Chainmail brush pack and tutorial

I made these brushes to help me with a recent project, so I thought I’d share them in case they come in useful for someone. Here’s a tutorial to explain how to use them – click on the image to see it in full-size.

Download the brush pack here. I made them in Photoshop so I don’t know what other programs they’ll play nice with, but you can always try it. Enjoy!

Terms for use:

  1. Commercial use is fine, but make sure to get my permission first to avoid trouble.
  2. Give credit or link back if possible, please!
  3. Don’t re-upload or redistribute any part of this pack.

That’s it. Have fun with them, and if you use them, I’d love to see, so please leave a link in the comments or something!


More wordcount spreadsheets for 2014

A little late to the party, but I made some more word count trackers, this time with Supernatural themes. There’s one each featuring Cas, Dean, and Sam, and also one featuring all three taking turns every month. So if you’re a SPN fan the boys will keep you company throughout the year while you write! Previews and download links are below – the previews are for the NaNo spreadsheets, but they look the same, I promise!

 

I’m working on two Once Upon A Time themed spreadsheets now, they’ll hopefully be up tomorrow. If there are any other designs you’d like to see, let me know.

Edit: OUAT designs are up and available now, a little late but at least they’re here!

The other designs are all posted here.

I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated! It’s amazing, and I hope you know how much I appreciate it. Same thing goes for all the lovely feedback and comments. It’s still a little incredible to me that people from all over the world are apparently using these, but it’s so awesome to see, and I love hearing from everyone.

As always, if you run into any problems, just let me know and I’ll look into it, but – fingers crossed – these should be bug-free. Enjoy!


Spreadsheets for 2014

There was supposed to be a whole thing where I write about Eirtakon and all the wonderful people who came by and recognised me and my art and actually bought quite a lot of it, but… here’s the thing. I came home from Eirtakon, and immediately got sick. And then I had to scramble to catch up on all the commissions and other work I’d neglected in favour of preparing for a con, attending a con, and coughing my lungs out. So I never got around to it. But it was a really great experience, I had a brilliant time, and everyone was amazingly wonderful.

That was in November. Exactly a month ago, actually. Wow, I’m slow. I also didn’t win NaNoWriMo, by the way. It turns out that convention prep and sickness don’t mix very well with NaNo. But on the plus side, November is over and we’re even past the whole solstice nonsense so now the days will get longer again. Whew.

Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate!

An alternate version of the SPN Christmas card I made.

(If you don’t celebrate Christmas or anything else, just enjoy the picture, or ignore that part.)

And here are my presents for you – spreadsheets. I made some for 2014. Not quite as many designs as for NaNo, though, because formatting 12 sheets for every file takes ages and I just don’t have the time. I might post up more if I get them finished, but yeah, it’s time-consuming to make all the graphics and change all the colours and so on. Here are the ones I made:

Word-Tracker-2013---Forest-Fairy-preview Word-Tracker-2013---Pirate-preview Word Tracker 2013 - Huntsman - preview Word Tracker 2013 - Steampunk - preview

Download links are here – again, I uploaded them all to Dropbox, if you have any problems with downloading them just let me know. Instructions are included, and I think they’re pretty straightforward to use anyway.

I might end up making more designs if I get the time, and if I do I’ll do a follow-up post. If you want a specific one of the NaNo designs adapted, I’ll do it, but I’ll give priority to requests from people who’ve made a donation. If you want a custom design using a different picture or theme, I’ll only do that in exchange for a donation. Sorry, but with the amount of stuff already on my plate and the amount of time this takes, I just can’t do it any other way.

Edit: There are now more spreadsheet designs featuring Supernatural and Once Upon A Time themes, see and download them here!

In the meantime, I hope you like this lot, and happy writing!


NaNo, bandwidth, and assorted weirdness

My webhosting provider sent me an email telling me I’m running out of bandwidth. I looked into it and wow, my spreadsheets have been seeing a lot of downloads. You people are crazy. And I’m crazy for uploading the damn things to my website instead of using a free filesharing service.

So I’ve changed the links. They’re still the same spreadsheets, they’re just hosted on Dropbox now because I’ve already upgraded for more bandwidth once now and it still went over the limit. They want more money from me now. Eep.

I got an offer for a sponsored blog post the other day, but I turned it down. The company, which shall remain nameless, wanted me to tell my readers that I’m using its service. I’m not using its service, though. And I’m not about to start lying to people for money.

I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo at the moment, in between working on art stuff. Some of it is commissions, some of it new personal work and prints for Eirtakon. Have an example!

Closeups from my WIP featuring, well, you know who.

Sammy, Cas and Dean from that one show I can’t stop watching.

I don’t know if I mentioned Eirtakon before, but I will be there, in the Artist Alley, showing off and selling my stuff! I’ll have new pendants, curse boxes, bookmarks, and of course prints. So if you happen to be around Dublin at the end of November, come see me and all the other lovely talented folks who will be there!

And speaking of art, here’s my recent stuff!

Is she fleeing from something, or confronting it? Is she venturing somewhere new? Who is she, anyway? The story is up to you. Digital work | 2013.  A young Hermione Granger reading "Matilda", a book about a smart little girl who loves books and can move things with her mind, and deciding to try moving the nearest object at hand. Digital work | 2013.  Pencil portrait of Chris Hemsworth, aka Thor, aka The Huntsman, and so on. Graphite and coloured pencils | A3 | 2013

Aaaand even more stuff because I have a behind the scenes photo from when I worked on the Chris Portrait.

Here's where and how I work! Monitor with the reference, paper pad with the work in progress, and lots of pencils.

Hell yeah behind-the-scenes stuff. And hell yeah I work on the floor like a little kid, because that’s the most comfortable place, and unlike sitting at my desk it doesn’t hurt my arm. And this way I can spread my pencils and other materials out as far as I want without having to worry about anything falling off my tiny desk, too. (It’s not that tiny. But as far as I’m concerned, every desk is too small.)

I think maybe NaNo has me a bit frazzled already. I don’t have an outline yet, although at least I know how it starts and ends and how most of it works out. Which is more than I’ve had for some years in the past, and less than I’ve had for others. I’m just going to call it a happy compromise and go with that, I think.

So yeah, I have more art now. And no bandwidth left, but tomorrow’s a new month and we can start over. Anyone for more spreadsheets?


NaNoWriMo 2013 word tracker spreadsheets

It’s that time of year again, where we all gear up for National Novel Writing Month. And like every year, I’m making spreadsheets instead of actually working on silly things like, oh, a plot maybe. Who needs a plot, anyway. Have some work tracking spreadsheets instead!

preview-steampunk

They’ll help you keep track of your word count for November, and there are additional sheets for plotting, character development, and keeping track of your progress, chapters, characters, and as much of everything else as I could fit in. I’ve updated most of last year’s to work for this year, so here are last year’s designs. Click to preview! (Don’t worry about the date in the preview, I fixed that in the actual spreadsheet, I’m just too lazy to make new previews.)

       preview-huntsman

And because I’m lovely, I also made a ton of new designs for this year:

     

So many options! So many choices! Luckily you don’t actually have to choose, you can download and use as many as you want. The instructions are included in the sheets, and I think it’s all pretty straightforward. As always, you’re welcome to edit and share them, but please don’t use the images for anything else. They’re all made with my own artwork, so please respect copyright and all that.

I’ve compiled them in some handy rar packages:

And here are the links for individual sheets:

Original art

        preview-steampunk    

Supernatural

    

Misc Fandom

preview-huntsman          

There’s also one spreadsheet that lets you fill in your total wordcount and calculates your daily amount etc from that, but I only made that in one design because I got lazy. If you want it in a different design, you can always adapt one of the others.

That’s all I’ve got! I left out some of my older designs, but if you want those, feel free to request them. Likewise if you’d like a custom design or you want me to make you a total-wordcount version of one of the designs up there, I do take requests. But every hour I spend on these is an hour I should really be spending on my freelance work, so like last year, I’ll give preference to folks who donate any amount. Either way, though, request away!

Most likely, I’ll end up making more spreadsheets and resources before November starts, so be sure to check back or just subscribe to updates! I’ll also be making a new year-round tracker for 2014, which will be up sometime in December. In the meantime, enjoy this lot!


Misha Collins portrait – process outline

It seems that people are actually interested in process outlines and work-in-progress shots and stuff like that, which surprises me even though I’m interested in other people’s process and WIPs. But my own? I know my own process. I’m the one doing it. It’s not interesting to me.

Sometimes, when trying to understand the world and its demands and preferences, it really helps to imagine you’re someone else.

I remembered to scan my Misha Collins drawing intermittently, so here’s a thing telling you how I did it. You might learn something! You might not! It’s all up in the air. You don’t even have to read it. It’s okay to just look at the pictures.

A run-down of my process drawing Misha Collins.

If you do want to read it, it’d be a good idea to click on the image to see it in full size.

I used Polychromos and Caran D’Ache Pablo colouring pencils, and it’s drawn on a smooth paper with vellum texture print. I think it’s technically calligraphy paper, and it doesn’t take pencil very well, but you get some cool effects.

That’s it. The rest is all explained in the actual thing, so… if you want to know more, read it!


Nebula tutorial

This is another simple tutorial, for adding a nebula effect to a starfield. First, you need to generate your starfield – you’ll find the method explained here. Again, I’ve only done this in Photoshop so if you want to use a different program like GIMP, some of the filters might not work or have different names.

1. Make a new layer on top of your starfield layers, fill it with black, and set your background colour to whatever colour you want your nebula to be. Then go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds.

1. Make a new layer on top of your starfield layers, fill it with black, and set your background colour to whatever colour you want your nebula to be. Then go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds.

2. Still with the same layer and everything, click on “Difference Clouds” again.

2. Still with the same layer and everything, click on "Difference Clouds" again.

3. Add a little Gaussian blur. You can skip this step, but I think it looks better.

3. Add a little Gaussian blur. You can skip this step, but I think it looks better.

4. Set the blend mode to “Screen” and voila!

4. Set the blend mode to "Screen" and voila!

5. If you want more nebula, create a new layer on top of the others. Fill it with black, pick a different background colour, and generate difference clouds again.

5. If you want more nebula, create a new layer on top of the others. Fill it with black, pick a different background colour, and generate difference clouds again.

6. Remember to click it twice.

6. Remember to click it twice.

7. Optional Gaussian blur – play around with different amounts to get different effects.

7. Optional Gaussian blur – play around with different amounts to get different effects.

8. Set the layer blend mode to “Screen”.

8. Set the layer blend mode to "Screen".

9. Adjust the opacity until it looks good. I’d suggest keeping one colour more in the background (in this case, the purple is set to 60% and the turquoise to 100%).

9. Adjust the opacity until it looks good. I'd suggest keeping one colour more in the background (in this case, the purple is set to 60% and the turquoise to 100%).

10. Turquoise nebula set to 90% opacity, purple set to 60%.

10. Turquoise nebula set to 90% opacity, purple set to 60%.

This works on any size of canvas, but if you’re going to use a big one, I’d suggest generating the nebula in a small canvas and then resizing it to fill the bigger one, otherwise it’ll look weird, like this:

This works on any size of canvas, but if you're going to use a big one, I'd suggest generating the nebula in a small canvas and then resizing it to fill the bigger one, otherwise it'll look weird, like this. <br/><br/> The image will get blurrier when you resize it, but since the nebula is blurry anyway, it doesn't really matter.

The image will get blurrier when you resize it, but since the nebula is blurry anyway, it doesn’t really matter.

That’s it! If you want to save this tutorial, here’s the whole thing in one handy graphic – just click on it to get the full-size version, and save it.

The full version of the nebula tutorial.

You can use this as is, or you can use is as a background for a painting. If you want to add more stars or nebula effects manually, I also have some brushes available to help with that. If you do make something with this, as always, I’d love to see it!


Starfield tutorial

I’ve been meaning to post more tutorials on here, so here’s one. This is a pretty straightforward, simple method to generate a starfield in Photoshop. I haven’t tried it in other programs, so I don’t know if it’ll work, but you can always experiment. You don’t need any particular artistic talent, and you can use this kind of background for digital paintings, web design, book cover design… anything you can think of.

Clicking on the images will enlarge them, and you can click through them in the viewer too. That’s right, you get two options for viewing this tutorial! Exciting, isn’t it? … yeah, I know, get on with it. Let’s go!

1. Start with a new canvas, any size you like – in this tutorial I went for 500×500 pixels. At this point there’s only one layer. Fill it with black.

1. Start with a new canvas, any size you like – in this tutorial I went for 500x500 pixels. At this point there's only one layer. Fill it with black.

2. Click on “Add noise” and select Gaussian distribution and about 20% – you can vary the amount if you like.

2. Click on "Add noise" and select Gaussian distribution and about 20% - you can vary the amount if you like.

3. Select “Brightness/Contrast and reduce the brightness until you’re left with a starfield! You can play around with the contrast, but the brightness should be at -100.

3. Select "Brightness/Contrast and reduce the brightness until you're left with a starfield! You can play around with the contrast, but the brightness should be at -100.

4. Duplicate your layer.

4. Duplicate your layer.

5. Resize your new layer – 200% width and height. These will be slightly bigger stars.

5. Resize your new layer – 200% width and height. These will be slightly bigger stars.

6. Select “Brightness/Contrast” again and play around with the contrast until the stars are as bright as you want them. Leave the brightness as it is.

6. Select "Brightness/Contrast" again and play around with the contrast until the stars are as bright as you want them. Leave the brightness as it is.

7. Add a bit of Gaussian blur to the new layer.

7. Add a bit of Gaussian blur to the new layer.

8. Change the blend mode of the new layer to “Screen”. Voila, your starfield is finished!

8. Change the blend mode of the new layer to "Screen". Voila, your starfield is finished!If you’d like to save this to your computer for future reference, here’s the full version – just click on the image to get the full-size version, and save that. It’s the same thing, except the individual pictures are slightly cropped.

The full tutorial.

The next installment will show you how to add a cool nebula effect to this background, so keep an eye out for that! Any questions, as always, just ask. Have fun with it, and if you like, let me know if you used this to make something. I’d love to see it!


Celebration Europe!

I spent last weekend in Germany, at Star Wars Celebration Europe. My first-ever Star Wars convention, and it was a blast. I got to hang out with some severely awesome folks and saw a ton of amazing costumes, and of course there were panels with some of the actors: Anthony Daniels, Ian McDiarmid, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and the inimitable Warwick Davies as host for every panel. Anthony Daniels is hilarious, Warwick Davies is hilarious, Ian McDiarmid is lovely but scary when he speaks German in his Emperor voice, Carrie Fisher is a little loopy but funny, and Mark Hamill is just plain nice. And really good at voices, surprise surprise. His Harrison Ford impression was spot-on, and it’s really funny to see Luke Skywalker talking in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice.

My favourite part of those panels was when they re-enacted scenes from the movies, with Warwick filling in various roles like Wicket, Yoda, Uncle Owen, and Vader. Most of them seem to have made it to YouTube, so you can look them up. I thought it was a great idea. And Warwick does a great Yoda voice, by the way. Read more »


ArcadeCon and other things

Once again, I’m overdue writing this, but that’s just life, and me, because I take a while to process things. Especially if they involve lots of people, which this did. Two weekends ago I took myself and my work to ArcadeCon‘s Artists Alley, not knowing what to expect but hoping for the best. It was my first proper convention as an artist – I did go to OctoCon last year, but as far as the Artists Alley was concerned it was pretty crap.

ArcadeCon was the exact opposite. Read more »