Hi folks, It is December and the holiday season is gearing up. I have been crazy busy since in addition to helping homeschool my son and writing and doing graphic design work I also work part-time unloading trucks for a big-box store. As you might imagine, we have been moving literal tons of stuff. While I do buy people things I also try to make a little something for my friends and family. It really helps me get into the spirit of the season to put something of myself into what I give.
My spirits have also been helped by a little extra project I took on – I entered Norse Myth’s Midwinter Art Contest. I’ll share the artwork I did for that on December 21 but in the meantime I wanted to share a tiny part of it with my readers. I worked up a snowflake knot work design that was incorporated into the background of my contest entry and I went ahead and worked it a little more to create a new coloring page. Like most of my knot work, it leans a little more towards Celtic influence than any of the Norse styles as far as the design goes. The elaborate crystalline snowflake has a small sun element at the center of it to remind all of us of the cycle of things. Print it out and share it with your kids (or just color it in yourself.)
Every now and then I run across an artist doing commissions and I have them draw up their version of what a Dwarven Valkyrie would look like. Here is the latest one from Stephanie Soderberg, LuLuLunaBuna on DeviantArt. I love the attitude in the facial expression and in the stance of the character.
For me, one of the cool things about being an artist is seeing how other people take such different approaches to the same subject. I really noticed the striking differences the most when I was teaching my Computer Art course way back when and could see side by side the different graphic solutions my students would create for their projects.
If you’d care to take a stab at illustrating your own version of a Dwarven Valkyrie I’d love to see what you create.
Hi folks. Here is a little something different from my usual offerings – some cute pirate stationary. The image is sized to print nicely on a page of 8.5×11 paper. Just slice it down the dotted line to get two
5×7 5.5×8.5 note-sized sheets. You can print it and share it as much as you’d like, just don’t sell it.
I recently finished reading John Haywood’s Viking: The Norse Warrior’s [Unofficial] Manual and highly recommend it. The author covers basic details such as why a Norseman would choose to be a Viking in the first place, the various social levels in Viking times, weapons and tactics and the various types of Viking ships.
I like the way Haywood packs in a lot of historical information about life as a Viking and manages to do this without ever being stuffy. The whole book is written in a friendly tone that comes across more as a talk between friends than a lecture or lesson. There is a nice sections that breaks down the different countries of the world and describes them in terms of how hard it was to raid them and what kind of spoils you could expect to plunder there.
There are a good number of period illustrations scattered throughout the text along with some color photos of a modern combat reenactment group demonstrating some fighting techniques. While the book delivers a ton of information it also lists sources for further reading. John Haywood definitely has the pedigree to write an authoritative book on this time period. With Viking: The Norse Warrior’s [Unofficial] Manual he has written abook that is also entertaining.
I write but I was also a graphic designer for many years so I like to play around with visual images to help inspire me when I am working on a book. There are a number of authors who collect images to help them with locations and characters. I have a Pinterest account where I post images I have found that inspire me while writing and I even continue to add to those Pinterest boards after the book has come out.
It’s also nice to have a physical, tangible prompt to help you along. You might think of it as a talisman or lucky charm. For myself I like to create mockups of my book. These fake covers are then printed out and taped on top of real books. I then have something I can set out on my desk. When I see a “book” like this it reminds me of the goal I’m working towards (or the project I should be working on if I’m wasting time doing something else on the computer.) Yes, it is a bit of a mind game – but it works.
For my first Valda book, Valda & the Valkyries, I created the image to the left. This is nothing like the final book cover but it doesn’t need to be. I don’t stress over getting these mockups perfect. I have a book to write and I don’t have time for that. I just find a good, evocative image, tweak it in Photoshop, slap on some text and call it a day. (One of the giveaways that I rushed these is that they both say “by Mark Neumayer.” Pro designs don’t use the word “by.”)
The image I used for this mockup is a miniature from Reaper minis. If you write fantasy or scifi you can find tons of inspiring images of minis on company web pages and fan sites all over the net.
For the current WIP, Valda Goes Through Hel, I found an awesome image on DeviantArt. Since Hela, the Norse goddess of Death plays a huge part in the story I used the image to create a book cover featuring her. Again, this is kind of down and dirty. My goal with these mockups is not to get a perfect image. I want something that is going to inspire me. It definitely works for me. Give it a try and see if it works for you, too.
I have a great love for miniature soldiers despite the fact that I can’t paint them that well and I don’t own that many. I was going to write a post about some of the various companies that produce Norse-themed miniatures but once again my research revealed someone who had done a better job of it than I ever could. Go to this page and read White Knight’s exhaustive listing of Viking figures from all the different companies that make them. It is a really thorough write-up that includes a lot of pictures and gives all sorts of details about the minis. Some of the links are dated. They do bring you to the company’s website, you just have to search for the specific figs yourself.
By the way, when I am writing I like to have inspirational artwork for my computer desktop. I used an image of this Dwarf female from Reaper Miniatures as part of the mix while writing Valda and the Valkyries.
This is what my screen looks like in Adobe Illustrator right now as I work on the cover for Valda Goes Through Hel. You can see the linework I have done so far in the center of the screen and her finished hammer is in the upper right. They are both surrounded by reference and inspirational images.
After all the line work is done I do flat colors and then bring everything into Photoshop to add lighting and other fun effects. The cover creation process is a source of joy and frustration to me but I am hoping I can get this one looking half as good as the image that is in my head.