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Archive for the tag “Art”

Queen Viarra Commission, by Adelruna

ViarraFor a while now, I’ve given various consideration to commissioning a portrait of Queen Viarraluca, title character from my novel-in-progress, First Empress. About a week and a half ago, I emailed the amazing and talented Adelruna to discuss the possibility. I’m very definitely pleased with the end results. As well as being an intelligent and powerful ruler, the young queen is trained as a heavy infantrywoman, preferring to fight on the front lines beside the hoplites, gaining her soldiers’ loyalty by sharing in their danger and hardship. I feel like Adelruna has portrayed her strength and courage elegantly in this portrait.

I make no apologies for the fact that Queen Viarra is a tyrant. While she loves her friends and works toward the benefit of her subjects, she’s ruthless and sometimes brutal toward those who cross her. (And damn, she’s fun to write.) I don’t see her as being opposed to others’ individual freedoms, but she places more value on the security and stability of her hegemony. Twice she executes nobles for daring to conspire against her and even has her own uncle hanged for assassinating her brothers. The following excerpt is from Chapter 8 when Viarra confronts one of the nobles involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the young queen.

***

Walking beside Captain Alden, Bevren followed her majesty to the gates of Lord Halben’s townhouse, more than fifty hoplites in tow.

“Stand aside,” Queen Viarra ordered as Halben’s gate guards approached. Startled, the guards leapt out of the way, her majesty striding between them. She stormed through the open gates and across the courtyard, her soldiers nearly jogging to keep up.

“Your majesty, this is entirely out of line,” a self-important house slave objected, stepping between the queen and the front door. “If you’ll come back in the morning when—” he cut off as Viarra grabbed him by the hair and turned him forcibly around. The movement caused the sweating bastard to fall to one knee.

“Tell them to open the fucking door,” the queen demanded coldly, keeping ahold of the slave’s hair.

“For Andiva’s sake, open the door!” the man bleated. The doors swung open a moment later, revealing a pair of terrified doormen. Queen Viarra tossed the slave aside and strode through the entryway, likely looking like an archangel of death to the terrified occupants. Bevren followed with the rest of the soldiers, taking note of the servants and family members cowering in doorways and behind furniture.

Lord Halben and Lady Lyria stepped from their bedchamber as the queen approached with her soldiers. “Queen Viarra, what is the meaning of this?” he demanded. “Storming my home in the middle of the night and—” he cut off, turning white and pissing down his leg as Captain Alden held up the assassination contract with the conspirators’ names signed to it.

“Majesty, I can explain—” the traitor began.

He cut off as Viarra grabbed him by the tunic and threw him through a nearby table.

“No, you can’t explain,” Viarra told him cold-bloodedly as she stepped over and jerked him to his knees. “Every lying word you speak in useless explanation is another second you get to spend alive. You don’t get that right.” She turned and threw him to the stone floor in front of her soldiers, bloodying his nose and splitting his lip. “Take him to Fort Lynra and crucify him with the others,” she ordered.

Two hoplites yanked him to his feet and dragged him down the hall, screaming his traitorous head off.

Bevren turned back to where Lady Lyria stood, covering her mouth. She sobbed and shook her head in disbelief as she read the contract for Queen Viarra’s assassination.

“I apologize, Lady Lyria,” the Queen said with unexpected tenderness as she stepped over and took the noblewoman’s hand. The lady looked up at the queen in surprise. “I apologize that I must deprive you of your husband. I want you to know that I harbor no ill will to you or your children. If you choose to stay in the city, I am willing to offer you your husband’s seat on the council, as well as my protection from any reprisals that may come because of his part in the plot against me. However, if you no longer feel safe here in Andivel, I have a ship standing by to take you and your children to be with your family in Ovec at first light.”

“I… thank you for your mercy, your majesty,” Lady Lyria replied, trembling and clutching the queen’s hand. “I will take my children and return to Ovec. But… perhaps in a few years, when my son is older, we can return and he may serve on the council as his father did.” She looked hopefully up at the tall queen.

“I will see to it,” her majesty nodded. “I’ll make sure your home is maintained for your return.”

New blog launch!

Just launched my new blog, it’s at http://heroineimages.wordpress.com/. Spent the afternoon putting together the new blog and writing the ‘about,’ ‘introduction,’ and ‘links’ as well as the first post. It’s based on my previous two entries about commenting on women fantasy characters in smart, practical attire. (See previous discussions here and here.)

As I’m still learning how to build a blog and learning WordPress’s system, please feel free to offer feedback on the page itself as well as the individual posts. And please enjoy.

New Blog Idea

My previous blog post about sartorially smart heroines gave me an idea for a new blog. I’ll go ahead and toss this out there just to get any kind of feedback and advice on my idea.

There are a lot of image blogs and galleries out there that celebrate the smartly dressed heroine in various sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, anime, modern adventure, etc. Fuck Yeah, Women in Armor, Shield Maidens, and Armored Women, are all very good ones, and I occasionally check up on Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor in hopes that it will start updating again. While these blogs feature amazing images of paintings, drawings, even photos of women characters in effective adventuring apparel, I find them to be sadly short on commentary and explanation as to why these are useful and effective outfits.

My idea is to start a new blog here on WordPress to offer commentary to go along with the images. I plan to discuss why I find particular outfits to be effective: what works in terms of protectiveness, utilitarianism, story (if applicable), setting, environment, character role, thematic appropriateness, and genre appropriateness. As such, I intend to focus mainly on the outfit, rather than the character herself—when character comes into play, it will be in terms of how the outfit helps her complete her particular role. As in, if I decide to offer a commentary on Princess Leia’s commando gear from Return of the Jedi, it will be for the sake of the uniform’s function on their intended mission, rather than, say, a contrast with her slave-girl costume from Jabba’s Palace.

My plan is to start out by offering a couple posts per week just to see if it creates any kind of interest from readers. If there is enough interest and demand, I may try to up that to 3–4 times per week. We’ll see what happens. What does everyone think on this idea? Please offer any thoughts, questions, or suggestions, or even just a ‘like’ if you think it’s a useful idea.

Sartorially Smart Heroines

Ouch

Source: Deviant Artist LuckyFK

I’m a big fan of smartly-dressed heroines. Of these, there are far too few in fantasy-adventure stories. Like the unfortunate elf maiden above, there are far too many women characters in fantasy stories who wear armor and apparel that would get them killed under most combat circumstances. Too many Amazon warriors in chain-mail bikinis and elf sorceresses in lingerie-ish robes of +3 sexiness. Video and computer game makers are especially guilty of this, choosing to market their product to the pocket-mining demographic so common among gamers. And it’s hard to fault their marketing overmuch—boobs make money. But, realistically, armor that covers as much as the average bikini won’t keep the busty Amazon’s insides inside, nor will the sorceress’s frilly robes hold up for the average forest trek or dungeon crawl. And, believe it or not, there are some of us who prefer realism in our fantasy.

This isn’t to say that the armor and apparel has to be historically accurate. Just because a story is a “medieval fantasy” doesn’t place it under any obligation to be historically faithful to the Middle Ages. If it’s a period piece, that’s different: I hope the writers, filmmakers, game makers, etc do what they can to make the piece as historically accurate as they know how. But a medieval fantasy story should be able to include whatever adventuring apparel it wants so long as its (a) thematically appropriate for the genre, (b) protects what needs protecting, and (c) suits the character’s quest/mission/role.

Do I have criteria for what is acceptable versus unacceptable? Not really. Every adventuress’s situation is different depending on her mission, environment, fantasy world, type of enemy, and fantasy genre. The lady knight is going to choose a different armor depending on if she’s leading men-at-arms or scouting for brigands. The steampunk sniper will want different camouflage whether she’s hiding in the city, desert, forest, or mountains. And the intergalactic huntress will need a different type of armor for combating rail-gun-toting battle droids than she will for giant beetles that bleed acid. I rather doubt that any of these ladies will journey out clad in beachwear or formal, evening attire.

Here are examples of fantasy adventuring apparel that I find very effective:

LotRO Ladies

Lord of the Rings Online ladies. Left to right: Captain, Hunter, Champion, Burglar. Screenshots taken from game play.

One of the big shout outs I’ll give to Lord of the Rings Online is that it does a very good job of keeping the Heroes and Heroines of Eriador well protected. The costuming is more customizable than any action RPG I’ve encountered, but other than the occasional noble’s dress or elvish gown, all of the attire is appropriate for the standard adventuress in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The dwarven plate mail is somewhat bulky (Champion) and the elf armor in general borders on overly ornate (Burglar), but I feel like in both cases the armor is protective as well as practical for any character who expects to be in the thick of the action.

I see this as a direct contrast to games like World of Warcraft where high-level shoulder armor is the size of Volkswagens, or Rift where the fronts of some of the armor are open almost to the poor girl’s bush. Whether it’s ridiculously massive or ridiculously sexualized armor, I tend to be leery of games, comics, etc that typically feature women warriors in impractical armor. Sadly, as medieval fantasy-adventure goes, few games are consistent as far as protectiveness in women’s armor. Dragon Age and Neverwinter Nights are generally okay, outfit-wise, but ones like the Guild Wars and Elder Scrolls games are fairly hit-and-miss.

Another form of impractical armor that is being smacked down more and more often of late is boob-plate. And with good reason. Sculpted cleavage essentially functions as a wedge positioned next to the warrior’s sternum, and thus receives most of the force of any blow she takes to the chest. It wasn’t something that I paid close attention to until recently, but after reading a couple articles on the structural problems with sculpted women’s breastplates, it’s hard for me to not take this into consideration.

Of course, not all adventuring apparel is armor. (I mean, if you think about it, the only use for armor is protection from physical attacks. It doesn’t protect from the heat or the cold, it’s often heavy and cumbersome, and typically a bitch to try to sleep in.) Adventuresses such as pirates, sorceresses, scouts, and rogues often adventure without armor and manage to get the job done. The important part is that these outfits fit the character’s particular role.

And none of this is to say that women characters can’t end up in a fight wearing less-than-practical attire. Sometimes adventure catches heroines unprepared and they have to save the world in their street clothes, evening gown, or bathrobe. Sometimes enemy insurgents start a riot during a parade and the Lady General must help quell it in her officer’s cuirass with the sculpted breastplate. Or the healer gets abducted in her sleep and has to break out of the enemy dungeon in her nighty. Or orcs attack the town while the Paladin is in her bath and she’s forced to battle the unwashed hordes wearing a towel. I mean, armor and many other types of adventuring apparel take time to don and sometimes even the most prepared heroines don’t get the chance to prep their battledress, so I don’t think this is impossible to realistically portray in a story. But I feel like in most scenarios when a competent woman fighter is prepping for the coming adventure, her clothing and travel attire will be the first thing she considers before stepping out her door. To assume otherwise is kind of insulting to competent heroines everywhere.

I’ll leave off with one of my favorite cartoons on the topic:

There are so many thing wrong with that outfit...

By Grace Vibbert (Milesent) for SCA.

Quick examples of smartly-dressed heroines in webcomics (in my opinion, anyway):

Also, here’s a quick list great articles, image galleries, and blog posts I found on the topic:

Fan Art: Amya Chronicles

I mentioned, back when I posted my fan art for Pete Abram’s Sluggy Freelance, that I had also drawn one for Savannah Houston McIntyre’s Amya Chronicles. Yesterday, I had the delightful honor of having my fan art posted as filler while the comic takes a hiatus.

lenna_final

Angie and Silenna, two half-elf rangers fighting for half-elf rights in Amya Chronicles. Both characters are introduced toward the beginning of Chapter 3, Lenna joining the main characters on their journey toward the end of the chapter.

Silenna Gardine, the half-elf ranger on the right, is likely my favorite character so far in Amya Chronicles. I like Lenna for… well for a lot of reasons, really. From an artistic standpoint, I like that she’s athletic and muscular without being pumped or ripped and she’s beautiful and sexy without being sexualized. That’s not an easy balance to find. And so far I haven’t seen her in a pose that would require the absence of a few ribs or the removal of one’s spinal cord. For a long time I was worried about Lenna’s future in the narrative, as she was listed on the cast page under “Acquaintances.” But as of recently, I noticed that she was moved to the “Travelers” category. No official confirmation, but I like to think this is a positive development for our lovely ranger’s future role in the tale. (One might notice that the image posted to the comic has been cropped slightly to fit the webpage’s format. Eh, now I know…)

lenna2.0

A slightly photo-edited scan of the initial line work.

My initial concept sketch for this piece featured Lenna sitting by herself on the tree branch, looking at peace or contemplative. But when I finished the line work, I felt like she ought to be with someone, either talking or just hanging out. At first I considered Kaden, the rogue/pistol markswoman or Faye, the mute spell caster, but I couldn’t come up with a valid reason for either of them to be up a tree. It eventually made more sense to have her teammate, Angie, perched up there as if their biding their time before ambushing their quarry. Rather than redraw the whole image, I drew a second picture of Angie, then cut and taped the drawings together and scanned them to the computer. You can kind of see where I edited the lines out. I know it’s a primitive way to go about it, but I don’t exactly have hundreds of dollars to spend on Wacom Tablets and Adobe software.

lenna3.0

Ink work for the lines. I’m not great at the inking yet, but I feel like my inked drawings come out much better when scanned to the computer than the regular graphite ones do.

Archival ink is a relatively new medium for me, and so I try not to get frustrated when I make mistakes and do my best to cover those mistakes. I’d not bother as much with it, but I like how the ink looks when I scan it to the computer. I can’t seem to make graphite scan all that well, so I’m typically less inclined to try to share my regular sketches. (If anyone has any tips or ideas for making my sketches look better on the PC, I’m open to suggestions.)

At any rate, I like how this turned out in the end, though I’ll admit to having been apprehensive about having it posted to the comic. So far, though, the other commenters have been appreciative. Interestingly, Savvy recently posted that she has a need of additional fan art, so I’m working on a sketch of two other characters to submit as well. Here is the current draft:

faye1.0

An image of Faye, the protagonist, and Kaden, the party’s rogue. Faye just recently got her very first handgun in the story, so it makes sense for Kaden, the resident markswoman to teach her to shoot.

Shoe Drawings

A while back I found my shoe drawings from my sophomore year at Boise State. At the time I thought well, these would be cool to put up on the blog. It’s too bad my scanner isn’t big enough. A friend finally suggested the obvious: take pictures of them with my digital camera and upload them to the blog.

DSCF0186

DSCF0188

Chalk and Charcoal. These were for the Advanced Drawing Methods course I took in college. The instructor brought in a box of black leather shoes, had us set them on large pieces of white paper and draw them with charcoal, using chalk for the reflections.

The downside to using photos is that I can’t adjust the size or resolution very effectively. Thus it’s not really possible to tell how big these drawings are. They’re actually quite large, done on 18″ by 24″ drawing paper. I’ve thought about doing others like these, but haven’t gotten around to it just yet. I remember them being kind of fun to draw—if messy.

Fan Art: Sluggy Freelance

I’ve been reading the webcomic Sluggy Freelance by Pete Abrams since around April of 2010. I saw my brother reading it off and on when he was home from college and he told me a bit about the story and characters. I finally got curious enough to check it out for myself. For those not familiar with Sluggy, it’s a daily comic that’s been running since August of 1997—do the math, that’s a lot of friggin’ comics to wade through. My recommendation for those who want to check Sluggy out but aren’t sure they want to read the entire archive: click the archive drop-down menu beneath the comic, go to “Comics not yet in books,” and select the chapter titled “bROKEN” as your starting point. This particular storyline is kind of the main lead-in to the current story. One of the nice features of the Sluggy website is that Pete thoughtfully provides hotlinks whenever he references past comics in his current story. Thus if something doesn’t make sense to a new reader (or to a current reader who’s forgotten), they can link directly back to the pertinent comic instead of having to hunt through the archive. (I wrote up a blurb for Sluggy Freelance in a previous post about some of my favorite web comics. It can be found here.)

In the spirit of webcomic artists who like to draw their characters dressed as other characters, I decided to draw the six main characters from Sluggy Freelance as the Light Warriors from Final Fantasy I. Shortly after I joined the message boards at Sluggy, someone put a call out for fan art. And so I posted my original drawing, with the intent of drawing other pictures along the same theme.

Sluggy Warriors

Final Fantasy’s Light Warriors, Sluggy-style!

I originally drew this for Halloween in 2011. I don’t recall precisely what inspired me to draw them as the Light Warriors, but it seemed fitting for some reason. Left to right: Sam as Thief; Kiki as herself; Zoe as Black Belt; Torg as Fighter; Bun-Bun as himself; Riff as Red Mage; Sasha as White Mage; and Gwynn as Black Mage. Some elements from the drawing I’m happy with, other elements less so. I’m particularly happy with how Torg and Zoe turned out (despite that Zoe looks a lot buffer than she does in the comic). I’m not so happy with Sam and Sasha’s faces–in fact, I’m not sure everyone can immediately tell that’s Sasha.

Gwynn as the Black Mage

I was going to make a “Black Magic Woman” reference, but I think Pete did that in the comic when Gwynn got possessed by a demon and tried to murder her friends.

This technically was the second image I drew for this theme. I originally used it as part of the coloring book I drew for my cousin/godson, Paul. It made most sense to make Gwynn the Black Mage since she gains magic powers after being possessed by the demon K’Z’K. They aren’t something she uses often, as she seems to be somewhat afraid of them. I find Gwynn also fits this this role aesthetically as her coke-bottle glasses can be made to look like the Black Mage’s glowing eyes.

Shasha as the White Mage

The classic White Mage typically wields a mallet or a mage’s staff. Leave it to Sasha to carry both, just in case.

Here is my revisitation of Sasha as the White Mage. Unlike the picture I drew of Gwynn, I made sure to include a couple references from the comic in this one. I threw Kiki in for good measure, with a funnel on her head because it just seems like the kind of thing she’d wear on her head like a party hat. There is just something infinitely huggable about Sasha, in contrast to Zoe’s intimacy issues or Gwynn’s prickliness. (The stuffed animals and the pool floaty are a reference to one of my favorite story arcs, which begins here.)

Riff as the Red Mage

Chances are he’s screaming underneath that mask.

It just somehow made most sense to cast Riff as the Red Mage, as we have a caster who can also wear armor and fight. A battlemage, if you will. Originally I’d intended to have Riff casting a spell of some kind as he ran, but I just couldn’t make the spell look convincing. Instead I opted to have him running with the Water Orb (one of the key mcguffins from the original Final Fantasy). The armored boots and bracers seemed to fit Riff’s personality, and I added a chain-mail shirt because the Red Mage can wear chain armor and chain mail is a fun texture to draw. (Just ask any Prince Valiant artist.) I’m also quite happy with how the pommel of his sword looks, but less so with the scabbard.

Sam the Man as the Thief

Neither Sam nor Bun-Bun seems overly impressed by the Rat’s Tail as a quest item…

I think one of the things that bugged me about my original Sam drawing was the lack of coat. Sam’s long coat is almost as customary as Riff’s, and I think drawing him without was a mistake. I cast Sam as the thief solely because the they both have pointy ears. For no apparent reason, I opted to give Bun-Bun a helmet. The only requirement was that it had to have an open face. The Roman centurion helm was the first look I tried, and I liked it well enough that I decided to roll with it.

Zoe and Torg as the Black Belt and the Fighter

An action shot of Torg and Zoe, with Zoe vaulting over Torg’s head as she leaps into battle.

All along I’ve intended to put Torg and Zoe together for theirs. It just took me a long time to decide on a pose for them. I considered pictures of Torg standing behind Zoe and of Zoe standing behind Torg. I considered drawing them standing back to back. I considered a number of action poses, finally deciding on this one of Zoe vaulting over Torg’s head as she leaps into battle. Torg’s action pose comes directly from a Captain America comic I’ve had for years. The battle axe is a Norse design, to reflect Torg’s viking heritage. Zoe’s pose is from a picture I found of the thief gal from Trine. I like Zoe’s outfit much better in this than in the original cast drawing above.

At any rate, there was some talk on the discussion forums about Pete using some of our fan art as filler, but I haven’t heard anything back about it. As far as fan art goes, I also drew and submitted a piece for Amya Chronicles, another of my favorite comics. I heard back from Savvy, the comic’s writer, and she wants to use it for filler art here in the next few months, so I’m kind of stoked about it. I feel it’s only courteous to wait until Savvy posts it before posting it here, though.

Drawrings from High School

This came from a poster I used to have. The hat and bandanna had loud, strange, colorful patterns that were basically impossible to portray in graphite.

I don’t think of myself as a particularly great artist. I can draw most things I see with a certain degree of skill (except cars—I can never seem to draw cars very well), but I’m not the sort who can draw just anything that comes to the imagination. I envy people like that. That isn’t to say that I can’t use other images and modify them to look how I want—I do it all the time—but I look at a lot of the slickly drawn, original images on art blogs and Deviant Art and webcomics, and feel mediocre in comparison.

For my 30th birthday, my mom put together a scrapbook for me, full of pictures, certificates, and other paraphernalia that she’s kept all these years. One thing she made sure to include was samples of my art, mostly from my drawing classes in high school, but also featured a few more recent ones as well as a marker drawing of a tractor from 1st or 2nd grade. (Apparently, John Deere green wasn’t a standard color in marker sets.) It’s been interesting to see how my interests at that time reflected my subject matter for my sketch work. In elementary school, I was into video games and remember drawing a lot of Mario Brothers stuff. I even remember designing Mario levels on long sheets of paper and having cutouts I drew of the Mario characters dodging cutout Goombas and Koopa Troopas. I also remember being into World War II airplanes for a while and drawing many of those during my free time. Unfortunately, very little of my artwork from elementary school still survives. It’d be interesting to look back at those and compare how they look to my later stuff.

I remember being rather proud of this one. And looking back, it’s one of my better comic book drawings. It’s been so long that I don’t remember where I got the image I used for Wolverine here, but having him tearing through the page was entirely my addition.

I didn’t do a great deal of drawing in early high school. Not sure why, either. It wasn’t until I took a couple drawing courses my junior and senior years that I started to draw regularly again. I still have my high school sketchbook and peruse it from time to time. Apparently I was really into comic book heroes back then. Most of my comics sketches were from X-Men, but I also drew a couple Spider-Man drawings, among others. I don’t follow action comics as closely anymore—I even gave my comic books to one of my cousins years ago—but I do still think they’re interesting aesthetically. I think it’s the exaggerated physical features that draw me to them. I’m fairly certain it isn’t possible to be as muscle-bound as the male heroes nor as outrageously sexualized as the heroines. I’m not sure why, but I find these exaggerated images as compelling as they are hilarious.

Based on the MTG card “Goblin Hero,” artwork by Pete Venters. I recall that Venters did a number of great illustrations of goblins for MTG, but this one was particularly effective.

At about this time, Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: the Gathering was also fairly popular at my high school, and so a number of my drawings for class were of the artwork from the cards. One of the things that always impressed me most about MTG is the artwork. I think that more than any single fantasy-based endeavor, Magic cards gave us more of a visual representation of the universe it portrayed. There were sneaky, sinister goblins like the one above. Black and White knights—both male and female. Wizards, sinister and benevolent. Elves, dwarves, orcs. Spells and artifacts that could change the course of the battle. Lions, tigers, and bears. Rotting zombies. Drakes and dragons of all sizes and colors. And of the thousands of individual cards made, each had it’s own painted image. These images inspired quite a few of the drawings in my high-school sketchbook.

I kind of like how the quiver of arrows looks; I think this was the first time I’d drawn one. I also like how it looks atmospherically, with the cloudiness and the rain coming down. Apparently my elf is a lefty? I don’t remember consciously deciding that.

It was also during high school that I first read Lord of the Rings. I’d read The Hobbit a few years previous, but didn’t even know about LotR until I was a freshman. Artistically, one of the more notable results was that I did a series of drawings of various comic book and other characters as elves. Mostly this amounted to me giving them pointy ears and medieval-ish clothing and weapons. The above drawing came originally from an Excalibur comic—I just really liked Rachel Summer’s pose from a particular page and wanted to use it for something of my own.  As with most comic-book drawings, these were mostly cheese-cakey, and I’m glad I’ve outgrown that particular phase in my artistic interests. But that kind of experimentation taught me to use more (and better) embellishments when I draw something from life or from a picture.

I had a lot of homework that week…

Most of my life I’ve loved to draw. It relaxes me and allows me to explore my imagination in ways I might not get to otherwise. Like writing, drawing is a means of communicating and expressing myself to others. Following high school, I only took one drawing class, and so haven’t always had the opportunity to draw when I wanted to. In fact, there are several years since I graduated that I didn’t draw anything—when I didn’t have a single sketch dated from that year. During graduate school in particular, about the only drawings I did were for a zine I worked on with some of my classmates from my Medieval Romances class. While I don’t have a huge amount of time in my life to sit and sketch, it’s something I hope to continue to do in the future.

So long and thanks for reading.

Post script:
As a quick question to readers: should I start a separate art blog, on subordinate to this one? It’s an idea I’ve been toying with and I’m curious if it would get a decent-sized following at all. Let me know what all y’all think.

Coloring Book

For my godson, Paul, for his birthday, I drew, inked, scanned and printed a series of twelve Medieval, fantasy-ish pictures for him to color. Paul and his big sister are really in to Greek Mythology right now, which is cool, so I made sure to include a few mythical creatures. My choice of pics was pretty random, consisting of pretty much whatever I could find that looked interesting to draw. I posted these to Facebook shortly after, and I think now is as good a time as any to add them to my blog. They should be full resolution, so feel free to print and color them yourselves.

In the order in which I drew them:

Babe with battleaxe

Every princess needs a battleaxe, right? This first picture I based on an image I found by an artist identified only as Heegur.

On the hunt

I based this drawing on a painting by historical artist, Angus McBride. The image was of a Pict on horseback, and I turned him into a centaur.

Step back, nonbeliever

Another Angus McBride image. This one of a Teutonic Knight. I get the distinct impression he’s about to mess somebody up.

If you run, you'll just die tired

I based this knight off of an image I found of the Knight Exemplar from Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: the Gathering. I’m kind of a sucker for tough women in practical armor.

Across the courtyard, through the portcullis, past the smithy, nothin' but face

Some kind of an archer/sniper. I don’t remember where I got the pose from, but the outfit is based loosely on the character Maxim from Girl Genius.

Original ship-of-the-line

Sailing the wine-dark sea. This one is a Hellenic-era trireme war galley. The Greeks knew how to build kick-ass boats. Of the set, the trireme was easily the most challenging.

Not a bird, nor a plane...

The Tempest Drake from Magic: the Gathering. After drawing that boat, I needed something simple to work on.

This is Paul, my godson. I took one of the pictures his mom gave me and drew him wearing half-plate. The armor is based on the Seven-Fathers set from Lord of the Rings Online.

Another Drake

Another Magic: the Gathering image. This one is based on the Azimat Drake.

Roman Legionaries cresting a hill. Trajan’s armies are on the march; run for the hills Dacian dogs! This one’s a compilation of images from screenshots from Rome: Total War.

Cue the lame “This is SPARTA!” references. Actually, this hoplite is from Corinth. Also based on a screenshot from Rome: Total War.

A wizardy sorceress. I got down to the end and realized I didn’t have a wizard of any kind. I decided to revisit an image I drew of Gwynn of Sluggy Freelance as the Black Mage from Final Fantasy.

The Calvin and Hobbes Generation

Calvin with his ears boxed

Calvin’s condition after refusing to yield his swing to Moe, the playground bully.

“By the end of ten years, I’d said pretty much everything I had come there to say. It’s always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip’s popularity and repeated myself for another five, ten, or twenty years, the people now ‘grieving’ for Calvin and Hobbes would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I’d be agreeing with them. I think some of the reason Calvin and Hobbes still finds an audience today is because I chose not to run the wheels off it. I’ve never regretted stopping when I did.”
–Bill Watterson, in a 2010 interview for The Plain Dealer

My brothers and I grew up collecting Calvin & Hobbes books. Back in elementary school and Jr. high, my friends and I would draw pictures of Calvin playing Spaceman Spiff or of Hobbes pouncing on Calvin. I even recall a conversation where we speculated over what a video game based on the comic might be like. Since high school, I’ve discovered that we weren’t as unique as we thought we were at the time. In college I had conversations with students from all over the country–as well as a few from out of the country–about growing up with Calvin, what his stories meant to us at the time, and what they still mean to us today.

I’ve yet to see a comic that is as equally relatable to both kids and adults. It was childish but still dealt with very grown-up issues. It was imaginative and whimsical, yet poignant at the same time. When the comic took a political stance, it did so without adopting a snarky attitude or pointing fingers. And aside from Moe the bully, I find all of the main characters to be relatable on multiple levels. I still love the comic and periodically pull the books off the shelf to re-read.

But I think the most important gift Mr. Watterson gave us wasn’t the comic itself, but the comic’s legacy. People who argue that comics haven’t been as good since Calvin & Hobbes ended (and I’ve talked to a lot of them) aren’t paying attention. I constantly find ways in which post-C&H comics have been influenced by Watterson’s style, approach, and attitude toward the comic medium.

Artistically, formatting constraints prior to C&H had long since forced many comics to become sadly minimalist, consisting of Xeroxed talking heads on Xeroxed backgrounds, relying mainly on dialogue to tell the joke, rather than a visual, more artistic humor. Each panel of each comic showed the characters from exactly the same angle, and often characters had the same proportions and head shapes, but with different clothes and haircuts being the only way to tell the characters apart.* Watterson was something of a revolutionary in drawing every panel of each comic freehand, changing the angle of point of view, and in making every character structurally unique. (Actually, Calvin and Suzie are probably the two characters who look most alike.) Since Calvin, many (I won’t say ‘most’) newspaper comics have become more free-from and visually interesting.

* Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at old GarfieldEek & MeekFamily Circus, and other similar comics. I mean, Jon Arbuckle and Liz the veterinarian have exactly the same head shapes. Not that these are bad comics, but they could stand for a little more artistic variety.

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