Making of "Pterya"

Greetings, everyone ♥

Once again I return with yet another "Making of" post, this time starring an aceo of a very special creature from a game that tends to get me nostalgic: Valefor from Final Fantasy X. I figured some people might like to see how I created this fanart using my trusty Copic Markers :)

Ah, nostalgia. It's something strange, don't you agree? That odd kind of fondness for something you used to adore, but haven't dedicated your time to in ages, but as soon as you see it, you start to feel quite funny and can't help but smile, as all those wonderful memories return to you. That's how I felt when I saw that there was going to be a trading card event centering around Final Fantasy X.


Some may not know this about me, but I've actually used to be a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series and for many, many years it's accompanied me and my creativity. It was what I used to enjoy drawing most, but then various things happened (including the loss of a very special person) and suddenly thinking about it made me sad and...Well. I just stopped playing the games and largely avoided drawing fanart of it. Years went by, I found a new fandom which offered me the comfort I sought and I guess it also helped me heal a little bit, because as I said, when I saw that FFX-themed event, all I remembered were the good times I spent in that world. 

I fondly recalled the hours upon hours of playing Blitzball, grinding the levels of my team so even Yuna could one-hit enemies with a simple strike of her magic wand and of course the many beautiful places and all those intriguing characters. No, there was no question about it, I had to participate, I really wanted to draw some fanart. 

Before I knew it, I had painted the Mi-ihen Highroad, next followed a scene of the young Auron and Jecht in Besaid (which was rather amusing to paint, especially considering that back then I never imagined I was ever going to draw Jecht at all) and then...Well. I challenged myself.


The event had three categories, one being characters, another landscapes and the last was creatures&summons, which presented me with a problem: I never really drew monsters before :'D; Of course I could pick the easy way out and draw Shiva, but she's so popular, I was certain another participant of the event was going to draw her... That and I kinda wanted to draw Isaaru, after all he's of my favorite characters, but I already had an aceo for the characters-category, so what should I do? Well, the answer was: sneak said character in the background and put the focus on his summon! X'D

Conveniently I remembered the scene in Bevelle where the group encounters him and has to fight three of his summons: Grothia (Ifrit), Spathi (Bahamut) and Pterya (Valefor). With that idea in mind, I had found the perfect setting for my card ♥ After that, the rest went quick. I looked at many, many reference picture and immediately knew I was going to struggle with Ifrit's beast-like features and that it was going to be just difficult to draw Bahamut (and fit him Isaaru in one picture), that's why eventually I picked Valefor. Since it's a harpy-like creature with a rather human body, bird-like feet, as well as face and bat-wings it should be manageable.  


Anyhow, now that you know how and why I decided to draw Pterya, I'll let the pictures do the talking for me ♥  Of course, as per usual, I added some additional information in the captions :)


That's it for now, I hope you enjoyed reading my post and liked looking at the WIP pictures. As always, you can leave a comment if you like, I'd appreciate it :3 Thank you! ♥


Making of "Becoming A Grey Warden" & Review: ShinHan Pass

Good afternoon, everyone :)

Remember me? *laughs* I'll admit, I've been slacking a little when it comes to posting here on my blog, but those who follow me on Facebook may have seen that I was rather active drawing-wise. I plan on posting more often, though and I have some larger projects planned, so stay tuned >U<

For now, I'd like to present you with one of my most recent aceos - I'll include some WIP photos and I'll also talk a little about a new kind of paint I recently got a chance to try: ShinHan Pass.

 Some months ago, I heard of ShinHan Pass for the very first time - according to what people told me, it was supposed to be some kind of "hybrid paint", meaning that it has both, the transparent look of watercolor if used with lots of water and the opaque qualities of Gouache, if used with less. It sounded intriguing to me, even though at that point I did not have much experience with the latter (or rather, make that none at all. The only time I dabbled with Gouache was during an exam in school, when we had to make some concept sketches for an abstract painting with that paint, but I found it dreadful x'D Probably because 90 Minutes isn't enough time to get acquainted with a new medium, plus abstract art isn't necessarily my forte, either).

Time passed and a fellow aceo artist sent me some Gouache samples, upon which I gave them a try and painted this landscape. As it turned out, using this kind of paint was quite...Intuitive for me, it felt a little as though working with Acrylic colors, only that it dried faster, but also had the advantage of being water-soluble, which meant I didn't need to worry about the paint drying out on my palette. Now I'm really not that experienced in Acrylics, either, it's been years that I touched mine (though I want to change that if I have time! *laughs* Watching too many Bob Ross videos lately made me want to paint landscapes), but even so, I enjoyed painting with Gouache and also ordered a small starter kit, so I can practice with it some more in future. 

ShinHan Pass paints
My set of ShinHan Pass paints. The colors are so vibrant - I especially adore the "Linden Green" color, it reminds me of leaves in spring.

But let's get back to the actual subject of this blog post: seeing how other artists I know created such stunning and vibrant paintings with those ShinHan Pass paints, I really wanted to give them a try as well (those who know me, are aware that I'm generally quite the collector when it comes to different brands of colors) and fortunately, star-behind-the-moon agreed to share hers with me, so I was able to acquire a little set to start out with :) 

Even whilst creating swatches I was almost a little...Intimidated at first by how utterly vivid they were (you can't really see it on the photo, but the pink for example has such a bold shock-pink, much like neon tint of a highlighter) - that and they're really highly pigmented, hence it was enough to briefly dip the tip of my brush into the paint to have a full, intense shade of color.

There was only a teeny, tiny problem I was faced with...

Test swatches
Trying to mix a suitable "black".

...I didn't have my beloved Ultramarine Blue, nor Burnt Umber *laughs* See, I'm someone who doesn't like to use pre-mixed black or grey watercolor paint, so I always mix mine with those two colors, but without them, I needed to look for alternatives.

Here you can see some of my test-swatches where I attempted to mix black with either of the two blue and brown tones I had, but...Meh. Neither of both seemed to work, the closest I got was Cobalt Blue + Vandyke Brown (the first swatch), but it was too green-ish. But since my knowledge in color theory told me that red neutralizes green, adding some Permanent Red did the job :D

With my mixes prepared, I was ready to start sketching.

The sketch
I roughed out the proportion with red pencil and then refined them with normal pencil.

I decided to go for a simple portrait of my Dragon Age Origins OC Yasao to test my new paints and though usually I would prepare a sketch digitally, print it and then trace it, this time I worked in pencil (I need to practice to do this more often anyway >.>; I sometimes feel like I forgot how to sketch on paper, doing this in Photoshop instead is so much easier and makes me feel more secure. It has an "Undo" function and if I mess up, no one can see the "proof" of my failure - aka. there's no torn&crumpled piece of paper which has been tossed over my shoulder in frustration X'D). 


And oh my - I was SO happy with the sketch! o_o So I immediately took out my light table and traced the lines onto watercolor paper (Saunders Waterford High White, 190gsm, Hot pressed. I recently discovered this paper and I love it sooo much *O* it's so smooth and  since it's so thin, tracing my lineart on it is so easy ♥).  Silly me forgot to take a picture of the lines though *laughs* I'm sorry.


Below you can see my painting process and as per usual, I included some information on the single steps in the captions :)

"Becoming A Grey Warden" (February 2018)
"Becoming A Grey Warden" (February 2018)

And so it was done - here's the scan of the final drawing ♥
I can't even express how happy I am with the portrait - the eyes, especially, contain so much emotion, don't you agree? >///< In this scene, right before Yasao becomes a Grey Warden, she struggles with herself, she just saw two men die right in front of her very eyes and she knows there's a chance she might be next. Part of her thinks she deserves this fate, after all she failed her best friend, but another part of her tries to be strong, she tells herself, if she will survive, she'll dedicate the rest of her life to her new duty - and all of this is reflected in her gaze.

I also like how the blue light turned out >///> I must admit, I absolutely admire artists who can use such colored lighting effects, it's something I really want to practice a lot more, too.

As for the ShinHan Pass colors themselves...They behaved so well! Even though I was a little shocked still about how little paint I actually needed to mix my shades, I quickly got used to it and I believe I might just buy some more tubes sometime (I definitely need a dark blue, a dark purple and another brown for example).

I think next time I work with them, I'll try to take a little more advantage of their opaque abilities, my painting almost ended up looking like a standard watercolor painting. XD


Still, I do hope you enjoyed reading this post - leave me some feedback below if you like ♥  I'd really appreciate it.


Making of "How dangerous could it be?"

 Hello everyone :) It's been a while that I posted something here, but I'm back with yet another intriguing „Making-of“ post for you! We've had watercolors last time, alcohol markers (Copics) before that and today it's going to be all about colored pencils, a kind of medium I don't work with all that often and I'm still learning to use properly myself *laughs* I included not only WIP photos, but also a close look on how I create depth by layering various colors.

 The picture in itself is something very special to me as well and you'll find out more about why and what it's all about, too in today's post. So please, go on reading if you like :)

Come on, let’s at least see what’s in that cave. How dangerous could it be?”

“That’s also what you said when you found that supposedly deserted hornet’s nest, remember?” Yasao remarked with a small grin. “And the next moment you went running like a mad man, lest they not sting you.”

Tamlen laughed at that memory – he remembered all too well how he ended up jumping into a pond and how she had finally chased off the angry insects by boldly reaching for a blazing stick from their campfire.

“Well, I know you always have my back.” He replied softly. “Also… Isn’t it you who always wishes for an adventure and a challenging battle to go with it? That’s what may be waiting for us, you know? Do you really want to miss that opportunity?”

Eventually Yasao sighed and went on ahead.

“Fine, you won.”

Ready for coloring
The finished lineart and my drawing tools are all ready for coloring! At this point I already knew: his was going to take quite a bit.

 Maybe you're wondering what you've just read and the answer is simple: this is part of my fan fiction to my absolute favorite game, "Dragon Age: Origins", a brief section of the very first chapter to be precise ^_^
To those who've been following my art on FB for a while, it shouldn't be that surprising to hear that I've been writing a story about it (btw, just recently I crossed the 300-pages mark, which means the story's already a stunning 1.000.000+ words long o_o ...And I've only been writing it since around May last year *giggles*) and I figured, some illustrations for the story were in order.

 In February I finally finished the first sketch for the exact same scene you've just witnessed: in it, my own character, the elven warrior Yasao Mahariel and her childhood friend Tamlen discovered a mysterious cave which held a terrible secret that was going to change both their lives forever. It's a moment that kind of breaks my heart whenever I think of it, but I simply had to illustrate it.


On the photo above you can see that I printed the sketch out (its roughly A5-sized) and traced it onto larger (A4) paper using sepia ink. As I wanted the color scheme to be in largely brown, grey, green and yellow tones, the lines would thus merge beautifully with the colors.

Furthermore, you can see some of my additional tools on the first photo below: a block of emery paper for sharpening my pencils and a battery-powered eraser for getting rid of unwanted color and adding highlights.

As I've stated in the caption, coloring Tamlen's belts wasn't quite that simple, for I actually had to mix a large number of colors to get the right tone. The colors also included some “odd” colors, such as blue for where I wanted the light to hit the leather and green to dull the brown down a little and make it appear less red. Both are colors I used allover the picture, even on layers such as his skin. Using the same tones on the whole picture really helps to make it all “come together”. Below you'll see the order in which I applied the colors and how they actually looked on paper (you can click the image to see a larger version of it).

Layering various colors
Figuring out which colors to layer for getting the right tone for Tamlen's belts was a tad bit difficult, but fun :) It's all about experimenting and seeing what looks right.

 Now that you saw in detail how I mix the right color, you also know how I continued drawing the other areas. For each element I picked at least 3-10 different colored pencils and blended them by layering them very lightly. Sometimes people will also use tools like blending stumps to smudge colors or might add things such as paint thinner to blend them, but I did no such a thing here (although I DO want to try something like this in near future, I heard of some interesting stuff called “Zest-it” which is supposed to be great for that purpose, but I have yet to get my hands on a bottle of it).


In the picture gallery below you get to observe the various steps until I finished the drawing – read the captions for more information on the single images :)

"How dangerous could it be?" (August 2016)
"How dangerous could it be?" (August 2016)

 There you go! The scan of the final drawing ♥
I will admit, I'm fairly proud of it, it's the first time in forever that I worked with colored pencils on such a large scale – and I do plan on doing it again soon, there's this drawing of Zevran and Yasao that's waiting to be colored ^_^).

All together the coloring process took me a couple of weeks, but admittedly, there were large pauses in between (in which I worked on other things such as trading cards for other people or commissions). Still, there were many times where I felt like I was never going to finish it and was about to give up, but I'm so relieved I managed to finish the drawing in the end.


And that's it, now you know the entire drawing process :)I hope you enjoyed following it and will return next time I publish another “Making of" post. Comments are much appreciated, as always – thanks a lot for reading and have a great day!


Making of "Levant Shandaer"

Good day, dear friends and readers :)  I am very excited to present today's "Making of" post to you, as it's about a painting which means so much to me and I will admit that it's also one I am rather proud of.

As some of you may know, I participated in the OC Anthology artbook project , a book dedicated to "original characters", created by many wonderful artists. The character I chose for this artbook is one of my most beloved ones, the half-elven bard Levant Shandaer from my novel Broken.

In this article you will see how much planning and work is behind the final version that finally made it into the printed artbook. Please enjoy - and do feel free to comment.

I will confess, when I first applied to the project last year and eventually got in, I was rather...Intimidated. There were so many amazing arists with incredible skills and I was afraid my entry was...Well, going to be a little "pale" in comparison *laughs*. But I decided to give it my all, to see how far I can go and what I can do, if I put my mind completely to it. That's also why I planned on taking my time and giving each and every step, from the first draft to the final piece utmost care.In the end the whole painting took about one month to complete - you will soon see why. Let us begin with the "Making of - Levant Shandaer" - originally painted in winter 2015 and kept secret until today. ♥

Artwork draft
The final draft of the composition for the artwork.

The artwork was meant to depict a scene from Levant's life, so I took some time to contemplate how to represent him best. He's a wandering bard and also a fugitive in a way, so  I decided a scene from his journeys was going to be most suitable. Also, since I wanted him to look solitary and a little wistful, I intentionally refrained from drawing any other hints of company, be it human or in the shape of animals (although I did originally plan to place a bird on the branch and have him look that way).


It took quite some time until I finally got the composition I wanted - and as usual I did so by creating a rough sketch in Photoshop. It's easier for me to work digitally at this early stage, because the given software tools allow me to resize and shape the various elements of the picture better, until I am satisfied with it. Were I to work traditionally, it would mean having to erase and redraw a lot, or possibly having to redraft the entire piece and I want to save myself the frustration *laughs*. 


Once the composition was roughed in, I had it printed in color, twice, in fact. One print showed the drawing in its entirety, background, character and all, and the other had Levant alone, without a background, in full A4 size (thus, around two time larger than he was going to be in the actual piece). I don't usually do this, actually I always do one sketch of the whole drawing, but I wanted to pay close attention to every detail this time. That's also why the next part took twice as long, but was no less crucial: the pencilling stage.

I figured a digital sketch only would look "artificial", so it was rather important to me to do the actual drawing (which was later going to serve as the base for the watercolor-painting) traditionally, in pencil. Only after I finished the two seperate sketches, I scanned them, merged them and lo and behold - I had my final "lineart". But the real work was only just going to begin.


Click on the pictures below to see larger, more detailed versions of the drawings.

Color concept
This is the actual size of the color concept (700x500px).

Goodness gracious me. What have I done. So many details x.x

...One look at the finished sketch I'd printed and I already knew how difficult it was going to be to transfer it to watercolor paper. So, in order to procrastinate and avoid having to do this -- I mean, err, of course to properly prepare the painting (totally meant to write this, ignore the first part ^_^;;; ) I decided a color concept was in order. 

Now THIS is a step I will sometimes do, especially with large pictures  and those that have a complex light and color scheme. Planning ahead here makes it easier to pick colors later whilst painting (or drawing) and assures that I will get the mood right in the end. I create this concept in Photoshop as well, in a small thumbnail version, I don't pay attention to details here, the only important part is the mood I want to express. As you can see I went for autumn colors which would go nicely with Levant's clothes and the back-lighting was going to lend him a slightly unearthly "glow". He is, afer all, not entirely human.

The part that took forever
Tracing the image onto watercolor paper. My favorite part. NOT.

Alas, I could not avoid this step forever *laughs*. As tough as it was going to be, I had to transfer the sketch onto my watercolor paper at some point. Unfortunately for me, my watercolor paper seems to be extremly stubborn, however. Meaning: it's too thick for me to even be able to spot every line, thus clusters of details become blotchy dark spots on the paper.  That way, "tracing" ends up being actual redrawing. Well, it's not like it didn't take an enternity to draw this the first time, did it? Wait. It did. Oh. Great. *Sarcasm on*


After I fiiiinally finished the tracing-part and put away my light-table, I briefly contemplated whether I should ink the drawings or leave it be - but in the end the latter was my choice, simply because erasing the pencil after inking was otherwirse going to "injure" the surface of the watercolor paper (and I swear it absolutely wasn't because I didn't feel like retracing every single line AGAIN *coughs*). 

Now the painting took me on a brief quest to our basement, seeking fo a nice wooden board - why, you may wonder? Well, to secure the paper onto it, of course! Masking tape does that job quite well - it doesn't only create a nice white "frame" at the edges afterwards, but it also makes the paper buckle a little less when water is applied.


In the following galery you will see the complete painting process from the first washes 'til the finishing touches. Commentary on the single steps is included in the captions.

And there you have it. The final painting.

It was a long way until I finished it in early January 2016 and my, it was quite some experience. I learned so much whilst painting it, also since I had not worked on such a large format in quite some time... And to tell the truth, there were many moments when I wanted to give up or thought it wasn't going to be any good, but in the end it was worth every moment I spent on it.


Honestly...Now, that I can hold the artbook in my hands and browse through the pages, seeing all the beautiful drawings everyone did, I can't help but smile. Everyone did so well - and in the end my fear that my drawing might be not "impressive" enough, didn't come true either. I was so happy when the other artists, many of whom I admire, complimented me on my painting. And although I really don't often say this, I am really proud of myself. I challenged myself to do my best and I managed to create a painting which I never thought possible. Of course I still have a lot to learn and my style is far from "perfect", but I can wholeheartedly say that I am happy about my painting ♥


Now, enough sentimental blabbering *laughs* I hope you enjoyed this little insight behind my painting and I would appreciate it if you leave me a comment, either here, or on my facebook page what you thought of it :)
Thanks for reading, and see you soon!



Making of "Takio Kadan"

Greetings, my dear readers ♥ I'm back, with yet another "making-of" post, showcasing the creation of one of my most recent aceos, this time starring my sweet OC, the one and only Taki--- err, Hidetomo *laughs*
This handsome mage from my novel Broken is quite distinctive, thanks to his pretty markings, his yellow eyes and his fondness for folding fans, as well as kimono - but this time, I thought of something special. Instead of drawing the patterns for the fabric, I created them using origami-paper, using a technique I learned from a friend.

Hidetomo - Sketch
This is the sketch I did of Hidetomo, and of course he's holding one of his pretty folding fans. ♥

Ah, my Hidetomo - it's always a pleasure to draw him! I don't know how many drawings I did of him, but I think amongst the characters of my novels, I probably drew him the most (and he's only rivaled by my darkelven main character Vyon).

Naturally, I also wanted to dedicate an aceo to him again, so I quickly decided on a simple, but elegant pose and found a setting befitting my precious Hide: a garden, with a waterfall behind him, some rocks here and there... Yes, I figured, this would create the perfect atmosphere, without stealing the viewer's attention from him (he hates that, you know? *laughs* He always wants the attention to be on him, and him alone :P).


Once the sketch was done, I contemplated how I was going to color it - and there I remembered a talk I previously had with my friend Sakaki. She had told me of how to use pattern paper effectively in creating aceos - and since I have a large collection of origami paper (because I love folding paper cranes ♡), I wanted to give it a try as well.

In the gallery below you can observe the creation process in its entirety - and let me tell you, it was painstaking! The lineart and the coloring was the easy part really, but having to cut out every single section, each one at a time, then picking the perfect piece of paper and glueing it in place from behind the card was quite tedious. But I believe the ultimate result was worth all the cussing, the sticky fingers and the near despair (because once I thought I cut too far and ruined it 😅).
Still, I don't think I'll be repeating this anytime soon *laughs* But painting in watercolor will be nice too, am I right?


Aaanyway ♥  That's it! I hope you enjoyed today's post - as always, feel free to write a comment.


Making of "Only half the truth"

Hello everyone :) Today I have something new for you - I added a new category to the art section of my page, called "Making of..." documentaries & Tutorials". I did this, because many people on my FB artpage requested to see more WIPs of my art and since I often take photos whilst drawing or painting anyway, I will show you the step for step pictures here from now on.

Today I'll start with my latest aceo of my dear samurai OC ♥ You will not only get some background information about him and my ideas for the drawing, but you'll be able to see the drawing progress. I hope you enjoy it - and do tell me what you think, if you like.

old sketch
The old sketch of Seiichiro (done in January 2015)

It all started last year, in January 2015 with this rough sketch. I was thinking of what I could draw as my first aceo and made some doodles -  and this was the second idea I had (the first being a drawing of an yuki onna, which I also turned into an aceo last year). It's a rather symbolic illustration of my Youkai OC Seiichiro showing something that greatly shapes his story: the two sides of his soul.

You have to know, Seiichiro is no common samurai, he's been cursed by a vengeful fox spirit and ever since then his soul has been tainted by the ghost of an oni. This demon lives within him and whilst it expanded his lifespan, it is also slowly devouring his soul... Should it one day disappear, Seiichiro will be no more - and the oni will take over his body completely. Quite the terrible fate, hm?

A rough sketch of the new and revised composition (drawn in October 2015)

Anyhow, I discarded the sketch at first - it was too plain and boring, as it was only a portrait.. But many months later I came back to it - I still liked the idea quite a bit, albeit the empty background bothered me a lot (and my, had my drawing style changed).

See, I've never been fond of single-colored BGs and I had developed quite an obsession with details, so I made some changes to the composition. Now "mortal" Seiichiro wore his hair bound in his usual pontytail and I also added a ginkgo tree on each side of the sketch. I wanted one to be alive and with full foliage, whilst the one beside Seii's demon-self barely had any leaves left... I think I don't need to explain what this was supposed to mean, hm? It's quite self-evident that it stands for his fading life.

Why ginkgo, you may ask though: it's simple: they say that the gingko tree is considered to have a life prolonging effect and that's why I've always associated my dear samurai with this tree (I also once drew him in a kimono wearing a ginkgo pattern for the same reason).

I was quite happy with the new composition and I also decided to keep the black and white idea for the background - not only did it serve as a nice contrast for Seii's dark hair, but it had something nice and yin & yang-ish *laughs* It really suited his struggle between "good and evil" so well.

As I finished the sketch, I next printed it and with some help of my light table and a pencil, I transferred it to some special marker paper, because I planned to color it using Copic markers. But since the sketch would smudge, I took some ink liners and 'inked' the lineart and erased the pencil sketch. You can see the final lineart below - and as you can also see very well I had no yet cut the aceo apart, I only did so after I finished the basic skin coloring.

Mind you, usually I am strictly against cutting "Maxis" (aceos that are twice the regular size) and refrain from doing this, but for Seiichiro I made a special exception - it simply adds to the meaning of the drawing. To cut the portrait apart shows how his soul is torn and there are two entirely different sides of him: the calm and honorable Seiichiro versus the fierce and cold-blooded oni... And still, though both halves are complete opposites, only together they make a whole - thus also the title "Only half the truth".


Long story short, here is the complete drawing process captured in photos - have fun looking at them! ♥
And with this, I also wrap up today's post. I hope you enjoyed reading this - if you wish to, you can write me a comment and tell me what you think of the drawing and the WIP photos! I'd be much obliged :)