Tag: Character Art

August 2022 Sketchbook – Tattoos, Persephone, & more + Moving Update!

August has been another hectic month of negotiating house contracts, inspections, and more after losing multiple bids.  Things are looking up as we finally close on a house we love in just a few days!  That means, barring any last minute disasters, we’ll be relocating to our very own place with room enough for a studio, game room, and more over the course of September.  It’s been an unexpected dream come true to find such a big place within our budget!

We’re so relieved and excited!  I can’t wait to have space again so I can resume my big plans for my Birthstone Goddesses.  It’ll be time to wrap up this project which has been on hiatus during this whole process.

In the meanwhile, I’ve let the muse off the leash to explore whatever helps soothe my brain during all of this chaos.  That’s included more D&D character exploration, a Persephone concept, character class homework, and more.  Join me for an August sketch dump of wondrous variety!

More Fire Genasi Gal!

You might recall the sketch of my Barbarian gal, Rabs, from last month’s sketchbook.   I’ve decided to render her in a more painterly style to match the overall mood of official D&D art.  I usually work in a more line heavy style, so this is a challenge, especially in Procreate where I’m still somewhat unfamiliar with the painterly tools.  I’m getting some great results with the Acrylic and Gouache brushes, thus far!  I love the blending and subtle texture of them.

Before I could finish up Rabs’ armor base, I figured it was a good idea to actually define her tattoos in a template so I’m not always drawing them by hand every time. Radinsky’s template provided an amazing resource for this!  Here are all of Rabs’ bits and bobs shown together.  Hooray for being able to copy and paste these tatts as needed from here on out!

Sidenote:  The emergence of a hibiscus flower was accidental as it came about from mirroring her forehead sigil 5 times. I love happy accidents like that!

The captions read as follows:

Rabanne’s Tattoos

Limned in glowing ink that appears like molten lava in Rabanne’s skin, these tattoos symbolize her accomplishments & the decorative flare of noble class Genasi from their oasis city-kingdom.

Back Tattoo – Symbolizes the 5 ruling sisters of the Arore family, with Hibiscus as their symbol of state.

Arm Tattoos – The V-shaped emblems of the Tempest Heart Barbarians

Dread Queen Persephone

Over in the Fine Art section of my brain, I’ve been chipping away at a portrait set of Persephone to practice my traditional methods once I have a fully unpacked studio again.  I’ll be doing a portrait set of Persephone’s Summer and Winter forms showing her changes from Summer Maiden to Dread Queen.  

Of course, I wanted to work up her spooky Winter look first!  These thumbnails play with the concept of making parts of her form skeletal and translucent through her clothing.  I have my favorite right now, but what’s yours?

Hoping to work this one up in acrylics, color pencil, and possibly gouache in the hopefully not too distant future!

Character Mentor Doodles

I’ve been dabbling in character design as a supplement to my illustration, which brought me back to reading Tom Bancroft’s Creating Characters with Personality*.  His book challenges you to design a cast of characters from an old west setting and this was the first lesson where we define the overall silhouettes utilizing our understanding of shape language to give them each their own look without the details.

This was a fun diversion and a good way to test my comfort zones! I’ll probably circle back to this book later on after Even Amundsen’s Character Design Class.

*(Clicking the book link gives me a little kickback, if ya like!)

Fantasy Indies August

Finally, joining this month’s Fantasy Indies August hashtag event on Twitter allowed me to share a little bit of my writerly side!  I’ve been sharing snippets, mood boards, and more about The Uncrucified, a ttrpg inspired story I’ve been writing for the past few years (and that has inspired much of the side project art you’ve been seeing around here lately!).

Feel free to check out the full thread to learn more about this story and more.  I’ll be sharing an article gathering all of the posts in one article for your convenience once the event wraps up.

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That’s all for now!  My muse has been in overdrive all over the place, as it usually is with stress and chaos around our living situation.  Here’s hoping that by the next post, I have some good news about the new digs and future prospects!

Catch ya then!

♥ Ang

July 2022 Sketchbook – D&D Doodles & Kalara’s Sigil

It’s been a tough journey so far with house-hunting.  The market is crazy right now and we’re still on the hunt!  And so I’ve been channeling my woes into various comfort projects, mainly my D&D and Exalted TTRPG characters.

D&D Doodles

Ever since The Unmerry Band‘s adventures in the Black Pits wrapped up, I’ve been meaning to mine our campaign for practice, starting with a level progression chart of all our characters showing how their armor and wardrobe evolved over time.  This will feature our characters from their wee fragile Level 0 forms all the way up to Level 8 where our story ended (for now).

(The Unmerry Band lineup!)

I started off with the character I played in the campaign, Rabanne, a Fire Genasi Barbarian with a big heart and a big hammer!  I had some excellent pose help from Jookpubstock that acted as a base for her hammer pose.  Rather than stick with the Vox Machina inspired style of the party banner, I’ve returned to my more default semi-realistic style which is the one I want to nurture should I ever submit a portfolio to Wizards of the Coast.  Sketched in Procreate on the ipad with the Peppermint pencil brush in the Sketching category.

Rabs has been bulked up a bit for this image, as I wanted to accentuate her tall and imposing figure more than her initial rendering.  The pose on the left is going to be the base ‘paper doll’ pose I’ll be repeating for Levels 1 – 8, while the gesture sketches on the right represent an exploration of her younger level 0 self where she was training in secret as a gangly teen in the harem.

PROTIP!  The rectangle under her feet helps me to ground the figure and keep the perspective plane in check, as it’s easy to lose track at what angle the feet are supposed to be at if you don’t ground the figure somehow.

The rest of the characters will get this treatment too and will most likely follow the poses of the party banner, with the exception of Calumny (the Tiefling), because booty out does not make a good pose for showing off most clothing, though usually I wouldn’t have Cal any other way!

I also want to shine a light on the art that inspired me to do this.  How cool is this classic party line-up from Frida Bergholtz?  I hope mine will come out this fantastic!

Kalara’s Sigil

My gal, Kalara, has popped up on here a LOT lately.  She’s definitely a comfort to my muse with her story of overcoming adversity and working towards goodness in the world!  I’ve been working on and off on a novel featuring the events of her life from our Exalted RPG campaign for years now.  I’ve been pushing for a return to this endeavor while I have this nexus of ‘in-between projects till the move’ and so it occurred to me to finally put an official ‘label’ on her project.

It was time to make a brand guide and a logo!

Not every project needs this, mind, but I wanted to do this for The Uncrucified since I have larger plans for its future, including art packs and Storytellers Vault resources for players inspired by her story.  And thus, The Uncrucified needs a logo so I can elegantly tie all these parts together!

It also works so beautifully because this symbol will serve as Kalara’s in-world mark of her Guild as well.  I’ve shared a deeper look at this story’s brand guide in my Patreon’s Discord server, for those who might be curious.

For now, enjoy the many iterations I made as I attempted to channel Kalara’s themes of the Eclipse Caste mark (the glowing symbol that represents her magical abilities), the phoenix feather which represents her resilience, and the flame which represents her cultural identity and rebellious personality.

For me, logo design is a bit like obsessively writing all over your walls going slowly insane until the secret verse is revealed.  I don’t enjoy it much, but I wanted to design this one, myself, and so I was happy when I finally arrived at something that felt close to the ‘truth’!  More often I know what I don’t want than what I do when designing logos, and so the process is more about exploration and elimination.

And here we have the 3 semi-finalists!

I’ve already chosen a final, but I’d be curious which one resonates most with you all! It’s always fascinating to see what shapes others interpret in these mutable symbols.

That’s all I have for today!  It’s been a slow month as we tour houses as often as we can and try to plan these important next steps. I hope you all don’t mind my randomnness here!  I’m always worried it makes this a very confusing Patreon to be at hah.

Till next time!

♥ Ang

Sketchbook June 2022 – D&D, Gideon the Ninth, & OC Art

I’ve been slowly edging back into working for longer on art, but still haven’t managed to do more than a few sketches lately.  I don’t mind it, though, as not being able to work on serious projects has given me the ‘excuse’ I needed to let my muse off the leash to explore whatever fun topics came to mind!

D&D Sketch – Rabs the Fire Genasi

I really fell in love with my Barbarian from The Unmerry Band from the campaign we recently finished playing.  She graciously volunteered for a warm-up sketch to explore an extreme perspective shot.  Her tatts and eyes are always my favorite details to draw with their dramatic glow!

I hope to re-visit the band again sometime with more explorations of the dramatic scenes from their campaign as well as a level progression chart so I can practice drawing armor.

Gideon the Ninth – Harrow & Gideon Portraits

Lately I’ve been trying to catch up on my Fantasy genre reading.  Gideon the Ninth was high on that list (check out my spoiler free review if you like).  It was a fun ride full of skeletons, sarcasm, and murder and I really enjoyed it!  The combination of mystic necromancy and scifi really inspired me and thus these sketches were born!

I chose to draw Harrow as she appears in full Ninth House pomp in Gideon the Ninth.  Her goth skelly aesthetic really appeals to my sensibilities!

I’ve pictured Gideon here with her rapier, claw, and signature badass glasses.

My idea was to make portraits as if they were from a visual novel like The Arcana.  These were so much fun that I may have to properly polish them up sometime!  If you’re a Locked Tomb fan, who would you like to see me sketch next?

OC Art – Redesigned Kalara

Some of you may remember Kalara from my Exalted ttrpg adventures.  I had a lot of fun coming up with fashions during her Shirt Cut Meme, which made me realize she hasn’t had a new look in 8 years!

[WIP of the line art for Kalara’s revised look.

I hope to do a whole other article talking about her new design later once I’m finished with a new reference sheet, but for now, enjoy the sneak peek of the line art for her new design.  I’m stoked for how much more sophisticated and dramatic this new look is for her!

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Lastly, all of these sketches were done in Procreate, as curled up on the couch with the ipad has been the most physically comfortable way for me to draw lately.

And this has been another month of rest, healing, and stress-free sketching!  I hope to inch back into more serious work in July.  I’d love to keep practicing with warm-up sketches when I can, however.  It felt good to do fun things that don’t have strings attached to any major launches or paychecks.

The Locked Tomb has been an especially inspiring series, so I hope to keep doing more portraits!  Have you all read these books?  What other cool Fantasy books should I be reading right now?  Let me know in comments or feel free to come chat books with me in my Patreon Discord server!  There’s a whole channel for geeking out about books and media.

That’s all for now!  I’ll have another announcement soon about this Patreon’s move to temporary Tip Jar status.  I know this isn’t much, but I hope you all enjoyed the art treats anyways!

♥ Ang

New Art! D&D Party – The Unmerry Band + Hiatus Begins!

EDIT: I re-formatted this article to have more character backstory and art notes for your enjoyment.

EDIT 2:  I’ve added in a 4th party member, the NPC Dorn!  Check out the article for more notes about him.

After being massively inspired by The Legend of Vox Machina‘s fun animated series, I felt so homesick for D&D, which we had to give up because of COVID and health risks.

Luckily, our friends hooked my husband and myself into a game online in Roll20 and now I have SO much fodder for tabletop art to share!  Starting with this party banner portrait inspired by the LoVM’s animated series style.  It was a nice break from my usual stuff that allowed me to indulge my inner geek for a bit!

Allow me to introduce in their first appearance in the Underdark arena – THE UNMERRY BAND!  This disparate group of adventurers has been unwillingly drawn into a game of death put on for a mad sorcerer’s entertainment in a gladiator’s arena.  They must learn to work together or perish!

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Cal the Entertainer

Backstory: Meet Calumny “Cal”, a traveling faire entertainer and voracious flirt of the party. He made his living doing trick archery shots for crowds, spending his time off stealing hearts and having mindless fun before he was unwillingly conscripted into the Underdark arena. He slept with the wrong person who chose him as a compelling new ‘addition’ to the Pits’ unwilling cast of warriors.

He is currently mourning the death of a half-orc ally in the arena after the two really hit it off and plots to get rich and settle scores once he escapes.

Art Notes: When it comes to character designs, I enjoy including a ‘keepsake’ element which signifies a character’s past. For the other party members, this was a sentimental object, but for Cal, it was his blue eyes.

He inherited them from a family that cast him off for being a Tiefling. He has been quite secretive about this past, preferring to deflect such serious topics with his usual flash and charm.

I also wanted more unique horn bling for him than the bog standard horn caps, so I thought horn piercings seemed fitting!  I also used this excellent stock pose from Adorkastock.

I’m looking forward to gaining his trust (if we all live long enough)!

Cal is played by my good friend, Hayley.

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Dorn, the Vengeful

Backstory: Dorn Il-Khan, the Butcher of Barrow, or so many would believe. He pledged his sword to a demon of vengeance to hunt the one who betrayed him and besmirched his name. However, instead of dying for revenge, Dorn heroically sacrificed himself to save the party, particularly Cal, the Tiefling he’d started to grow fond of during our time imprisoned in the arena.

It was fun to get under this NPC’s skin as a player. He was a gruff kind of guy, but we did our best to slip through the cracks of his demeanor to find the decent guy underneath. Here’s to you, Dorn!

Upon his death, his Demon Patroness of Vengeance claimed his soul and returned to the infernal planes, but perhaps that’s not the end of his tale? We shall see (maybe?). The DM hinted that Cal may be taking a journey to find his soul in Avernus and that could be quite the wild trip, indeed.

Art Notes:  I struggled a lot with Dorn because I’m rather used to drawing lithe elegant characters.  He was a nice change of pace with a wide orcish body type and heavy plate mail which I also have no experience drawing. I learned so much with this portrait, including the fact I cannot avoid perspective grids if I want to make weapons look right.

Dorn was played by the DM as an enemy turned ally NPC.

  • See detail shots and watch a timelapse of this piece here.

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Rabanne, Flame of the Sultana

Backstory: Once a princess of the Fire Genasi sultanate, Rabanne (aka Rabs), gave up her title to pursue her own destiny away from the mechanations of the palace where she never felt suited for the title or the responsibilities as one called to be a Storm Herald.

Rabs has become the ‘heart’ of the party, the caring ‘big sister’ who has done her best to keep the peace when personalities clash so that the party can focus on survival in the arena. She hides some deep wells of violence, however, never feeling more happy than she does when she’s facing death in battle and proving to herself she is the master of her own Rage.

I look forward to watching Rabs grow as she experiences the world outside the gilded cage she grew up in and learns to trust herself more!

Rabs is played by myself (as evidenced by my rambling backstory lol).

Art Notes: Though you can’t see it, her ‘keepsake’ is a blue bead that symbolizes Valor, a sign of rank and virtue she was granted by her sister, the Sultana, for her role in deposing their cruel father, the previous Sultan of the Fire Genasi. She wears this bead on a bracelet which shows her rank as a Burning Saint, a humanitarian organization she joined when she decided to leave the palace for other prospects.

Rabs’ hammer was passed on to her from a Dwarven Queen who saved her life in the arena. It reads in Tolkien-inspired dwarven runes “The Badass Queen of the Deep”. This magical hammer returns when thrown, while Rabs’ Gauntlets of Fiery Defense grant her a defense boost and ignite any of her weapons with flame while she’s Raging.

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Mint, the Bladesinger

Backstory: Ariminthia (aka Mint) grew up in a family of prolific wizards in the city, but never quite fit in with any of them because of her boorish interests in martial arts and unladylike activities. The only person in her family she ever got along with was her twin brother.

Unfortunately, Mint left him and her family behind after she was kidnapped. Instead of paying her ransom, her parents chose to abandon her. At this point, she decided to join her kidnappers, a small band of mercs who were in over their heads.

She ended up in the arena after a shady new member of the merc band sold her out to the arena’s ringmaster after learning about her talent with Bladesinging.

Mint is the most intelligent member of the party and tends to have her mind in the long game while the rest of us are ruled by emotion or money. She’s also got quite a temper and still acts like a noblelady with her condescending attitude, at times.

Art Notes: Mint’s keepsake is the handmade crow pendant inspired by their family crest given to her by her brother which she wears around her neck. For her look, I combined the frills of someone with finer taste in clothing with the sleek leathers of a finesse fighter.

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Are you all in a game right now too (or have a character you’re excited to play later)?  Tell me about your characters in the comments so I can enjoy hearing about them while I’m in recovery!

Surgery/Hiatus Officially Begins!

After months of being on a waiting list, the surgery to fix a torn tendon in my dominant arm is FINALLY happening!  I’ll be nesting in recovery with a pile of books and Netflix for possibly up to 6 weeks (hopefully less if I recover quickly), with physical therapy to follow.

It means I’ll be quiet here more than usual and that you all can expect to not be charged for another month (possibly more, depending on how my recovery goes).  However, this also means those of you who are Annual Patrons will have additional time added to your memberships!

Either myself or my husband will pop on here and make a post to let everyone know it went ok.  Hopefully see you all sooner rather than later!

Till next time, enjoy the geekery. 😀


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