Category: Artwork

Sketches and finished pieces of artwork featured prominently in the post

Creafting a Story - Designing villains part 2

Crafting a Story – Designing villains part 2

Hello all, and welcome back to part two of the series about designing my villain characters for the Recollection City comic. If you missed part 1, you can go and read it here.
This week I`ll be focusing on how I designed Alaric, the guy with the brains behind the attack on my fantasy country of Tarina.

Creafting a Story - Designing villains part 2

Alaric is probably the most difficult character for me to get into the head of. He is a middle aged, bitter father, yet very smart and he makes it his life`s work to seek revenge on an entire country. The last bit is not exactly something I have very much sympathy for. But people like this exist, so it`s still a character that can feel real.

You`ve probably heard about the idea that people who do evil things usually often think that what they do is for the greater good. They are right in their own mind.
The story that is told in Alaric`s family over and over again to every new generation is that they were wrongfully banished from the country of Tarina. Feelings of being denied a better life and feelings of anger and resentment have a deep root in this family and they all feel like they have been treated wrongly. Add to this that this anger drowns out much of the love and tenderness of being in a healthy family and you have all kinds of problems.

Alaric, with his knowledge of technology and other sciences comes to the realization that he can use his inventions for “setting things right” and making a new life for the next generation of his family. He alienates people around him (he even left his wife because she was trying to get him to stop obsessing over the past) and drags his daughter with him in his plans. He actually thinks he`s doing Valeska a favour by “finally stopping the cycle of injustice.”

I hope this makes him dangerous enough since he is still operating from ideals and the idea of a better future. In a very twisted way, this is how he shows his love for his daughter.

He and Valeska are the opponents of Bern and his friends. So I tried to make Alaric, in his character and posture, someone who is contrasting with Bern.
Bern feels inadequate to be a leader. He`s dressed very commonly, likes to be amongst the citizens of his city. Alaric is the opposite of that. He is aristocratic, very focused on his “royalty” and qualities as a leader, cold, distant and rigid.

I tried to show that in his design and in the compositions. Here are some of the initial thumbnails I did:

Alaric thumbnails

For my story I need a younger and older version of him too. Here are some of the early try outs:


His face resembles that of Valeska of course. I really wanted them to feel like family of each other, so again, I used the sharp nose, chin and cheekbones. They also have the same mouth and squinty eyes.


Eventually, this is where the older Alaric (after the prologue) ended up:


Have you ever made villain characters? How did you get into their head? Who are your favourite villain characters from other stories and why? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Thank you very much for reading this post! If you want, you can keep up with the progress on the comic on the Recollection City Facebook Page too. I post little updates and sketches there.
If you want to get notified on new content related to the comic you can subscribe to the Recollection City newsletter.
Or, if you would like to be updated on the blog in general, you can subscribe to the Pencils & Stories newsletter.
If you missed the link to “Designing Villains part 1” then you can read the post about Alaric`s daughter Valeska here.


Crafting a story – Designing villains part 1

Hello everyone, I hope you are all doing great!
I`m back with a new instalment of the Crafting a Story series. This time we are talking antagonists and I`ll focus on one of them: Valeska.


I never really liked coming up with “villains” in the past. They reminded me of animated characters singing about how evil they are. I`ve never really liked the two dimensional ones who are just evil because they like it. (Though even this can be done well, I do have examples of a few instances where I did love those villains)
For my own story I never quite knew where to take the antagonist forces, until I came up with an interesting sounding back story for them. Turns out, I even grew to like these characters.

My villain duo is a father and a daughter:



and Valeska:


Here`s the gist of their backstory: Alaric and Valeska are part of a family of former regents of the land of Tarina but their ancestors were banished from the country. A story full of anger and bitterness now runs through this family and Alaric, who is very intelligent, decides to finally “set things right.” In his long pursuit of this idea he drags his daughter along with him. Both are very smart and good with technology. They have an army of automatons (the forerunners of modern robots) at their disposal with which they attack Tarina.

Once I figured out the backstory I was good to go. I understood these characters better and even developed some sympathy for them. In the end it`s about their father and daughter relationship and how hate and bitterness gets in the way of all that is good in a family.

But how do you design villain characters?

My comic is a more realistic one when it comes to style. But still I wanted to get their character and their antagonistic nature in the comic across in their character designs.
I started thumbnailing the prologue, where the characters are 15 years younger and where the backstory is told. I went with the first images that popped up into my head. Valeska as a child was a very clear image and I pictured Alaric as a weird combination of 19th century scientists and aristocrat characters I remember from childhood series.

This was their starting point:

I will talk about Alaric in next week`s blogpost.

Grown up Valeska in my head was someone who had learned to ignore, and keep inside, all things that could be seen as weak. She is the one who is to practically execute her father`s plan so for years she has been trained to do just that. It has destroyed her empathy and all the plans she might have had for herself. She now only desperately wants her father`s approval and to see their family`s tragic cycle of bitterness to end. She grew cold and hard in both her face and her attitude. A little on the wild and crazy side when she gets on a controlling power rush.


Clothing is always fun too, especially since my comic is set in a fantasy version of the 19th century:


Valeska is doing the hard work during their “mission.” This is why she is wearing protective armour. It was tough to design, since I hardly ever drawn armour, but a lot of hours of research and looking for things that I found cool, but were still practical, later and I ended up with this:


One early morning I was walking to the train station and it was barely beginning to get light. A white building was in front of me, light blue now in the half-dark. It had very brownish and pale colours of yellow behind the windows. That was the exact colourscheme that would fit Valeska I thought. The cool, neutral and pale colours really reflected her aloofness and efforts to keep all emotions in. That`s what you see in the image down below in this post.

I really like this character. I hope she is a three dimensional one with a reason for why she does what she does. She even has some screen time all to herself so you`ll get to know her better then. She is already introduced in the comic`s prologue, which I`m working hard on right now so I have something to show at the next CTNx Expo. When the prologue is done I think I`ll post it online so you all know have a better idea what kind of story and art you`re waiting for. 🙂

In the meantime, you can follow the progress on the comic on the Recollection City Facebook Page. I might post more short ramblings and work in progress there.
Recollection City also has it`s own newsletter
for the people who are interested in the comic only. Or you can subscribe to the regular Pencils & Stories newsletter to receive news about new posts and my work in general (including the comic).


I hope you`ve enjoyed this post. let me know in the comments and have a great week!

Want to see more? Here are more posts about how I designed the other characters:
Designing Bern
Designing Max
Designing Ivory
Designing Robbie

Pencils & Stories blog relaunch


Hi there, long time no see! 

What do you think of the new look? I like it very much, it`s such an improvement from the old blog. Take a look around and let me know what you think. There`s also some technical things that still need fixing, but for now I`m happy and so I decided to start blogging again. 😀 Here`s some info about how you can keep updated about all this awesome stuff that is to come. 

The new blog also comes with a new way to follow my posts and work. You can subscibe here to my new newsletter. This will give me some more flexibility and options to make it a bit more personal than just a WordPress noticifaction in your mailbox. This means that if you have subscribed to the old Pencils & Stories blog`s notification system before, you`d have to subscribe to the new newsletter. I will not spam you and you can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.

Recollection City also has a newsletter for the people who are mostly interested in keeping updated on the status of the comic. You can subscribe to that newsletter here. I also made a specific Facebook page for the comic so if you like that platform you can like the page. Of course I will still keep you updated about the status of the project here and make the “Crafting a Story”  blogposts, but maybe some people are interested in the comic only so they can follow it on it`s specific channels. 

Speaking of Recollection City, it has a brand new page here on the blog, simply click ” comic”  in the menubar above to see some new concept art and read the official pitch.

I will start blogging again as of now, I already have a list of subjects I`d like to talk about and of things that could be helpful. I will also repost some older blogpost to my social media channels in the coming weeks to give them a chance to be read by more people this time. I highly believe in the content of some of those post and I really hope they`ll inspire more people than they`ve done so far.

Another reason for the long hiatus is that I have been asked to participate in a new course: Oatley Academy Live. It`s a course that focuses on personal projects and it basicly guides you through the process of starting, laying a good foundation, about the planning, storytelling, designing and promotion of it. It has ton of guest teachers, official hangouts with your fellow students and you get a backstage pass to listen to extra podcasts for example. 

One aspect of it is that a group of six students will make a personal project along with everyone else, while being coached by Chris Oatley and Lora Innes (one of the teachers at OA and author from the Dreamer comic) in the process. One of those students is me! (so excited!) The idea behind this is that other students can see how we go about making a brand new personal project, what we run into and how to solve the problems we face. We are in special Incubator live sessions twice a month where we show how we did the homework and where we`re at with our stories and such. We have three teams consisting of one writer and one artist. (even though all Incubators can do both) and I`m the writer part. My awesome artist collaborator is Mallory Carlson. The other teams are Britny Arnett and David White Contreras, and Maike Venhofen and Ejiwa “Edge” Ebenebe. (Everyone is awesome and amazing!) It has been an absolute blast so far!

OA Live works with a monthly or yearly subscription. You`ll have access to the live sessions as they come but everything will be recorded so you can always catch up if you missed anything. If you are interested in joining, act fast! It has already started a few months ago and enrollment will close this week! Click here to learn more about OA Live!.

Last but not least, I will leave you with some art. I saw this image from Oliver Geiseler the other day and had to draw my own version of it, here it is: (posted with permission from the photographer)

2015 07-05 Bejaarde grondeekhoorn
Thank you so much for reading!
Here is the link to my newsletter one more time for those who want to get notified when there`s new posts. Also, take a peek around the site and tell me what you think and what subjects you hope will be tackled here in the future. Feel free to leave a comment below. 

Life drawing – WW2 theme (Warning: NSFW content!)

I did some life drawing last saturday. The Facebookgroup Schetssessie 2.0 hosts life drawing sessions every month based on a certain theme. This month it was the Second World War. There were two men who gather all kinds of army related things from that period. They also do reenactments of WW2 to preserve this information about history. One of them was dressed in full German uniform, the other in the American uniform. Up to all the details and materials the soldiers were carrying. They gave us a  peek into the life of a soldier during that time and let us draw the uniforms and everything.

Then they did some poses for us:15-02 Life drawing soldiersAfter this a professional model came in and for an hour and a half she did some poses for us, using some of the  materials the other models brought with them. Some poses were short, others longer.

Just a heads up for those of you at work, these images feature a nude model!

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Shapes and colour: birdsketches

This week I experimented with shape and how different shapes give a different feel to a design. I tried to repeat the shapes within the design too. I used the theme “birds.” I hope you like them:

2015 02 birdsketchesI also found a few markers that I thought were a nice colour palette together. So I experimented with colour too and how they could enhance the design. They were very limiting so it was a challenge. I tried to use them all in most bird designs. I also practised my inking again. Still a lot of work to do in that area.

As with the last few weeks, I added the latest creative prompts to the master list.