Friday, May 30, 2014

Matt Azure - Character Creation

Hello everyone! Today it's time for a brand new...

And today we're touching on Matt Azure!

...Wow, Matt. It looks like a Final Fantasy game threw up all over you. (I was heavily influenced by Final Fantasy back in the day. >>)

I remember the exact moment that I created Matt. I was supposed to be cleaning my room one afternoon, but instead I pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil and created something. XD Bad me.

I don't have the original colored picture anymore, but when I was working on Matt, I had this strange habit... Rather than picking colors for a character that might actually make sense, I generally picked the sharpest pencils in the box... That meant Matt's original clothing had bright oranges, yellows, reds, and greens.

Gag. Barf.

Matt's biggest problem with his early design was his quills. Tiny quills that weren't connected on pencil drawings didn't translate well to pixel art when it first came to be.

Eggman, indeed, Matt. 

Matt quickly became my favorite of my fan characters, so he got more art than Izzy did most of the time, and his generally came out better than hers. Back then, Matt was originally named "Matt Azurespine" but he dropped the "spine" part of his last name as time went on.

Early Sword Design

Translating Matt into pure anthro and less Sonic form was a little more difficult. 
Despite the unconnected eyes, Matt still looked a lot like his Sonic form. You'll notice though that his clothing rarely changed. He still had the same Final Fantasy discount look about him. 

Matt's first truly Non-Sonic pixel art self finally deviated a little from the original design of his clothing, but it only resulted in more Final Fantasy rip off stuff. The red pant leg was actually a modification of Tidus' pants from Final Fantasy X. That had to go. 

You will notice though that Matt has a different sword here. Matt's sword was a struggle to develop. I eventually borrowed a sword from an old drawing that I did for a friend. 

Honestly, the hand drawing of the sword is probably a thousand times better than the pixel drawing. +_+

Matt's last pixel art drawing still didn't attempt to change his clothing. It wasn't until Omni, a friend and amazing artist, created Izzy's new pants that I finally changed Matt up a little. Izzy's pants worked well with just slight color changes so I made Izzy's pants the standard pants for Defender battle dress uniforms. 

Different colors denote the wearer's Gem specialty. Izzy is a healer, so gray and white is the healer colors and Matt is an elemental user, so teal indicates an elemental user. 

Even in this latest form, however, Matt still has a slightly unusual shirt and his shoes definitely aren't "normal" but that's Matt for you. He fought me for those clothing changes. XD 

And that's Matt's character development! Next week - Ouranos of the Athanatos tribe. 

Have a question about Matt or Zyearth? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Matt Azure - Character Spotlight

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of...

Today we're looking at Izzy Gildspine's best friend and partner, Matt Azure, the second major character in The Stolen Defender.

Name: Matt Azure
Height: 6'4"
Species: Short haired quilar
Gem Specialty: Elemental - Wind Manipulation
Rank: Golden Guardian
Weapon of choice: Custom single edged sword
First Appearance: The Stolen Defender

Matt is the other half of the Golden Guardian team in the Defender army. Matt's wind manipulation abilities allow him to be the more offensive side of the team, so if a mission gets hot, Matt's usually the one who helps get them out of a jam. Matt loves his wind manipulation abilities, even though it's one of the weaker elemental abilities that Gems can manifest.

Matt is very tall for his species. Most quilar don't grow beyond six feet tall. Like with Izzy, he's a bit of a body builder, though he's built more lean than bulky.

Matt's coloring is also very unusual for quilar. Most short haired quilar have solid colors, or two colors that are very similar to each other (such as Izzy's fur patterns) but Matt has blue scattered throughout his fur and quills. His relation to a small tribe of unusually colored quilar on the island Sol is the reason for this. 

Matt was born on Sol and lived there until he was eight. During his eighth year, a rival tribe, the Omnir tribe, attacked Sol and orchestrated a genocide against the quilar of Sol. During the battle, Matt's mother was killed and his father went missing, presumed dead. Matt was one of three survivors. The other two survivors were Izzy and Matt's sister, Charlotte.

Matt was raised on Zyearth by Jaymes and Amaia Fogg, two family friends and high ranking scientists at the Defender Academy. Matt decided at an early age that he wanted to become a Golden Guardian like his father and he entered the Academy at age 36. The Defender Academy program is a 20 year program - five years of basic training, five years of general education, five years of specialty education based on a major, and five years of a specialized internship. Matt was young to enter the Academy - due to the long life granted to Zyearthlings, most Zyearthlings don't begin secondary education until the age of 40 - but he proved himself to be ready for the trials.

Like with Izzy, Matt believes the rumor about the Golden Guardians being the most powerful Defenders on the planet to be highly exaggerated, but secretly, he likes the title. 

Matt's greatest fear is failing someone because he didn't make enough effort to perform a task. Matt tends to take too much on at one time and struggles to delegate tasks because he believes he needs to do everything himself to do a good job. This makes him good at the work he does, but it also makes it difficult for him to be a leader. 

Matt's greatest strength is his passion. He throws himself into everything he does and never does things halfway. 

Still curious about Matt? Feel free to ask Matt a question! Tune in on Friday for Matt's edition of Character Creation!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Defender Pendant - World Building

Hey everyone! Today we're going to delve into the World of Zyearth and take a look at one of the aspects of the Defender army.

One key identifier that labels a Defender is the Defender pendant.

The Defender pendant has been a symbol of the Defenders since their inception. There's a lot of meaning behind the symbol. 

On Zyearth, a legless dragon is a sign of peace, so the dragon represents peace. The dragon's neck is tucked under, a classic move that prevents strangulation in battle. This represents defense. The outstretched wings are a sign of openness and welcome. Finally, the Gem at the dragon's side represents the world of Zyearth, since all native Zyearthlings are bound to Gems. 

All Defenders wear these pendants. They are a sign of the Defender's rank, but they are also their official IDs. Defender pendants have a spot in the back of the pendant that reads DNA when its owner presses his or her thumb into it. The eyes act as hologram projectors and the hologram can be used to show ID or to communicate via COMM.

Different colors indicate different ranks in the Defenders. Golden pendants are for the Golden Guardians, black pendants are for average ranked Defenders, and the Master Guardian has a black pendant lined with gold. Typically, average ranked Defenders are marked by the color of the Gem in the pendant. 

Pendants are made of some of the strongest metal found on Zyearth, making them almost indestructible. 

Defender pendants are a precious gift, so Defenders keep them close at hand. 

Have a question about the Defenders or Zyearth? Leave a comment!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Izzy Gildspine - Character Creation

Hey everyone, and welcome to the first edition of...

Today we're going to look at the process of how a character in the Zyearth world was originally created. Our first character is, you guessed it, Izzy Gildspine.

And here she is now!


This is arguably one of the worst drawings a high schooler has ever made. 

Izzy was created way back in my high school days as a Sonic the hedgehog fan character named "Izzy Goldriser." Using actual Prismacolor gold pencils, I based her off another fan character from my World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) fan fiction. 

Yes, I was big on fan fiction in those days. Don't knock it. Fan fiction is a great way to develop your writing skills!

I originally created Izzy to show up my two best friends who were both making Sonic fan characters at the time. I saw them creating characters and thought "I could do better than that." It's more than a bit ironic that I essentially came up with a female Sonic recolor. 

Showing up my friends was also what sparked my original interest in pixel art. 


Izzy was created based mainly on the character design of Sonic. Large, connected eyes, gloves, quills, cat like ears, and no neck. The world she came from, however, was drastically different, and her early stories rarely had her interacting with the Sonic characters. 

She also dropped the name "Goldriser" and replaced it with "Goldrunner." 

Her very first story (the very first draft of The Stolen Defender, then called The Island) took place on Zyearth, her home planet... a place I intended to constantly reference but never intended to actually develop. But my role playing partner at the time (and now my friend and the artist for the book cover) insisted we wrote the story on Zyearth. 

Things moved on from there. Izzy developed very quickly into a character that stood on her own without the crutch of the Sonic world. 

This was Izzy's first redesign without the Sonic influence. As you can see though, I still had issues with the anime influence on the character. 

By this point, Izzy dropped the camisole shirt and went for a tube top... which is a lot harder to draw.

The next design got her away from the anime to a better degree, and it was the first piece to get rid of the flesh muzzle, but she still had problems. The major issue with this piece is her flesh arms and belly. It just didn't fit.

You'll notice Izzy kept the tube top, though it turned white. 

The final form of Izzy's pixel art life fixed the issue with the flesh arms and gave her a lighter shade of brown for some variation. As you can see too, she also still has gloves. She's the only character who never fully lost the gloves from the Sonic era artwork. 

She also had one final name change here, going from "Goldrunner" to "Gildspine." 

At this point too, Izzy was still sporting camouflage in her pants, another early trope in her original design. She's also kept the tube top, which is still a major component of her wardrobe. 

After that last piece, my friend Omni got involved with the character design since he was going to do the cover. His early designs of her really solidified the way the quills work on a quilar's head, and also removed the camouflage. This actually made way for a standard battle dress uniform later on. 

Izzy's final character design based on the book cover for The Stolen Defender. Ironically she's also standing in a forest posing - just like the very first picture I've ever drawn of her. 

And that's Izzy's story as a developing character. She really is the character that started it all.

Have questions about Izzy or Zyearth? Leave a comment! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Izzy Gildspine - Character Spotlight

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first edition of...

Today we're going to look at Izzy Gildspine, one of the main characters from The Stolen Defender.

Name: Izzy Gildspine
Height: 5'4"
Species: Short-haired quilar
Gem Specialty: Healing
Rank: Golden Guardian
Weapon of choice: Short battle hammer
First Appearance: The Stolen Defender

 Izzy is one half of the Defender's Golden Guardian team, a team designed to be the first to investigate dangerous situations and help the Defenders decide if a full intervention is needed. The Golden Guardians are reputed to be the most powerful Defenders on planet Zyearth, but Izzy feels like this is highly exaggerated and often feels inadequate in battle. 

To make up for her lack of Gem power, Izzy is a hobby body builder. She uses her physical strength as a means to keep a strong presence. 

Izzy's father, Dyne, was a Golden Guardian before her, and she feels the desire to be a Golden Guardian to take his place and continue the family legacy. 

As a child, Izzy got involved in the Sol Genocide, a small isolated incident that took place on an island off the coast of California on Earth. During the Genocide, she lost her father. Several years later, her mother was also killed, leaving Izzy an orphan. A family friend, Jaymes Fogg and his wife Amaia adopted Izzy and raised her like their own. 

Izzy's best friend and lifelong partner is Matt Azure. Matt was also on Sol during the genocide and lost both his parents as well. Jaymes and Amaia also adopted Matt, so Izzy and Matt see each other as siblings. 

Izzy's greatest fear is that she won't be adequate enough in battle, or that she won't be able to support Matt the way she needs to. Izzy's greatest strength is her willingness to protect the ones she loves. 

Want to learn more about Izzy? Feel free to ask Izzy a question! And tune in next time for the first edition of Character Creation, coming on Friday!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Welcome to Zyearth!

Hello everyone and welcome to the world of Zyearth!

I am so excited to bring you guys the first installment of the Zyearth Chronicles. Book one, The Stolen Defender, will (ideally) be out later this year. Right now the book is finished with its initial draft. I have several wonderful beta readers (thanks, guys!) who are doing some initial edits before I send it off to my editor. 

The book cover was created by the amazing Omni Jacala. Omni helped me with the original story this first novel is based on, and he's an amazing artist. 

While I'm waiting to get started on the editing process, I'm working on building the Facebook page and the Zyearth website. I'll also be doing some artwork and character busts, so keep an eye out!

Next up in the blog - The Stolen Defender Back Cover Summary. 

Have any questions about the Zyearth world? Ask away!