Friday, May 24, 2013

Some Story Concept Art

So! It's been a fairly busy week, but somehow amid all that's been going on, I managed to pump out a little story art this week which involve three very different characters!

First up is Oberon. Pretty much 99% of the time you see me sketch or render a Friesian stallion, it's safe to assume I'm probably channeling this spirited main character. He may look like just a horse, but he's very much sentient with quite a past, and more than enough brazen snark to keep other characters in line.

In February during my Gnomon Introduction to ZBrush class I decided I would try my hand at digitally sculpting him, so I played around with some armor ideas to implement with the idea that I wanted to the armor to look somewhat believable, but I also wanted it to be extra-usable for a wearer who is sentient and keen to fight.

"War Horse" - 30 Minute Sketch - February 20, 2013
Along this line, I later ended up revising the face spikes and some general proportions. I wanted Oberon to be able to bash and slash with them, and having a slender, curved horn simply didn't make sense to me in battle (and it looked far too thin and graceful to be really "him").

"War Horse" - 30 Minute Sketch - February 25, 2013
 Later on I worked on sculpting him in 3D. I didn't get as far along as I'd like, but I plan to revisit this sculpt in the coming months.

"Armored Friesian Stallion" - Digital Sculpture - WIP - Current as of February 22, 2013

Next up is a reworked/new character I've been trying to concept out both in physical and story terms this week. He's going to be getting a new name since his role in certain events is getting majorly overhauled, but he's a side character that's likely to be a part of one of my upcoming short stories. He's had a pretty hard life.

I spent about an hour and a half sculpting this fella in ZBrush. He's not anything amazing art-wise, but I'll be damned if it isn't awesome being able to concept a character in 3D and sort of be able to feel out how I envision him in my head.

Character Concept - Digital Sculpture - May 21, 2013
 The next day I did a quick study of him in action. He fits a fighter-type role, and though those bracers may not look all that magical just yet, they definitely are.

Character Concept - 1 Hour Sketch - May 22, 2013
 Next up, I'd recently had gryphons on the brain, and had realized that though this gryphon character had been around in one shape or another for over ten years, I'd really never done anything more than casually sketch him, like I did in this sketch below from last year.

"Richard and Friend Sketch" - Completed on May 22, 2012
This lead to me starting to try to sculpt him in 3D. I am completely and utterly intimidated by how I am going to manage his feathered wings, but I am finding it really, really cool being able to sculpt a character like this in 3D, and I look forward to pushing him further.

ZBrush Gryphon - WIP- Current as of April 30, 2013
 Somewhere earlier in the year, I'd started this little doodle as well. It's actually the same character. I really like to pull off that feeling of being warmed by a welcoming sun.
Sunning Gryphon - WIP -February 26, 2013
 And somewhere during the last 24 hours I realized I still had that file laying around, so I thought I would try to play around with his coloration. Previously, I hadn't really worked out the details of this fella's coloration aside from the fact that itwas some sort of hybrid between a tiger and a hawk, so I was just sort of laying color in and taking it from there.
Sunning Gryphon - WIP -May 23, 2013
And then somewhere late last night, I moved the composition around just... kept going. I roughed in a legit background, and while I'm still not pleased with it, it's going in a direction I dig. I just love the idea of a gryphon sunning himself before taking flight, and I'm hoping I can continue to push that feeling as I continue to work on it. This scene is meant to be a view from atop one of the towers seen here.
Sunning Gryphon - WIP - May 24, 2013
I'm looking forward to seeing what other creative things I can accomplish this weekend!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Of Fan Fiction and Storytelling

Whether I was aware of it consciously or not, much of my early years involved writing fan fiction. In this day and age, the mere admittance of this makes me uneasy, since I feel as if there is a connotation that fan fiction is somehow a “dirty”-type of writing, devoid of merit on its own, when the reality of it is that quite a bit of the media we consume these days is a flavor of that very thing. Movies like Avengers and Star Trek: Into Darkness are flavored rewritings of existing characters thrust into new situations, and many pieces of written media, be it books, comics, or graphic novels share these ties. Whether it's though the canon writing of follow-up books or the stories of aspiring writers on, readers are able to find out more about worlds and characters they cherish, and find out just THAT much more about them. And when I reflect back on this simple fact, it’s actually pretty awesome to me that people can be so compelled by these characters that they want more, and when it’s not available through official channels, they make their own stories.

Looking back, a sizable bit of my early writing was one flavor or another of fan fiction. I wrote stories that continued shows I watched that had been cancelled and I wrote stories about what had taken place between episodes. I followed-up on beloved characters from books, and dealt with simple childhood tragedies like losing a beloved pet through supportive characters I recognized so well that they almost felt like friends.

In time, this evolved into something that I’d consider my first attempts at “real” fiction, but in some cases (arguably worst ones), they were an odd amalgamation of many things I liked at the time. I wrote stories that followed-up on the adventures of RoboCop and introduced new characters and odd crossovers with then current shows such as the X-Files. I learned how to write a TV-script by creating an original adventure about the USS Enterprise with a gryphon character (I’m not even kidding here. This script exists and my mother encouraged me to send it into the studio for consideration, although I never did).

I'm sure young-me thought that haircut was "futuristic" too.

I wrote an alternative-universe version of the tale of Fullmetal Alchemist, but slowly, and ever-so steadily, I worked alongside close friends to tell completely stories of own outside our perceived “confines” of fan fiction. We mixed characters and tropes with a variety of settings, alternate dimensions, and you name it. It was a wonderful experience, and I feel I really grew as a writer when I had the opportunity to bounce my characters and ideas off others. Of course, during this time I also realize my life experiences were fairly limited, and writing for characters almost twice my age ended up being somewhat… interesting in retrospect, but we’ve all got to start somewhere!

There’s a certain allure that fan fiction or fan art has even now to me. I will be the first to admit that posting either of these online generates a great deal more attention and engagement than original characters simply, I believe, because you’re expanding on an existing mythos with recognizable, relatable characters. This is all well and good, and certainly enjoyable to an extent, but I realized at some point that it wasn’t really the heart of “me.” I felt like I was putting off sharing my own personal characters in favor of sharing more easily recognized ones. Creating fan fiction or fan art  because it was what I wanted to do is all well and good, but at some critical juncture I realized what I really wanted to do was share my personal characters with a wider audience, and in the time since I’d tried to figure out how to do just that while I wrote two-fold: at once in the public eye with my fan fiction, and the other quietly outside of the public eye. And I regret neither, and am thankful for all the storytelling I did within fandoms (though I’m not sure how much of the really early stuff I’d prefer digging up to share at this point in time. Something tells me that certain things, like Starfleet gryphons, are better off kept as an awkward memory unless blackmail is somehow involved).

It's comforting to me that even the writers of the
original Star Trek series were self-aware.
(Credit to:

I’ve still a ways to go before I approach my noble goal of publishing a series of books surrounding these characters, but it’s felt really good looking forward to the prospect of sharing short stories concerning the world out here. I’m still trying to figure out which will be my first short out here in the open (and I’m between reworking and updating older short stories, or drafting up something entirely new), but it’s been quite a welcome relief to sort of have all of this “out there” and off my chest. Innately, I know that actions mean more than words (which I digress is a bit ironic since we’re talking about writing here), but I don’t want to be that person that goes through life saying “yeah, I’m working on these books” or “I have a great idea for this new piece of art” and then never follow through with them. Talking about something is great, and planning is certainly encouraged, but unless you’re making honest steps towards that goal, I think you’re only doing a disservice to yourself.

Along those lines, I think one of the reasons I wanted to get this public blog up and running was to slowly give credence to all the personal work I’ve been doing behind the scenes, and to “prove” it to myself that this is a journey I am up for. I will also be honest that I was pretty much expecting radio-silence surrounding it, but instead I’ve been overwhelmed by the supportive words and emails I’ve received, and that feels just SO wonderful and heartening, and I can’t thank you guys enough for that. In the coming weeks/months, I’m also going to be trying to set up a beta-readers list so that I can get some feedback from people before the shorts go up, so if you’re interested, let me know, and if you’ve already told me you’re interested, I’ll make sure to add you to the mailing list once I get all the nuts and bolts ironed out.

In any case, I’m off to try to update and re-envision a side character who I want to build into something more! He’s one of just a handful of sort of hybrid steampunk and high fantasy characters, so it’s fun trying to find the perfect balance that really fits the world I’ve established. It’s also a bit scary because I’m leaving myself open-enough to reworking his personality entirely, so I’m not sure what I’ll be left with or settle-on once I’m done, but it’s nice having the opportunity to look at established characters with a fresh set of eyes and try to push them further. In a way, it’s almost like writing a fan fiction with my own characters.

Who would have thought?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The First Steps of the Journey!

So at the moment I'm pretty swamped for time, but I was trying to figure out how exactly I could get the ball rolling on this blog and start opening up a bit more about my characters, their stories, and their world.

Like the first page of a fresh sketchbook, I want so much to create the perfect image to set the mood of what's to come. I'd love to work on a trove of new art for the occasion! Perhaps make a video to share the excitement, or pass along songs relating to their world, and the stories that have lived in my heart for over a dozen years now.

But the reality is: there's no need to wait or delay longer simply to try to capture the "perfect" moment for those first encountering my work. I have a personal journey to undertake to share and further refine my writing, and it's exciting and terrifying both at once. But the more steps forward I take, the more I can grow as a storyteller.

So, to get the ball rolling, here is a scene I illustrated twice over. Once in 2006, and then again in 2012.  The scene was originally scripted for Book 3, so a hefty amount of story and adventures had taken place before these four characters ended up on the side of a mountain at dawn overlooking an expansive view below, but you'll have to trust me on that one. There's just so much more ahead for everyone involved, and myself as well!

"Homeland" - by K. LeCrone - Completed on January 15, 2012

So to anyone first encountering my work: welcome!

To friends and family that have encouraged me over the years: thank you for your incredible support, and thank you for joining me in the next evolution. It's due to be a fun ride. :)

And welcome, everyone, to a first glimpse of the Kingdom of the Twin Lions!

The Planning Continues...

I've been spending a lot of brainpower lately trying to figure out two story-related things.

1.) I'm trying to narrow-down how I want to organize content in a public setting. In a private setting online I have everything from a wiki, blogs, and galleries through to shared Google-docs. I think in terms of a long-term plan, I'd like to house all the stuff for public consumption on one main site so that people would be able to go there for both the stories and art, as well as a blog with relevant discussions. I would certainly prefer to post in one location and then populate and broadcast to other locations rather than having to update a bunch of different sites, but I'm not sure I have the bandwidth right now to work on a new site. In some ways, it almost feels like doing that is simply procrastinating on working-on and posting the actual writing itself.

2.) I've also been trying to figure out some prominent place names relating to the story. In some cases, I've spent over a dozen years using placeholder names, in others, I simply didn't dig the names to begin with, but for whatever reason, I couldn't come up with something better. As such, I'm trying to figure out if I can find those "perfect" names, of if I should work on moving forward using what I have and simply accept that I can still choose to change it later.

In some way, it sort of reminds me of when I start a new sketchbook. I always want that very first page to have this really awesome sketch that sort of sets the tone of the rest of the sketches to come. And I really do want to start off on the right foot when I put my story writing up online, but I"ll be damned if it isn't more than a bit intimidating.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Road Ahead: More on My Upcoming Story Stuff

I am just... SO freaking pumped to start sharing story stuff. I've formulated a plan of attack that I hope to go into a bit more in the coming months, but here is the general game-plan:

1.) I will be offering some new short stories concerning my world and its characters and I will be releasing them online publicaly for free. My aim is to make these “bite-sized” pieces of my world and its cast of characters. I consider these stories to be supplementary to the main (unreleased) books, and they will feature side characters and locations, local legends, and more.

2.) I will be inviting folks to be early “beta” readers to offer me feedback and constructive criticism on the stories before they’re released.

3.) Each of these short stories will be paired with art by myself or guest artists. As a visual artist myself, I’m really eager to try to further illustrate the world for others to see, and to have a better sense of setting and context for characters and events.

4.) I will renew my social media presence online in relation to my stories and will set up a more cohesive (and public) place to find out more about it for visitors. I am also hoping to come up with some neat initiatives to reach other people online (such as audio readings of the stories, videos, etc.)

5.) I will continue working on the primary books, and down the road I aim to get them published. I have not yet determined the venue I will be using to do this.

Through these steps I am hoping to do two main things:

1.) Get my work “out there” and improve it. Writing in a vacuum only goes so far, and the more eyes that see my work and can give me honest feedback, the better I can make it.

2.) Share my work with a wider audience. I have had these stories to tell for a over a dozen years now, and I’m eager to share the characters and their world with more people.

In any case, wish me luck, and if you’re interested in helping, let me know!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Great News!

I wanted to let everyone know that I received the final go-ahead today that I can commence sharing my personal writing/stories publicly! Words cannot fully express how exciting this is for me! :D The months ahead are going to be AWESOME (and busy). More details to follow!