Below, in chronological order, are the pictures I made. I included 'Midwinter Mercy' even though I finished it in 2018, since all the design was in 2017 and it was just my elderly computer's slowness in rendering that made the project stretch into January.
'On the Cold Hillside' is the picture I made to celebrate the successful rewrite of the first Geren novel. And yes, I made it a year late. Considering my speed in life, this should surprise no one. It illustrates the meeting between Geren and t'DoL in the chapter of the same name at the end of my first Geren book. My biggest challenge with this picture was trying to capture the effect of the light source--t'DoL's grey magefire, without killing my computer, or having everything look shiny, or t'DoL's iridescence being too strong.
I added a bit of symbolism, probably hard to see. Five is the number of Geren/humans, though it's never spelled out explicitly in my novels. There are five tiny snowflakes in the picture. Though in the novel the main snowfall had stopped prior, a few flakes can still fall later or be dislodged by wind.
This is the picture that gave me trouble from start to end and is still causing trouble. I had been intending to do an illustration for the 'Parent's Woe' story for a long time. My intent when I came up with this picture concept (rather than the one I had in mind over the prior decade) was to use the image as a tapestry to hang in my bedroom, since the spot where I hang my lighted Christmas tapestry is so depressingly bare when I take it down. But I found out it wasn't suited to a vertical layout, and decided after that it wasn't suited for a tapestry either--too much detail I didn't want to lose. Fighting with format was small compared to the wringer it put me, my desktop, and the software through. Corrupted files, memory leaks and overruns, couldn't even have all three characters together at once, and ended up having to render the image in long skinny strips--so of course each strip has different brightness/contrast/hue so I had to do a long skinny horizontal strip to calibrate against.
For my major endeavors like 'Never Alone,' my bookmark image, and my recent calendar images, I like to add a second layer of meaning with the plants I include (so long as they're remotely ecologically/seasonally feasible). So in 'Laughter' there is wood sorrel for joy, lily of the valley for the return of happiness (after their frantic search for a missing cub), and purple violets, of course, for love and faithfulness, with bluebells for constancy.
The whole image really isn't suited for a computer wallpaper, so at home and work I massively enjoy separate wallpapers of laughing t'DoL, amazed Heruvael, and irrepressible, adorable fuzzy Hileko. And I STILL haven't gotten it printed out full-sized and hung in my bedroom yet. It was supposed to be for my birthday, but I only finished the image a week in advance. And I've been too broke since then...nor can I decide on a frame or how to present it. So maybe by the time I'm 50?
This picture was in every way quite unlike 'Laughter.' I needed an outlet after the horror of watching what Irma did to Florida and Maria did to Puerto Rico/Caribbean. And every few autumns I like to make another Geren picture for fun, since he so loves the autumn in my Geren novels. This time, instead of just Geren and Star, I added Hapless as well. And this time, the whole affair just fell into my lap with startling speed (8 days!). No special symbolism as it was a quick project. I didn't make it large enough to be printed out, which is part of the reason it went quickly. I just wanted it for cheering-me-up purposes at work. And it succeeded wonderfully.
This is the alternate version of the image I made for the eBook cover of my third Geren novel. Irony abounds--since I actually got a cover made, and did it early for once, of course the book itself has run into any number of delays. I'm still waiting on my editor as I write this. But I like this version, which I designed for wallpaper image consumption at work, much better than the vertical eBook cover. Since this is set inside Hileko's home, it was not a challenge for my overworked desktop. But balancing the lighting between realistic, dramatic, and being-able-to-see-anything was the biggest challenge, as well as getting far away enough without the 'camera' being embedded in a stone wall or the focal length causing a distortion of the image.
I haven't done enough illustrations with the Shado, and this is my first with Geren and the Shado together. Now I want to do more...
With Sound Effects!
My 2018 single-page calendar image. The calendar layout itself dictates size and ratio, but halfway through the project I discovered that the view was too far away for the cubs to be as easy to see as I wanted. I cut off the side, but for this version that I hope to print out and frame soon, I kept the top, which left it square.
Since this wasn't tied to a story, I had a lot more liberty with setting. (But the string of in progress images for this project reveals how much flailing around I did with the birches in particular.) What caused a lot of grief was hyarmi fur. To my amazement, Tertius was able to handle three cubs in the scene at a time with their fur on without choking or file corruption. I had tons of fun with the cubs!
And since it was a major project, back with the symbolism. Birch is meekness, applies to all. White clover means think of me, yellow violets are for rural happiness, and purple violet, as ever, for love and faithfulness. My favorite cub in the middle is collecting flowers she wants to feed to t'DoL. She also has some forget-me-nots, which need no interpretation. (And seven cubs because that is the avarii number, for t'DoL, though I would have loved to add a whole bunch more!)
This was supposed to be a quick small project but ended up taking over a month. I had made a winter vertical sidebar image of Hileko riding t'DoL-in-horse-form back in 2010. I wanted to revisit that theme in a new banner for my Twitter page, as well as a larger image suitable for computer wallpaper, because I don't have enough winter images with my characters, at least compared to the other seasons. Alas, trying to make a snow that resembled real snow (rather than the crappy stuff that comes with the software and looks like white concrete) meant I had to use settings that were very hard for my old desktop to handle. And then there was the foggy atmosphere to also drive up render times.
At least I had fun with adding some birds. I wanted to also have a deer or a rabbit or another bird, to make six total. But I was behind schedule and have no money in December for those sorts of purchases. Oh well--four birds plus Hileko and t'DoL make six, the hyarmi number. (I also made an inset image for wallpaper zoomed in on Hileko since the detail gets lost with the full image.)