Blog Archives

#FrankieWIP Editing and New Digital Illustration!

Frankie Av

Editing of Emergence is going well! Took a couple of days off writing to draw, and I’ve included it in this video! Tell me what you think of it! It’s also under the video 😉
It took me a couple of days and I created it on my Cintiq and Artrage 😀


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


Happy New Year!

Hope 2017 is a great year for you all! 😀

Doodled on my new art package XD


#WeCreate My Little Pony Picture

Frankie Av

Just a quick doodle I drew while taking a break from writing. I asked a My Little Pony group I’m part of who they would like me to draw, and they chose Gingerbread and Minty. This is the result 🙂


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

#WeCreate Festive Katie!

Frankie Av

For the first time since I drew Robogirl, I decided to take a short break from writing and draw a new picture. I’d been a little poorly and was feeling sorry for myself, so drew this to cheer myself up!


You might recognise the character in the picture if you have read my first book; The Scientist’s Daughter. Katie, the yellow-eyed doll from the story, has always tugged at my imagination. She’s become somewhat of a muse, prompting me to draw her quite frequently when I doodle. This year she wanted to be drawn in a festive setting, and I can’t ever say no to her little self. I actually have a full sized, hand-made version of her which I made a couple of years ago. Maybe I’ll buy her a little Santa costume and sit her under the tree this year 😉 If I do, I’ll post a photo 😀

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

#WeCreate Robogirl

Frankie Av

I finished this illustration last night and uploaded it during a period of low self esteem, therefore my imagination completely failed me when it came to giving it a name. There is more to the story of this digital illustration and perhaps I will go back one day and update her backstory. As it stands, she is merely Robogirl, tied to her own insecurities and perceptions, an echo of her creator.


Created on Wacom Cintiq and Artrage.

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

#WeCreate My Wacom Cintiq!

Frankie Av

This week, I managed to get hold of something I’ve wanted for a very long time.

I’ve been using a Motion LE1700  tablet PC as a drawing slate, and have loved the art I’ve been able to produce on it. But the screen began to dull, getting progressively darker as the years went on. It got to the point that deciding colours was difficult as they came out much darker than intended. So I decided it was time to replace my poor old Motion tablet, and just keep it for sketching when I’m out and about.
I looked around the internet for a replacement, always gravitating back towards the top of the line Wacom Cintiq drawing slates. Highly expensive, I could never justify such a cost for the amount of hobbyist art I produce. Perhaps if I was a professional I might consider the cost, but then, it really didn’t have to be expensive, nor exactly brand new for that matter.


Therefore I started looking for a second hand Wacom Cintiq, an older model which would suffice my needs. I did a lot of research and looked at recommendations from around the globe and came to the conclusion that the 2007 Cintiq 12wx would be the perfect tablet for me. It has the same size screen as the one I currently use. It is an older model highly praised as a continuing ball player in the display/pen graphics tablet field. Wacom continue to support the tablet with drivers and such, with drivers for Windows 7, 8 and 10.


When I looked on Amazon, this particular tablet costs a fortune. It is still very much sought after and of course, sellers with this knowledge charge inordinate amounts of money for such a prized item. There were also some sites selling the slate brand new, for £1000… So I looked to Ebay, and found a few for sale. As I get too trigger happy when bidding on things, I left the bidding to my husband. He is a skilled bidder!
We were outbid on the first one by £60, but there were three more to bid on. One in particular caught my eye, finishing the following day with two pens. I contacted the seller, asked about the condition of the screen. The seller was good enough to send me a very clear photo of the screen and it appeared to be pristine. As I was working when the auction ended, I asked my husband to bid on it and let me know what happened. I received a text during my break; my husband managed to win the Cintiq, for less than half the price I expected!!

image host

My new Wacom Cintiq was delivered the day before yesterday. I followed its delivery on the courier map, literally bouncing in my seat the closer it came. I ran a running commentary with my friends on the Line app–I’m sure they were fed up with my excited squeals that morning! Then I began to doubt the transaction. What if I got it so cheap because there was something wrong? What if the photo I was sent had been cleaned up? What if I had squandered my money on a useless tablet which wouldn’t boot up when I finally got it?! These are the things you have to consider when buying from auction sites, and I always keep them at the back of my mind. But this was an expensive piece of kit, and one I had been wanting for years. If it didn’t work or wasn’t what I expected, I would be out of pocket and heartbroken.

I needn’t have worried.


The Wacom Cintiq came fully protected in its original box and with all items required to run it. The two pens were included, both of which are worth £160 alone. After being in the courier van and warehouse for a night, the Cintiq was cold and had a sheen of damp from the cold temperatures, so I was forced to leave it alone until it heated up and dried off. My OCD made me clean every single part of it before leaving it to heat up for a couple of hours. It was a long couple of hours. I tried to write and failed, managing little more than 500 words. I kept thinking about the Cintiq and what I would draw!


Finally I was able to set it up. It didn’t take too long, perhaps fifteen minutes by the time I set everything out and found the ports and sockets I needed. When I booted it up, I sat there, staring at this nice, bright and clear screen. It draws perfectly, with levels of brush sensitivity I’ve been unable to enjoy on the Motion due to the nature of its digitizer. The Cintiq is everything I expected, and everything I thought it should be. Intuitive, clear, bright, sharp and easy to use. I sat for an hour or two, just sketching and doodling and finally decided to make a proper first picture. This is it:


It is worth having at look at the second hand market for things you want as, sometimes, you manage to snatch the deal of the century. 😉

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

#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 Kimi and Kanti!

Frankie Av

I started this digital drawing a few days ago without any real idea of what to do. I did know I wanted it to be part of my Little Lings from Lingley Hollow series. It started with one fox, then I eventually added the other . I saw that my friends were celebrating their wedding anniversary, and so dedicated this picture to them. I asked them to name the two foxes, then I gave them a backstory to match. 😀

( See full drawing at end of post 🙂 )

Kimi and Kanti are proud members of the Native Fox Tribe of Lingley Hollow. They have been the best of friends for as long as they can remember. As a couple, they are inseparable; one is rarely seen without the other.
Kimi is a bubbly character and a loyal friend. She knows how to keep a secret and so Kimi is a confidant you can depend on.
Kanti is rambunctious and affectionate. Always happy, Kanti can often be heard laughing and will always cheer you up. She has the sweetest voice and sings when she is most content.
So if you are ever down in the woods of Lingley Hollow and hear laughter or singing? You can bet Kimi and Kanti are around somewhere!

I hope they like their little anniversary gift! 😀

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 How I Make my Trailers and Art–part two



To follow on from my previous #WeCreate post, this is a basic run-down of how I make my animations. This is the second phase of creating a video trailer.

I made the artwork for this video a long time ago as part of an “Ask the Artist!” on Live Journal in 2010. I was asked to make something for the interview following the creation of my Supernatural animations. I have updated and modified it for this blog post which–I might add–has taken me a few hours to fix today! XD (I had to move the layers and modify them, so a lot of drawing and fixing!)

It starts with the original drawing created on either Photoshop or Artrage. Then I break it down into the layers I need for movement and save as PNG files. Once I have everything I need, I put it all together in After Effects. For this animation, there were several layers.

1) A head and body with no eyes.

2) A PNG layer with just the eyes to adjust for movement

3) Three PNG layers for movement of mouth

4) Two PNG layers for the closing and opening of eyelids.

5) A blank background

For this very basic video I wanted to make him speak, so I made three separate layers for the mouth. There were also another two layers to make him blink. Once these were created, I fed them into After Effects and created the movement I wanted. In this stage I use Photoshop/Artrage and After Effects.
Next time, I will write about the adding music and speech.

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