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Art vs. Illustration October 22, 2018

Posted by thejinx in art, writing.
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I’ve been drawing seriously, or at least trying to, for the better part of thirty years now. While it hasn’t been my only, or even necessarily primary, method of creative expression, I’ve done a lot of it. My artwork folder on my computer, which consists only of pictures I have at one point deemed worthy of sharing, has over 500 files in it.

Most of those pictures are more or less portraits. The character(s) might not be looking at the viewer and they might be doing something interesting, but the whole point of those drawings is just to show off a character. I’ve drawn my share of scenes, pictures showing a clear story, but they’re still one-off images. I have considered and even scripted comics and/or graphic novels, but I haven’t taken the time to really attempt it yet.

Now that I have been drawing for the chapter book I wrote, however, I am starting to understand the particular challenges to actual illustration, particularly now that I have started colouring my illustrations. Up till now, it’s mostly been fun: determining visual quirks of characters the first time I draw them and extending those to subsequent illustrations, designing characters’ clothes, hair and accessories, setting the scenes I’m trying to convey. There was a challenge in keeping characters consistent, of course, and I had to consider things I’d never dealt with before, such as height of characters relative to each other, but it wasn’t all that different from what I was used to.

When I coloured the first character in the first illustration, however, I suddenly realized that I should colour all instances of that character to keep their portrayal consistent. And then as I worked further, I found myself needing to consider things that even backstory for the book itself didn’t prepare me for. Take this drawing, for example:

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All went well enough, I was enjoying the way it came together as I coloured each character over the course of a few nights, and then I got to that breakfast bar. What colour should the counter and the cupboard be?

I hadn’t put much thought into it at that point, but suddenly it became a crucial issue. I knew what colours the characters may favour, but they live on a space station. What would the counter and cupboard even be made of? An aluminum counter top is easy enough to decide upon, but what about the cupboard? Trying to answer that question only spawned more. Are these characters the first ones to live in this apartment? Because there wouldn’t be wood or drywall on a space station, and I don’t think repainting would be likely on a space station. How old is the station? Because that’s going to determine whether this is a new apartment or if they’ve moved in to someone else’s design choices. What would the walls be made of? Because that’s going to affect their colour, and so the design elements in the kitchen.

I hadn’t even considered these things while developing the story. I probably never would have if I hadn’t been trying to answer a simple question regarding a background element to a single illustration in the book. And this is only a taste of it; I have several more illustrations to go. What other issues may crop up as I work through the rest of the drawings? What else might I discover if I went on to write and illustrate more books?

It certainly makes for an interesting, and fun, challenge. In a way, I’m also a little saddened, because I have to, and I want to, focus entirely on Sisters of Chaos book 2 after I’ve finished with this book, even though I already have some ideas for another book. I’m also enjoying creating the art for this book, as time-consuming as it might be, too much to consider letting someone else illustrate for any possible future books. This has been a very fun process, weaving art and writing together in a way in which each affects the other, and I hope to get the chance to do it again before too long.

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2015 art update September 3, 2015

Posted by thejinx in art, books, enduring chaos, photography.
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In short, I still haven’t done much of it. However, in my typical way, I have done a bit of dabbling, and at times perhaps I have been doing more drawing than much of the time over the past few years, even if it is just sketches. The beginning of the year, in particular, saw me picking up the sketchbook a little more frequently:

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 I have also done some character designs on my tablet:

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More recently, after having the materials for upwards of a couple years, I finally tried my hand at some proper wire wrapping:

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And finally, earlier this year I upgraded to a proper DSLR camera, with which I am very pleased:

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Sketch of the… day? July 3, 2009

Posted by thejinx in art.
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I was interested in joining a friend and fellow artist in a challenge to sketch something every day for the month of July.  Clearly, I have failed in that endeavor.  Still, it’s a good idea if I can stick to it, even if I am starting late, and I thought I’d share a sketch I did this afternoon.

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I saw some socks or boot covers in a banner ad that looked like that and liked the style, and the rest sort of came about on its own.  She strikes me as an airship pilot, though it’s not any character I currently have developed.

Though I wasn’t overly productive with art this week, I did spend some time with the sketchbook last weekend, perhaps in a warmup to the challenge I failed to meet yesterday and the day before.  Click the jump to have a look.

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Eyes guys June 28, 2009

Posted by thejinx in art, eyes of a dragon.
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First, more character design art from my novel Eyes of a Dragon:

And after drawing that, I also felt inspired to do some anatomy practice:

Larius June 23, 2009

Posted by thejinx in art, eyes of a dragon.
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New art:

Concept art of Krisiniel Larius – Shiani‘s brother – from my novel Eyes of a Dragon.  This was an older sketch – two or three years, before I cleaned up and elaborated on it yesterday – and the outfit design is a bit older still.  I still rather like the design, but it’s a bit too fancy for the character.  And if he was going to wear something like this, his hair would not be down.  It gives a general idea of how he looks, though.

Character design July 11, 2008

Posted by thejinx in art, eyes of a dragon.
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I’ll admit it.  I’m a closet fashion buff.  I love looking at period/ethnic clothes styles.  When I drew my Victorian cats picture, I spent hours researching Victorian styles to draw the dress in it, and had a lot of fun doing so, too.

So, when an image of a dress for a character in Eyes of a Dragon appeared in my head last night before I fell asleep, I had to sketch it.  I love the design, but my intention in Eyes was to give my elves a somewhat Eastern flair and the dress ended up being a little too Medieval for my taste.  Instead, I started researching traditional eastern dress.

… This endeavor took up over half of my work day.

I ended up finding some really neat information on various clothing styles, as well as some lovely and very helpful reference images.  It wasn’t long before I became enamored with the ancient Chinese hanfu style, and designed the following outfit based on it:

A couple quick notes about the sketch: I ended up cropping it because it turns out I drew the leg area too short.  It’s too easy to cheat with a skirt and not draw in legs at all, and it’s just as easy to screw up the length that way.  Also, I need to figure out what to do with her hair; I haven’t finalized her character design yet, I simply wanted to draw this outfit.

I’m still undecided whether to keep this as the final outfit design or go with something more along the lines of the Vietnamese aodai.  Both could be fitting for the character – as could your standard Japanese kimono, in a more formal setting – and ultimately, I just need to delve more into her home life and the culture of her people and figure out which is more likely for her to have been wearing before the story began.  It’s a flaw I’ll admit I’ve had, but I don’t want to interrupt the flow of writing to worldbuild.  I can always clean it up later.

I am trying to veer away from the anime/cartoon stereotype in which the characters wear the same outfit throughout the life of the story, but having something concrete down does help for one’s own mental image.  Besides, none of the character designs that I have completed so far are especially appropriate as they are for the simple fact that the story takes place during winter.  They’re just design sketches.