Artwork – “Adventure of the Heart”

“Adventure of the Heart” by Helen E. H. Madden

I finished this drawing a lot faster that I thought I would. I'm still not sure why I decided to draw this or what I was trying to do. Finn looks like he's either been made out of fuzzy yarn or he's been taking a lot of psychodelic drugs. But this is “Adventure Time” fan art, so I guess either would be about right.

This was drawn in Sketchclub on my iPad. I love the brushes and tools in Sketchclub, but I recently discovered that another app, Procreate, has a feature that may soon make it my new favorite. In Sketchclub, you can record while you draw, and you can export that video afterwards. BUT you have to select the record button before you start to do the recording. In Procreate, the recording is done automatically. You don't have to worry about hitting any buttons, it just happens. It seems to work a lot better than the Sketchclub video recording as well, in that it doesn't seem to slow down the app at all, or cause it to crash (I've had both happen in Sketchclub while recording video, though the crashing doesn't happen very often).

If only I could combine Sketchclub's brushes and tools with Procreate's video recording ability. Maybe someday that will happen. Until then, enjoy this very fuzzy drawing of Finn from “Adventure Time.”


Flashback Friday! Zombie

Zombie! by Helen E. H. Madden, drawn with ArtRage in the iPad

Unlike other Flashback Friday drawings, this one is from not-so-long ago. In fact, it's the first drawing I ever did on an iPad. It was Christmas, almost 3 years ago, and the iPad was brand-new, right out of the box. I'd been dying to try drawing on an iPad, so I spent most of Christmas Day sketching this.

Three years later, I think it's safe to say getting an iPad changed a lot of things for me. It got me more interested in digital art, let me improve my drawing skills, and helped me realize that more than anything, I wanted to throw myself into my art. These days, I draw on the iPad, sketch cartoons in pen and ink, and create odd little characters out of felt, thread, yarn, and whatever else I can get my hands on. It's a happy way of love, I have to admit. And it all started with this drawing.

Freaky Friday! A new style of art and questions for you

I realize I am probably best known for the cartoons and the freaky little pictures I draw, but earlier this week I tried my hand at something new in digital art. Tell me what you think…

Is it not gorgeous?! This image started out as a photo I took last summer during a visit to Toronto. This is the May pole in the Music Garden designed by Yo Yo Ma. I started playing with the image after reading a tutorial on converting photos to line art in this month’s edition of Photoshop Creative. I experimented a bit with the tutorial’s instructions and voila! The nice thing is, the final image is large enough for me to make prints.

I did a couple other images like it. You can view them over at Flickr if you’re interested. I’m going to go through my photos over the next couple of weeks and see what else I can come up with. I know I have some pictures of old farm equipment and machines that would make great steampunk images. Turn those into line art, combine them with colors like those in Alphonse Mucha’s poster art, and I think I might have some very lovely stuff on my hands.

But then I have to decide what to do with them. Would anybody be interested in seeing these images on posters? Blank books? T-shirts? Post cards? Jewelry? Let me know. I’m thinking of setting up an online store this summer to sell some artwork. If you know there’s something you’d be interested in buying, let me know and I’ll see what I can figure out.

Freaky Friday – Free Sad Robot Mini-Comic!!

Because I love you all, and because I love my iPad even more, I created a mini-comic starring Sad Robot. It’s 4 pages of kooky robotic fun, free to you in PDF format. It’s licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 license, so you can download it and share it for free, just don’t change it or sell it or claim it as your own work.

Download the PDF of Sad Robot’s first adventure, “Too Much Laundry!” right here!

(And if the link above doesn’t work, it’s because I screwed up linking the PDF to the blog post. Tweet me at Cynical_Woman and I’ll fix it when I get back from picking up the kids.)

WIP Wednesday – Sketches from “The Little Death”

“I Do Not Wish to See” by Helen E. H. Madden,
Character Sketch from “The Little Death” Podcast Novel

I took a break from my other work-in-progress this past week to do some other drawings and catch up on writing. Frankly, I haven’t been able to make it to my desk that much. But I’ve been doing a lot of artwork on the iPad (did I mention how much I LOVE my iPad?). This was drawn with a new app I picked up, Sketch Club. Sketch Club is a bit different from the other programs I’ve got, missing some of the bells and whistles of Sketchbook Pro like the ability to resize a layer as you work on it, but it’s got some fantastic drawing and painting tools. I love the rough scratchy style I can get with it.

Anyway, this is a drawing of Robin Helki, the main character in “The Little Death,” the novel I’m currently podcasting at I’ve shared snippets of the story before. Robin is a telepath who reads psychic information by touching things. She collects evidence for the violent crimes division of a police precinct in a dystopian society, and is slowly going mad as a result of her work. You can find all the episodes of “The Little Death” on the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast. If you like the story, feel free to pass on the episodes. They run under a Creative Commons 3.0 license, so it’s free to listen and share.

Sunday Contentments – Ravencon

I spent the weekend in Richmond at Ravencon, one of my favorite sci fi conventions. Normally, I just go to hang out, but this weekend I ended up working on staff, filling in at the very last minute as volunteer wrangler. It turned out to be a low key job, and I enjoyed it enough to do it again next year. Meanwhile, I got to hang out with lots of friends and in general be a con lobby slug. Perfect weekend indeed.

After I got home, I did a quick robot drawing. Liked this app a lot. It’s called Sketch Club, I believe. This was 10 minutes work.


Freaky Friday! Meet Tiny Medusa

“Tiny Medusa” by Helen E. H. Madden, 25 March 2011

Last week I found a new graphics app for my iPad (did I mention how much I LOVE my iPad?!). The app is InkPad, and it’s a vector graphics app. It’s pretty simple and straightforward. None of the bells and whistles that comes with Adobe Illustrator, but even so, it has all the basic tools I need for drawing on the iPad. And best of all? No tiny size limit on the images. I can draw a full sized image, suitable for printing later, with this program.

I also discovered that I can cartoon with it. I can draw all the black lines in, then email the image (or put it in my DropBox account), take it to my desktop and into Illustrator, and then use a brush stroke for the lines to get a hand-inked effect. I’m very, very, very happy about this because it means I can now start doing large sized comics on the iPad. Just start in InkPad, then export the inked image to Illustrator for a little tweeking, and then it’s over to Photoshop or ArtRage for coloring. This solves so many production problems for me that I almost feel like singing.

But since I’m a far better artist than I am a singer, I will not subject you to that torment.

At least not today.

Freaky Friday! Ooze-long

“Ooze-long” by Helen E. H. Madden, 6 March 2011

I love the idea of some sort of Lovecraftian beast spewing out of a nice hot cuppa. There’s just something about tentacles and tea. I’ve drawn this before, and will probably continue to draw this until I finally get it “right.” Though I think the current incarnation looks pretty good. I did this one on the iPad using ArtRage’s pen and watercolor tools. I’d eventually like to do a nice clean version in Illustrator for a t-shirt design. What do you think? Would you wear it?

Freaky Friday! Oh look, Mich, it’s a SPIDER!!!

“A Very Scary Portrait of Mich” by Helen E. H. Madden, 4 March 2011

Here we have a lovely drawing of Mich, my partner in crime over at Mich is afraid of spiders, which is why I’ve drawn this lovely giant purple arachnid landing on her forehead. I’m sure she’ll get it though with her trusty baseball bat! Hit that sucker hard, Mich!

Seriously though. This drawing was another one done on the iPad, using ArtRage. I used the pen tool for the inking and the marker tool for the coloring, with a little bit of the palette knife tool for blending the colors. The marker tool has a “blending marker” setting, but it doesn’t give a nice smooth blend. The palette knife took care of that problem for me though.

I’m all off-schedule this week, both here and over at I apologize for that, but between being out all last week due to my father-in-law’s death and then coming home and having to have a minor outpatient procedure done this week, everything’s just been crazy around here. We’re in the tale end of cookie sales now, with just one booth sale left to go tomorrow, and then hopefully things will start to ease up a little. I’m spending today locked to my computer so I can knock out some work, and will probably spend as much of tomorrow as possible doing the same. I need to get some stuff off my plate.

Speaking of which, I’m stepping back from some of the commissioned work I’ve been doing. We had a panel at Farpoint, moderated by Steve Wilson, about burn-out and overwork for creative people (writers, podcasters, and webcomickers among others) and we all talked about how we have too much stuff going on. What I realized that weekend was that I have so many things going on, I can’t properly follow through on many projects once they get past the first stages. I can write the book, but then can’t get around to promoting it. I can draw the comics, but I can’t seem to find time to set up a FaceBook page which I’ve been told would put readership way up. I can’t even find time right now to make new album art for “The Little Death,” which I desperately need to do. So I sent out some emails saying I was stepping back and stepping away from some work. Hopefully, this will make life easier all around. Of course, if I could just get past cookie season…

Anyway, I’ll be hard at work this weekend. Hopefully, next week and the weeks following will get better and easier. And maybe Mich won’t give herself a concussion trying to get rid of that SPIDER!!!

Freaky Friday! Self-portrait of the Artist with a Snake!

“A Very Scary Self-Portrait” by Helen E. H. Madden, 13 February, 2011

This portrait will eventually go up on the Very Scary blog, where I have been working with my good friend Mich to scan in, display and review several pieces of children’s artwork that we picked up at the March to Keep Fear Alive. I’ll be drawing a cartoon of Mich as well, one that includes her greatest fear which is spiders. Mine is snakes, as you can tell from the image above.

This was drawn on my iPad, once again using ArtRage. I think ArtRage is ideal for cartooning, especially on the iPad. I do like Brushes and Sketchbook as well, but I’m more familiar with ArtRage and the fact that it has a pen tool makes it perfect for me.

If you haven’t been over to Very Scary yet, take a moment and go look! We have guest reviews written by really cool people. Enjoy the art, leave a comment, and consider helping out with the Very Scary site. We’ve got over 500 pieces of artwork to review, so we could always use a few volunteers 😉

BTW, I’m at Farpoint this weekend, so if you’re there and you see me, be sure to say “Hi!” I promise I won’t run away screaming.