Category: Blog Posts

Jan 2023 Sketchbook + Health Update!

I wanted to peek my head out and give you all a sign of life!  I’ve been taking it easy this month while healing from surgery and dealing with very heavy doses of pain medication, which means I don’t have a lot of art to share from January.  However, I hope you’ll enjoy what fun I was able to have with art!

January was all about stimulating the happy brain chemicals to help with the stress of recovery, which meant, once again, having fun with totally pointless original character art!

The Uncrucified VTT Tokens

I wanted to practice drawing tokens for virtual tabletops and so the cast of The Uncrucified, my Exalted tabletop RPG story, felt like a good starting point!  I’ve also created a project logo for The Uncrucified which I incorporated into the token’s decorative border.

(Watch a timelapse here.)

This style might not have enough contrast to really stand out for smaller tokens, but I enjoyed the painting practice, none-the-less!

WIP – Young Rabs

I’ve been poking at this young teen Rabs, my most recent Dungeons & Dragon character, since last year!  You all might remember the full body of her present day self done for a D&D party level progression chart (which I’m using as reference on the left).  

I wanted every member of the party to have a unique Level 0 example to show what each character looked like when they first got that glint in their eye to become an adventurer.  Seeing their younger self makes it even more interesting to see how they’ve changed over time/levels.  I wanted to do this to incorporate more storytelling into what is otherwise a very basic straightforward level chart.
Plus, it’s good practice for me at drawing younger ages.

(Explore a mini-gallery of Rabs’ tattoos and design here.)

Rabs was a scrappy, angry teen who used to practice her combat skills in secret in preparation for a coup her mothers and sisters were plotting against her murderous father (more on that from my 2022 NaNoWriMo exploration of her backstory).  She’s chilled out a lot since those dark days and is now rather more the cheerful optimist of the party!

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With my medications thinning out and body and mind getting back to normal, I hope to ease into a more regular schedule in February.  I have big plans this year to launch some exclusive Patreon goodies and a couple of Kickstarters I have been looking forward to for years, now, so I’m excited to FINALLY get started on working towards those goals!

I’m also starting back to my art studies and classes, as I’ve felt my skills have stagnated while I’ve been in Recovery Mode.  Working digitally has been wonderful since I can do it comfortably with my shoulder (and now stomach) limitations, but I really want to get my hands dirty with traditional paints again, which means getting my butt back in the studio!

I hope to have more to share soon, with a Patrons-only sneak peek coming soon.  Keep your eyes peeled!

❤️ Ang

Project Status: Birthstone Goddesses FINAL PHASE!

It’s the New Year and that fresh beginning is always an exciting time of re-assessment and looking forward!  2022 was a time of adjustment for me while we set up our new home and got used to a whole new flow to our lives.  I’ve had a lot of time to think about this Patreon and the Birthstone Goddesses and it’s my hope to both re-launch this Patreon and wrap up this project in 2023!

The Birthstone Goddesses: FINAL PHASE!

So what’s in store for this year?  I want to complete the collections I started when I was prototyping various merch at DragonCon back in 2019, an endeavor which was thoroughly waylaid by the pandemic, our own life challenges, and supply chain issues.  Folks really enjoyed the more wearable and utilitarian art I shared at the con back in 2019 and I’m all about bringing beautiful things into the everyday!

Prototype Scarves and Totes from my DragonCon 2019 display. It’s time to redesign them with your feedback in mind!  I still have a few of these prototypes available in my Secret Shop, as well.

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My tentative biz goals for 2023:

  • Mandala & Goddess Tote Bags, Apparel, & Journals
  • Frame & photograph the complete set of Birthstone Goddess paintings
  • Kickstarter Project in Late Spring – Mandala Enamel Amulet Necklaces
  • Kickstarter Project in Late Fall – Birthstone Goddesses Wall Calendar
  • Designing Gift Sets for each Goddess’ Collection by the holidays!
  • Re-launch this Patreon with Exclusive Merch!
  • Finish setting up automation with Art of Where & Printful
  • More video content & streaming! Without conventions, I need face time with folks again. I miss your faces!

A Big Decision – Birthstone Goddesses Art Book Delay?

One of the biggest decisions I’ve made this year is that I don’t think I have the energy in me to do the Birthstone Goddesses art book I wanted to do.  I could either release that book now as a simple collection of my years of work on this project OR I could set this book for a later time where I’m able to create a few of the experimental paintings I had in mind to include, as well as create the luxury experience I feel would make the book special.  I’ve opted for the latter.

Waiting till later means I can give myself the space away to not be burnt out by spending the time on the book that I’d like to in order to make it extra special!  I’ve been working on this project for so long and I need a break before I come back to the book at a later point in my life.

As for this Patreon?

I’m still aiming to re-launch this space with a bit of restructuring to make it more of a low key Tip Jar with a few extra options for those who’d like to collect some premium exclusive goodies. I’ll still be sharing my experience and archive of material (coloring pages, tutorials, Secret Shop, etc), but I’ll be adding material here at my own pace instead of overwhelming myself.  More details on that when the re-launch is actually happening!  Right now this Patreon is staying in Tip Jar mode for health reasons.

I have another minor surgery for a hernia repair of an old surgical incision in my belly scheduled for tomorrow (eep!), so that’s definitely delaying my start to the year!  Designing the exclusive merch will have to wait till I’m able to sit up comfortably again.  2022 had one last sucker punch to give, it seems!

After that, though, I hope to hit the ground running and give you guys a tour of the new studio space because it’s so amazing aah!

I’ll be back soon with hopefully more substantial updates and new things to share after a little recovery time.  Till then!  I hope you all are good!

♥ Ang

2022 Year-End Wrap-Up, An Existential Crisis, & Future Plans

EDIT: I’ve added a more thorough collage collecting my sketches and WIPs from 2022 as well. Enjoy!

2022 has been quite the ride!  As most of you guys know by now from reading here, I’ve had to take a lot of time off in 2022.  Not only did we go through an intense house move during an interest-rate hike and unfavorable housing market, but I’ve also been recovering from major shoulder surgery for tendon repairs from an old injury and subsequent physical therapy.  My art biz functioned on the bare minimum, mainly bolstered by the kind folks still supporting here on Patreon and my merch sales.

Thankfully, I still managed to draw at least one thing a month and that kept me sane and happy!  Even if my indulgent art resulted in sharing such an odd smattering of character art and writing here.  I hope to get back on task with my Birthstone Goddesses in the new year and keep these more exploratory pieces to sketchbook compilation posts while that project’s going on.

My Personal Favorite Artwork from this Year – The Pirate’s Kiss

This gift art for my good friend, Sam Hogg, was my fave from this year.  I had resigned myself to not making much art and spent a process of several weeks slowly chipping away at this painting in short bursts while just enjoying the painting process and learning new tools in Procreate. I hadn’t slowed down that much in a very long time!  It made me love making art again during a time I was feeling extremely burnt out on it and unsure of my future.  Thankfully surgery turned out okay after this painting was completed!

  • Read more about this piece’s creation here.

My Level Up Artwork from this Year – The Unmerry Band

Created for a Dungeons & Dragons game with friends, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone drawing vastly different looking characters, weapons, and body types.  My Genasi gal from this image also sparked off a whole NaNoWriMo inspiration adventure. 

  • Read more about this piece’s creation here.

An Existential Crisis

Unfortunately, this year has also brought us the wider proliferation of AI generated imagery, which has been a lot for me to process! I’ve written up a resources list of my research, should you want to read more about this topic.  I had played with this tech for a while thinking it could be a fun and useful tool to integrate into my process…until I learned that it functions by stealing artwork from the internet (including my own!) without the consent of artists to make its creations.  

We’ve now seen this tech spreading without much oversight and even a major publisher using it on a book cover. I’m not here to debate the merits of the tech, so please don’t start that debate in the comments.

For me, it’s made me LESS motivated to work on my more decorative art because I don’t feel it can compete with AI imagery in the same vein and MORE motivated to move my work in a direction where the narrative aspect takes priority to convey a message that I hope will make my work stand out from AI generated work.

For this reason, I’ve left longtime platforms I have loved for 20 years (half my life!), including DeviantART and ArtStation, which I’ll be using sparingly because they have allowed unethically sourced AI generated art to drown out human artists on their platforms and are common targets for unethical AI scrapers.  If you Followed me on those sites, be sure to look for me to be primarily sharing new artwork on Inkblot instead, with my presence still the same on IG, Facebook, Twitter, etc. for now.

Future Plans

I’m not giving up on art!  I still take joy in the act of creation, I just have less hope now that art can sustain me in a meaningful way within the illustration industry, which is already being flooded with AI generated competition, especially in the smaller independent arenas and even in some larger ones.  This is more incentive for me to work on what makes my artistic voice unique, to refine my traditional techniques, and to tell the stories only I can tell from my unique perspective.  

Thankfully, my husband and myself are stable enough right now alongside your support so that I can focus on my own personal IPs and stories in a way I never thought possible before now.  The advent of AI generated images has only helped convince me that pursuing my own stories instead of commercial work is less foolish of an endeavor than I used to think it was.

I still may try to pursue some of my dream commercial art jobs (IE. Magic the Gathering, TTRPG art, and pursuing more commercial book/comic cover work), but I want to stay focused on my own ideas rather than feeding an industry that grows more hostile and automated by the day, while continuously devaluing and underpaying artists.

What does this mean for this Patreon?  My plans have remained the same.  I’m moving forward with a re-launch of my Patreon (aiming for February) where I hope to wrap up my Birthstone Goddesses project over the next year or so and then I’ll be switching my Patreon’s focus to more narrative endeavors.  I also plan to shake up how I’m doing business now that I am no longer attending in-person events.  More specifically, I hope to do more online streaming, video content, etc. to invite you all into the process and get some of that face time back.  I really miss your faces and meeting kindred spirits at events!

I want to celebrate my Patreon’s re-launch with flair and am currently working on a line of Patreon-only merch for the occasion.  I’ll share more about the new merch, my evolving biz plans, and my specific Birthstone Goddesses Final Phase plans in a dedicated post soon, so stay tuned!

For now, this post is long enough, so I’m going to stop rambling here and wish you all happy holidays.  Thank you once more for making all the difference with your support this year, despite the fact I haven’t been able to give back as much as I’d like in return!  The downtime has been healing and invigorating for me and I can’t wait to put that energy back into my art and art biz in 2023.

We have a new home and studio to celebrate and a whole new path ahead.  Here’s to a 2023 full of passion and a glorious return to art-making for me!

♥ Ang

Ang's NaNoWriMo 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 Wrap-Up: Flame of the Sultana

We’re at the end of November and I’ve wrapped up my journey with National Novel Writing Month!  Thanksgiving, post-house move vacation, and the distraction of a new home/studio desperately in need of unpacking proved too much for me to reach the 50k word goal, but I’m excited to have spent some time writing, which has been a personal goal of mine for a long time now.  I wanted to share a bit of the NaNoWriMo journey with you all with some thoughts, excerpts, etc.

My Final Word Count: 6,534

Despite not making the word goal, I’m still jazzed to have written as much as I did!  I loved spending time with Rabs and her horribly loving and (at times) just plain horrible family. I loved indulging the D&D nerd in me who had an awesome time roleplaying this character and exploring her more through writing, while also getting some excellent practice.  TTRPG games have always been a pathway into writing and inspiration, for me!  This was just the Muse Vacation I craved before I return to the serious business of Birthstone Goddesses next year.

Writing With Campfire

I also got a chance to play with Campfire’s worldbuilding management tool this NaNoWriMo and I’m absolutely in love with it now that I’ve spent some quality time with it.  Not only can I manage all my world and character notes, but their manuscript and research modules help me keep everything all in one place so that my notes and chapters can be stored together.  

I’ll be jumping ship from Scrivener to Campfire, as it’s always bothered me how I’ve previously spread my files across Scrivener and Google Docs.  It’s too easy to lose things that way!  Now, I can point beta readers to a shareable link where they can also leave comments if I grant them permission. This will be SO invaluable when I’m ready for that!

I hope to write a full review on Campfire later once I’m done polishing this story’s entries.

(A peek at my story’s info in Campfire complete with a custom theme I tweaked to match the mood/palette of my story.)

(The entry for Rabs’ sisters.  Featuring inspirational images from left to right: Kii Weatherton, Minttu Hynninen, Ashima-Leena, art of Rabs by me, Rachel Denton, and Wabi.  These are just placeholders for right now until I can draw my own versions of the sisters, which are bound to look vastly different, as these images were used more for vibes than direct lookalikes.)

My NaNoWriMo Journey

To be quite honest, I didn’t actually write anything of the novel I had pitched in my synopsis, but rather let myself explore the fictional Genasi kingdom my MC hails from with worldbuilding notes, while also experimenting with a novel-planning method from Lisa Cron’s Story Genius book on writing.  

The Story Genius Blueprint method tasks you with finding the ‘third rail’ that brings your story to life through emotional resonance and challenges you to explore the internal and external influences on your protagonist in a very in-depth manner through prompts.  I’ve always had a problem with pantsing my way through stories, only to result in several rewrites because I didn’t really understand what I was trying to say with my stories, so I’ve been very curious to try this method which purports to save me from my own meandering!

Here’s the list of what I wrote for NaNoWriMo.  The links should be clickable if you want to read my raw, rough musings in their imperfect states.

Story Spine for Flame of the Sultana – Exploring the overall view of where I think my story should go and how it should resolve.
My Story’s Thesis: Who you are is not your fault, but it is your responsibility.

Story Genius Blueprint Questions (Incomplete) – As I worked through Story Genius, I kept my explorations of the answers to the prompts from the blueprint exercises here.  I wasn’t able to make it entirely through, but I really enjoyed how the exercises suggested in Story Genius prompted me to dig deep into my character’s motivations and my story’s themes, rather than getting too caught up in the plot over the emotional ‘meat’ of the story.

– Worldbuilding Notes – A good deal of time was spent fleshing out my MC’s large family, how they’re related, what elements they represent.  Seriously, HOW does anyone write a novel with more than 3 characters?  Figuring out Rabs’ 4 half-sisters, their moms, and their associated elements took some real brainpower!  

I also figured out the core tenets of the humanitarian organization, the Burning Saints, which Rabs joins as an adult to help atone for her family’s sins. The Burning Saints believe in proper actions over proper thoughts and allows those convicted of crimes a second chance by giving up titles and riches to become humble servants of the people.  For Rabs, they’re a second chance to divide herself from her past and become a worthy warrior on her own path away from the palace.

The Origin Scene – A scene exploring the most dramatic moment in the past where Rabs’ core misbelief took shape.  A young Rabs experiences a moment of rage that ruins her mother’s carefully planned assassination attempt of their corrupted father, the sultan.  This moment of rage costs her mother’s life and haunts Rabs in the years afterwards that lead up to our main story.  In history, this night would be known as The Night of Five Blades.

CW: Graphic violence/fight scene.  My baby D&D Barbarian’s first Rage as a teenager was a nightmare for her!

The Misbelief Scene 1 of 3 – The Witness – A scene that reveals an early childhood experience where Rabanne witnesses her birth mother murder her aunt for threatening to reveal their planned coup against the sultan.  This terrifying incident informs Rabanne’s misbelief as an adult that she is bound to her family’s history of violence even as an adult. 

I ran out of time before I could write scenes 2 and 3 for her Misbelief, but you can read the paraphrase for those incidents in the main Blueprint.

CW: Brief non-graphic violence, psychological trauma

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Even if this year’s NaNo experience equates to nothing more than skillbuilding, I’m excited about the epic amount of imagery I have for future art fodder, on top of everything else!  It’s my dream to get at least ONE story done in my lifetime and I feel like I’ve taken one more little baby step in that direction after giving myself that permission this month.  I’ve written plenty, but have finished very few to a state I’m satisfied with and that’s something I want to change!

Did any of you take on the novel-writing challenge this month?  Tell me about your stories (or other crazy dream projects)!  Making our dreams come true always starts with voicing them aloud and giving them power.  Ramble away, dear dreamers!

Resources 

* This affiliate link gives me a little kickbick, if ya like!

Exalted Art Challenge 2022 Collection

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I have a treat for you today in the form of the completed collection of challenge pieces for this year’s Exalted Art Challenge!  We moved right in the middle of this challenge, so I only had time to partake in the weekly topics, instead.  Still, this challenge is always a lot of fun and a great excuse to experiment with different methods and styles!

I created all of these entries in Procreate.

Week 1: Your PC (Player Character)

Rather than draw the same old characters I’ve been drawing lately (cough Kalara), I thought I’d shine the spotlight on Laughing Fox, a trickster Kalara has met in her travels as a young demigod.  Laughing Fox is a Lunar, chosen of the goddess of the moon in the Exalted RPG setting.  He prefers seduction over murder and prides himself on his clever schemes and collection of secrets.  His Tell, or the characteristic that marks him as moon-chosen, is the white tips of his hair which is reminiscent of a fox’s tail.

He wanders in and out of Kalara’s tale as he pleases!  You’ll no doubt be seeing more of him before too long.

The inspiration for Laughing Fox’s animal shape is the gorgeous cross fox.  Just look at this majestic creature!

Week 2 – A Meal In Creation

Next comes a fun topic featuring food from the setting!  This meal comes from the celebration of Plentimon’s Day, the god of gambling.  Inspired by the real-world King Cake from Mardi Gras, those who find the Plentimon’s dice in their serving of cake will be crowned royalty for the day and have the god’s blessing for the next year.

Plentimon Day’s feast consists of goat kabobs marinated in yogurt and spices, with a almond-based cakes in the shape of a D6 die with slivers of almonds to represent the numbers.  The dice cakes all have different flavors stuffed inside to emphasize the Plentimon’s theme of gambling. You never know if you’ll get bitter or sweet flavors!  Finally, you can’t have a feast day in Gem without an alcoholic drink, in this case, date wine.

I’m a big fan of the aesthetic of the food in Monster Hunter, which definitely shows in my choice of design for this dish.

Week 3 – Fave Charm

This one started off as a Fave Charm (or magic ability), but quickly got off-topic with drawing FX for Kalara’s anima aura, the glowing halo of energy which appears when she channels divine energies at different levels of intensity.  When she’s at ‘fall blast’, a phoenix appears rising behind her, an animal that is part of her personal symbolism as someone who rose from her near-death to take on the world.  This will be my first time drawing an FX sheet and it was quite fun. I will definitely be adding them to Kalara’s proper reference sheet!

Week 4 – Fave Fashion

For the final topic, I was going to keep it ‘simple’ and sketch a concept for glass armor, but the topic ran away with me and I ended up with a full portrait!  The glass remnants of the magnificent buildings of old Chiaroscuro magically retain their luster and strength and are usually used for sturdy, but sleek armor.  I figure why not armor AND a gown for Kalara?

This portrait also provided me with an opportunity to paint Kalara in a more realistic style, as well as test out a new style I’m currently evolving which combines a soft and painterly look with hard-edged elements for a look inspired by Klimt and tarot cards.

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Fave Fashion was undoubtedly my favorite topic from this year!  Which one is yours?

As ever, if you like Kalara or any of the imagery I put out for the Exalted Art Challenge, check out the Exalted tabletop rpg from Onyx Path Publishing and Kalara’s stories and art at The Uncrucified or check out the older Exalted Art Challenge collections for art you may have missed!

Now that the EAC is done, I’m turning my attention towards some fun surprises I’m working on for this Patreon’s re-launch and the topic you all chose for me for NaNoWriMo (Flame of the Sultana).

Till next time!  Stay tuned for more writing and art peeks from Rabs’ NaNoWriMo adventures.

♥ Ang

Our New Home (Finally!)

It’s been a long journey, but we finally made it to the new house!  Consider this the pre-tour, since right now all of our stuff is currently in a ‘thrown on the floor’ state.  We got very lucky finding this place since our first contract fell through, leading us to take a peek at this house instead, which was incorrectly listed, making it quite a lucky find!

We learned a little bit more about the place, which has had some custom renovations which made us fall in love with it.  In particular, the garage has been converted into a fully heated and insulated workshop where the previous owner used to make bullets.  Now, it’s the perfect studio space for me!  

It’s SO much space, enough to have a corner for my computer desk, a nook for traditional painting, another corner for model photography, and a dedicated shipping/fulfillment station to help with future crowdfunding endeavors.  We have literally combined about 2 and a half rooms worth of art junk into this one giant room!

The view from the studio! I love these shady trees in our front yard at the end of a quiet cul de sac.  All the sunlight and windows were the major reason I fell in love with this home in the first place!

The reading room, which will also double as the guest room!  I’ve been collecting art books for years and I’m ecstatic to finally have a space to fully enjoy them.  On the left, my mannequin is putting in work scaring people for Halloween.  She’s already made one set of delivery folks immediately walk out of the house and ask questions because she scared them hah!  Sorry, guys. Not an axe murderer with a wrapped-up torso. Just an artist with display things!

My other favorite place in the house is the sun room overlooking the pool, which almost became the studio, if not for the easier to clean tile floor of the workshop.  A part of the reason why we got such a good deal on this home was the fact the pool was a horrible mess we were going to have to have to fill in because it cost too much to repair and it absolutely tanked the home’s appraisal.  As you can see, however, by some fluke of fate and red tape at the real estate firm, it was actually repaired before we moved in, much to our shock and surprise!

Honestly, after the hell that’s been our past few years (from cancer to COVID to shoulder surgery and the unrelenting burnout of it all), we’re happy to see a little kindness from the universe!  We’re going to enjoy the rest of 2022 settling into this new place for the holidays as I work towards tentatively relaunching this Patreon in early 2023.

In the meanwhile, I’ll still be sharing smaller endeavors here in the blog, like the sketchbook posts and the fruits of my NaNoWriMo story in November.  I’ll have some compilation posts soon!

PHEW!  Thanks to everyone who has chosen to stick around my Patreon to support me, even if I don’t have a lot of new material to share lately.  It’s done me good to take an extended break and I look forward to returning fully to my ongoing projects next year with renewed vigor!

Cheers!

♥️ Ang

September 2022 Sketchbook – Rabs & Kalara Character Designs

This weekend, we put the first boxes in the new studio and I’m so excited!  Studio pics to follow in the near future.  In the meanwhile, I’ve been using the time between the seams to chip away at the character designs for Rabs and Kalara.  Character sheets have been my happy place lately!

Rabanne Arore, Big Muscles, Big Heart

I wanted to challenge myself with Rabs’ design with a muscular body type and her glowing hair. She’s really captured my muse with her fun tatts, color schemes, and themes, so you’ll definitely be seeing more of her in my sketchbook!  This particular piece was meant to be in the style of a more traditional ttrpg rulebook style source book image, as well as a base for me to put different clothing on.  More fashions are sure to follow!

Watch a time lapse of how I created this piece, along with Rabs’ tattoo sheet here.  She was painted using the Acrylic brushes in Procreate on the ipad.

Kalara Vadras, The Uncrucified

I meant to save this image for a proper release with a full sheet of FX and turnarounds, but our house move is taking forever, so I thought I’d share a WIP!  You guys got to learn a little bit more about Kalara last month via Fantasy Indies August.  She’s been inspiring me for years since our Exalted ttrpg game, so it was about time she got a new look!

This new look captures more of the elegant merchant negotiator she becomes after her years on the run from the Guild.  

Kalara’s old look as a reminder:

More to come when I explore the rest of her character sheet!  I’m especially excited about drawing the phoenix on the back of her jacket.  The redesign was also created in Procreate using the Studio Ink Pen for color flatting to achieve a comic book feel, as this design is meant as a precursor to a prospective webcomic for the character.

Both Rabs and Kalara utilized helpful stock poses from the awesome Jookpubstock, who has been an excellent resource for inspiration!

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Art is going to slow down even more over the next month while we move our small boxes over to the new place ourselves, with the big stuff being handled by the movers.  There’s a light at the end of the tunnel finally and I’m excited to really settle properly into a new permanent studio art cave!

♥ Ang

Time Lapse - Kalara's Shirt Cut Meme

[Narrated Time Lapse Video] Kalara’s Shirt Cut Meme

Sharing this a few days early for my Patreon fam!  This article doubles as a transcript for the narrated video I did for this collection releasing to the public next week and a tour of each piece in the meme.  Enjoy and let me know your favorite outfit in the comments!

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared much art (or videos for that matter).  Life has been a little crazy with the house move and a pandemic, but here we are!  I hit a bit of art block along the way, but you know what drew me out of it?  This silly cheesecake art challenge – The Shirt Cut Meme.  Curling up with the iPad to paint this image in Procreate was just the therapy I needed during a stressful time!

What is this challenge, you ask?  It was started by @druzsea on Twitter and challenges artists to create different types of shirt collar cuts for your characters (aka. It’s a boob-drawing meme).  Not something I usually draw, but this seemed fun and different and I liked the idea of showing more of my character, Kalara’s playful and elegant sexy side!  Without further ado, enjoy a tour of each entry topic!

Outfit 1 – Sideboob

For those who are new to Kalara, she’s my Exalted tabletop rpg character, a smooth-talking diplomat and merchant who rose up from the slums of a desert town.  She was chosen by the sun god to bring nations together with her words, but she chooses her own path of revenge, first.  If that sounds up your alley, you can see more of her over at www.theuncrucified.com

Another purpose of this challenge was to get to know my character in a more realistic style. Up until now, I’ve drawn Kalara in a more anime-inspired style, but now I want to match the art style of the more recent edition of Exalted. Anime doesn’t always translate to realism well, however, so it’s been a bit of a struggle for me!

All that aside, my gal loves to dress up! This first outfit was inspired by the sheer fabrics and inlaid turquoise of ancient Egyptian fashions.

Click here for more sketches, inspirations, etc for this entry.

Outfit 2 – Inner Sideboob

This second outfit was inspired by a less traditional star collar shape I’ve spotted in modern haute couture fashions. Kalara wears a woven waist sash with golden threads and chandelier style gold wrought earrings to pay homage to her homeland in the South, a desert region in Exalted. She sports small swirls of fire in her jacket trim showing her kinship to fire, the ruling element of the South. I’ve also hidden an Eclipse Caste symbol in her jewelry, which is a scandalous thing to do, considering Solar Exalted like her are seen as anathema by the ruling kingdom.

This pose is my favorite of the bunch! I’m so pleased with the perfect pose reference from Adorkastock and the fun I got to have with her layered eye makeup.

Click here for more sketches, inspirations, etc for this entry.

Outfit 3 – Boob Window

I call this third outfit Kalara’s “Merchant Queen” look.  I had more trouble with this pose, which you can see in the time lapse where I drew two alternate ideas.  In the end, I went with a different pose so I wouldn’t have too similar of a facial angle to the other poses and a concept that had a more comfortable wrist angle for the gun she’s wielding in this entry.

I leaned harder into a desert-inspired design with her head wrap and layers for this outfit.  I imagine she might wear this outfit when she’s dressed to impress high ranking merchants at important meetings on the route.  The circles in the trim are a call back to her hometown of Gem, which specializes in the export of precious gems. 

In my headcanon, I like to think Gem clothing leans on circle motifs that mimic the look of gems (or actual embroidered and embedded gems for the truly fancy outfits).  I took a chance on an unexpected color palette that once again harkens back to Kalara’s homeland kinship to fire with the bright colors of a hot and cold flame and the little flame buckle in her sash.

Click here for more sketches, inspirations, etc for this entry.

Outfit 4 – Underboob

Kalara’s fourth outfit also has hints of the swirling flame motif in the collar and a bright sunny fire color scheme balanced by a complementary blue-green accent color.  Her belt buckles also swirl in a shape inspired by stylized Chinese motifs in the form of a flame.  Once again, Kalara’s all bling in this one with gold lipstick and shimmering eye makeup!

You can also spy her crucifixion scar in this pose, something she usually hides behind gloves when she’s in more proper meetings where she doesn’t want people to be distracted by the question about its origin that the scar tends to raise.  I like to think she might also leave it exposed when she’s intimidating certain parties who know that the scar symbolizes her survival of an execution her adversaries in the Guild tried to engineer.

I also had help with this pose from Grafit’s amazing photo reference packs on ArtStation. Highly recommend them if you’re looking for affordable, well-lit, and inspiring refs for your art!  I’ll link all the references I used in the description of this video for those who might be interested.

Click here for more sketches, inspirations, etc for this entry.

Outfit 5 – Free Space

For the fifth and final outfit, I was originally planning a more revealing lingerie Kalara might wear to one of the sexy celestial parties she attends, but I ended up exploring a completely different idea instead.

Meet Koh, the male disguise Kalara donned to evade her Guild pursuers at the beginning of our tabletop campaign.  Koh was known as a dangerous dissident, a smooth-talking criminal, and a master thief…all things Kalara wasn’t necessarily good at, but she had enough charisma to convince everyone through rumor and charm she could do these things! In this pose, she’s letting the look slip a bit with her shirt open to reveal her chest wraps and the dye covering her fiery red hair fading out.

I spent a lot of time on the Prayer Piece guns in this one, as they’re the high level guns Kalara spent a lot of time with in our campaign and I have somehow never drawn them before now!  So it felt really good to finally solidify a look for these weapons.  These jade and orichalcum weapons contain miniature shrines to small gods that speed the gold prayer inscribed bullets to their targets.

For Koh’s outfit, I went with a leather and woven threads aesthetic for Koh, who is more earth tones for her life on the road traveling with bandits.  The little bottles on Koh’s belt hold reserve firedust for her other guns, while you’ll also notice one single golden bullet around her neck, just in case she comes down to needing that one last shot.  Finally, Koh’s spectacles were inspired by designer Francis de Lara’s amazing snake and apple glasses.

Click here for more sketches, inspirations, etc for this entry.

Sometimes we get inspiration in the most unexpected places.  I’m excited to have gotten the chance to try something different and have such fun with my character before I return to working on more serious projects.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this booby costume exploration as much I enjoyed creating it! 

I’ve been exploring a new format for my time lapses with the debut of this video and am really excited to bring you more!

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LINKS

REFERENCE PHOTOS 

MUSIC CREDITS

  • “Lift Motif” by Kevin MacLeod
  • “Mystery Bazaar” by Kevin MacLeod
  • “Eastern Dreams by Tom Kent
  • “Vadadora” by Kevin MacLeod
  • “Jalandhar” by Kevin MacLeod
  • “Feral Angel WaltzFeral Angel Waltz (feat. Alexander Nakarada)” by Kevin MacLeod
  • “Inspired” by Kevin MacLeod

Help share the love!  If you enjoyed this piece, help me get the word out about my art by sharing it:

Fantasy Indies August 2022 – THE UNCRUCIFIED

I took part in the Fantasy Indies August event during August, so I thought I’d share a little bit about that here with folks!  While you all mainly see the Artist side of me, I also love to write and have been dabbling with several novel ideas between the margins of life over the past few years.  

The Uncrucified has been at the forefront of my endeavors as a Writer and you all have probably noticed the muse inspiration overflow with all the Kalara art that’s flooded here lately!  She’s been the comfort subject for my muse while I’ve been on this long hiatus for shoulder surgery / burnout / life chaos.

The topics for August:

Rather than bombard you guys by pasting all of these topics in, I figured I’d tease you with some of my favorite topics I answered during the event and invite you to check out the full thread.

Introduce Yourself & Your WIP

I’m currently working on The Uncrucified, the tale of an upstart from the desert slums named Kalara. She was chosen to lead a world in chaos, but she has scores to settle first!

Yup, it’s a TTRPG story inspired by the Exalted RPG, but I hope to make it readable for more than just Exalted fans!  There’ll be romance, grudges, gunslinging, & more.

WIP Mood Board 

I’m an obsessive board maker! These are just a few of the images I’ve drawn of my MC Kalara plus location inspo for the stained glass ruins of Chiaroscuro, the magitech desert of Exalted’s South, & her hometown, the underground city of Gem.

If you’d like to see more of THE UNCRUCIFIED’s in-depth mood board, I host it on  Pinterest where I’ve been adding to them for literal years. Sub-divided by character, locale, etc. because this soothes my artist brain!

Book BFFs

I’m open to suggestions! A beta reader for my story has told me Kalara gave them NAME OF THE WIND vibes (which I haven’t read). I’d love for my chars to have the same larger than life charisma of the chars in THE LIONS OF AL-RASSAN (which I have read & loved).

I have a much easier time comparing THE UNCRUCIFIED to anime instead. Sinbad from MAGI mirrors Kalara with his wish to build a trade network & navigate political waters using his amazing charisma, while trying not to lose himself.  Not to mention MAGI’s combat is VERY Exalted!

I’m also looking to Fog Hill of the Five Elements for combat vibes. It oozes over the top stylish badassery!

BLOOD OF ZEUS also strikes me for being very Exalted with its sexy elegant character designs, warring gods, interpersonal drama, & pissed off ancient imprisoned deities.

Toss me more inspiration suggestions, fam! Especially my long-suffering beta readers. What does THE UNCRUCIFIED make you think of, as far as inspirational book/media BFFs?

I’ve already gotten some amazing suggestions from fans for Book BFFs for my story, so I’ve gathered them into a wishlist. Feel free to mine it for inspiration and good reads!  Featuring clever protags, underdog heroes, geopolitical drama, & more.

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Read the full topic list + my answers here for the full effect of posts, memes, and animated GIFs.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time I talk about my stories here.  I hope you all enjoy this glimpse at the other Muse in my brain!

♥ Ang

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