Today’s Art (31st March 2014)

Well, although I only made one drawing for today (called “A Gallery Of Wonders“), it ended up being a lot more detailed than I expected.

As usual, this drawing is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"A Gallery Of Wonders" By C. A. Brown

“A Gallery Of Wonders” By C. A. Brown

Best Of The Blog (1st March – 31st March 2014)

2014 Artwork best of the blog 31st March

Well, it’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for another “Best Of The Blog” post.

So, as usual, here’s a list of links to all the articles (excluding reviews) that I’ve written over the past month.

Anyway, Enjoy 🙂

“Three Emergency Background Ideas For Drawings and Paintings (With Examples)”
“Writing ‘Invincible’ Characters”
“Seven Very Basic Things I’ve Learnt From Using Watercolour Pencils For Three Months”
“One Paradoxical Way To Get Over Artist’s Block”
“Some Very Basic Tips For Writing Dark Comedy”
“How Often Should You Use Profanity In Your Story Or Comic?”
“Comic Characters And Literary Characters”
“Tracing IS Cheating (And Here’s Why)”
“Thinking In Three Dimensions”
“Comics – The Ultimate Artistic Workout (With Four Examples)”
“Five Reasons Why Adaptations Always Change Things”
“Three Reasons Why Novellas Are Amazing”
“Four Very Basic Tips For Using Alternating Chapters”
“Four Evil Tricks To Keep People Reading Your Story”
“Multiple Choice: What Is Your Favourite Type Of Horror Fiction?”
“Don’t Wait For The Muse (A Cynical Pep Talk)”
“One Quick Trick For Quick Art”
“Show, Don’t Tell”
“Why ‘Explorative Storytelling’ Is Such An Awesome Genre”
“Should You Try To Be Controversial?”
“Keep Going – It All Builds Up”
“The ART of Misdirection (And How To Use It)”
“Test Your Creativity – Salvage Something”
“The Artistic Gamble”
“Are You An Editor? Here’s A Cool Way To Think About Your Job”

New Print :) “Static Again”

Sorry about the low-quality preview I uploaded earlier. Still, be sure to check out the full-size version on DeviantART :)

Sorry about the low-quality preview I uploaded earlier. Still, be sure to check out the full-size version on DeviantART 🙂

I’m extremely proud to announce that I have another ALL NEW print available on DeviantART called “Static Again“.

I’m still not sure how often I’ll make new prints available (probably once every couple of days – or whenever I make them), but be sure to check out my previous print too 🙂

Today’s Art (30th March 2014)

Ha! I’ve finally produced some good art again 🙂 Yes, both of these pictures are drawings rather than watercolours (and one required a bit more digital editing than usual) but I finally seem to be getting back on form again 🙂

As usual, both of these drawings are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Portraiture" By C. A. Brown

“Portraiture” By C. A. Brown

Portraiture” was kind of a random drawing, but I wanted to see if I could create realistic art with coloured pencils rather than watercolours and, although the original of this picture looks better than the digital version (even after some editing), I’m quite proud of how this picture turned out 🙂

"Curiouser and Curiouser" By C. A. Brown

“Curiouser and Curiouser” By C. A. Brown

Curiouser And Curiouser” started out as a random doodle and it quickly ended up turning into a rather cool gothic ‘Alice In Wonderland’-themed drawing 🙂

Three Emergency Background Ideas For Drawings And Paintings (With Examples)

2014 Artwork Emergency Backgrounds sketch

If you’re the kind of artist who, like me, hardly does any planning before drawing or painting something, then you might have run into this problem before.

I am, of course, talking about drawing an absolutely amazing foreground and then suddenly realising that you have no clue whatsoever about what to put in the background. This can be one of the most annoying problems that any artist can face.

But, if you’re faced with this problem, there are at least three tried-and-tested emergency background ideas that you can use. I’ll also include some examples from my own work too:

1) Abstract backgrounds:

"Aura Bloom" By C. A. Brown

“Aura Bloom” By C. A. Brown

I’m much more of a figurative artist than an abstract artist. To be honest, I still don’t quite “understand” abstract art completely. Still, I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve used an abstract background of some kind or other when I couldn’t think of a better idea for a background.

Abstract backgrounds are extremely simple to draw or paint. You can either just draw a few brightly-coloured shapes against a dark background, draw a pattern of some kind or even just start doodling until something interesting appears.

Since the focus of your picture will be the foreground that you’ve already drawn, your abstract background doesn’t have to be especially complicated or wildly inventive. As long as the colours in it don’t clash too much with the foreground, then it’ll probably fit in fairly well with your picture.

2) Solid colour:

"They Call It Sorcery" By C. A. Brown

“They Call It Sorcery” By C. A. Brown

If you can’t even think of a good idea for an abstract pattern for your background, then don’t be afraid to just use a solid colour background. Personally, I tend to go with darker backgrounds but you can obviously use brightly-coloured ones too.

The advantage of a solid colour background is that, as opposed to just leaving the background blank, it gives the impression that you’ve put some work and creative thought into the background.

Again, just make sure that your background doesn’t clash with your foreground. And, if in doubt, remember that dark backgrounds go with pretty much anything.

3) Recycle:

"Crystal Cavern" By C. A. Brown

“Crystal Cavern” By C. A. Brown

"Glowing Crystals" By C. A. Brown

“Glowing Crystals” By C. A. Brown

This is probably the best way to add a background to your picture when you can’t think of one – just borrow a background from one of your other pictures. It’s usually a good idea to change at least a few parts of it or even to just stick to the general theme of your original background. If it gets you inspired enough to draw a background, then go with it.

In fact, if you do this often enough, then these “borrowed” backgrounds will probably eventually end up becoming part of your art style and your artistic vision too. Seriously, I’ve lost count of the number of tropical beaches, cyberpunk cityscapes, sunsets and old cities I’ve drawn and painted over the past couple of years.

If you use the same background for literally every one of your pictures, then people might start to get bored – so, if you have to recycle more than once, then be sure to “borrow” from a variety of your old pictures.


Sorry for another short article, but I hope that it was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (29th March 2014)

(Note: Since daylight saving time comes into effect tonight in the UK, I’m not sure if WordPress also adjusts the times these articles are scheduled to be posted. Since I’ll still be using GMT for the scheduling times, my articles may appear an hour earlier or later than they usually do.)

Well, I only ended up making one painting for today and it was a landscape painting loosely based on a scene from a dream I had a couple of weeks ago.

As usual, this painting (and the painting from two days ago) are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Dream Landscape" By C.A. Brown

“Dream Landscape” By C.A. Brown

Although I ended up using quite a bit of artistic licence and a fair amount of digital editing, I quite like how this painting turned out.

Although the ruins in “Dream Landscape” ended up looking a lot brighter than they did in both my dream and in the quick sketch I made a couple of days ago:

"Sea Ruins Sketch" By C. A. Brown

“Sea Ruins Sketch” By C. A. Brown

Writing Invincible Characters

Award yourself ten nerd points if you know what "IDDQD" actually means...

Award yourself ten nerd points if you know what “IDDQD” actually means…

One of the most inspiring types of character in any story is the invincible character. The character who, regardless of the situation, always (by luck, ingenuity or both) comes out the other side in one piece.

If this “invincible” character is the protagonist, then he or she can provide inspiration and strength to readers who are going through difficult times. If this character is the antagonist, then they can both add an extra element of drama to your story as well as providing source material for endless sequels too.

Invincible characters might seem like the easiest kind of character to write and, in a way, they are. But, there’s a catch…

Why? Have you ever played a computer or video game with “god mode” enabled for more than a couple of minutes?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, “god mode” is a type of cheat code found in many games (FPS games especially) which renders your character completely invincible.

Sometimes using these cheat codes can be a necessary evil if you’re stuck on part of the game and can’t progress in any other way. But, if you use “god mode” for too long, then the game can quickly get very boring.

Why? Because there’s no challenge or suspense. If you can’t lose the game in any way, then where’s the fun? What’s the point in playing?

If you include a badly-written “invincible” protagonist in your story, then your readers will probably start to feel bored for this exact reason. After all, if there’s no doubt whatsoever that your main character will survive, then your readers could just save time by skipping to the end of the story.

Writing a good invincible character is probably something like designing a good rollercoaster ride. You need to create the impression of realistic danger, whilst ensuring that your character survives. One way of doing this is to make sure that your main character isn’t always completely unharmed after every dangerous situation.

Even if your protagonist, say, manages to escape a shoal of bloothirsty pirhanas with little more than a scratch. Then, this is still better (in dramatic terms) than if they escaped the pirhanas totally unharmed. Why? Because that scratch shows your readers that your character is still mortal.

That scratch hints to your readers what would have happened if the character hadn’t escaped the pirhanas. More importantly, it shows that their survival was purely down to luck and/or ingenuity rather than boring “god mode”-style invincibility.

You also need to make sure that the reason why your character survives changes from situation to situation. You can only get by on your character surviving on pure luck alone if you are willing to be extremely inventive about how your character gets lucky every time. Plus, after a while, even this can get slightly predictable and boring.

So, mix it up a bit, show a few suspenseful situations which your main character survives by being lucky – but also show a few scenes where she has to rely on her wits in order to survive.

If you do this well then, even if your readers work out that your character will survive, then they’ll still be interested in learning how she survives.


Sorry that this article was so short, but I hope that it was useful 🙂

New Print :) “Prepare To Rock” [and comic update]

There's a link to the full-size picture in the article :)

There’s a link to the full-size picture in the article 🙂

Well, I am very proud to announce that I’ve just started making ALL NEW prints available on DeviantART and the first one is a new painting titled “Prepare To Rock“.

Prepare To Rock” is meant to be a slightly art nouveau style painting [I’ll be writing an article about this genre on the 13th April, so stay tuned :)] and it is available in a variety of sizes and formats (hell, you can even get it as a fridge magnet).

I’m not sure how often I’ll make and release new prints, but watch this space for more 🙂
[Comic update: Unfortunately, the comic I’ve mentioned quite a bit recently, and in the posts I’ve got scheduled for the next few days, seems to have stalled for some reason.

I’m still not sure whether to keep it unpublished or to post the unfinished 22-page comic on DeviantART and/or PekoeBlaze Uncut.]

Today’s Art (28th March 2014)

Well, I produced one sci-fi painting and one sci-fi drawing for today. Sorry again about the quality of my recent art, but I’ve been devoting most of my creative energy to this comic project that I’m working on at the moment (I’m not sure when or where I’m going to release it at the moment).

Oh, by the way, stay tuned for a (hopefully) absolutely amazing landscape painting tomorrow.

As usual, these two pictures are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Random Cyberpunk" By C. A. Brown

“Random Cyberpunk” By C. A. Brown

As the title suggests, “Random Cyberpunk” was a cyberpunk painting which I made fairly quickly.

"Sector 38" By C. A. Brown

“Sector 38” By C. A. Brown

Sector 38” is probably the most boring sci-fi drawing that I’ve made in quite a while.

Seven Very Basic Things I’ve Learnt From Using Watercolour Pencils For Three Months

2014 Artwork Watercolour pencils three months sketch

[Note: This article is aimed at absolute beginners, so I apologise in advance if I end up stating the obvious for most of this article]

Well, it’s been a little over three months since I got my first set of watercolour pencils as a Christmas present. So, I thought that I’d share a few very basic things I’ve learnt from using these pencils.

In case you’ve never heard of them before, watercolour pencils are basically coloured pencils which turn into watercolour paint when water is applied. Basically, you colour a picture with the pencils and then go over it with a wet paintbrush. So, if you can draw, you can also paint. It’s the best of both worlds.

Anyway, here are seven very basic tips for using watercolour pencils.

1) Always use watercolour paper: I’m still not sure exactly why you’re supposed to do this (it’s something to do with watercolour paper being stronger than normal paper and not crinkling too much when it dries), but you should always use watercolour paper when you’re using watercolour pencils.

One of the downsides of this is that watercolour paper is more expensive than ordinary paper. So, unless you’re planning to hang your work in a gallery for several centuries, don’t be afraid to go for the cheapest watercolour paper you can find when you’re starting out.

Generally, it’s probably best to go for watercolour sketchbooks than buying loose sheets of watercolour paper (I don’t know, if you’re in the UK, the cheapest one is probably the 48-page “Boldmere Field Sketch Book” from a shop called The Works).

2) Start with the lighter parts of the painting when adding water: Unless you change the water you use for cleaning your paintbrush extremely regularly, then it is usually best to start adding water to the lighter parts of your painting first in order to prevent them from being “muddied” by either the water you’re using or from leftover paint on your paintbrush.

3) Always use waterproof ink when drawing: This one is pretty obvious really, but non-waterproof inks will usually tend to run and smudge when you add water to them. So, always use waterproof ink. As a general rule, if the word “waterproof” isn’t printed on the side of your pen, then don’t use it with watercolour pencils.

4) Use coloured pencils or ink for borders: If you are painting a darker area next to a lighter area, then be sure to draw a solid 3-5 mm border around the edge of the lighter area in ink or ordinary coloured pencils (depending on the colour of the darker area) before colouring in the rest of the darker area with watercolour pencils.

This is because painting, by it’s very nature, is a lot less precise than drawing – even if you use a very fine brush, then there is still a risk of smudging. Drawing a border first helps to prevent this.

Plus, as I mentioned in another article, ordinary coloured pencils can be extremely useful for adding fine details to watercolour pencil paintings too.

5) Don’t be afraid to mix colours: Since watercolour pencils turn to paint as soon as you add water, it’s very easy to mix colours with them. All you have to do is to go over the same area of your picture with more than one pencil.

Yes, it takes a bit of practice and experimentation to work out how to mix colours well (and I’m still learning how to do this) but this allows you to create pretty much any colour that you can imagine.

6) Use a variety of brush sizes: Again, this is fairly obvious, but when I started using watercolours, I always used a larger brush. Surprisingly, it took me about a month to realise that – for a lot of what I was painting – a smaller brush can work a lot better. So, don’t be afraid to use different brush sizes when you’re painting.

7) Use a backstop: When I’m painting, I usually put a large sheet of cardboard behind the sketchbook page that I’m using. This prevents the water soaking through the paper onto the page behind it and it also allows me to paint up to the very edges of the page without worrying about getting paint on any of the other pages.

Plus, after a while, you’ll end up with something that looks like this too:

And I'm sure that this could probably be passed off as a work of modern art of some kind or another..

And I’m sure that this could probably be passed off as a work of modern art of some kind or another..


Sorry that this article was so basic, but I hope that it was useful 🙂