Inksplot Studios: Chainmail, Illustrations and Writing by Elizabeth Arnold



This mole brought to you by morajel over at the character drawing subreddit. He asked for a mole monk, complete with cassock, holy symbol and snow goggles, and I did my best to not make it look like Redwall.

Items of note- doing better with contrast (having a good range from brightest to darkest) in this, but haven’t got it arranged well to good effect. The lighting isn’t wrong per se, but it just isn’t helping anything. It’s not dynamic.

I used texture overlay layers here, and I don’t think I’m doing it right. The cassock is …passable. It’s clear what I meant to do, I just don’t think I did it. The fur texture works better, it really helps the transition on the nose and adds a sort of stumpy fluffiness to the head/neck, but it’s not quite as good on the extremities.

I’m pretty proud of my solution for not knowing what the ‘holy symbol’ was supposed to look like. Though while I enjoy his giant mitt hands, and I think I didn’t do them justice. Too flat, and I’m not sure how to fix it. Probably just draw them better in the first place, but ain’t it always the way. :D




This prompt is from a subreddit called Artbattle, which I admit I haven’t quite gotten the hang of yet. There are… fights? Except kind of more like a rap-battle, because there’s this one-upsmanship turn taking thing. But with drawings.

I didn’t win this round. Despite deciding that there was no way I could make it in color before the deadline, I still didn’t get it done in time.

On the bright side, I finally figured out how to armor a dragon. It just bugs me when fantasy armor doesn’t make sense, and a dragon is a particularly tough case- the armoring needs are kind of like those of a horse, but the critter is flexible like a cat, plus it has some of it’s own naturally grown plates and spikey bits that have to poke through.

This scene came out of this old story, but I’ve made a few changes: There are only two sizes of dragon (the ones shown here) and the difference isn’t species. It’s gender. Humans have only legends of the big ones and consider them mythical, but are quite familiar with the small ones and think of them as clever animals, so tame them much like hunting hawks. Although they are confused as to why the critters won’t breed in captivity…




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So glad to have gotten into this show! Competition is always fierce for jewelers, and the organizers of this show makes a particular effort to keep the vendors balanced- there were a few jewelers, but we made up far less than 1/4 of the booths and we all had very different stuff.

Though I was only approved to vend for one weekend, I had an absolutely wonderful experience. Not only was it economically a very solid show (and apparently the first weekend is usually the weakest!) it was the downright friendliest show I’ve ever participated in. I got tons of help, advice, and complimentary comments about my wares from the other vendors, the venue was pleasant, and the organizers were happy to chat with me.

Really, this last weekend felt a bit like my first days at college. Because while I did well and had a grand time, it rapidly became clear that I was pretty out of my depth. Most of vendors in this show have been doing this for years, and most of them had intimidatingly put together and permanent-looking booth displays. I’m afraid I came off as somewhat amateur by comparison.

I’m taking it as a kick in the ass to stop feeling apologetic about my booth display and up my game.

So I’m in the market for wall partitions. I’m thinking PVC pipe and the walls of my EZ-up tent, (freestanding pre-made walls are expensive!) but I’ll keep you posted with my experiments!

Up Next: SLAM at the Burren, Saturday the 14th and 21st!


High hopes for the Harvard Square Holiday Fair this weekend!


I have heard excellent things about this show, so I’m pretty excited. I’ve got some new inventory to show off, and a new display to try out. Though the show runs for multiple weekends (and you should totally check out the different artists those weekends) but I’m only there this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s super conveniently located in Harvard Square, and is open late (’till 7pm!) all three days.

If you can’t make it down but still want to see some of what I’ve got going on, as always you can see more on my etsy page.



Prompt: Clouds.

Of course if I’m given an open-ended prompt like that, I’m going to stick a dragon in there just for funzies.


Okay, so ‘tutorial’ is overstating this a bit. There will be no ‘set your brush to 45 percent opacity’ in this post.  This is more like a quick tour of my thought process as I’m working, which I hope will be helpful to people with some photoshop skills who just aren’t sure quite how this ‘painting’ thing works.

When I get a good art idea, it tends to be because two previously unrelated ideas ran into each other.

In this case, a friend sent me a link to the winner of this year’s The Longsword Competition At the World Invitational Tournament. In passing, my friend added that she would like to have a set of that armor for her very own.

Bingo bongo, time to draw my friend in medieval armor.

I had an armor reference, now I needed a pose reference. Enter google, and the nice people at The Medieval European Martial Arts Guild, who have large images of classical european martial forms linked to from their site.  I chose one of the forms, and got to work on a ‘blueline’ sketch.

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Doing the first sketch in blue makes it easier to pick out the lines I actually want in black later. Also at this stage I began collecting my pallet. Each major color needs at least three (dark, medium, light) constituent colors, although apparently my natural inclination is to choose four. Keep the number of shades to a minimum though, or you’ll drive yourself nuts.

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With the black lines completed, I flipped the image horizontally, so that I can see the perspective and proportion mistakes I made in the original sketch.

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Egad. It’s always worse than anticipated.

Once the perspective was suitably unfucked, I trimmed down some of the too thick lines and fixed the face up a bit.

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Then, it was time to flip her back the other way and lay down some colors pulled from my reference images. The first layer of color is at full opacity, just trying to vaguely cover large areas. Detail comes later.

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Now that I had color mostly in place, I needed to complicate it a bit. With a combo of the eyedropper tool and a fuzzy brush at half opacity I turned blocks of color into shades of color. Here it is about half-way along, top almost done but the bottom untouched.

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Not too shabby. I took away the lines for a second just to make sure it was going well.

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Then I put the lines back and trimmed the color to fit.

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Of course, it’s at this point (too late) that I realize I’ve got a few lingering structural issues. The thigh armor plates leave an awkward gap under the belt, and the draping around the backside is… subtly wrong. Also the blade isn’t consistent enough, and the skin needs some evening out.

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With that about done, it’s time to start on the background. I thought putting her in a woodland would be nice. Also since I was planning on fuzzing it out, I thought woods would be recognizable without being too much detail. First, lay out the basic blocking, and put in a row of trunks.

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Aaand not enough trunks. So I just copied the layer and scaled it up to make a second closer row of trees at a higher saturation. Then I went and found the ‘leaf’ brush and went to town.

Stage 1:

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And Stage 2:

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And now enough guassian blur to make things look less obviously drawn in with a pre-set pen. Some blurring was done with a brush, so that nearer leaves will be marginally less fuzzy.

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Now for some style: cutting to a frame.

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Time for the really fun part. Texture! I went and found a metal texture, cut it to fit, and used the overlay function. It pumps up the contrast a bit too, which I kind of like.

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Texture for everyone!

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The background gets some texture too, just a little even canvassing to separate it yet further from the figure.

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Background needed a little more separation, so I desaturated it a bit. The last step is to add a bit of key light glow, which helps the figure become more three dimensional. Then it’s time to stop fussing, and call it done.



Prompt: Bug Brawl

In one of the many nature documentaries narrated by David Attenborough,  there’s a slightly silly scene of beetles battling on a branch. These are not those beetles exactly, but who needs realism when neon orange will do?

The beetles take the business quite seriously of course, but given that they look silly doing it and that the loser is unharmed (he is flipped off of the branch and suffers an extremely long fall, but due to his exoskeleton and low weight he’s not the worse for wear) the deadly earnest attitude just makes it funnier.

This is the beginning of the fight, from the point of view of one of the combatants. I wanted to draw from a bug’s eye view to show that they consider this serious business. The godlike top down view trivializes the business too much.

Regarding the nuts and bolts: From the start I wanted this drawing to be in a photographic narrow range of focus style, reflecting the bug’s priorities in that moment. In retrospect I wish I had used some sort of motion blur, because while the narrow focus does the job of making the picture emotionally immediate it also really immobilizes the whole scene.

The texture on the bugs is wrong, but I’m not sure what would be better. The problem is exacerbated because the texture on the branch and the blobby leaves in the far background are both pretty excellent.  I’ll need to find something shinier and less blobby next time.


Prompt: This totally awesome highly detailed panorama, which I will have to return to for little vignettes of city life.

But at least initially, I wanted to do something that showed more of the skyline. tokyo


Aaand I didn’t realize until I was all done that in a sunset the gold light is at the *top* of the buildings, and the red light creeps up from the bottom. Oops?



Prompt: Anthropomorphization. Which doesn’t sound like it’s a real word, but apparently is. It turned out a bit ‘Brave Little Toaster’, but that’s kind of hard to avoid when you put eyes on furniture and then try to get it to not be creepy.

This one’s a bit autobiographical, because we just bought a big sofa-chair thingy. It’s huge. And squishy. And occasionally prevents me from getting work done by virtue of its sheer comfyness. The fringed blanket actually exists, although it’s usually on the back of the couch. I moved it to give the chair a hairline to help define the face.

On a nuts-n-bolts note: I discovered brush settings. Texture incoming.





I tried to draw the Akhal Teke realistically, and this is what happened instead. Maybe because the breed just looks so unreal.

I’m serious. How is this not photoshop?