Wednesday, December 28, 2005


I suppose I really am not that great a blog writer, I don't update anywhere near as often as I should but I'm going to start trying to update a little more often.

So I've been seriously sculpting lately, I really do seem to have found the medium I work best in. I still draw and paint but I'm definitely not as good at that, my theory is that 3 dimensions is easier for me to work in than 2. With a drawing I can't rotate it to see it from a new angle. You can check out my Sculpture Gallery to see all my finished sculptures.

Mostly I've been working with a mixture of Super Sculpey and white and black Premo Sculpey to get a nice nuetral grey color. Plain super sculpey is a translucent beige pink, the translucency makes fine detail difficult to see sometimes.

This is my most recent work in progress sculpture a wood nymph, she still has a ways to go, the hands need work, the feet don't have toes yet, and a few other things still are unfinished.

As sort of an offshoot of my sculpting I plan to try casting copies of my sculptures in resin. I'm still waiting on my materials to be delivered but as soo as they are this will be the first piece I attempt to cast.

My hope is to sell some of them, whether or not that works I'll have to wait and see but I hope it works.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


I'm sure by now everyone has seen the damage caused by Katrina. I want to add my voice to the many advocating donating to charity. Donate to the Red Cross or other reputable charites and please be careful of scams. I've already recieved a few spam emails that say they are about the disaster that I'm pretty sure are viruses or phishing scams.

I also want to encourage anyone reading this in the United states to contact your senators or representatives and urge them to overhaul FEMA. The delay in getting those desperate people food, water, and medicine verges on criminal in my opinion. FEMA and the Homeland Security department must be more prepared for emergencies like this. Natural disasters occur all over the country and are always a matter of when, never if, we should be more prepared whether it's hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards or anything else mother nature throws at us. I remember the ice storm that hit the Northeast in 1998 and I thought that was bad being without power or heat for 2 weeks in the winter but at least I had food water and shelter, many of the victims of Katrina don't have that. They deserve better, all human beings deserve better.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Simulated Nature

I love animals, I have practically a miniature zoo with dogs, cats, goats, rabbits, chickens, a gecko, and recently fish. It's the fish I want to talk about. Now with most of my pets I try very hard to prevent them from having babies. My dogs are spayed and nuetered, my male cat is nuetered and none of them including the females ever go outdoors, I only have female goats and only one gecko. The fish and the chickens are the only ones that I want to have young.

So far while my hens lay eggs and I'm sure the roosters are doing their part I have no chicks because I don't own an incubator and evidently instict has yet to kick in with my hens because they aren't setting on the eggs at all. My only success showed up today, right now there are a number of tiny baby guppies in my aquarium and looking at the mother guppy more on the way.

I was really worried about my guppies, of the 8 guppies my brother bought me all but the mother guppy has since died. Most likely because they are feeder guppies that are meant to be food for other fish not pets so I don't trust the conditions of the tank they were kept in in the pet store since most of them died within a day in my tank while of the other fish I bought only one of my tetras has died and that one I know died after fighting with the other tetra and not from anything wrong with my tank. The tetra and the skirt are actually thriving, both have gotten bigger the skirt in particular has trippled in size in the two weeks since I got him/her.

Aquariums are much different than how most pets are kept. Dogs and cats don't live in anywhere near their natural environment (dogs are decended from wolves and cats from small african and probably also european wildcats). Aquariums however are meant to somewhat mimic nature, you put in rocks, shells, and either real or artificial plants (I picked real and they are so far still quite small), a filter so both keep it clean and give it some current. While not quite natural it's the closest most people can get to seeing the way fish act short of going diving so you can really watch the life cycle of fish in an aquarium. In the two short weeks I've had my fish I've seen the whole range, death, feeding, fighting, mating, and now birth. As I learned to my surprise guppies don't lay eggs, it's live birth! I was really surprised by that. Needless to say my aquarium is here to stay and I'm off to go take photos. Expect to see some photos once I get the film developed.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Two Noadis

Creating a fantasy world is a learning experience and one thing I've learned is that you can't hold on to what doesn't work. The problem with Shaman is that what is currently in the game is diverging from the fantasy world more and more. At this point going back and changing major parts of the design document for the game isn't practical but Noadi is no longer the same in both the written fantasy world and the world of the RPG.

In the RPG Noadi has lavender hair and a falcon companion. However while both of those things work beautifully in the game they don't work in written fiction. Lavender hair while it looks cool as artwork is just silly to explain in a story. I have absolutely no experience with birds of prey and that's okay in the RPG where plausible raptor behavior does matter too much but it makes it impossible for me to believably write about as a major character. As a result Noadi is almost like two characters now. I'm not sure how this change will work so it should be interesting.

Edit: I almost forgot, I'm 23 today. Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Budding Entrepreneur?

Well maybe.

Starting as soon as possible I'll be selling some of my sculpted pendants and beaded jewelry at a local florist and landscaping shop. Now I know that sounds a bit odd but I'm crossing my fingers that it will work, I really could use a little extra money. Now I don't intend to make a huge profit, just enough to cover my art supplies which are pricey and if I can make at least some of what I make pay for itself it will be worth it.

This it a terrible web cam photo of one of my pendants. If any of you wonder why I'm not attempting to sell on Ebay the quality of my camera should explain it.

Wish me luck!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Tools for drawing in ink.

So my last tutorial was on pencil drawing materials and this time we'll focus on inking supplies. Some of the drawing supplies apply here as well (refer to Drawing Materials for details on them), rulers, templates, scanner and software if you plan on displaying online. Most people prefer to ink over pencil lines as well so for your base drawing you'll need pencil drawing materials as well with the exception of blending tools.


There are quite a few options for pens that you have on what to use for inking, I'll list the pros and cons of each option.

Dip Pens: These are quite old fashioned pens but still are wonderful for drawing. You buy the holder and nib(the pen point) separately, this means you can have one or two holders for a wide variety of pens. The nib is loaded with india ink from a bottle (it must be india ink not fountain pen ink) either by dipping the pen right in the bottle or by applying the ink to the nib with a brush (much less messy). Dip pens can give a very wide range of line thicknesses just by pressing harder or lighter with the pen which makes for some beautiful ink effects. Also india ink is waterproof, non-bleeding, acid-free and non-fading. The disadvantages to dip pens are that they take some setting up (you have to get all the materials, put the pen together, load it with ink, and refill the nib often), they can be very messy since it involves lots of liquid ink, the nibs are pointy steel so you have to be careful of poking yourself, and they are not very portable.

Drawing Pens: Under this heading is a wide variety of pens and prices, some refillable, some disposable, and come in many line sizes. What they all have in common is durable, lightfast(won't fade), acid free, waterproof ink. They are very convenient if you don't like the prep time that dip pens require and they don't have the potential to cause as much mess, they are also quite portable. The downside to them it even if you buy several different sized pens you can't get the line variation that you can with dip pens. My reccomendations for affordable pens is Faber-Castel Pitt Pens, Zig Millenium Pens (I actually bought a pair of these in the scrapbook aisle in Walmart's craft department, I was quite surprised to find them since they are a quality pen), and Sakura Pigma Micron Pens.

Gel Pens: These are quite common pens, available in many colors and with nice thick opaque ink. They are very affordable you can buy them just about anywhere some are even acid-free and light fast. The disadvantages are the pen points sometimes clog up, there's no line variation, and they aren't waterproof. I wouldn't reccomend these for most art, but they are wonderful for doodling and the colored gel pens can be used for small accents in drawings.

Ballpoint Pens: These are the pens you see most often everyday for writing. There is a wide variation in quality of ballpoint pens, I'd only reccomend the nicer ballpoint pens (such as pilot) for any type of drawing. They are affordable and great for doodling and practice. However they sometimes bleed, are rarely lightfast, many aren't acid-free, and aren't waterproof.

Markers: There are several types of markers to consider, the first are art markers. These are usually acid free and lightfast but rarely waterproof and often are quite pricey, however it you enjoy large areas of ink they can be a good choice. The second type are permanent markers like sharpies, these aren't meant for art they aren't acid-free or lightfast and often bleed quite a bit. The third are childrens markers such as crayola, these are great only for little kids to play with not anything you want to really last.

Brushes: Okay so these aren't technically pens but you still use them for applying ink. Like dip pens you use them with bottles or india ink. You use them much like you would with paint. They can cover large areas with ink quickly. The disadvantages are that they can be very messy, aren't very portable, and they are probably the hardest to learn to get controlled lines with. I prefer using brushes with dip pens (pens for the lines, brush for filling in areas).

Fountain Pens: There are two types of fountain pens now. The first type is about the same as the refillable artist pens I mentioned, these have ink cartridges that you buy to replace the empty ones in the pens. The difference is that they have a nib similar to a dip pen. The other kind is very old fashioned and you fill by hand with liquid ink, not many of this sort are still made. Most fountain pens being sold new are intended for calligraphy (fancy writing) not drawing but I thought I'd include it anyway since some of them can be used for drawing. You have to use special fountain pen ink with them. The disadvantages are that they can be hard to find and they can be messy.


The following section is about inks, these are for use with brushes or dip pens. Of course you can buy prefilled pens with different inks in them if you want to try colored inks as well. There are also fountain pen inks in a variety of colors but I'm not familiar with those so I can't really cover them.

India ink: India ink is a rich dark black ink, it's waterproof which makes it perfect for going over with watercolors or thinned colored ink after it's dry. Chinese ink is very similar to india ink and has the same basic properties and most of the same ingredients. There are also some colored varieties of india ink as well but the term is usually used for the black ink.

Walnut Ink: This is a beautiful old fashioned brown ink, it's not waterproof but nice if you want to give your work an aged feel.

Acrylic Inks: These are waterproof, lightfast, colored inks that can be diluted with water to get lighter shades.


Pretty much any paper can be used for inking. Markers and some ballpoint pens will bleed on softer papers so always test on a corner before using. Bristol board and other illustration boards are most popular for crisp inking such as comics or detailed illustrations.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

On Death and Family Love

I usually want to keep my blog about issues related to my art and world development but something in the news has grabbed my attention because it hits so close to home.

This case of Terri Schiavo brings up lots of questions, I won't comment on the particulars of that case since there is more involved than simply whether she or her husband as next of kin should be able to make that decision. The question I'm concerned with is should someone have the right to end medical care for themselves or their next of kin or should everything be done to keep someone alive who is dying? I come down firmly on the side of patients and families deciding that question not the government.

January 2004 my grandfather passed away after a long illness. He was one of the lucky ones, polls say that 70% of people would choose to die at home while only 25% actually do. My grandfather died at home with my grandmother next to him and since everyone knew he was dying the whole family had a chance to say goodbye before the end. My grandfather could probably have been kept alive for a few more weeks but niether he nor the rest of my family wanted that. It was more important to him and us that he be at home surrounded by the familyhe loved than alone in a hospital hooked up to a respirator. Everyone dies eventually and we never can know how or when for sure, the best we can hope for is to be with those we love when it happens and if that means dying a few days or weeks or months sooner than I'd rather die sooner and happy than later and alone.

My grandfather was lucky and I feel sad that Terri Schiavo won't get that. Her parents and husband will be fighting until the moment she passes away rather than surrounding her with their love even if she isn't aware of them.

Friday, February 25, 2005

World Building Fun

Okay so I've been caught up in other stuff and haven't been able to write up the inking material tutorial yet, I promise I will I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Instead here's a little peak into my world building efforts, it's a write up I've been working on about Noadi's village and general area.

Sheltered Meadows
Like many villages in the western forest Sheltered Meadows is largely self-sufficient, they produce their own food, clothing, tools, and has a blacksmith, midwife, and shaman. Trade with neighboring villages and the occasional itinerant trader supply whatever else they can't produce themselves.

Contact with the outside world is rare for Sheltered Meadows and the other villages, the mountains to the east are difficult to travel through so what news that comes through is treasured. The isolation has been more total in the past dozen years since the plague swept over the continent killing indiscriminately about a quarter of the population and nearly crippling the small villages of the western forest.

Currently there are about 20 families living in the village, most have lived there for generations except for 3 families from a nearby village that was all but wiped out by the plague and the young apprentice shaman who's parents came from over the mountains.

The Western Forest
The western forest covers about 30,000 square miles of the western side of the continent. To the west is the sea where there are a handful of fishing villages but the lack of good harbors limits the number and to the east are the mountains with their few passes, most travelers come from the south where there is a small marshy plain and several large fishing communities and sea access to the rest of the continent.

The western forest itself is a temperate forest consisting of a large number of conifers and hardy deciduous trees. Villages are widely spaced and largely self-sufficient, living in cleared meadows raising a few crops and livestock, and supplimenting what they raise with wild game and plants harvested from the forest.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Drawing Materials

This blog entry may eventually turn into a tutorial on my website. If you got here from Noadi's Pixels you've probably seen the poll on it, if you got here through the Shaman website or some other means go check it out the poll is also repeated at the bottom of this page.

So I wanted to go over my drawing process since I occasionally get questions on it. Now I really draw in two ways, first in pencil of course and also in pen and ink. I'm going to start with materials for pencil drawing, my next entry will describe my actual drawing process and then pen and ink.

Pencil Drawing Materials

You're materials have a direct impact on how good your final product will be, this doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money on them just buy quality where it matters. Drawing is a simple cheap hobby.

Important Tools

Pencils: There are many drawing pencils out on the market and I really don't use any of them. I have two types of pencils that I use most. The first is a mechanical pencil with .5 mm HB leads don't but the really cheap disposable mechanical pencils get a decent ones with lead refills, mine are Papermate Cleat Points. The other pencils I use are Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencils, which in my opinion are some of the best out there but any quality wood pencil will work (never buy cheap pencils with fake wood casing they are very poor quality). Both can be bought anywhere that sells office supplies. I have some fancy drawing pencils that were given to me as a present by my aunt but I don't use them as often as my regular pencils.

Kneaded Eraser: These are wonderful things and the best friend of pencil artists. A kneaded eraser is a grey tacky rubbery putty-like substance, the great thing about them is that these can be pulled apart into any size you want and shaped into many useful shapes. You can erase with them normally or lightly scrub or press with them to only lighten an area of pencil.

Vinyl Eraser: These are some of the cleanest erasers you can get, they really lift the graphite out of the paper. This doesn't mean you can press really hard with you pencils because while it lifts graphite well it can't get rid of the indents in the paper that pressing too hard can leave.

Blending Stumps: These resemble double ended pencils and are made of tightly pressed typically gray paper. They are used to blend pencil tones. The fine points help achieve more detail, they come in various sizes and are extremely inexpensive (I bought a pack of 12 in 4 sizes for a little over $2).

Tortillons: These are tapered rolls of paper, you can buy them or make them. They are similar to blending stumps and are used in much the same way, the difference is that they don't have as fine a point so the detail possible with them is a bit limited.

Rulers and protractor: You rarely see straight lines in nature but man-made structures have lots of straight lines and angles. I have several rulers because I seem to collect them but the most useful are the 12 and 18 inch ones. I also have triangular rulers and a protractor for getting angles right. A simple school/kids geometry set is fine. I usually use these for setting up my perspective lines since I rarely draw buildings or furniture.

Brush: A cheap 1 inch craft paintbrush (you can get them for less than a dollar at craft stores), use this for cleaning graphite dusts and bits of eraser off your paper. Using you hand can smudge the drawing and deposit oil from your fingers on the paper.

Pencil sharpener: Doesn't need to be fancy just a good sturdy one with a sharp blade. Electric sharpeners are wonderful but a plain manual sharpener is okay or even a sharp knife (though I don't recommend using a knife).

Optional tools

Light Box: I use a Fiskars Lightboss which I bought cheap at walmart for about $18, it's intended purpose was for embossing and other scrapbook making stuff but a lightbox is a lightbox and other brands can be very expensive. You can also build one there are lots of plans online for them, here is one Perfect for tracing preliminary sketches onto your final drawing paper.

Masking Tape: If you are using a lightbox or like your work not to move around you need masking tape. It's best to test the tape on a piece of scrap paper before using it. If it damages the paper you can still use it but remove some of the adhesive by sticking it to your clothes or other piece of fabric. Artists masking tape is a little pricier than the kind you find at the hardware store but it's pretty much guaranteed not to damage paper.

Gloves: If you like to smudge with your fingers wear gloves or finger cots, the oils from your hands can discolor your paper. Mine are plain old latex lab gloves, if you have a latex allergy you can find synthetic rubber gloves pharmacies often stock them. Finger cots are sold at art stores, they are basically just latex finger covers, if you prefer them you can also make them by snipping the fingers off gloves.

Templates: These tools can save you time but really aren't necessary, they are french curves, circles, ellipses, etc.

Sandpaper: Use the extra fine variety to get exactly the point you want on your pencil or to clean stumps and tortillons. You can also use scrap paper for this instead which is why I listed it as optional but sandpaper does work a bit better than scrap paper.

Tissues, paper towels, cotton swabs, felt, pastel shaders: These are all other blending tools, that you can use. Tissues (no lotion dyes or scents), paper towels (no dyes) and cotton swabs can be picked up almost anywhere. Craft stores will carry sheets of felt, buy white ones (to better see how much graphite is on it) and cut it down to sizes comfortable for you. Pastel shaders are tools sold at art stores for use with oil pastels but work just as nicely with pencil.

Scanner and graphics software: If you want to display your work online this is a must. I have a Lexmark All-in-One printer/scanner that cost about $85, it's not top of the line but it works fine for me. What scanner you choose is completely up to what you want and what your budget can afford, so shop around.

Eraser shield: This is a thin steel sheet with various shapes cut into it, it works like an erasing stencil. They are very inexpensive (under a dollar) but the shape are limited, thin plastic sheets with shapes cut into them and stencils can also be used if you need other shapes.

Powdered graphite: I've never used this so I'm only going by what I've heard about it. As the name implies it's a graphite dust and is usually applied with the fingers (remember never bare fingers), a rag, or cotton swap, it's most often used for soft loose drawing or tonal work. If you have breathing problems you should use a dust mask with this stuff.

Conte, carbon, pastel, chalk and charcoal pencils: These are other non-graphite pencils that are sometimes used. I have almost never used them (chalk and charcoal is quite messy for one reason) but it's completely up to you, you can get very different and attractive looks to your work with them.


You paper is the base of your drawing, your choice will affect the overall look of it. First some definitions of the different properties of paper.

Acid-Free, PH neutral or Archival Quality: Acids break down over time which causes paper to discolor and deteriorate, if you want your work to last choose papers labeled acid free, pH neutral, or archival.

Fiber: Cotton and cellulose (wood pulp) are the two most common fibers used in paper. Cotton papers are the highest quality papers. Cellulose fibers naturally contain acid, better quality cellulose papers are buffered to neutralize the acid content, they can still deteriorate but they last far longer than non-buffered papers. Combination papers are a mix of cotton and cellulose and are a mid-grade quality paper, usually labeled multipurpose like pastel and charcoal papers, bristol board, and student grade watercolor paper, they have good lasting quality but not quite as good as 100% cotton. There are specialty papers made from other materials like rice paper, mulberry, kozo, or even synthetic papers like yupo.

Tooth: This describes the surface of the paper. These have various descriptions like plate, vellum, smooth, rough, hot press, cold press. Experiment to find the ones you prefer.

Weight: This is determined by measuring how much one ream weighs or the grams per square meter (gsm). These determine how thick the paper is, the thicker the paper is the more expensive but also the stiffer and more durable. For pencil drawing any weight higher than 60lb or 98gsm is good.

Types of Paper

Watercolor paper This paper works equally well for drawing and painting. It comes in 3 surfaces, rough which has a very pronounced surface, cold press with has a nice texture (most economical or student papers come in this finish), and hot press(the most expensive usually). 140lb(300gsm) is the most common weight, lower weights are fine to use as well, 300lb(640gsm) is a very heavy paper and while perfectly usable it's often quite expensive and for pencil isn't really an improvement over 140lb.

Sulphite Drawing Paper This is what is commonly found in sketch pads. It's a good drawing paper (make sure it's acid-free of course) though usually of a fairly light weight such as 60lb(98gsm).

Newsprint Best for practice and preliminary work since it's typically very lightweight and not acid free.

Printer/Typing Paper This is just the plain paper for use in computer printers. Cheap and perfect for practicing.

Bristol and Illustration Board This comes in several weights and two surfaces plate(smooth) and vellum(rough). They are truly multipurpose papers, and my absolute favorite to use.

Pastel and Charcoal Papers These are a medium weight paper that often comes in a variety of soft colors in a vellum surface. The colors are the main attraction of these papers.

Specialty papers These are papers such as rice paper, bark paper, papyrus. Most of these are not acid free so always check before buying them. They usually have very unique and beautiful textures, unfortunately they are often also pricey.

Other Comments
Like I said before you don't have to spend lots of money on drawing supplies, these tips are mostly on how to save money.

Spend your money where is counts, on your paper. Practice paper can be nice and cheap but for pieces you want to last buy the good stuff.

Be somewhat organized. You don't need to be a neat freak with your pencils all sorted by size and color, just keep your stuff in about the same place. I have a couple cheap sets of rubbermaid drawers that I keep most of my supplies in, and a small plastic bin with all my pencils, eraser, etc in it. If you have some idea where your stuff is you won't have to rebuy things. In particular if you have kids or younger siblings keep kneaded erasers away from them, they are too much like silly putty so little kids love to play with them and little kids are always losing things, I've lost a few erasers to my little cousin.

Avoid fancy boxed drawing sets. You're paying for the packaging as much as the supplies and half the time you'll never use half the stuff in them. There are good drawing sets out there for good prices and they can be a good option for someone just starting to get serious about drawing. The good sets are usually the simplest looking ones, in plain cardboard packaging. If it's in a tin or wood box you might be getting good materials but you'll be paying too much for them.

Safety is important. Drawing isn't as hazardous as other mediums such as painting but it has it's problems. Graphite chalk, and charcoal dust can aggravate asthma, allergies and other breathing problems, if you have any either draw in a well ventilated area or wear a dust mask. Keep all art supplies away from small children and pets, they can be injured from choking on erasers and other small objects or from being poked by the sharp end of a pencil.

Store you finished artwork that isn't on display in a clean dry place. I keep mine in either a large portfolio folder or laying flat in my desk drawer, nothing else goes in that drawer except artwork and blank paper. Framing can be very expensive but archival plastic sleeves can be bought much cheaper and is a good alternative. Of course never pin your good artwork directly to the wall (save that for roughs and photocopies), put it in a plastic sleeve and pin the sleeve to the wall.

Give me you opinions, vote in the poll or leave a comment.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Art in progress

Okay, I can never finish one project before starting another so I've got several art projects going at once right now and I thought I'd share them with you.

"Searching for Sea Dragons" is actually a series of pieces, one each in pencil, ink, and watercolor. The pencil version is finished, the ink is on progress, and I haven't started the watercolor.

"Untitled" so far anyway this doesn't have a title. It's a pencil portrait of Noadi, experimenting with a new style. So far I have no background done but she'll be looking up at some migrating gryphons.

"Lady Portrait" This is a watercolor portrait of Lady the bluetick hound I had growing up, since she's no longer with us I based this on a photo.

Artist Trading Cardss, so far I've only done this one. But ATCs are pretty cool, their miniature works of art done on 2.5x3.5 inch paper to be like trading cards. They're quick, fun, and you're supposed to trade them with other artists, so if you've made an ATC that you would like to trade with me, drop me an email.