MaAH Illustration: Doppin


Initial digital sketch.


Beginning to ink the piece digitally.


Final image.

Yesterday, P.G. Holyfield released some exciting news about his novel, Murder at Avedon Hill. It's going to be published though Dragon Moon Press.  As a fan of the story (and friend of the author) I couldn't be happier for Patrick. As I've said upon numerous occasions, it's a wonderful story and it deserves any and all recognition it receives. So, big congrats! I can hardly wait for its new release. You can see the official press release here. He also released a special announcement episode, here.


I was going to wait to post this image when the corresponding episode of MaAH was released, but with the recent good news, I figured now was as good a time as any.

Patrick asked me a while ago if I would be interested in doing another image for one of the last chapters. I, of course, jumped at the suggestion. The image itself was left open to whatever scene I wanted to do. After refreshing myself on the events of the applicable chapters, I sent a few ideas off to Patrick. From that correspondence we decided on this image (as to prevent any major spoilers of the plot).

For this illustration I decided to do the whole thing digitally. This method worked well for the last MaAH illustration I did, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to expand my digital art skills.

The first image is a rough concept sketch for what I had in mind. That was approved. I then moved on to the inking.  The great thing about working digitally, I found, was that if I made a mistake at any point, I could easily redo or adjust the image. In this case, I found that I had placed the arm in an awkward position.  I also noticed that the eye position was a bit off. So, I just moved everything around a bit until I was satisfied.

For coloring I shaded with sharp lines of different color shades rather than doing a blended shading. The only reason for this was that I hadn't really used that technique much and wanted more experience. Plus, I like the look. I also changed the color of the ink for the spirits from the original black to a light blue. This was done using a clipping mask layer (in Photoshop) under the ink layer. During the coloring of the spirits, I also found they needed more detail, so I added some swirls and additional line details. To get the spirits to look transparent, I filled them with color on a separate layer, then reduced the opacity of the layer.

The hardest part of the coloring, oddly enough, was the background. I was having trouble getting a texture and color that I really liked. After adding several textured layers and tweaking the color settings, I finally found a combination that I liked, while also matching the described scene in the story.

PfK Cover Illustration: Invasion!

The Backstory: Please see the first PfK cover I did, Rekindling Old Friendships. The Process: The idea for this cover started out very fuzzy. Mur's first thoughts were something along the lines of either Keepsie being given the key to the city or Palas in the grips of the other dimensional tentacle. As we talked it over, the tentacle idea was more appealing. So, running with that notion we bounced a couple of possible scenes around, finally settling on something with Keepsie looking into the portal as Ian gets pulled in by the beast and Light of Mornings flying in to battle. After finding the details of the scene in my handy copy of Playing for Keeps, I came up with the pencil sketch.

PfK 15 - Pencils

For the portal edges I wanted to try a method I had seen on some random comic where the portal was a bunch of perfect circles punched out of the fabric of space. For the beasts, I thought they needed to be kinda grotesque, with beady little evil eyes. Hopefully that came across. After getting the thumbs up from Mur, I proceeded with the inks.

PfK 15 - Ink

I choose to shade the beasts with stippling instead of hatching to give them a unique texture. I kept the same type of shading for the characters that I used in the previous pieces. This took a bit longer to do than the previous pieces because of all the detail. Thankfully, I could sit and stipple while watching TV - kinda like how people knit or whatever while watching TV. That's the great thing about stippling; you don't have to pay that much attention to what you're doing. It's quite relaxing in that sense.

PfK 15

And then there was the coloring... yeah... Can I tell you a secret? Coloring is my least favorite part of the process. I'm thinking a lot of it has to do with the fact that my eyes get sore looking at the computer screen for the time it takes to color a piece. That probably means I should take more breaks or something... ah well. At any rate, I was thinking on a Mars-esque color scheme, but I asked Mur what she had in mind before proceeding. Her color suggestions ended up being on par with what I was thinking. I actually found a photo of Mars and snagged some of the colors for the landscape. I then experimented with the colors for the beasts. Half a dozen color adjustments later I settled on the gray. The pink belly color fell nicely into place once that base color was sorted out.

I held off on coloring of the ink lines on this piece because I thought it looked better, more dramatic contrast and all that, with pure black lines everywhere. I did, however, make an exception with the background mountains and Light of Mornings' blast.

Additional Information: If you would like to see the über-sized version of this piece along with the PfK text and issue title added (J.C. Hutchins did a wonderful job integrating the image with the text, as always), you can download it here. I love the colors J.C. chose for the text. The bright greens and blues work really well. Also, the added detailing with the holes in the text is brilliant. :)

PfK 15 - Cover

If you are interested in listening to this story, the first episode can be downloaded for free at Playing for Keeps or at Or if you would rather read the story, go download the free PDF or purchase the book.

Technical Details Medium: Mixed Media (misc. black artist pens, PhotoshopCS2) Paper: Bristol Physical Size: 8.5in X 11in Digital Size: 8.5in X 11in @ 300dpi