Monday, January 30, 2017

Ten Minute Freewrites #17 - Wounds Closed

Hooray, another Monday. Time for yet another

Ten Minute Freewrites

Today is taking a totally different situation and going for a strange urban fantasy vibe. Let's see how it comes out. 


WRITING START

----------

It should have been an easy job. Find the girl, make it look like a drive by shooting, collect the paycheck.

I should have known it wasn’t going to be so easy when I learned who ordered the hit. The head boss of the biggest mob in the city of Thunderstruck. The Head Magician himself.

I never put much faith in all that high magic stuff. I mean, sure I had basic telepathy and telekinesis just like any other average Joe. I even had the wings to prove it. Mind you, I had butterfly wings barely the span of a fruitbat and they were so low on my back that I’d need to wear a lady's tube top for anyone to notice them, but still. Identifying wings. Just like everyone else.

This lady though. . . this hit. She wasn’t like the others. She didn’t have some BS wings on the small of her back. She had massive feather wings. . . on her wrists. How did she even function day to day with wings like that?

Still. Wing size and location weren’t always an indication of power. Heck, my next door neighbor had dragon wings longer than his entire body, poking out of his shoulders! And he couldn’t even coax a box of cereal off the top shelf with his powers.

But this chick. It was like she wasn’t even there. She walked down the street with a blank, absent look over her face. I caught a glimpse of her gaze when I drove by.

And I shot her. Emptied the entire clip into her body. But she never blinked. She just examined me curiously as her wounds closed.

How she even saw me in the dark, I’ll never know.

Man, this was supposed to be an easy job.

As I drove by, the woman lifted a winged wrist up and tilted her head at me. I slowed the car. Not by my own action, mind you. I just felt my foot press against the brake pedal, my hands steering the car toward her on the pavement. She smiled at me.

“Sorry, John,” she said, using my first name. My real name. The name that I never gave anyone. “But the Head Magician won’t get me today.”

Shock slammed me. “What-- How--?”

She slipped alongside the passenger door and slid into the seat. “Drive.”

Before I could react or say a word, my foot moved, on its own accord, and pressed the gas pedal.

----------

CRAZY. I'm already having fun with this world though. XD 

Wanna continue the story, or suggest a freewrite prompt? Comment below! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ten Minute Freewrite #16 - Seventeen Ways

HOO BOI CAN YOU GUESS WHAT'S NEXT?!?!

Another...

Ten Minute Freewrite

Today we're getting another look into some more universe stuff! This is a sneak peek into a Jaden Azure and Dyne Gildspine story that'll show up soon in a Zyearth short story collection. =) I have several stories already started. Apparently Jaden and Dyne got into some crazy stuff as Guardians. ;) 

Let's start it up! 


WRITING START 

----------

“There are at least seventeen ways this could have gone better,” Jaden said, glaring at Dyne. “Literally. Like, I’m counting them right now, you moron.”

To say the cell they had been thrown into was archaic was doing it a favor. Jaden had been tossed in a fair amount of cells in his time as Golden Guardian, but this was somewhere in the bottom ten. Cold walls, wet floor, no toilet, near complete darkness, which even his heightened zyfaunos sight couldn’t penetrate, and only a couple of misshapen rocks to sit on. That, or the wet floor.

And everything smelled like month old puke. Though to be fair, he had smelled worse. At least they weren’t in here with a rotting corpse.

But they would never have been in here in the first place if Dyne hadn’t screwed up so badly. He kept his glare trained on Dyne.

Dyne gave Jaden a sideways glance.

“One,” Jaden said, counting on his finger. “You could have started with a greeting instead of a fist to the face. Two--”

“The thing was coming at me full swing!” Dyne said. “He was ready to gut me! How the heck would you react?”

“You’re supposed to stand your ground!” Jaden said. “It’s a testing ritual that all newcomers to the planet are supposed to take part in. That was part of the briefing. Didn’t you read the briefing?”

Dyne shifted uncomfortably on the stone he sat on in the corner of the cell. “No.”

“Dyne! Really?”

“I’m sorry!”

“Honestly!” Jaden said. “How many of these missions have we gone on in our careers? You know better! The briefing can mean the difference between life and death!”

“But they’re only androvox,” Dyne said. “Hardly different than zyfaunos.”

“In appearance, maybe,” Jaden said, glaring. “But only slightly. These guys are far taller and have full digitigrade legs. And their culture is drastically different.”

“How was I supposed to know that?”

“By reading the briefing.”

“Well,” Dyne said. “Too late now.”

They sat in silence for a moment.

“Think our contact will find us here?” Dyne asked.

“After the ruckus you caused in the central square, I don’t see how he could miss us,” Jaden snorted.

“Excuse me,” a new voice said.

Jaden lifted his head and found a tall anthropomorphic bat staring at him. By Draso, was he tall! Dyne didn’t know what he was talking about. The only thing that these androvox shared in common with zyfaunos was that they were both animals. His massive wings ran along his arms and his face held the slightly foxy look of a fruit bat.

But his eyes were kind.

“Jaden Azure, I presume?”

“And his idiotic partner, Dyne,” Jaden said, nodding at Dyne. Dyne shot him a glare.

“My name is Roxy,” the bat said. “I know it’s not the best of starts, but welcome to Sonus.”

“Thanks,” Jaden said. “So what are our plans now?”

“Now?” Roxy said. He scratched behind his ears with a long claw. “That’s. . . a bit complicated.”

“Why?” Dyne said.

“Because,” Roxy said. “Your execution is scheduled for tomorrow.”

Jaden blanched. Roxy was right. That was a bit of a complication.

----------

Looks like Jaden and Dyne have gotten into some serious problems here. What's going to happen next? Keep an eye out for future installments. ;) 

Got a freewrite suggestion for me? Write it in the comments below!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Am Not Beautiful - Meenanful Life

I am not beautiful.

Before you jump down to the comments to flood them with affirmations of "YES YOU ARE", read the rest of the blog post.


I am not beautiful - and I'm okay with that. When I say this, it is a fact of life.

But my friends seem to think this is a declaration of woes. It's not. I just know that, according to modern Western beauty standards, I'm not beautiful.

AND THAT'S OKAY.

I am not woeful over this declaration. In fact, it's incredibly liberating. It means I don't have to compete. I don't have to care about my appearance the same way. If I want to teach my classes in jeans and a T-shirt with Phoenix Wright on the front, I can. If I want to show up to a job interview with no makeup and no high heels, I can. If I want to post silly picture of myself on the internet, I can.

WAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN

I have no shame. XD

Not to say I'm perfect. I certainly am not and I have my moments where I feel ugly and stupid just like everyone else. But I find the longer I live, the more I realize I don't need the consent of others to  just be AWESOME.

The world equates beauty with success and happiness. We see it in movies, video games, TV shows, our jobs, our schools, and pretty much everywhere. Beautiful people are successful people, the world says. And to be fair, part of that is true, unfortunately. We are conditioned to believe beautiful people are trustworthy and successful, so it kind of just HAPPENS sometimes.

But being beautiful does not guarantee success. It takes hard work, dedication, and a desire to make things work. And it definitely doesn't guarantee happiness.

I consider myself a successful and happy person.

I have helped students find their way in the world and have given them confidence in writing, critical thinking, and the ability to succeed in college.

Die by Harry Potter wands, Marshmallow Man!

I have written several books, including a few that have won minor awards.

Still one of my best stories ;)

I have a roof over my head, a car that I love, and food on my table.

foooooooooood

And I have a fantastic husband that loves me.

Hubby looking contemplative.

That's success. That's happiness.

And I achieved it without being beautiful.

I feel like too often, we're told that our worth is based on our beauty. That somehow, because I'm not "up to standards" that I should be sad and I should spend my life working toward being beautiful.

I'm sure everyone has felt this at some point.

"You're not pretty enough."
"You're not smart enough."
"You're not worth anything."

We don't do enough in this world to fight people who willingly drag others down. In many ways, the world encourages it.

It's time to fight back.

If you're beautiful, that's awesome. There are plenty of amazing beautiful people out there that use it for all the right reasons.

If you're not beautiful, that's also awesome. You don't have to live by the rules of the world. Be fantastic anyway. Be happy. Be successful.

No matter who you are, be awesome.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ten Minute Freewrite #15 - Grandma

Happy Monday! Time for another. . .

Ten Minute Freewrite

This is the first in a collection of various writing exercises set in one of my writing universes. This one is from the Crystal Keys Saga, a short series that I hope to start up this year. Wish me luck on it. ;) 

Let's get to it! 


WRITING START

----------

Despite living with Kato, Ryouichi and Solana my whole life, I never could get over the sight of a giant, anthropomorphic bat staring at me.

Though to be fair, none of my family are anthropomorphic bats.

One stared at me now, glaring over a pair of very awkward sunglasses. He probably wore them because he thought they made him look cool. All they did was prove how ridiculous a situation this was.

Another bat circled around him, flexing the large wings on his back in shivers, shaking his large ears. “Madam, I fear you are underestimating these kidnappers.”

I narrowed my eyes. “No, sir,” I said, with a steady a voice as I could. “You are underestimating my grandmother. And her team.”

“Her friends, you mean,” the bat said, adjusting the crisp military uniform he wore. “Vagabonds.”

“Heroes,” I snarled.

The bat slammed a fist on the oak desk. “Destroyers.”

“Only of something unfair.”

“And what right do you, a human, have to complain about fairness?” the bat hissed. He leaned on the desk, glaring at me. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of fear. “These kidnappers have taken your brother. They will indoctrinate him or they will kill him. I know Eri was a powerful figure in her time, but she will never be able to stand against an entire army. Especially not one led by a two-bit, rebellious--”

My communicator went off. Well, Ryouichi’s communicator. A small dragon shaped pendant around my neck. I pulled it up and activated it.

Ryouichi’s face came up with a frown. My grandmother, Eri, was sitting behind him, her face a mask.
I couldn’t help my eagerness. “Did you find him?”

“We did,” Ryouichi said, drawing out the words. The bat in front of me cursed. But Ryouichi was hesitating. Something wasn’t right.

“And?” I prompted.

“We’ve. . . hit a snag,” Grandmother said.


My stomach tied itself into knots. 

----------

That was fun. ;) Hopefully we'll see more from these awesome characters as time goes on. 

Got a freewrite prompt suggestion? Write it below! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Let's Talk About Furries, Part II - Creature Research

Oh boi, more furries! Read Part I here.

Last week we talked a little about some of the history of anthropomorphic characters emerging in our culture and a couple of theories of why we have furries.

This week, let's talk about furry culture.


In all honesty, furry culture is as diverse and expansive as any other race, religion, or nationality based culture. Because it's not centered around any specific fandom, and the definition of "furry" is so broad, furries come from all walks of life. There are Christian furries, Muslim furries, straight furries, gay furries, old furries and young furries.


Because we have this established common ground, furry culture has a reputation among anyone who's even begin to scratch the surface of it's culture as being INCLUSIVE. Your age, gender, religion, race, or nationality means nothing, because you've found common ground in the love of anthropomorphic animals.

That of course doesn't mean that there aren't problems. Furry drama is just as common as drama in any other culture or fandom.

However, the inclusive side is one of the things that drew me to the fandom. Most furries are open and loving and fiercely protective of their own. They are the kind to stand up for social justice, something that's always been dear to my own heart.

Furries also love making people smile.

Many people know the term "fursuiting," but for those who don't, it's a reference to the fact that many furries will get full mascot suits made of their characters and wear them to furry conventions.


Because fursuiters generally communicate with mascot gesturing rather than words, since heads generally muffle words, it means that they can cross barriers in a lot of ways.

An example of this happened in a Canadian fursuit convention this year. The hotel the convention was at was hosting several Syrian refugee families. Fursuiters were warned about this and told that they should not try to engage the refugees unless they engaged first, to help make them feel safe.

Turns out, the refugee families had lots of kids. And they were instantly drawn to the big colorful animals.


There are videos and news reports everywhere showing the kids engaging with furries. Families reported that they felt welcome and safe. The convention even sought out those fluent in Arabic in an effort to help cross language barriers and help the refugees.

How amazing is THAT?

Furry conventions too, are well known for collecting for charities during their meetings, usually something animal related.


Combined and working together, as furries often do, we can do a LOT of good.

But I mentioned in the previous post that there was a big "turn off" for most people outside the fandom. The sexual side.

Honestly, there's a sexual side to everything. The "rule 34." But most fandoms are not defined by the sexual side.

Furries, from the view of outsiders, are defined by it. A google search of furries will show you that. But while their is that sexual side, not everyone engages in it. And while it's perfectly fine for people to engage in that side of it, it is not fine for outsiders to define the entire fandom in this manner.

Overgeneralization at its "finest."


I believe, on the whole, furries just want to be understood. They want to spread light. They want the community that comes with sharing a common interest.

And they work on building that community. We build support groups, not just for help against those who have been hated on for being a furry, but for anything else you can think of.

There are furry suicide hotlines, furry mental illness awareness, artists that dedicate their whole art platform to helping others overcome problems, and a multitude of groups designed to help furries who are facing prejudice for their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

And we stand STRONG.

But people see the term "furry" in front of these things and immediately it becomes the target of ridicule.

No one likes to be ridiculed for the things they like.

Think of a time you picked up on some kind of trend or fandom or just something you generally liked and you got made fun for it. Nearly everyone on the planet has had this experience before.

With me, it was Pokemon.


For whatever reason, it's totally okay to like Pokemon in grade school, or in college, but if you're caught with a Pokemon game in high school, it's like THE END OF EXISTENCE.

I got made fun of SO MUCH in my high school days for playing Pokemon. It got to the point where I just started withdrawing completely.

I think this contributed to my fear of keeping my furry-ness in the closet, so to speak. I got made fun of already for liking something TOTALLY HARMLESS, but with the reputation of furries, I was bound to get it even worse.

But I'm not being the best representation of that fandom that means so much to me if I'm afraid.

So rather than being afraid, I'm going to help foster understanding. When we take the time to learn about things that we're afraid of, we grow. We see people as individuals. We break down stereotypes. This is how we make our world a better place.

So today, I'm proud to say that I am a furry, because furries want to make the world a better place, one fursona at a time. ;)

For now, I'll leave you guys with some fantastic furry poetry, fiction, and art.

POETRY:
The Lost To Whom We Speak - Poetry and artwork (used with permission)

Alone, we wandering mortals pray
For some small mercy lying
There in the voids of your eyes;
Long dissolved, drowned,
Dead under the waves of time.
Yet though seeming blind, you are not;
To mortal eyes your emptiness
Offers up a mind for a mirror,
Upon which my fears dissipate.
I look up to you for my worldly solace,
Mourning my life’s afflictions upon your ears;
For there are none living whom I dare
Throw open the doors of my heart;
None who have wisdom enough
To chart the course through troubled waters.
Some days I dream open-eyed, whether
The shaper of ways might shift our states;
Dissolve my flesh, strip clean my bone,
And instead have your touch caress,
As if time was to turn upon itself.
Would we risk more than words,
Would you peel back my black lips
With those time-worn fingers
And with unearthly tongue, bestow a deathly kiss
Gifting speech beyond the weather of mortal years?
But that is a dream, nothing more,
And I doubt whether I am noble
To bind fast all my feelings behind worded-fetters,
For whatever my impulse, my inclinations,
My soul is left a weary spirit who longs to speak,
But for all others my tongue dissolved like your own.


LITERATURE:

The Song of the Summer King Chronicles by Jess E. Owen.











The Her Instruments Series in the Pelted Universe by M.C.A. Hogarth











Opal Wine - Short Story Collection by Alan Loewen











Watership Down by Richard Adams (May he rest in peace)











The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques (May he rest in peace)











ARTWORK:

Resolute by @orangeddragoness (used with permission)

Fursona - Dwale (used with permission)










Trouble (used with permission)
Art by Kiryu








Artwork by @tessgarman

Yamazaki (used with permission)








Response time! Talk about a time when you were discriminated against because of a hobby, fandom, or interest you had and how you overcame it.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ten Minute Freewrites - #14 - Burgerpants

Woo! Time for another...

Ten Minute Freewrite

Admittedly, the name was totally stolen from Undertale. =P The story isn't anything Undertale related though.

But I'm tempted to do an Undertale exploration later. >> 

Anyways, now I'll be doing a freewrite of one of my favorite prompts. . . one that had me literally laughing out loud when I found it. My students seem to enjoy it too. 

SO LET'S GET STARTED. 


WRITING START

----------

“Put down the burger or I swear to god – I’ll shoot you in the knee!”

Nick stopped in the diner with the burger halfway up to his face, his mouth already watering with the thought of a second bite. His eyes scanned the diner for the speaker until they found a shaking policemen pointing a gun in his direction.

Immediately the criminal in his brain went to work.

Young, nervous, shaking, poor form, bad dialogue. . . This guy was a rookie.

Cautiously Nick put the burger back on his plate. Three exits. Plenty of space. Find a weapon. Two knives, a butter knife and a steak knife, sat at his side.

The policeman walked a step closer. “Hands in the air, or I swear I will shoot!”

“Two swears in one day, huh officer?” Nick said, though he didn’t move his hands from the table. One slowly inched its way to the steak knife. “That’s not very PG. Aren’t you cops all PG?”

The officer cocked the gun – for effect, Nick thought, and probably because he had seen far too many cop movies. No experienced cop would ever pull something like this. Heck, if this was an experienced cop, Nick would probably be dead already.

If they could catch him.

They’ll never catch you. Not while you have me.

“Hands up!” the officer shouted and squinted as if ready to pull the trigger.

The criminal in Nick’s head cackled, a crinkly, rusty laugh. Too slow.

Nick snatched up the steak knife and flipped it behind him. It stuck in the officer’s shoulder. He yelped and dropped the gun. It hit the ground with a clang.

Nick leapt up and walked to the officer. The criminal in his head forced a big grin on his face.
“Don’t follow me,” he said.

Then he walked out an exit into the open air, unchallenged.

----------

Huh. A bit more gruesome than some of my previous ones. I do a lot of these, "you've got a second personality in your head" ideas. I guess I must find them fun. XD 

So. . . what happens next? Write the next part and I'll share it. ;) 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Art History - Meenanful Life

(I have an art history spanning seventeen years, so if this is a "TOO LONG; DIDN'T READ" kind of thing for you, skim through, look at the years attached to the art, and read the bold art lessons. ;) Enjoy!)

Anyone who has any decent skills in art have probably heard this before.

"I wish I was good at drawing." 

Sometimes this is a result of jealousy. Sometimes it's a reverse psychological attempt to get free art. Sometimes it's simply a genuine wish to be better. 

But it's almost always because the person saying it doesn't realize the effort it takes to get to that level. 

Drawing, like writing, music, or any other kind of creative activity, is not a skill that we are automatically born with. Well, most of the time. There are some people who have a natural talent for it.

But most people have to put in the time, effort, and dedication to get better. 

Take me for an example.


1999-2003 ART

These are some of the oldest art pieces I have saved. Most of these were done during my early high school days, so about 1999 to 2000. Pathetic attempts if you look at them now. 

You might also notice that these are all characters. Fan characters specifically. I find that a lot of people these days start off with things like that. My characters particularly were for stories I was writing (and that I'm still writing), so getting basic character design was my only motivation for art. 

Well... not entirely. 

When I started these guys, it was to show people up. =P My friends were making fan characters and I thought, "I can do better than that." 

Turns out, I couldn't, but darned if I didn't try! 

That led me to my next development in artwork. Pixel art.

2005-2007 ART
WOO IZZY LOOKING GOOD THERE. 

I stumbled on a Sonic fan forum where pixel art was a big thing. So I started doing pixel art.






Again, all characters. All for the purpose of learning character design. 

You'll notice very little in the way of improvement. The point WASN'T improvement yet. It was doing art for the love of it. 

And there's the first lesson. Your first and foremost motivation for doing art should be FOR THE LOVE OF IT. You want to draw because it's FUN and you pull ENJOYMENT out of it rather than for the desire to just do perfect work. 

Heck, I used to think these things were GOOD. And I suppose for my skill level, they were. Looking at them now is laughable though.

I was doing a ton of art at the time. I loved doing it, so I took requests and drew characters whenever I had a spare moment. I got fairly "famous" on the boards, probably because of all the requests I took.

I thought I was pretty dang awesome.

But then I met Omni. And he had work like this.

Which was vastly superior to mine. And suddenly people were flocking to him.

This could not be borne. And so started the Pixel Rivalry of the SSMB Boards.

Gradually my pixel art skills grew.

2008-2009 ART

It still wasn't great by any means, but it was a serious improvement. More dynamic. Changes in shading and poses. Better lineart technique.

Omni and I eventually became friends and started working off each other's skills, helping each other improve. We even did collaborative pieces.


That's the second lesson to learn from this. Have an art partner to help encourage you. You don't necessarily need someone to teach you skills, but it should be someone who's not afraid to tell you where your skills lack, and yet be ready to lift you up when you're feeling down about your skills.

By that point, I had decided I wanted to start bringing the Zyearth world away from the Sonic style world and into its own. That. . . had some issues.

2009-2010 ART
One of the big problems with Sonic style art is that the characters DON'T HAVE NECKS. So it took YEARS of practice to be able to learn how to draw necks and shoulders on a character. Any chance I could, I did something to hide the neck.

The same problem applied to eyes. Most Sonic characters have freakin' connected eyes, so drawing the eye shape separately was a new skill for me.

Early attempts had... mixed results.





Also, drawing bigger meant these took a LOT more time to work though, so I was not putting them out nearly as fast. That definitely set me back a while. The old shading techniques weren't working either, and their poses were so... stiff. So I tried working through that.

Years of practice eventually led me to this.

2012-2013 ART

This was the first new style of pixel art that I was truly proud of, and one that I had done with the distinct goal of improving as an artist. Notice the dynamic pose, the stronger shading, the better anatomy, the properly proportions, and even the subtle expression.

It's not without faults. The mouth is... strange, to be honest. The shading doesn't make sense and doesn't follow a light source. The pant leg showing is totally wrong. The pendant is WAY too big and isn't moving correctly.

But it's a HUGE improvement from this.

Derp.

I continued the new style for a while and put out a few more pieces.

Even though there's a lot of obvious mistakes, I'm still pretty proud of these ones.

It was at this point though, that I was realizing how much my pixel art was limiting my ability to grow. I had come to a point where to truly improve as an artist, I needed to do something different.

So I moved to Photoshop.


WHA-HO. WHAT THE CRAZY SENSEMAKE

Anatomy isn't... bad. Okay, yes it is. Light source is... kind of there. Texture is.... um.... something....

BUT WHAT THE ACTUAL CRAP IS UP WITH THEIR FACES

Another lesson in art. Sometimes when improving, you take several steps backward before moving forward. 

Part of this was the new medium. I had never really worked in photoshop before. Part of this was the new tools. Pixel art was always done with a mouse and this was done with a drawing tablet.

But a big part of this was unlearning things I had learned wrong and relearning how to do it RIGHT. 

Photoshop work took a lot more time at first too, since I had no idea what I was doing and I still applied pixel art techniques to my photoshop work. That DOES NOT WORK. But since completing a piece took a long time, I had a hard time getting many FINISHED. I'd get bored and start being lazy, or move on to something else. I have so many unfinished pieces, you don't want to know. >>

But I got a few done.

2013-2015 ART




None of this is great art. It's fun to look at, but it's got so many flaws that I can't enjoy this nearly as much as I enjoy the previous generation of pixel art. It was so much work to UNLEARN that it got frustrating. There were times I wanted to give up.

But I refused. Another art lesson. Instead of trying something too big and too far outside of your comfort zone, sometimes you need to go back to what drew you to art in the first place. For me, that was only one thing. Character design.

2014
This was the first piece I was happy with since purposefully pushing myself to improve. I liked his expression, the shape of his body, the anatomy, the clothes, the shadow under him, and, as my friend Carrie put it, "dem eyes, doe." This was the first time I felt like I had truly improved.

And considering where I had come from...

2004

I really had. Ten years of deliberate work makes a huge difference.

Over 2016, (the DREADED YEAR) I did more character pieces, specifically trying to work through some major issues I had with art. The two biggest ones that I was working at fixing was light sourcing, and SPEED.

So I did a ton of pieces for the Zyearth website and learned some new techniques about blocking in shading before going in detail. I got a lot of work done, but three favorites really stick out in my mind.

2016 ART

Sami's piece is simply squee worthy to me. Some of the shading is wonky, but her smile, the generally good light sourcing and those EYES really made me giggle with glee the whole time I worked on her.


Aric's snout and spots posed a particular challenge for me while I did his shading, not to mention the fact that he's got black fur. Black is one of the HARDEST colors to shade. Make it too dark and you can't see shapes. Make it too light and it becomes just GRAY. It was a lot of work. The spots too. But it worked out and he makes me happy to look at.


Natassa has such a difficult character design. I could picture it in my head, but trying to get it on a page was so HARD. I think it came out pretty good though. It took me a while to get used to the design, but I've fallen in love with it since.


My first attempt at a human in a LONG TIME. Not... great, but FAR superior to the previous attempt. Certainly good enough for my purposes. And fun!

And now... the challenge of 2017.

One of the big things that my art support groups still say I struggle with is fluidity in my art. Many of my fellow artists say the art looks stiff, and I can kind of see what they mean. Again, probably a product of my pixel art days, where ever piece was literally assembled pixel by pixel and even one out of place could ruin the piece. Photoshop painting is much less precise. I'm still getting used to that.

So last November I took a sketch class. I learned a ton and I plan to apply that. This year will be the year of art improvement!

Every Friday, I'm going to post a sketch dump so hopefully as I'm going on this journey, you'll be encouraged to as well! Art can only improve with deliberate choices to work toward improvement. So if you've ever wanted to learn to draw - now's the time.

Let's work together to improve ourselves this year!