You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

Digital artwork of the absolute oh my god edgiest edgelord dagger ever. It has an obsidian blade, purple leather wraps, a brass handle with a weird clover design on it. It's surrounded by a halo of abstract angels and pool-table green fields with fleurs on them. You can probably order this knife out of a knife enthusiast magazine. It would also not look out of place in Hot Topic. And this knife is not a phase, Mom!

Where to Stick This Knife?
One fine morning a little over a year ago, I set up a silly poll on Twitter. I asked everyone, since we were all thieves in a treasure room, which item to steal. About thirty-seven thieves weighed in and decided upon, among other things, taking a single knife from the treasure store.

In response to this, I created the absolute shiniest treasure knife possible. I streamed its creation live on my weekly Twitch stream. I gave the knife an obsidian blade, per chat’s insistence. Then I messed around with the symmetry brush because that seems to draw people in. I imagine it looks really cool live to see a mandala spiral out of nothing. I based a color scheme on the silly obsidian used to craft the improbably blade, and while it somewhat reminds me of the green felt on a billiards table, I liked it.

The knife then sat, fairly un-used, for a long time. I came up with a mystical moonphase archery set to accompany it later, but there’s something a little more special about the knife.

Digital artwork combining medieval lunar charts with book illumination, a wooden Ottoman horse bow, and fletched arrows. It is gilded with gold. The lunar chart combines the phases of the moon with eclipse patterns. A green orb representing Earth is in the middle. The bow has an arrow strung to it and is aimed downwards.

Flash forward to Geek Girl Con ’22. It was going to be my first in-person convention since the end of the Pandemic. I’ll have a more detailed post about this con later. It was very, very good. It was sort of a reinvention for me, moving away from painterly offerings and into more comic-book style art.

Photograph of my table at Geek Girl Con, courtesy of AnnaMarie Jackson-Phelps of Violet Daisy Games. The Warlock'd zine is posed on top of a gold tablecloth. More copies of it and the Crab Rare Arts Best zine are cropped by the composition. In the background, there's a couple of prints: One is the moonphase bow and arrow set, and the other is the edgy obsidian knife.Hey! I recognize that knife back there. Photo courtesy of AnnaMaria Jackson-Phelps.

One of the reasons I go to conventions is that I meet so many great people. The person I met of note with regards to this post was AnnaMaria Jackson-Phelps, a game photographer and TTRPG designer. She took this and many other photos for me. Then AnnaMarie granted me permission to share the photos on my blog. It was really kind of her and I hope she had a great time!

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern
In the follow-up email, AnnaMaria asked if I’d be interested in participating in her upcoming TTRPG prompt book, You Don’t Meet in a Tavern. While I couldn’t immediately commit to making new art for the book, I wondered…Maybe…maybe there was a home for my edgy obsidian knife here? I had a really honest open conversation with AnnaMaria about art licensing and I’m definitely very happy with what we decided to do.

I’m pleased to announce that my knife will appear in this collection! Keep an eye on Violet Daisy Games for more information.

Care to read more?

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

Where to Stick This Knife?One fine morning a little over a year ago, I set up a silly poll on Twitter. I asked everyone, since we were all thieves in a treasure room, which item to steal. About thirty-seven thieves weighed in and decided upon, among other things,...

A Fossil Returns to Life

A Fossil Returns to Life

What Do We Do with Old Art that People Really Liked?I've been doing conventions for awhile now and find them very personally fulfilling. I have so much fun setting up my display, rehearsing my sales strategies, and figuring out which things sell and why. Of course, my...

Amphiox, Continued

Amphiox, Continued

Defining Steps in a Personal Production PipelineMy Amphiox short comic is an exercise in art production. Up until I attempted it, I'd never really done much longform comic storytelling. Most of my practice was in one- or two-page micro-stories. I chose 48 pages as a...

Want to chat about this?

A Fossil Returns to Life

A Fossil Returns to Life

Digital art of a very fancy tea part being raided by three small yellow pterosaurs. One is coming in for a landing over the manicured lawn. Another is fishing the tea bags out of the teapot with its beak. The third has adopted an overturned teacup as its home, where it can secret stolen sugar cubes. There's a rainbow over the scene. The tea party was shaping up to be pretty good before the pterosaurs arrived: A petit four, cupcake, donut, and fancy cutlery lie askew on a patterned tablecloth.

What Do We Do with Old Art that People Really Liked?
I’ve been doing conventions for awhile now and find them very personally fulfilling. I have so much fun setting up my display, rehearsing my sales strategies, and figuring out which things sell and why. Of course, my favorite thing to do is make merchandise in the first place. When I was starting out, I learned quickly that fancy prints are good for attracting people over to my table. I learned which paper and which printer to use to get the best-quality prints. There’s just something very nice about making a piece of artwork and then packaging it up to go to someone’s home.

Earlier version of the digital art featured in this blog post. It is much simpler: Just a teapot, the three pterosaurs, and one sugar spoon on a blue handkerchief. This is all on a plain white background.

The original Ptempest in a Pteacup, circa 2013.
I did this in Adobe Illustrator with vector shapes because…I enjoyed pain.

Of all my prints that I’ve ever made, I’ve sold the most copies of Ptempest in a Pteacup. As much complex analysis of this piece as I want to do, the general consensus when I ask is that it’s ‘cute’ and ‘like nothing I’ve ever seen before’. I think the fantasy of owning a small prehistoric creature is a common one, or at least one that can be tapped into easily when observed for the first time. I think people liked the clear silhouette and ability to make out what was going on, and the weird/shiny surfaces.

It hurt to retire this print. It also hurt to sell more of them.

Why did I stop selling it? Well, it’s a very slow style rendered in vector graphics. I can’t easily or quickly replicate this style. The underdrawing also isn’t something I particularly adore. It looks kind of lumpy. That may have been part of its charm, but I’m not that artist anymore. I’m a different artist now! Finally, the size wasn’t large enough to fetch the higher prices I could see it selling for. This was an 8.5 by 11 print and the maximum I feel comfortable charging for that is $25. I wanted to make it an 11 x 17 so I could charge $40 per print. Most home printers can’t do 11 x 17 so I want the novelty of a larger print to factor into its appeal.

On the docket: A size update, and a style update. How do I do that while preserving the magic of the original? Do I truly understand what people liked about my own work? I’m going to ask this question over and over again. What do people like? How do I update something people like, but still have it reflect the original work?

Digital sketch of the final art. It's more or less what we see in the final, but scribbled in and not colored in yet.

My 2nd or 3rd attempt at a sketch. Not sure where the earlier ones went, but this is where I landed.

My goals with this sketch were to fill out more of the page, make it more of a full illustration instead of a spot graphic, really justify the scene by printing full-bleed. I also wanted to make the perspective on the teacups and teapot cleaner, and just in general make the designs more elegant. I’m not the greatest at paleontological reconstruction but I felt like the pterosaurs deserved more care in their construction and posing. One of the pterosaurs was moved into the sky so that the viewer can see a whole body and how it flies. This should make it easier to imagine the rest of the other pterosaurs whose forms are hidden.

Some very rough color studies, one with a sunny day and one with a rainy day.Color studies. Sunny day and rainy day.

I only did a couple of color studies here. I knew I wanted to keep the pterosaurs yellow so that they’d jump out at the viewer as ‘odd’ when passed by. Purples and blues were there to support the yellow. I messed with the idea of a rainy background but sunny foreground, a fox’s wedding effect. Ultimately that felt a bit convoluted for this piece and so I moved on and vowed to keep it simple. The rainbow was a joke but of course that’s the thing about jokes…Perhaps my friends who join my drawing livestream dared me to leave it in!

Digital lineart of the pterosaurs attacking the tea party. It's blank and ready to color.First iteration of lines. Available to freely color under a CC-BY-NC 3.0 License

This, I felt, was pretty good. I’ve been getting faster and more confident in my lines. It’s approaching the balance I want between polished lines and getting the lines done at all. Right now I’m really enjoying the monowidth look done with Pencil tool. Maybe I’ll expand it with thinner lines on some of the surfaces in the future, but for now, I let colors do most of that work.

Simple flat coloring on the lines of the pterodactyl artwork. It looks very dull because no shading or highlights have been added.Without much of a variety of color studies, I explored my way through this scheme.

Some color schemes can be explored through. I would never do this with a client, but in this case I needed to do it for myself. For fun. Because that’s all art really is, right? I also started plotting where the highlights would go. Highlights function to draw attention to key parts of a piece.

Closeup of a sketch depicting a Victorian manor reflected in the surface of a teapot, warping and gleaming included.I also had a small adventure figuring out the landscape around the picnic.

What was I doing here? I was figuring out what would reflect on the teapot, and where. I think porcelain’s reflectivity is not too high so I felt comfortable blotting in colors and leaving it at that. One feedback I got on the original pterosaur piece was that the ‘shiny teapot’ was very desirable. I didn’t like how artificially shiny it was and so I sought a more sophisticated effect here. Which leads to designing a small Victorian garden that most people won’t see. That’s life. And art.

Digital art that is the same as the first image in this post, but there's one thing missing...I sat on this for a couple of days.

And so, many layers of shading, rainbow gleams, research into confections, spot black applciation, and a custom repeating pattern for the table cloth later, this is what came out. Something still bothered me about this piece. I think it was the proportion of subject matter. The teaset seemed to be the main part of the piece. I wrestled with what to do. I didn’t want to add another whole pterosaur, because that would be too much pterosaur. It was like measuring out milk and sugar. The tea flavor still needs to come through.

Closeup of the pterosaur hunkering down in an overturned teacup.Hang on. This one’s looking a little cramped there. Where’s the wing going?

Same screenshot as above, only this one has been edited so that the pterosaur's wings are free of the pteacup and spread widely outward.Boop! Wings. Done. 🙂

Care to read more?

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

Where to Stick This Knife?One fine morning a little over a year ago, I set up a silly poll on Twitter. I asked everyone, since we were all thieves in a treasure room, which item to steal. About thirty-seven thieves weighed in and decided upon, among other things,...

A Fossil Returns to Life

A Fossil Returns to Life

What Do We Do with Old Art that People Really Liked?I've been doing conventions for awhile now and find them very personally fulfilling. I have so much fun setting up my display, rehearsing my sales strategies, and figuring out which things sell and why. Of course, my...

Amphiox, Continued

Amphiox, Continued

Defining Steps in a Personal Production PipelineMy Amphiox short comic is an exercise in art production. Up until I attempted it, I'd never really done much longform comic storytelling. Most of my practice was in one- or two-page micro-stories. I chose 48 pages as a...

Want to chat about this?