Random Friday

Random randomness – not much to say, so… I uploaded another digital painting of Kay-low, Kol-ian’s son… This time with Jay-lee in the background. I’ve sort of experimented with the “painting” (I’m not a painter, I suck with brushes), since for Jay-lee I tried to make the black marks vanish, while they’re still very visible in Kay-low.

The previous drawing of Kay-low is here, his story should come out sometimes in March. He’s a wannabe galactic rockstar, so… that’s the reason for this look (and the fact that he is as much of a rebel as his father was at his age, LOL!). Except Kol-ian has genetically reinforced skin, so no tattoos allowed (hence the retractile wings to be “different”).

I’m also drawing those strips, but I’m not sure I’ll ever publish them. I’m having fun doing them, but I don’t thing they’re for public consumption – unless I decide to make a fool of myself in public! 😉 I might put one on DeviantART because it mentions a fellow Deviant, but the rest… I haven’t decided yet.

And February is over, so… until next month – have a great weekend! 🙂

Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest – because that’s what friends are for! A very special thanks for filling in for me – my eye is almost healed (although I’ll have it checked on Tuesday, just in case) – and a very warm welcome to Shafali! (p.s. if there are typos, forgive both of us… and click on the images to see them bigger, thank you!)

Creating Cover Art for B. G. Hope’s Body-switch Novellas:

Creating cover-art for novels is something that I hadn’t considered doing, until Barb wrote in to ask if I’d be willing to work on the covers for her body-switch novellas. I do cover-art and inner illustrations for business and political magazines, and if I remember right, it was this cover for The American Spectator magazine that made her consider the possibility. I am glad that she decided to hire me for doing her covers. I got the opportunity read her magical stories for free, painted three colorful covers, and then received the artist’s copy of the collection of her novellas. What’s more is that I also got a bonus for completing the assignments in time. (Thank you 🙂

bghope-bodyswitch-artist-deskI love to create cover-art because unlike a simpler assignment of a portrait or a caricature, it requires a lot of thinking. Cover-art requires the artist to weave at least three different expectations/constraints into one image.

  1. The author’s expectation: The author may be looking for an abstract idea; or a fairly concrete representation of the characters/places in the story; or nothing specific at all.
  2. The audience’s expectation: This is something that an artist gleans from the story. When I create artwork for the magazines, I generally have a good idea of the audience it caters to. In the case of novels and books, it’s something that I sense from the story.
  3. The technical constraints: Unlike other kinds of illustrations, which allow the artist some freedom of aspect ratio, actual dimensions and layout, cover-art begins with constraints.

The first cover that I did for the Body-Switch series was Ciaran & Harith, which was almost immediately followed by Johnny & Marion. The newest has been for Pat & Babs!

I follow a simple two-stage approval process for my illustration work. First I send in the sketch for approval and then I start painting. The creation of the sketch is the culmination of a process that begins with imagining the scene and then moves into the realm of design where I begin calibrating it against the three parameters cited above. Here’s how I went about creating these covers for Ms. Hope’s books.

Ciaran & Harith:

ciaran-harith-body-switch-bg-hopeThe author had mentioned that she wanted the two protagonists in her novel to appear on the cover, and she had given me some real-life references of people she wanted them to look like. Barb had spoken about this being a three novella series, so I wanted a common thread running through all the three covers. I also wanted to add a touch of magic, because the meddling witch’s magic is one of the things that sets these stories apart. The city-skyline just occurred because the impression that the story left on my mind was that Samantha the Witch was at her magical best in the nights and the story unfolded in a city.

Harith, an Indian, had to have the Indian Bollywood star look, and Samantha was a young, fun-loving, gypsy-ish witch (so the flower, and that impish grin.)

Johnny & Marion:

johnny-marion-body-switch-bg-hopeThis was the second cover I did for the body-switch series. Samantha the Witch had grown older in this story. I brought the focus onto her eyes so that she’s seen casting the spell directly with her eyes. The theme continued through the two characters, the spell, and witch. That was enough for continuity – I now needed something to bring in a variation…so I thought of changing the color. Ciaran & Harith had blues, indigos, and aquamarines. I went for greens and olives this painting.

Pat & Babs:

babs-and-patbody-switch-bg-hopeThe character, the spell, and the witch’s eyes – they formed the thread that formed the thematic connection. When I read the book, I felt that this story happened more indoors than its predecessors. Barb also wanted the Moka-maker in the Babs’ hands (Babs’ btw is modeled on the author herself.) So the variation came in with the indoors theme, but to form a out-of-the-world connection with Samantha, I framed them in a sort of window, and added an abstract silhouette of a man in the background.


Shafali’s Art Gallery: http://shafali.wordpress.com/gallery

About Shafali: http://shafali.wordpress.com/about

Art Friday

Since I don’t have watermarked versions of my drawings, I’ll point you to DeviantART instead – okay, maybe I could download the watermarked version and repost it here, but I’ll let you do a little extra work if you wish to see Da Muses latest portraits. Keanu is here, and Hrithik is here. Yes, I had a busy weekend! 😉

I’m also half done with the pencils of SKYBAND – since apparently at Loncon I’ll be on a comics panel, I thought I might as well get back to my graphic novel. When I’ll have the final schedule, I’ll post it, but I’m still sort of negotiating. I want to be on the program, so if there’s nothing else, I’ll do that single panel they gave me! 😉

Speaking of artists, have a look at this Kickstarter project. And if you’re an indie author… you might find your next cover from an Award-winning illustrator at a cheaper price than her usual fee! Now, if I could come up with a nice project to kickstart… I guess I’ll keep supporting others until I decide what to do!

I have more comics (that came out as photocopied zines in the 90s), but I should scan them all, and it’s hundreds of pages… since I’m not really selling any (neither 15 years nor SKYBAND nor Fleur de Lys), I don’t see why I should do it. Besides some are really badly drawn! 😉 Not to mention the unfinished ones…

Now I’d love to do another story with both Muses, but I don’t think I will. It’s taking way too long to finish SKYBAND, and even doing the last pages of 15 years took me 3 months… so probably not. They’ll still be in my stories, but no more comics.

Unless I start drawing real chibis or try to use the motion book tool… But enough random ramblings… have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

Random Friday

And it’s Art Friday, since Cristina spent three days with me, inspiring me! First have a look at her WiP of Amazon Summer cover… looking forward to the final digital painting! 🙂 I must say she’s done amazing progress in digital painting since those covers for the BoI (BTW, here’s the “flat” version of the box set – she kindly helped to “clean” the women to make the new cover that I pasted together with the elements symbols done my myself))…

BoI box setI mentioned drawing before starting to write, so here goes the Assassins Guild: Saif, Karuna/Kilig and Mirabella (Hakeem’s mother).

Karuna compositeYou can see the final drawings here: Karuna and Saif&Mirabella. I also did some dragon studies (yes, there’s a dragon in one of the stories – actually, a half-Fajrulo for those familiar with Silvery Earth), finally using the book I bought myself in London last November.

FajruloColored_resizeAnd then I did a new cover for Jessamine – while I tried something for my experiment, but I’m not very happy with the results yet. I mean I still have a lot of work to do. But I like the new cover, so I might finish the project this summer.

Jessamine WiP_resizeAnd here’s the final version… Oh, and yesterday I did my very first animated GIF! Like I said on DeviantART, since I have a very old Photoshop, I had to look for instructions for doing it with Photoshop Elements…

Barb.animatedShould I change my Avatar everywhere?! 😀 Why did I do this? Because of this DeviantART contest which also included a tutorial (for Photoshop CS5 or CS6)… No, I’m not submitting it, but I’ve always wondered how to do animated GIFs… and now I know! 😉

Ending on a silly note – while browsing Pinterest (no, I haven’t opened an account there), I found this… and now I want one (scroll down to the last image), LOL! If it’s Barbie-sized, it’s perfect, since my Barbie is the model’s age! 😀 Yep, showing my age again… 😉

Have a great weekend!

Random Friday

And it’s another Art Friday, but this time I’ll delight you with my so-called art! 😉 It was a drawing long weekend, so here are the results.

First Muse #2 with former Muse – see DeviantART for the materials used…


Then I did Muse #1 in color, although the beard… ARGH! 😦 Next image will be from the 20th century, so I don’t have to “shave” him in the drawing! 😉

2014fourth_resizeAnd then I did the cover/illustration for another tale of the Southern Kingdoms. I did it before starting the actual story – while I brainstormed the paragraph of idea that I was supposed to write. At least I knew who the two people were – a southern prince and a northern warrior woman – but I wasn’t sure of how they interacted.

NorthernWarriorAttemptsAnyhow, please help me choose which of the two… models me and Muse #2 – with some difficulty, since men don’t wear traditional clothes very often (women wear designer sari and traditional dresses for ceremonies, but men… not so much) and I had already used one image for Ker-ris. But I found another and made the most northern kingdom clothes slightly different from the others.

I have also drawn the background and made an attempt cover, but even if the e-book will have 2 stories, I’m not sure I want to put both titles on the cover. Maybe I’ll put just the title of the story illustrated and add “bonus story” in the description. Final cover is still a few months away anyway, so I might end up doing another attempt.

That’s all for today! Bank holiday in Italy, so I’m home, writing and recovering from the back ache I got at DajJob (we’re moving offices, it’s been an awful 3-days week, although I got out 15 minutes earlier yesterday, having the computer pulled away from me! 😉 Monday new place, brrr), and hopefully will be drawing more this weekend – if I finish the next story first! Have a great weekend!


Random Friday

Sort of Art Friday, except it’s not my art but for these two vignettes that sum up Torino Comics.

ToComics1_resizeToComics2_resizeI was very happy to be able to talk to Cinzia Di Felice, Silvano Beltramo and Maurizio Manzieri for future commissions. They are all quite different artists, but that’s what I like about them! 🙂

I met Cinzia in Angoulème way back in 2004 and bought her BDs in French… then for a few years she’d stopped drawing, so I had given up on her. Suddenly last year she was guest at the French BD bookshop in Rome, L’Aventure, and it was great to see she’d gone back to drawing! 😀 I was very happy to hire her for a Silvery Earth cover of future publication…

Silvano was among the organizers of Torino Comics – until this year. So I’ve known him for 3 or 4 years, and started hiring him for Star Minds. The only English cover is SMS – Women, but he did the Italian covers of Shooting Star and Mind Link. I  will let him redo the CVE covers and will proably do a new CreateSpace POD edition, just in case I start selling paper books. His historical comic Nidus Haereticorum will soon come out in English, and I’ll make sure to share the link – I got meself the Italian copy, signed by the artist at the comicon! 🙂

As for Maurizio, I also met him at Torino Comics, probably about the same time as Silvano. I’m honored to hire a Spectrum illustrator to do my humble covers, but I’m sure he’ll do a great job for Star Minds Next Generation. And we’ll be together at Loncon, so watch out in case we do a panel together – or just say hello if you see us wandering through the world con! 😉

And I celebrated 20 years of knowing Manf, a former ziner like me that I met at Umbria Fumetto way back in 1994 who is now a teacher at the Torino Comics School and a publisher as well! 🙂 We couldn’t believe 20 years have gone by as we reminesced and talked about old friends and where they are now… I might not be very far in my comic career, but then – I’m a writer, and hobbyist artist! 🙂

So, it was tyring, but I was happy. I also discussed other ideas and projects that I have with my Jedi Twin Fulvio, who might eventually help me produce what I have in mind. Although I might do a first attempt on my own. Now I need to get back to that priority list – or give up DayJob to have more time to follow all my projects! 😀 Except I don’t sell enough yet, so the only thing I can do is write and publish more, and then we’ll see…

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Random Friday

It’s Reading Friday, considering I’ve added a few books to my Goodreads list (which was good to boost my count to reach the goal of 65 books, haha)!

First, I’d like to talk about last Sunday’s guests, Alex&Rohan Healy and their Gyaros book 1. I really liked the fast pacing, but it could be tightened a little – sometimes there are repetitions that slow down the action. Yes, there’s a good old omniscient narrator (something that I used a lot in the 20th century) and it’s still a little rough, but I can see the potential. Another pass and a good editor will make this book shine. I liked this story of a common man in an uncommon situation with Murphy’s law going at him every time he thinks he’s safe! 😉 Looking forward to the sequel…

The rest is not really prose, so it was quick reading. Dead Moon and Dead Moon Epilogue I bought mostly for Luis Royo’s art. The text wasn’t particularly interesting, but I loved the Asian feeling of the illustrations. Same for the mermaid story illustrated by Victoria Frances – I bought it for the art, not for the text! 😉

A flight of angels was an interesting take on angels and faeries, beautifully illustrated in different styles by Rebecca Guay. I didn’t know her, so I’m glad I discovered her. The rest were comics, strips by Silvia Ziche (one of my favorite Italian comic book artists) and parodies by Enrique V.Vegas (Star Wars, Spiderman, Wolverine, but also Pirates of the Caribbean and Captain America and Thor). Both have a very humoristic style and are very funny.

Anyway, you can check the list here… Now I’m reading an Italian dead-trees book, so I won’t review it here, then I’m going through Star Minds again, otherwise I write the Snippets and then have to rewrite because I don’t remember what I wrote, haha. So before I keep going (I’ll finish Lost Son before the weekend, though) I need to go through the 3 books, taking notes for what I want to expand. I’m quite happy about the story of Ker-ris’s wedding… until someone destroys it! 😉

cap12covTXTebookNow spring is here and I’m already slowing down… so I won’t do anything new on D2D until the weekend. And I just sold another SKYBAND 12 on DTC. I’ll put more naked men on my covers from now on, LOL! Seriously, is this cover so much better than the others (see full list)?!

Anyhow, I’ll try to start on SKYBAND 13… if I don’t get distracted by the Star Minds drawings. I know I need to redo Lin-sun (first attempts), and then I have Gaurishankar, Maela, Mya and I don’t like the way I did M’aera S’iva, so I’ll have to look for another picture. With the adult filter off I discovered lots of naked long-haired men on DeviantART… you never stop learning! 😉

I guess that’s all for now. Guess I’m still tired from the length of these posts… will catch up, eventually! 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

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