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#WeCreate NaNoWriMo Update and Ponies Galore!

Frankie Av

Hello everyone!

I completed my fifty-thousand word goal for NaNoWriMo a few days ago. I’m continuing to write as Emergence isn’t quite finished yet, but I am very happy with my progress.

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The injury to my hand appeared to get better with the heat and splinting. I felt it was in a good way so I took off my splint day before yesterday and managed to worsen the healing injury. As a result, typing is slower than usual! I’m finding even the most tiny of things difficult as the hand is such a complex joint, and you forget how much you use your hands–even your non-dominant one! But, I’m getting there!

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I’ve received most of the My Little Ponies for my collection which I ordered this past week and a half. Very pleased with all of them, and even included a few G2 and Equestria type, even though they are not my favourites. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I hate Equestria and think G2 ponies are ugly, but they came in a couple of bundles so I have them as part of a more fuller collection. (Though, I am getting to like the G2 a little XD) I’ve lost count of how many I have in my collection. It was over 700 last year, but I sold some so I need to do a recount of all the ponies. I bought the little houses and castles and nursery for display purposes. I have been collecting these for years and don’t have a single pony on display!

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As for drawing, I haven’t even attempted to draw a thing for a few weeks. I did buy a My Little Pony adult colouring in book, purely as a part of the collection you understand….and I coloured some of that in while I was unable to type! Colouring in is almost as relaxing as sticking stickers into my sticker albums XD

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My attempt at colouring in! I think I need better pens XD

That’s it for now! I hope you are all well and enjoying the weekend! I’m away to write for a while 😀 Bye for now!

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

 

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#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.

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Created on Wacom Cintiq and Artrage.

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

#WriteTip #WeCreate: Double Post Special. Work space and Cutey Bear!

This will be a double post, covering #Writetip Friday and #WeCreate Saturday.

First off, write tip!
One way to get into the writing zone, is making sure you have a work space which helps you focus and concentrate–even generate ideas. The work space in my office looks so terribly messy, but everything is there for a reason.

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  • There is a skull to the left which remind me of how fleeting life is, and how scary your mind can be.
  • There are some of my action figures dotted around which help me remember fantastic scenes and stories which I can draw on for inspiration.
  • There are my posters, similar to the figures in the feelings and memories they invoke. Of course, Captain Scarlet was always finding himself in peril, much like my own characters!
  • There are my work boards with my character sheets, flow charts and story outline for Emergence, so I don’t get lost in my writing.
  • I have my speakers set up for playing my writing play-lists which help me to concentrate.
  • There is my cup warmer to keep my tea warm while I write as I often forget I made one!
  • My actual space is relatively clear so I don’t get annoyed while typing.
  • My chair is set up at the right height, with cushions on it for comfort.
  • Lighting is set up so I don’t strain my eyes, the monitors are at 50% brightness or lower depending on how dry my eyes are.
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Some of my little friends! 😀

All of this makes me happy, and I think you need to feel happy in your work space, otherwise your writing will suffer due to your frustration.  Sometimes my work space changes if I feel I need a certain mind set, so I might change it around a little. But, for the most part, all of these items remain in place.

What is your word space like and why? Let me know!

As for #WeCreate, I received this in the mail today, all the way from Hungary. It’s from my dear friend Kitti, and she made it herself as a gift for me.

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As I’ve said before, art can mean many things to many people, but it all means something. I can look at this lovely little bear and see the work which went into her creation. Every stitch made in a certain way to shape the form of the bear. The choice of yarn used, to give her a smooth and pretty finish. The little bows as added accents, just to make her so cute. But there is more in this little bear than her stuffing and material.
There is love in every little stitch, thanks in every piece of stuffing and she is friendship existing in a material form. Yes she is adorable and cute and well made, but to me, she is more than just a little bear; she is a symbol of friendship. Therefore, I named her Amity, which means; Friendship!
And now, she sits on my work space, next to the skull and the alien from the first Independence Day, to remind me that not everything in life is harsh and depressing. Sometimes, life is beautiful. 🙂

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

 

#WeCreate The Lament for Icarus

Frankie Av

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The Lament for Icarus (1898) by Herbert James Draper has been one of my favourite paintings since I was at school. The first time I saw it I was shocked by how absolutely beautiful it is, while also managing to be so desperately sad and hopeless.

Icarus lies dead upon the rocks, his magnificent wings open and useless. He is surrounded by water nymphs who gaze sorrowfully at his broken body. The reds and browns give the impression that he lies in shadow at dusk, and you can see the light of a setting sun on the cliff face behind. This lends to the overall feel of the painting; it is darker in the vicinity of death while the rest of the world carries on. This allows us to experience the tragedy more realistically. Strangely though, his wings are intact, not melted away as in the original tale. This lends to the notion that this man was indeed a winged creature which fell to its death, making it even more heartbreaking.

The wings are gorgeously painted, almost look real enough to touch and feel something soft and fluffy beneath your fingertips. The top nymph’s face is painted in such a way that you can almost hear her sigh as she looks sadly down at Icarus. The left hand of the lower nymph is positioned in a convincingly  lifelike way as she leans on a rocky surface. It’s just so beautiful, so tragic and will remain one of my most favourite paintings of all time.

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

 

#WeCreate Creative Gifts for a Dragon

Frankie Av

Art come in many forms, and this week I was presented with two very special creative pieces which left me very happy.

The first one was actually started a few weeks ago when Sam began writing a fanfiction based on my book Malevolence. She based the story before the happenings in Malevolence, way back when Louise first developed the MA3 serum which caused so many problems for my characters. We got to see Louise and her marvelous mind at work, and witnessed the lengths she would take to successfully create Mentis. The final chapter went up a few days ago and reached a momentous climax which left me grinning like an idiot. Sam captured Louise’s ego-driven malevolent nature perfectly and provided a part of the story I had not contemplated writing. As I have said before, fan fiction is special and a valid writing form, as it allows fans a glimpse into the lives of characters from books, television shows and films that they wouldn’t normally get a chance to see. Sam provided such a story and I absolutely loved it!
You can find her story here.

The second piece of art I received was from Chaos. It was my birthday on Wednesday and she drew me a picture as a present. I did not expect the gift and when I opened it, I knew exactly what I was looking at!

It is a picture of Logan McKenzie from my book Malevolence! Chaos has read the first chapter of the sequel–Emergence–and was able to create a digital artwork from that one chapter alone. If you have read Malevolence, you will know what happened to Logan and should recognise the emotions behind the art. Logan’s posture, his pensive expression and the colours used completes a scene which perfectly captures the first chapter and Logan’s frame of mind. I absolutely love it! I love it so much I even have it set as my background image on my laptop!

So no matter what your creative outlet is, whatever you create is worth creating. It might make a rather miserably frustrated Dragon who can’t upload her PDF file,  smile 😉

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 How I Make My Trailers: Part Three

Frankie Av

This is the final part on how I make my trailers, and it is by no means the least important; adding music.When making a video, choosing the right music is vital. Music sets the tone of the entire project. There are times when choosing the music for a video has taken me far longer than any of the art or rendering for the entire project.

It is always best to either use your own music, or–if you are like me and unable to create your own music–find free music and sounds. This sounds simple enough, but truly royalty-free music isn’t music you rip from the internet. What you have to find is music listed under a creative commons license. The way in which you can use this depends on which license it is under. There are six main types of creative commons license. The best way to explain them is to watch this short video which tells you what you need to know.

Creative Commons Kiwi from CreativeCommons AotearoaNZ on Vimeo.

There are a few sites I use for music, sound effects and such for my videos, all with content listed under various creative commons licenses. The site I use the most is incompetech.com by Kevin MacLeod. Music on this site is predominately licensed under a creative commons attribution, which means I can use it so long as I credit Kevin as the creator and provide a link or information back to the site.  He also has a handy page explaining the different licenses his work holds.

Another useful tool provided on Incompetech is the ability to search for music according to feels, length, genre and tempo. This comes in particularly handy when you know the length of the video and the tone you wish to set. The drop down menus make it easy to find the piece you want out of hundreds of songs.

By the time I search for music, I already have the video I’m making finished. If we take the short video I made last time as an example, I know it is only twenty-five seconds long. A search for songs of this length on the Incompetech still gives me a sizable list. By going through the feels filter, I find a song that is the right length and what I think sounds right for the video.

When you press the name of your chosen song, you can see that Incompetech has a handy link which includes the attribution which Kevin has provided. So it is easy to use the licence and attribute the music back on my projects by simply copy and pasting the information in the link.

Once I have downloaded the song and the attribution information, I can then use the song in my video. I can either add the attribution for the song in the end credits of the video as I did in my Malevolence trailer, or in the video information on Youtube, as I do for my vlog videos.

Once I have the song, I add it to the video using Movie Maker.

And that is it! Well, in short at least! The programs I used to make this tiny video were as follows:

Artrage (Drawing)

Photoshop (Drawing and creation of animating layers)

After Effects (animating layers and creation of video)

Wondershare Video Converter (Reduce size of video file, add opening/ending credits)

Movie Maker (Edit video and add music/sound effects)

Audacity (Edit music and sound effects)

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

#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:

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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.

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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