Friday, March 30, 2012


This cute wee guy was suggested by a friend and will be my "thank you" gift to her.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Speculative Zoology #12: Budgerigar

Of all mankind's pets, it was the birds that suffered the worst when humanity crumbled (although some might argue that fish and reptiles didn't do so well either). Trapped in cages or aviaries, they died in the masses of starvation and disease. It became a struggle for survival and only the strongest, the most cunning and the most vicious survived. Some managed to tear their way out, or learn how to open their cage doors and fly free. Others clung on, cannibalising their fallen comrades and then attacking any survivors. And some managed to cling onto life long enough for nature to take her toll on their aviaries and allow them the chance for freedom.

It is from these hardy, powerful and ruthless budgerigars that the budgiraptor evolved. Twice as large as its ancestors, this bird is a vicious predator, and its prey is, predominently, other birds. Hunting in flocks, the budgiraptors can rip through a group of pigeons; slashing wings and tearing throats, sending the birds tumbling earthwards in a feathery bloodbath. It is not for nothing that they have been labelled the "pirahnas of the sky". They are skillful fliers, good at quick manouveres and their general innoculous appearance lures their victims into a false sense of security.

Budgiraptors form great nesting colonies in the ruins of skyscrapers. When not hunting they are noisy and playful, exhibiting levels of intelligence typical of parrots. They are practiced mimics, and converse to each other in a combination of human speak and other animal calls. Mature adults train the fledglings in aerial attacks and other skills that might be relevant to their ongoing survival.

Speculative Zoology #11: Shark

The sharkray is a strange beastie, resembling something like a cross between a shark and its close relative, the ray. Its long, flat pectoral fins are used rather like wings, and it propels itself out of the water, sometimes for quite a height or quite a distance. It is capable of snatching birds from the air, but this behaviour is also a defensive mechanism - a means to escape from its larger cousins, which are its main predator. Sharkrays are small, normally no more than two feet in length. Their main diet is fish, and the occasional sea bird.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Speculative Zoology #10: Pig

Pigs are true survivors. They are omnivorous and intelligent, strong enough to face down most foes and hardy in most situations. When humanity failed, the pigs flourished. They broke down their pens, destroyed crops and even ate corpses on occasion. They spread throughout the countryside. And they changed too. The northern grizzly boar grew to immense size, with some males growing as large as a small car. Their white mane of fur, covering them from forehead to tail, provides camouflage against the snow in winter. Not that many predators would risk taking on something with such long and deadly tusks and equally powerful hooves. Their only known predator is the bearwolf, which targets piglets that become separated from their mother, or older or injured individuals. The grizzly boar will eat almost anything that it can, and is quite capable of disembowling an inexperienced bearwolf with its tusks.

Speculative Zoology #9: Fox

The diminutive faefox began existence as a genetically engineered pet. These delicate, precious little creatures were bred from fennec foxes (chosen for their endearing qualities), with a smattering of red fox dna added to the mix (to improve colour). Measuring no more than 8 inches from nose to tail tip, they made charming pets. Omnivores, their main diet was fruit and vegetables, with the occasional egg thrown into the mix. They have a special sweet tooth for honey. After human civilisation fell, the faefox became feral, scampering up trees like a squirrel to evade the predatory advances of cats and dogs.

And here's my original fox evolution, an aardvulp:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Speculative Zoology #8: Jerboa

Climate change lead to extensive flooding, and the three toed jerboa of Mongolia and China found its semi-arid home washed away and replaced with wetlands. Luckily, this little rodent was swift to adapt. The web-footed aquatic jerboa, referred to colloquially as the jerbrog, fills the niche of frogs - an entire Order that had vanished from the face of the earth.

His diet is now almost entirely insects and their larvae, although he also supplements this with roots and berries and the occasional small fish. His fur has become dense and waterproof, it traps the air and keeps him buoyant so that he can often be seen floating on the surface of the water, just his bulging eyes and ears visible. He propels himself along with his webbed feet and uses his long tail like a rudder to make quick turns.

When on land he can frequently be found grooming in the sun, ever watchful for predatory birds.

Another human action pose!

Van, for Locke, practicing his swordplay in a peaceful field overlooking a lake.

Speculative Zoology #7: House Cat

The feral feline population increased steadily after the disappearance of the human race. Although many of the now abandoned felines had been neutered, any that were not were able to breed unhindered and of course their kittens would grow up to continue the population explosion and inbreeding was not uncommon. Luckily, there were plenty of mice and rats for the cats to hunt, but one strain of burmese cats specialised in a different prey. Birds.

This small clan of burmese cats chose the highest rooftops as their domain, and leapt from building to building, never touching the ground. They were close knit, inbreeding with each other and after a time a fluke mutation lead to their kittens being born with a webbing of skin between their fore and rear limbs. At first this flap was small, but it proved to be advantageous to the kittens exhibting it and helped them leap longer distances than their ordinary peers. This made them desirable mates, and as the cats continued to breed within their small colony, the webbing became fuller and fuller until it had established into a gliding membrane. The gliding cat can make leaps of more than four or five times the distance of an ordinary feline, and has the agility to snatch birds in flight. It lives an entirely arboreal existance, having little interaction with its less nimble kin and can be regarded now as a separate, distinct species.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Speculative Zoology #6: Hedgehog

This small insectivore struggled after the loss of the human race. It became a major food source for foxes, feral cats, feral dogs and even the larger and more vicious rats. Although a spiny mouthful, they found ways to capture and kill it and those that were not killed outright were often fatally maimed.

A few lucky individuals found refuge in the only safe place left to it - underground, in the buried basements, sewers and pipes. Here they found insects and sanctuary and over time their descendents became almost entirely sub-terrestrial. They made burrows deep in the earth and crawled through broken drainpipes and underground architecture. Its claws became longer and stronger and its spines reduced to mere nubs. It did, however, retain a ruff of spines about its neck that lie flat against the body, unless the molhog becomes excited or is threatened. Then they are raised to form a spiny collar. These spines are also used in communication and courtship displays, with the ratting of the spines intermingled with chirps and grunts. Although the molhog spends most of its time underground, it has been known to come topside on warm spring nights, after the rain, when it takes great delight in sucking up worms and gobbling on frogs.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Speculative Zoology #5: Skunk

As an omnivore and generalist, the skunk has changed little over the thousands of years since humans destroyed much of the earth and then themselves. Its legs have become a little longer, making it better able to bound over the broken remains of civilisation and it has developed prehensile toes to help it scramble up tree branches. It has become almost entirely vegetarian - feeding on berries and flowers, shoots and sap, but still indulges in the occasional egg and insects - particularly during the harsh winter months. During the deepest cold of the winter it will go into a deep slumber, not unlike hibernation although not quite as deep.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Speculative Zoology #4: Rat

After the human race fell, their most constant - unwanted - companions rose to fill their place. The population of rats and mice exploding, fueled by the rotting food. Their numbers swelled to record sizes, and then descended again just as abruptly as they ran out of food.

Except for the cannibals.

The cannibal rats flourished, hunting the mice. Only the largest and the strongest and the most fierce survived - a hybrid of domestic and sewer rat, each subsequent generation was bigger and stronger than the last until finally the panthrat was born. Approximately the same size as a large house cat, this long legged, fast running rat is a capable predator. Nimble at scrambling up fallen buildings, burrowing through small gaps and equipped with powerful jaws and razor sharp teeth. Its tail has become thicker and is used to balance as he scrambles across branches and broken pipes and also as a rudder to help in making swift turns and keep it balanced as it reaches great speeds.

Speculative Zoology #3: Horse

After the fall of human civilization, their animals were left to run feral. Many perished - trapped in pastures that were too small to sustain them for any length of time and lacking the ability to escape, they starved before the fences fell. But not all were doomed. Some escaped to populate the fields and back into the woodlands, now wild once more. And amongst the ruins of the fallen cities, a few small herds of feral horses made their home. Dining on the weeds that poked their way through the concrete, over time they became stunted and nimble - able to dash into narrow crevices to hide from the feral dogs that also frequented the area. They scrambled like goats over the broken buildings and took on a nocturnal existence.

The pygmy pony measures less than 10 hands, with the average being 6 (around 60 cm). They are nimble and sure-footed, leaping over the rubble and ducking into the hollow husks of buildings. They live in small herds, with one or two members keeping watch while the rest of the herd naps - generally atop hills of rubble. Aside from weeds, they will eat any plant matter they find; including berries, twigs, flowers, leaves and shoots. At night they navigate across the rubble strewn landscape, calling to one another in high-pitched, whinying squeals. They travel between parks and gardens, filling their bellies.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Speculative Zoology #2: Dog/Wolf

First the icecaps melted, taking with them the arctic and the polar bear and flooding low lying parts of the world. Then, a great cold descended on the earth again. Snow fell thick and blanketed all. Shaggy dog breeds - such as malamute and husky, now feral, interbred with the remaining wild wolf populations and in time evolved into a monster of a wolf.

Standing upright, the great bearwolf measures up to three metres tall and he can weight over 600 kg. This powerful predator now walks plantigrade - he has sacrificed speed in order to maintain better stability on the soft ground and also to better distribute his hefty weight. The soles of his feet are furred to insulate them against the snow. On sunny days he can often be found sprawled on his back, black belly to the sky, absorbing the sunlight.

His main diet is meat, and he preys upon a number of tundra species. Ungulates that become trapped in snow are a particular favourite and he is not adverse to taking carrion. You will meet one of his favourite food sources in a further instalment.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Speculative Zoology #1: Guinea Pig

In the far distant future, the human race has fallen and their pets have escaped and made a life for themselves as feral creatures. The short legged guinea pig seems an unlikely survivor, and many fell prey to feral cats and dogs, but a small remnant population managed to cling to survival, evading capture.

Over time the guinea pig began to adapt to an arboreal environment. Their toes grew longer, better for clambering through the tree branches, as did their legs. Now they browse upon leaves and berries, scrambling up high into the narrow branches where cats cannot pursue them and, up in the trees, dogs can no longer reach them. Filling the niche of monkeys, they have now radiated out from that spot and call many of the new forests "home".

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Blue Oliver" cover - WIP

I received this commission a couple of days ago, from a lovely lady up in the North Island by the name of "Angela Smith". Of course, the moment I realised we had the same name, I felt a kinship with her - all the more when I discovered that her main character (the boy, not the owl) is called Oliver.

Perhaps it was a sign?

Anyhow, because the deadline was pretty short (before the end of the month) and I had almost finished part one of Locke's piece and am still lacking motivation/inspiration about part two, I got started on it quick-smart.

Here's the lineart. The words are added in for demonstrative purposes, and are not actually part of the image (yet) if they are required, I shall add them in once the piece is coloured, and I'll probably put the tree behind the words and the owl in front, not them both in front - as it blocks too much of the E and R.

I hope she likes it! I'm always a bit nervous when money is involved.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Locke and her mongoose

8x8 journal page for the artist known as Locke, of her character, Locke. Now, Locke has an interesting history that I shall not go into, except to say that I have no idea if I coloured her tail the right colour and the mongoose is mainly here because Locke, the artist, designed this rather cute critter and I wanted to include it. Also, after drawing the sketchwork I realised that Locke looked rather young, but I was too happy with how she looked to change that, and decided that this is young Locke, playing with her weapon, which my husband says looks like a klingon weapon. I have no idea, but it was one of the sample images that Locke (the artist) showed me.

Anyhow, observe, my plan to draw more humans.
Because practise makes better...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Personal Trade with AinsleeG

A relative newcomer to ATCs for all, I was quite taken my Ainslee's art and her love of obscure animals and thus proposed a trade. I illustrated two of her original characters, and a favourite pokemon of the both of us. Here they are:

Saule the goblin. She drew my goblin, Hemlock in exchange. And although our goblins look very different from one another, this seemed like an appropriate exchange. I am not 100% happy with this rendition, and will happily do it again if I messed up the colours, which I suspect I may have....

Herman the saiga. Now, Herman is a personal character of Ainslee's that I suspect she created in order to parody the common tradition of "sparkle pets". Thus she chose a rather unusual and rather less than handsome beastie and applied to him all the sparkle pet adornemts - multiple piercings and a combination of hippy/goth clothing and colours. You cannot see his leggings in this illustration, of course. I chose to use my "no outlines" style for this, to see if I could make him look vaguely realistic. And I am quite proud of the results.

The third request was for a pokemon, Mightyena. Now, Ainslee and I are both in agreement that Mightyena is based on a hyena and thus I decided not to focus on the vicious nature of this dark pokemon, but instead on her mothering skills. For it is a little known fact that hyenas are very good mothers. They need to be, spotted hyena cubs have nasty fangs from birth and attempt to engage in siblicide from the time they open their eyes. And brown hyenas, which one might argue this pokemon more closely resembles, will look after another's cubs, even raising them if the mother dies.

So, here a proud Mightyena mother gazes off into the distance whilst her poochyena cub has spotted that someone is drawing them and is curious to investigate.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A flush of Aces

The Ace of Trees predicts a spark of energy, the ignition of a new passion. It is represented here by the Beech tree in flower - something that happens only every few years and sparks an explosion in the populations of rodents whilst also prompting birds like the kakapo to breed.

The Ace of Peaks predicts new challenges, the mind becoming sharper and clearer. It is represented here by the NZ Broom, a plant that spends most of its time being spiky and barren, until it blooms into life.

The Ace of Coins predicts luck, health or the birth of prosperity. Here it is represented by a daisy, growing in an otherwise barren and forboding environment, bringing life to a land where all seems sterile and desolate.

The Ace of Waves predicts a new love, a welling of emotion. It is represented here by the bladder kelp, a plant that provides habitat and protection for many fish, such as this juvenile butterfish.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gary Oldman

You can thank my husband for this one.

I joined a swap - "one actor, three movies" was the theme. So I got thinking... Who to draw? Johnny Depp? Nah, too obvious - others have already drawn him; Jude Law? Nah, his roles are all kind of similar. Audrey Tatou? Nah, same problem - no really stand out, outlandish characters.

So I asked my husband: "can you think of one actor that's played a wide range of roles?"

And he said "yes, that guy... I can never remember his name... but he was in the Fifth Element..." *pause, looks thoughtful* "...Gary Oldman, that's the one."

And I went "aha" and ran off and did some research.

Anyhow, here are four pictures of him:

So we've got: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1990); Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992); The Fifth Element (1997); Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2007)

I believe I am getting a bit better at drawing humans.

And Gary Oldman is awesome. I might make another 3 images yet. Spivey, Commisioner Gordon, young Dracula. Wanna draw Lord Shen too, but they're supposed to be human roles...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Humans, take two

Recently I hosted a "Reading Group" swap for which I decided to draw portraits of various characters. Alas, some of my efforts were a little disappointing:
Especially when compared with the wonderful stuff the other participants came up with.

So, I decided at the last minute to draw different cards.

For "Name of the Wind" I chose to draw Auri. Now, there is no real description of her in the books, save that she is somewhat fey, has wispy hair and tattered clothes and lives in the hidden places under the university, coming out at night to have picnics on the rooftops with Kvothe. No hair or eye colour that I know of.

So, I basically followed my instincts here:

I'm sending Meran both cards (this and the Kvothe one I posted earlier)

And then I decided to draw Captain Hook again for the "Peter Pan" card:

And the other Hook goes in my "reject" pile.

And here's another I drew earlier of Jonas and Gabriel from "The Giver".
Bicycles are hard to draw!