Boy, these past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Official edits to Woodwalker manuscript, redrawing the world map for the interior pages, a fourth draft of the cover art, and then feedback on my second manuscript... I'm pretty ragged. I thought I'd take a few days and work on some art to just calm my nerves a little, but I'm kind of sucking that up, too. I just don't have the stamina to finish anything. So here's a good old-fashioned sketchdump of concept work and doodlery.
Top left are a few inane doodles of Mae and Mona in a Pixar style, which I usually shy away from because all Disney-Pixar's female leads look the same, with the doe eyes and button noses. This gave me a complex as a kid because I knew with my big hawk nose I could never be cast as a Disney princess. But several of my favorite artists draw in this style and I can never resist trying to mimic my idols. (For the record, I'm over my childhood complex now--- turns out hooked noses were a sign of aristocracy in ancient Rome, and as my heritage is largely Italian...)
To the right of that is a junky sketch of Valien on his coronation day looking all smirky (and a bit like a mashup of Loki and Kylo Ren, which in all honesty, is pretty accurate). To his left is an unfinished concept of Mae with her archery gear. I've since changed the weaponry of the Royal Guard from recurved bows to flatbows, so this isn't quite right anymore, but she'd still have the hip quiver and spare arrows in her bow hand. I prefer hip quivers over back quivers because I've always found them easier and quicker to access, and they leave room for a backpack, which the Royal Guard would certainly need on days-long scouts in the forest. I also know highly accomplished archers would sometimes keep their spare arrows in their draw hands, but Mae isn't necessarily supposed to be the pinnacle of archery. She's good because she has to be, but she's not a prodigy, so I imagine she would be perfectly satisfied with keeping her spares in her bow hand.
Below that are two concepts for Lumen Lake, both of which led me to swear at my screen as I created them. In fact, one of them is actually saved under the name "arrgHATE.jpg." I'm just not that good at large-scale environments despite my love for them, and these didn't turn out how I wanted them to. But they gave me good practice, and they helped me with my worldbuilding. Tiny Colm is in the foreground of both.
Hopefully I'll be able to pull myself out of this funk before I have to write any more self-deprecating posts. Woodwalker is with the copy editor now, and my editor has a synopsis of manuscript 2. So things are still trucking along!
Emily B. Martin
Author and Illustrator