Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Posts tagged ‘Tuesday art day’

Revelations (That Are Not Actually About Cookies)

Just over a week ago now, Canadians were preparing for our version of stuffing ourselves silly and being thankful about it. Thanksgiving! (Yes, it’s the same holiday as in the U.S. pretty much, except ours is a little earlier). We’d acquired a turkey, friends were due to arrive, and as with any major holiday – I happily took a welcome excuse to do some baking. The centerpiece of my endeavour was to be pumpkin cupcakes. Voss, who doesn’t especially like pumpkin, asked if I could perhaps bake something else on the side for him. Some cookies, maybe? (Insert big pleading eyes here.) Chocolate chip cookies, maybe? It doesn’t usually take much to get me to do more baking, so of course I agreed.

And here I paused. For years now, I’ve been experimenting with lower fat baking. It’s possible to do and still have recipes taste good. My low-fat chocolate chip cookies are pretty decent – but they tend to be a bit harder, definitely “dippers.” You have to be so careful with the dough not to overmix it. I hesitated. Did I want to make the “healthy” recipe – or did I want to go back to my tried-and-true?

I haven’t made this recipe in years. It was faithfully copied from my Mom’s recipes when I first moved away from home a decade ago. I looked at that recipe, carefully written out. It has twice as much butter as the other recipe. I know they aren’t as “healthy” (if any cookies can be considered healthy). The thing is, butter serves a specific role in baking, just like all the other ingredients do. It helps with texture, establishing both moisture and crispness. It’s possible to make things with much less of it (I hardly use it at all in “regular” cooking) but in baking it’s a tough thing to do away with.

I made my Mom’s recipe. They weren’t as pretty to behold as their low-fat counterparts. I watched them cooling on the rack a bit uncertainly – they’d flattened out more than I’d expected. I wasn’t sure how they were going to be.

I took one bite of that first cookie and the taste of it exploded in my mouth. It tasted of a hundred happy moments mixing with my Mom, adding vanilla, adding eggs. It tasted of licking the beaters of the electric mixer (raw egg be damned! I came through childhood just fine). It tasted of the time that our old, long-departed cocker spaniel opened a container of cookies and helped himself (one by one, at his leisure!) It tasted of home. It just tasted right, and in that moment I didn’t care that the cookies had twice as much butter as the other kind. They were perfect.

I have to admit, I’d been having a tough time getting into the Thanksgiving mood. For awhile now, I’ve been labouring under an indecisive funk. I wrote all about how I felt playing retribution all the time. I’d even planned to write a “Thanksgiving” Warcraft post that never materialized because I just felt like I was going through the motions. The thing is, I have a lot to be thankful for (both in and out of game) but I wasn’t feeling up to expressing it. I’d begun playing my paladin at the start of this tier because I felt that it was how I could best help the guild. I felt that it was best for the guild. What I didn’t consider deeply enough was whether it was what would be best for me.

For years, I’ve been making chocolate chip cookies as a treat that are “better for me,” but they aren’t RIGHT. I’d rather eat them half as often but enjoy them twice as much. Or actually, what I’m trying to say – in an extremely roundabout and cookie-based way – is that last week, I took Millya into Firelands for the first time. (It’s appropriate if mage metaphors include baking, you know).

The first raid, I was really nervous and I definitely didn’t play my best. There’s an element of wanting to “prove I’ve still got it,” and focusing on that led to a few bonehead maneuvers. But it was okay. The second raid, I was feeling more comfortable, and I really let myself exult in the feeling. I love being a mage. I love everything about it. I love blink, I love firing spells off like a deadly turret, I love conjuring cakes for everyone and seeing my mirror images sprinting all over the place and even my stupid flame orb wandering off on its own to explode and attack, seemingly, nothing. I love my serious little goat woman and her wild hair and earnest horns. I love wearing a dress. I’m crazy about it. I always have been. I missed it when I was a priest, and a druid, and now a paladin. I missed it because it was the right thing for me to be and I never should have lost sight of that.

“You always preferred your mage,” a few guildies have told me gently. I’ve received more than one whisper from people saying they’re happy to see my mage again, and that it feels “good” to have me be a mage. It does feel damn good. I am still feeling pangs of guilt, as our discussions about two versus three healing came to an uneasy commitment, and I know that me leaving that team leaves us one healer down and bloats the DPS roster. If we need to, we’ll have to recruit another healer in the next tier. It is selfish of me – I’ve admitted I was wrong to switch characters. Not because I can’t do it. I think I was a pretty good paladin, and a pretty good healer. But it’s not what I love the most, not like my esteemed paladin friends – who live and die on paladin news and are really, some of the best folks I know. I was proud to be among them, and it has nothing to do with the class. I don’t want to attribute too much meaning to a video game, or a virtual persona, but there is a thin line between what you play and who you are.

I don’t want to have to write another entry like this in one tier, or two. No matter how much I think “I could help out” as a healer, I shouldn’t do it. When I stepped into that second raid, my eyes actually momentarily stung, I was so happy. The familiar sensation rolled over my finger tips as I spammed two like my life depended on it. This character is home. I regret the inconvenience it causes my guild and my guildies, but I need to be selfish about this. It was silly of me to think I could be as happy playing anything else. Every time I’ve switched has been to try and fill a niche or role we’re lacking, but I’m no good to anyone if I’m playing something but secretly and sadly miserable. Thursday’s raid was an absolute blast, and I don’t know if it’s because good moods are infectious or what but it felt like everyone had a better time. We have a secret paladin turned warlock going back to his paladin and I think he’s as happy as I am to trade his robes for plate. (He probably didn’t tear up about it because he’s far too stalwart for that, but I’ll bet he sang a song). I remember that this is the right thing to do every time I wonder what reputation grind I need to be working on (re-doing) now and then I remember, I don’t need to be re-doing any of them because I’ve already done them. This is my main we’re talking about. I’m baaaaack.

Oh, and P.S. – The cookies are going to be a rare and occasional treat, but when I make them, you better believe I’m going to make my Mom’s version.

P.P.S. – I used eight images in this blog post, but I probably had twice that many I could have used. More evidence.

Tuesday Art Day: Gone Fishing

This is an image I was recently commissioned to do as a super-secret surprise painting gift, so I can’t tell you more about the character except that she likes to fish. I also like to fish, so this was really fun to do. My client wanted a sort of dreamy, hazy feel and greens from Feralas or similar, so we went with that. I liked finding the right fishing basket, also called a “creel,” which I didn’t know before. So I also learned something new!

A gnome after my own heart.

Tuesday Art Day: Teeny & Claire

I recently did this watercolour painting as a surprise gift! (Not a gift from me, a surprise gift from one girlfriend to another of their WoW characters). I really enjoyed trying to capture a dynamic between the two characters and giving them some scenery. I took a few progress images with my phone/scanner, so I thought it’d be fun to share those.

Final sketch before painting. This is not the "first" sketch.

This next image is a bit shadowy because of being taken with my phone (I don’t scan at this stage because the paper is often still a bit damp and I don’t want to chance dirtying it).

First washes.

In case I haven’t mentioned this…photographing a painting is hard. Especially when you have to hold the painting in one hand, and the camera in the other (without getting your hands into the photo).

Not finished, but getting there!

The above still needs detailing on the shaman dress primarily.

Aaaand done!

This is the final image, scanned in and colour balanced as best I can. Scanning watercolours is tough because some subtleties always seem to be lost. I’ve found that the best way to handle this is to not use the scanner driver (my scanning software has an option) and then to turn off “Auto Tone” in the more advanced settings. This seems to prevent the scanner from washing out the lighter areas by trying to pre-set the contrast itself. Anyway, that’s Teeny and Claire enjoying an afternoon in Nagrand! You know I love any commission that involves draenei. No, I don’t have a problem, why do you ask?

Tuesday Art Day: Female Worgen Wish

This Tuesday is going to be a little different, in that it’s just sketches I did quickly. I was doing some idle musing the other day and I started thinking about how disappointed I was with the female worgen. I fully intended to make a worgen when Cataclysm came out. I had two names reserved for the purpose, even (one male, one female). I usually prefer to play female characters, because I just do. I wrote about what happened with my worgen.

Similarly to how I felt about being a moonkin, I just couldn’t get “into” the way the worgen looked. I think the males look pretty good (although not keen on their “running wild” animation), but the females? I started sketching to try to understand and explain what it is that bothers me about them.

Female Worgen (as in-game)

They have these large, heavily-lidded and tilted eyes. Their eyes are looking in different directions, too, much like a Simpsons character. They have a very narrow, “fox-like” face, and a pronounced forehead. Here is what the worgen actually looks like.

What follows is just a series of quick sketches as I tried to work out for myself what I would have preferred (instead of just complaining about what I didn’t like).

adfs

I really think the biggest thing is the eyes. Lose the heavy lids, make them smaller (and a bit closer to the center of the face). I am still not really happy with the face shape here and would probably keep reworking it if I were actually trying to do honest to goodness concept art.

The actual model has its lips pulled back in a permanent snarl, too. I didn't really do that, which is perhaps like cheating.

Overall, I just imagine female worgen being more…wolf-like. Their male counterparts are wholly lupine and it works for them. I feel as if maybe the art team just tried too hard to make them “feminine” looking. The thing is, they’re werewolves. I don’t think you can make them look really feminine (or perhaps you shouldn’t). In any case, their reasonably slender frames and mammalian characteristics make that much obvious. I could see them with more of a wolf’s head instead of the “foxy” look they went for. I know that female worgen gave them the most trouble, as they revamped them completely several times during the beta.

I’ll be honest; I could see female worgen overall with a bit more meat on their bones. I think they may be overly lanky? But that’s a minor gripe. I should mention that I absolutely love their hands. The in-game model has great hands, with the long, claw-like fingers and nails. I thickened her neck (and also her body, giving her a bit of curve). I still don’t know if I am happy with the face, but it was fun to mess around with. Having completed this exercise, I’m still pretty sure it’s their dead eyes that bug me the most. The dog-like muzzle might be fine if the eyes had a bit of life to them, were placed differently and had a different shape.

That’s what I think, anyhow, in my half hour of idle doodling. What do you think? Love worgen the way they are? See them a little bit differently? I have a feeling I am going to keep doing some sketches of them until I can really see them the way I imagine them being. At THAT point I can put a top hat on one.

Tuesday Art Day: Corycia

I’m cheating a bit today with some older art (that I know I haven’t used for a Tuesday art day). This is a postcard sized watercolour I did of my draenei shaman, Corycia, wearing gear she doesn’t own. (I love this shaman set from Burning Crusade!) I have done another watercolour recently that I’d love to post but can’t, because it hasn’t yet been gifted to the surprise recipient! Look for that one coming soon to a Tuesday near you.

Tuesday Art Day: About The Artist

Pre-warning: This post contains a bit of mild art nudity in the form of life-drawing. Don’t read it at work if that would get you into trouble!

Windsoar over at Jaded Alt recently offered some more a-”muse”-ment for interested parties – supplying a blog post idea for bloggers that asked! Here’s the task she gave me:

There’s quite a few things I’d like to ask you to write about, but I think I’ve narrowed it down! I’m sure plenty of your readers are aware of your artistic skills, but I’d like to know more! Is it a hobby or profession, how’d you get started, do you have professional training, and what are your favorite mediums?

I figured it would be only too appropriate to answer this question on Tuesday, the day I usually post art anyhow!

It’s pretty much an artist trope to say “I’ve been drawing since I was able to hold a pencil…” but for most of us it’s true, at least it is in my case! It was always what I wanted to do “when I grew up,” tied with writing. If you’d asked me when I was five what I wanted to be I’d tell you without hesitation that I wanted to write and illustrate my own children’s books. To that end, about a year before I graduated from high school I started assembling a portfolio and sent it off to art college. I was accepted and started there the following September, after moving cities.

The first year at college called for taking a variety of classes and electives before declaring a specialization in second year. I’d initially intended to enter the graphic design Visual Communication major (I think most people intend this because they’ve been told “it’s the only way to make a living.”) I ended up changing my mind, though, and specialized instead in printmaking/print media. Over the course of the next three years I learned techniques related to lithography, relief printing, silkscreen, and etching. I took drawing electives.

Here are a few images from one of the life drawing courses I took. I spent many hours doing life drawing throughout my four years! Usually we’d work for six hours a week and six hours at home for the duration of a semester.

(note: I seem to fail at slideshows, though, and this slideshow and the later one contain all the images in the entire post. I compromised by making it a gallery instead!)

At the end of this particular course, we all went to the long, concrete hallway that led to the train station and had to pin up all of our work from the semester. Every piece! There’s pastel, charcoal, brush and ink, conté, ballpoint pen, acrylic paint, and ink pen here. It’s funny because I can look at it now and see flaws but there are still some pieces where I think, “Hey, I really captured something there.” I’m not sure if the photos really show much detail, or if they just mostly show that it’s a lot of drawings.

Contrary to popular opinion, art college was long hours and hard work (I loved it, but don’t ever try and suggest I’m a slacker because I went there!) I could have gotten a degree in other things, I’ve no doubt, but I never regret my art degree.

After college I worked in a few unrelated jobs before leaving them to try and make it as a freelancer. Of course, you’ve all seen my WoW-related art.

I suppose it's self-explanatory, but this is from drawings done one Christmas at my parents' house.

I also draw in my sketchbook (usually with black Pigma Pens, 0.5 thankyouverymuch). Apart from character-related commissions and blog banners, I have als0 had one major project illustrating a reading program for young children. I can’t link you to the program because it has my real name all over it, but here’s an image from it. I worked on this contract for the better part of a year.

Cake: T or F?

That beagle destroyed the cake his owner had so lovingly made. This, incidentally, is something that happened in real life to me – except the cake in question was baked by my friend that had brought it over, and covered in chocolate mousse that my dog lovingly cleaned off. The resulting cake looked pristine, as if it had never been iced, and oddly tempting. The dog was hyper for the rest of the night (but otherwise unharmed). But I’m digressing! I’m meant to answer the first question, here. Yes, I do illustration/art professionally, and am professionally trained! My major was pretty multi-disciplinary despite being print focused. Once I graduated I did very little actual “print” work, continuing in various mediums, which is good because it’s hard to fit a litho press in one’s basement.

When we redid our basement, though, I did set up a room especially for purposes of serving as a studio. Most of my work now is digital and done on my Cintiq and so actually doesn’t take place here. But I still HAVE here, even if it’s not this neat anymore.

Oh, for a studio this pristine again...

The walls have been painted with magnetic paint and I use tiny, very strong magnets from Lee Valley on them! (You put one magnet behind a piece of paper and one in front, they stick together and you have a mobile gallery. There’s a lithograph pinned up here, actually, although you can’t really see it in detail. The stuff in the center is just part of my postcard collection; I didn’t actually draw or paint those.

Windsoar also asked if I have a favourite medium. Of course, I love digital painting.

Here is a painting actually done FOR Windsoar as a gift for her husband. I thought it would be appropriate.

When it comes to getting my hands dirty, though, I am crazy about watercolour.

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I tend to do postcard-sized watercolours because I can do them most anywhere. Other than that, most of my drawing is done in sketchbooks with aforementioned ink pens (pencil is too cautious for me! No guts, no glory! If it turns out wrong, just draw over it or draw it again!)

I think that’s a decent, if disjointed history of my art career. It’s a living I love; I wouldn’t change it for the world! Thanks again to Windsoar for asking and giving me the topic to write about. Feel free to ask me any questions on this most self-indulgent post, and I’ll do my best to answer them if I’m able.

Tuesday Art Day: Gnomes Ahoy

I dug back a bit into my art archives to find something for this Tuesday. These are gnomes I did for Technophobia (on Twitter) back in December. They are all his gnomes: Curacao, Calsyee, Priggle, Kamarile and Chipotle. They’re all related! I don’t do much gnome art, so they were fun to draw.

So many gnomes!

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