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Workshop

Advice, suggestions, tutorials and commentary from me to you.

I love having too many projects to do. Doing nothing but commission work can become overwhelming. Being able to disengage and switch into different modes and produce something that still aligns with my goals or progression is important to me. I have become so much more aware of the training and practice I have neglected.. Basic drawing mistakes I haven’t readily recognized. Things feel like they’re coming to a head now, because I feel like I’m trying to make up lost time. Trying to find some anchor points to not get overwhelmed has become important to my process and approach.

In this case, two things are aligning.
Happy with recent progress on form and structure basics, I’m moving to conquer my anxiety involving digital colouring. I love painterly effects, and I’d love to be able to align my capabilities to produce work like that. But, baby-steps first. One of those is capturing the basics of light and shadow lying on surfaces by using simpler cell-shading techniques. Since I’m also in need of updating my banners for Twitter, Facebook and business cards, I’ve redrawn my plate-wearing aarakocra with the crazy beaked mace for the occassion (the wings on the original creation from 2017 looked like what happens when you leave chicken far too long in the fridge).

Next step is Bob Rossing the new birb on the block.

I’ve got enough on my plate to last awhile now. The next Wednesday update may end up waiting a week or two.

*cracks knuckles*
Signing off, for now.


#weeklywednesdays

As I’ve mentioned, I am planning to reengage in a more well-rounded manner with my inner monsters – the ones that I have pop into my head during moments I spend drawing… eating, sleeping, pooping, walking, shopping… remarkably, a lot. So I took a day to get acquainted with NaturalCrit’s Homebrewery, a tool that formats tabletop roleplaying content in the style of the current D&D Fifth Edition ruleset, and converts to .pdf format.

You may have seen the creature I’m going to share here. It was a concept developed during #Orctober (or, #Orktober if you prefer) in 2017. I was sick with flu, home from work leafing through the Monster Manual, and in particular looking at the orc entries. Wandering later into the drow entries, I decided that it was a shame you could find a creature as chaotic and insidious as the drider, but amongst the orc- nothing comparable?

I recall sneezing several times, and then scrambling for pen and paper and feverishly scribbling out a really sad version of what I would later call the “orcorpian”, an orc torso blended with a scorpion’s body. It was a year later that I put together a creature stat-block concept that broke down the key pillars of the monster: orcish savagery mixed with an insectoid predator armored by chitin, pincers and an almost lethal poison. I drew the orcorpian two more times after that. This past weekend, as I started typing up the stat-block out using the Homebrewery toolset, I looked at the art I had done, and realized I needed to accurately reflect my current style, and started drawing it again:

It feels good to look back now and see where I stand today in my art progression (versus the previous version, part of my “#Inktober & #Orktober” post) . As you can tell, this is still a work in progress that I’m weaving into my schedule and weekends around my regular commission duties. I will eventually have something complete and embedded into that Homebrewery document to share with you all as a PDF either through a Patreon Creator account, the DMsGuild, or DriveThruRPG (I still have to look at the metrics before making that decision).

Doing this work has forced me to engage with it as more than just another drawing, but as something that needs story, a reason to skitter across a cieling, or burst out of false walls and covered pits at your player characters. As a long-time dungeon master, I’m thrilled to be doing this.

I can’t wait to finish it and share the link with you.
#weeklywednesdays

I’ve been neglecting my baby.

I haven’t been using this site as actively as I could, and I’d like to make today the start of a regular update schedule where I’ll be sharing content with you guys weekly. Hold me to that. I will art-dump all over you guys.

A freakish amount of change occured in late 2018: September 14th marked my last day in retail, officially closing that chapter of my life to begin work doing what I love: full-time, freelance art. I made a bunch of headway getting my art to stand out in front of thousands on my various social media platforms, (FB, Twitter, Instagram), and there I connected with two long-term content creators who seriously loved what I produce, and have been clients since May 2018. One of those creators, Caley McCready, publishes an open beta TTRPG system called “Elemental D6”. In the words of its author: “Elemental D6 is a roleplaying system that allows players to explore the Ardemare galaxy from the bow of their ship, sailing through the deep ocean of space, propelled among the stars by the galactic winds. It features strategic combat and playful, creative experimentation with control over the elements via ki manipulation”. The world has been an expressive, fresh take on the usual TTRPG fantasy campaign setting, with Spelljammer-esque physics and Trek-like discovery. The world is meant to be cerebral, vital and unfamiliar, and Caley has given me a ton of leeway when it comes to the creatures I’ve produced for him.

Supported by patrons, Caley requested a recent piece to reference the face of Krystina Arielle (cosplayer, TTRPG nerd, Sirens of the Realms, Critical Role, Ironkeep Chronicles) depicting the human form of his Nahuali race, an anthropomorphic being that shifts through three different forms (still a work in progress – if you love cats, you’ll appreciate the last picture):

These pieces were produced on my new Cintiq 22HD, purchased just before the Holidays (I wouldn’t want to be without it now). I couldn’t be happier with the responses I recieved from both Caley and Krystina, or the leaps my art has made by taking time for real development. Investing my time into the things I want to do is happily paying off.

I promise to keep you all updated as the weeks progress. #weeklywednesdays

-John

If you’re a dungeon master, and you love orcs, this post is for you.

As many artists realize, this is the month of Inktober. Produce an image per day. Inked. There are some prompt words to jog the imagination (and speaking as a commission artist that draws nearly 100% from description, adjectives go a long way drawing on hidden inspiration). You get to post stuff, and be part of a community that rewards itself with likes, re-tweets, shares, etc. I like those things. All of them, I really do. But I’ve been crafting this website, and there were unforeseen hiccups, and finishing of commissions, and unfortunately, my version of #Intober2017 turned into #whatcanihopetofinishbeforeimexpectedtowakeup2017. Not nearly as catchy, or productive.

I did still produce some work, but more specifically I found out during my twitter time that the word October is missing a letter. A big, fat, “K”. That K is important, especially when you drop it between the Or-tober.

I love orcs. As an artist, they are creatures that might make you stand still, completely absorbed in its structural anatomy, fully missing the almost assured incoming decapitation as it runs straight at you. A while ago I started work on a concept revolving around hybrid monsters, inspired by Dungeons & Dragons infamous driders. “You know what would be cool,” I said. “A drider with the body of a scorpion, like the Xen’drikar scorrow, but with the upper half of an orc.”

Except, I didn’t say that. It was only later that I found out about the scorrow, and only after I had learned of the manscorpion of AD&D fame. Either way, I was super excited, and I drew this piece:

Scorcion? Orkorpian? I can't even...

I’m planning on creating a Dungeon Master’s supplement that focuses on Orcs; monstrosities, variants, etc. Whenever I can find a chance between all the #Inktobering, I’ll keep you guys updated.