Druid, Shaman, Mage title picture

Today, with chapter ten, we have something special. Today features the art of Lindsey Batdorf, who has drawn and coloured the magnificent piece that today adorns the Redridge Chronicles.

If you have been reading the story, you should recognise the girls by now: Ariciel, Ellandriel and Mareva. Since I cannot even produce a properly proportioned stick figure, I had to ask Lindsey’s help for this. It is a wonderful thing to have someone draw the characters you have spent such a long time writing about, and there are many people out there who have the talent to breathe life into them. I thoroughly recommend it.

I found Lindsey on a LiveJournal community dedicated to World of Warcraft fanart, where many talented people show their wares. The first thing that struck me was the simplicity: how she was able to convey emotions with only a few simple lines. Her somewhat cartoonish style suited my (somewhat cartoonish) writing style best.

So what does one do when one wants a piece of art like this? Well, one emails the artist, using the information on their website. At that point, you want to have a clear view of your characters. Which should not be difficult, because you have been writing them for thousands upon thousands of words no? Another great tool for that first concept is WoW Model Viewer. It allows you to create any character you want, and put any piece of armour on them you want. A Gnome with Orcish paladin mail? No problem! Also, World of Warcraft lets you take screenshots. For the artist, that takes much of the guesswork out of it. The golden rule is that there is no such thing as too much information for your artist[1]. There is such a thing as changing your mind too often, though.

Then, describe them. Tell the artist something about their, um, character. I wanted Ariciel to be all fierce and feral, Ellandriel to be a bit uncertain and worried and Mareva to be slightly annoyed at something. Artists tend to like information about the people they’re going to draw, because the more they know, the better they can match their picture to what is in your head. I expected a bit of back-and-forth on Ariciel. She’s one of my oldest characters, and it was important to me that Lindsey got her face right. So I started out with: make her angry. Make her fierce and feral. And amazingly, Lindsey got it absolutely spot on the first try. I suppose it’s an example of the Bouba/Kiki effect in reverse.

Next comes the composition. In short, what you want the characters to be doing in the picture. Hugging? Kissing? Fighting? Casting spells? For me, the idea came to me fairly easily. If you happen to like seventies/eighties TV series, the picture will be hauntingly familiar to you. Now once you have described the composition to your artist, she’ll probably do you a quick sketch and send it to you so you can approve it. Be sure. Be very sure, because from that moment, the position of everyone’s limbs is more or less fixed. Artists love to hear that you want Trixie to have her arm up at this moment, and not when they’ve just spent two days colouring.

After sketching, line art. This is when the vague and blurry lines become clear and crisp lines. This is when facial expressions are fixed. When details are put in, like buttons, jewellery, facial tattoos, that sort of thing. Again, be sure. If you go for a colour picture, extra details can be difficult to put in once your artist starts putting in the colours and shading.

Finally, the colours come in, which is the point at which your picture really comes to life. Again, it helps if you know beforehand what you want. You may recognise Ariciel’s armour as the polar set, which is originally blue. I wanted her to be a bit more eco-friendly, so I asked Lindsey to make her green and brown instead. That’s one of the nice things about commissioning your own artwork: You get to choose everything about it. And there you have it. Your very own, personal piece of art.

A few more things to keep in mind: First and foremost, artists will be paid in advance, and they won’t start until they get the money. This is reasonable, because once they start committing their time to your project, they won’t get that time back if you decide not to pay.

Also, do not haggle. The price of the piece depends on the skills of the artist and the amount of time they spend making it. If your artist gives you a discount, fine, but asking her for a lower price is the same as asking for a rotten job. You want your artist to be happy working for you, because that’s when they do the best work.

Another thing is that there are moral and legal limits to what you can do with your piece of art. I’m essentially giving this piece away by putting it on the Redridge Chronicles, which Lindsey says is fine. I’m not making any money on this book, it’s yours to read, enjoy. But if I wanted to use her art in a book I’m actually selling (hah), then I would probably have to work out a price with her per book sold. (Royalty, is the word). If the piece is just for your own enjoyment, or not to be used for profit, then there is simply no revenue, hence no cut for the artist, and the one-off fee is all she gets.

All? No. There’s something you can do, have to do for your artist, and that is credit them. Wherever you put your art, make sure to include the artist’s name and perhaps her website, so people can find her. This may get her more work, which makes her happy, and happy artists make better art.

[1] Not in that sense, you filthy bugger!

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  • Pyrelle  On July 27, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Wow nice work. I always enjoy fanfic artwork. thanks for the link I will definately check it out.

    • bannog  On July 27, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      *Waves at Lindsey* Look round wow_fanart on LJ a bit – loads of very talented people.

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