Networking with the Ditch Diggers

Over the summer, on a warm moist night in the backwoods of Ohio, there was a castle surrounded by fireflies. There was also myself, Mur Laffery, Matt Wallace, and a delightful studio audience. We had a nice chat about networking for creatives and virgin goats, among other things. No fireflies were harmed in the making of this podcast. Probably. I take no responsibility for the actions of the delightful studio audience. They were all very nice people so I assume they treated the fireflies with respect despite the bugs' tendencies to bonk into faces. It was totes magical.

 

You can listen to the episode over at the Ditch Diggers site.

 

Huge thanks to Mur and Matt for having me on the show. It was a honor and I hope our wordy words are helpful to those struggling with how to connect with others.

T'was the Night Before...

T’was the night before,They came without a sound, Scurrying across the yard, In little green pointed hats, Barely visible above frost covered blades of grass.

Doors and windows tightly latched, To keep out the cold and the damp, Did not hamper their entry nor bar their path.

With ruthless elegance and terrible grace, evilelves They found the milk and three delicate cakes, And finished them off with a quick snap and gulp of many sharp teeth.

They liked the cake, And they liked the milk, But that is not why they had come. No, they had come for the little ones.

Sensing their quarry, fast asleep in bed, They swarmed into the quarters aloft, Shaking with excitement they scampered and crawled, To the first room that held a child, tender and soft.

Slowly they clawed open the door, Careful not to make even the slightest of sound. Her serene breaths, so thick and sweet, Were lapped up with eager tongues, gleefully.

Working quickly now they infested her bed, And with a single rough whisper, Wrapped her mind in a web.

As they raised their blades to sever her soul, They faltered in their task ever so. For a fear grew in their dark awareness, That sent their black hearts into distress.

A faint jingling seeped into the air, Freezing them in a wide eyed scare, And as they helplessly glared, A ghostly form appeared to their despair.santaghost

He was as large and round as specters do come, With a hint of red and pale white hair, A grand wisp of long timeless beard, most handsome.

Floating beside the bed, To free the girl from the spell most foul, The spirit gently touched her upon head.

He then reached into his great pockets, As deep as the universe, above and below, And pulled out eight tiny horned bears, Each one wearing a tiny red bow.

With a predator’s grace they each took into their jaws, The immobilized creatures with spine crunching bites and deadly paws, And having finished their grave duty, Laid at their master’s feet the grisly booty.hornedbear

The specter, he grinned, with a proud nod, As he rewarded his pets with a gentle prod, And took each of the bodies in his large phantom hands, For they would soon form something grand.

He kneaded and crushed and pulled and squeezed The little forms into something a bit more pleasing. When he was finished he had before him a collection Of bright boxes filled with happiness and joy, He then gave to the horned bears the boxes so dear, To place for the young ones to find with smiles and cheers.

With his work all done, And all done well, He drifted out through the walls, To the faint sound of jingle bells.

With a sniff and a rub of his snout, He mumbled to no one in particular, “Merry Christmas to all, And to all an elf free night.”

Awesomeness: Nina Kimberly the Merciless

nina-cover-art300She's got a sword, a dragon as a friend, and she's pissed. If you like all your body parts the way they are, you better stay out of her way.

Nina Kimberly is having a bad day.

Why is she having a bad day? Well, for starters, her father, the ex-fearsome barbarian conqueror Marcus the Merciless (there was an incident with a gopher hole, don't ask) has decided to settle down in the cozy kingdom of Langia. Doesn't sound too bad, you say? What if the young idiotic king of Langia, Francis IX, somehow got the notion that Nina and him are the perfect royal match when all she really wants to do is chop his head off and stuff it where the sun don't shine? Except she can't. That would start a succession war, which, despite Nina's barbarian upbringing, would just be unacceptable.

So, what's Nina to do? No, not marry the icky king. What's wrong with you? Go on a quest of course! Unfortunately, the dorky Francis has decided that she cannot live without him so has deemed it necessary to tag along. To make matters worse, Francis has a spell slapped on him to alert the kingdom if something unpleasant were to happen to him.

Now Nina has to keep his idiotic butt safe as well. She's thrilled.

This witty tale by Christiana Ellis is now available on Amazon. It is also available as a freshly remastered podcast in addition to a free PDF version. Check out the Nina Kimberly the Merciless website to get updates and find out more about this extremely entertaining story. Go on, go get it already. I assure you, you won't be disappointed.

MaAH Illustration: Doppin

maah_image4_sketch

Initial digital sketch.

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Beginning to ink the piece digitally.

Doppin

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.

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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.