Friday, January 30, 2015

Crowd Sorcery Character Sketches: Sidekicks

The last few characters I sketched for Cricket Magazine's Crowd Sorcery project were sidekicks. Once again there were some wonderful submissions, but I was only able to illustrate two. Space was also needed in the double-page spread for drawings of Fantasy Dictionary words, which I'll share in my next post.

Kitara is described as a descendent of Medusa who has a deadly crimson eye that turns people to stone when she looks at them.
I did a a quick sketch of her face and was satisfied with the first one.


The creator of Rax wonderfully conveyed his dashing personality in a brief story paragraph written as part of Crowd Sorcery's character creation exercise. It was (almost) easy to transform him from that vivid first impression into a tangible drawing.
Rax is a confident young swordsman who can talk to dragons.

I wanted to vary the illustrations that would be published in this issue, so I decided to submit at least one complete sketch as opposed to a bunch of loose sketches of faces. Luckily, I only needed one or two quick development sketches of Rax's face before I was happy with it, but I did play with a couple different hairstyles on a piece of tracing paper. This drawing isn't as clean as the one I posted of Aciere Steele last week, but I like the gesture and the balance between rough and polished lines.

Check out next week's Fantasy Dictionary post to see the sketches as they appeared in Cricket.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Crowd Sorcery Character Sketches: Villains

The next group of characters I sketched for Cricket Magazine's Crowd Sorcery project was the villains. There were dozens of interesting submissions, but my schedule only allowed time to realize a few. Sketching Cricket readers' characters is a project I would have loved to spend months upon months doing, had I months upon months to do it!

I was so excited about many of these villain characters and was personally rooting for a couple of them to to be chosen when the time came to cast votes for the antagonist that would appear in the story. Alas, my favorites did not come out on top, but at least I got to draw them. (And regardless of whether they "won" or not, their creators should be proud to have brought them to life.)

Aciere Steele comes from a world with a magic vs. technology theme. I really wanted to draw Aciere Steele! I drew a bunch of heads, but I felt compelled to move onto a detailed drawing, because she's essentially a steampunk cyborg and how could I not draw a steampunk cyborg? I so badly wanted to make sure I finished the drawing that I took it with me on vacation and worked on it late at night in our hotel. A good friend we were visiting whom I hadn't seen in years even came with us while I took a terrible scan of the drawing at FedEx/Kinko's! Luckily, I was able to scan it again when I got home, and the high-res version made it into the magazine. Whew!

The aforementioned heads, including various hairstyle and lab coat ideas.

Even though I love sci-fi stuff, I don't draw it often, so I was a bit nervous about my ability to design some cool robotic parts that didn't look like "traditional" Victorian Era style steampunk. I was aiming for a more broadly defined fantasy version of steampunk that also wasn't too high-tech. I hope I succeeded.

The finished drawing of Aciere.


Margaret O'Shanahan, the defiant pirate with an enchanted ship that can soar through the sky, took second place in the villains poll.

Yet more portrait sketches, with what I considered to be the final designs at the bottom.

There were quite a few animal characters submitted in all categories. There were several I liked and I wanted to make sure I drew at least one of them.



The final villains page as it appeared in Cricket Magazine. Click to enlarge and read more about each character.

Stay tuned for the sidekicks!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Crowd Sorcery Character Sketches: Heroes and Heroines

Earlier this summer, while readers were still generating scores of amazing characters for Cricket Magazine's Crowd Sorcery project, I shared one set of sketches I had done of a submitted character: a young girl named Minna of Afting, who was raised by gigantic birds.

Now that Frederic S. Durbin's Crowd Sorcery story "The Girl Who Writes the Future" has begun and many of the character submissions have been published, I thought I'd share all of my sketches.

First up are the heroes and heroines. Brief summaries of their background or abilities can be found in the image of the Cricket spread at the bottom of this post. Many kids wrote fascinating paragraphs-long biographies describing their character's personality, background, talents, fears and hopes.

Any time I begin a character design I start with the face. If I don't get the face "right," meaning a look that matches the character's essence as I see it in my mind, I can't convince myself to move on with the design. Sometimes it took me a while to get a face or expression that felt correct to me, so given my time constraints some characters did not progress past portrait sketches.
Fionn Pierre Nelson was the last character I worked on in this set, so I only completed a few face sketches.


Listette takes on the familiar "raised by animals" theme. I wanted her to have somewhat sharp, angular features, and I carried that through to her hair. Her creator described her as wearing wolfskin, so I included a few very rough doodles of costume ideas. It was hard not to be influenced a little by San from Princess Mononoke, but I tried to avoid doing anything too similar.


When I read Listette's description, I was reminded of this illustration by Arthur Rackham.


Will Gust is a fun and lively character that I was sorry I didn't have time to develop further. I guess I actually felt that way about all of the characters. If I had my way, I would have liked to make something like a model sheet for all of them.

I'll tell you a secret...the drawing at the upper right corner is actually of Detective Tim Bayliss.

When I turned the drawings over to my art director, I indicated a couple of my favorites of each bunch and she picked from those for the print edition of the magazine.

The spread as it appeared in the July/August issue of Cricket.

Next up: Villains!

This post has been edited for clarity and to add a link.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures Shortage!

Copies of The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures–I have them!

For some unexplained reason, my publisher has run out of stock of The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures and the books are on backorder. I wasn't too worried about this when I was first informed I would have to wait for my own order to arrive, but now they're out of stock at Amazon and my publisher's website right at the holidays, typically the best time of year for sales of my book. (Sigh.) It appears you can still purchase it online at Barnes and Noble and it's hopefully still available at your local bookstore or art and craft supply stores such as Michaels.

If you had been looking to order a copy of my book for yourself or for a gift this holiday season and were unable due to the shortage, I'm offering a book + print special for sales of signed copies purchased directly from me!

I can't offer the discount Amazon can, but as special thanks for your support I can offer personalized service, including:
• my signature
• a dedication if you'd like one
• a signed 8.5 X 11 print of your choice of any creature from The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures

I normally only make 13 X 19 prints of a limited selection of creatures from the book, so your print will be special! I will run the free print offer until the books are back in stock at online retailers or until I run out of the copies I have, whichever occurs first.

Images of the creatures can be seen below, and the print will be similar to the Explorer's Guide prints I sell at cons and on Etsy, just smaller.

To purchase a copy of The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures, click here. You can also get to the purchase page anytime by clicking on the book cover in the sidebar on the right-hand side of my blog.

So many creatures!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays from Fabled Earth!

Sorry–no cute small, furry animal holiday pictures this year! (Maybe for New Years?) I would, however, like to share a video of some other furry Christmas-y creatures. I hope everyone has behaved themselves...

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sketches from GeekGirlCon 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014 felt like it was over almost as fast as it arrived. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat, peruse my paintings and support my work! 

As usual, I did a few sketches for people who bought my sketchbook. I forgot my camera, so my booth neighbor and friend, Jen, of Dancing Heron Illustration was kind enough to take photos of a couple of the drawings for me. 





And here is a bonus fantasy critter doodle from earlier in the year:




In the "news" category, my Etsy shop is finally back open after being offline for a few months while I concentrated on other projects. I'm currently holding a 10% off sale until the end of the month. Enter coupon code FALLSALE2014 upon checkout to receive your discount. (If you're looking for the baby dragon note cards, fear not! I have more art card paper on order and will add the finished cards to the shop as soon as I'm able to print more sets.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014 Is This Weekend!

Hello everyone! I'm saying "hello" because I feel like I haven't been here in a while. And I guess I haven't. So, hello again!

Click to enlarge

The fourth GeekGirlCon is this weekend! Already! And I will be there. Again! The convention is on Saturday and Sunday, the 11th and 12th, in The Conference Center (which is across from the Washington State Convention Center) in downtown Seattle. There are panels and activities galore running through most of the weekend, but the Exhibitor Hall itself is open 9 am to 6 pm Saturday and 9 am to 5 am on Sunday. I will be located at table 403 in the Exhibitor Hall on Level 3 of The Conference Center. Please note the Exhibitor Hall is separate from Artist Alley, which is on Level 2 in room 202.

As I always say, I will have signed copies of The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures, sketchbooks, prints, posters, and greeting cards available for sale. If I can find the space I may also bring a number of original paintings if any of you feel like big spenders this weekend. (But I am still old-school and I don't have a smart phone or Square and I can only take cash. Sorry!)

I just noticed my artwork is included on the GeekGirlCon blog on page two of the GeekGirlCon2014 Exhibitor Guide. Thank you to Jess Downs for featuring me! To see other Exhibitor highlights that cover crafts and comics, click here and here.

Hope to see you at the convention!

More GeekGirlCon links:
Basic information about the convention
Exhibitor and artist list (look for a link to the floor map at the top right of the page)
How to get to The Conference Center

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Illustrator and Designer Appreciation at AFRU Gallery


Alas, Vinod and I could not make the trip to Gen Con this year. For years Gen Con has been our favorite venue to show new artwork. We have both been busy making that new work, so anyone who would like to see it will have to wait until next year. We hope everyone that attended the convention had a good time!

The good news is, if you are going to be in or around Portland, OR in September you will have the opportunity to see some of our original paintings. Vinod and I will have work hanging at AFRU Gallery in Portland from September 5th through the 27th as part of the Illustrator and Designer Appreciation show. The exhibition showcases the work commercial artists like illustrators produce in their free time when they aren't on a project for a client.

I will have a few pieces from The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures on display. (And most are for sale, too!) It's true they were done for a client (IMPACT Books) and weren't necessarily personal work, but considering I was allowed to draw and paint pretty much anything I wanted for my book, I count them as personal pieces.

The show will be up during Rose City Comic Con, so if you happen to be in the area attending the convention please stop by to see it! The gallery is just blocks from the convention center.

The Illustrator and Designer Appreciation opening reception is Friday, September 5th, from 6pm to midnight. I'm sorry to say we most likely won't be attending the reception because we will be at home caring for our sick guinea pig friend.

For more information, including the exhibiting artists, gallery hours and location, click on the show flyer below:

Click to embiggen!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Last Chance to Vote on a "Crowd Sorcery" Sidekick!

It's the last day to cast votes for "Crowd Sorcery" characters–this time for heroine Fable Thatcher's sidekick. Will her partner be the swashbuckling boy who can talk to dragons? The mysterious girl who possesses the Book of Shadows? The Fledermouse in hiding? It's all up to you!


Development sketches for one of the potential "Crowd Sorcery" heroines.


There are twelve characters to pick from. Fred and I had a difficult time narrowing down the many submissions for each character, but it was especially tough this round. All of the "Crowd Sorcery" participants should be proud of their amazing efforts at coming up with so many unique characters for this project.

Some of my hero sketches were printed in the July/August issue of Cricket Magazine. Villain sketches will appear in September, and sidekicks in October. Finally, the November/December issue will feature Fred's finished story and my illustrations. I'm grateful to be a part of this fun project and excited to see how the story and characters develop from this point forward.

A preview of the "Crowd Sorcery" spread from the July/August issue of Cricket.

For more information about "Crowd Sorcery," including instructions for downloading the digital editions of Cricket click here.
To become a Crowd-Sorceror by sharing your ideas, visit the "Crowd Sorcery" section of The Chatterbox and get posting!
For my earlier post about "Crowd Sorcery," see my original blog post here.




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vote for Your Favorite Crowd Sorcery Characters!

Minotaur voted. Did you?

The time has come to vote for your favorite "Crowd Sorcery" heroes and heroines. Go to the Chatterbox to cast your votes!

There is still time left to submit your character ideas to "Crowd Sorcery!" Now we are looking for some bad guys to cause trouble for our heroes and heroines. Visit the Villain thread to add your villainous characters to our fantasy story.

For more information about "Crowd Sorcery," including instructions for downloading the digital editions of Cricket click here.
To become a Crowd-Sorceror by sharing your ideas, visit the "Crowd Sorcery" section of The Chatterbox and get posting!
For my earlier post about "Crowd Sorcery," see my original blog post here.