StarSpun Comic Trailer

I'm excited to share with you a book trailer I've made for my webcomic StarSpun. This gives a nice visual introduction to the project and sets up the story question.

Creating this was quite the learning experience because I used Adobe After Effects, which is new to me. (I'm so grateful for YouTube and Adobe tutorials.) All-in-all I do like the way it turned out and had fun doing it. The music I ended up using (from Capo Productions) was a great find and I feel suits the mood quite well.

Note: don't forget to turn it up to HD!

 

Enjoy!

StarSpun Chapter 4 Release!

So I realized that I've been rather remiss in posting news about updates to my online graphic novel StarSpun here on my main site.

Along those lines, I want to announce that Chapter 4 is live! This one is called 'River of Dreams' and includes updated renditions of some of the imagery that first started me on this story and journey.

Chapter 4 Cover

Chapter 4 Cover

Enjoy!

The Wood at World's End - Book Cover

I'm happy to share with you a newly finished book cover for my author client K.E. Stapylton. This cover is the 4th for her Prism series, more information on the series HERE or purchase this book on AMAZON or LULU.

It's exciting to work on covers for an ongoing series as I really feel that I get to grow with the characters every time the next book comes due for a cover. For this cover, I especially enjoyed the lighting situation I was given. Specifically the contract of the 'magic' light being cast by the children and the crystal vs. the cool misty light from the waterfall at their back.

Moving to Squarespace

After much debate I made the decision to move webhosts. It was not a decision I made lightly, as I've been with my former host ICDSoft for 11 years (!!!) But I did feel like it was time for a change. After all 11 years of digital baggage is a lot to carry around. (Note: I still really like ICDSoft for pure speed, fast support, uptime, and FTP style DYI hosting.)

My new hosting choice: Squarespace. Why? I fell for the slick and minimalist portfolio designs that they offered. I liked the ease of use and ease of updating. I also liked their SEO features, namely the ability to make clear urls for each image in a gallery. I liked how I was also able to ditch Lightbox in favor of images that can actually be paged through.

Being the type who has done a mix of handcoding html and css, and also used a combination of sliced Photoshop files and Dreamweaver, the change was even more marked for me. But in the end my thought was that giving up some of this in favor of a more responsive and more modern portfolio might be worth it. I am curious to see how it works going forward.

Note: The URL for my portfolio site remains the same: www.LDiehl.com.

My blog, will also be moving to the new site, that means that the RSS feed will change to: https://laura-diehl.squarespace.com/ldiehl-blog/?format=rss



So please re-subscribe above if you'd like to continue receiving updates!


Please excuse the construction dust as I build and move into my new home. (And do let me know if you find anything broken.)

newsite_squarespace.jpg

Starspun Comic Launch!

I'm super excited to announce that my brand new shiny online graphic novel has gone live at StarspunComic.com

This is a personal project that I've had in development for many years 'on the side.' Now I've finally taken those first important steps to get it out there into the world.

Please see the blog post there for further information. If you like the project please spread the word.

Enjoy!

Den Eviga Eldens Magi - Project Completion!

Today I turned in the final batch of images for my extensive 'Magi' project with publisher Lilla Piratförlaget and author Patrik Bergström.

I made the image below to commemorate the sheer amount of work I created for this fantasy children's series. Like the image says: 5 covers, 45 interiors (!!!), 5 chapter headings and 1 map. I feel like I've just crossed the finish line to a long, yet satisfying art marathon.

Link:

Publisher's site for this series.

Link:

Author's site for this series.

Poster of all images created for series.

Poster of all images created for series.

In the Land of Magnanthia - Book Cover

Just recently finished up a fun book cover for author B.R. Maul. Below is the custom cover I painted for In the Land of Magnanthia, which is book #1 of his Portals, Passages, & Pathways series. It's a teen/young adult novel that involves two teenage boys with very different destinies in a colorful fantasy world far from Earth.

Find out more about the book and author:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G1Y98HA

Website/Blog:

http://brmaul.wordpress.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/PortalsPassagesPathways

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/BRMaul_author

Process Animation

Process Animation

Happy Fall!

Just sharing a "quick" one-day image that I was inspired to do today. I have been quite busy with art for an upcoming project that I can't share quite yet. But soon!

Fall is a favorite season of mine and I love lanterns and bright colored leaves. So I thought I'd combine the two. Trying to stay a little rougher with this but still give a sense of light and depth.

Happy Fall!

Review: Intuos Creative Stylus for iPad

I was very excited to receive the new Intuos Creative Stylus for iPad in the mail today -at least until I tried it.

Don't get me wrong, it's great to look at and has a nice solid feel in my hand. As a long-time Wacom user (my current workhorse is a XL Intuos4) I appreciate that this pen feels just as well made as that of a proper Intuos. That said, I think I'll be returning this one, my gripes:

1.) It "sticks" majorly to the iPad's screen as I'm trying to draw with it. This lends a highly unpleasant "gummy" feeling to every stroke and serves up just enough friction to make little jaggies everywhere.

2.) It relies on software implementation to actually make use of the pressure sensitivity. In the three supported apps I tried (Procreate, Bamboo Paper, and ibisPaint X) none of them seemed to integrate this very well. In Procreate, for example, you have to really monkey with brush settings to get any hint of pressure sensitivity and often end up with brushes that are hair-thin, ghost light, or blobby.

3.) The pressure threshold at which the pen actually engages feels really high. Meaning I have to press far harder than I'd like, creating far more friction (the aforementioned sticking problem) than is enjoyable to draw with. Now maybe this isn't an issue for someone with a strong hand and heavy touch.... but it's far from the hand gliding effortlessly over the drawing surface (ah-la a real Intuos pen) that I'm looking for.

Bonus: I just tested the non brush end of my Sensu brush and even it feels better than this Intuos pen for sketching and drawing on my iPad. Though it is made of a similar rubber material it actually glides quite well on the iPad surface.

Looks like there is a proper pressure sensitive tablet somewhere in my future. But for now it looks like I'll have to wait a while more as Intuos Creative Stylus just doesn't do the trick for me.



'Alvernas rike' Books Arrive in the Mail

A great surprise appeared on my doorstep today: a box full 'Den eviga eldens magi: Alvernas rike' books. As always, the printing and design look amazing!

This books is continuation of 'Den eviga eldens magi' by Patrik Bergström. It's a fantasy middle grade series published by Lilla Piratförlaget out of Stockholm, Sweden! (Sadly not yet in English. One day, I hope!)

I created the cover, map, and all of the interior illustrations for this book.

Link:

Publisher's site for this book.

Link:

Author's site for this series.

Asimov's Reader's Award

Today I recieved a notice in the mail that the cover art I did for Asimov's Science Fiction, Dec. 2012 issue, won the Asimov's 2012 Reader's Award for Best Cover Artist. I am delighted and honored!

The illustration was based in Chris Beckett's short story entitled "The Caramel Forest." I had a lot of fun painting the various colorful fungi.

Painting on iPad

So, I finally went out and bought an iPad for sketching/painting on the go. This is remarkable because I am very much a PC/Android girl. It was the rentina screen, I swear -I was hypmotized by that crisp high 2048×1536 res. (And, yes, I am aware that

Wacom just announced a true artist's tablet for this summer

.)

Of course, I also then needed a proper stylus. I chose a

Sensu Brush

, which, like the name would suggest, is a capacitive paintbrush! I've had my eye on this one for quite a while.

Liking it very much so-far. Highly impressed with both the screen and the feel and fluidity of the brush while painting. Though I haven't tried it in too many applications yet, I am very much enjoying Procreate for iPad. "Paper" is also fun.

I look forward to taking this baby with me as my spring travels begin around Europe!

Interiors Portfolio Updated

I just got through adding a number of grayscale interior children's illustrations to my site portfolio. These were created for Patrik Bergström's Magi series, for which I created about 9 images per book. These are my favorites from books 1 and 2, both of which have been published at this point (though, sadly, not in English yet!):

 

Perfectionism and Storytelling

I have been hard at work on a large personal project of mine lately. Yes, one that has been in the making for years *cough.* Today as I was painting I had a breakthrough of sorts. This post is to make a serchable note of it to myself and in the off chance that it helps others who work like I do (or that some will find it interesting).

So, I've been doing much thinking on the idea that illustration is about communicating an idea, not about getting the execution "perfect." In fact, the more time I spend trying to make the image/text perfect the more likely I am to get sidetracked and stymied in the energy flow of the project as a whole. There is a big difference between major edits for communication and endless fiddling around.

Also, I've been working against myself by thinking "oh, well I have to finish and perfectly polish this one part before I proceed." When I do that I ignore that I tell a story -in my mind- in as sequence of visual images and text. Without the space and energy to springboard one to the other I run into a roadblock and out of steam on either and let that temporarily table the project. It also tends to yield many polished segments that are suppose to be parts of a cohesive whole, yet, because they were labored over in isolation and to the inth degree, don't fit well with the greater story. And the kicker is that by the time I get back to the other side of the storytelling, writing or art or vice versa, I often have changed things up so much that I render this former "polished gem of an image" (or segment of text) irrelevant or in need of sweeping changes anyway.

A good example of this is the way I "tell" stories to myself as I am working on a painting about what is going on there. And I often find that I will re-order or sometimes completely "re-write" parts of the tale based on my time with the image. Painting is a meditation to me, but not so much in the general sense, as in the interest of space to muse on the project and story at hand in a visual way. It also feels more open and less heavy-handed somehow than when I am sitting down to write, likely because these thoughts while painting tend to bounce around far longer in my head before working their way into the story. When I do this method properly, it feels like my text is as equally in service to my art as the other way around. It's a nice balance.

I should too remind myself that the essence and story of a piece of artwork is NOT derived from how pretty each of the brush strokes is or how smooth and perfect every surface is rendered or even about exact anatomy of the characters. It's about the read and gist of the piece. The more useful question is "is this conveying what it needs to?" because at a fundamental level, at a beginning-to-end level that is what matters in telling the story. I would say, when a piece is "working" that the first 80% of it, the gist of it, comes far sooner and with far more energy and ease than the last 20% which tends to be the laborious polishing of every pixel.

And, lastly, I want to make a note for myself that it is only right to give my intended audience (primarily 8-12 children) credit for possessing their own brilliant imaginations. I don't need to be perfect or fill in all the gaps (literal or metaphorical) their minds will. Just as I did (and do) when I am in contact with a text and visual work that is really speaking to me. The most concrete example I can think of here is the way I "read" Polar Express when I was a 3rd grader vs. the ways I can read it now. Because when I was younger I didn't have that level of criticality about art or text that I do now and responded purely on a level of imagination. I could feel the magic of the tale through the page. Not to say that I don't regard it as a brilliant book today, but that I can't look at it through the eyes of a child quite the same way ...my grown-up brain is always wanting to dissect things down to the line or shading or word. So I should really be asking myself "what would my 9-year-old self get from this image (or text)?"

Phantism Cover

I want to share a book cover I was working on before and during the Germany Move for a holiday book launch. This is cover #3 for author K.E. Stapylton's Prism series. It is set in a firey subterranean world and is the "yellow" book for the series.

Special thanks to my husband Chris for patiently modeling for photo reference and to Kareyn for graciously rolling with the disruption of my moving schedule:

More information on the book series can be found here:

Prism Website

Author's Blog

On Amazon Kindle

This Slide of Winter

So, now we are mostly settled into our German apartment. And it's winter. The dead of winter. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE snow, but that doesn't mean I love dark cold winter. Thankfully Germany gets it's share of snow, though there was a space of a good 3 weeks here where there wasn't any, just the gray and bone-chilling-damp day in and day out. Each day I walked by twisty brambles and craggy ancient trees covered in dark moss, the whole palette quite drab. It was monotonous in a way, yet fascinating in another, as there was (and still is) a sense of newness about even the smallest things here, like the dark twisting vegetation.

"This Slide of Winter" was inspired by an old German playground slide that I pass every day on our street. The slide is located in a little "garden" plot surrounded by gnarled old trees and underbrush, overgrown from winter disuse. The slide fascinated me, something about the distinct design reminded me of a archway or doorway. Combine this with my longing for beautiful fluffy white snow and you have the seed for this image...

Now in Germany!

My first post in quite some time. These past few months have been hectic!

The story: at the end of this past summer, my husband and I were looking for change and adventure, something exciting and different to experience before we settle down and have kids. Several months into searching for this next step, he was notified that a position within his company had opened up in Southern Germany. We thought that traveling around Europe would certainly fit the "big adventure" category. So, with my blessing, he decided to go for it. He was rewarded with a job offer, which he accepted.

Lufthansa Plane, view from Frankfurt Airport

Lufthansa Plane, view from Frankfurt Airport

Then came the fun part of moving our lives overseas! Hard to describe THAT in a way that does it justice. The sheer amount of paperwork involved, first off. The way having someone else pack and crate your things completely and utterly randomizes

everything

. Having to unload both your apartment lease and car in the space of a month. Then the month of living in a hotel without your things (and a shaky internet connection, at best) in a new country.

Finally I received my art PC, which had been separately air shipped, only to open the box and find the case crumpled, motherboard crunched, and the hard-drives cascading in a loose pile -this in the middle of two big client contracts. My amazing IT husband was able to somehow still get my PC back up and running Frankenstein-style for temporary use while we waited for parts to come! At this point the damaged parts have been replaced and it is 100% operational and snug in a new case.

This was followed by the first month in our new amazing German apartment where we were slowly rebuilding our home from hundreds of boxes and had even worse internet connection (I did get a kick out of my ping being 666 though). (Thankfully, we have a solid cable internet connection now!) I did very much enjoy seeing snow out of our windows for the first time.

In case that sounds like a litany of complains, I do want to make it clear that I am happy to be here and excited about the possibilities both in a holistic sense and for myself as an artist, especially now that the work of moving is done.

There has been fun mixed in too, of course. An accidental dinner with new German neighbors (I rang their doorbell by mistake, thinking it was a light switch in our building, and we wound up invited to their dinner party), Christmas Markets... wonderful wonderful Christmas Markets (including a medieval flavored one in Esslingen), a lovely long weekend trip to Munich. Most of those before the holidays.

There are many other trips in planning stage at the moment. I have bit plans to see castles, lots of castles! Look out Neuschwanstein, you're next!

Bonus: we also got an unexpected dog right before we were presented with the Germany move. A week before my grandfather passed away in August he had adopted a 5-year-old female Cocker Spaniel from the local pound, who he named Lady. Being local (at the time) and pet-less we took her in while he was in the hospital and decided to give her a permanent home after. She made the flight over with us just fine and is doing great here.

Whew! So that is the "catch-up" post. Stay tuned for a new piece of wintry art!

'Alex och Corinthia' books have arrived!

I just received a wonderful surprise today in the mail: printed copies of

Den Eviga Eldens Magi: Alex och Corinthia

by Patrik Bergström!

This was a fairly extensive project for me, as I did a total of 8 interiors, 1 chapter heading, and the cover. (And then went on to work on art for the other 4 forthcoming books in this series!)

So great to be able to hold this one in my hands. The printing and design look beautiful. I just wish I could read it!