Tag: fantasy art

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

Hiatus News + New Art! The Pirate’s Kiss

Oh wow we’re almost there already!  My shoulder surgery looms on April 8th and I have been cleared by the doctors so that everything is set and ready to go.  I have paused my pledges again for April so I can focus on healing and the long recovery!

In the meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying the prolonged sabbatical and using it as a time to indulge in marketing classes and in some exploratory art.  (And also bodily disappearing into the world of Horizon Forbidden West, which is one of my favorite series of all time!).

One of those aforementioned art explorations was a gift for a dear friend, Sam Hogg, who has created such lovely art of my characters in the past.  I have been wanting to paint her characters myself for a long time!  I’m thankful for this downtime to finally have that opportunity and to enjoy slowing down so I could enjoy my journey through a painting without rushing.  This was also an excellent opportunity to experiment with Procreate’s acrylic brushes!

One of my favorite pieces by Sam featuring Ramah from my story, Song of Exile.

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“The Pirate’s Kiss” features Eidy & Kalam from Sam’s story, The Whaler Girl. Eidy is a powerful Daichen who can control water, while Kalam is the pirate lord who seeks to harness her abilities and mold her for his own ends.  I’m looking forward to seeing Sam explore more of their tumultuous relationship in her stories!

Inspired by Klimt’s The Kiss, which always struck me as being about a woman swept up in a dangerous romance, which was the perfect root inspiration for these characters.

You can also watch a 1 minute time lapse of this video here.

The full piece:

The detail:

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I hope you all have enjoyed my experimental explorations of late!  I also have some D&D-inspired portraits in a Legend of Vox Machina-inspired style that I’d love to share soon as well, granted I can finish them before my surgery happens.  We shall see!

For now, enjoy the new art!

Ang

New Art! The Crucified Dreamer

I’ve been enjoying my hiatus so far by catching up on studies and allowing the muse to wander where she may.  This has resulted in some interesting art that doesn’t quite fit in with my Goddess gals, but that’s ok!  I thought you all might enjoy it, regardless.

Vicky Pandora hosted an online masquerade ball called the OC Gala, inspired by the over the top fashions of the Met Gala.  All original characters were invited to attend with the theme “Vampire Masquerade”!  This was the perfect excuse for me to indulge in more fan art of an alternate universe version of my Exalted character, Kalara, who lost herself to the dark side of being a Solar.

The Crucified Dreamer’s Story

Her delighted laughter rings in the ears of those she has marked for death. Many revolutionaries have fallen to her seductions, The Dreamer delighting in watching their ‘beautiful deaths’. All in service of her Deathlord, the Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears.

For she was once a revolutionary herself, one who dreamed of reform until The Guild crucified her for a murder she did not commit. Between life and death, The Lover saved her, gifting her the power of an Abyssal Deathknight. The Dreamer wears tears in devotion to her Deathlord, her skin the blue of a corpse. Her crucifixion wounds adorned by henna and chain will never heal.

The first painting of The Dreamer for the Gala.  After as cool as this came out, I couldn’t resist doing a second image with her full outfit:

And a close-up of The Dreamer’s face because I think this is one of the best faces I’ve drawn in awhile.  It seems I have finally mastered the nebulous mystery that is the nose at a 3/4ths angle!

I’ve also released a treat for my Patrons!  If you’re pledging at any level, you can see the narrated video timelapse of the creation of this piece in Procreate.  This video will become public next month (March 11th), but everyone pledging at any amount here will get to watch it early here!

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I hope you enjoy this foray into different territory!  I have another painting I hope to feature next month that’s another divergence from the norm here, though March pledges will still be paused now that I remembered to do so.

Then it’s T-minus one month to my shoulder surgery.  Eep!  I’m not sure what I’ll share here at that point, but perhaps a bit of the writing I plan to do and my progress with my marketing and art classes in the meantime, should I be able enough to write!

Till then, enjoy the Dreamer!  And if you’re so inclined, feel free to share with me in the comments what YOUR OC might wear to the Vampire Masquerade!

♥ Ang

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

This piece happened during a huge time of stress for me.  Kevin and I were working through many medical challenges in the middle of it, with a move happening on top of that.

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!

Mermay 2021

MerMay 2021

I have a confession to make.  As a young budding artist, I had a unicorn phase.  But what most people don’t know is that coinciding with and shortly after the unicorn phase, I also had a mermaid phase!  Okay, I won’t say they were phases because I still love these staples of high fantasy.  I couldn’t let May’s MerMay art event go by without drawing at least one mermaid!

For those who haven’t heard of it, MerMay challenges you to draw mermaids inspired by various prompts.  I didn’t have the time to participate this year, so I chose to do one really cool mermaid instead.  For this mermaid, I had everyone play the Let’s Make A Mermaid game over on Twitter!

Commenters on my Twitter suggested a purple and teal-haired frilly tailed mermaid with koi & tan skin with a goth aesthetic. Poor thing is also afraid of the dark & a bit absent-minded!

Our bioluminescent gal, Lucy, here is the result!  I painted Lucy in Procreate on the iPad with a looser style than I’m used to.  I’ve been trying to break my reliance on tedious line art for my own health.  The results were quite fun!

I really need to try this event properly some month!  What fun I could have with mermaids, octomaids, and more.

What’s your favorite kind of Mermaid?  Did you do MerMay this year or enjoy drawing seafolk?  I’d love to peek at your creations!

♥ Ang

SKETCH DIARY: The Uncrucified

Inspirations:

I’ve been working on a lot of tedious Art Nouveau of late and, while I love it, I decided to indulge in this little project after hours to help me unwind from the seriousness of that particular style.  I’ve been doing a lot of tabletop gaming lately, thanks to a friend who sucked me into a game of White Wolf’s Exalted setting.

This fun side project began as an urge to draw the character from our Exalted game as well as to create cover art for a short story about her that I wrote.  In our game, I play Kalara Vadras, a gunslinging Eclipse Caste, the diplomat of our Circle of players, and a no-nonsense businesswoman with a sordid past of betrayal and revenge.  Here’s one of her early character sheets.

kalara-sheet-lowres

 

Mood Board:

I’ve been gathering references for our game for over a year.  I love it when digital image hoarding pays off!  Kalara’s particular visual influences include Indian guns, Chinese fashion, and a generally non-Western collection of fantasy elements.

the-uncrucified-mood-board-lowres

Like this board?  You can view and Follow it on Pinterest here!

I monstress-lowresalso drew a lot of inspiration from one of my favorite comics currently being published right now – Monstress.  The art by Sana Takeda and story by Marjorie Liu are simply exquisite!

The Asian Art Deco steampunk aesthetic fit so well with what my mind’s eye conjures while we play Exalted.  Check out the cover to the comic, you’ll see what I mean!

Early on during the image’s sketch phases, I decided to push the image away from a detailed comic book style and more towards this anime-esque stylization thanks very much in part to Monstress’ influence.

Next, I did a lot of posing in front of the webcam, as opposed to thumbnail sketches.  This was meant to be a fast and fun image, so I decided to keep it simple and skip the planning step.

pose-montage-lowres

While posing, I kept in mind that I wanted her very symbolic crucifixion scar to be very noticeable to the image, which meant focusing a lot on expressive hand motions.  The 3rd pose on the far right ended up being my winner because of the diagonals that lead the viewer’s eye around.  That pose also feels the most natural and emotive.

Finally, here’s an animated GIF of my image’s evolution.

The-Uncrucified-Process-GIF

You can can watch a more in-depth video about this piece’s creation at my YouTube channel.

Final Cover Image:

The Uncrucified Cover Art

Uncropped Image:

The Uncrucified

Prints and products of this piece are available at my Etsy shop!


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