Sunday, June 9, 2013

Art and Write ALL THE THINGS!

I was about to say that this week managed to be a bit more writing-heavy rather than art heavy, but I think it ended up being a fair mix of both, and that’s entirely fine by me. :)

Progress on “The Apprentice of Rook” (Working Short Story Title)

Over the years I've probably read over a dozen books on writing, each with its own recommended method for writing, and one of my big takeaways is that what works best is different for everyone.

For me, I like having a sort of outline to make sure that I’m aware of what points I’m building to scene-by-scene. That usually means that I spend a few days, weeks (or in some cases longer) brainstorming before I settle on my characters and ideas. From there, I write out what is basically a very brief set of bullet-points for each scene (sometimes including beats), and then from there, I start writing in earnest.

My first write-through is usually exceptionally basic and “train of thought” in nature, moving from point to point in an effort to fill-in my outline. It’s also probably one of my least favorite parts of the process, because I’ve found (at least in my limited experience) that it’s good to keep moving rather than lingering too long on any one paragraph or line of dialogue.

One of my big takeaways from USC School of Cinematic Arts was that good dialogue is damn hard to write. One of my professors once said that your first instinct of what to write is often what you would do in that situation, the second is what you think the character would do in that situation, and just maybe, by the third or fourth draft you can really get into the character’s brain to figure out what exactly they would say in any particular situation.

That piece of advice is definitely something I've carried with me over the years, but I tell you what: it makes me eager to get into the later drafts of the story where I can really tighten things up and get into the fray of things!

Before this week hit, I considered my next short story to be about halfway through its first draft.  After showing the first half of the short story to my muse, I ended up revisiting the first part entirely to move some bits around and re-pace some things that will hopefully better fit my aims for the story as a whole. As such, I suppose I’m still busy poking the first half before I transition back to my write-through of the second half. It's really exhilarating having so much freedom to reshape these side characters, but at the same time, sometimes it's tricky to decide HOW to shape them where there are so many options available. I keep telling myself to choose options that will "raise the stakes" rather than ones that will simply satisfy the norm. It does feel like I'm onto something, though, and I look forward to seeing where this will end up. 

Credit the Fans of Stephen King Facebook Page

And this. SO much this. Push on with your art, writing, and other projects, my friends, because standing still won't get you anywhere! That is also one of the aspects of this blog that I'm really enjoying: it's helping me not only be accountable for what I've been up to each week, but it helps me ensure that I'm pushing myself forward each week bit-by-bit.

Short Story Art

One thing I'm excited about is that I've started to plan out how I'm going to go about releasing my first short story (once it's done). In addition to doing a new piece of original art for it, I have a relevant piece I commissioned by another artist that I think I'm going to hold off sharing until the story is done. If anything, it should also urge me to finish it faster. ;) I’m really excited to share it, though!

Until then, I’ve also started trying to rough out what art I plan to release with the story. While dozing yesterday, I was trying to figure out what sort of direction I might want to take for an illustration relating to the story that sort of hints what it is about without giving too much away. This sort of direction was the first thing that came to mind, so I roughed out a concept in about thirty minutes. Meet Vargas (the new/reworked character I hinted at here: ), and a peculiar little mechanical hummingbird.

Possible Illustration Concept for "The Apprentice of Rook"

Vargas should look close to age 17 (above), but I think I might need to reduce the facial hair to get him to appear closer to that age. He's older zBrush version of him I concepted out a few weeks ago (below), and it will be a fun challenge trying to potentially place him in a scene with the mechanical hummingbird (which I am frankly excited to try my hand at illustrating again).

Character Concept - Digital Sculpture - May 21, 2013
"Mechanical Hummingbird Color" - Completed on February 16, 2011

The Loirin Plate

This week I also got to pick up my Loirin plate from the pottery place I painted him at! You can find out more about this character in this entry.

The finished plate is 11 inches in diameter and was painted free-hand based on this original 2010 image. I've been really excited to see how the colors turn out after it’s fired, since even during the painting process I had to try to use my imagination to try and figure out how it will all come together after firing.

"Loirin and Bunny, First Blossom - Unfired Plate" - Completed on June 1, 2013

To my surprise, the colors turned out EXTREMELY close to how I'd envisioned them to be, and it is a real pleasure seeing the bold colors come to life! This is my fifth piece of painted pottery like this, and each time I learn just a little bit more about how different glazes interact with each other. I know most folks don't go quite so crazy with details but... that's just how I roll. I really enjoyed seeing the final result, and it's a ton of fun looking forward to eating off this plate and smiling as I do.

I think my grandmother would have liked this plate quite a lot.

"Loirin and Bunny, First Blossom - Fired Plate" - Completed on June 7, 2013

It’s also the third such plate I've painted in the past year, but… one can never have too many plates!

Young Sashah Digital Painting

I realized tonight that I purchased Paint Tool Sai about three years ago... and I hadn't done more than open it up once or twice since, so I thought "Hey? Why don't I try to do some cel-shaded stuff with this tool?"

A few hours later, my attempt at "cel-shaded" had taken on a life of its own and... I think it's time to call it quits.  There is a lot I don't really dig about this piece, but I think it's time to move on and start anew. 

"Young Sashah - Paint Tool Sai Experiment' - Completed on June 9, 2013

This is a character from my main book series. Her name is Sashah, and she's a werewolf, and this is an illustration of her at a younger age. I was trying for somewhere between the age of a gangly cub and the age of a sleek adult wolf, so hopefully that comes across here. The eyes are WAY more teal than they would actually be for the character, but once I painted them in, I liked them enough that I opted to keep them as-is.

She actually has a small cameo in the short story I'm working on. Here's a rough excerpt:

"[...] The scorching heat of the noonday sun was none-too-kind, and the grey blur quickly took shelter in the shade of a nearby work bench. When Vargas approached, it got to its feet and wheeled around to looked up at him with two striking teal-blue eyes. As he got close, it also closed its slender mouth, almost as if it was self-conscious about panting while being watched.

The creature almost seemed to shimmer as it took a step towards him. It looked something like a dog or young wolf, he wasn't sure, but it didn't act quite like any canine he'd ever seen. There was something different in the way it moved and the bold intensity in which it watched him. It didn't seem frightened, just curious. 

Ever-so-slowly, Vargas reached out his hand towards the creature, ready to pull his hand away at the first sign of aggression. Instead, the young wolf sniffed the offered fingers while its bright eyes watched Vargas’s own. After a moment of thoughtful deliberation, it licked his fingers sweetly as a pleased puppy might, and then nuzzled its soft head under Vargas's outstretched hand. 

In that moment, it made friendship seem so very easy. [...]"

This has certainly been a busy week, but it's a treat to be able to share all that I've been up to! Here's to hoping that next week is similarly awesome!

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