Saturday, April 24, 2010

World-Building Days 1 + 2

Well, yesterday was full of fun. I may have found something I'll actually get hired to do, so it was time well spent. Because of the job-hunting, i didn't get a chance to put up a blog post, as I used that time instead to work toward my small daily goal for my world-building project.

Something I have learned over the years as I have created various creatures for fantasy and sci-fi setting is that it's hard for some things to actually sound believable. Sure, you could have something that's huge and that carries your character around the world conveniently, but what do they eat? Where do they live in the wild? What kind of food requirements do they have?

Take, for example, the creature I was fleshing out yesterday. Because I still haven't created the language for this world yet, I just give everything pretty basic, descriptive names. The one I focused on was called the "Spiny Herdbeast" which fits quite well as a description for the picture that was drawn to go along with it. It's easy to tell this one apart from my other "herdbeast" type animals, and I can easily use it as a way to name it once I've smoothed out the language.

The first thing I wanted to do with it was have it be quite large. Since the characters I am using on this world are at least two or three feet taller then the "average human male" scale that is generally used in these types of illustrations, I got out a measuring tape and laid out on the floor how tall, how long and how broad it would be in order to get real world dimensions. Proportionally, they're similar in size to my main creatures in the way horses and cows are to humans.

The Spiny Herdbeasts are herbivores, so I took a look at the map I'd drawn of my worlds, and plotted out where they might be in every season, their migratory habits leading them to follow the water as they moved from spring/summer grazing to fall/winter areas. The terrain also posed a problem, and I adapted for that, drawing inspiration from Giant Ground Sloths of the ice age who had "hands" to help them graze.

When building fantasy creatures it seems like it's always a good idea to at least have a facet of real animals, or use them as a basis for the way the creature interacts with it's environment. Horses and cattle both have rather high energy requirements, so they end up grazing throughout the day. I used that as an aspect of the behavior of the Spinys, as it gives them at least some sort of grounding that makes them seem more real when they're written or drawn.

Because they graze so much, their diets also need to be full of energy rich foods, so I researched the kinds of plants that have high energy yields and based their stature and basic body structures on things that would help them to reach the foods they were most benefited by. As a result I ended up with a heavily built, stocky creature with a short neck, "hands" that help them reach things that are too high for them to eat and dig to find roots.

For day 2 I worked on a second creature. When fleshing out beasts and beings for worlds, I always like to have either a "fact sheet" or a reference sheet about them that I can use to quickly get information about them, especially if I need to use them for something. Having these around is also a good artistic tool for when I decide to draw them or use them in a scene for an illustration.

Basics I always look at first are a good, basic description (how do they fit into their environment? Do they have flashy colors, or do they blend into the background? What do they eat? How do they move?) all of those questions help me determine the size, shape and general behavior, which helps me as I get more in depth with my sheets, breaking down three groups (male, female, offspring) in the description area.

I also keep notes on feeding behaviors and migration patterns, making a sketchy drawing of the land masses and water on my planets and marking where they spend different seasons in different colors. My readers may not ever hear anything about some of the creatures, but I like having these sorts of notes around just in case. Plus to me they make the world more three-dimensional, as I am able to see things more clearly in my head when I'm writing.

Daily Goal: 3 pages
Day: 2
Page Count: 6

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I haven't meant to neglect my blog or my Etsy account lately, but I needed to divert my attention and put all of it into finding a job. Next month is when VFS is expecting me to begin paying my monthly tuition things, and I haven't had any luck whatsoever finding anyone who will hire me lately.

I'll be balancing my time more efficiently between Etsy promotions, job applications and a major project that I'm working on in the background. It involves a lot of hands on fine art and craft stuff, so it's going to be taking up time on its own.

My idea is that I'm going to develop deeply a fantasy culture that I've been working with on and off over the past three/four years. Beginning from the ground up, I'm compiling all of my reference information and materials on them, and putting it all together in a PDF file to be bound so I stop losing track of all of it.

The goal I'm working with right now is to write three pages of information per day, plus drawings and schematics of buildings, social structures, languages, etc. Part of making it more "real" for me is to also be creating things in three-dimensions. So that would be things like ships, jewelry, sculptures, models of buildings, wall carvings, etc. All in all it's pretty elaborate and will definitely take awhile to complete. I want to have at the very least 150 pages of text plus photos and drawings bound together by the time I go off to VFS next February.

I'll probably also be sending this stuff in to be copyrighted once it's all together, that way I don't have to pay too many different processing fees. What this blog will be tracking daily is the art and crafting part of it. The model building and the sketches detailing some parts of what I'm doing (pictograph languages are really fun, by the way) and probably tutorials dealing with in-depth world building exercises.

The cover art mentioned in my previous post didn't get used by the paper, so I'll be offering the original and prints of it on my Etsy shop in a few days. Waiting to hear back on the price estimate of the prints from the printing lab that I use.

Also, the new Predator movie has gotten me really excited. I'm a sci-fi/horror nut!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cover Art, New Earrings and Other Things

"Ice Field" 2010 Ink and Marker on Illustration Board
Can also been seen at my deviantart.

Ice Field is actually an inked piece I've been working on over the course of the winter when I had the time or the inspiration to add more onto it. At some point it managed to get some kind of spot on it and I put it aside for awhile, thinking I'd get back to it when I figured out how to cover up a stain on the cliff wall. I think it flows rather nicely now though. :)

Originally, I was going to color it in as well, but it looks just fine with the colors its got. I tried to highlight a few things subtly, but the orange might stand out a little too much. It's 9x9" square on a nice thick sheet of Strathmore illustration board. Pen, ink, marker. A little left over pencil on some of the cracks, but I think it looks nice that way.

Next time I do a big piece I'll have to remember to take progression shots, so I can maybe do a coloring/inking tutorial.

My beautiful gyroscope earrings from Kitty Violet's Closet arrived today. They're awesomely fun and got a lot of compliments from the people who saw them. Go check out her shop if you haven't already. The owner is friendly and has absolutely beautiful things in stock with very few sales. She really deserves more. :)

Today was a wonderful spring day in the Valley, too! Bright and sunny and just warm enough that you didn't need a jacket. Mom and I went out to look for some galoshes to wear up at Warm Lake while we're gone on Monday and Tuesday, because it may not snow in the Valley anymore but it most certainly has up in the mountains. Because of the beautiful weather I've spent more time planning out the kitchen garden and we got a raspberry bush and a Chardonnay
grape vine (for eating!). What I'd really, really like to find would be a gooseberry bush. My grandmother always had one in her yard in Indiana and she'd make gooseberry pie. I've got her recipe, but it only tastes good with fresh gooseberries.

Other then the berries we'll be planting an herb garden and drying the excess at the end of the season to use for the rest of the year. I'm also planting a bunch of vegetables that can be used for stir-fry so I don't have to run to the store quite so often to pay for overpriced bok choy and napa cabbage. :\

This is probably something no one but me will care about, but oh well. I need to get this out.

There was a long rant here. I started writing this post earlier, but have turned up some new info on my issues with this game account suspension. Apparently it was still linked to the person who had upgraded it for me. All of her accounts also got upgraded, and because of the link to her accounts the game mods are treating it as her account and won't say a word to me. She hasn't heard anything useful either, except for the stock "This account has been suspended by this mod, please contact the mothersite in order to learn why" message. Hopefully more will be explained tomorrow. I know I haven't done anything against the rules, but I can't vouch for her.

Now, I understand why they won't always talk to someone whose account is linked to someone else (after they bought it with fake cash on the site, or had it upgraded) but when both parties involved are saying that an account shouldn't be linked to others and that it really does belong to the person they won't talk to- it's counterproductive. If this is because of something I accidentally did, then I would like to be able to work it out. But the mod in charge of this issue won't even let me get a word in edgewise so to speak. If it's *not* because of something I did, I'd like my account back. End of story. Just because I didn't pay physical cash doesn't mean that I didn't put time and effort into earning the upgrade. And apparently it can't be "unlinked" once it's been suspended. Because it's linked to the person who's been suspended. And the mods won't talk to me about it.

Kind of keeps going around in circles like that. Been doing this round about all day long. One mod says to send in a support ticket and then it gets answered with "Can't tell you, it's not your account". Even when I've explained the whole thing to both mods involved. I'd leave the game, but I've invested a good chunk of money in it and I still have time left on several other upgraded accounts. :\

Friday, March 26, 2010

Well...*that* was exciting!

For a few weeks now I've been working on a 10 x 10" piece of art to submit to the Boise Weekly as cover art (this is the local "alternative style" newspaper. They give you money and art related gift certificates if your design gets picked). It was vaguely exciting.

First there was the always looming Dark Grey Clouds that seem about to drop rain on you at any moment. I had forgotten to bring anything waterproof to put my art piece in, so I tried to go as quickly as I could to their downtown office before it started to pour rain. I had also (brilliant me) forgotten to bring an umbrella. So if it had started to pour down torrential amounts of rain like it had yesterday, not only would my art be wet, but so would I.

Then I got lost on my way over there. Too much traffic on a couple of the cross streets threw me off and I had to go back to where I'd started to get directions to where I was going. Turns out that I had nearly gotten there the first time and that fifteen minutes I spent wandering down alleys and little side streets by buildings that almost looked "right" was time I could have spent avoiding the rain. Not only that, but I get over to the office and it's behind "Venue" which from the outside looks pretty bad. Kind of like a seedy hole-in-the-wall place. Not sure what it's like inside, but I've heard good things about it.

Turned it in, which stressed me out a bit. I'm not used to leaving my stuff in the hands of people I don't know if I haven't sold it to them. They'll call me back sometime over the next month hopefully. If they don't, I go pick it up and it's open to sell prints of!

Also, yesterday I received my cab from HarnessedEarth. It's absolutely gorgeous and now I need to figure out exactly what I'm going to do with it. He was also kind enough to send a beautiful gift cab along with it. Plus the packaging he used is perfect for up-cycling into art drawing surfaces. This is an excellent and very friendly seller. I'm definitely going to recommend and return to his shop for gorgeous cabs and wrapped jewelry.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Free shipping and spring is here

"Volcano Horse" now available as a print in my Etsy shop.

In order to celebrate having found a wonderful local print shop who can print my art professionally on high grade papers for a good fee (I knew about them because I had volunteered to work for some projects they printed historic photos for) I have decided to offer free shipping on anything in my shop! Mention my blog, Twitter or facebook fan page in the notes to seller.

The image at the top of this post is exactly the same one that I used on Etsy, for it's listing ( [here] ) but Etsy apparently hates dark, high detail files for some reason and made it pixilated no matter what I tried to save it as. It's actually quite finely detailed, which the photos on the shop listing failed to capture. :(

New things are in the works! I also have two other digital pieces I hope to be offering soon- another Volcano horse in "flaxen gold cream" color as an 8 x 10" (the Dark Brown is available in 8x8" if desired!) and also a small landscape/scene although that second one might take me a bit to get completely finished. There's also a line of "Bird Scrabble" tiles. They will be sold in word packets or singles. There is a OOAK tiny drawing on each of them depicting a different kind of bird. They will already have eyepins in them and will be ready for use as pendants or charms.


Now that it is officially spring by the calendar it's time to start planning the kitchen garden! I like to use as many fresh and organic ingredients in my cooking as possible, so every year I figure out what kinds of spices, veggies and fruit are used the most in the kitchen and try to plan accordingly. This year starts out with planting some bok choy and catnip and getting the garden ready for some berry bushes and grape vines.

As it starts warming up, I'll start plating some basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, dill, fennel, onions, garlic and leafy greens. Waiting for the farmers market to buy any tomato plants though. There's a woman there who sells a lot of her own hybrid varieties, and we found one that everyone in the family likes last year. Nice and meaty for slicing or eating whole, but also good for chopping into sauces or salsas.

Hopefully by the time I leave for college next year there will be so many different recipes under my belt that there won't be too much trouble actually making decent meals for myself (and possible roommates...). The only thing that would be even better would be if the hens were still laying eggs as often as they were when they were younger. We get maybe three or four a week from three hens pushing four years old now.

The animal menagerie at our house is loving the spring weather as well. Penny the bloodhound mix was a winter puppy, and this is her first spring, so she's absolutely thrilled that the weather actually stays warmer then freezing. She gallops around the yard with her ears flying every which way a lot.

All three of the cats have taken to sitting in any available window space to watch the birds outside as they nest. They're all indoor cats, but that doesn't really matter to them. They still think they own everything in sight. Old Fedora is a may kitten, and this year she is fifteen so at least some of my paychecks (whenever I manage to find someone who'll hire me. :\ ) will be spent making the house a bit more accessible to her. She's getting a nice fluffy pillow in May where she likes to sit most often.

As far as I can tell the fish are indifferent to all of it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Beautiful spring weather and buying things on Etsy!

Today was absolutely gorgeous for it not being spring yet (going by the calendar)! Sunny and warm all day. I wanted to go downtown and do some life drawing and see about getting some of my cards put out at shops, but ended up staying home to babysit the puppy instead.

It wasn't too bad, she just wants to be in your lap helping when you're trying to work on things. And she's a big puppy! Penny's also just starting puppy classes, so she's got some daily things we have to do with her to make sure she remembers. The good thing is she's a quick learner, so it only takes a few times.

After she fell asleep in the sun I decided it would be good to browse around on Etsy and work on promoting my shop some more. A few days ago I first saw HarnessedEarth's shop and absolutely fell in love with one of the agate cabochons there. I had decided to sit on it and consider for a little while, but today I couldn't stand it any longer and bought it.

Also felt in the crafty mood and bought a lot of 100 scrabble pieces as well to do some decoupage on when they get here. It made me sad so realize that my scrabble set could be considered vintage. It's only from 1989!

Ammonites are another thing that interests me and I want to get better at wire-wrapping things that aren't a consistent shape all over, so I also bought a pair of those a few days ago. Hopefully having some more options open with what I can do while I'm waiting and also searching for a job will help keep me from getting tired of painting and drawing.

When we went to the store they were have a sale on some tiny light bulbs so I got some of those as well. Miniature things are a fascination to me, and I always enjoy the challenge of making something teeny. This gave me the opportunity to try making those light bulb terrariums that seem to be all over the place now (or maybe that's just me?).

As soon as the resin on this batch of bottle cap pieces gets done curing I'll also be offering some small (1 inch diameter) original bottle cap pieces that can be used as whatever you want them to be for. They'll probably be sold as pairs, and I'll open up the option to have custom piece made with an piece of art and brand of your choice. I'd drill holes to hang them with, but the drill bit that would work for that seems to be missing from the kit.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Water Horse Illustration and 100 Themes Challenge!

New listing today: Water Horse illustration. He's a lovely blue water horse coming up out of the depths to enjoy a sunny spring day.

The listing on Etsy is for the original illustration. Colored pencil and ink on mat board.

Inspired by the bright, sunny weather today, he just seemed to be the right creature for the paper.

I have also decided to go through the 100 Themes drawing challenge fully this time. Each time I complete a piece it will be posted on Etsy as either a beautiful art print on 8 x 10 glossy or matte photo paper (buyers choice!) or as the original piece.

The 100 themes challenge is an art challenge meant to broaden the range and ability of an artist who attempts to complete it. There is a list of one hundred words that you are supposed to make a drawing/illustration/photo/sculpture or whatever else based around. Some words are easier to put drawings to then others, and some are phrases with a varied difficulty level as well.


Other then that it's been a wonderful spring day in the valley! Not that it's going to last long, seeing as how the weather is so unpredictable this time of year.

This morning you could see the snow falling up in the hills still, even though it's gotten to be around fifty-five degrees. A nice change from mid to upper teens for the winter though!

Our forsythia bush has started to bloom, although it still looks horrible from when our neighbor hacked it up last year. No leaf buds yet, but it's only a matter of time. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Blog!


This blog will be following Cold Northern's shop on Etsy. What gets posted up, what's in the works, where things will be sold locally and where to look for her online as well.

First off, I would like to say I am entirely new to Etsy and to being a seller. Most of the time I have only really given away my art and my jewelry to friends and family as gifts, but this is a direction I have fully intended to go with my work as well.

Much of the art that I produce doesn't really have a single category it can be filed under. My interests are varied and I produce work that reflects how I feel and what is going on in my head at the time. As a result, I don't do a lot of realism studies, although I am perfectly able to do so.

The majority of my art is done in pen and ink by hand and will never really see the light of day otherwise, seeing as how not very many people know about my deviantart account and I'm still working on networking my Etsy shop, so not too much exposure there, either.

I also use collage techniques, paint (watercolor, acrylic, oil and gouache), gel pen, ball point pen, graphite, charcoal, chalk pastel, oil pastel, make up, white out, coffee, brush ink, clay, decorative papers, colored pencil, beads, metal, glass and whatever else I can get my hands on to do art with. Sometimes this branches out into three dimensional works, which I may also occasionally have up for sale on Etsy.

I am available for custom piece or commissions, just drop me a line at or send me a conversation on Etsy to discuss what you want. I do have a custom form to fill out but being as detailed as you possibly can when sending me these sorts of requests is very helpful.