Illustration Monday: Dirge Concepts

This is my first Illustration Monday.

I’m a little nervous.

I’ve been drawing, and sharing these drawings online through various art sites, (you can currently find me on Deviantart and Tumblr) since I was about 13. So I’m not new to the process. This isn’t virgin ground. Yet, somehow it does feel that way.

I think, perhaps, it’s because I’ve always kept my art and writing separate.

It feels wrong to even type that. “Art” and “Writing”, as though writing does not count as an art form. It clearly does. Yet I have separated the two in my mind for some odd reason. I always viewed ar-drawing-as a hobby. Meanwhile, writing has always been my intended career. All this in spite of the well-meaning intentions and expectations by those who know and love me best (read: family). It’s not really that I never thought of combining the two. (Once upon a time, I even applied to an art college. Long story short? College didn’t happen.) It’s more that I never thought to combine them in this particular way and certainly not publicly.

You see, I’ve always drawn my characters. It’s part of my process. I need to know how they look on paper before they can be fully solidified in my mind, and feel comfortable enough to describe them. I’m just visually-inclined that way. But these concept drawing have always been private things. Even on my art galleries, I shied away from sharing Concept art that relates to my stories. I think partially I did so out of fear. Because I knew I didn’t have anything tangible, but if I started promoting the stories through drawings and sketches and things and people liked them, I would actually-you know-have to have something to show for them. I would have to put up or shut up. I would have to hold myself accountable and write the damn stories.


Of course, I know there’s also another fear at play here. I’m afraid that I’m not nearly a good enough artist to be showing my work off in the first place. Julia Cameron said that, often it is ego, not skill that makes us proclaim ourselves to be Artists. This is not to say that I am egotistical about my drawing ability, far from it! It’s more to the point that I am fully aware that I am still learning, and I do see flaws in my work. But this is what I do, and what I enjoy doing, and therefore, I claim it as part of myself that should be recognized.

I really didn’t intend for this post to be so long. So I’ll cut the insecure rambling short and just get on with it. Here are some concept sketches that I am working on to help me pair down the current shape of the beast that is Dirge. (I.e. The Project That Would Not Behave and/or Die)

Helena Concept: Sketch

Artwork and Helena (c) S.J. Collins

Helena (the MC) has gone through some refining since her conception. Her original clothing designs were more Anime-inspired. (And one day, if I’m feeling brave enough, I may post a side-by side comparison….maybe.) In truth, I’m not sure this will be her finalized look, but I do like it better than what I had before. So here’s a bit of insight: My Werewolves (called Volk) have black sclera , much like their four-legged ancestors. They are tribal, as evident by her garbs. I’m playing with things like Clan, Pack and Rank Markings.  I.e. The Autumn Leaf in her hair would represent that she is a apprentice in her chosen craft. A Feather will replace the Leaf once she has earned a Rank and been Bound to a Pack. Pack Bonds will be signified by Tattoos (and if you betray your Pack, or are cast out for whatever reason, the Tattoo is cut from the skin), although there will also be a magical bond at play (which will be far more painful to remove than the Tattoo…).

Looking at it now, I can already see all of the things I’m going to have to change in the finalized concept. Her back is a little too hunched. The positioning of her back foot isn’t quite right. But I am taking a deep breath and reminding myself that it is merely a sketch. And very much like a first draft. It lays the bones for what I intend to do with it, and that is all.

That being said, do not be afraid to tell me if you see any other flaws I may have missed. Constructive Criticism is always appreciated. 😀 One of the reasons I decided to go ahead and do this is because I’m very much in love with sketch work. There’s a beauty and liveliness to sketches that sometimes gets lost in the final piece. Also, because I’m hoping there are other Writers with drawing abilities who can be coaxed out of the wood work with a little encouragement.

Do you have any passions outside of Writing that you use as a step in your writing process? Do you draw your characters, or “shop” for them online? Make their clothes yourself? Quilt patterns out of colors that inspire or somehow remind you of your WIP? I’d love to hear from you, if you’re willing to share in the comments. 🙂


4 thoughts on “Illustration Monday: Dirge Concepts

  1. For me it all starts from the artwork, I have been drawing a lot longer than I have been writing. As I draw, the story builds in the back of my mind. Questions get answered as the drawing evolves. I only recently started accompanying my art with a story. It started out as just a write-up, but in some cases it’s turned into a short story. I think that having a picture accompany words enhances both immensely. I think that you have a great start, and I’m interested in seeing the character evolve. I would love to know what you think of my work.

  2. Thank you for stopping by, Burns!

    I like your use of dark colors and textures. I think you have a really good grasp of anatomy, especially considering you’re having to alter them to make your own creatures so to speak. 😀 I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.

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