Saturday, March 30, 2013

Daily Report: and sketching

I had a very productive day yesterday editing Book I. I also took the time to re-format Book II into proper manuscript form. 

Today I started inking the next book illustration. This is the first of the spot illustrations for Book I.

I took a break from inking today to go on a date with my hubby to a pear cider wassail at a friend’s orchard nearby. It was such a lovely day for the event with warm temperatures and bright sunshine. I couldn’t help getting in a little sketching while I was there, my first outdoor sketch of the year.
“Red Shoes” black and grey ink and colored pencil

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Watercolors

This morning I made color swatches for my swatch library of the new watercolors I bought yesterday. As you can see from the photo, I like earth tones. Three of the five new colors are earthy ochers and umbers. I joked with the gal at the store that I’m seeking the perfect Ochre/Umber. I don’t know why, it just seems a thing with me. ;-)

In the photograph I’ve placed the new colors alongside several other watercolors I have of similar color and value. I did my best to color correct the photo but I’m afraid the subtleties of the shades are somewhat hard to see. 
Here’s what Daniel Smith has to say about each of the new colors I bought.

Mars Yellow -  To avoid instant mud in your watercolors, select lightfast Mars Yellow. A wash of Mars Yellow adds gentle granulation to passages. Color-coordinate paintings using Mars Yellow with a Violet for subtle, muted warm grays.

Goethite (Brown Ochre) - Rich and warm, DANIEL SMITH Goethite is a dark tea color in masstone and washes out to a rich, warm tan. Goethite (Brown Ochre) is named after Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the German philosopher, poet and mineralogist.

German Greenish Raw Umber - A cool, earthy neutral brown with a hint of green, German Greenish Raw Umber is a natural for landscapes of all kinds.

Perylene Maroon - In the mid-yellow to red zone of the color wheel is this exciting find, Perylene Maroon is a semi-transparent super staining dark red-brown. Perylene Maroon allows glowing washes that can emanate from a saturated source emerging into sunlight patches. As with other staining pigments, create organic textures with salt application and lift pigment for highlights.

Black Tourmaline Genuine - Can be as dark as night or as pale as a wispy fog. This intriguing PrimaTek® color is made from a semi-precious stone thought to bring luck, dispel negativity and promote clarity of purpose. In washes, especially on rough paper, it displays exciting granulation with delicate settling and a tracery of spidery runs. Intensely black in mass tone, it lets down to a beautiful pearl gray.

I can’t wait to try them all out in a painting!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Shopping Spree

Yes, I went shopping today. It was such a beautiful day I just couldn’t resist taking a trip to Bellevue and doing a little shopping at Daniel Smith’s.

I came home with a new pencil case to use for my urban sketching and several new watercolor paints.

The pencil case is pretty cool, it has two sides and holds 48 pencils, although less if you’ve got brushes in there and other things. I’ve put all I need in it to get some quick sketching in, even the paints!

Here’s what I’ve got in there: two water brushes, two sawed off flat brushes (yes I did that today by myself!), a micron ink pen, a white Sakura jelly roll pen, several graphite pencils, a whole lot of watercolor pencils, a small spray bottle, eraser, paper towels, and even a tiny tin of watercolors. It all fits! :-)

The tin has the three primaries in it and either Black or Payne’s Gray, I forget which.

The paints I came home with were the following: Mars Yellow, Goethite – Brown Ochre, German Green Raw Umber, Perylene Maroon (a fabulous color, I’m already in love with it), and Black Tourmaline Genuine. I’ll make color swatch cards of all of them soon and once I do, I’ll show off the colors here. The majority of these new colors are earth tones. I suppose I’m still looking for the perfect ochre, maybe I’ll find it amongst these new ones. ;-)

To make the day even better, I edited another chapter AND my copy of the "Grey Fairy Book," by Andrew Lang arrived in the mail today. This completes my set of the colored fairy books! Yeah! I now have a TON of H.J. Ford artwork to reference. What could be better?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Daily report: Technobabble

Technobabble is a staple of science fiction, always has been and always will be. I am actually quite good at writing it, especially if I can get into the right mindset which is a cross between “who the heck cares” and “wouldn’t this be cool?”

Today I’ve been polishing a chapter that was in desperate need of some good technobabble. I was stalling, wondering how I was going to describe the “magical” science fiction device that would be required for the scene. I am so very tired of all science fiction scanning devices since Star Trek looking like either iPads, Kindles, or flip phones. I wanted to do something different, but what? Looking around for inspiration I found what I was looking for in the retro design on a tissue box. Voila! A new scanner is born. ;-) Who says one has to repeat history endlessly!

As for today’s progress report I can happily say I’ve now all but finished the book illustration I’ve been working on and have edited another chapter. Not bad too shabby for a Sunday!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Daily Report : Helpful tools of the trade

Today I spent quite a few hours working on the newest book illustration. The challenge for me in this piece is not to overwork it. This is actually much harder than it sounds. If you overwork a pen & ink piece you end up with very uniform contrast. If you make this particular mistake it won’t matter if your details are beautifully drawn or not, people won't notice them for the lack of contrast.

I have talked quite a bit in this blog about inks and fountain pens. These are, of course, critical parts of an artist’s arsenal but there a few other tools that are also worth mentioning.

The first is a reducing glass. This glass does the opposite of what a magnifying glass does, it reduces images. Funny eh? A reducing glass is the perfect tool to use for pen and ink as you’ll always want to reduce your drawings before publication. (They look much better that way.) If you’re doing pen and ink work with the expectation of reducing it later, you’ll need to be aware of how the image will look when reduced. After all, you don’t want your carefully constructed lines compressing too much and turning into solid black areas in the final piece. (Hint: you can also do this by standing your drawing up and walking across the room to view it. I do this also.)

My second suggestion is a white correction pen. I use a Pentel Presto Pocket Correction Pen to correct small inking mistakes as I go. It’s a very handy tool. Once I've scanned the final image into my computer, I'll make further corrections in Photoshop. The problem with doing this is that I won't be able to redraw my lines as nicely with my stylus and tablet as with my inking pens, the fluidity of line is just not the same for me.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Publishers Northwest Meeting

Yesterday I went with friend and fellow author, Jennifer D. Monroe to the Book Publishers Northwest monthly meeting where we heard a wonderful presentation by book publishing coach, Patrick Snow. Patrick was quite an engaging speaker and provided many solid tips for us authors seeking to publish in the current publishing environment. It was totally worth the trip into Seattle for the afternoon.

Thanks for going with me Jennifer. :-)

Daily Report: Snow and inking

A freak Spring snow storm aside, the day seems to be going well thus far. After doing an editing check-in with the last chapter I edited yesterday, I proceeded on to inking work on the newest book illustration. As you can see, things are happening in the piece now. Textures are key at this point. I love the idea of showing a variety of textures in these drawings, the more the better. The world around us is chock full of textures of all sorts and I feel that adding a variety of textural lines can really enhance a pen & ink piece. When I first started using pen and ink I really only used hatching and cross-hatching marks. Those were the only one I knew how to do well. Now I find that by increasing the variety of textural marks used, you can really enhance the interest of a piece. Besides it’s fun!

WIP - book illustration
Copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2013
Can you see the post-it note in the upper right? That's my reminder of the direction of light in the piece, in other words, where the sun is located. If I don't do that, it's way too easy for me to get carried away making marks and forgetting to keep the contrast as crisp as I can. Since pen & ink is all about contrast, it's really important to keep your light sources straight.

Nearly forgot, I need to amend the list of pens I am currently using in my inking. I forgot to mention that I'm also using a Pilot Pocket Brush  (Hard) pen. Woops, that's a critical one.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Daily Report: No “artistas” here

One of my Snow Wolf doll proxies, used to check
lighting and clothing when drawing
Editing has been going gang-busters for me this week, with six chapters edited so far. I’m not quite sure how I managed to pull off the editing I did this morning. I was not in the right mood to edit when I got up, but wanted to try and push ahead before leaving for a Seattle appointment this afternoon. My old illustration professor used to say that professionals can’t be “artistas,” waiting until they feel in the "right mood” to work. Even though I’ve always embraced this philosophy, being able to pull out another chapter's worth of edits this morning was still a real surprise to me. Though the chapter will still need another re-read before bed tonight, I think it's in pretty good shape now, including the more complete description of an interior of a soviet-style apartment which I neglected in earlier drafts. 

Inking is proceeding well on the next book illustration. I’ve just gotten out one of my Barbie doll clothing proxies to check the lighting for the clothing in the drawing. (I may have to dig into my doll stores in the garage to find the girl in the shiny leather coat, though. I hope she’s easy to find.) 

So, all proceeds here as the hail comes down outside.

PS. Still groovin' with the Noodler's Konrad flex pen. I'm finding that its wider nib creates a nice line width for the heavier ink lines in the drawings. 

Ink pens I'm using in my illustrations
Micron (initial lines over pencil)
Namiki Falcon EF
Noodler's nib creaper flex
Noodler's Konrad flex

Fountain pen ink of choice
Noodler's Black

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Final editing count for the day - four chapters! Several inconsistencies caught and an entire chapter reorganized. *happy sigh* Things are going well at the studio today.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Daily Report

Three chapters edited today, including one that I rewrote quite heavily. Phew! I’m tired!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Just a reminder

The original tag line for the Privateer Princess web comic was: A tale of half-alien street punks, space pirates, and forbidden love. Works just as well for the new novel...just sayin. ;-)

Daily Report: Initial Pen Drawing Completed

Book Illustration, Copyright Sara Light-Waller 2013

I've just completed the initial ink drawing for the next book illustration this morning. Now on the details! I thought I’d post the initial drawing here, as I was talking so much about it in my last post.

You can see Snow Wolf (as she was in the comic) sitting on the bike on the right. That’s it for her old look. From here it’s the steep slope to style for her, but you’ll see that when you read the book. ;-)

I’m having a lot of fun with these old-fashioned complex pen and ink drawings. They’re quite inspired by HJ Ford’s drawing style as seen in Andrew Lang’s colored fairy books but spiced with a hint of manga, and of course, the modern twist of 21st century technology. Cool really.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Daily Report: Snow Wolf Reappears in Anchorage

Snow Wolf as she appeared in "Privateer Princess"

Here’s a book spoiler for you, the heroine of my novel is named Snow Wolf. She’s same girl heroine as seen in the our web comic, Privateer Princess. The Snow Wolf in my novel is not exactly the same girl as the one in the web comic. She doesn’t even look exactly the way she did before. Most noticeably missing is her trademark topknot. My novel heroine is going to get some serious fashion lessons as the books go on and in Book I she ends up dumping her topknot pretty quickly. But she still has it at the beginning at the book and if you look closely you'll see it in one of the illustrations in an early chapter. This is the drawing I’m working on right now. It'll be the only place in the book where she appears as she does in the comic. I just had to do it as a homage to where everything started.

Another fun thing about this current illustration is that I’ve been able to show some of the characters from the web comic in the way I had originally envisioned them. When I was drawing Privateer Princess, I was using a manga style that didn’t really support the kinds of images I had been seeing in my head. The style I’m using for the book illustrations does. It’s nice seeing the characters the way I’ve always imagined them, it’s like seeing old friends again after a long time apart.