to mouth existence, with Uli seeming to sabotage his every effort end in Stardom or Sororicide???

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Old to New 10: Teera, the Perfect Bird

{Theme Music: Northern Downpour, Panic! at the Disco}

Teera, only daughter in a family that's been Elevated for centuries, you can see her noble heritage in the sky-like hue of her skin and golden sheen of her hair.  She's clearly a world above the common born, most of whom are as distinguished by their boring brown and cream skin tones as by their lack of wings.

Not only is Teera a lovely bird from a good family, she is also smart and adept at pretty much everything she puts her hand to.  You'd hate her if she wasn't also just so darned nice.  Coming from such an old family, and near perfect in her own right, Teera has nothing to prove, so feels no need for the petty elitism or bullying favored by those middle class elevated.  In fact, she's only too happy to put in more Community Service hours than required of the Elevated.

Other Elevated girls don't particularly like standing next to Teera, since they know they can't compete, but many are willing to risk friendship with her for one huge perk: being in the same room as Teera's gorgeous older brother.  He's as handsome as his sister is beautiful, has a considerate, gentlemanly manner and ridiculously good career prospects.  In other words he's the Ultimate Catch.  Now if only he'd show a speck of interest in any one of Teera's flock of friends...

My first drawing of Teera I'd been playing with a more Anime influenced aesthetic, as evidenced by her eyes :)  Ultimately I feel my current aesthetic is about equally influenced by both Western Comic Books and Eastern Manga, but in Teera's rework I tried to keep a bit more of that Anime flavor.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Old to New 9: Benedette, Ugly Duckling to Bird of Prey

{Theme song: Privelege, Incubus}

In honor of Olis's 2nd post, today we'll head back to Tierrine!

Benedette was one of the first characters I ever drew from Tierrine, a world ruled by the minority Elevated humans - a fancy way of saying those with wings.

A recessive genetic trait, it's possible for it to lie dormant through generations of unwinged only to then pop up like the rare winter rose.

Benedette is just such an instance - and though her family now celebrates their elevated social status, it's never been an easy life for Benedette.  As a child she was ungainly, hunchbacked and itchy - and so far removed from the elevated, no one understood why.  When it was finally realized she would grow wings, Benedette was taken from her Common home and thrust unprepared into the world of the Elevated.

Neither truly Common nor Elevated, Benedette lives between the two worlds, struggling to find her niche.  "Sponsored" by an Old and Noble Elevated family with a daughter just her age, it was believed she'd have an instant friend.  Instead she spends most of her life standing next to delicate, winged perfection, fearing the inevitable comparison that could only find her wanting.

My first drawing of Benedette shows her in what I imagined their school uniform would look like.  Upon updating the pic, I felt a skirt might not be the best option for people that fly... So instead I gave her some well fitted, aerodynamic capris, while keeping that flowing Roman/Grecian feel in her shirt..  I also gave the top a tie at the neck - my answer to the question of how do you get the clothes over the wings?  (Am I the only one that's wondered this?)

Benedette was updated using Copic Markers and touches of Prismacolored Pencils (the usual per earlier posts).  Her wings are those of a Hawk.  Despite the vulnerability due to circumstances of her birth, Benedette is meant to become a bird of prey, strengthened by the challenges of her youth rather than broken.

Olis 1.1: Capitalizing on Your Annoying Sibling's Talents; How to Make Lemonade out of Lemons

Opaline, Tierrine
Uli descended the column to applause from the crowd and was greeted by mother with scolding and hugs, slaps followed by kisses.  Her future was set from that moment on.

I was yelled at for letting Uli out of my sight – no hugs and kisses for me, it would seem, but at least Uli never let slip that I had dared her up that column.  I suppose even Uli had her tolerable moments.  It also didn’t hurt that overnight she’d become a local hero.  For the first time ever, being her twin had its perks.

It also meant I spent the next year in trouble.

My parents tried everything to keep their wild child from further endangering her life, but now that Uli had finally found the spotlight, no way was she letting it leave her.  Each week her actions became more dramatic and daring.  If it kept her audience coming back for more, Uli lived by the rule Anything Goes.

Meanwhile, I chose to follow the grand tradition “If you can’t beat them, join them”, and to capitalize on the situation.  The only question was How?

 My first brilliant plan was to join Uli’s act.  Not only did this anger my darling twin, who didn’t want to share the attention, I ended up with a 10 inch gash in my shin that required very painful stitches and a sprained wrist.  Don’t ask.  Suffice it to say that I lack my sister’s grace.

I also received the scolding of a lifetime from my mother who declared we didn’t need two fools in the family, and wasn’t allowed to leave the house for the next month.  Instead of going outside I had to help with the extra laundry my mother did for money.  Fortunately neither my imprisonment nor the foul smell of lye kept my best friend from sneaking in to entertain me.

Sephon was an artist.  He was quiet, observant and, due to being cursed with a terrible stutter, he communicated almost entirely through the beautiful pictures he drew.  So while I was stuck at home working my hands raw, he would follow Uli, draw all the ridiculous things she did, then sneak into my home at night to show me just what I’d missed.

Sometimes to cheer me up he’d draw Uli tripping and falling flat on her face.  I’m not too ashamed to say it did help.

Despite my jealousy and general annoyance with Uli (aka the Bane of my existence), I found that I was sad to not be there to see her perform.  Even at only 8 or 9 she really was spectacular.  Now that she’d found her calling she single-mindedly pursued it, constantly working to improve her act – even when this meant her actual studies suffered and she couldn’t do basic addition, much to my parents’ chagrin.

It was then that I realized how I could join in.  What, I asked myself, separates a crazy monkey child (my mother’s words) from a star?  Fame and money.  What did you need to acquire that?  Publicity.

While Uli’s act drew people in, her abrasive personality pushed them away.  I, on the other hand, am a people person, likeable, even charming at times, and had become quite adept at smoothing ruffled feathers – both those of Uli and others.  Most importantly, I could see the Big Picture and had an idea for how we could profit from her talents.  You see, unlike Uli, I could do Math.

It all started with Sephon’s notebook:  We already had the perfect advertisements.  After all, if they made me wish I was there to see it, surely others would feel the same.  We just had to find a location for Uli’s performance that adults wouldn't stumble upon, where Sephon and I could control entrance and charge an admission fee.

Well, that and convince Uli to stop doing her daring stunts for free.

Sephon left that part to me – despite being one of Uli’s only friends, he was slightly terrified of her.  I think it’s what made the relationship work.

I, on the other hand, had to hope that blood was indeed thicker than water – and that not too much would be spilled that afternoon…

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Old to New 8: Cringe, Post-Modern Major General

{Theme Music: Breaking the Habit, Linkin Park}

After posting Kamino's Origins yesterday, it seemed only fair that I now post her Muchovan nemesis Cringe.  Our first full look at the villain of the piece.

Haling from a place unknown to the common Muchovan people, Cringe has some Egyptian influence to his look - perhaps most apparent in his updated make up - as well as some Asian and military touches.  (I don't like limiting my inspiration to only one source as I feel this gives the people less range in appearance.)

My first go was, again, a bit dull and expected, so for his update Cringe got quite the makeover.  He's still recognizable, I believe, but I've added in a bit more style and color - and a whole lot of attitude.

Cringe is a sardonic, offensive punk and this needs to be apparent from the first glance.  I try to convey this using his makeup, hair and facial expressions.  Yeah, he's standing at attention like a "proper" military commander, but just barely and his chest piece seems to be the jerk's only nod to his position.  He's certainly not wearing his ceremonial epaulets as most others would.

I chose to eliminate most of the black from the original picture because I feel the villain wearing black is just a bit cliche.  Of course, anymore the hero wears black also because he needs to be "cool" and with the villain wearing black to denote his villainous heart where exactly does color come into the picture?  The damsel in distress?  (And *ugh* talk about another cliche I could do without!)

I unabashedly love color and feel it's more expressive than black (which, in fact, is Not a color, but by definition is the Absence of color).  Hence, you will find that most of my pictures are quite colorful.  Just in case you were wondering why :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Old to New 7: Kamino

Having seen the most recent "Hero Shot" when she was Character of the Week, here are Kamino's humble origins:

As a main character that goes back over decade, through Kamino we see Paonia in it's infancy.  Frankly, aside from her skin and hair color she was about as boring as oatmeal.  Hence her "update" is quite a change.

Done in Crayola colored pencils, before I'd yet given into that ever present Prismacolor temptation, I was quite please with how her redo turned out - especially the number of fabric textures I was able to convey.  Her hair also looks far less skunk like.

Contrasting natural highlights that reveal the age of the character, was an early concept for Paonia, and sounded great to my younger self.  Making those look good later on...not so easy, but I choose to stand behind that earlier aesthetic decision, and the slight punk artist feel it gives to both Kamino and her mother, I must admit I love.  Perhaps that's a bit telling where I'm concerned...
Again the second picture of Kamino is quite a departure from the original.  In this instance, though, the clothing maintains much of the original feel, while I chose to go with another hue entirely for her skin.

The story - as alluded to in How to Start Over Using Only Bugs and Berries, is that Kamino changes her skin tone to be less conspicuous while traveling through Paonia.  (Oceanians are isolationists by nature, so rarely intermarry with Paonians from other provinces, making Kamino unique in this regard.)

Originally I gave her the skin tone of the Southern Plains, but this really wasn't logical since her father is from the Northern Plains and she has his hair.  Additionally (though I've never tried it) I should think it'd be easier to make blue skin purple using some red bugs and flowers than it would to turn blue to white - at least without bleach!

Besides, I just like the colorful skin tones :)  Why write fantasy with ordinary looking people right???

And finally, Kamino's pastel portrait.  I was on a pastel kick for a while (clearly) so much of Kamino's family are privileged to have portraits.  Just don't expect too many more after this as I don't currently have my pastels with me *sigh*

Friday, October 25, 2013

Old to New 6: Zaddin, Ambassador, Provincial Ruler and Grandpa

{Theme Music: Last Night as I Lay Dreaming, The Prodigals}

Today is another look at Kamino's family.

Zaddin is Kamino's maternal Grandfather, born of the Oceanian royal line he's held the highest title of Governorino most of his life.  Before that he'd served as Oceania's representative in Paonia's capital city, affectionately referred to as D-City; the official home of the Decrestore, Domerse and Dameer, the most important personages of Paonia.

As Oceanian ambassador Zaddin had been working hard to restoring friendly terms

between his home province and the capital.  Relations had been strained for some time due to D-City feeling Oceania was too independent while Oceania felt D-City was too intrusive.  The resolution received a severe blow when an extreme Oceanian group made a violent demonstration in the capital - and fell apart entirely after Zaddin was called home to his father's deathbed.

Shortly after he became Governorino Zaddin came to have a daughter - it was a bit of a scandal since she just appeared one day and Zaddin has chosen to never reveal her mother's identity.  It just speaks to the respect and love the people had for their new Governorino that he weathered this scandal pretty much unscathed, and his daughter Kamira was just as widely adored as her father.

Perhaps an even greater feat of Zaddin's is that he also maintained a good personal relationship with D-City, and was privileged to receive both the Decrestore and High Warress (1st and 2nd most powerful Chikiles) as guests on multiple occasions, in addition to other nobles of note.  This is credited with the seemingly ideal compromise that was eventually reached between Oceania and D-City.  Zaddin's daughter, a royal Oceanian, would marry a D-City noble.  Hence D-City could say one of it's own governed Oceania, while Oceanians felt they still ruled themselves.

Ultimately this compromise did not work out, Kamira sadly died young, and the babe Kamino was left to her devastated Grandfather's care.  At that time he chose to take a back seat in ruling in order to focus on his only remaining family.  Still he's a beloved ruler and able to wield his share of power, having a lifetime of favors and friendships to call upon.

All character shots of Zaddin were done in Crayola colored pencil and were a straightforward update - pretty much no changes to speak of, though as an early update their clearly about due to be updated again.

I still rather like his youth shot, though, and perhaps that's why I chose to do his portrait based on this picture.  Again the portrait is done in pastels - deepest shadows had a watercolor pencil base (not the best choice for the thinness of pastel paper, I learned), topped primarily by Rembrandt pastels with touches of Sennelier.

Background setting is Oceania.  Inspiration for the under tiling of the overhang was the colorful interior of shells - I believe it's called nacre.  The shape of the pillars have a definite seashell feel to them.  These touches seemed fitting for an island that makes it living from the ocean.

Tomorrow I'll continue the Paonian theme with the woman herself - she's gone by many names in a relatively short life, but so far we know her best as Kamino.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Old to New 5: Kamira

And back home to Paonia :)

Sometimes updating a character means more than just one picture.  Kamira is the mother of my heroine Kamino, and as such her backstory and history play a large role in forming Kamino's character.  Hence I have her illustrated from girlhood, maybe four or five (above, in case you couldn't guess), to happy young adulthood (below left) and finally through to her marriage to a D-City nobleman (below right).

The concept stays almost exactly the same in the childhood and YA pics, just an improvement in technique and a few more details.  The third is the most changed, the pants and top having flipped colors and green was added in the corset and boots (from the moment I colored the boots blue in the first pic I regretted it - it can be so hard choosing colors, and sometimes you just make the wrong choice).  Still I think it also stays pretty true to the original.

Which brings me to another kind of "update".  This is when you represent the character in a whole other media and style.  It's not so much of a "redo" as a different presentation or perspective entirely.

Crayola colored pencils were used on all pictures above with touches of gel ink pen for the eyelashes (really makes them pop right?).  The style on these could be said to be influenced by manga or cartoons (i.e. simplified, not aiming for full realism).

For Kamira's portrait, however, I chose to use pastels and aimed for more of a photographic quality.

You may recognize the soulful gaze from my site header.  I've heard that if you have brown eyes that blue eyeliner will really make them stand out.  Seems to really hold true with blue skin too :)

Tune in tomorrow when Kamino's Grandpa gets the same treatment...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Character of the Week: Uli - Firecrackers, Spice and Absolutely Nothing Nice

Storyline:  A Wingless Flight of Fancy
Height:  5'4"
Weight:  None of your business!
Race:  Tierrine
Birthplace:  Opaline, Tierrine
Theme Song:  Geek Stink Breath, Green Day

Third child of eight in a poor, common family.  Born in a small, insignificant town near Opaline, Uli is country through and through, but that doesn't keep her grounded.  She's brash, loud and fearless, and has her mind set on getting the attention of all Tierrine - then the world!

Daughter of a handyman and a laundress, Uli's parents tried to convince her to be practical and learn a more marketable skill - like her oldest brother, the town cobbler's apprentice.  However, Uli can't sit still long, and once something ceases to challenge her, she'll have none of it.  So Uli takes her Acrobatic Acts of Daring on the road - and drags her twin and his best friend along for the ride.

Perhaps if the twins can stop fighting for 5 minutes they'll find a way to live the life they want.

Old to New 4: Aiya

On to Aiya in Effenta!  An unlikely hero if ever there was one.  After hearing tales of the UCD (United Champions of the Defenseless) from her cousin, an Officer of the Law, Aiya decides to offer her services.  Her skill set?  Science, chemistry, and a special interest in experimental explosive and incendiary devices.  Has there ever been such a dangerous woman with such an innocent air?

To be fair, it's the intellectual pursuit that fascinates her, and she leaves using her creations to more qualified UCD members - at their own risk, of course.

Aiya is a cheerful, sometimes intense, often absent-minded character, and young.  So the key with her was mixing scientist intellectual with fun loving young woman and communicating this through Effentan dress: a romantic mix of Baroque, Marie-Antoinette, Revolutionary America, swing dancing and that modern me touch.

I both love and hate designing for Effenta.

I love it because it's just so unabashedly girly and frilly and fun - I often look at wedding dress pics for inspiration.  I LOVE the rich look of the dark, bitter-sweet chocolate hue of Effentan skin.

I hate it because laces, satins, velvets, gathering, draping and tucking can be tricky to draw as I envision in my head (designing for men is a whole other issue).  Also, getting their skin to be the dark hue I desire while not losing detail, and placing the highlights just right isn't a walk in the park either!  The last two I've drawn I've had to go back over the skin a couple times before I got the hue and smoothness I desired.

Still, I love the concept and when it comes together I'm just too pleased for words!  Hence Aiya's style didn't particularly change from picture 2 to picture 3.  While keeping the same basic silhouette and color palette, I changed some cuts and added some details to give it a little more visual interest and richness.

I Love how her stockings turned out.  The white colored pencil wasn't popping enough on top of the light gray marker base, so I traced the rose shapes with a white paint pen.  In some scans this gave them a really cool glow, but I chose not to use those as typically the rest of her didn't look so good in those shots.

Picture 1 is actually the 2nd time I drew Aiya, while Picture 2 was my first go.  I included Picture 1 as reference because I couldn't find a scan of the original drawing.  Picture 2 has been greatly cleaned up on the computer.  So for the true original just picture coloring worse than Picture one and you'll know how far Aiya has come!

Olis 1.0: How NOT to Shut Up an Obnoxious Sibling

Opaline, Tierrine

We all find our callings in different ways.  Sometimes it’s because we have a skill from birth.  Other times it’s an “ah ha” moment late in life.  Perhaps a teacher or mentor tells us what we should be doing, and we agree – either actively or passively.

And for some their calling is found with the simple words: “Hey!  Look what I can do!”

Uli was born for the spotlight.  Unfortunately she was the 3rd child of eight – smack dab in the forgettable middle – so she needed something extra to get the desired attention. She was never gifted in elocution, only funny on accident, drew anatomically inaccurate stick figures, sang like a cat in heat, and lacked the “cooperative spirit” necessary for team sports.

Uli seemed destined to receive attention merely for her poor disposition and had only two friends: me and my best friend.  Frankly, I didn’t like her half the time, but as the 4th born of the eight, we were stuck with her.  Our parents had designated me her keeper (yes she needed a keeper).  How’s that work considering she’s older than me?  With much tribulation for me, let me tell you.  But she’s not just my sister, she’s my twin.

Although we’re twins, Uli and I couldn’t be more different, and bicker more than we get along, but Uli did have two things going for her.  Even as a child she had amazing control of her body, and she was utterly fearless.

This second trait usually just meant she spent her life in trouble because no parental threat deterred her, but one fateful day these two traits finally came together.  We were maybe seven or eight and being dragged about the market by our mother – Uli’s punishment for refusing to help prepare dinner the night before then eating our younger brother’s portion in addition to her own.  We weren’t exactly rich so that meant the rest of us had to share our food with him.  Not only did I lose part of my meal, as Uli’s keeper I had to go with them to the market.  I could’ve killed her.

Perhaps that was the reason for what happened next.  A new pavilion was being built in town, and four lavishly carved columns had been erected, each about 15 or 20 feet in height (it’s hard to measure these things when you’re young and short).  One minute Uli was bouncing gravel off a wall so it nearly hit me while I yelled for our conveniently deaf mother, the next I was maliciously daring her to climb the columns.

In my defense, I never thought she’d be able to do it – even if she were capable, surely someone would yank the brat off the recently painted columns.  Someone did try.  Uli bit his arm and kicked him in his gut.  At the time I’d hoped they’d put her in jail for the offense.

But then Uli continued climbing, shimmying up the column, using delicate detailing for finger and foot holds up and up.  She pulled herself onto the flat top and stood victorious, feet spread, chest out, hands on hips.

“Ha!  Thought I couldn’t do it didnja Olis?” she called down obnoxiously.  Of course she had to drag my name into this.  That moment of condescending superiority should have been enough for her and normally she would have then slid back down to face the music with an unconcerned smirk.  Except a crowd had gathered.

Drawn in first by the bitten man’s howling pain and anger, then curiosity as to why there was a crowd, people stood riveted at the sight of a little girl dangerously far from the ground.  Adults panicked, parents counted their children, Peace Guards ran to fetch winged assistance, but our peers were awestruck – some of the cynically cool older kids even cheered.

Uli finally had her audience, and she was drunk on the attention.  So as my mother shrieked, realization dawning that it was her hellion on the column, Uli did a dance.

“Hey!  Look what I can do!” she called, taunting the edge, moving ever closer.  The audience gasped, held its breath, then the youths cheered as she moved away unharmed, bowing.  As mother screeched at Uli over the noise a 12 year old boy spoke to me.  “Isn’t that your sister?  She’s winged ridiculous!”  High praise indeed from a 12 year old.

“Yeah, she’s my twin.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Old to New 3: Callina

And Continuing our World Tour...

       Welcome to Vyln!

Though I had not necessarily planned this to be a "world tour" of Aeodaen, seems to be turning out that way.  This is probably because I tend to work on different Kingdoms and Countries in spurts, so over time they all evolve quite distinctly.

Afterglow, Vyln 2
This one in particular is a curious study of Artistic Progression.  Both of my previous posts had been, as stated, a fairly straightforward update.  However, in some instances when an update is being done, I realize that the visual concept behind the person and their land's aesthetic may need rethought as well.

Vyln is just such an instance of this.  This started as a Kingdom whose capital is home to a family of Superheroes that spans many generations (I do love comic books).  So the first design was a fairly boring spandex type of look.  See First Picture.  However, I got to thinking that these people lived in a fantastical world, in a time period hundreds of years ago - so why should they be a stereotype of our world?

The first redesign of Vyln happened relatively soon after creation of the Kingdom, so Picture Two isn't much advanced in way of artistic technique (though she does now have ankles, some shading, and folds in her clothing), but the concept was hugely changed to a kind of Victorian/Edwardian England vibe with a bit of operatic, Venetian drama thrown in (this is mostly seen in the "superhero" characters, see pictures to the right and below).

Also we see more of the character's personality shining through in pictures 2-4.  The beauteous, favored child, Callina knows she's something, and it shows.  In Picture 2 Callina gains a more rounded cheek and higher forehead, giving her a younger appearance, as befits the protagonist's little sister, while Picture 4, I believe, takes another step forward to showcase her flirty, falsely saccharine manner.

Fireworks, Vyln 2
Digitally Remastered
Picture 3 occurs after I scanned in picture two and realized this is horrifically colored, so in an attempt to fix the character without redrawing her to be fit for computer viewing, it's been "digitally remastered".  i.e. I colored it in Paint to make it less splotchy.  Considering the amount of time this took using such a basic application, I probably should have just drawn her again, but then perhaps we wouldn't have the glory of Callina 4.0.

When I visited Vyln again I felt it was still a bit too boring and expected.  Hence I decided to build upon the Operatic elements, making it an incredibly Dramatic world, where everyone takes "all the world's a stage" very seriously and hence dresses the part.  I also realized that relatively few of my people did much in the way of cosmetics, yet this land would be perfect for full face mask make-ups.

In my mind this seems appropriate for a world where superheros have kept their identity for hundreds of years.  When everyone wears face paint, how do you pick out those hiding their true identity?

So here's hoping third times the charm for Vyln, and now their concept is set for good, especially as the story of these superheroes, called the Brilliants, is a trilogy.  Yes, I have plenty of work to do with this last revamp.

Of course, this before and after was just of an "ordinary folk", tune in tomorrow to see my update to a Hero of a whole other kind!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Old to New 2: Lalades, Irreverent Magpie

Welcome to Tierrine!

Let's face it Lalades (said La-Lay-Deez) needed some additional spunk for her character profile seeing as how her home town Revol is pretty much a town of rebels (mostly without a cause).  Plus she's an irreverent, hilarious personality in her own right.

(BTW since I haven't posted any excerpts from her story line yet, Lalades shocks her family by running away to join the Circus with a bunch of unwinged common folk!  Her parents had never been so horrified and yet so proud.  I should hopefully post from this story sometime in this next week so check back!)

And, as promised, a dramatic demonstration of the benefits of using high quality art materials.  The old picture was done using Crayola colored pencils, the new with Copic markers and Prismacolor colored pencils.

Again, a fairly straightforward Update to the picture (I write this now because there will come those later that are not so straightforward and obvious), same basic design, added a bit of embellishment, and a whole lot of attitude.

To be fair to Crayola - and I did love my Crayola colored pencils - the picture on the left was fairly old when I finally started scanning my pictures into my computer so it could have faded some with age.

Also, for those starting out in colored pencils, Crayola is a inexpensive and fair pencil with which to learn, an excellent first choice - far superior to Roseart or any generic brands I've used.  I worked with Crayola for years before finally upgrading.  (I won't even tell you how long I drooled over the Prismacolor before finally plunking down the $100+ dollars to buy them, but I will say it measures in years.)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Old to New 1: Huron

For my first Old to New, Before and After Illustration, I chose one that was both dramatic and straightforward.  Good old Huron.

Clearly my first go at this Character has been a while ago: My coloring skills were basic, my understanding of drawing the male figure was, we'll say, incomplete, shading is non existent, as is fabric draping, and (the worst offense) he has floating feet.  Sadly feet took me a good long while to master.

My redo is clearly the same character, just cleaned up a bit and with a few more details added to make him more interesting and better suited to an imaginary world (let's face it my first attempt was standard and boring - it begged for some embellishments).  All in all, an inarguable improvement.

That being said, part of the reason I chose Huron is because he is, again, just about due for an update.  Why he hasn't received one as of yet is that there are still other much more desperate cases (if you doubt this look again to the left).

Here again is the Curse of Progress.  I like this updated Huron.  His form is good and the overall look I'm still pleased with.  However, the art materials have advanced.  He was done years ago on scrap paper with Crayola colored pencils - perhaps with touches of Prang.  Now I use Prismacolor colored pencils and Copic Markers.  The difference when the pictures are side by side is astounding.  Sorry Crayola, but the old pictures look faded and washed out in comparison to the new, vibrant coloring.

Come back tomorrow to see what I mean.

The Curse of Progress

No I've not transferred my interest from fantasy to reality.  I won't be picket fencing to keep "them" from building a new Walmart, nor am I lamenting that a month after purchasing a new phone there is now a later and greater model.

Instead I speak of the Curse of Artistic Progression.  But how could that be a curse? You may wonder.  Well, let me tell you.

Art, like any other skill, hopefully improves the more you practice it.  New techniques are learned, old techniques refined, new art tools are invested in and the process begins again, ideally improving your end product.  Well, at least most of the time.

Again.  How is this a bad thing?  It isn't necessarily if the purpose of your work is only to be aesthetically pleasing.  After all, if you come to dislike a piece you can simply hide in the attic and never think of it again - except perhaps for an occasional chuckle as you reminisce how far you've come.

However, what if the art you create illustrates a story that is still being told - portrays characters currently living their lives on the pages of your notebook (or Blog as the case may be)?

Then when you write that character and check out their bio it's a bit like looking at your (universally awful) driver's license photo: "Oh no!  What if people see this???"  Unlike your license which you hide away unless legally obligated to show it, you want to illustrate stories of your world with character profile shots and colorful pictures.

Surely here I'm not the only one to refer to the cover of a book for aid in picturing the characters as the story progresses?  (Don't get me started on when I realize the artist has clearly never read the book.)  And graphic novels aren't so popular simply because of their story lines (though those are awesome, not knocking comic books here).  No we like illustrations, do we not?

Well, duh.  So what does all this mean?  A Redo.  (Or Update if I'm in a forgiving mood).  Well, that's not so bad - Hardly a curse, you may be thinking.

Except I've been doodling and sketching characters pretty much since I could hold a pencil - and they always come complete with full background stories.  Some of those story lines have naturally fallen by the wayside, but the Kingdom of Paonia has existed since my pre-teen days.  Some of these pics are needing "Updated" for the third or fourth time now, and as my character list and world keeps expanding, so does my Redo List.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised if I had a hundred or more character shots that could stand to be redone.  And, of course, I'm still wanting to create new people and illustrate the dress of new lands.

Currently I have a table - yes that's right, a full blown chart - of all the people and places in my world.  Who needs drawn, who has been drawn, and on a scale of A to F (with F being "Please redraw me, I'm embarrassing!) how well done these drawings are.

Hmm...after saying that, perhaps the REAL curse is being an anal-retentive perfectionist - but in my defense, with all the work involved with creating an entire new world, one must have some means of organizing all that data.  I'll let you judge for yourselves as I post some Before and After shots.  My goal is to post one a day for the next month; we'll call it Old to New, October to November.

Hope you get as much of a kick out of my old, old pics as I do.  Plus I can finally stop flunking my own test!