Tag: Art Challenges

Share 10 Challenge by Angela R. Sasser

Share 10 Challenge – 20 Years of Level Ups On My Art Journey

During my Patreon break, I shared some of my favorite level ups from my art journey from the past 20 years on social media.  I’m compiling these 10 pieces here for posterity!  This started as the Share10 Challenge where I was challenged by Elisabeth Alba to share 10 works for 10 days.  Instead of tagging someone else each day, I chose to challenge anyone who sees my post to also do the same.  Share 10 of your pieces and tell us about them!  

I went with a theme of sharing 10 pieces that I felt were level ups in my skill level and represented a milestone in my development.  With that in mind, let’s explore these milestones!

DAY 1 – “Dreaming Butterfly”, 2001.

Tabletop RPGs have been such a HUGE part of my path as an artist. Before I ever had a ‘professional’ vision for myself, I had characters who helped inspire my first forays into amateur drawing and writing.  They drove me to develop my skills as a young artist with character art and short memoirs.

Aurora here became an unofficial mascot for my high school self way back when I was immersed in Shadowrun.  I created this piece in color pencil in a flurry of inspiration to her very sad and dark story, a young writer’s first foray into traumatic character pasts.  Needless to say, I worked out so emo feelings with this phase!

Aury might make a comeback some day in new stories, but this old portrait represents a milestone in my color pencil skills and a young artist’s new dedication to storytelling that has made this piece a classic among my fans, despite how old it is.

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DAY 2 – “One Winged Angel”, 2002.

Sephiroth stands as one of the prolific villains of Final Fantasy 7, the game that also acted as my first real exposure to a Japanese RPG. It captured my imagination in a way that few things had up until that point! And so this piece came into being, a fangirl’s dedicated expression to the infamous moment of Sephiroth peering through the flames at Cloud.

Created in color pencil, which was my favored media at the time. I really pushed myself to capture the drama and the gore (something that felt absolutely scandalous for me to draw at the time).

But then this image shot up in popularity on DeviantART and I had my first taste of DeviantART fame! It was a wild ride back then when I was just getting my start selling my Fan Art at cons.

Nowadays, I don’t do much Fan Art anymore, but I’ll always remember the passionate fervor I had at the beginning of my path as an artist. Fandoms helped me grow in skill and ambition.

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DAY 3 – “Blacksent”, 2006

Way back when I was a young and bright-eyed college student, Mick LaFlamme hired me for my first ever book cover job for he and Michael Poe’s Fantasy novel, Blacksent: Book of the Umbra. This was a milestone for me in my artistic growth and career.

I pushed myself hard to capture the mood and details of this otherworldly setting in the countless hours of shading and layering in color pencil. Blacksent’s characters pushed me in wonderful ways to level up my character design, wardrobe, and character acting.

That same year, I also started to seriously learn digital painting techniques where I unlocked a whole new level of detail and potential for my paintings. (More on that in Day 4’s feature!)

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Day 4 – “Angel of Penitence”, 2006

I created this particular piece as a birthday present for my darling husband, Kevin. It represents my first real try at digital painting. Before this moment, I had only done anime style cell shading or photomanipulated backgrounds with my hand-drawn figures using digital techniques.

I challenged myself to paint the atmospheric perspective and to try harder than I usually did to include a background with the figure, backgrounds still being a weakness for me to this day. If memory serves, I painted this on an old Intuos!

I learned so much with this piece that lit the fire for me to keep on learning to paint semi-realism digitally!

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Day 5 – “Archangel Azrael”, 2010

I was surprised to look back on my work and realize this piece represented an unexpected milestone for me.  It was the final piece created for my Angelic Visions book and the culmination of my watercolor and color pencil mixed media technique.

I also pushed my symbolic elements and remained dedicated to the details, right down to every skull in the apples and the 300+ eyes in the angel’s wings.

Ironically, I plan to experiment with the evolution of this technique by blending color pencil and acrylic in my next traditional pieces.

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Day 6 – “Keeper of Secrets”, 2011

Despite being a few years old by now, this has been my favored image to feature on my business cards, banners, etc.  This painting represents one of the most perfect unions of my ‘light’ and ‘dark’ sides, symbolically and technique-wise.

She was made by scanning in my hand-inked lines, then painting the rest digitally in yet another a mixed media digital+trad experiment.  This painting also encapsulates that dark elegance I want to channel in my work in the future.

In the past, I’ve felt very boxed in stylistically and subject-wise by my Art Nouveau paintings. The Keeper helped me break out of that box and have faith in my future intent to keep working in this aesthetic direction.

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Day 7 – “Kushiel’s Dart”, 2013

Despite this being one of my most popular pieces, I struggled with it the entire time (a clear sign there will be a level up, usually).  It just wasn’t working in its early stages and I almost gave up on it.  This painting was the first image completed for my Kushiel Concepts project, where I’ve been redrawing the covers of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series to help build my skills.

I ended up shooting reference photos myself. I took the time to do a master copy that inspired me to re-work the colors and textures of the piece.  I had to rework the color scheme twice.

This painting took weeks upon weeks and I didn’t back down! Because of that, it still stands as one of my strongest works. I sometimes worry I’ll never be able to paint this good again!

Donato Giancola also complimented the hands of the piece when I had my portfolio reviewed at IX that year and I’ll always be eternally grateful for the ego boost!

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Day 8 – “Oathbound”, 2014

For those who don’t know, I have designs on writing my own novels some day. One of those novels tentatively titled “Song of Exile” follows a politically exiled prince who must return to his kingdom to face his estranged father, a ruthless king, his ex-wife, now a rebel politician on the rise, and a nest of political plots and supernatural problems he wants no part of anymore.

This painting was a spiritual milestone for me because it was the first time I defined Prince Ramah in a way that felt right. I had tried to draw him many times before, but nothing ever worked up to this point. This painting also leveled up my storytelling, color usage, and sense of lighting. It is one of my most shared paintings, aside from the Kushiel piece, which tells me I really need to come back to this story world sometime!

Ramah’s design is no doubt going to evolve even more since this old piece, but this was a milestone in his visual development and my artistic development I’ll never forget!

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Day 9 – “Lady of November”, 2016

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Even still, I didn’t back down from the vision I had for this one.  She was perhaps the first Goddess in my Birthstone Goddesses series who I allowed to be true to my own personality as the artist, while the others were more a slave to their color palettes and outside symbolism (with the exception of March, I’d say).

This Lady brought in the narrative of the monarchs, traveling souls returning to their loved ones for the Day of the Dead, as well as the Aztec Lady of the Dead, Mictēcacihuātl.  This piece made me realize the overarching narrative for my Birthstone Goddesses was our own reflection of mortality we see in the waxing and waning of life and death throughout the seasons.  She changed everything about how I was approaching this series from that point forward.

I also made a horrible mistake while I was inking the nose!  This mistake, which required me to re-prime the area, also led to the decision to leave the skin the blue of the underpainting, which ended up being a really fascinating character quirk for this corpse-Goddess.

She is one of the VERY few pieces I have kept the original of to hang in my home. She has also won an award at a show, which shows me she resonates strongly with others the same way she does for me.  As the artist, she represents a process struggle, renewed dedication, a renewed spiritual connection to my topic, and so much more that makes this piece a level up close to my heart.

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Day 10 – “Gilded Wings”, 2020

The most recent level-up I have to share! It’s not a perfect painting nor is it my best piece, but I learned a lot in the doing of it.  This piece represents my first attempt at drawing my Exalted character (and other novel’s protagonist) in a more realistic style.  I’ve struggled with this for a long time, as I’ve always drawn Kalara in a more stylized way.

Not only did I achieve the first image of Kalara that felt right in a more realistic style, but I also proved to myself I could turn out good results in Procreate, a program that I had just started learning to use last year.  I had dabbled here and there in it, but this is the first piece where Procreate clicked in my brain and I felt comfortable with it.  This program has some of the best FX brushes I’ve seen and I look forward to seeing what else I can make with it!  It’s especially useful when I want to escape my normal space to create art on the go on the tablet.

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Looking back makes me look forward to a future utilizing all the knowledge I’ve accrued to make even better pieces! I sense a lot of mixed media in my future and really sinking my teeth into my dark, elegant aesthetic.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the past and my evolution as an artist!  If you’re a creator, I challenge you to do the Share 10 Challenge as well.  Share 10 of your pieces for 10 days (or when you have time) on social media and feel free to tag me so  I can see and enjoy your pieces.  Let’s fill the void of the internet with our sparkling creations!

Art Collection: Exalted Art Challenge 2020

After much contemplation, I’ve decided to go ahead and mark the Exalted Art Challenge as ‘complete’!  I’ve been working on it since October of 2020, so it was time to end this not-so-short break from the Birthstone Goddesses, despite the fact I didn’t quite get to finish the final two topics of the Challenge due to life throwing some major challenges our way.  

My husband is thankfully home and healing very well from COVID!  We’ve both been resting after the sleepless nights and it seemed a good time to put this challenge to bed.  It’s time to recuperate my energy levels and embark on the next part of my artistic journey!

It’s been a really great ride with this Art Challenge and I’ve enjoyed the creative challenge of strange and new topics for a while.  Did you all also enjoy the diversion?  I’m curious to know how this crowd likes my TTRPG-inspired art!

I do eventually want to finish the comic for the “Favorite Stunt” topic during my free time.  When I do, you can catch the finished pages on my Exalted project’s social media accounts instead:

For now, enjoy a compilation of all the topics!  Be sure to click the links to the individual collections for more on each topic and its creative notes.

The Master Challenge List

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View Collection 1 

  • Favorite Caste
  • Regional Fashion
  • Favorite Charm (Sketch)

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View Collection 2 

  • Favorite Charm (Final)
  • Favorite Incarnae
  • Favorite House
  • Favorite Spell

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View Collection 3

  • Favorite God
  • First Age Incarnation
  • Age of Sorrows Incarnation
  • Incarnations Back to Back

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View Collection 4 

  • Deathlord
  • Abyssal
  • Monstrance

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View Collection 5 

  • Limit Break
  • Anima Banner
  • Reasons to Have Ox Body
  • When No One Takes Sail

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View Collection 6 

  • Weapon
  • Artifact
  • Magic Material
  • Warstrider

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View Collection 7 

  • Familiar
  • Mutation
  • Animal
  • Beastmen

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View Collection 8 

  • Demon
  • Manse
  • Locale
  • Signature Character

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View Collection 9 

  • Favorite Stunt

Exalted Art Challenge – Collection 1 – Fave Caste, Regional Fashion, etc.

My journey with the Exalted Art Challenge started off a bit slow, as just when I was going to begin we were placed in quarantine due to a COVID exposure at my husband’s work!  Luckily, he has tested negative and we’ve had no symptoms, but it meant a slow start till I was able to focus on art.  

We’re just going to try and relax till our days are up and I will meanwhile continue taking it slow and enjoying my time with this challenge!

1 – Favorite Caste

The Solar Exalted are chosen for a caste by the Unconquered Sun based on our propensities for violence, for diplomacy, or for many other specialties. Sol sees our potential and blows on the embers of our ambition, no matter our station in life, no matter if we are good or evil, as long as we can bring about the change that this world in chaos needs. We are marked with a symbol that shines upon our foreheads, a beacon of purpose and power for all of Creation to recognize, if not respect.

– Memoirs of Kalara Vadras, The Uncrucified, RY 800.

My Favorite Caste is the Eclipse Caste. They are the voices of reason, the keen wit, and the clever bargainers.  Their ancient treaties and trade deals helped reinforce the fabric of Creation.  As someone who enjoys both art and business, the Eclipse connection with culture and commerce as a positive force really speaks to me!  Plus, they are excellent at winning a fight before it even begins with their social graces.  (Admittedly I am not good at social graces IRL so part of my enjoyment of playing this caste is vicarious wish-fulfillment!)

For this topic, I took the basic Eclipse Caste mark and customized it for my Exalted character, Kalara, bringing in aspects of her middle eastern-inspired homeland. I explored Moroccan tiles for inspiration and eventually settled on a flame-inspired motif evocative of the element of Kalara’s homeland with hints of silver, the color associated with the Eclipse, as well as phoenix feathers, a personal symbol of Kalara’s own rise from her near-death into the Eclipse Caste.  The cartouche includes the honorifics this caste is called in Creation, my favorited being “Quills of Heaven”.

(Though my own gal, Kalara, would earn the name The Silver-Tongued Devil in her time.)

2 – Regional Fashion

I wonder sometimes if I would even recognize myself back then. I still remember the soft light of Gem’s crystals and the teeming underground marketplace that never slept. As a slave of Iblan, I was dressed in attire to represent the household of my master, an aging master goldsmith.

I owned no finery of my own, not even the bangles I wore which served as an example of Iblan craftmanship for all to see and admire, for even their slaves must convey everything about their stature as Gem’s famed goldsmiths. Instead of gems sewn into my shawl as any fine lady of Gem might own, mine was painted and embroidered to mimic gems. I was a pale imitation of what a noble Iblan lady might be.

– Memoirs of Kalara Vadras, The Uncrucified, RY 800.

I explored many variations for this topic, ranging from a fancier look of a current-day Kalara who can afford to dress as a noblewoman, to versions of her past self who was dressed as a servant.  I really liked the image of her eating lunch next to a crystal cluster in Gem, the underground mining town where she grew up, but went with a closer view so I could show off more clothing details.  

Gem prides itself on its extremely regulated gemstone production and I wanted to get that across in its gemstone-inspired trims. I definitely want to explore local wardrobe further with story concepts in the future!  For the final illustration, I took cues from Muslim and Anatolian clothing, but hope to explore fashions of the region more in-depth later.

3 – Favorite Charm

I didn’t have the final image done for this topic yet, but I was so excited about how these came out that I just had to share today!  Charms, or magical abilities, come in epic flavors in the world of Exalted!  I’ve always drawn Kalara posing elegantly, so it will be fun to finally get a chance to see her in action, even if she would usually consider this a last resort when diplomacy fails.

Kalara practices a celestial martial art called Righteous Devil where the charms center around the theme of judgement and justice.  At higher levels of this art, she can judge the soul of her enemy, dispatching them to their deaths and directly into their next reincarnation!

However, a Righteous Devil must be careful, for if they falter from a path of justice, the original Righteous Devil who invented the art will hunt them down!

I’ll share more about this topic with the final art in next week’s compilation.  Till then, I leave you to guess which thumbnail from this set I’ll pick for this topic’s final art!

Do you want to see my sketches and art for this challenge as soon as I do them?  Be sure to join my Patreon Discord Server where I’ve been actively sharing challenge topics and discussion as I go!

Hope you enjoy this little diversion. I know it’s quite the subject matter shift from my usual stuff, but MAN I’m having so much fun!

♥ Ang

Introducing My October Exalted Art Challenge!

The time is neigh, my October Art Challenge approaches!  So far, this year has been about allowing myself to rest and recuperate while also letting my muse off the chain to wander different paths for awhile.  The next excursion is going to be with the Exalted Art Challenge that I created with the Exalted RPG Discord community!

For those who don’t know Exalted, it’s a tabletop roleplaying game much like Dungeons & Dragons where you get to become a character with epic-level powers!  It features a world full of mystical places, vengeful gods, and faerie creatures with a rich tapestry of lore to explore.  Its roots in non-Western mythology have made it one of my favorite worlds to play in on my days off!

I’ve even drawn illustrations and written many words for a story set in this universe entitled The Uncrucified.  I’ve been sorely missing the characters from this story and wanted to get back into the mood of creating in this universe by challenging myself to a list of 31 art topics inspired by this fantastic setting!  I expect many characters from my storyworld to show up for this art challenge.

I know many of these topics don’t make sense to non-players, but I hope to introduce you to them with a bit of explanation and art to go along with each one!  In fact, enjoy a little sneak peek of thumbnail sketches for a few of the topics for a taste:

Patreon-Only Sneak Peeks!

Because my Patrons are the coolest, I wanted you guys to feel special during this event!  You’ll be getting Patreon-Exclusive Early Access to my collection of exploratory sketches with my thoughts and notes on the topics each week , while the finished paintings and prose will be shared at The Uncrucified’s project blog.  A compilation of the finished art will be posted here on Patreon once I’ve completed all topics! 

For those keeping up on my Patreon Discord Server, I’ll be sharing the sketches as they happen in my Ang’s Sketchbook channel as well!  (Read here for instructions on how to join my Discord Server dedicated to my Patrons and fans)

The Goal

I’m hoping by doing this event I can create more art in the TTRPG vein which is work I’d like to do more of in the future to channel my long-time passion for gaming!  I also plan to experiment with an expressive painterly digital style, since I have been so married to detailed tight line work for a long time now!  

With luck, I can finish all the topics in a month, though I won’t be too hard on myself if I can’t finish one a day.  The big goal is to remember how to play with art again and enjoy the process more than perfectionism!

I hope you all are ready for the ride!  I’m excited to see what happens during this hugely experimental time.  Are there any Exalted players here?  Sound off in the comments!  If you’re an artist who loves the game, I invite you to do this challenge with me and share in my Patreon Discord in the dedicated Art Challenges channel!  I’d love to see what you all might do for this list!

More soon.  I can’t wait to begin!

♥ Ang

May 2020 Wrap-Up – Fanarts, Refocusing, and Next Steps!

May went by way too fast, you guys!  I was able to take about a week off before I had to hop back to prepping Backerkit for the Goddesses of Spring Kickstarter to make sure that was working smoothly for those of you who picked up pins.  But do not worry, I plan to take a true and proper break once this FINAL Kickstarter finishes its ‘lifecycle’ and everything is shipped!

In that bit of downtime, I took on the Six Fanarts Challenge which are my first paintings in Procreate!  I’m extremely proud of these.  It’s nice to be reminded I can still paint this way after years of working almost primarily in ink and watercolor:

(Check out this post for the collection and narrated time lapse video!)

I’m also pretty terrible at downtime and as usual when I am trying to take a break, my brain is alight with all the things I’d like to do!  I’ve been thinking of the ways I want to re-focus and make some changes to organize my studio, refine my social media output, etc. now that this project has finished one major phase and begins to enter another.

The focus of this next and final phase is going to be the Wall Calendar and Art Book, the latter of which will feature some unpublished pieces (that my Patreon Patrons will totally be getting a sneak peek of before everybody else!).  These pieces are going to be much more in a dark and elegant vein as I bridge the gap between Mucha’s style and my own personal style.  It’s going to be very different, but still something I hope you all will enjoy!

June is going to be about finishing up one last Art Challenge to let my brain wind down (The 6 Outfits Challenge), setting a study schedule, wrapping up Kickstarter (I hope! These delays are killer), doing taxes, and re-organizing the studio to be more efficient now that my inventory has grown so very much!

Lastly, as much as I like to focus on my fanciful art here, this month has also been mentally rough for so many folks, especially as I write this.  For those who don’t know us, my husband and I are an interracial couple.  Seeing recent events unfold is a strong reminder of how safe my husband and family are not in this world, a constant 24-7 truth we’ve become good at ignoring just so we can live our lives.   I’ve shared some places you can donate here where you can also help others during these tense times, if you are able. 

Please be kind to others and speak up when you see injustice!  Let this horror help us come together with renewed and combined strength.

Much love!

♥ Ang

Digest of May’s Posts

Rewards Added in May

Sketch Diary – Satyr

 

Inspiration

Today I’ll be talking about how I created Satyr for the 30 Day Monster Girl Challenge.  For my version of Satyr, I went with my own fantasy twist of a well-known figure from Greek and Roman mythology.

The Satyr of myth is usually a mischievous male with the lower body of a goat who is known to lecherously pursue nymphs and dryads.  The Satyr were also drinking buddies with Dionysus, the god of wine and merriment.

For more about the Satyr, check out one of my favorite Greek mythology resources, http://www.theoi.com.

 

 

Tools and Techniques

For this painting, I used Photoshop CC and a Wacom Cintiq 21UX.

Concept Inspiration

For my Satyr girl, I wanted to go with the theme of grapes to honor Dionysus and his wine, so she ended up with a purple complexion crowned with grapevine adornments.  Like many Satyrs, she is also a player of instruments, in this case a flute.

 

References

A selection from my references for Satyr.

monster-girls-satyr-refs


Art Process

Step 1. Quick digital gesture drawing done to capture the movement and energy of the pose. This isn’t very precise and is more about energy than accuracy.wip-satyr-01


Step 2:  A cleaner line art is drawn on a layer atop the gesture. I used Lazy Nezumi Pro set to ‘subtle’ to help stabilize my lines in Photoshop and make them smoother.

wip-satyr-02


Step 3:  Added a base layer of color so no background color will accidentally show through.wip-satyr-03


Step 4:  Added the flat colors after much deliberation on what her skin color should be.wip-satyr-04


Step 5:  Colorized the lines to make the grapes, grapevine, and flute stand out.wip-satyr-05


Step 6:  Added a shadow layer using warm grey above everything clipped to the Group and set to Multiply.wip-satyr-06

 


Step 7:  Added a highlight layer painting in white set to Overlay. Also clipped to the Group.wip-satyr-07


Step 8:  Final touches of pure white in key places such as the leaves, grapes, and hair to help lead the strengthen the focus, flow, and dimensionality of the piece.

wip-satyr-08


 

 

For more in-depth instruction on how I created this image, Pledge to any $10 and up level at my Patreon to gain access to the narrated video tutorial!  You can also buy the individual tutorial separately at my Gumroad shop, but you won’t receive the other extras you would by purchasing via Patreon.

You can watch a video preview of the tutorial for Satyr without narration here: