Confessions Of An Amatuer RPG Artist

Or how I became the GSA’s first Staff Artist

I’ve always enjoyed character pictures. As a teen, I did a color pencil picture of my very first RPG character, Isilwen. Later, for Champions games, I used many of the blank picture templates and designed and redesigned pictures of my various characters. Back when the Star Wars Artist Guild (SWAG) was still a subforum on SWRPGNetwork.com’s Holonet Forums, and shortly after they got their own site, I had some character pictures done. One was even taken by an artist who had done art for Wizards of the Coast’s SWRPG RCR line!

Jedi Master Z'Rissa Organa, Makashi master duelist, wearing Alderaanian court garb while on a mission.   Yes, this is my avatar. Original artwork by Agent 99.

Jedi Master Z’Rissa Organa, Makashi master duelist, wearing Alderaanian court garb while on a mission. Yes, this is my avatar. Original artwork by Agent 99.

At the same time as I was playing in one of those Champions campaigns, one of my fellow players, DW, was introducing me to computer art on the new Amiga platform and I did a few simple pieces. A couple years later for a number of reasons, I put computer art aside for a decade. I’d almost forgotten I’d ever done computer art. Then Terras Jadeonar, a fellow SWRPGNetwork “Holonetter” and SWAG member, started trying to get me interested in 3D modeling art.

Terras offered to do a PC portrait for me, and showed me the ready-made models he used of–well, everything! People, clothes, plants, weapons, pets, sets, hair, shoes, vehicles. And all the ways you could alter these models. It was like playing with Barbies and Bratz–or GI Joe, if you prefer. (For the record, my Barbies acted out fantasy realm plots, NOT fashion shows and weddings.) I was hooked when Terras showed me not only the X-wing gear, R2 and starfighter for my favorite pilot but gave me a whole selection of hairstyles and makeup so he could make Lady Cinowyn exactly as I imagined. Heck, this was way better than Barbies!

Terras directed me to sites where I could download the free Daz Studio software and models, many of which were free or low-cost. (My husband also got into the hobby at the same time, although he concentrates on beach, undersea and diving scenes.) Once I was set up with the software, Terras began teaching me to use it, via IM and Skype as well as emailed insturctions and example screenshots. I often take a long while to pick up new software and Daz Studio was no exception but my mentor was very patient. I even began, with his encouragement, to post some of my pieces, many of them Star Wars themed. I also remember my delight a year and a half ago when my son and I watched a Making of Star Wars: The Old Republic video focusing on creating the avatars. “Cool! I use those same tools with my 3D art program!”

That was about the same time I started feeling really good about my progress and more confident as an artist. I began learning Carrara 8, the program Terras favored, since I admired the way his pieces looked. I also started experimenting more with lights and effects. I really love something called Anything Glows, which does just that! I also began offering to do pictures for my fellow gamers, most notably for Agent 94, before he became Agent 94. I did 3 or 4 NPC pictures for his last SW Saga Edition campaign. Then, when he began Heroes on Demand here, he tapped me to do some of those pictures. While I don’t have the time to do all of them, I do enjoy the commissions he has given me. I credit them with increasing my skills faster, as it’s given me a reason to stretch my artistic wings. In fact I’ve stretched them enough, that with the encouragement of Terras and Agent 94, I am applying to SWAG as an artist.

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