Dragon Age Fanart (there is no escaping Thedas, ever)

There’s something to be said about original art, but fanart is such a great way to stretch my imagination and try something I might not have thought to make otherwise, not to


mention I love making things I’ve seen in game.

Recently I’ve been obsessed with Dragon Age.  Between the characters, costumes, and lore there’s no end to what you can draw and make.

Oddly enough, the first thing I wanted to make were the banners that hang up in skyhold. Off I went to the thrift stores to find interesting fabrics and patterns for a decent price while I experimented. The thrift stores didn’t fail me.

Based on what I found I decided to start with the Templar banner.  Why so many video games decide to call their groups templars I’ll never know.  It makes it hard to google, because you end up with all crusades images.


I decided to take a few creative liberties, with the design based on my supplies, but . . .


(the studio is pretty much on clean up day when I took this picture, so pardon the mess.) You’ll notice I seem to have an inability to work at a reasonable scale.  I don’t know why this is.  I always do it. Draft 2 will probably be smaller. I’m really quite satisfied with my frogged rope though (and the fact I attached it so close without a zipper foot)


Belive it or not, this is my smaller paper pattern for the design. These paper patterns I then traced onto some curtains that I’d attached heat n’ bond to. I’m still not sure how I want to do the circle yet.  I made a paper pattern for it like I did the sword, but I don’t really want to waste that much heat n’ bond just for a narrow circle.  There’s a fair bit of research to be done still before I finalize the motif.


Even at this point I’m considering stopping to make it smaller.  Who needs a giant Templar banner in their house? So far so good though. I really wanted to quilt the blue, but drawing guide lines on fabric is much harder than paper.

Next, of course the ever easy to do anywhere: drawing.

If you remember from my post a week or two ago, there was a bunch of portraits, but I’ve gotten addicted to these profile views.  Noses! all the shapes! Solas was actually supposed to be my warden, but she turned into a bald man. . . . so her–his nose is not quite right.  I actually always thought Cassandra and I had very similar noses until I sat down to draw her.  She’s very angular, but her nose isn’t that pointy! No one in DA really has a long nose. Especially not my Lavellen here, but I like the DA:II style of elves so it’s really not that common.

I’ve been DYING to smack little letters into pieces of metal for a few months now, so I was so excited to finally sit down with my hammer and realize how hard it is to keep words going straight. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with any of my stamped metal quite yet, but that didn’t stop me from practicing.  (i learned the smaller letters are MUCH harder to space and keep straight)

All my rocks money went to metal stamps, so I wasn’t allowed to buy all the quartz I could get my hands on, but I’ll be damned if I don’t get my own little lyrium.  (also found a use for one of my metal plates! yay!)

This little guy is RIDDLED with mistakes though, dear goodness.  I was reading an article about tinting translucent sculpy with alcohol based ink, but I don’ have any.  What did I decide to do though? colour on a piece of glass with copic and dab up the ink with clay. Despite the face you’re making, it worked okay, but since I didn’t have a red refill it was hard to get enough ink into the clay, so I resorted to mixing and trying to marble.

Now, I don’t have a toaster over to bake clay in, so I have to go downstairs, preheat the oven, and heat up the house in AUGUST just for a few minutes of clay cooking.  Yeah didn’t sound too appealing to me either.  So what did my genius self decide to do? Heat gun it till it’s stiff. That worked except, I didn’t do enough.  Ever tried cutting sculpy that’s cured outside but soft and warm inside? it’s messy. No bueno. You’ll notice how it barely resembles a crystal at all on the left side image.

Well, yesterday was also my birthday and I was gifted a copic airbrush.  So first thing I did was pop in my red marker and tint the sucker Red Lyrium red. (at this point I implore you to remember it’s only heat gun cured. I’m a crazy woman.)

The little voice inside my head said “stop! cure it all the way before you do anything else!” the little satan on my shoulder kicked the first voice and told me to start gluing stuff on it, and i did.

So while my first draft is cute and stiff on the outside, it’s still squishy inside.  Eventually that’ll bite me in the butt.

Tonight’s goal then is to bake the crystals BEFORE cutting and actually make silicone molds that I can use for resin. The resin crystals are so pretty and would look great as jewelry (lore wise this is the worst idea ever, but who cares).  If you want to see how the smarter me works with clay and how the resin crystals turn out, watch my FB and IG. Updates usually reach there first.


When you just have to hunker down and digitize your work.

Any recommendations on how you organize you work into “to be digitized” and “to be filed” etc is much appreciated, for I find myself in the corner I always end up in: a big growing pile of art that I need to digitize and get into my shop and portfolio. (not to be confused with the pile labeled “need to mat and put on the wall” )

Quick glimpse into my not so busy but somehow lacking free time life: Awesomecon was in early June and all my energy went towards preparing for it. I’d planned the following Monday off to  file all my art and compile all my sales data so it’s easier come tax time, but alas, Jury duty. Soon every Monday that month was full of jury duty, and I don’t know if any of my readers are from the Washington DC area, but serving jury duty south of Fairfax then driving up to Reston for a half day when you’re nixed, then fighting two+ hours of traffic to get home is exhausting. That’s my whole pity party right there.  It was horrible, and the case I got put on was pathetic to boot. But on topic, work ended up needing me on pretty much all my days off and I’m STILL trying to get my TB test for my subbing license (thank you corrupt insurance system), so when I sat down at the end of the day I pretty much just needed to decomp. Read: Draw or Dragon Age.

The problem with this lifestyle, is nothing gets recorded and you end up with a large pile of works that all need to be digitized together.  Cleaning up 20 pieces at the same time makes your eyes hurt, or maybe I have weak eyes, either way I’m dissuaded.

Somehow declaring something will be done, makes it easier to do. So this is my declaration. I WILL DIGITIZE ALL MY WORKS THIS WEDNESDAY. Prepare yourselves! Winter is coming–er–finalized works are coming!

I’ll leave you with some birthday images, since I just turned 25 yesterday


(happy birthday me!)


I wonder if my mica metallics will click into the old pallet . . .



I bet you thought I’d died–but i’ve been drawing!

So I started this blog to record my process and thoughts that go a little further past my IG posts, but lately I’ve been focusing on building my 2D skills, and you can only have so many “I DREW ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL ASS” posts. That being said, I have been progressing a lot and am SUPER STOKED to admit, I just finished my sketchbook. You know, the one I started in April.  That’s at least a drawing a day, a personal best since ever.  Usually I go through a book a year. Not counting my last year at college and into into the real world, in which I finished one sketchbook over 3 years. Just the progress alone in these three months with such dedicated work amazed me.

Of course I left my completed sketchbook (“compeleted” the plans for my sculpture on the last page are half doodled) in my studio, and am only out and about with the new one. (it’s so perfect and unused. Time to change that.)

okay I’m going to derail real quick because I’m just so excited about finishing a sketchbook in <3 months. Go find the centered * to skip the derailment and continue reading about my progress. So about a week ago I realized I was getting down to my last few pages.

     “pffffft,” I told myself, “you’re crazy,  it’s only been 3 months–if even!”
but I continued drawing until the papers felt suspiciously thin.

Now I store a million and a half reference images along in my sketchbook.  Usually I keep them full sized on a sheet of printer paper and just shove them at the back.  So, when I get to the end of the book there’s usually an odd bow where the printer paper isn’t as big as the sketchbook paper. Well, I reached this phenomena and instantly panicked.  “I NEED A NOW BOOK ASAP”

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but If I get distracted while I’m on a roll, I never finish.  My thesis was really hard in this respect, because I couldn’t do everything in a single stretch.  Damn my other college classes getting in the way.  It’s the same no matter what material I’m working with. Ceramics? If I leave the studio, good luck ever getting a cup trimmed.  Online Dating? Don’t find someone interesting and respectful to meet within my first two weeks of constant social interaction? Delete the app.  Essay? Sit down and write it all in a single sitting, or I’ll start over the next time I sit down to work.

Oddly enough food and TV I’m great at abandoning and coming back to.  Mid reveal in a telenovela–hold up I have to go write a grocery list, start a new diet, become a world famous model, ruin my career endorsing a medication proven to cause cervical cancer a few years after it hit markets, move to southern France, ruin my life by falling for an Italian Bartender who only wants me for my greencard, sell my hair for grocery money and wonder if I’m poor enough yet for affordable obamacare–okay lets see if julio’s actually the father.

So my point–if I don’t replace my sketchbook before I finish the last three pages I may never ever draw again, and I was finally getting where I wanted to me. UNACCEPTABLE.

My point in all this, I’ve been carrying around my new sketchbook and my old one all week while waiting for it to fill up, and it’s still in new pristine shape.  You know, where the corners are all still sharp and the cover understands it’s purpose is to stay ON the book. (I’m really rough on my travel sketchbooks.)


SO PROGRESS! At the begining of the April 2016 sketchbook there’s a full page drawing of a naked woman.  She was intended to be the base for some outfit, but I was pooped from how much effort it took me to make her acceptable looking.  By the end of the book, my drawings still look pretty much the same, and sometimes still take me just as long, but the effort it took to produce them was so much less.  I’m impulsively drawing bodies to try out different outfits.  I actually wanted to draw a whole new body the other day over digitally just drawing an outfit over an already drawn body.  That NEVER used to happen.  3 months!

I’m debating which state I want to get my teaching license in, and it really makes it hard to decide when I know I’ll have to sacrifice my drawing time to being an adult and taking classes after work.  I really don’t want to get stuck in the “no time to draw” rut I was in after college, but life has to happen unfortunately.


Because I’ve been sch a horrible blog owner of late, I don’t have all the images I’d usually have at my fingertips available to me right now, but everything’s on my Instagram Amarnaphiliac, with finals and less progress updates on my IG for Art only Xandirose.

That being said,

Going back furthest, I wanted to try colouring using mostly just watercolours and limiting my use of line.

You’ll notice, there’s no lineart.  I actually didn’t realize that I was working linelessly until after I finished and was putting lines back in.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget my freshman year drawing class in which my professor told me I wasn’t allowed to draw lines.  I looked at him like he was a crazy person.
“If I can’t draw lines how on earth am I expected to differentiate this half of the white paper form that half of the paper, crazy man.  I need the line to tell me where to shade. DUR.”
Well, now I realize what he was saying.  I think I’d still have the same reaction to his telling me I’m not allowed to lay down any prelim shapes with line before adding shadow though. I don’t view shapes, I view lines.  Maybe I just haven’t gotten there yet, but I certainly didn’t even understand the concept at 18.
This painting’s also on a larger toothed paper by strathmoore instead of canson.  I was so disillusioned with my canson sketchbook, I knew I needed to test out other brands to see if it was a skethbook fluke or if I was just content with lower quality products. Well, I haven’t really used much paints since this drawing, so I’m still not sure. The paper feels amazing though.

After the watercolour test I decided to try doing the exact same drawing with markers, for a really good comparison. Like vs like.

Well, I forgot my e000 marker when I started this, so I tried to fudge it with e00 and e02, but it’s far too pink for my liking.  Looking back in retrospect though it looks alright.  I may have acclimated, time will tell.

Markers really required me to think a lot more about where I wanted a harsher line, which i think is difficult if you’re not thinking in shapes.  Where it hurt me most was in the face.  I really dislike her hair and face in this drawing.

After this I was supposed to do a third style with Tifa, but I got distracted my my online dating app prospects asking me about aeris in their opening lines. I already had aeris all sketched up and ready to do the same as tifa, so I forwent the third study.  I think it was supposed to be a pencil and paint/marker multimedia peice that featured the pencils as the source of shadows.

Now when I started aeris I was watching video tuts for how Hannah Alexander does her lineart in PS. One of my jobs is basically a receptionist, and there’s rarely 8 solid hours worth of filing, so I doodle between files and phone calls.

I really really like my doodle product.

You can see some of the art nouveau changes I made to my style combined with what I’d learned about shadows from copics it lead to something really new and cool. I’m particularly proud of the fact that I got these nice hombres using office supplies on printer paper scraps.

But, because of this doodle success aeris ended up being edited to an art nouveau style.

I came full circle, back to heavy lines that the drawing would look odd without, but the results were really nice. I felt like the heavy stylization helped to distract a little from some of the mistakes I realized–of course–after the point of no return.

At this point I’m having so much drawing these pretty women that I decide to do something really daring. A MAN.

I can’t draw men.

They always end up looking like a have transitioned trek trek shapeshifter who couldn’t make up its mind.

So imagine my surprise when beardy Mc sad face Blackwall actually turned out okay.

Yeah there’s things to improve on, but he looks like a man, and not a freaky bearded woman.  I never stopped to think about beards before drawing this though.  They’re really kind of odd. I was sitting there pen in hand like “so . . . does the hair sprout out from under their lip? Is he going to end up eating his mustache is I draw it like this? Oh great now he’s a werewolf!”
I learned a lot, and realized I need to start sitting closer to my guy friends to stare at their faces.

Okay so morrigan is a little out of production sequence, she was actually before Aeris, but I drew basic lines how I usually do and coloured flat blocks with marker, going back in with pencil to create shadows.


It’s a really nice technique that combines my two favorite elements of both materials.  I can’t colour large areas in pencil, no patience.  I don’t like blending markers, too bold. Combining my strong points in both materials I may be able to really take this somewhere.
I think the only thing I really changed since taking this picture was smoothing out those feathers a bit. I have a bit of a backlog for digitizing and recording my traditional works, but finished Morrigan will be online before too long.

After all this figure drawing traditionally, I decided to go back and work on my self portait I started a while ago.

I resurrected my old Deviant art a little while back, and realized my last ID picture was so old, my hair wasn’t even red. I’ve had red hair for at least 5 years at this point, so it was an old pic. Obviously my new ID has to have jellyfish, so off I went to doodle.  I don’t really like this picture anymore so I’ll probably nix it without finishing colouring, since I still don’t really find joy int he process of digital painting,only the results. What I DID take away from this piece though was how to make things look like their glowing.

Naturally, glowing jellyfish.

I needed a new sign for my etsy shop, so why not? Alright, my etsy shop still needs a more descriptive banner than my name and some jellies, but i really like this for the moment, so it can live atop my shop a while longer.

I’m incapable of being satisfied with a drawing, so when I saw the dalish banners in Dragon Age inquisition, I knew I had to make one.

If you haven’t played before, they look like this:

Gorgeous right? I needed a miniature version for myself.

The first problem I ran into is what to make it out of.  I could sculpt all the pieces out of clay, but for whatever reason I knew I’d mess it up and decided tha plexi would work better.  Because it’s impossible to mess up plexi? I’ll make a stand alone post about this process, because it’s lengthy.

Last but not least, a drawing from today that I actually just finished that’s pretty much 100% copied from Ste7en Lefcourt’s design on teefury.


My friend loves winnie the pooh and pokemon, but hates ash and pikachu so I doodled her with her charmander instead and wanted to colour it. (thus the rush job and repairs to take care of when I get home with the rest of my supplies.)
Pretty sure I’m just going to shove the drawing in her arms and run away before she can tell me she doesn’t want it, haha. YOUR RESPONSIBILITY NOOOOOOOOOOOW!

But actually I bought a new pen to do these sepia lines and realized I really really really like felt brush tip pens.


This pen is a prisma colour on canson watercolour paper, but those lines are really nice. I may have to get one in black too now.

That’s it for my progress post, check back for info about that dalish banner and my other Dragon age fabric peices I’m about to start. Also I’m taking a ceramics course and finally managed to reteach myself to center clay on the wheel.  So Expect cup and bowl spam soon.

PS. oh lordy I’m so hungry right now.  I’m on a new diet to lose 15 lbs and I did not bring enough lunch to keep me full until after class. if only my car didn’t kill any fruit I store in it over the summer, I could keep a snack stash.






Digital on the Horizon!

As I said I would, I’ve been working the human figure and drawing the last few . . . increments of time.


I wanted to do the Dragon Age clothing meme. I’ve wanted to do it for a while.  My little non-inquisitor/Non-warden Elf  has been dying to pull out her wardrobe and put it on display.  (I have so many sticky notes with the different veils she owns drawn on them, haha).  The thing for these meme’s is i really like it when it’s the same body over and over, with the focus purely on the fashion. Traditionally, then means a lot of lightbox and tracing. I love my lightbox, but I hate repetition.

Then it hit me, as I looked through digital after digital meme. Chika, you have some silly little computer all set up to draw, why have you don’t nothing but little edits here and there?

Digging out my old tablet I set to work with a new lineart tutorial I’d watched on youtube months ago. Me being me, I didn’t save the video, as I thought “eh, I’m not going to work on this now. Maybe later” and closed it, and forgot it.

Well I remembered her advice well enough. Zoom in and join several shorter strokes, undoing every time the stroke is wobbly or unnatural. just keep swimming, just keep swimming. . . .

Alright so here’s the primary things I changed when I did my lineart this time, versus in the past.


So I’m a moron, and forgot to check the size of my image before starting, so my lineart’s not big enough to go on a really big print. GUYS DON’T BE STUPID LIKE ME. I scan everything in as big as my scanner will allow me though.

That being said, the things I changed in this drawing that are GOOD changes are as follows:

1. I didn’t play the ‘draw black lines on a graphite drawing with an opaque layer of white on top’ game. What that means, if you’ve never done this trick, is basically you load up your original sketch, open a new layer above it and bucket paint it white, then you bring the opacity down and until the original lines are really pale, and draw you lineart over top of these in a new layer with the black brush.

I mean, I suppose it works, but I liked what I did more.

So my original drawing was in pink. I’ve started drawing in pink. I’m not sure exactly WHY it helps, but it does. I created a new layer above my pink drawing and drew the line art over top in Blue. I got really nice distinction and could easily see what I was doing, much better than black on grey.

2. I drew the next element in pink on top of the blue lines. There was really something helpful about changing the colours of each element as I drew it.  Set it apart before I blended it all together.  There was no confusion about “well maybe that was a hair . . .  or an earlobe”.

3. This is the change I’m really stoked about. I DON’T KNOW HOW I NEVER NEW ABOUT THIS. Are you ready for the big reveal?


So I don’t know how many times I’ve decided I want to change the colour of some thing or mess with it, but get frustrated with how the wand tool leaves little fuzzies around everything, no matter how I set the tolerance.   Plus it felt like a waste of efficiency. But masking it out felt wasteful too. Little did I know the solution was clipping masks.

I was finally able to do line art the same colour as the object it referred to and efficiently highlight and add to shapes. I actually learned about clipping masks from this video, which I liked to because of item number 4.

4. Brushes. I’m not sure how much difference my choice of brush made, using his as opposed to basics, but I’m going to blame my success here on Tsaoshin. (click the link to go to his brushes download on Deviant art)

Plus, his soft colouring brush finally enabled me to understand how digital artists got that one particular look. kinda a soft layered blend, I dunno. I’ve been dying to be able to make that mark for years. NOW I HAVE ALL THE SECRETS.


From there I continued on my merry little way (don’t look at the clock. you’ll see what a slow worker I am. I totally don’t watch spanish rom coms while I work at all. nope. Deeeeefinitly not brittish hisorical dramas either. Definitely not.)

After about 5 hours my hand was frozen solid and I reached that impatient stage, where you’re supposed to put it away and go to bed, but I didn’t want to.  It really doesn’t help I’m using my old Bamboo tablet from 2007 and DEAR GOODNESS is that tech old. It was amazing and innovative and caught everyone’s attention on the airplane when I first bought it, but touch tech has improved SO MUCH in the last (oh my goodness) 9 years. (i feel old)

I think I only put in another hour or so before rolling into bed to read mangas I used to read in 2007. (i really didn’t intend for it to be a flash back nigh,t but it wanted to be)


So there it is, outfit number 1! And the nice thing about the way I did this, there’s legs under that skit that I can quickly put pants on. No having to draw them out.

All in total I’m SUPER STOKED about how well this turned out. Is it the most amazing artwork I’ve ever seen? Not yet, but for me working digital seriously for the first time in years with my glitch-y little bamboo, I just see forward momentum beyond my expectations.

(ignore that beige stripe of sketchbook paper on the last image xD I quickly converted this working file to jpeg at 2 am)

I feel like I may even have to open up a new Deviant art so I can post the final meme. Is DA actually still alive? I only go on there now for resources. OH MY GOODNESS I AM SO OLD. I FART DUST AND DON’T KNOW WHAT SITES ARE HIP. I actually had to watch a buzzfeed video to find out what ‘On fleek’ meant. It’s the beginning of the end.