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 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 The Art of Boris Vallejo

Frankie Av

Hello everyone! I’m filling in for Sam this weekend as she currently has no access to the internet.
I remember going to Edinburgh with my Aunt and sister when I was younger. We went into a shop which sold posters of all kinds. I remember seeing one which to this day is one of two pictures which are my favorites of all. Back then-in the mid eighties- I had no access to the internet to find out who this artist was and so had to rely on the good old library to search him out.
His name is Boris Vallejo. He is a long time, world renowned fantasy artist and the first artist I ever followed, and still do. The poster I saw and bought that day back in Edinburgh was called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It hung on my wall from when I bought it until I moved out when I got married years later. Unfortunately, during the move it was damaged and I never did source another.

But while it hung on my wall, I used to look at it and marvel at the details and colours that Vallejo used. It is a magnificent painting, perfectly detailed, balanced and executed. During my searches, I discovered that Vallejo had a book published, filled with his paintings.  A few years later I took the train into Glasgow and bought said book in Glasgow and still have it to this day. Vallejo’s paintings are gorgeous. The way he paints skin tones is just beautiful.

I’ve collected trading cards since my early teens and Vallejo’s art has been used in many over the years. I’m pretty sure I own more than a few X-Men Fleer trading cards with his art on them. Some of my most prized possessions is a set of 1995 Fleer X-Men ultra prints, one of which is signed by Boris Vallejo and another signed by his equally talented and famous wife, Julie Bell. Unfortunately mine are currently in storage, but they look like these, only signed 😉

One of the things I love about Vallejo’s art, is the way he portrays women. They are beautiful creatures of power, gorgeous and violent and strong. They might often be scantily clad, but their male counterparts are in similar undress and so equal. I love it! Anyway, enjoy the little video of some pictures from my book and have a look at Vallejo/Bell website for more up-to-date art 😀

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

#WeCreate Seraphina: Digital Painting

Frankie Av

A short video showing the drawing process on my latest digital painting; Seraphina.

Full drawing below video 😉

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: 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

Still Alive!


So I thought I would pop up a vlog as I haven’t made one for a while. 🙂 we have been uber busy, but here is an update and some of the artwork I’ve been working on recently!

The Dragon Keeper

Little Foxy and the Fireflies