Pieced Together NL Process Pt. 1

I thought it would be nice to go through the process that led up to my final piece in this collaboration.

First was choosing from the characters available. I like armor and knights. So I chose Marth. I’m a gamer, but I have never owned a Smash Bros game or played it much since the very first one. Only recently did I really know that Marth was from Fire Emblem. Shout out to Smashley for getting me interested.

So my initial step was to get acquainted with the character. I studied different pictures and versions of Marth and did some doodles which you can see above.


But I didn’t like how my doodles were coming out. I didn’t like the intense anime that made Marth look too effeminate. I don’t have a problem with a feminine looking character, regardless of their gender. However, I didn’t want to bring a simple copy to the table. That’s not what I like in a fanart. I buy art because of the artist’s style and interpretation and this anime style just wasn’t me anymore. So, being true to myself I realized I should approach the character drawing the same way I start my own characters. Not shown here is the idea of picking a head shape, and basic forms in an almost cartoon method. I like to break it down in the way I was shown by my teachers who encouraged that type of viewing and construction to help me learn and move forward as an artist who was previously clueless.

IMG_20180309_0004 The next step, shown above, was to come up with the pose. Initially, when I chose my tile in the background, I was going to play with that moment when a character is K.O.ed and flying off the edge of the screen. This created another problem, though. It might work in the full picture, but it wasn’t going to stand out or even make sense as a single print on its own (which was my misinterpretation at the time. I still want the single image to use for my own stuff). So now I saw that it would have to be a character feature piece, like a poster. So I watched gameplay videos with the character and familiarized myself with his moves, motions, and powers. Then I drew out thumbnails for poses, thinking through what would fulfill the needs for the unique use of the image. As you scroll down the images, I think it’s clear to see my transforming thoughts.

The pose I decided on seemed powerful, interesting, and held a pretty good silhouette. Then came drawing out the construction sketch. See below.


I purposely left out the facial features and hair. I was intent on adhering to some of the best advice I’ve been told by the numerous teachers from my college life and beyond into podcasts. The advice goes like this:

Work from the general to the specific.

Getting bogged down noodling on a small spot isn’t going to advance the piece. In fact, all that detail work will likely get swallowed up and overlooked by the audience in the end. That goes directly against another golden rule, or piece of advice, which is:

Work smarter, not harder.

As a freelance illustrator, I am working commercially. Therefore, time matters. You have to be smart with your choices, and how you create certain aspects. The overall image matters more than the tiniest of details, especially when designing.

You can also see that I changed the idea of the silhouette to show more of the character, and make him more dynamic and visually interesting. Again, thanks to the golden rules of my personal process.


Next, I took my construction onto my lightbox and filled in some detail and thoughts. Then it was on to the scanner and into photoshop. There I began adjusting and completing the rest of the underdrawing. Hence the two colors seen above. Animation blue and red!


Initial lineart came next. Digital tools are great because you can flip the image back and forth to ensure it is balanced and that the anatomy is correct. As an artist, you can get so used to seeing your work, that it looks fine. But anyone in the audience might feel off about it, but not know why. It’s the anatomy and the balance. You can avoid a lot of that frustration by flipping the image. It looks perfect one way, but then you flip it and the odd parts stick right out. A mirror image is new enough that your brain absorbs it as a brand new image, not the one you’ve been staring at for hours already and have memorized. Speaking of mirror images, you can do this with your traditional art by using a mirror. Hold your image up to a mirror and the same will become apparent. If you’re really in a bind, hold your work up to a light and look at it from the back. I feel that digital tools are the easiest way to take advantage of this phenomena.

As for the lines. I know this doesn’t have to be the final image. I know what’s needed to polish it in the end. So to get past the nerves, I just throw down my lines to get started. I’m still thinking through problems as I go.


A few versions later, I’m beginning to tidy up the lines. I’ve also cut pieces and adjusted the sizing, making the head fit properly for the size of the limbs and issues like that. I am still problem-solving the cape as well. You can also see that I’ve decided to go with different costume parts. The tails of his tabard were messing with the silhouette and became too cumbersome, taking away from the effectiveness of the image.

The boots also came off as ridiculously overstyled. Not so much for the style of his genre, but for my style, which is a little more western by influence, it was. The wrapped material and the metal plate over the arch of his feet was just going to confuse a viewer. We see humanoids and we want to look at the face. All that detail on the boots was a distraction. In my mind, delicate embellishments could achieve just as much for what I wanted to convey.


And here’s the final lineart. Some adjustments were made in the next process of coloring, but this is mostly it. That’s it for today. Next time I’ll go through some of the steps of the painting process to add color to get to the final image.


Back to my Desk

I am many things. Editor. Writer. Scholar. Transcriber. Entrepreneur. Gamer. Teacher. Illustrator. Etc. Which is why I often like to call myself a Creative. That’s the umbrella I try to use. But today, I’m going to choose one section of the umbrella to focus on. One I haven’t focused on here in a while.

Often times I have felt unprepared, or too unrefined to work on projects with other artists. So I burrowed away. I didn’t finish things. I even floundered. My first time, my coming out as an artist when I shouted I’m an illustrator, wasn’t the greatest. I was young. I was fresh out of college. It was a bit of a bomb and a loss of money. But I don’t regret it. I’m glad I tried it. It pushed me to continue and to believe that with time and age I would reach new levels. The other thing I didn’t do was stop. I never stopped working on my craft. I might have only been doodling, watching hours of artists talking and working, reading about the history and craft of those before me, doodling some more and then trying different mediums.


The only thing that has truly gone against me by burrowing away is that I now get very nervous when sharing my work. It’s likely a reaction related to my crash through depression and anxiety as well. Even though it’s scary, and to the top stressful to share, I’m beginning to step back out there. I’m learning to face it and go forward with that nervousness clinging to my back, and work anyway.  The words of a great artist, Aliki Theofilopoulos Grafft, come with me as well. She said if she gets scared by something, she then has to do it.

Scared by a superstar standing in front of you? Then that means you better walk straight up there and introduce yourself!

I don’t exactly do that. But I keep her words with me as a reminder. I often gain a little push from them as well. They tell me it’s okay to be nervous, anxious, and to worry, but that it also doesn’t have to stop me.

So here it is.

I completed an illustration project. One I’m very happy to be a part of. It’s called Pieced Together. 24 artists doing 24 characters from Super Smash Bros. Sales will be at the Sci-Fi on the Rock Convention in April. The large piece with everyone’s illustrations put together will be auctioned off. There will also be limited prints of the separate characters for purchase.


I won’t be showing my final piece yet. Every day, leading up to the release/meet-and-greet event, one of the 24 artists will be featured and their work revealed on instagram: here and on the facebook page: here.

However, I have included some of my initial thumbnails here. My next post will be the process doodles with some explanation.

P.S. Aliki Grafft was interviewed on the Paper Wings Podcast. She explains her reactions to fear and how it has propelled her forward. Click here to listen.

2 corrections. The full piece will have tickets sold on it. Which means everyone has a good chance of winning it! Woohoo!
Secondly, the prints will be smaller versions of the full piece.

Gaming and Galactic Adventures


Over Christmas, I opened myself up to video games again. I’ve had an on and off relationship with games. Over the holidays, however, I went back to them and thus gained great inspiration. I had been playing Skyrim more and more, branching out to try different play styles. Serendipitously, I happened to be shopping for gifts at the local store and they had a sale on Steam stuff. I hadn’t ever used Steam before, but I knew that most of my friends did. Plus, it had been going for years and I hadn’t heard of problems. So I was finally willing to believe in this format of gaming.

Further into serendipity, Steam launched their holiday sales event. I plunged down that rabbit hole. I picked up some games that I had never heard of before, as well as some old yet greatly lauded works. I ended up buying along the lines of a science fiction theme. Topmost were Mass Effect and Elite Dangerous.

Naturally, this inspired stories in the same genre. Science fiction began to take root in my creative mind. Added to that was the recent interest in Star Trek (Thank you, Discovery, and Voyager).

I love RPGs and MMOs, even Open Worlds. They’re conducive to creative and imaginative thought. As a writer, I find it to be a wonderful exercise to le your imagination run around freely in those digital worlds while just chilling out. The unexpected stories within or random happening events can inspire a lot. For example, during Christmas holidays I usually create a short romance story. It tends to be a story based on my latest work from the Kinetic Universe. My imagination took hold this year and instead of a romance, the basis of a sci-fi began. I wrote out the first chapter, which went over well at my monthly writing group. Furthermore, I’ve been writing it steadily ever since.


In my opinion, games are great for writers. I would recommend Skyrim and Dragon Age: Origins for imaging your fantasy stories. If you’re interested in space pilots and space travel, I’ve found Elite Dangerous to be wonderful, once you climb the steep learning curve. I haven’t played a lot of Mass Effect yet, but I expect it to be awesome since it’s by Bioware. They made Dragon Age, which I cannot give enough praise for.

Are there any games that you use to inspire yourself in downtime? Let me know.

Next time I’ll be talking about soundtracks from games and possibly even films.  Any suggestions? Is there a soundtrack you regularly turn to in order to get your writing flowing?

Romanced by Dictation

I have a little story for you.

Last week I set out to do handiwork around my house. This is my second summer here. When I was looking to purchase a house, I had a certain list of wants. This was not your HGTV style list of wants in a home. I have a number of allergies, so my list was a lot of do not haves. For instance, any house of mine could not have carpet in it.

Thus, it became a great selling point when the house I liked also came without grass! No grass and no trees. I am allergic to much of the outdoors, and grass just seems like a silly waste. It’s an irritant to me, and then I would have to spend too much time caring for it and trimming it, thus thrusting irritants out around me in a fashion in which I could not escape. Not to mention, the heat and the gasoline. Ugh! Instead, I have a pretty backyard with fantastically designed stone pathways, crushed stone, a bed for planting and four decks. It’s an easy oasis.


Part of the yard after planting/retrofit last year


However, the sum of all those lounging spaces, added to the large front step, three lengths of fencing around my bigger than the office shed, and two retaining walls in my driveway means a lot of refinishing. That is to say, scraping off all the old and peeling stain, then putting on new stuff. I’m willing to guess, it’s like painting an entire floor or more of the house itself. It’s a lot! This is my first house too, and my first shed/workshop. I don’t have a lot of tools yet. No sander, no pressure washer (not that I’m sold on the water usage idea), etc.

I’m a bit cheap, but mostly I’m just really old school. Which probably makes my neighbors chuckle, or at least raise some eyebrows. That’s alright. I mostly enjoyed the hard labor of scraping those decks. Why? Because I was in great company! I love the radio, and I love podcasts. I decided that while I was hard at work, it would be a great time to get acquainted with Joanna Penn, who a friend had recommended to me and other podcasters widely praise.

Click here to check out the Creative Penn Podcast.

Joanna is always interested in finding the pulse of the indie publishing industry. She makes sure to ask each of her guests what they feel is the next thing to take off in their world. I’m going to take some leeway and say that she’s put her weight behind the rise of dictation. Due to RSI she has dabbled and is even refocusing her workflow toward learning dictation and training dictation software. Yeah, took me a while to get my head around training a piece of software too, but it makes sense to a certain extent. It’s a personal preference in the end.

I have to agree with Joanna and many others. Dictation has long been the most important tool for some of the most prolific authors in the industry. It had been credited for doubling word counts as well as its health benefits. As someone who suffers from diseases that affect my hands and joints, dictation has definitely taken my interest. Especially since my usual day jobs are heavy on the typing. Furthermore, as a fitness enthusiast the chance to stand up or even walk places while writing would be amazing.


One of my beautiful surprise blooms this year.


So the romance has begun. I’m testing out dictation and dictation software. First off I’m trying free avenues before I make any big investments. As a lover of Google docs, my tests are being conducted with their dictation option which is included. So for the next few weeks I will be updating you on lessons learned, advice and tips found throughout this romance. Who knows? Maybe next year I’ll be gardening and writing at the same time.

Busy Days

Two weeks ago was the first 48-hour writing event, hosted by THE Tutoring Center and supported by Engen Books. Check out some of the fun here at Engen’s slideshow. Or check out our social media storm, seen through our twitter tag #48hourswriting or #48hourwriting because I was a distracted bunny.

One great thing about this crowd is how easygoing, funny, and welcoming they are. They are also very open to sharing. All the knowledge and assistance is available.

There was a great turnout too. Familiar faces from the geek convention circuit as well as WANL members and friends from local writing clubs. Shoutout to my #teamdistraction pals, Stacey Oakley, Katie Little, and Heather Reilly. Also, extra thanks to Stacey for convincing me to check out RWBY. I’m really enjoying the show, the humor, and the action! I obviously wasn’t the most observant Monty Oum fan. I was all in with Dead Fantasy and thought the show was a day job he helped on. I’m the first to admit that I’m never the hardcore fangirl type. However, there were many times he was in my memory throughout watching.

I have to thank the group as a whole for reminding me not to assume and supporting my obsession with fountain pens and inks. Thanks to you I am working diligently to be able to share my knowledge and supply with the wider public. I’m hoping to sell and share at Avalon Expo. If that doesn’t pan out, I will still be presenting on a panel. More information coming.

Since the marathon, however, it has been difficult to get back on track. I’m hoping for some accountability in listing things here.

Writing Schedule

Kinetic has fallen off its schedule. I am working to get it back on track within a week. That being said, Part One will be cluing up soon. When that happens, there will be a brief hiatus to do some extra planning and checking the plot in future parts. Be prepared for the point of view to shift around so you can get a better sense of the world of Super Hero Stories and your favourite heroes.

Review Schedule

My next review will be of Scott Bartlett’s novel, Supercarrier.

Art Schedule

I find myself suddenly on the countdown to submit my comic. Oops! Sometimes I wish someone was on my back like in the old days. How does the potential of a cash payment become less enticing than a good grade? Sheesh.

Did you know?

Another fun fact about me:

I adore hand lettering and calligraphy. I also have always loved quotes. These two make a great pair. It’s great when you can harness one interest to help you build upon another. I’m building up my hand lettering skill, as well as my design sense while sharing my joy for quotes. Here are some of my works:

Here are some of my works:


I really enjoy so many things in life. I’ll admit it…I strive to be a polymath (a Renaissance Man). There’s just so much to partake in with life. I could not stay with one thing.

You can check out the details of the quotes through my twitter, or my instagram.