Ravven's Glass: Blog
Ravven, Book Cover Art and Galleries
Ravven, Books and Other Writing

Baby Steps

September 14th, 2016 by

This story starts with a hangover. More accurately, it starts with the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 and the documentary on it that Phil chose for us to watch, which made me sad and angry and sad all over again which led to a few strong drinks and finished with initiating a re-watch of Firefly (which I’ve seen so many times that I reserve it for those times when I am very, very sad). I woke with the mother of all hangovers which lasted for more than two days.

We were talking about the various 9/11 memorials, all of the various things to fill the space at Ground Zero and to me all of them are small, low to the ground. It’s as though we no longer want to hold our heads up. None of them replace what was lost, and I think that is incredibly sad. We should have decided to build the biggest, tallest building in the world, set a new record, put one finger up against hatred and ignorance that went all the way up to the sky. Sheath that fucker in red, white and blue glass, make it the shiniest goddamned building in the world.

It may surprise those who know me that I am very patriotic in a way…I love the country that I was born to. I love what we stood for, what I was told America was all about when I was a child. I believed in our goodness and our bravery. And you know what? I hate feeling guilty for that now.

The swing to the far right over the last decade or so has changed us so profoundly that I’m not sure if we can ever get back again. The decent, salt of the earth people that I grew up believing in have been replaced by the Tea Party, the deep corruption in our government, and the rabid bigotry and hatred of Donald Trump and his supporters. I can’t say that I believe in America without somehow feeling as though I’m aligning myself with the dregs of humanity, flying their freak flag of hate loud and proud. I am instead silent, and sad.

Anyway…back to the mother of all hangovers, the very Kali of alcohol-induced regret.

I’ve taken some baby steps back to my art, trying to find the enjoyment in it that I used to have. And so each morning I’ve been doing a speedpaint type of thing (except, you know, not really painting). One project per morning, finish by lunch no matter what. These were the first two days (the sci fi one really needs more detail work, which I will do because I can’t bear to leave it like this).

Soldier The Princess In The Tower

Save

Book Cover Art: What Do You Look For?

September 9th, 2016 by

Wow, two posts in a day – that has to be some kind of record.

After making the last post, I walked into town to buy lunch and run errands. The whole way I was thinking about what I did want to see, and want to create, in book covers. You see, I didn’t want it to seem as though I was biting the hand that feeds me as it were. I love these books, both as a genre and as something produced out of love and hard work by a community of amazing people. I’m coming at it from both the viewpoint of a reader/fan and also from the perspective of someone who helps in some small part to get these books out there.

I want to be better. I want new ideas, new styles, the next trend. I want covers that make people get grabby hands when they see them. And yeah, I know that I sound like I’m channelling Michael Wincott in The Crow, but you get the idea. :D

I want you all to be able to look me straight in the eye and say ARE WE HAVING FUN OR WHAT?!?

Ahem…

Anyway, I wanted to ask: What do you want in a cover? What makes great cover art? What catches your eye as a reader, as an author, as a book blogger?

This is my list:

  1. Action poses. I am sick to death of pretty models standing there like that one stick of celery they ate yesterday just isn’t going to hold those cheekbones up anymore. I want models who look muscular enough to kick some ass who are…well, kicking ass. Rather than holding a sword or gun limply (or worse, like they’re going to lick it seductively at any moment), I want to see a dynamic body that practically bursts off the cover. I want intensity, I want life.
  2. Better stock (i.e., non-fashion stock). I want those kickass models in the right clothing, as it is hella difficult to fit the right armor or clothing to an action pose. The deviantART community is a very good example of the stock that I would love to see commercially. You’ll find tons of gorgeous models who have made or had made for them great cosplay outfits, and they’re shot with exactly the right poses. And (cry!!!) I can’t risk using them professionally. But this is what I would like to see.
  3. Diversity. Hey, what can I say…I’m a social justice warrior from way back. (Or perhaps a social justice mage, but I diverge.) Not only do I want to use diverse models, I want to be able to do covers with diverse cultural influences. For instance, I lived in Los Angeles for many years, I was born in Queen of Angels hospital and will always love the city – but in order to properly “feel” like Los Angeles you need the cultural aspects of the Hispanic community alongside the dreams of stardom and the gritty neon griminess of it all. That is real.
  4. New perspectives. Personally, I feel that I’ve done too many images where the model is dominant to the rest of the image. Lots and lots of pretty girls, close up, looking at the camera. I’d like to pull back, I’d like to shake it up a bit. But perhaps I’m in danger of following my own taste when that doesn’t reflect mainstream readers.

So what do you think? What really pulls you in?

Disorder. Chaos. Anarchy. Now that’s fun.

Lists and Terror

September 9th, 2016 by

I’m a great list maker and planner. As you can see from my previous New Years Eve resolutions, however, I’m not always a successful completer of lists. Nevertheless (refusing to learn from past failures) I now have a list of projects that I want to work on as time opens up prior to the end of the year:

1: Art. New Styles. New Skillz.

As a book cover artist I get a bit tired of doing the same type of covers, and I’m sure that readers must get tired of seeing the same types of covers over and over again. This has led to some of the stress over the past year and dissatisfaction with work. I know authors, with everything riding on the success or failure of a new book, want something that they know readers in the past have liked. I know that, and I do understand it…but each time I get a brief for an urban fantasy cover that needs a tough-but-beautiful heroine with great hair wearing leather and jeans, standing in an urban landscape with magic effects on her hands or on her weapon of choice I feel tired. That’s not to say that I don’t love the hell out of that type of book, I really do love me a kickass female hero. And yet…I think we can all do something a bit different.

Part of the problem is stock. Most commercial stock images are outtakes from fashion or advertising shoots, modelling portfolio shots and so on. The models are pretty, but there are a lot of “model-y” poses (as one would expect). Action shots are really, really difficult to find and it’s even more difficult to find ones that haven’t already been used since everyone else is looking for those as well.

Now, lacking the finances to set up a studio again and shoot my own models, I’ve been looking at CGI models for bodies and costume. I’ve used a lot of these in the past, and when paired with a real model’s face and hair it’s difficult to tell that they were digital, especially when overpainted. This is one option for more interesting model shots with more life and action to them. Acquiring the 3D modelling skills needed to create the figures, skin them, and light them properly is a bit more difficult, more of a high learning curve.

So, that’s one thing.

2: Writing = Panic Mode.

For several years now I’ve been trying to clear the spare time to do some writing. The Clockwork Bluebird, my first project, needs re-working with a new ending and I have the sequel partially written. I have other projects (very different ones!) also pulling at me for attention. I am, I GODDAMN AM, going to devote some time to these so that I can get enough momentum going in order to not fall by the wayside in despair after I go back to work after the holidays. I’ll probably never be a great writer, maybe not even a good and professional one…but I think I could not embarrass myself. I want the chance to try, anyway. I want to tell these stories as best as I can.

  1. The Tatterdemalion Dancer. Clockpunk-fantasy sequel, underground carnival which is also a war between the Fae courts. A Goose Girl/Red Shoes mashup. :D
  2. A twisted Alice tale of madness: Suckerpunch meets Alice in Wonderland.
  3. My pooka story.

That shit is hella scary.

3. The Rest.

Other projects include work on the various cosplay outfits that I have littering the front room, which I’ve turned into a workroom. I want to put more time into my photography (and as a side note be able to use more of my own shots rather than having to buy so much stock!).

So…yeah. The list. Lists are terrifying.

 

Postscript: A video which captures The Tatterdemalion Dancer perfectly. <3

LE CIRQUE FEERIQUE Reel from Company XIV on Vimeo.

Legion…Pretty Damn Fine

September 2nd, 2016 by

Well, again it’s been a month since my last post (my bad) but finally I’m starting to see my way clear to the end of the year. Note to self: never, ever, ever take on more work than you can actually handle. Not a good experience either for me or for the people that I work with. That was definitely a life experience. :/

In other news I’ve been bouncing back and forth between work and trying to spend some time playing with friends in Legion, and I have to say that all is forgiven. This was a really well done expansion, and I’m having a lot of fun. The zones are gorgeous, the class halls are helpful without being the overdone timesink that garrisons were. Professions are back (having been basically killed off in the last expac) and have their own quests which you do as you level – wonderful. I do skinning and leatherworking on my hunter, so of course I’m loving the Nesingwary quests which basically amount to “Welcome to this lovely land, and our bountiful animals. Now go forth and kill them all.”

Blizzard has taken a tip from FFXIV in that they have worked instances into the actual storyline for each zone (although not to the extent that FFXIV does). Although I’m almost 108 I’ve only done one, and I have to say that that one was really trash heavy. I notice this specifically because, as a Marksman hunter, my AOE can hit things in the far distance. Other tightly packed group of mobs, animals, even birds and dragons from the sky. In their current state hunters are designed to give tanks and healers a nervous breakdown…and I love it. *evil grin*

Well, back to work. I’ll have to post some screenies later on after I figure out how to keep Bitdefender from preventing Warcraft from saving them. I think it’s something in ransomware protection. Sigh…

Wedding <3

August 8th, 2016 by

The backyard rustic wedding was wonderful! It was actually a handfasting, performed by a pagan but softened to suit a very mixed group of family and friends. Perfectly lovely.

 

Wedding

 

Wedding 13707515_10154770830257289_2839788114743285843_n WeddingWedding Wedding 13939577_1744598362423409_987339615836185240_n

Off Like a Herd of Stressed Turtles

July 24th, 2016 by

…or something like that, anyway. :) Leaving early tomorrow, having accomplished only a small amount of everything that I needed to before I left. I’ve been throwing things into my suitcase without my normal planning, so I will probably end up with fifteen black shirts and no pants or shoes. I just remembered to pack underwear this afternoon. Anything I miss, I guess I can hit Walmart for once I get there.

Don’t have too much fun while I’m gone… :D

Subscribe to RSS Feed   Subscribe to our RSS Feed