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Inspirations

Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz

Sometimes when I’m all out of words and ideas, I cruise the internet looking for something that sparks my imagination. Photos like the castle in the mist above make me want to write fantasy set in a world where magic is very real. 

Work that evokes a story can start my mind going in unexpected directions. An artist can evoke a mood, a feeling, but then I can spin off from that with a story they might never have dreamed of.

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“Time to Run” by Cedar Sanderson

I can, of course, make my own art, but when I’m in a mood I prefer to dig into DeviantArt looking for something that makes me stop and stare at it. I mean, DA is full of weird and strange art. Some of which is inarguably not art. I highly recommend you leave the mature filters on, to begin with. Even then, know that you’re likely to get mature content because it’s up to the artist to label their art mature and not all do. I don’t mind, but I like to warn folks before they venture in. As a source of inspiration it’s nearly unparalleled and there are artists to discover that blow me away.

Much of the artwork that is stunning, I’ve discovered, is the work of artists generating graphics for games, which both makes me sad I don’t game ( I don’t have the coordination for it, guys, it’s not that I’m against gaming!) and happy that great artists have found a way to make it in the digital world.

Not all SFF art you’ll find online is digital, though. Artists using watercolor, as above, traditional oil media, and everything running the gamut from ink to pencil and beyond into the three dimensional.

Nor is all of the art dark and gloomy. Some of it is positively luminescent, and I enjoy the more ‘chibi’ work, although it rarely starts a story in my mind. Sometimes, though, the beautiful and the poignant meld into something special.

Digital art can have a very different feel, sometimes highly polished, sometimes loose and conceptual. I like both, for different reasons. I sometimes find the looser art, the speed paintings, give me more room for imagination.

These days with new tools and apps, digital is fast approaching the point where it’s indistinguishable from some traditional media, especially when we encounter the art here on our screens – and, by the way, if you haven’t already thought of it, this post will be best viewed on something larger than a phone screen! Some of these pieces are worth taking the time to really zoom in on.

If you want a springboard into exploring SFF art on DeviantArt, I have a collection of my favorites (not my own art!) I’ll link to here. You can then use that to find groups that curate art by specific artists, styles, and pretty much anything you can imagine. Explore until a story starts to unfold! Feed the eyes and the words will come.

30 Comments
  1. Some really stunning pieces. Definitely something to be inspired by and I could feel a few story seeds being planted just by looking at these samples. May have to go diving into Deviant Art sometime when I need that inspiration.

    February 10, 2018
    • I love to visit museums – and I’m sad I’m going to miss a Durer exhibit at a local one – but DA is there any time, day or night… and some of the modern art is well worth looking at, isn’t it? We need to reclaim that term from the weird blotches and splashes style that is so last century (snerk).

      February 10, 2018
      • Zsuzsa #

        Not to mention that on DA you can stare at a picture for as long as you like without your friends and relatives coming up and talking in loud voices about how hungry they are and how the reservation at the museum restaurant is in fifteen minutes and how they’d very much like to be going to lunch now…

        (No one will go to the museum with me any more).

        February 10, 2018
        • sam57l0 #

          And “Mommy/Grammy! Haff to go baffroom!”

          February 10, 2018
          • There’s a local art museum. We have memberships. And I’ve only had one chance to look through it on my own in the last six years, because I have kids. (They do, as it happens, have great kids’ programs, which is why we have memberships.)

            February 10, 2018
        • Holly #

          I’ll go with you, Zsuzsa! Meet you at the front door when they kick us out.

          February 10, 2018
  2. I’ve had a dA account for a few years now, but it’s not my go-to for inspiration-art anymore, for a couple of reasons. First of all, there’s everything from grade-schoolers’ scribbles to museum-pieces there, almost entirely un-moderated for art quality, and the Rule-34 version of most of it as well. I’m confident someone, at some point, has posted a Rule-34 picture of the kitchen sink there. But Cedar’s right: there’s a lot of real good pieces there too.

    Another is the Mature Filter. It has two settings, ON and OFF. There’s no differentiation between censored-for-sex and censored-for-violence, either, so the same switch for allowing mild battle violence also lets the wierest fetish-pics in, too. But until you DO turn it off, there’s no way to know why a piece was labelled “mature” or just how “mature” the content is.

    During my brief stint as a Daz3D content vendor, the quality of store-front art was one that came up fairly often, and certain artists’ work was lauded (some men and women actually make their living doing copy posters for other artists on commission– and those artists’ products generally sell very well). When asked where THEY get inspiration, one of the two main names was ArtStation. Take a look and you’ll see why: https://www.artstation.com/

    My own modest gallery on dA is mostly sales images–many of them reject versions–for the Daz|Studio 4+ shader packs I used to sell under the (Narnian) handle “Eustace Scrubb”. The only piece I’ve tagged with “mature” is a nude Icharus. (https://eustacescrubb.deviantart.com/) But if dA’s a neighborhood sandlot game, ArtStation is at the MLB level.

    February 10, 2018
    • Thanks! I’ll have to check it out. I’m not a good artist, myself, at least I don’t think so. So I’ve been happy enough with DA, but as you say, like Amazon, they’ll put up with whoever wants to post their work. It’s up to the consumer to wade through it and figure out how to find the cream.

      February 10, 2018
      • Don’t sell yourself short. Your stuff’s not so bad, really.

        February 10, 2018
      • I’ll echo artstation – my husband links me a lot of stuff from there, gorgeous work. Pixiv is another – they have an English site.

        Danbooru has a bad reputation (it’s not undeserved, I’ll admit) but you’ll want to check out (via search, perhaps to find it) the Scenery Porn pool. I’ve lost DAYS just browsing those gorgeous fantastic landscapes that make RL very, very dull.

        http://danbooru.donmai.us/pools/3020

        Safe for work.

        February 11, 2018
    • Zsuzsa #

      Somewhat off topic, but I HATE those useless content filters. Twitter’s “This tweet may contain sensitive material” is one of the worst; virtually every time I’ve run across it, it turns out that the “sensitive material” is a picture of a guy about to give his son a puppy or something like that.

      February 10, 2018
  3. C4c

    February 10, 2018
  4. ” makes me sad I don’t game ( I don’t have the coordination for it, guys, it’s not that I’m against gaming!)” In addition to that abomination, the Real Time Simulation, there are also computer games that let you take your own time doing things. For folks interested in space wars, I call your attention to Space Empires 4, NOT to be confused with Space Empires 5, which might be an amusing plot generator or inspiration tool. If you want to play games remotely with other people, please note the ZunTzu and Vassal systems.

    Curiously, my textbooks on board game design outsell my novels by 10:1 or 20:1.

    February 10, 2018
  5. Burg Eltz is fascinating, both architecturally because it has three castles in one, and historically. It was never taken by any attacker, in part because the family made sure to have relatives on all sides of various European conflicts! There is a German Romantic novel about the castle, entitled _Burgfried_. Burgfried means literally “peace of the castle” and the keep proper.

    You do have to be willing to navigate medieval stairs and narrow passages, and to hike a little up and down hill to reach the castle. It is lived in, not purely for show, so if you are expecting Neuschwanstein, you are going to be terrible disappointed.

    February 10, 2018
    • It looks like it is fascinating, and your thumbnail sketch of it just intrigues me more!

      February 10, 2018
    • sam57l0 #

      I was wondering why there was no drawbridge.

      February 10, 2018
      • The drawbridge was between the gate house and the first inner wall.

        February 10, 2018
  6. Christopher M. Chupik #

    This Twitter feed has a lot of evocative photographs of Fantasy-style landscapes:

    February 10, 2018
    • I wish I could sort out my Twitter feed like I do Instagram, so it was only things I wanted to see by artists/creatives I chose. Instead, it’s cluttered to the point of uselessness with crap twitter *thinks* I’ll like. And I use thinks very, very loosely because there’s no actual thought behind it, just ‘let’s push paid content.’

      February 10, 2018
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      What great timing, he posted a new one today!

      February 10, 2018
  7. Thanks for all the art sources!

    February 10, 2018
  8. Hi, I’m Sean, and I’m a DeviantArt-aholic. 😛 That place is such a darn time sink. Between aimless browsing and actually searching I can kill hours on end looking at stuff there. It may even be worse than Wikipedia and TVTropes.

    February 10, 2018
  9. sam57l0 #

    If the title “Deviant Art” is not sufficient information/warning in itself…
    The castle! It be stunning! Glad it’s not set to “kill”.

    February 10, 2018
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      Parts of it certainly live up to the name.

      February 10, 2018
  10. Luke #

    Deviant Art is a great site, but the signal:noise ratio can be awfully low.

    I’m really fond of Dark Roasted Blend http://www.darkroastedblend.com/?m=1
    It has a lot of good stuff in its own right, but it’s a also great way to limit searches in Deviant Art in the “I want to see more from this specific artist” fashion.

    February 10, 2018
    • Ooh, I hadn’t seen that one before. Thanks!

      February 10, 2018
      • It’s definitely full of cool things. They once did an article on cool bridges and used one of my photos (the Sundial Bridge in Redding.) Or maybe they used two—I took at least one from under the gnomon.

        February 10, 2018
        • And that’s very nice. I’ll have to see if I can find it 🙂

          February 10, 2018
  11. A bit OT – but it’s Bob Ross-related, so I figure folks will appreciate it.

    https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B071X7HZBN/

    Check out some of the comments that have photos of the little Funko Pop Bob Ross with tiny little easels with landscapes. It’s such nostalgia!!! Happy little trees~!

    February 12, 2018

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