Novel #2 Outlining: Plot

Finally, after months of planning, I have finished the outlining for my novel and I’m ready to start writing!

For the past week I’ve been plotting. First, I compiled my plot notes and created a list of scenes that I thought might go into the book. Some were important scenes while others were completely random.

Then, I wrote every scene on an index card and proceeded to organize them into a coherent order.

I like using the index card method because it’s easy to rearrange scenes and get a bird’s eye view of the storyline. I also like being able to physically move them, rather than just cutting and pasting on the computer.

Now I’ve just printed out all of my notes and outline. All I need to do now is just start! 🙂

I’m so excited!

 

 

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Father’s Day Painting

For Father’s Day this year I painted my father and grandpa a mountain scene. I’m starting to realize that the only gift I really give my parents/other relatives is art. XD I don’t know what to say other than that it is convenient.

Here are my process pictures:

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I started with an underpainting like usual.

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My materials

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Then I painted over the underpainting and realized that it may have been too thick because all of the paint was blending. There was no way I could get the whites white enough without mixing it with the other layers, so I had to wait for it to dry first.

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After about a week, I started working on it again, starting with the clouds. Then I moved on to the mountains and trees. Sorry about the weird lighting in these pictures.

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And here is the finished product!

This was so far the biggest painting I have ever done, at 24 x 36”. It definitely took longer than any other.

It was also the first time I’ve let a painting dry before finishing it. Usually I would paint wet-on-wet, but I’m happy with how it turned out.

I’m excited to try some plein air painting for the first time this weekend! Wish me luck. 😀

A Beautiful Day

Yesterday was simply gorgeous. My family and I went out in the boat and I took the opportunity to sketch some of the landscape (and my brother’s portrait) as we drifted around.

The weather was perfect. Not too hot, with a refreshing breeze blowing across the bay. We could see fish underneath the boat, but nobody could catch one.

 

Later we brought my grandfather to the beach with a bunch of chairs. There we sat, enjoying the sun and drinking pepsi. He told some stories. I sketched some more:

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Some days are like little gems among the rest, and I’m learning to cherish them.

Novel #2 Outlining: Creating Characters

So I’m in the middle of creating and fleshing-out characters for my novel. It feels like a totally new process than what I went through before, and that’s exciting. Instead of spending so much time on plot, this time I’m focusing solely on developing realistic, multi-layered characters first.

That said, it’s not necessarily easy. For a while I didn’t know where to begin, and even now that I’ve started I keep asking myself, how do I choose what goes into a character’s backstory? How much detail should I go into? Are my characters realistic enough?

Of course, there are no right answers to those questions, but I’ve been reading Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress to give myself a starting point. It has some fun, character-building exercises at the end of each chapter. I’ve also found a list of 100 questions online to answer about my main characters that’s been extremely helpful. Here’s the link.

I find it very interesting how much backstory affects the way the characters seem to turn out. Just one event can have a big effect on a character’s demeanor and personality. I feel like this is very true to life, in that people’s pasts- and how they deal with them- make up a part of who they are, however big or small. I guess that’s the whole idea behind creating backstories- to emulate how real people develop into who they are today.

Anyway, for now I’m just going to continue adding more detail to my characters’ lives and descriptions. I’m still not sure of when they’ll be fleshed-out enough and when I can move on to the other steps of the outlining process.

One thing I’m working hard to get is a distinctive voice for the main character/narrator. Maybe when that happens I’ll feel ready to move on.

How much character development do you do before starting a story? Do you go into a lot of detail or just dive in?

Have a great week!

Digital Painting: Underwater Exploration

This week I made a digital painting using my computer and bamboo tablet. I’ve been looking to improve lately with that medium so I thought that making some more space-art would be a fun way to do so. This time, however, the crew (Michael and GG) aren’t in space, they’re underwater!

To be more specific, they’re on a planet covered in deep oceans. Michael is scanning a species of seaweed while GG whirls around in the water.

Below are my process pictures and the steps I took to paint the scene. I used the art program Paint Tool Sai.

Step 1: Rough Sketch

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First I made a really rough sketch of the general idea and shapes of the drawing.

Step 2: Linework

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After the sketch I created a new layer to draw the lines. I also made the sketch transparent to make it easier to draw on top of.

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Here’s the finished linework.

Step 3: Background

 

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After linework I created the background using a couple of different brush textures. I imagined the environment to be a deep, expansive ocean, and a little mysterious.

Step 4: Coloring the Foreground

 

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I wanted to experiment with the textures a little bit so I chose a brush that looked kind of like pastel or crayon.

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This is what it looked like after most of the coloring. This was the most time-consuming part of the whole process XD.

I tried very hard to fit the colors to the background/environment and learned a lot, I think. For example, what is brown over a white background looks orange when over a blue background!

Why? My guess is that the way we see color is very much based on the lighting of the environment surrounding it, rather than the true color.

I just realized now that the tanks kind of look like hot dogs. Let’s move on.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

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I made quite a few small changes to finish up the painting: I changed the color of the lineart to match the colors a bit more, colored in the bubbles, added some more rays of light, cleaned up edges, and blurred some of the plants in the background to create depth. And, of course, I put a little signature on the bottom. 🙂

Overall this was very fun to draw/paint and I hope to do more digital art in the future. Thanks for reading!

Novel #2 Outlining: Notes!

As far as my biggest goal of this year is coming along, phase 1 of my second novel’s outlining is underway. And by underway, I mean that I am taking notes, and have been- albeit slowly- for the past six months. They’ve been collecting in various notebooks, scraps of paper, phone apps, and, of course, my head. And now I’ve taken to transcribing them onto my computer.

I’ve realized now how many notes there actually were. (A lot!)

After several days, I have managed to collect them into one massive document of 10,000 words. It’s full of character ideas, random excerpts, notes-to-self, and a lot more.

Now what?

Now I’m going to begin making a character bible, a big document describing the characters in detail, to refer back to at later points. I’m going to have to sift through all of the notes I have so far and pick out what I would actually like to use. Then I’ll build off of what I have with more ideas.

I know already that my secondary characters are going to need a ton of fleshing-out. The only character I have mostly figured out is the main one. XD

My first novel was very plot-driven and all of the characters were two-dimensional. So this time I’m trying to focus on developing characters first, and then plot. To learn more about this I’m reading Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll begin building a more substantial outline. Well, I guess I have to start somewhere. 🙂

The Final Frontier

While waiting for all the snow to melt outside from the blizzard last weekend, I was keeping busy with practicing watercolors. One of my goals this year is to improve my drawing and painting, as well as to develop a unique art style, so I’ve been trying to hold fast to that goal. So far it’s been very fun.

For some reason I’ve been interested in “space” stuff lately, like galaxies, astronauts, and fantasy space-travel. I’ve always loved looking up at the night sky, feeling incredibly small, and wondering what it would be like to actually be in outer space. Becoming an astronaut in reality is not something I’m really cut out for, though, so the next best thing, I think, is creating the dream through art. 🙂

Peaceful Planet

 

So I created these two characters, Michael and GG, who travel through space as explorers, landing on alien planets and discovering new galaxies.

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Linework

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Finished Painting

Michael A. Earnhardt is the name of the astronaut, and GG, his little robot-companion who keeps him company during the often-lonely journey through deep space. Together they have all kinds of adventures.

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I think it’s the romantic nature of “exploration” in general that draws me to this particular story. I like imagining the vastness of space and the tininess of this crew, journeying across light-years in a cozy little ship. That’s what I’m trying to convey through these works, so that others can maybe experience the same feelings as I do.

Michael In Space

I’ve been trying to experiment and improve lately in my color choices. I researched “color theory” online a bit, and I’m still not entirely sure what it means, but I’m attempting to think of color in terms of lighting- as in how a light source in affects the whole environment in the same way, changing its colors accordingly. It’s still a struggle to pick colors that go together, but I think practicing is definitely helping a bit.

I’m not really sure where this project is going at the moment. So far it’s just a few random scenes, but I’m thinking about maybe making a few comic pages or experimenting digitally with these two in the future.

New Year, New Goals

Although I’m a little late- January’s almost over- I figured I would make a list of some of the goals I hope to accomplish this year. I won’t call them “resolutions,” because something about that word makes it a little intimidating, so for now I’ll just call them “goals”.

1. Write Novel #2

This is a huge goal for me, in terms of both size and importance. I’ve been developing a new story idea slowly, for the last six months, and I’m itching to get it down on paper and into a full-blown novel. This will also be a big step in improving my writing skills and getting a little closer to my dream of one day being published.

To make it seem a little more manageable, I’ve broken it down into some smaller steps:

  1. Make lots of notes
  2. Create an outline and character bible
  3. Start writing!
  4. Keep going!

Of course, even that looks much simpler than the actual process. But the main idea for me is to just keep moving, even if it’s slowly.

One challenge is going to be balancing schoolwork, extracurriculars, and everything else with writing. I’m going to try to put aside time every day for a little bit of work and see where it goes from there.

2. Improve Art Skills

This goal is a bit vague, which makes it a little difficult to know if I’m moving towards it, so these are a few mini-goals to help me stay on track:

  1. Sketch often (every day or so)
  2. Experiment with new mediums and styles (watercolor, digital, etc.)
  3. Develop a unique drawing style

Overall, I’m going to try to practice very often since that’s the only way I know to improve. I’d also like to produce some standalone works.

3. Blog More

Pretty self-explanatory XD

4. Learn Norwegian

This is a goal I’ve been working on for a number of months already, but I’d like to keep developing the skills. I started learning in the first place because I am half-Norwegian and visit the country every other year or so. I have a lot of family there that I’d like to be able to speak with, so the skill would come in handy. I also just think it’s fun to learn a new language anyway.

Hvis du kan snakke norsk, kanskje vi kan snakke litt sammen! 😀

If you want to learn a new language, I’d highly recommend Duolingo! It’s free and very fun and easy to use. I’m using it every day to learn Norwegian.

5. Learn Guitar

I’d like to learn how to play guitar and am planning on taking some lessons.

 

There’s a few more smaller goals and more projects will probably pop up in the future, but for now these are the major ones I’m focusing on. I’m going to try to stay sane in the meantime 🙂

Holiday Painting

Happy holidays everyone! I haven’t updated this blog for quite a long time. School has been keeping me busy, but now I luckily have some free time. 🙂 I hope to get started on a new book and do a lot of art!

Like I always do, I waited til the last minute to get presents for my family this year. I still needed one for my grandpa so I decided to paint him something. XD

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Using a picture for reference, I started with a quick underpainting of the major forms in burnt umber. Then I went right ahead with the green, mixing the colors as I went along.

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I’ve never tried underpainting before, and I like how it added a layer of warmth beneath the colors. This time I also tried to emphasize the brush strokes to create a more impressionistic look. It was really fun to paint because of the speed and free movements.

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And here’s the finished result.

I’m excited to try this method again with more paintings! I like the oil paints a lot more than acrylic. They create such a soft look, and it’s so easy to blend colors.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the holidays!