Saturday, March 28, 2015

Post by Dee Aethelwyne: Drawing Process

Hi, guys! I'm Dee, and I like drawing.

I blog at, although I'm not very good at doing it regularly. I have been posting more often recently, though.

This post isn't really a tutorial. It's more along the lines of let-me-show-you-how-I-draw. I apologize for the horrible pictures--the only camera I had on hand was my iPod, and the lighting was awful.

Sketch out the basic pose.
 This is a really rough sketch, just for me to kind of envision what I'm drawing before I start putting in the specifics. I like playing with the lines of the body and legs, and seeing how the pose showcases a certain emotion.

Add in body shapes.
 I'm still learning proportions, so please forgive the horrible figure. ;)

Clothing and hair details.
 This is my favorite part. It's where the personality of the character really starts to come out, and I love being able to design whatever outfit I feel like them wearing.

Dark the lines you want to keep.
 Pretty straightforward. Don't darken the guidelines from earlier, just the outline.

I like inking drawings so the side opposite the light source has a thicker line than the other side. It's just a stylistic thing--you don't have to do it if you don't like it.

Flat colors.
I used Copic markers to color this, but you can use whatever you have on hand. It's all just the flat base color for now. 

AFTERNOTE: I don't like the color scheme I used for this. I should have done her hair in pink and her dress a pale blue. 

Add shading according to your own style, put on the finishing touches, and you're done!

Anyways, that was a really quick tutorial. Once again, sorry for the poor quality! I'll put together a better one for you all someday to make up for this. :)

Anyone have any questions? I'd love to answer them.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

How to Write a Pantoum

Post by Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley, co-founder

     A rare and interesting type of poetry is the pantoum. It is made up of a series of quatrains (four-line stanzas) with the second and fourth lines of each stanza being the first and third lines of the next. Sort of like poetry juggling. Because of the repetitive style, this style of poem is very good for themes of nostalgia, memories, and the like. Here's another one of my on-the-spot poems for an example:

I let out a sigh
I don't want to leave
My homeland behind
What can a child do?

I don't want to leave
Sadly, in the end
What can a child do
When the time has come?

Sadly, in the end
Nothing can be done
When the time has come
And I have left

Nothing can be done
I let out a sigh
For I have left
My homeland behind

     Obviously very rough, and my repeated lines aren't always exactly the same, but you get the idea. It has kind of a cool feel, huh? Obviously, though, you have to be careful with this one. Partly, this is because it is easy to make it boring. Partly it's because it's really easy to get yourself stuck when you're trying to get the second-to-last stanza to actually make a final stanza that makes some sort of sense.
     But doesn't this seem like the sort of poem that would be fun to make really long? And, once again, I've found another poem type that I'd like to do a contest with.

Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley is an aspiring author and poet. To learn more about her, see our About Us page. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ElisabethGTK.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Building a Language Part 4: Words

Post by Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley, co-founder

     Yes, we've reached that part. The planning is finished. You have decided what sounds you will use for the words, the symbols that will represent them, and even how they will be arranged in a sentence. All that is left is creating the words themselves. So, is there any way more interesting than just going through the dictionary?
     Well, an automatic response might be "Try translating something!" But the problem with that, is that languages are never directly translatable. The Spanish phrase "Me encanta" may literally translate to "It enchants me", but the meaning is far closer to "I love it". Ironically, the people of Pompeii had no word for "volcano". Your language much have the same sort of things. It is not an extension of your language, it is an extension of the people who speak it.

     My advice would be to start with the things that are necessary for speech, such as pronouns, articles (the, a, an), conjunctions, etc. Once you are done with that, you can move on to the more interesting parts.
     A good place to go from there is the subjects that would commonly be discussed by these people. There are bound to be farmers, right? Start with some of those things. Is religion common? If so, explore the words that would commonly be used in that area. What terms do they use relating to war? What are things that merchants would commonly talk about? Hunters? Royalty? Children? What are common, every-day items and activities that everyone would know? Foods? Pet animals? Whatever they use for transportation? Keep searching for areas like these, and try considering them apart from your own world. Look purely at what these people see and live in, and what they think of those things.
     Another thing to consider, is descriptive words. Nouns and verbs are obviously important, but adverbs and adjectives, as well as how they are used, help define, or show, a culture. Like English, do they have many words that basically mean "great"? Or "very"? Do they have a lot of ones referring to color? Do they have very few? What words would they use to describe someone they were in love with? Someone they hated? Their home?

     After going through all of these several times, you will have both the basic framework, as well as plenty of verbs, nouns, and descriptive words. What do you do now? Obviously you won't have gotten everything. Well, I'd say now is the time to crack open a dictionary and see what words you have "missed". Keep track of which words the dictionary had that you didn't, and which ones you had that the dictionary didn't, and be proud of every word you have already made that they don't have.
     You now have a working language. It isn't done, you will probably never stop adding to it, but it works,  it is full, and you can now you can teach others it to others. Once you have reached this point, writing a novel must seem positively easy, right?

Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley is an aspiring author and poet. To learn more about her, see our About Us page. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ElisabethGTK.

We have a poetry contest open, which you can find here.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Building a Language Part 3: Grammar

Post by Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley, co-founder

     Having decided on which sounds to use and assigned those sounds to letters, we are now going to look at the grammar. More than anything, this post will try to show you some of the things we take for granted in our language, some of the things so natural that we don't question them, so that you can make your language differ from English. Studying other languages can also help you to find ways to construct your language differently. Of course, if you want, you can simply use the English grammar, but it's so much cooler to have your very own.


     Pronouns are generally considered essential, though not necessarily by those who speak your language, as they allow you to refer to something without using its proper name. Look back at that sentence and notice how many pronouns I used. So, if your language has pronouns, how many? How specific? Do they have one pronoun that is universal? That would result in "I", "it", "she", "we", and "you" being the same word. It might seem confusing to us, but in Hebrew there is only one word for "but", "and", "yet", etc.
     Or do they have dozens of pronouns that are far more specific than English? (For example, that differentiates between "you" singular and "you" plural?)


     In English, conjugation is pretty simple. The verb changes based on tense, as well as number of people referred to. In some languages it is simpler, for example, Mandarin doesn't differentiate between past, present, and future. Others are more complicated, such as Spanish. Spanish has a different set of verbs for nearly ever pronoun, and for the different tenses. How will your language conjugate? Remember that the complexity of the language reflects and is shaped by the culture.

Number of words:

     Do we really need so many words to express a concept? Or, do we need more? In Spanish, "I run." is literally translated "Yo corro." but because the pronoun is reflected in the verb, you can also just say "Corro." Maybe your language can do the same thing. Or, maybe it uses more words. Perhaps they always accompany a name with the pronoun. For example, my language, New Orcish, has each noun prefaced with an article/pronoun, for example "The/him shopkeeper that sells a/it grapes is more honest than other a/they shopkeepers."
     Try to find things like this, things that truly separate your language from any of the languages you know. Changing the base framework in this way makes it so truly unique; a language, not a code. And it adds a realism and depth to the language, and the world.

Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley is an aspiring author and poet. To learn more about her, see our About Us page. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ElisabethGTK.

We have a poetry contest open, which you can find here.

For the next post in this series, click here.