Suggestions for Outsourcing?

If you’ve followed my blog or know me, you probably know that I like art. I draw. I mess around with digital graphics. I even have a stinkin’ nice computer so I can draw digitally as if it were a sketchbook.

Well, we’re our own worst critics, right? Okay, maybe that’s not true, because I’ve met people who are super critical over something I’m proud of, but you get the point. Despite my practice and everything, I’m just not good enough for myself and what I want to do. And I want to do a lot.

The big vision: a portrait of each of my characters, and I’m not talking just the POVs.

Do you realize how huge this list is? I’ve got the POVs, the elementals, the jespers, the guardians, the upholders, the shape-shifters, the druids, the Skittle-skin-colored people, the cult members… Not to mention I’ve got four versions of the main character and three of the main female. (It’s gonna be like 50 portraits.)

I realize that I don’t have enough skill (nor enough time) to depict everyone inside my brain.

But that’s not all!

Once I get all my people, I want to build an interactive tool (likely a website with JavaScript) that will allow me to set up character profiles and link them to books and other characters. For instance, I’d have Derek. By clicking on Derek, I could see which books he appears in. By clicking on Book 1 with the context of Derek, I would be able to see his profile and all the relationships he has. He’d be linked to MaTisha, because he loves her, to Alistair because he worked for him, to Alissandria because she’s in love with him, and so on. But from Derek, I could click on MaTisha, open her profile up in the context of book 1, and see all the books she’s in, and be able to navigate from there. Or I could click on book 1 and see all the characters that are relevant. But I want it to look cool, not just a static wiki style. I want to see a map of all all my characters with all their pretty portraits, laid out with all the connections they have to everyone else, and maybe even be able to grab them and move them around just for kicks. (I love the hyperlinked graph even though it isn’t useful for what I want to accomplish.)

I know I could build it. I have the background for it. But between family and work and writing and trying to stay sane, I don’t have the time to build it.

So who are your favorite artists and how affordable are they? And do you know of any tools like the one I want? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever wanted to make or have made for you?

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

22 thoughts on “Suggestions for Outsourcing?

  1. Time to do things is the biggest obstacle many of us face. You’ve got some big aspirations, but I think you’ll manage them just fine.

    I’ve had many strange ideas about things I wanted to make or have made, but they are mostly fleeting and get replaced by new weird ideas.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  2. Your art is great, and I love it that you want to draw your characters. My characters are clear in my head. Strange things… hm… I would love for someone to make me a big gargoyle for my front porch. Not a mass produced one, but an original medieval looking beast at least three feet tall.

  3. That is ambitious all right! Carrie Butler does good work.

  4. I’d suggest my husband, who does all the graphics for DLP and our church and has built several websites, but with that many graphics, he just might kill me. LOL

  5. That sounds like it would be a fantastic tool. Shame you don’t have the time to do it yourself, but I can see why with all that you’re juggling.

  6. I’d love to have portraits of all my characters. For the most part, I’ve had to be content with winning a few commissions here and there, but of those I’ve paid for that still take commissions… I’m quite fond of Eveline’s style and I’ve long been a fan of Shamine and recently got a character done by her via Patreon.

  7. Yes, that will take a lot of time. Unless you need it right now, have you considered working on small chunks at a time? Maybe one day a week devote an hour. Yes, it’ll take forever, but if you keep chipping away… (I don’t know of anyone that could help. Sorry.)

    The one thing I wanted more than anything 15 or so years ago was a way to identify that actor… you know the one… in the show that I knew I had seen somewhere before. I complained about it periodically. Now, I don’t have a specific app that does that, but with the Internet and imdb I can usually find the information I need. Technology just had to catch up with me.

  8. What a fun and fantastic idea! I love it. It reminds me of how a fun D&D game gets started but takes that to the next level. Who knows, you may be able to find time if you do it in small chunks.

    Enjoy the rest of your week!

  9. Ugh. This is tough. While I completely sympathize with the lack of time thing (I manage to mention it in, like, every post), I wonder. You’re so good at this and you know your characters better than anyone. Could you give it a go? See if it moves a bit faster than you thought? Sounds like an amazing project.

  10. Finding time for everything is a tough call; maybe that is why as writers we ‘outsource’ the toughest aspects of editing and in many cases our covers. That aspect – cover design – bring me to my designer, Jonathan Temples.

    He does a wide variety of graphic art and is constantly expanding his boundaries – he recently posted on Facebook a steampunk design he was working on. Retro gamer magazine just mentioned him as a computer games artist hits machine. His rates are reasonable too. Note that he is in Belfast, UK so 7 hours ahead of Boise. He told me on Facebook that he is interested in the sound of your project.

  11. I don’t know many graphic artists at all, and the one I do know contracts to draw characters for video games and whatnot. Your idea is ambitious and it would be rewarding to see it implemented, but it does indeed sound time-consuming.

  12. So I’m sitting here thinking I wondering if Java is what you need or would an Android app work I mean it would be fun to build and I might actually have to build it if you can tell me exactly what you want the description was pretty good but I want to flush it out with you and see if we can work it into a program so be prepared I might actually have your test it have a great evening

    • Hey Chewie! I think I’d prefer web-based rather than an Android app, just because I have so much data and so many characters, I don’t think I’d want to spend all that time typing with just my thumbs. It’d be cool if I could build it in a responsive page so that it looks good on mobile as well, but my primary interaction is going to be via my Windows desktop.

      I’m not sure if I’ll be using Java for the server side or maybe PHP or maybe teach myself AngularJS, but I’m open whatever will be simplest, since it’s mostly data storage and retrieval.

  13. I have something similar – though not as in depth as that with the cross links – – I did mine myself, a little bit at a time (you can tell that on some of the characters because the style changed as I went along, LOL! I need to redraw some of them, especially the Executioners). Boris Rasin does artwork – I sometimes send book cover people to him- but no idea what he would charge (boris.rasin(at)gmail(dot)com ) . If you could do them slowly yourself, you could always set up the pages and put ?s or “coming soon” or something where the images go, then insert them as you draw them and use each new portrait as a promotion piece – “Now revealed: so-and-so!” with links on social media and what not, so each portrait reveal is an “event”. Though you can still do that even if you have someone else draw them for that matter.

  14. I have no suggestions but I love that idea of linking all the characters. It’s a great marketing tool too!

  15. I regret that the only artist I can think of who does portraits and commissions is currently all booked up making WoW character badges for Blizzcon. >_< And she's well-known, so she'd likely be too expensive for something like this.

    Way back when I was writing my first book, I wanted someone to make the lead character's sword, this enormous two-handed thing that wouldn't have looked out of place in an anime series. Kind of glad I never looked into getting that done, it would have been ridiculous.

  16. Wow, that sounds like quite the complicated project. I try to always buy original art whenever I travel to a new country, even though it can be quite expensive and even more expensive to have framed. I love supporting artists, and it’s the best souvenir.

    A recent one I’ve discovered is Kitty Fuller, who is based out of London. ( She’s a fashion instructor and illustrator who does some really cool, Andy Warhol-type pop art with a style that is all her own. I find her inspiring because she’s taken the leap to pursue her dreams full time.

    I guess the strangest thing I ever wanted made is an animatronic Undead Ted that would look like the bear in my book, “The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave.” The animatronic ones play peek-a-boo with you by removing their face while giggling like a child. Très creepy. It would be a hit at horror conventions! But extremely expensive. Like, $400 expensive.

  17. Sounds like the tool you need is a time machine, or something that gives you more than 24 hours in a day. That sounds like a lot of work! I don’t know any artists yet, so I can’t help you there. I wonder if you could set up a website with a page for each character, complete with links.

  18. I am amazed (and jealous!) of your talent. I bet you figure out a way to get it done. It will be amazing, Sparky. I can imagine it now…

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