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Scorched Punk is a Fiery Frenzy in New Illustration

A Fire Mage Burning Too Hot

Jake Fox is an okay fire mage. Like many fire mages, he can throw fireballs, envelop himself in flame, and cast a variety of other fire spells. He can use other magicks also, but its fire that his spark burns for. His flames can be as hot he needs them. From a warm, gentle glow; to flames hot enough to melt iron and more. Despite being a bit of a blockhead at times, Jake can demonstrate surprisingly delicate control over his flames. They’re like an extension of him. Nothing gets scorched without his intending it.

Most of the time.

Ever the hothead, Jake embodies fire in all its forms. Flames often erupt from his body. Typically, starting at the ears and then spreading down from there. The more excited he gets, the more engulfed he becomes. Like a candlelight, burning out of control. Normally, Jake is immune to his own flames. His clothes also. Yet here, he burns so hot and so furious that his shirt gets burned up. It’s not unheard of for Fire Mages to burn themselves with their own flames. Fire is an element of nature that must be handled with great care. It is volatile and difficult to control, just as Jake himself can be.

“Pfft! That Punk’s magic sucks! It’s all fire with him. He doesn’t have the brains for anything else. His body’s a different story though. Getting hit by one of his punches feels like getting hit by a brick and hitting him back just feels like punching a boulder.

He’s dumb as a rock; and apparently, just as hard.”

Dylan Powers

Inktober 2018: Stepping up to the challenge

The Prompt for Today is “Scorched”

This past October, I attempted to participate in the age old tradition of Inktober once again. Unlike past years however, I endeavoured to try only doing a handful of prompts this year. I didn’t want to set myself up for failure by setting the bar too high. The main prompts I chose to try were: Scorched, Jolt, Poisonous, and Tranquil.

Thankfully, I managed to finish a few worthwhile illustrations this inktober. In total, I completed three full drawings and a few ballpoint pen sketches. It was slow, but I kept my own pace until the middle of the month rolled around. October is when the holiday season starts ramping up at the store. So eventually, having enough time or energy to keep up became difficult.

For today’s post, I’m looking at my drawing for the prompt; “Scorched”. This prompt was the perfect excuse to use Jake as the subject of this inktober drawing. After all, what better subject for a word like “scorched” than my very own fire mage? That said, I find it hard to imagine him actually getting “scorched” by his own flames. Even if he were to completely lose control of himself.

But there are always exceptions.

Close-up photo of the Scorched Punk

Scorched Punk: The Finished Drawing

It wouldn’t be Inktober without an ink drawing

I drew this piece on a leftover scrap of Crescent Cold Press Illustration Board. This board has a little texture to it which makes it ideal for dry media or water-based paints and inks. It’s slightly smoother than watercolor paper. I really like the rough surface that it lends to my ink lines. Originally, I planned on coming back and coloring this using ink wash.

Of course, as would happen with this medium, I made several mistakes while inking him. In the spirit of the challenge, I wanted to avoid using white ink. So to erase these mistakes, I used my Xacto knife to scratch away at the board’s surface instead. Unfortunately, scratching the surface of a board like this to remove mistakes ruins it for ink washes. If I were to try, ink would likely absorb into and darken in the spots where I made my corrections. This would make my blunders particularly obvious.

The Process for Scorched Punk

A brief look at this drawing from sketch to finish

Preliminary Sketch for Scorched Punk Pyro

The Preliminary Sketch

Trying to learn from Punk Pyro

First, I did the preliminary sketch using ballpoint pen in my sketchbook. I tried to apply what I learned from my Previous Punk Pyro Sketch. The end result was something a bit more unhinged than last time. His pose here is a bit closer to what I was going for with that Punk Pyro sketch. Shoulders raised. Arms out. Ready to brawl. I particularly love how his left hand came out here. Jake packs a lot of power in that small body and I really wanted to emphasize how solid he is. His magic ain’t too special but he sure does pack a wallop. I took a lot of inspiration from Hellboy here, who often also ends up shirtless for one reason or other.

The Pencil Drawing: A Roadmap for My Pen

Jake doesn’t quite fit the “scorched” theme yet.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos while I pencilled the final drawing. Stopping to take photos repeatedly, yanks me out of the drawing mindset, and so I just forgot to do it. The only photo I could find of the full pencil drawing for Scorched Punk is the one above. In the future, I’ll try to be better about this.

For the final drawing, I changed up Jake’s pose one last time. His arms and legs are more spread out. His proportions are a little more exaggerated so his figure wouldn’t be too stubby. I also made him face more to the side, instead of looking at the viewer directly. As if he were in a side-scrolling game.

When it comes to my pencil lines, I try to get as close to the finished result as possible. Not necessarily to the point where I would be tracing them with my pen. But rather something more comparable to making detailed notes about what to do in the next step. Ink is a very unforgiving medium so I think it’s important to have a clear idea of what I’m doing. At least, until I’m more comfortable with using looser pencil lines.

Inking Scorched Punk

Put a shirt on him! Shackle him up!

Originally, I intended on keeping Jake shirtless; but drawing cloth is actually a lot of fun for me. After I’d begun inking, I decided to put a shirt on him to really accentuate those bulging muscles of his. I tried to keep as much of his physique showing through as I could. Coincidentally, I was so eager to finally start on the finished piece, that I initially forgot to draw Jake’s shackles. In fact, I was already part-way through inking before realizing it. I was just too fired up! Once I realized, I just slapped them on without worrying too much about how they should actually fit on him.

Close-up shot of the pencil work for Jake's scorched arm.

Hands are as difficult to draw as they are to use

and that’s okay!

Hands are weird, and complicated, and maybe a just little bit creepy, when you really stop to think about it. They’re a cluster of limbs on the end of larger limbs. Tiny eldritch terrors at the end of your upper extremities. Capable of such complicated and delicate tasks such as typing, drawing, grabbing things. In recent years, I’ve personally come to really love drawing hands. The way a character’s hands are posed can say a lot about them. Hands are a common point of consternation among less practiced artists. They can be pretty daunting to get right. Especially in more complex poses. I think the secret to drawing them well is recognizing that hands just …look weird no matter what.

Pictured is Scorched Punk Pyro inked halfway.

Halfway there!

Those burns really bring out Jake’s dark side.

In my post about the Punk Pyro sketch, I mentioned wanting to capture a sort of dissonance in Jake’s expression. Regardless of any negative emotion, there’s this contradiction between the look in Jake’s eyes and his smile. No matter what, his mouth always manages to curve into the most genuine smile. At times, it can make him look a little demented. Sometimes, it’s downright creepy.

Here, instead of only showing that schism in Jake’s expression, I tried to convey it with his whole body. A dichotomy of light and dark. There’s some irony in Jake’s dark side being the half wrapped in the light of his flames. Along with his flames and expression, I was deliberate about the difference between his left and right hands. He’s fairly half-and-half in this drawing.

Using delicate penwork to scorch Jake onto the paper

On the parts of Jake that look more charred, I used a heavy amount of cross-hatching. I tried to follow the contours of his form to give him mass and contrast against his flames. For the fire itself, I tried a more delicate approach. I also made use of pointillism for any sparks or cinders. Since Jake’s shackles are made of metal, possibly iron, I wanted them to look particularly solid. I used straight thin lines and left openings in their shape to imply a white hot incandescent glow for them.

For his body, particularly his clothes, I used thick outlines along the outside of major forms. Then, I applied thinner lines on the inside of these forms to imply underlying shapes and volume. If you look from his right shoulder, moving down his torso towards his waistline you can see what I mean. The thicker lines show the tension from the cloth being pulled back with his arm. Meanwhile, the thinner lines show how the shirt is sticking to his muscles underneath. I continued this way, working my way down Jake’s body.

Close-up shot of Jake's waist cloak.

Beyond the halfway point. Beyond the scorched!

Jake’s Half of Mallory’s Cloak

Jake often drapes this cloth around his waist as a sort of waist cloak. This cloth is one half of Mallory’s cloak. The other half belongs to Artemis, Jake’s twin. The cloak was originally a gift to Mallory Pyralis from Pandora Paige. Pan crafted and enchanted this cloak as a form of protection for Mal on their long, perilous journey. Eventually, Mallory would have to travel to the Demon Realm. Mallory would most likely be gone an indefinite amount of time, assuming they even returned alive. So they split the cloak in two and gave one half each to the twins, as a parting gift.

This is probably my favorite part of the whole drawing. I love using linework to capture the weight and flow of fabrics. Fabric is such a layered concept that I want to dedicate a whole post to it. When drawing this part, I started off with thin, slightly disconnected lines like those pictured above. Then, I went over those lines again, carefully adding weight and volume.

Close-up of the left half of Scorched Punk.

Mage Punk and his Mangled, Twisted Tail

A hard lesson, forever burned into his memory

Jake injured his tail in a freak accident as a child. In skirmish with the rogue roboticist, Luisa Lovelace, his tail got tangled up in the massive gears of her clocktower. Thankfully, his friends managed to free him, but it was already too late. The injury was so severe that it left his tail permanently mangled and twisted. Since then, his scarred tail affects his balance in unpredictable ways; while also causing him some degree of chronic pain. To remedy this, Jake wraps his tail tightly to help straighten it out. While it may help him maintain his balance better, it does not ease the pain. Jake often says that the ache serves as a stern reminder of the consequences for his reckless behavior.

If you look closely at the previous photos, you’ll notice that I completely forgot to draw Jake’s tail. Just slipped my mind entirely. Until the very end. Even in my preliminary sketch, I forgot his tail. In fact, I didn’t even realize it until I’d already finished the drawing. I keep a post-it note over my desk which reads “DON’T FORGET THE TAILS”. But I was so absorbed that I forgot the reminder.

As a side note: the two flames on his non-burning side are probably my favorite. Especially the one coming off his shackle. I think it feels more delicate compared to the flames engulfing the rest of his body. I think, in a way, it shows Jake’s not yet beyond regaining control of himself. That’s a happy flame.

Close-up of the right half of scorched punk.

These flames are NOT happy at all

Due to vague and complicated majicks, Jake can’t express negative emotions properly. Not to say he can’t show negative emotions at all. But when they do spill out, things get a little mixed up and the results can be unpredictable.

Ink test splotches for Scorched Punk Pyro. The intended pallet was all warm colors e.g. Red, Orange, Yellow.

At some point, I took a little break to experiment with colored inks on another scrap of illustration board. I planned to go with some pretty obvious choices here. Unfortunately, some earlier mistakes made me lose confidence that the board was suitable for ink wash. So instead, I resolved to color this digitally. I’ll save that process for a different post.

Scorched Punk Pyro

Scanned and cleaned up

Much like Jake’s flames, some parts of this drawing got a little out of control. It happened by accident, but I think this loss of control adds a layer of context to the drawing. Jake can be really passionate at times but it’s possible for him to get carried away. I think this is something many of us can relate to on some level. Sometimes, we get so heated that it can warp and bend our perception like plastic. Like the horizon on an unbearably hot day, that thin line between excitement and anxiety gets hazy. This can make us feel agitated or irritable. We lose control, our emotions spreading like a wildfire, hurting ourselves or those around us in some way. All because we’re burning too hot and don’t realize that we’ve turned our candlelights into flamethrowers.

Similarly, this post got a little out control for a drawing of a single character with no background. Normally. I’d want to make my art posts a little more succinct than this. Drawing is a lot of decision-making and many of these decisions are actually made on the fly. But then, I started writing and realized just how much thought into this drawing. I couldn’t help but want to talk about it here. This was a fun little retrospective about what I was thinking as I was worked on this.

Wrapping up.

This post got really wordy. I hope, at least, that the little narrative bits I sprinkled throughout made for a more engaging read. They were kind of fun to write. Although, they also kind of turned into their own little projects. I may try doing it more in the future, depending on the post. Eventually, I’ll collect all these prose bits in their own section of the Archives. If you’ve read this far down, I’m grateful to that you took the time to do so. Please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know that you think.

Thank you so much for reading.

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