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Deadly Allure - and the importance of thumbnails.

Journal Entry: Wed Feb 8, 2012, 11:31 AM

Stop looking at her actual thumbnails.  I mean thumbnail sketches.

Okay, so this isn't exactly a journal entry.  But since I can't be bothered to figure out how to post inline images in the commentary section of regular image posts, you're getting this.  Deal with it.

In my perpetual state of ultimate lazyness, this image has been bouncing around for a while, and I'm just now getting around to posting it.  And I've had a fair number of questions.  So, I think I'll take this opportunity to walk you through some of the happy accidents that fill the days of us artists.  That's right, Bob Ross may be the only one who owns up to it, but we all have them.

To me, the most important thing in art is making decisions.  In fact, you can break my art philosophy into a tidy little three step triad.  Observations -> evaluations -> decisions.  That's the important stuff.  Everything else is just about informing and fueling those steps.  Almost all of that is done in the thumbnail stage.  Which is why even if they seem totally gnawing-on-furniture boring sometimes, they're vital.  

Rough thumbnails are your no-holds-barred brainstorming.  Do at least a dozen to start.  Then evaluate them, and start to pick out things that you like.  Then more thumbnails, refining and incorporating ideas.  You're looking for compelling composition, gesture, flow, rhythm; you know, all those words that arty people use, but can't ever actually explain.

For this piece, I picked out these thumbnails out of about twenty to move on to stage two:

So, this was my first sketch.  And it pretty much does the job, gets the idea across.  But, resist the temptation to go on with your first sketch.  No matter how perfect you think it is, do a few more.  Looking at it now, the snakes aren't really very cool.  They feel a little like they were just thrown in.  So I'm glad I kept going.

The second sketch has some interesting things going on.  I like the vantage, and I like that the snakes become more of a mass, and dominating visual element.  I also like how they blend together in her hair.  But it's not quite got that "come hither, it's worth the horrible death." feeling that I'm going for.

The thing that I like here, is the ambiguity between her and the snakey shapes.  There are no heads besides hers, and that adds an interesting feeling to the piece.  You wonder a little bit if that's all part of her, and she becomes potentially supernatural, instead of just a hot girl playing with pythons.  Happy accident.

And here is the example of just plain going turbonuts overboard with the concept.  A cram-packed harem of sex and danger.  There's pretty much no room for thinking that you'll make it out alive, or unsmiling.

I took the things I liked from these thumbnails, and incorporated them in to a final drawing.  I took some of the happy accident ideas, like maybe she's part of the snake, and reinforced it with her outfit and her gesture.  Unfortunately, I painted over that drawing, so I don't have it to show anymore.  Sorry.  How anti-climactic of me.

So anyway, the lesson here:  Do thumbnails until you can't stand it anymore.  Exhaust your ideas, then go steal some and do more.  Then do a few more.  Then start combining them into your awesome masterwork of incredibility!

  • Listening to: Half of the voices in my head. The rest is jerks.
  • Reading: I'm trying to learn how.
  • Watching: Every step you take, every move you make.
  • Playing: a lovely little fiddle ditty vs. the devil.
  • Eating: Whatever wanders close to my glowy angler tongue.
  • Drinking: in the irony of it all.
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Don’t push your luck, Leo Valdez; I still hate you.

–Calypso to Leo Valdez, in The House of Hades

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Found this on tumblr..... and I find it incredibly relevant. Especially since I've been preaching that subject to a few others recently, myself. Though this illustrates it perfectly.

I also find it amusing and painfully true, at the mention of the 'DeviantArt mentality'.
If you are looking to make honest money with honest, art/writing work.. don't undersell yourself just because some kids that only get an allowance from their parents think its too much. (And don't get me wrong. I was that myself for a long while. Your perception of money's worth changes -allot- as you grow up though.. so don't tell someone something isnt worth it just because you see something like 100$ as allot.. it is to a younger person with no bills. To me though? that's not even 1/4th of my monthly car payment.. )

Most people trying to make decent money by putting more than decent effort into their work have grownup stuff to pay for.. And better ways to make money than wasting time for even less.
of course that means, for the most part we wont sell at all because a majority of the buyer base is people just like stated above... but eh.. what you gunna do.

(pardon some rough tumblr language 8'D..)

Anonymous asked: $100 is a lot of money for a single page.







how much is a loaf of bread? hm? $3? $5? 

At my local grocery store, bread is about $4.50 for a decent size italian loaf. If I make $7.25 and hour, that means I’d have to work 37 and a half minutes for a Loaf of bread.

but hey, that’s not so bad right? Work two hours and you’ll have a sandwich, eh?

Oh hey, turns out I also need toilet paper, rice, chicken, some veggies, a can of soup, and some cereal. (to name a few basic groceries one might need on a budget) we’ll round those things down to $25 just to make the math easier.

at $7.25 an hour I’ll have to work about 3 and a half hours for basic groceries.

That doesn’t include bills or gas or all the other groceries I need, That’s ONE quick trip to the store and I already have to work half a day just for that.

You don’t understand Anon, my pages could take HOURS if not DAYS. Between the sketching, inking, colouring, lettering, and finishing it’s taken at least a full two day’s work if not longer for each page.

I have a job that pays me beans, I cannot afford to post more pages a week without compensation. I literally cannot afford to do that. Not to mention the idea that art is only worth minimum wage cheapens the amount of work and effort that goes into producing it. I should be making WELL ABOVE minimum wage for my art via page count and commissions but it’s this damn “deviant art” mindset that makes people feel like they’re being swindled for paying a livable wage to artists. It’s rude and childish and I ask that you please stop considering artists as less worthy of affording a normal life.

You can either pay me what I ask for what you want or stop complaining about what I already give you for free.


I cannot fucking stand people who tell illustrators that something they produce is too expensive.

Yall motherfuckers want cheap? Go get some paper, get a fucking pencil and then draw it your motherfucking selves because nobody freelancing on the internet who hasn’t even half made it in the illustration world is charging you ANYTHING close to industry pricing even when some of us are as good if not better. Why? Because of people like Anon. Your name must be out there and known to charge anything close to what your time and skill is worth. Yet still? You are paying for my effort, my time, my blood, sweat and tears and a lifetime of learning my trade.

A cheap page for yo ass is a piece of paper I haven’t touched yet.


(As a freelancer I cannot staaaaaaaaaaaaaand people who pull this dogshit.)

$100 is pretty cheap for a page.

Basic math, for Anon up there: Break that $100 down into an hourly rate. Factor in materials. Factor in skill and schooling and experience. Bear in mind that a page rate *at all* means there’s a good chance it’s work-for-hire, which means that $100 a page might be all the artist gets, ever.

And then, when you’ve done that math, think about what that means in terms of how few comics artists make a living hourly wage.

Want a pro artist, anon? Pay them like a fucking pro.

I’d like to add the a professional of any stripe has the duty to themselves, and the right to charge a rate based on his skill level and the work he or she puts in.

dammit.. my journal skin ruins the tiers *PIF* so for this one only, I'll put to default.. *looks at her ruined front page* QQQQQ
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This is the real, first chapter of the new book, that has yet to be released, The House of Hades.…
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Apparel Collection: Monster Talk

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:47 AM

Monster Talk
Character Design on Simple Shapes

Together, we are deviantART, an amazingly diverse community of fantastic individuals from all reaches of the globe. It’s a beautiful, creative ecosystem where the wildest voices can speak their minds and share their expressions. When designing this collection, I wanted to celebrate that diversity. When you’re at a concert, on an airplane, or sitting at a café, it's sometimes fun to look at the people moving and talking around you, each with their own unique style and outlook. Be part of the big conversation, where all voices matter and everyone can be involved.

The characters in this piece spawned from a conversation I had while teaching a high school class on character illustration. The topic was making interesting-looking characters, and everyone seemed to agree that you have to make a complex contour shape in order to satisfy the goal. I countered by simply drawing a line of jelly bean shapes on the board. At first, it looked boring -- just a bunch of wonky ovals. Then, I made each into a character by giving them features, paying close attention to their placement within the composition.  The idea went from the chalkboard to my sketchbook, where I played around with it through many sketches. 

The idea of having a series of characters with the same basic shape was really intriguing to me. They became known as the “thumbheads,” and I had a ton of fun coming up with personalities for each of them.

I was doing my best to observe the characters in my everyday life, mixing their attributes with fantastical forms and exciting patterns.

I even went so far as to fill the shape with an entire character’s body, which was an interesting thought, but it got lost in the complex linework.

It's really gratifying to draw a subject so many times and in different ways that you suddenly realize you've got a whole series of related images.

The intricate linework of these drawings made them great candidates for a T-Shirt design, so I began digging in my sketchbook for other ideas I’ve had to more cohesively tie this group of monsters together. I came across this lockup drawing of the dA logo, where a bird and worm are having a funny interaction inside it. That doodle was enough to spawn the idea that the letters could be filled.

Searching for another level for the graphic, I came across a page in my sketchbook where I had slapped a dA nametag over another character, which gave me the idea to have each characters inside a speech bubble. I’d seen this basic concept before, but it was a great opportunity to explore it in my own style.

My mind was racing as I sketched each curious character. Should I put the characters in speech bubbles? What size should they be? Should it be characters talking about characters? Should it be sharp or hand drawn, solid or full of chatter? The only way to discover the answers to these was to try out every possible option!

A lot of the time, I will write random words in a consistent font to give me an interesting starting point to draw from. Most of the time, they make no sense, but they’re great for inspiration. I recommend trying it with your own sketches!

After working out the concept and translating it digitally, it quickly took shape in the graphic that you see in finished form: characters within the dA logo encapsulated by a speech bubble, inspiring conversations amongst each other and around the world.

To shop this and other new Apparel Collection designs in the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop click here.

The printed garment and an energetic model really set the mood for the completed piece during the photo shoot. The journey of this piece really drove home the importance of combining ideas and cross-pollinating concepts. I hope it helps you in your future artistic endeavors!

Forest Stearns walks you through the process and inspiration behind Monster Talk.
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I knew that the time would come, and I am so sorry, I was hoping it would be later in the future, but it is here: I can not thank you as I would like anymore. I have 4000 friends who follow my work and hundreds of fav every day (and that makes me great pleasure). Until today I wanted to tell you directly how I', grateful, but now I work 1 or 2 hours at the computer to thank, and commitments will not let me anymore. Definitely I will continue to respond to comments, but right now I want to thanks in advance all those who want to add my drawings to their collection and want to add my name to the list of friends.

I take this opportunity to share with you some of the best moments I have experienced in recent months:
Some articles about my designs have been published on the website of this newspaper:

Dailymail online 13 marzo 2013…

Mirror online 13 marzo 2013…

The Sun 14 marzo 2013…

My recent drawing has been featured on the site facebook deviantart
My drawing of Wolverine has been featured on the official facebook fan page of Hugh Jackman

Wonderful moments.
a warm greeting to all
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  • Listening to: .
  • Reading: ..
  • Watching: ...
  • Playing: ....
  • Eating: .....
  • Drinking: ......
This was going to start when I got 100 watchers, but I'm starting it a bit early.
Since this is my first time hosting a contest idk how well or how bad it'll turn out |D

Edit 1: prizes added
This contest won't have many rules to constrict your creativity, but there has to be some guidelines:

1. You can draw as many entries as you want
2. Drawings can be traditional or digital, and if you're going to use a base please make it look nice~
3. You can draw my characters alone, with your character, with another one of my characters, etc. etc...
4. Literature might be a little tough, but if you have a story in mind go for it!
5. Anyone can help! With voting, prizes, or spreading the word!
6. NSFW art is iffy, so please ask me about it before doing it ^^'
7. If any more references is needed, just ask me!

My characters that are available for drawing:

FANTROLLS (click on the names for references!)
1. Ro-Arki Amante
2. Univer Alaxes
3. Mothea Ujokoi
4. Lenien Pausar
5. Silver Argent (she also has an an ask profile! :iconask-silver-argent:
6. Lucere Stalos
7. Cantar Ativum
8. Kiriah Neitsi
9. Gustus Torque
10. Audere Eremos
11. Agredi Tacere
12. Promer Daskan 
13. Dragon Saavik
14. Meileu and Evilon (my fantroll is Meileu Leipen, the guy on the left) (Here's his fullbody sprite: Meileu)
15. Cheshy Tirart
16., 17., 18., and 19. are my FNaF Fantrolls

For 1,2,3,5,6,8,9,11,12,13,14, and 15, their full body sprites and clothing colors can be found here: Fantroll Sprites. Here's some more Fantroll References, in written form.

OTHER OCs (click on the names for references!)

1. Flagrare, a flameboyant gentleman who loves fashion and taking long walks on volcanoes. omf that pun. Anyway, here's me and him for another ref if you want: Flagrare
2. Swift, I will make a fullbody ref soon but his bottom half is pretty much that of any other anthro canine (except his tail is long and thin like a cat's).
3. I have a creepypasta pony OC i made more than a year ago, called Scrapyard, but idk if anyone would want to draw her xD
4. I have a bat!pony OC named Frigid Night but I rarely draw her because I'm still a homestuck dork. Frigid Night's Cutie Mark would be a spoopy storm cloud with a blue bat and some snow/sleet coming down. Her tail is very sleek and almost reaches the ground, and her bat wings 

I have a few other OCs with messy refs, (like my shadow alligator-thing  that possesses people) so when their refs are cleaned up I'll add them to the list!

And now for the prizes you can win!

First place: 
Bullet; Purple 400 Points  from me
Bullet; Purple 1 digital fullbody drawing from me
Bullet; Purple 1 digital torso-up drawings from me
Bullet; Purple 1 digital bust drawing from me
Bullet; Blue 5 favorites from
Bullet; Blue 10 Points from :iconshindianaify:
Bullet; Blue A feature from :iconshindianaify:
Bullet; Blue A llama from :iconshindianaify:
Bullet; Black 1 custom sprite from my adopts account, :icondhwadopts:

Second place:
Bullet; Purple 300 Points from me
Bullet; Purple 1 digital torso-up drawing from me
Bullet; Purple 1 digital bust from me
Bullet; Blue 5 Points  from :iconshindianaify:
Bullet; Blue 3 favorites from  :iconshindianaify:
Bullet; Blue A llama from :iconshindianaify:

Third place:
Bullet; Purple 200 Points from me
Bullet; Purple 1 digital torso-up drawing from me
Bullet; Purple 1 digital bust drawing from me
Bullet; Blue A favorite from :iconshindianaify:
Bullet; Blue A llama from :iconshindianaify:

There might be some honorable mentions (if I get enough people to join), which will get a digital bust drawing  or a fullbody traditional sketch from me, it'll be their choice. 

Remember, you can contribute to the prizes listed above (it'll help me out a lot)~

This contest currently has no set deadline, but it'll definitely end sometime earlyish next year

this journal took like 3 hours to finish |D

Journal Skin by SliperrySheep

The Name Game

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 2:09 PM

The Name Game

Pitfalls to Avoid and Tricks to Use while Naming People and Places

We've all been there. You're reading a pretty interesting piece of fantasy fiction, and a few paragraphs in you learn that the main villain's name is "Abraxas the Cruel, Lord of the Black Tower." You wince at the unoriginality, close the deviation, and move on to something more interesting. We've all been on the other side of things, too, with a detailed plot outline in hand, staring at a Word document that displays only a single line: "???? knew what he had to do--kill the president." We're sure that once we get that protagonist's name down, that perfect name, we'll be able to write the whole thing in one gush of brilliance, but all that's coming to mind are banal names like "John Everyman" or over-the-top ones like "Staff Sergeant Max Fightmaster".*

*Yes, that is his real name. He is so metal he probably scored his first headshot from the womb.

Bad names are problematic, and anguish over choosing a name can keep a writer from getting a story off the ground. So today, for the Story Planning Week hosted by CRLiterature at projecteducate, we're going to talk about naming things. I'll start with a major rule, then move on to naming characters, and wrap up with naming places. But first, an animated gif.

X-Men taught me all I ever needed to know about naming things. And with characters like Gambit, Apocalypse, Banshee, and Stryfe (sic), it built my vocabulary, too!

The Most Important Rule of Naming Things

This one is easy. Naming the people and places in a story is far less important than actually writing the story. Spending some time pondering and selecting names is a good thing. Obsessing over minutiae (Jen or Jenny? Tom or Tim?) is a waste of your time. Even when the options are radically different (Xerxes or Steve?), it's still probably a waste of your time. The quality of the writing will trump a poor (though not atrocious) name choice, and with the miracle of Find and Replace commands, your choices aren't set in stone.

Not the best name choice ever. Seriously, you can see that out of uniform he shoots two beams even in this quick gif. Still an iconic comic book character.

Right now you might be thinking, "hey, ShadowedAcolyte, if it doesn't matter that much, why are you writing an article about it?" Two reasons:
:bulletred: I hear a lot of writers complain about how hard naming thing is, and
:bulletred: I read a lot of stories where things are named really, really badly

So, what can you do to get over the anxiety of naming things? As with almost everything else, the solution here is practice. Once you've named a thousand things, the process gets easier. And when you've named ten thousand, it almost stops being a process. Most of the tips below I learned while running sessions of tabletop roleplaying games, where as part of presenting worlds for the other players to adventure in, I have had to name thousands of things, often on the spot. Naming anxiety has gone out the window for me, and by the end of this article, I hope it will for you as well.

To recap, the most important rule of naming things in stories is to not obsess about naming things. Pick a name and go write.

Rogue: possibly the best possible name for a femme fatale.

Naming People

Down to the meat of the article--writers seem to obsess about character names more than anything else. I'll start off with a general rule, discuss some naming conventions to avoid, and close this section with some tricks I use to make naming easier.

The General Rule for Naming People

Here it is: generally, it is better to stick with a recognizable name over a newly-minted one. You want your reader to remember a character's name, and this is easier with a recognizable one. This doesn't mean names should be boring, only that it's nice if they are recognizably names. As a reader, I'm going to have an easier time processing the character of Julian better than the character of Julga.

Of course, this is a general rule, not an ironclad law. Exceptions abound, especially in the sort of speculative fiction with non-human races. Often, though, even a character with an in-setting reason for having a bizarre name works better with a more familiar nickname or handle that is used frequently (looking at you, Meriodac "Merry" Brandybuck). Additionally, what passes for "recognizable" obviously varies by the reader's experiences (if you grew up speaking Mongolian, "Geser" is a perfectly valid heroic name, whereas it looks and sounds odd to an American reader). However, when multispecies or multilingual concerns are not primary, it's best to stick to recognizable names.

Jean Grey
Superheroes should probably be another noted exception to the rule. Right, Jean?

Things to Avoid When Naming People

As above, these are all generally a bad idea. There are exceptions.

:bulletred: Things that sane parents wouldn't name their children, like Lucifer. Yes, crazy people do name their children crazy things. But unless the character has renamed himself later in life, or the weird name has relevance to the story ("Gaia Freelove Smith became an accountant to defy her drugged-out, hippie parents--she prefers to be called 'G'."), avoid these.
:bulletred: Blatant misspellings (or "creative" spellings) of recognizable names: Gerami for Jeremy, Ylyzabeth for Elizabeth, Kryss for Chris. Those sorts of things aren't creative as much as annoying. While obviously some people do name their children these things, and some names do have multiple valid spellings (Sean/Shawn), it's best to stick to a normal spelling and let Elizabeth earn her unique nature with her actions, not with a Y in her name.
:bulletred: Names chosen because they "mean" something. The internet is awash in baby name sites, many of them with poorly sourced (i.e., invented) "meanings" for various names. A character's significance doesn't need to be tied up in his name--plenty of important historical figures bore names quite common in their time (think of how many American Founding Fathers were named 'John'!).
:bulletred: Names that are monstrously obvious and overdone references, like a first-man-to-do-X named Adam, a gorgeous man named Apollo, a pure woman named Mary, etc.
:bulletred: Names that abuse apostrophes for no discernable reason. Yes, I'm looking at you, Drizzt Do'Urden. In rare cases, these serve to mark sounds that don't have another phonetic equivalent, but your wise alien named Y'leth Ellae'ea isn't so much unique as highly derivative.
:bulletred: Names that are wildly different in tone and scope on characters from similar backgrounds. If your fantasy village has three human men named Andoreth the Just, Bunderly von Ivtia, and Steve Thompson, I'm going to have a hard time taking your story seriously.
:bulletred: Any of poor style choices found in this excellent journal (there is some overlap with the above), or that appear as clichés on TVTropes's list of Naming Conventions, should be avoided.

Professor X
Professor/Magneto slashfic: Still a better love story than Twilight.

Tips for Naming Characters

:bulletred: Use baby name guides. As much as they might be lying to you about the "meaning" behind a name (which is, remember, largely a waste of time), they do list a great many names, some of which you might want to use.
:bulletred: Use your memory! You can assemble names by mixing and matching names from people you've met, characters in other books or movies, or the news. Grab a newspaper (who am I kidding--open a browser and look at a newspaper's website) and scan for names. Obviously you don't want to use someone's whole name, but a cool first name from the local wedding announcement page and a cool last name from one of your old middle school teachers might go together well. When I hear an interesting name, I sometimes write it on a post-it note (or grocery receipt, or whatever's at hand) to remember to use later. Unlike a baby name guide, these have the advantage of being actual people's names, not just a list some unknown person or persons put on the internet. This works with other references from your past, like high school yearbooks.
:bulletred: Use Wikipedia creatively.  One of my most tried and true techniques for naming a group of characters from a similar background is to pick a country, pull up the list of that country's current Parliament or Congress or whatever legislative body it has, and start mixing and matching names. Need an authentic Greek name for a protagonist who is always fighting with his immigrant parents? Pop open the dryly titled List of members of the Hellenic Parliament June 2012 to present page and mix and match. You can easily create a list of authentic-sounding names for the character, his family, and their friends. Just remember not to use a real person's name verbatim. That's gauche. You can also use the Wikipedia pages titled "List of Famous People from X", but that's not as reliable because many people are famous under a pseudonym or just have descent from one place with the naming conventions of a separate place (the List of Zoroastrians includes Queen singer Freddie Mercury, who was born in Zanzibar and grew up in India but didn't really become famous under a Zoroastrian-esque name).
:bulletred: If you are going to create a weird set of names for perhaps an alien race (or a human group with a fictional language), pick a few consonant blends that are common and use those twice as frequently as other consonants, while making sure some names don't use the common ones. At the same time, pick a vowel or two and use them half as often as the remaining vowels. Those two quick rules will create a serviceable 'feel' to the fictional language without a lot of extra work. Be careful, however, of falling into the trap of the Law of Alien Names.

Apparently extending your claws magically generates clothing, too.

Naming Places

Naming places is both easier and harder than naming characters. It's easier because there are even fewer conventions, so it's harder to even seem uncreative, but it's harder because you have that many more options. The most common names to avoid are the ones that just boil down to state-the-obvious descriptions ("The Black Tower", "Sea of Blue") or melodramatic word + object ("River of Tears", "Devil's Reef"). Stay away from those.

One tip to give a region some coherency is to name many of the same types of things (cities, forests, etc) with the same prefix or suffix. You can see this in the real world: common American town endings are "-ville", "-boro" or "-borough", and of course "-town"/"-ton". If three of four cities in a fantasy region start with "Tar-", that implies a shared linguistic heritage, which is a nice touch. But there are always exceptions to any convention.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of how many places get their names. When naming new locations in an area, you can (and probably should) use multiple methods.
:bulletred: From the geography. Chimney Rock is so named for its appearance. So was Gran Teton.
:bulletred: From a person, either a famous one (the State of Washington) or just a local person (Jackson Hole, Wyoming). This is probably the most common source for town/city names. After all, if you build the town, you get to name it after yourself.
:bulletred: From an event. Cape Fear, on the coast of North Carolina, is named that because some sailors thought they were going to crash on it.
:bulletred: From an extinct or largely forgotten language. Argentina, despite lacking silver, is named for the Latin word for the metal (the explorers were optimistic about finding some there). Many places across the US bear Native American names (or Anglicized versions thereof).
:bulletred: From numbers. Roads aren't the only thing named with numbers (Area 51, Ward 8).
:bulletred: From mythological figures. Lots of places in England have names rooted in the Arthurian legends.
:bulletred: From other place names. New York springs to mind, but there is a town called Versailles (pronounced ver-SAILS) in Ohio.
:bulletred: From unknown or forgotten sources. Some place name etymologies are disputed, and some lack even hypothetical explanations of how they came to be called what they are called. This is quite common, and that gives you a lot of leeway when it comes to naming places.

I think it's important to note that for most people, in most situations, place names are either wildly obvious (Chimney Rock) or essentially have no meaning (Mississippi River). Yes, linguists and historians might be able to tell you why and when it was originally called that, but your average person nearby doesn't know, and doesn't mind not knowing. With that as a guide, you're fairly free to name things whatever you wish as long as you avoid odious clichés.

Storm was so cool she got another awesome name: Ororo.


I hope that some of the above was useful to you. Remember, the most important rule of naming is to stop worrying about naming and just write something!

Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to naming things? Are there any trends or patterns in naming that you really hate? Please, share them below!

Astute students of 90s cartoons might be expecting to see Jubilee somewhere around here. Despite her cool name, Jubilee is too lame to include in this article.

For the Story Planning Week at #projecteducate hosted by #CRLiterature. Don't be afraid of naming things!
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Hey guys. I've written about copyright law in the past, but there are some things I just.. never thought to mention. However now that Sarah and I are working together, we're dealing with several types of art theft at once. Everything from the recast dolls situation (where someone buys your doll, makes casts of it, then sells it to the public. Yes this is illegal, more on that later), to someone submitting my art to a game company as their own for a job. In many cases we are dealing with ignorance, so I thought I would clarify a few things.

This is going to take a while.

The Recast Situation
There is a new trend in the ball jointed doll industry, where people are taking dolls and sending them to 'professional recasters'. These people then make a mold of someone's doll, and recast it. They then proceed to sell the doll to their customers. The artist receives no compensation for this, nor is allowed to even have a say in anything from the quality of the resin, to the color, to if this should even happen. There is heated debate on both sides, and it's been breaking my heart to find out that many friends were not fully educated on copyright law, and were beginning to think that this was an acceptable practice.

Now, Grace, who is the artist of Jpopdolls, has hired a lawyer to deal with the situation regarding the recasts of the dolls. THAT is a piece of work that you should all read and learn about, and I will link the letter from the lawyer breaking this all down. The reason I ask you to educate yourselves on this is because people can sound very, very, very persuasive when they are doing something wrong. But the act of buying a doll that you *know is stolen*.... makes you an accessory to the crime. And I assure you it is actually considered a crime. So please, please before you buy something you know is a 'knock off', make sure you know exactly how the law stands on issues like this. If not for the artist, for yourself in case the artist (like Grace), chooses to pursue legal action.

This is the letter. Please read it thoroughly and pass it along to others. This is real and legitimate information about copyright law that is important to know.…

The biggest thing I want to say is.. when in doubt? Don't take the word of the person you are doubting. Research it. Look into both sides. If one side is using copyright law of the fashion industry, or things that have nothing to do with the subject at hand, then back away slowly. I say this because *fashion law does not apply to other art forms*. The laws are different depending on what the medium/artform is. If you aren't 100% sure, then better to be safe then sorry, you know?

But recasting doesn't hurt the artist!
This has come up several times from several people. I want to correct this interpretation now. It hurts the artist. It hurts their current career *and their future career*. The catch with doll artists is that they rely on the resale value of their dolls.

What's this? But Jessica! The artist gets nothing from the resell of a doll!

That's not entirely true. What the artist receives is proof of value. This is wildly important to collectors who both love the dolls but *also* want to have a valuable collection. People will choose to buy limited edition dolls with the assurance that they will not be re-released, because over time their value not only holds, but increases. Think of it like buying antiques. They are worth some now, but in later years they are worth so much more to collectors because they are rare and precious.

How this affects the future of the artist is that once they have established that their dolls hold value *by the way they sell in the resell market*, future dolls are desired and purchased regularly. It is possible for an artist to build a very successful career based in part on how well their dolls hold value over time. But to do that, this means certain things have to be in place. The doll has to be quality. The resin can't break down in a few years, rendering the doll's value moot. The doll can't just be an easy commodity, open to the public. It has to be no longer offered. If a doll is limited, it's a rare item. If a doll is not, then resells are of 'used' dolls (because you can buy a new one for x amount of dolls, so why pay more for one that was opened?), and the price is generally lower. The doll no longer holds their resell value. Are you starting to see where recasts of limited dolls hurt the resell value? Why buy a limited edition El doll that's no longer available, when you can get a recast for next to nothing? In fact.. why buy the doll from the artist *at all*, when re-casters sell it for cheaper?

It doesn't take long to take an already fragile business and cause it to crumble. Even the 'big' companies are playing a delicate balance of making sure all their bills are met, their employees are paid and they have enough going that they can continue selling the dolls. Because dolls are NOT a necessity for living, it's a fickle business and a sculpture that's not appealing to the audience can result in a huge loss in money, sometimes even a business destroying loss.

There are other effects to doll artists when their work is stolen, but I would like to move on to another subject now.

"Borrowing" art for portfolios
Welp, I've talked about dolls. But now I want to talk about something else. A situation has come up not too long ago where a young lady placed pieces of my work in her portfolio, that she then submitted to a gaming company for consideration and review.

This has happened in the past, with people submitting my work as their own for things like college applications, gaming jobs and so on. The response I've gotten from them when confronted was usually "Well it's not like it hurt you or anything".

I want to address that now.

That's wrong.

The effect of portfolio theft on the artist
It hurts the artist in really subtle ways. For example, when I applied for the visual art's institute a second time to continue my career, the dean recognized my work. Why? Because someone had used it weeks before and gotten accepted into the school. They proceeded to lecture me on theft, and fraud, and I was declined from the school outright. It took months for me to get the dean calmed down enough to show her my body of work and prove to her that I was not a thief, was in fact the legitimate artist. Then she had to find the artist who DID lie, and had to do a ton of pretty horrendous paperwork and legal crap to remove her from the school.

I did not end up continuing my education. It was my personal choice, but it took so much out of me to get this done, that I was worn out and simply didn't want to continue. This was years ago but it still burns me to this very day.

In the case of people who use your work for gaming companies, it puts the company at very real risk. I assure you that if I saw my work on their games, I would come after them for theft. Then that would involve a very,very, very expensive court battle, and a loss of my creative time. That art that is so precious and worth enough to that person that they stole it? I cannot create more of it while I'm going to court regularly to deal with this issue. The company that is liked enough that this person wants to work for them? They can't release/continue selling that game while the legal issues are taken care of. Both sides lose a great deal of money, more then the thief received/will lose (because they will end up in the court case too). It hurts, but it's something we would have to do in order to protect ourselves. (the person who submitted my work to the gaming company did not know that the company owner's daughter a. knows me and b. has watched me painting. So she was busted immediately. Not all artists and gaming companies are that lucky.)

A friend of mine tried to apply to a company as one of their illustrators who does t-shirt designs for their company. She submitted her art.. and was promptly rejected. She found out later that it was because *her design was already on their competitors t-shirts* and they thought she was trying to be underhanded. It took a great deal of time to sort out the mess, get the stolen art off of the other company's shirts, and get things straightened out. But by the time it was done? The job had already been offered to someone else and she missed out on a great opportunity.

Just think. That's all I can ask anyone to do. Please think. Artists defend their copyright, not because they are 'greedy' or 'zealots'... but because they have to. When we work in this industry, what happens to our art has far reaching consequences that only the artist can really analyze and work with. It's more then just the art.. that piece of work that was put on a pro gay hate board without the artist's consent can result in difficulties for them later, perhaps even very real physical harm (this also happened to a friend). It can ruin contracts, destroy reputations, fragment the value of the artist's work.

I understand that art is a wonderful thing, and it's natural to desire it, want it in your hands and on your walls. And I get that it's easy to think 'it's just a drawing' or 'it's just a doll'. Too many people think of artists as not actually being a real job or a real business. The fact is.. it is a real job. It's a real job with consequences that are not easily seen on the surface. And when we reach out and say "Stop." It's not to try and hurt you, and certainly not over something petty. It's because we have to, this is our livelihood.

So please care for your artists

When I researched moving to another country, I found something interesting.

Artists are considered cultural assets. In the immigration paperwork on DOZENS of countries, an artist is often as valued as a doctor or a scientist. Just like them, the artist has to prove their worth, show that they are truly a creature of creation and expression that moves the world. But the important part is *they are a cultural asset*. They are an expression of the uniqueness of our civilization. A country's value as a civilized society goes up *if they are rich in art, music, dance, CULTURE.* Tourism increases when countries have these things, when the beautiful art and sculptures lure them, the native dances, the incredible expressions convince them to step out of their country and come to another.

Protect them. Protect them, value them, cherish them. They are what brings light and beauty to the world, be it dance, music, art, sculpture. There is no limit to the beauty and creativity that will be your reward for their care. No price that can be put on the joy and inspiration that you will feel when you look at what has come from their gifts. That's what an artist gives to the world, and you. That's why they are a cultural asset. It's as close to magic as we will ever get in this world, so take it and keep it safe.
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Yes You Can!

Mon Mar 4, 2013, 11:56 AM

Yes You Can!

Helpful Hints On Reading and Discussing Poetry

:points: Contest Information Below! :points:

Hi! Welcome to projecteducate’s week on poetry forms. I’m here to talk about poetry in more general terms, which might help you with the rest of the week. As a great lover of poetry, it makes me incredibly sad when I see a comment on dA that says

I just don’t get poetry


I like this poem, but I don’t know why


I can’t possibly say anything about this poem, it’s just so much better than I could do

If you can see yourself in any of those comments, this article is for you! By the end of it, you’ll have some idea of what to think about when reading and later commenting on a poem, as well as the opportunity to win some points in a contest. Obviously no article is going to teach you “everything about poetry”, but I’m sure that some of the tips below will help make poetry more accessible to anyone who currently finds it scary, awkward, or both. A group of our fellow deviants—poets, readers of poetry, and people who also sometimes find themselves at a loss when dealing with a new poem—assisted in the creation of this article.

In the introduction to an amazing anthology of poetry, The Poets’ Corner, actor John Lithgow says, “I grew up with poems. All of us did, whether we realize it or not. Poetry is in our bloodstream: nursery rhymes, schoolyard chants, song lyrics, limericks, jingles, rap. But not many of us think of ourselves as poetry lovers. The very question ‘Do you love poetry?’ makes most of us nervous. It shouldn’t.”

I couldn’t agree more! Let’s get started.

Reading Poetry: Yes You Can!

First off, it’s important to quickly dispel any misconceptions you might have about what poetry is or isn’t. PinkyMcCoversong notes that one of the biggest problems “comes from people drilling it into kids’ heads that poetry is DEEP and MEANINGFUL and FULL OF LAYERS.” Looking for a ‘true meaning’ that isn’t present is a surefire way to turn the joy of reading poetry into a chore.

Poets Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell, in the introduction to their excellent anthology Sleeping on the Wind, put it so well: “A good poem means just what it says, and it suggests what it suggests. The search for deep meanings behind what is said is usually painful and unrewarding…It’s like looking for the real meaning behind a sailboat race on the bay. You’d probably miss the beauty and excitement of the boats, the water, the sky, the day.”

Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, it doesn’t have to be about something deep and profound, it doesn’t have to have linebreaks or look a certain way on the page, and it doesn’t have to be in some set form like a sonnet or haiku. Different types of poetry are like different types of music—country music sounds nothing like industrial techno. Reading new types of poetry is like listening to new types of music—you might like it, you might hate it, but if you don’t give it a chance with an open mind, you might miss out on something you otherwise would have come to love.

Reading A New Poem: Yes You Can!

Everybody reads a new poem differently. I personally pay most attention to the literal meaning of the words on my first read, but that’s certainly not the only way. TheSkaBoss says, “I don't think about anything, I just let the rhyme and rhythm wash over me.” tiganusi’s approach: “I think about the images, the tone and the voice moreso than the specific words.” Wolfrug relies on a different tactic: “I read the author's comments before reading the poem…how does [the poem] make me understand the author of the text better?”

One thing that almost everyone does is read the poem a few times. When re-reading, xlntwtch reminds us of something important: “read it again, and then again aloud.” Another common theme is that reading a poem usually requires paying a bit more attention than reading prose. futilitarian says poetry is “shorter, but more intense. It's not going to ask the same long-term investment of you as a novel, but in the short term it'll have an expectation that you'll focus on it and pay it some attention.”

Tips and Tricks for Reading a New Poem

:bulletred: Read the poem ‘actively’, by which I mean with the level of attention you’d give a board game, not a TV show.

:bulletred: Read the poem multiple times. Make sure to read it aloud.

:bulletred: Think about the sounds of the poem. Is there a natural pattern to the sound? Do some sounds repeat?

:bulletred: State for yourself what the poem is about, in simple and specific terms. Don’t get caught up in a ‘deep meaning’ that might not be there. A good poem is probably not about ‘the conservation of nature’, but ‘a man who feels sad that his childhood beach is dirty’.

:bulletred: Think about how the poem makes you feel. If the poem doesn’t make you feel anything at all, that’s still a good thing to note.

:bulletred: Identify the sensory images in the poem—the places where it talks about the sounds, smells, sights, tastes, or textures of things.

:bulletred: Look at the title—did your feelings about it change from before you read the poem to after?

:bulletred: Does the poem tell a story? Does it have all the details of that story, or is there something you still want to know?

If after all that, the poem still doesn’t make sense or resonate with you, don’t give up quite yet. neurotype reminds us, sensibly, that “as a society we see so much prose overall that we're more used to processing it. It really boils down to practice.” And there are things you can do to make a confusing poem more accessible. LiliWrites has some suggestions: “check the author's comments for clarification, use Google to look up words or phrases…If all else fails, I can always ask the author in a comment.” NiteMuse suggests changing how you read the poem: “reread it a few different times, putting emphasis on different points, to see if it changes.”

It’s okay if you don’t ‘get’ a poem, even after spending some time with it. You aren’t supposed to like every kind of poetry any more than you’re supposed to enjoy every type of music. And you aren’t supposed to love every poem written in a certain way, any more than someone who loves rock music is supposed to love every single rock song. tiganusi suggests one option for when a poem remains unclear after some effort on your part: “move along” to another poem. Don’t worry—the more poetry you read, the easier it will be to read poetry.

Commenting on Poetry: Yes You Can!

Other than cash and publication :), there are few things more useful to a writer of poetry than getting some feedback. If you think you can’t respond meaningfully and helpfully to a poem, think again! Nearly everyone I asked was emphatic about how ‘training’ in poetry isn’t necessary to leave a helpful comment. rockgem clears away the cobwebs: “the only thing you really need to comment on a poetry piece is the ability to read.” PinkyMcCoversong takes it a step further: “you know how something makes you react, and a reaction is perfectly valid feedback.”

neurotype agrees: “a good poem will evoke imagery with an emotional impact in any layperson.” LiliWrites adds: “do you need a college degree to find Van Gogh's Starry Night interesting or beautiful? Do you need a degree to understand that Harry Potter appealed to the basic theme of good vs. evil in all of us?”

Lastly, if the poem is in a specific form, you don’t need to know a lot about the form to comment helpfully—but it can’t hurt. And the rest of this week at projecteducate should help demystify some of the most common forms.

Tips and Tricks for Commenting on Poetry on DeviantArt

:bulletred: Be polite. Thank the poet for sharing the poem.

:bulletred: If the writer has not requested critique either in the Artist’s Comments or with the critique function, keep things positive. Even if a poem has some flaws you’d like to talk about, if there’s no indication they’ll be well-received you might be wasting your time. You can close your comment with something like “I have some constructive comments about this piece, too. Would you like to hear them?”

:bulletred: Look back at the list of tips for reading the poetry—your answers to those questions are strong contenders for things you might say in a comment.

:bulletred: If the poem is broken into pieces (lines or stanzas, for example), did that influence how you read the poem?

:bulletred: If something’s unclear, say so! You probably aren’t the only one thinking that.

:bulletred: If you’re not writing critique, you can keep your comment pretty short—but not miniscule. A good format might be 5 sentences long: “I liked this” at the start, “thanks for sharing” at the end, and any three of the following:

     “the best part was ___”

    “the poem made me feel ___”,

    “I’m confused about ___”

    “___ was a really great word choice”

    “I wanted to know more about ___”

    “the end was strong because ___”

    “I love the sound of ___”

    “I’m curious, why did you ___”

:bulletred: If you only say one thing, futilitarian wants you to go with your gut: “I think that first almost instinctive response, that ‘wow, that line really grabbed me’ or that ‘ugh, this bit was boring and I didn't get it’ is useful for 95% of the poetry on dA written for a general audience…Sometimes as a poet you just want to know what works and what doesn't and the why doesn't really matter.” Well said!

Actually Doing It: The ‘Yes You Can!’ Contest

The rules are simple:
:bulletred: This contest is only open to people who, before reading this article, found themselves at a loss when reading or commenting on poetry. You know who you are.

:bulletred: Read a lot of poems. Many articles that projecteducate will use this week will link to excellent, interesting poems on DeviantArt, and that’s a great place to start. “A lot” is up to you. The more effort you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.

:bulletred: Leave a comment on whichever one of those poems resonated most strongly with you. It should be 4-6 sentences long, but make it count—show that you’ve really read the poem several times, and that you really absorbed what it said. Give the poet useful, positive feedback. Thank the poet for sharing. It might be a good idea to leave several comments, so that you can pick the best one after you’ve written a few.

:bulletred: Note me, ShadowedAcolyte, with a link to the best one of your comments. (You can link to a comment by clicking on the time-and-date stamp when viewing the comment.)

:bulletred: The comment must be written and noted to me before midnight PST on Wednesday, March 13th. No exceptions.

:bulletred: I’ll choose an outstanding example, which will win points! Currently, thanks to our Literature CVs, there are 300 points up for grabs (a nice reward for a short, simple comment), but that number may rise!

(Edit: A link to the contest winner can be found in the Artist's Comments. This contest is closed.)


I originally planned to include some links to more resources here (other than the books I’ve linked to above, of course), but PinkyMcCoversong makes such a compelling argument I’m quoting it in full:

“Screw resources, read more poems. Start with a good anthology. I recommend The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, edited by J.D. McClatchy. Of course, it’s as old and crusty as I am now, being ten years or so old. So go find more anthologies. Hide in the library for a while. Pick up lit mags. Find something you ENJOY and read it and read more of it and venture from there. Resources aren’t going to help you read poetry. Reading poetry, however, will.”


These people all helped this article come to fruition in some way. Thank you all, and to projecteducate for hosting such an amazing poetry week.

:iconpinkymccoversong: :iconneurotype: :iconbeccalicious: :iconnichrysalis: :icontheskaboss: :icontiganusi: :iconfutilitarian: :iconxlntwtch: :iconliliwrites: :iconwolfrug: :iconnitemuse: :iconmolly-snicklefritz: :iconsaintartaud: :iconrockgem: :iconcybergranny:


I hope you feel a little less awkward about reading and responding to new poetry after reading this article. Remember, as Koch and Farrell say, “poets are not big, dark, heavy personages dwelling in clouds of mystery, but people like yourself, who are doing what they like to do…writing poetry isn’t any more mysterious than what a dancer or a singer or a painter does.” Fellow deviant futilitarian says it more bluntly and with wit: “poetry isn't hard and it isn't elite. If it were, poets wouldn't be able to do it.”

This article brought to you by #projecteducate and #CRLiterature! Poetry doesn't have to be awkward or scary. Read on to find out why!

If you have any tips for reading and commenting on poetry, please share them in a comment. If you have any questions about what poetry is or isn't, or about how to read and comment on poetry, go right ahead and ask them in a comment. Don't be shy!

The other articles from the Poetry Forms Week hosted by #projecteducate and #CRLiterature can be found in this Roundup by ^NicSwaner

And there's another contest associated with the Poetry Forms Week: Two Forms, One Theme Contest! Check it out!

The contest winner was announced here: [link]
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