Evergreen Files: UPDATE

EVERGREEN UPDATEQuick note:

Still making progress on the second book in the series: Counterplay. In the meantime I will be making chapters available on my website. These can be accessed as pages in the dropdown menu on the home page of this website.

Today I have added the Prologue for The Evergreen Gambit  HERE and the prologue to Counterplay HERE.

 

Still looking at a spring release of Counterplay on Amazon. Fingers crossed!

 

Evergreen Files: Counterplay

Evergreen Files Counterplay cover

I am making steady on the sequel to The Evergreen Gambit. The working title is Counterplay. I still have some scenes to work out, but the outline is done and the (never ending) editing process has begun.

I’ve changed the cover and title several times already. Hopefully, this is the final cover edition.  Still, thank goodness for Photoshop if I do change my mind again. It makes life so much easier for writers.

This sequel addresses some questions that were left as unfinished mysteries in the first novel. Why was it so important for Eliot to be at the Sochi Olympics?  Why was Eliot spending so much time communicating with his ex-wife, Alyona Hubba? Why did it all have to do with Russian politics?

Continue reading “Evergreen Files: Counterplay”

Art For Non-Artists: Painting People Quickly – Postscript

boatcrop

Just a quick addendum to the last post I put up earlier today.

Here is another example of using blobs of color to create the illusion of a form of a person. Illustrations are more like hints of picture rather than an actual photograph.  It’s just a digital paintbrush and a few squiggly lines. The reader’s imagination will fill in the rest.

Also, digital art is cheaper and easier to fix than using real paint. I still love to use real paints, but I don’t have a lot of time to pursue that hobby.

This is another example of the same techniques described in my earlier post HERE.

For more posts for Non-Artists, go here.

 

 

 

Art For Non-Artists: Painting People Quickly

When you are a non-artist, painting people seems very scary, but with a little effort you can create impressions of people fairly easily.

One easy method is to use the letters M and W as a starting point. I spent a little time practicing putting the letters together with a paint brush tool I produced the image below. After getting two MW combinations I liked, I added a couple blobs for their heads, extended the legs and added a stroke or two for arms.

mwmen

It really works – they do look like a short, wide man and a tall, skinny man in a tux or or black suit in silhouette.

I used Wacom’s Bamboo Tablet and Artrage software. (There are some very useful tutorial links at the Artrage website to get you started using all the tools available.)

I do like to use Artrage to sketch because I can easily erase mistakes or lines I don’t like. However, pen and paper does teach you to stop overcorrecting so it’s good to practice with both.

After I created my MW men, I added a layer under them with the paint roller. You can see both layers in the top right hand corner of this screen shot.

Screenshot 2017-07-25 22.11.37

and here are the two layers merged together:

 

mwmencolor

 

Here’s the image put through a Photoshop gradient:

mwmencolorblue

Using the techniques above (and a little more time and study of proportions) I created a more complicated image for The Year of the Numen. As you can see, it’s not an artistic masterpiece, but it does look humanoid and I think it has some charm and mystery about it. It will do for an illustration of the story I want to tell.

numenlumeneffects1

To think it all started with a M and a W!

I do have to admit that it helps to have an artist’s manikin or to know a little bit about proportions. There are many resources out there to aid the beginning artist (or non-artist doodler) and I have one recommendation at the end of this post.

If you want to learn more about using blobs of color to create people, then I recommend this book below.  Many of the techniques discussed are for advanced artists, but for the beginner it’s worth spending time looking it over to get a sense of how we see color and images in paintings.

Who knows? If one plays with color long enough, even a non-artist can create people.

For more posts for Non-Artists, click here.

Keep doodling!

Art For Non-Artists: Tools: Pen or Tablet?

What tools does the non-artist really need to get started?  When you look at art books you find the first chapter is usually about the materials that can be used to make the artwork in the book. It always seems so overwhelming to me. Do I really need all these things? This post is about the minimum amount of tools you need to get started as a non-artist.

First we’ll talk about creating the original image in pen and pencil. Below is photograph of one of my sketchbooks. The Zen Doodle I was working on is called Winkbee. It’s a simple five sided shape that looks something like a puzzle piece. I say simple, but I find it one of the trickier beginning shapes. First you make the five sided loopy figure and then you make an outer copy of the shape as close to the first one as you can. Then you make a center that mimics the larger shape. It should have five loops as well, but sometimes  the center is so small that you can only make three or four. I didn’t like the first one – as you can see I crossed it out, but later I found there’s really no wrong way to do this shape.

The materials used to create the image below are: Micro pen .001 and sketchbook paper, a cell phone camera and photoshop to clean the photo up (using the adjustments panel).

 

winkbee

 

Next I cropped the page  and sized it to get the image below (left). Then, I used the gradient tool in the adjustments panel. The gradient tool has a library of gradients. The artistic wizards at Photoshop have done all the work of creating photographic gradients and color harmonies. There are many ways to use the gradients, but all I know is how to pick one and use it as is. I simply went through them until I found one I liked. After that, I created a jpg out of the image.

So, you see this requires a little knowledge about Photoshop, but the tools are minimal and now I have an original image that I can use for my posts.

 

 

If you want to go completely digital, then I recommend you get a tablet to use with photoshop and other paint programs.

To create the picture below, I used Wacom’s Bamboo Tablet and Artrage. software. You could do this in Photoshop, but I’m more comfortable with Artrage.

 

winkbee1

I find I don’t have as much control using a tablet, but once the shapes are created I have more control over them. Many real artists (like my daughters) use pencil and paper to sketch their artwork first, then scan their images into Photoshop and ink over their work using a tablet.

Now that I have my images, I decided to add color to them using Artrage:

The image on the left was colored using only the fill tool (paint bucket). The one on the right was colored using the spray paint tool and the fill tool (paint bucket).

As you can see, since I didn’t “ink” over the image on the left, the color fill is more random than the tablet drawing on the right.

Now I have two pictures to use for my posts. I used the one on the right to feature this post.

I used the picture on the left as a background for a post on the word “quotidian”. You can click on the picture below to find about that.

quotidian

So, you can see you don’t need many tools to create pictures. You do need to know some minimal things about cropping images and resizing. You don’t need to know everything about Photoshop or Artage tools – just a few. However, there are many tutorials out there to help you learn these things, so as you get comfortable with the programs you’ll find the tools that you like most.

The big plus is that I now have some original artwork that is my own. I have creative control over it and hopefully it will help draw people to my posts. The hard part was learning to draw a five loop shape – and finding a little courage to try.

But, everyone has permission to doodle – even non-artists. 🙂