Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Water reflection study

I did this quick study while creating a tutorial on water reflections for deviantArt. It is based on a photo I took during a visit to Hagenbeck zoo in Hamburg, it is the elephant region of the zoo which is beautifully designed to resemble southeast asian ruins (they are Indian elephants).

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Dark Eye characters

I finally finished my roleplaying characters from the Dark Eye setting. The twelve of them will be subitted to deviantart over the next few days.
I used Painter 12's real Watercolor to paint them. I was very different from my paintings with physical watercolours because I work very wet, and I missed the accidents that happen with that medium, but the digital brushes were okay too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Goodbye, Cthuloide Welten.

I've been working for the past few issues of the Cthuloide Welten, the Call of Cthulhu magazine by German games publisher Pegasus Spiele. Now, the last issue #21 has been released, featuring my works in several articles. These are some of my favourites, and I have to say that especially the monsters came over nicely in the print.
I leraned a lot about working with print media while illustrating for the magazine and met nice people, and I thank editor Frank Heller for giving me this opportunity.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fiverr commissions

Some of the commission I created since I put up my Fiverr account. Fiverr is a platform where people do things for five dollars - strange things, useful things, in my case funny things: "I will create freaky chimeras" for five dollars. That spaghetti thing for example is the infamous Flying Spaghetti Monster - I'm still waiting if the client will actually have it tattooed :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

The common cold, and symmetrical portraits

I've been sick for days now, and what I hate most is the lack of concentration. I can do almost nothing, although I could really need some small feeling of success. At last I sat down and doodled a little with Painter's mirror feature. I like headdresses and facial paint.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Angel thing

Painted over a drawing I made in my sketchbook, using ArtRage, Photoshop, and Painter.

I also just finished drawing all my rpg characters of the Dark Eye setting - well, the lineart at least, and I hope to find the time to paint them soon. Because there's a timeline to be followed in the world, I have twelve (!) characters - sometimes the adventures overlap, and then you need more people to them all, and there are so many concepts that you could try out... and then you have twelve characters that get played once a year each. Good thing I have a certified super memory ;) so I don't forget how.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Arch, and F.E.A.R. 2

Just doodling a little, I came up with a ruined city, a mysterious arch, and some people hiking off. I don't often jump into picturs like this, but I have taken a liking to painting with just one brush and all palettes off recently.

I just finished playing F.E.A.R. 2 - there are pupils who are experimented on, and one of them has my name! That was creepy...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Green Vision

Eye study, done in Painter, touch-ups in Photoshop. I had drawn the sketch last year, but liked the idea enough to pull it out again to train painting eyes. Especially the corner and lashes always caused me trouble, but I think I'm on the right track to solve that.
I like putting many eyes on characters a lot. I think that comes from the myth of the third eye with wich you can see the otherworld; sometimes I have trouble drawing people with just two eyes :)

Volcanic landscapes

A group on deviantArt called weekly environments suggested the subject "volcanic planet" and I made these. I used both Painter and Photoshop for them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Amazon training

As promised, updates on the progress of the TDE rpg supplement for Amazons. These are two of them practicing - I got the idea from a wrinkled old asian guy teaching some longnose tai chi, and it fitted just fine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mountains Study

Based on a photograph. I allowed myself a small amount of abstraction, leaving some paper textures visible. I think I did okay - this kind of sunlight is actually more difficult than directed artificial light. It just hits everywhere, and you have to use subtle contrasts to make the shapes clear.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I made a cover for a fanmade rpg supplement for The Dark Eye last week. It deals with the mage's guild convention, a septennial meeting of the most eloquent ages (or those who frighten most other mages). I've had some time-pressure troubles with the publishing guys, but they're solved now and I'm happy to have a supplement finished. There's also an interior illustration made by me.

(You can download it here:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Planets and Mass Effect

I just finished playing Mass Effect 1 and 2 and dug out my planet creation tutorials because of it. The planetary trips in the first game were set on beautiful locations, with asteroids raining down, lava lakes, moons covered in glaciers, and pollen-infested greenhouse worlds. I love those views and set out to create some myself.
I know these are a bit cheap, but I'll try to create some more, and views on the planets themselves, too. The four small ones are just scribbles, about fifteen minutes each, the bigger one took me two and a half hours - I'm still trying to get the hang as to how detailed the textures have to be.

Mass Effect is a sci-fi roleplaying game meant for a trilogy, the first two are out, and I have to say that I found the depth of the world quite intriguing. The alien races have an appropriate culture, the tech is advanced but believable, the squad you get together to pull off your insane plan to save the galaxy is really nice, too. The second I liked even better, the skill system has been improved much; the setting was more grim than before though (I'm mentioning this because that's not my favourite turn in stories). Now I have to starve until the release of the third part early next year... oh noooo! ;)
On the up side, I also started out thinking about battlesuits again. I love battlesuits and things that go boom in general, so there's something to expect.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I've long admired the techniques of Android Jones' colourful abstract portraits and tried something like it myself. I don't yet have Painter 12, which has mirror features - those would have been handy - but did this in Painter 11 with a load of tools I don't always use. I spent the entire morning creating new papers, patterns, and brush features to use - papers are really great to get texture in!
I had actually wanted to show a progress .gif of a character painting I did in this style, but it turned out to be several MBs big, so I can't put it here :( You can still see the picture in my deviantart gallery.

I used a lot of different brushes here. I'v been thinking about sharing some of my brushes, or brush settings I found useful; I'm not sure if it isn't the particular way I handle them though, that gets me my results. Any thoughts?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

DSA: Amazon supplement

I got involved with a fan project for The Dark Eye that deals with the Amazons.  (DSA ©Ulisses Spiele)
They are something between a religious order of the war goddess Rondra and a small state spread over several castles. I signed up to do the illustrations, while maps get done by someone else and the initiating author being Schattenkatze (quite important in the forum ;)). We're trying to get the Amazons out of their corner of being a sparsely clad band of furious women.
If all goes well, the Amazon Gamer's Supplement will become a website, but don't expect anything soon. I'll update as it grows.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


A landscape technique practice based on the environment workshop by Annis Naeem in the ImagineFX. It's not as good as his - it's very messy and not very clear to read - , but I learned a lot about using the lasso tool to my advantage. The picture is based on on of the landscape sketches I made a few days earlier.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Stellar Beauty Steps

My new wallpaper, explained in a some working steps. I created the painting in Corel Painter 11; it took maybe 15 to 20 hours, spread over seven weeks.

First, I create this incredibly detailed sketch ;). I had done a scribble in my sketchbook before that I thought to have a more gloomy atmosphere, but finally decided colourful would be better.

I fiddle with Blender until I find a viewing angle for the planet and rings I can live with. Blender even offers to put in stars. Very meager, but maybe they'll provide ideas where to put real stars later, so I render them too.

Prior to working on the rings, I create a nozzle in Painter for the asteroids. Several sizes and shapes are needed, and I will only use this for the basics but paint the closer asteroids individually.

I make sure I have the right resolution, then enlarge it to a workable size, in this case, 4000x3000 px. I lay down several passes of colours until I find a combination I like with strongly textured brushes set to low opacity. The wallpaper idea requires me to put any areas of interest, as well as the highest contrast, in the lower right corner, since that is where people normally don't have their desktops cluttered with icons.

I throw in clouds textures for the nebula; partly my own, partly downloaded from I use them mainly on the yellow nebula behind the planet, but set to low opacity on the green nebula up right as well, and even lower for the entire picture. Leaving anything completely untextured won't look good. I also make the planet much lighter, put an initial planet texture on it and then start painting all the structures myself with lots and lots of custom textured brushes.
The planet is painted on its own layer. Below, I create a low opacity layer set to Screen for the atmospheric halo.

Now I start adding handpainted structures to the nebula. Doing this is always worth it as it breaks the sometimes too pasted-looking quality of photo textures, but it requires some patience. I use some of the brushes I used before, and small airbrushes. I think that it is most important to handle the opacities right when painting stellar nebulae.
The asteroids are handpainted at this stage, to make sure I won't accept the nozzled ones out of laziness ;). The big one is where my lady will relax.

It's time to break out that nozzle. I try different settings until I get it right. While it is true that a nice nozzle will create a great deal with just one stroke, that means your working time gets shifted to setting it up correctly instead of painting :), but it still saves you time. I also colour the rings to a lighter, dusty colour.

To the stars! I paint over some parts of the nebula with almost black (even in space art, using actual black won't look very good, especially when printed. This colour is something like a very dark brown, I think) to make room for the stars in the back. Thy get painted with the Variable Spatter and Tiny Spattery Airbrush. And then some more stars with my star brush in the yellow nebula right above the planet. That brush resembles a cross with tapered rays. Never use the lensflare for single stars. Lens flares can add realism if placed correctly, but they don't work as stars.

And now, I only have to paint the lady to get a beautiful wallpaper. I clone the entire picture, crop out the part I need and enlarge it to about 5000 px on the longer side. I have my fiancé take a few pictures of me on the couch for the pose. I already know I want an alien-looking character with decorative attire and an accent colour, in this case blue. You can see where I sketched new folds for the skirts after draping a piece of cloth over the couch.

Folds are all done, now I will enlarge the face to get in even more detail. You might argue that this will be a lot of work for a character that will be less than a thousand pixels wide before shrinking the final picture down, but it always shows if you had more detail in.
It is very important to keep the lighting consistent. Sometimes I find this a bit difficult when cropping out parts of picturs for additional detail.

I keep the headdress on a separate layer for now. The dangling pearl strings are done with selections and shaded with airbrushes and regular hard brushes. This works well for metal, but don't forget to add some scratches or dents if the metal wasn't treated well or is very old. Also, the headdress reflects back on her face. So I add blue to the headress and gold to the face on a Soft Light layer. I also define the dress a little more around the head.

And now with the shading all done, I add lashes and rearrange the headdress. Its left part has become lopsided and I cut, paste, distort, and repaint until I'm satisfied. What's to do now is to shrink down the face part and insert it back into the figure, and shrink that down to put it into the wallpaper again. Did I mention how important it is to write down the sizes of parts you are enlarging so that you can fit them back in seamlessly? I normally note those in the file on a layer that only contains stuff I'll throw away, like linework. Or I write it on my desk. Yes, it's a messy desk.

And here we are, all done! The figure is tiny now, but the additional details paid off. Now I let it rest a little bit, and then look at it again on different backgrounds. This is important for dark pictures because I often miss some lighter rim somewhere. That will show on a black background - I also look at drawings on white paper on a white background to find dark scanning edges and such. I hunt it down and kill it, and then I am really done, add my signature and set it as my desktop background.
You can download the wallpaper in high resolution on my deviantart account.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Landscape sketches

It's a good idea to just get out some ideas. When the morning had started with a blue feeling, I enjoyed how easily these sketches came down. Maybe some of these are worth pursuing to a full painting as well. I really like doing landscapes; I think it's rewarding exercise (and much more forgiving than portrait art). 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pirate Bay

A pirate bay I sketched out a few weeks ago. I had watched loads of video tutorials of the Feng Zhou Design School from youtube and wanted to try the techniques.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Emerging Visions Magazine

Some of my pictures recently appeared in the online magazine Emerging Visions. It's subject is mostly surreal art, and the pictures are beautifully combined with poetry. Take a look and enjoy!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Study painting of a fashion model. Idiot that I am, I choose a girl that was made up like a doll and halfway through started wondering why the painting wouldn't look like a human... I gave it a washed out look, and I think it's only half as creepy now than it was.
All done in Painter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Octo-cyborg, and Seegmiller's Painter book

Concept of a cybernetically enhanced agent, complete with sensory upgrade and harpoon gun; I was actually thinking about centaur concepts then.

I've recently finished reading Advanced Painter Techniques by Don Seegmiller. I think it is quite a useful book; I thought I could handle Painter rather well by now but the book shows some of the often overlooked features in action, like fractal patterns for water reflections, or locking the layers I don't want to paint on (not so overlooked maybe, but I never thought of that before). Nice and easily understandable, if a bit repetetive at times (but I'm a bad judge here, I don't like being told things twice in any case).
So, if you are new to Painter, it's a useful book to have.

Monday, May 9, 2011


My second guest gift sculpture. This is Ahmet - called that because of the fez, of course ("I wear a fez now. Fezes are cool." :D). As before, made of Keramiplast; wooden base with a fiberglass stick, a custom made tassel, and two snail houses, all painted with acrylic paint. The hula hoops are glow-in-the-dark sticks, things we had a lot of fun with on New Year' Eve (try putting them inside balloons).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Inquisitor Maloney, the witch Isabeau, and Aramia

Family members had been asking for a while for some roleplay experience with us. So on a visit, we quickly made some characters and went after some thieves, and possibly an ancient monster.... that's next session ;)
I took the opportunity to depict our characters in brown and white chalks. I've always loved the look of these drawings. You almost can't tell they were done in Painter and not on paper (the new real brushes are so awesome!).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kolya's Interspecial Specialties

I had been to town in the early evening one day and saw a guy lean next to the entrance of his snack bar just like that. I'm rather sure he wasn't called Kolya, but that's the name I read out of the neon sign ;)

Some steps: First, I set up the lighting and general colour scheme; added more details with custom textured brushes, refining the lighting from the shops and fleshing out the other aliens; finally made the neon signs with either the Glow Brush or by copying, softening, and setting to screen layer mode. I also addes serval layers to correct the colour, textures for the walls and windows and finally threw out the sketch layer.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Portrait of my Sister

I frequently visit a toy shop (I looove toy shops, I wish I had time to play all those things), and my fiancè said, "why not take some street chalks along, you'll probably do something nice with it". And since flattery goes a long way with me ;) I took them and attacked my mother's terrace with it. First a fish, then a portrait of my sister. Apparently, it looks like her. Must be the smirk.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ranarh in the web

If you are interested in following my other artistic endeavours, I also have these accounts:

Ranarh on deviantart – my main account. The place I publish my recent works, as well as the other stuff the platform offers, like news articles.
Ranarh on – I'm not that active there, but I take part in the Character Of The Week contests every now and then, and sometimes open up wip threads.
Ranarh on – about the same... I haven't had much time to network there.
Ranarh on Elfwood – just a little account for the fun of it. Not particularly recent since updates take so long.

So you see, finding a "Ranarh" is an almost safe bet it's me ;) Except in the Imaginefx forums, where I go by Aeon. I'm also open to suggestions which other platforms to join.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ernö, and Fiete the Sixteenth

I was off to a family visit and made a sculpture as a gift - say hi to Ernö. Obviously inspired by owls, but not quite one himself; ceramic modeling clay, dove dunes and acrylic paint.
Ernö Rubik is the guy who invented Rubik's cube (obviously). The professor of architecture came up with it to teach 3D thinking to his students. I haven't solved mine yet.

My second sculpture took residence in my mother's garden. Fiete the Sixteenth fishes birds - if that makes any sense. Fiete (pronounce vy-teh) is a northern German name and fitted his fisherman's appearnace just fine, and he got his royal descendance when my fiancé noticed Fiete's resemblance with a certain hoverchair-riding Dominar.

Sorry for the bad picture.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ende and Xayide

Michael Ende is definitely one of my favourite authors. His fantastic creativity and poetic storytelling, with a deep philosophical content that's easy to understand even by small children the way he tells it - it's marvelous. A friend gave me Momo a while ago and I read The Neverending Story again; I can only advise fantasy artists to do the same. Where Lord of the Rings is epic and heroic like the sagas of old, The Neverending Story is amazing in its new and previously unseen ideas.

This is Xayide, the evil witch that tries to turn Bastian to her will. Her description just screamed for an illustration: She has bright red hair in a curious hairdo, marble skin, and is clad in purple; one of her long-lashed eyes is red, the other green; she sits in her carriage, made of coral, and blows rainbow-coloured smoke from a pipe with the shape of a snake's head. Done in Painter 11.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I'm not sleepy anymore after getting up. I read recently that sleeping cycles are approx. 90 minutes long, and if you sleep a multiple of 90 minutes, you are always waking up in a light sleep phase. So far, that works fine for me; I'm as alert as a rodent all day long :) Or maybe yoga has something to do with it.
I also found that there's a club for people like me: delta-t is a club for all who like to sleep in and get up late, and their social issues. Seriously, have you tried getting an appointment with practically anyone after ten o'clock? Or telling your parents that since you're freelancing, getting up with the birds is a waste of time and concentration, and your clients overseas couldn't care less anyway?

What's more. I made this nice new notebook for the plot of my graphic novel. I even got a gold pen to write in it, but oh no! It works like shit. The ink grows to twice its size when on the paper, stupid expensive thing; I wanted an Edding - those work great - but the Staples I went to didn't have any in gold. So I told myself, how different can it be, and bought a Schneider. Stupid me. And when I thought, maybe I can at least do the cover decoration with it, it gave out; but not before making enough marks to cause twice the work for me... gah.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The fractal fairy

I used Apophysis 2.09 for the fractal flames and Painter's Pattern Chalk for the fairy's dress. Ever since I had seen a workshop by Android Jones about abstract painting, I had wanted to try it myself. I had started this several weeks ago, but it had a long pause; then Painter 11 had one of those pictures in its opening dialogue, and I decided to finally finish it. Getting shapes out of Apophysis on purpose isn't that easy...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Maned glow-in-the-dark rat

You know how inspiration goes - not in any way you could explain later ;) I was flipping through the latest ImagineFX when it suddenly struck me while looking at a small picture.
I created this pelty fella with the Artist's Oils brushes from Painter. I could tell from his reaction that this rodent won't be one of my sweetheart's favourites ;)