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#WeCreate The Beauty of Inspiration

Frankie Av

I love art. I love artists. I love creativity. There are so many beautiful people out there who share their work for all to see, free of charge. It’s not often that my head is swayed; I have particular tastes when it comes to art which I do not produce myself.

Being a fan of Naruto, I searched for fan art for the show when I first got into it. While there are many varied themes for a multitude of characters from the anime, there are only two artists who stand out and who I follow, creating imaginative and beautiful works which transcend the anime boundaries. Their art takes the characters and places them in worlds unknown to the manga or anime.

The two artists I speak of are Kanzzzaki and Kejablank on DeviantArt. While their own original art is beautiful and well executed, I really want to show how one person’s creation, can become another’s inspiration. (Some pictures are incorrectly resized due to my gif maker. See original artists page for full picture resolution and size. I encourage you to look at all art on both artists pages!)

My favorite character from Naruto is Kakashi Hatake. Now, he looks pretty cool in the anime, and has a backstory most writers would bleed their veins just to imagine. What these two artists do with this character is simply astounding.

What I love about Kanzzzaki’s art is the the way she presents the character in scenes we are not familiar with and so perfectly believable. Her careful base line art is beautiful, but the colouring of her pictures is so delicate that they just grab your attention and make you want for more. The way she uses light is amazing, from the sun shining through a window, to the light of the moon, each picture utilizes this natural agent in realistic and beautiful ways.

 photo kanzaki sideshow_zpsmzbj6ak6.gif

Kejablank’s art is just as wonderfully crafted and similar in style to Kanzzzaki. Kejablank creates such detailed and realistic pictures which blow me away. Her execution is impeccable, her colouring striking and bold. The body poses and perspectives she uses are just sublime. But, it is her monochromatic pieces I love the most. The base line art is gorgeous, the shading just beautiful. Her works are dynamic, eye-grabbing and just so damned lovely.

While all of these pieces are amazing, imaginative and beautifully created, they were based on another’s character; that of the great manga artist, Masashi Kishimoto. In the realm of creativity, there are two things going on here. There is the original idea, the original story so well crafted by Kishimoto and loved by so many people around the globe. The story  of Naruto itself is a piece of art, the art is some of the best in the manga world. But there is also the secondary creations of other great artists, inspired by these well crafted characters and loved so much that they are created over and over in ingenious ways that the art, story and soul of the original character continues to live on, even though the original Naruto story is over and ended–in the manga at least.

This is what art is about. Whether you rate fan art or not is beside the point: you can not tell me that these two artists works should be shunned because they are not originally their idea. Every story ever told came from somewhere. Every piece of art was created by an idea which has roamed through the head of countless others over the centuries. But, what we see is an evolution of a character simply because the character is loved so very much by so many. That is what art and creative imagination is all about.

If I can inspire art or words through my own characters, then I know I have written something which is worthy, something which means something, and I am more than pleased to see such work. Unless someone claims my work as their own or plagiarizes my writing, I am more than happy to see other people imagining scenes from the story in other ways. It means that my story and my characters made a lasting impression. It means my story and characters meant something to someone, so much so that they HAD to write or draw them in ways I didn’t imagine. And this has happened. I have art and words based on my story and characters, made by others.

This is what art is all about. It is why we create. Not to make money, not to get one up on another, not to make a name for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, being paid for writing and painting is fantastic! But, we do it to inspire, to craft a tale or image which will make people think or take them away from dull or painful lives even if it is just for a moment.

Art, writing, crafting, singing, composing, filming, and all other forms of creativity, are a lifeline and an escape from the humdrum of life. If the fears and worries of everyday life can disappear–if only for a moment–then, it is all worth it.

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE


#WeCreate: Artist “Jesterry” on Deviant Art

Sam av

Sometimes, I walk by a certain aesthetic and am just floored. Do you ever get that feeling? You see a work of art or a work of nature (or a work of God, if that’s your thing) that just strikes you to the depths of your soul, grips you and never lets go?

For me, that was this:

I found it when I was browsing for Madara/Mito fan art while I was writing Forever. Even if you know nothing at all about Naruto (my favorite anime), I think this picture is just gorgeous. I had it set as my laptop background for many months. It’s an old favorite I come back to every now and then. Sometimes I just stare at it. The colors are fantastic, the pose is lovely and real.

This is by one of my favorite artists on Deviant Art known as Jesterry. Because I was so stunned by this work, I ended up spending quite a bit of time browsing their gallery. They’ve done work for many different fandoms, including A Song of Ice and Fire:

For R+L=J fans.

Or if you’d rather, a lovely picture of Littlefinger and Sansa in front of Winterfell made of snow:

Jesterry has a range of different styles, but most of their works do share some similar elements. They tend to have bold colors, and the artist uses a LOT of different colors. I think perhaps one of the aspects that interests me the most is how an artist will sometimes use a color I would have never thought to use. If you go back to the first work in this blog post, for example, check out the lines of bright green and neon pink.

Here’s another one from Naruto, though this one is quite a bit darker…

It has the same sort of style as the first picture, but a much narrower color scheme in mostly black and red. You may have noticed from my last post where I talked about FireEagleSpirit, but I am a sucker for stark black and white with a splash of crimson.

Or, with even less color, this one:

This is Itachi from Naruto, and though it’s simply a black and white watercolor, it’s masterfully done.

Jesterry also has a vision that I simply find intriguing. Certain works stand out to me as being particularly inspiring or thought-provoking. Jesterry does a lot of fan art, mainly ‘ships’ from various fandoms. I highly appreciate the existence of these and adore the first one in this post, but because many are from fandoms I don’t follow, I generally just gravitate towards works that strike me in an emotional sense. For me, I have certain color schemes I enjoy.

Here are a few that warrant honorable mention:

I love this color scheme. If the art is done well, pretty much anything using purple, blue, and gold are exciting. Remember when I posted those new books I just bought? Look at the cover of THE WEAVER’S LAMENT:

See what I mean? Powerful colors.

Then there’s this beautiful watercolor:

I remember, growing up, how I hated watercolors. It was the first paint I ever got to use in school, and it seemed almost impossible to work with. The colors ran everywhere and they just seemed dull. I’ve always been a stark lines and color inside the lines kind of person, though. It makes sense why I disliked using watercolors. As I grew up, though, I’ve really come to appreciate the soft look.

And this one is a great example of almost everything I’ve already talked about:

It has the bold, out-of-left-field colors in the purple, blue, and gold color scheme. It’s calm and peaceful but with a hint of mystery. Fascinating!

If you’ve enjoyed the art that you see here, I highly recommend stopping by Jesterry’s page and having a look around. The artist has more than 1000 poster works on Deviant Art, so you’re sure to find something you enjoy.

Thanks for looking! And, of course, for your support!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#WeCreate: Non-traditional Media and Sam’s DA


Hey all! Last time we met about art I showed you some of my drawings (mostly from high school). I don’t art as much anymore. If I spent as much time on it as I should, I could still probably be pretty decent at it, but I’ve devoted more of my time to other hobbies. Mostly writing. I’ll leave the art to the more talented artists.


There is an exception to this self-imposed rule. When holidays roll around, I get really into the associated craft projects. I wanted to share these with you, as well as show off some of my Whiteboard art and a few of the sketches I wasn’t able to show you before that are hosted on my Deviant Art (DA) account.

Easter Eggs

My sister and I color eggs every year. When life is chaos, it’s good to have something you can always fall back upon. Hanging on, desperately, to my childhood is one of those things. No matter what happens, we color eggs every year. Usually I like to do something related to what I’m obsessing about at the given time. I enjoy making adorable round version of cool things, like this Jigglypuff and Pokeball from Pokemon. 🙂

How I do it is generally with a sharpie and crayons, then dip into the dye.


OK, my friends/family get mad at me every year when I do pumpkins. I know there are FAR better pumpkin artists out there, like this guy, but I do get pretty into it.

How do I do it? You know those pin-to-your-pumpkin designs you can buy in the books? I make my own. I just make them incredibly complicated and base them on a photo/picture I find on the internet. I transpose the picture or photo into a 2-3 tier color scheme that would result in a pumpkin design that doesn’t make the pieces fall out–because remember…the pumpkin is all only one piece. You can’t make a target, for example, because all of the inner rings would fall out.

I wish I could show you the sketched out design of one, but sadly I throw the sketch away when I’m done because it’s usually soaked with pumpkin juice.

You can have approximately 3 tiers of color in a pumpkin design: black, bright, and glow. You get black by leaving pumpkin there, bright by cutting the pumpkin completely out, and glow by peeling off only the skin. The other handy thing about using glow is that it’s still ATTACHED pumpkin, so you can use it in your how-to-not-get-the-pumpkin-to-fall-apart strategy.

Bowser, from Super Mario:

Ancient Red Dragon from the Facebook App Castle Age:

The cover of the expansion for the game Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction

Another Pokemon pumpkin, this one featuring Zorua, Fennekin, and Vulpix, the basic evolution foxes of Pokemon:

^This one actually shows off the Black, Bright, and Glow techniques I was talking about before quite well.

A pumpkin to commemorate the conclusion of “Naruto,” Naruto in Six-Tails mode:

And lastly, this one didn’t go so well. I chose a poor design but I REALLY wanted to do it. TSM’s Dyrus retired last year as a professional League of Legends player, so I made this Team Solo Mid pumpkin:

Notice how the round shape made it incredibly difficult for it retain its structure. I actually had to brace it with thread just to take the picture.

These designs take anywhere from 1-4 hours a piece. No, I’m not kidding. I can usually only handle doing one each year because they’re so time-consuming and exhausting.


When I was in college, my final semester I decided to take an art class. I was already accepted into graduate school and figured I’d have a little fun. I thought art would be easy and I thought Introduction to Metalsmithing sounded pretty cool.

As it turns out, art classes are really fucking hard and take a lot of time, so shout out to the artists out there that already knew this and are laughing their asses off at me right now. The class was great, actually. I learned how to solder and do other stuff that I have since pretty much forgotten. It’s an expensive hobby to keep up, so for the most part I’m just happy to have had the experience and now appreciate how difficult and time-consuming art can really be. Someone in an advanced class had made an entire suit of scale armor with detail on every single scale. I used to have a picture of it, but alas. It was SO AWESOME.

I have a few things from that class, but most notably is this:

The assignment was to take a 6×6 sheet of copper and form something we could wear that ‘lost the square.’ We had to bend, pull, twist, reshape a square piece of copper into anything you could wear, with the added caveat that you couldn’t add anything to it and you couldn’t cut anything off.

At the time, I was also heavy into my cell biology research, and I was studying diaphanous-related formins. Formins help structure and shape the cytoskeleton, and when you ‘overexpress,’ meaning you dump so much of this into a cell that you see an extreme version of the thing, the formin I was working on, this is generally what happens. All of those twisty, dangerous copper appendages are called ‘filopodia,’ and are basically cell feet. Like this:

The base part is more or less what a normal cell looks like, shown here (©2016 Exploratorium | The museum of science, art and human perception at the Pier 15/17, San Francisco, CA 94111):


This is a new one for me. It began when a coworker asked me to draw something in the blank space of her board.

Dratini, Dragonair, Dragonite from Pokemon:



Of course, you’ve all seen my hat.This is also a new skill.


I don’t make the crockery, but I do paint it. A lot of cities have a local paint-your-own pottery gallery. It can be very expensive, but it’s really fun and makes for great gifts!

Food Art

I like bentos. ^_^ So I decided to try to make a few of them, kind of sort of imagining sending them with my kids for school lunches. 😀

So that’s about it. 😀 Just wanted to point out that art is not as simple as a pencil on paper or amazing work on photoshop. All it really takes is a little bit of whimsy, some patience, and a medium by which to work wonders.

You can see the rest of my art on my Deviant Art page, which is also linked on the blog’s home page over at the right. I do recommend having a look, as some of my best sketches ever are there.

However, I did want to draw your attention to one of the drawings that’s still on there. In my previous art post I talked about a ‘dergoth,’ which was an armored beastie I came up with. I previously said that I’d drawn a better rendition later that I couldn’t find, and it’s there on my Deviant Art. Also, here:

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS.

#WeCreate How I Make Trailers

Art has been a big part of my life since I was a child. I taught myself many of the skills I have today, including digitally produced artwork. I shied away from digital art for many years as it was looked upon as an inferior skill. This was mostly because of the *undo* tool. You can not magically *undo* a mistake on a real painting, even though there have been times I dearly wished I could. I even recall a comment on a truly beautiful piece of digital work on Deviant Art one day, in which a person wrote;
“It’s a pity it’s not real art.”

Of course, this comment sparked a long and bitter debate, one of many which could be read a few years ago all over art forums. Now, digital art is seen in a completely different light. It is finally recognized to be not only an art-form, but a special tool which gave rise to phenomenal digital artists and became an integral tool for special effects artists in movies and television.

These days, digital art dominates 90% of the artwork I create. There are various reasons for this; it is less messy, I don’t need a lot of storage for my art, it’s environmentally friendly and enduring. And because sometimes, I just can’t be bothered dragging out the canvas, easel and paint brushes just to paint what is in my head. Here is some of my work:

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You can also find more at my Deviant Art page.
I was really just learning to make somewhat decent artwork when an international competition was announced for my favorite television show; Stargate Atlantis. Entrants had to create a video about the show to win. My friends pushed me to enter the competition, but I had no idea what to do. Then one mentioned my artwork and I thought, maybe I could make an animation. So I taught myself new skills, which was an incredibly steep learning curve as I only had a month to learn, create, and enter my submission. I went on to make three very short  animations for the competition. Even though they were badly drawn and terribly animated, I actually won the competition. I went on to make another four animations for two different shows. As you watch, you can see the difference a few years of practice can make, even though I know I can do even better if I made another now.

First Stargate Atlantis animations:

Second set of animations I made for Supernatural:

Most recent animation, created for the show Hollyoaks:

When I wrote The Scientist’s Daughter, I decided to create a trailer for it. It was made around the time of those first animations and is a very simple, short and to the point advertisement for the book.

When I finished writing Malevolence, I decided to create another trailer. Up until now, I had never considered 3D art, believing it to be too difficult to learn. But I wanted a certain look for Malevolence so looked into using a 3D rendering program to create some neurons as a backdrop for the trailer. This was a far steeper learning curve as I had never attempted 3D rendering before. Luckily I found a video on YouTube tutorial with exact look I wanted to create. While my version isn’t quite as professional as theirs turned out, it was good enough as a backdrop for me. I only gave myself a few days to learn the rendering and come up with a finished trailer. Perhaps with some foresight, I would have had the trailer ready to go when the book was published, rather than rush to create it in the days following the launch.

I’m often asked how I actually get the drawings into the computer, how I animate them, and how I make them into a video. So for the next couple of weeks, I intend to explain the different tools I use to create all the things that go into my artwork and animations. There is probably an easier way, but this is how I taught myself to do it and I’m quite happy to continue this way.

This week, let’s look at the very first thing in the process; the artwork.

I use two systems for my digital artwork. Adobe Photoshop CS2 on my laptop and graphics tablet and pen. I have three graphics tablet, two A4 and an A5. This is the A4 one I use the most:


Since it is an older program, you can download CS2 for free by registering with the site. The other system I use is a Motion LE1400 tablet pc with digitized screen and pen running the art program, Artrage.


I also use a two-fingered glove called a SmudgeGuard, which stops marking the screen or my hand dragging on the surface while drawing. 

Both systems have their uses. I prefer to draw on the tablet pc as you draw straight on the screen which is natural and intuitive. With the graphics tablet, you draw to the side while watching the screen. I’m used to it, so it doesn’t bother me, but it is certainly easier to use the digitized screen of the tablet pc. I like to finish artwork off on the laptop as Photoshop seems to give a better finish.

In the following gif, you can see the stages of drawing, from sketch to finishing.

dinogifIf I wanted to animate this drawing, I could do it in two different ways. Create a new layer and slightly change the position of the dinosaur over and over until I had a sort of flick book animation giving the impression of movement.
The second way-and my favorite way to animate-is by making different layers from parts of the body. A layer each for the limbs, one for the tail, another for the head and maybe the body in different positions. I would then save the layers as png files and export them to the next stage of the sequence; animating in After effects. I will show you how I do this, but that is for next week’s #WeCreate blog! 😀

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE