The Red Elves

The Red Elves dwell in the darkest parts of the forest where venomous snakes and spiders abound. They fortify ancient ruins with their wooden palisades and distil wicked poisons from the local flora and fauna. They are more than happy to sell vials of spider venom and dried boughs from the scarlet fever trees they cultivate, but let the adventurer be warned! The Red Elves will not hesitate to murder and rob the unwary, and a Red Elf witch never goes far without her escort of goblin archers.

Meet the Rocket Family

The Dragon of Iletupa

Is it wrong to start designing the cover art before you write the book? I hope not. These are pen-and-ink studies for the cover art of The Dragon of Iletupa, the next novel I’m working on. The first one began as studies of dragon scales and then turned into an odd little street scene with characters taking their colorful balloons for a walk. This in turn inspired a limerick entitled ‘The Droll Encounter.’

The other two managed to come out looking like dragons. Progress!

While taking his balloons for a stroll / Professor Lanyard encountered a troll / A White-Crested Rail and a belligerent snail / Under circumstances unusually droll.

cover art study 2 cover art study 3

Saudade: A Found Poetry Project, Part 5

A White Star was lit in Her eyes a metallic bird was singing on the lawn

A White Star was lit in Her eyes
a metallic bird was singing on the lawn

the last sunshine lingering regret a whispered interruption

the last sunshine
lingering regret
a whispered interruption

I had a picture of a girl with gray eyes. I've been trying all afternoon to remember the first word I said to her.

I had a picture of a girl with gray eyes.
I’ve been trying all afternoon to remember the first word I said to her.

crimson scorn yellow insincerity

crimson scorn
yellow insincerity

Saudade: A Found Poetry Project, Part 4

of all the people in this world, YOU unsought intimate secret I am afraid of YOU

of all the people in this world, YOU
unsought intimate secret
I am afraid of YOU

I walked on lonely, a pathfinder, reading shining secrets in the leaves of the young trees.

I walked on lonely, a pathfinder, reading shining secrets in the leaves of the young trees.

I drifted toward the burning gardens seeking freedom.

I drifted toward the burning gardens seeking freedom.

a stranger in the garden a wine-colored shadow in the wind

a stranger in the garden
a wine-colored shadow in the wind

happiness hinted in a murmur she nodded lips a stunned tribute I looked her face lovely and bright a whispered promise

happiness hinted in a murmur
she nodded
lips a stunned tribute
I looked
her face lovely and bright
a whispered promise

 

Saudade: A Found Poetry Project, Part 3 & 1/2

I felt guilty for getting so little done on this project last week, so I did a few more tonight. Charles Scribner III I am not.

And now that I’ve read the first page of the actual book, I suddenly doubt my ability to ‘find’ poetry in Gatsby. It is possible there was already some poetry in there.

Great Once (or Once Great?)

Great Once
(or Once Great?)

a new end followed after an explosion of fame, a skyrocketing, a new generation, the Great Last publication, the death, the apotheosis extraodinary

a new end followed after an explosion of fame,
a skyrocketing, a new generation, the Great Last
publication,
the death,
the apotheosis
extraodinary

VI, VII, VIII spared the fate Red, White, Blue did not as often do

VI, VII, VIII
spared the fate
Red, White, Blue
did not as often do

three times into the valley of ashes I know the marvelous catalogue the sky, the sea, eternity the whole pathetic time flawless

three times into the valley of ashes
I know the marvelous catalogue
the sky, the sea, eternity
the whole pathetic time
flawless

Color by Number #3: Wizard

This is the latest in my series of Excel color-by-number worksheets. This one is aimed at introducing students to some of the ‘magical’ properties of multiplication. Multiplication by 1, 10, 11, 9, and squares are all touched on here. For those who aren’t rabid fans of 80’s Nintendo video games, the character is the Black Mage from the game Final Fantasy, unleashing a QUAKE spell.

Because math is earth-shaking.

My next challenge is to figure out how to let the player choose which spell the Black Mage casts. I sense some heavy IF/THEN in my future . . .

Perilous Jack and the Frost Potion

The Perilous Adventures of Jack the Dragonslayer is a series of Choose Your Own Adventure™-style sprite comics hosted on SmackJeeves.com and featuring sprites ripped from the Final Fantasy™ and Super Mario Brothers™ video games. The stories, characters, settings, and illustrations are mine, but the sprites used to create the illustrations are the work of the talented designers at Square Enix® and Nintendo®.

Perilous Jack and the Frost Potion is Volume One of a five-part series called The Abduction of Princess Vasilisa. In this volume, Perilous Jack returns home from an adventure to discover that Princess Vasilisa has been abducted by a Cloud Giant!

Giant (Fire)

But before he can face the giant, Perilous Jack must fight his way past the guardian of the giant’s castle – a Pyrohydra.

Hydra (Pyro)

But as everyone knows, when you cut off a Hydra’s head, two more grow in its place. Hercules used a torch to seal off the cut necks of the Lernaean Hydra, but that trick won’t work on a creature of flame . . .

Only a Frost Potion can help Jack past the guardian of the castle. And the only Frost Potion for miles is in a monster haunted labyrinth, under the guardianship of the terrible Bull God. A most perilous adventure!

You can read the sprite comic here. When you’re finished, check out the flowchart below (Spoiler Alert!)

Frost Potion Flowchart (Detail)

Flowcharts are practically required if you’re doing a Choose Your Own Adventure™ – style story. There’s no better way to avoid dead ends and illogical loops, plus they look nifty. I did this in Visio.

The full-size flowchart for Perilous Jack and the Frost Potion is here.

Color by Number #2: Rocket

This is coloring sheet #2 in the Color By Number series, this time using a simple multiplication table. I haven’t figured out yet what the answer to 6 x 6 should do. Any suggestions?

Color by Number #1: Goomba

This is the first in a series of color by number games I’m designing in Microsoft Excel. The worksheet uses conditional formatting to change the fill color of specific cells based on their contents. Then I add a simple formula (=[cell number]) to link the indicated cell to the place where the user types in the answer to the addition question. If they get the answer right, the cells change color, gradually making a picture.

This one is super simple, just four addition questions that yield the image of a Goomba from Super Mario Brothers ™.

Any kind of pixel art is easy to do; you just have to count how many pixels high and wide the image is so you know how many cells in the worksheet you need. Then resize the cells so they are square and go crazy with the conditional formatting. It’s a good idea to go into File — Options — Formulas — Error Checking Rules and uncheck “Formulas inconsistent with other formulas in the region”, otherwise you’ll get unsightly little green triangles in the corners of the cells in your image.