Thursday, January 29, 2015

Building Characters - Drawing the Ensnared Universe Pt 1

After our last cover artist got lured away by a most groovy game development gig, we conducted a search for a new artist that included asking for samples that we paid for. We didn't see anything that fit what we needed. We saw some talent for sure, but either the style wasn't what we wanted or we didn't mesh creatively or they had a commission list that made them unavailable for six months or they had a rate that was more than any book we'd published ever earned. That's why I took up my pencils after not really drawing for over twenty years. Recently, I received some emails asking why I label my sketches as tests, and when will I get to the real drawings. So, I thought I would share my process and the timeline.

The first sketches (available on the obligatory Deviantart page here: and the ones now are quick efforts (30 minutes max) to see what my muscle
memory was for drawing. I've done them from other drawings, from pose books. anime art books, etc. The poses are like ones I plan to to draw or were a challenge. I wanted to see how much work I had to do to get anywhere close to where I wanted to be. Aside from needing these drawings to be hot enough to attract readers to books or merchandise, I have a particular bent toward men's hands and feet and eyes. Those are the hardest things to draw. Oh, I like those other bits on a hot guy, but these are the parts that catch my eyes in public settings.

During this time, I've been watching lots of tutorials on about drawing human anatomy and drawing manga and comic style (I can provide a list of channels I like to watch if anyone is
interested). I plan on having a look that's a realistic anatomy but manga style. I will soon move into the next phase of drawing which will be making model sheets(see photo on the left). I've collected those obsessively for a long time now. It would make sense that I make them. Model sheets are created to make sure that characters are drawn consistently. They usually include an array of poses, expressions and costumes. My thing for model sheets is why I can usually spot official art over fan art. I've also been really lucky to have found official line art for an anime series that has been influencing my art as I'll explain later. See below for more examples of model sheets and official art.

The reason I am at the point where I can do model sheets for most of the Ensnared characters is I have figured out what they look like. But DL, you're thinking, you've been living with these characters for a while. How can you not know what they look like? Well, here comes some of my erotica writing philosophy. I describe characters in the most rudimentary fashion, because I'm not a flowery writer. I also know that a reader will take even the smallest amount of data and conjure their own images of the characters. I had only a vague image in my head of what Darius and Andreas looked like, but that was not enough to draw them in any detail until I did all those tests and research. Here's how I will put them together on paper.

So, I begin with Darius. He is tall and muscular with ivory skin, vibrant blue eyes and hair the color of butter (Irish butter – not the cheap stuff). He's got the square jaw and full lips. I saw him as graceful and elegantly built, so I think of swimmers. As it happened, the anime Free! Eternal Summer had introduced  a swimmer that was the size I saw for Darius. I also loved the bearing of Alberto in Ikoku Irokoi Romantan and the way the hair flowed for the Wizard Halvir in Crimson Spell. You can find these images below under Darius Composites. Andreas is described as having longish, mahogany colored hair, green-gold eyes with a slender but muscular build and about a half foot shorter than Darius. I put him at just shy of six feet tall. Ranmaru from Ikoku Irokoi Romantan was close to the skin and eye color, while  his build is closer to Rin from Free! Eternal Summer and he is a similar sex magnet to Aoba from DRAMAtical Murder. See Andreas Composites below.

I have such composites for every character that I plan of drawing a model sheet for. All of these influences though are filtered through my own style and based on realistic anatomy. There are a lot of proportion issues in the faces and bodies of manga and anime. I'm not so much for the pointy chins, and I like nipples. The necks are also too long in most cases. I won't even talk about the orangutang arms and yaoi hands (actual drawing).

Doing model sheets will make for faster sketching of covers or posters. I can also whip up clever omages for holidays like Valentine's Day (I won't have anything for that this year) and Christmas (I will have something for that). I will certainly share these on my Deviantart page and my author pages as I complete each character. Thanks for the questions and the support! Keep it coming!  

Pose Books

Model Sheets and Official Line Art

Darius Composites




Andreas Composite




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