Fan Focus – Scarlet Witch

Long (long) overdue post celebrating the fanart of Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch. I wanted to post this before Avengers: Age of Ultron came out but life happened as it so often does.

The Scarlet Witch was introduced in X-Men #4 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in March, 1964. Here she shows up with her twin brother Pietro (Quicksilver) as part of a new group of villains, the subtly named Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Interestingly her costume is green though her headpiece already has its iconic (Magneto-esque) shape.

X-Men #4. March, 1964 Front Page.

X-Men #4. March, 1964 Front Page.

The daughter of Magneto and Magda has been featured in the Marvel universe for over fifty years, battling her probability altering powers and contending with her and her brother’s tragic past.

Vision and Scarlet by Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonard 1982

Vision and Scarlet by Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonard 1982

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has now given us a reinvented Scarlet Witch. Unsurprisingly doing, so has its proponents and detractors. Personally, I crushed hard on Elizabeth Olson‘s Wanda. The old House of M tragedy, while huge for its time is now a depressing slog for a first time read and I would much, much rather have a new, fresh take on the character. Also Wanda’s story has been pretzel severely with Magneto now not being her father, Pietro may or may not have been her lover, she may or may not actually be a mutant at all and Magda (her mum) may or may not be still alive. /wince

The new Wanda Maximoff and her twin brother Pietro who, spoiler alert, croaks in Avengers: Age of Ultron, are now from the made up Russian mainland-esque Sekovia. This doesn’t preclude Romano ties, and I hope they didn’t drop those entirely but so far there’s been no mention of such a tie-in.

Her powers are presumably a result of Hydra experimentation which she and Pietro volunteered for and this is a young, untried woman still feeling her way into the world.

Her look too has received a much-needed modernization with bordeaux colored leather tops or flaring coats and lovely boho silver rings and dark makeup. Best yet is the choreography Joss Whedon invented for the role. Her hands and arms move with a clawing yet dance-like quality that is subtly unsettling and beautiful all the same!

Video compilation via Marvel & DC Heroes – L Picture Avengers

But who was the original Scarlet Witch and what did she look like?

Scarlet Witch is a mutant who can tap into mystic energy for reality-altering effects. Additionally being born on Mount Wundergore has given her magic abilities which she later trains with her mentor, the witch Agatha Harkness. A little bad, a little good as is so often the case with Marvel characters, Wanda has certainly led a life with ample reason for stepping off the straight and narrow.
Pregnant with Wanda and Pietro, Magda — flees to Mount Wundagore in Transia after seeing her husband Magneto use his magnetic powers.

Scarlet Witch - Ultimate Power #6 by Greg Land. September, 2007.

Scarlet Witch – Ultimate Power #6 by Greg Land. September, 2007.

Mt. Wundagore was the prison of the Elder God Chthon, and the children are brought into the world in the middle of his attempt to escape.
Cthon altered Wanda later, giving her the ability to use magic in addition to her mutant abilities, preparing her to become his vessel when she reached maturity, a vessel with both mutant and magical powers. In a panic that Magneto might discover the children, Magda flees yet again and subsequently dies of exposure to the elements.

Scarlet Witch and Ms Marvel by Mike Mayhew. ROUGH STUFF #8 cover. April, 2008

Scarlet Witch and Ms Marvel by Mike Mayhew. ROUGH STUFF #8 cover.
April, 2008

A quick aside, google Mike Mayhew covers for an absolute deluge of gorgeous!

The twins are placed in the care of the Romani Django and Marya Maximoff, who raise them as their own children. The kids are forced to flee a mob when Wanda uses her powers to protect herself and accidentally causes a fire that kills their adoptive Roma mother. After which Magneto picks them up for his newly formed Brotherhood.

Scarlet Witch Variant cover for Ultimates 3 #3 by Fran Cho. Jan 30, 2008

Scarlet Witch Variant cover for Ultimates 3 #3 by Fran Cho. Jan 30, 2008

Her redemption from not just her own very real guilt but Magneto’s later manipulations and Cthon who repeatedly sticks his oar in, is a long, bitter and dark story. And that’s not even going into the tales about just how close she and Pietro were presumably. Let’s just say Cercei and Jamie didn’t invent the tales of incest. Neither did comics of course!

But comics are just for kids, right?

 

'House of M' by Joe Quesada and Danny Miki. June, 2005

‘House of M’ by Joe Quesada and Danny Miki. June, 2005

Now that you are armed with some of Marvel’s iterations of what Wanda Maximoff has looked like over the decades, it’s time to have a look at the offerings of fan artists!

Gallery

Scarlet Witch Commission by Artgerm

Scarlet Witch Commission by Artgerm

Scarlet Witch Commission by Artgerm

I love Artgerm’s take on Wanda. Just a little muted and faded in the colors which draws the eye especially in a vibrant collection like this one. And her eyes are just spectacular with hints of humor and seriousness.

 

Scarlet Witch portrait by Xia Taptara

Scarlet Witch portrait by Xia Taptara

Portrait of Scarlet Witch by Xia Taptara

Xia Tapara’s portrait has such a feel of reality to it you could almost believe a real Wanda had sat for it. Her features are a lot more exotic than she is usually shown with which I can’t help but appreciate a lot. After all, a Romano mother and Central European father there ought to be more character to her face than American Everybody-looks-the-same beauty standards.

Please note that Xia use the portrait above for a step-by-step guide of how to paint Marvel faces! Do visit!

Scarlet by Xia Taptara

Scarlet by Xia Taptara

Scarlet by Xiaman

If you liked the portrait above by Xia, this piece of a much younger Wanda should blow your mind. Fantastic energy and liveliness and my gosh her hair!

And you can see a lot more of Xia’s amazing work by following the link above to his deviantART gallery.

 

Scarlet Witch Commission by Aethibert and Giuliapriori

Scarlet Witch Commission by Aethibert and Giuliapriori

Scarlet Witch By Aethibert Colors By Giuliapriori
Aethibert and Giuliapriori’s Scarlet Witch is pinker than you’ll be used to seeing her but the fae-like quality of her features makes this portrait very memorable. Aethibert has a vast gallery of superhero fanart which is definitely worth a visit!

 

Scarlet Witch by Claudia-SG

Scarlet Witch by Claudia-SG

Scarlet Witch by Claudia-SG

This is a wicked, wicked Wanda created by Claudia-SG on deviantART. In fact if I didn’t know any better I would almost say that was Cat Woman dressed up for Halloween! /fans herself

 Scarlet Witch painting by diablo2003

Scarlet Witch painting by diablo2003

Scarlet Witch painting by diablo2003

While we are on the topic of Wicked Wanda… This very smoking piece is an acrylic wash painting which was later enhanced in Photoshop. With a costume like hers it really is hard to not portray her as a pinup. Sorry, bad pun there.

 

Scarlet Witch by KevinTUT

Scarlet Witch by KevinTUT

Scarlet Witch by kevinTUT

It is important to remember Wanda didn’t just struggle with her powers but with her morality. Kevin’s Wanda is powerful, implacable and not very friendly! Gotta love her!

 

 Wanda, the Scarlet Witch by flipation

Wanda, the Scarlet Witch by flipation

Wanda, the Scarlet Witch by flipation
Flippation’s Wanda isn’t the cool, controlled professional so often portrayed, which I think shows his love for a character who is always one oupsie away from unmaking all of reality.

 

Witch by Irvintustin

Witch by Irvintustin

Scarlet Witch by irvintustin
Here is a very interesting piece that brings 1950s Americana posters forcibly to mind. Not simply in the dusty pinks and reds but also with her gorgeous curves. Wanda was never a woman who was supposed to have a starvation-gap between her thighs and Irvin celebrates that with this portrait!

Scarlet Witch by gammaknight

Scarlet Witch by gammaknight

Scarlet Witch by gammaknight

Gammaknight’s Scarlet Witch line art brings us back to her earlier iterations but her features here are cuter and almost cat-like.

Wanda Maximoff by niabolla

Scarlet Witch Wanda Maximoff by niabolla

Let us end with a return to Elizabeth Olson’s Scarlet Witch here depicted by niabolla in full glorious rage. It’s ok to fan girl at fan art!

A special thank you to Calvin’s Canadian Cave of Coolness for supplying me with additional beauty for this post and points to think about! Also that is the best blog name – EVER!

 

 

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Craftly – Upcycled Halloween Harvest Lights

Every year when Halloween comes around I itch to try my hand at all the fun cool decorations one might put together. I didn’t grow up with the celebration so it’s still pretty new to me. That being said I’m also not particularly hampered by the black/orange convention. Unlike in any other instances where I am so famously conventional… >.>

Regardless it’s easy to clutter up your home with hundreds of more or less finished decorations so the rule is one new perennial decoration per year.

This yeah it’s all about lights and cat safety!

Harvest-Lights

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EQNext – Account Wide Goodies and a New Round Table

Senior Producer Terry Michaels (@terryjmichaels) and Senior Global Brand Manager Omeed Dariani (@omeeddariani) have put their heads together in another Round Table video discussing the EQNext team’s stance on account wide friends list, indicating that they, along with most of the poll voters would quite like an account wide friends list provided it’s an opt-in thing.
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Drawer Marked Misc – Star Trek Reboot Feels

We finally got around to watching the new Star Trek movies: Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. Honestly I think our delay was partly my fault. I will admit I hear “James T. Kirk” and my eyes just roll on their own accord. But we’re both Lost fans so we should have watched these in the cinema to support J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof and I’m sorry we didn’t.

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Meet The Artist – CoupleofKooks

Meet the Artist is back. This time interviewing an artist and gamer whose Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls fan art will alternately haunt and charm you and may possibly make you want to boot up Morrowind or DA:O tonight.
Consider yourself warned!

CoupleofKooks-Title-Image

There is a lot more to this artist than his haunting sepia toned fan art. He’s a 31 yo Wing Chun martial artist and competitive tea brewer* from Poland as well as a gamer and board gamer and he’d actually rank Bridge and Backgammon as his favourite games. On top of that he found time to do a lengthy bit of correspondence with me so I could, in good conscience, introduce you guys to his art.

arcane_horror_by_coupleofkooks-d4f4dnn

What else do you do with your time? Are you an architect and paint fan art for fun? Are you a student somewhere or a full-time artist?

For the last couple of years I’ve been working in the film industry as an animator in 2D movies and as a designer in stop motion movies. I also build sets, props and models for puppet films. Painting fan art and fantasy related pictures is fun for me, a method of relaxation and a way of improving my skills with something not work related.

TES: Neloth of House Telvanni

TES: Neloth of House Telvanni

What mediums do you use? Have you always used the same?

I feel best with digital painting, though I’ve discovered this technique just two years ago. Before I was painting with oil pastels, inks and acrylics. I switched to digital because it was much faster and much more comfortable to work with as a designer (making changes is so much easier now…). At the moment I use Photoshop (my favorite version is version 7, yes, the ten-year old one) and a kick-ass Wacom Cintiq tablet.

DA2 First Enchanter by coupleofkooks

DA2 First Enchanter by coupleofkooks

Why is version 7 of Photoshop specifically your favourite?

When I was studying I couldn’t afford a new computer or a new software and it was the only version that I could use back then. I got very comfortable with it over the years and later, when I finally switched to more advanced machine and could try out more recent versions, I learned to appreciate it’s simplicity. To be honest the only tools in Photoshop I use for painting are brush or selection tool and those and the painting engine didn’t change in years, so I’m completely alright with small, light, retro Seven :]

TES: Ancestor's Wrath by coupleofkooks

TES: Ancestor’s Wrath by coupleofkooks

CoupleofKooks is an interesting pseudonym. Do you run your deviantART account with somebody else?

By myself, though you can say there is one more person behind part of the things I publish on this profile. It’s my very good friend, BucklesInTheSun, with whom I write and create the Shades of Red universe. She is responsible for a gigantic part of the story behind almost every picture related to this project.
As for the pseudonym itself – it comes from David Bowie’s song “Kooks”, which I was listening to while creating an account on Deviant Art :]

DA2 Of Love and Other Demons by coupleofkooks

DA2 Of Love and Other Demons by coupleofkooks

(Orsino and Maidievh Hawke – Original Character story by ChristineFury. Read her fan fiction about Orsino and femme Hawke here: “Blood and Faith“)

What made you decide to practice Wing Chun?

I needed discipline and order in my life for various personal reasons, and because of some health issues I had to add regular exercises to my daily schedule. I was never good at training by myself so I needed something more social. I gave Wing Chun a try because a friend of mine started practicing it and I thought it will be easier for me if I had some company. At first I was all scared and bruised, then intrigued, now it simply raises the quality of my life. Very much. I am aware how cliché it will sound, but training martial arts is indeed training your own character. Now I added Tai Chi to that to balance this energetic style with something more gentle.

Shades of Red: Fallout by coupleofkooks

Shades of Red: Fallout by coupleofkooks

What video games have caught your interest this past year?

I’m constantly in love with Skyrim, so the most important thing that I’ve played during last year was a Dragonborn add-on. Also I keep playing Morrowind from time to time and the last two of Fallout games, which is my all time favorite series. Looks like Bethesda knows how to keep my interest. For years. And years… :] Aside from those masterpieces I tried out Far Cry 3 which I enjoyed, Hitman: Absolution which was fun and oh so pretty and Assassin’s Creed 3 which bored me to death.

TES Dunmer of Skyrim by Coupleofkooks

Often when The Elder Scrolls games are discussed it seems the art style has fans, haters and few on the fence. What attracts you to it?

I haven’t participate in any serious discussion of that sort, but I myself have mixed opinion about Elder Scrolls art style. Morrowind was, and still is a perfection for me, even though it has obviously aged. But the unique mood and superb visual ideas were what dragged me into Vvardenfell in a first place. The awkward animation and ugly characters is something that quickly disappears and stops bothering in a wonderful world of this game, even if one starts to play it now, in the era of flawless graphics. On the other hand the next part, Oblivion, is a game I’ve had very hard time with. Eventually I learned to like it and I kept it on my HD for few years, but it took me months to get used to awful faces and strange colors. I find this game ugly, simple as that, but it has strong moments that even with the unattractive visuals manage to be quite a show for the eye – Shivering Isles for examples, the best expansion ever published. Skyrim, especially modded, heavily modded, is a game I really like to look at. Lights, weather, auroras – I simply like to spend time in this world.
That’s when it comes to visual side of the Elder Scrolls game series. In general what attracts me most to those games (same goes for the Fallout series) is the open world and the possibility to mod the hell out of it. I love this feeling when You finish the intro / tutorial part and find yourself completely free to do whatever you want and go wherever you want. Even though you’re playing the same game again You can tell a completely different story. Fantastic thing.

TES: Sheogorath by coupleofkooks

TES: Sheogorath by coupleofkooks

How do you feel about the character art changes being planned for The Elder Scrolls Online? And are you going to play when it comes out next Spring?

I don’t like those changes too much. They feel like very general fantasy kind of style, pretty, shiny, generally super-cool, not something specific to the series. Elves for example. I really like the idea for these races in TES series. A little bit ugly, with strong features and facial hair – in ESO they change into I’ve-seen-them-in-all-other-games kind of elves. But yes, I’m going to give it a try.

TES: The Old One by coupleofkooks

TES: The Old One by coupleofkooks

“The Old One” in particular, of your TES pieces, seems to ooze Skyrim; not just because of the dragon silhouette but for that tell-tale white-out from the typical Skyrim weather. What were your thoughts (if you remember) on how to compose this piece and include the snow fall?

Actually the thought was very simple – I wanted to paint a dragon (and Paarthurnax was my favorite) and I wanted to try myself in painting this particular kind of weather. Since I was deeply into painting TES fan art this seemed like an obvious choice.

DAO Archdemon by coupleofkooks

DAO Archdemon by coupleofkooks

It seems you once had a love affair with Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2. Given the E3 announcement this year of the third installment, Dragon Age Inquisition, do you think you will be interested in playing? How do you feel in hindsight about the first two games and where BioWare may be taking that story?

As for a Dragon Age series I was more attracted to the fandom than to the game itself. I like how everything is so alive among Dragon Age players. Pictures, fanfics, role playing games – fantastic and very inspiring fandom to be in. As for the games – I don’t really like them that much, though I find some character really intriguing and a lot of costumes and places really, really well designed. The story and the world is interesting enough for me to look forward third part of the series though, I think I would be most happy if BioWare would take us to Tevinter. It’s the place in DA universe I like the most. But from what I’ve heard – no chances for that.


(Video uploaded by IGN)

And while we’re on Dragon Age, like The Elder Scrolls, that’s a unique art style; mature, dark and a little gritty and used. Is it safe to say that’s your kind of style?

Yes, it’s very much safe to say so.

DA2 No Compromise by coupleofkooks

DA2 No Compromise by coupleofkooks

Which game releases are you keeping an eye on for the future?

Fallout 4. Really. I know no announcements have been made yet, and it’s not really certain the game will be in production, but I really, really look forward for even the smallest info about this particular title. Also S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2. No idea if this one is even planned but I would really like to visit Zone again. As for non-postapocalyptic games? Another TES title – always.

DA2 Have Confidence by coupleofkooks

DA2 Have Confidence by coupleofkooks

A huge thank you goes to CoupleofKooks for answering all my never-ending questions of the past few months! This post may have been a long time coming, CoupleofKooks, but I’m proud to have your art displayed on my site!

If you want to immerse yourself in more of CoupleofKooks mellow parchments and shocking reds, visit his (on occasion quite steamy!) galleries at: coupleofkooks.deviantart.com.

Tag the comment box below – we’d love to hear your thoughts on CoupleofKooks’ art and opinions!

* (Actually he tells me he already brews the perfect tea so no competition really. I just wanted to be dramatic  ~Aggie)

Craftly – Glass and Stone Outdoor Lights

We wanted to make something special for Ark’s sister, for her birthday, and I got the idea for a set of tea light holders for their new deck. It would have to be at least 5 or 6 sources of lights to accommodate the broad deck and something fairly sturdy so they can set them on the floor or the railing or leave them out for days.

Ark had been talking about up-cycling glass jars using a simple technique for “breaking” glass evenly to take the threads off. Then a few weeks ago his mum took us out for drinks and the bar had storm glass candles with mixed coloured and natural pearl gravel.

Over the next few weeks we located and appropriated some gravel locally >.>. Which I scrubbed and scrubbed and finally soaked in vinegar solution. After sorting all the darkest pebbles out for painting the remaining gravel was very pale, uniform and pretty.

First I tested to see how close to the rim of the glass the tealights could be before wind would blow them out.

I eyeballed how much coloured gravel would go per natural gravel for the glasses and started painting the dark pebbles with acrylics, in 3 hues of 4 select colours: Purple, Aqua, Pink and a neutral sand/camel. I actually started on some bright orange ones too with little pumpkin faces on them, but I didn’t finish them.

Milo promptly curled up next to the shiny lights of course. Really should give that cat a string of lights for Christmas.

Meanwhile Ark experimented with different flammable liquids with very little success, trying first with nail polish remover as the original guide has said and moving on to different varieties of alcohol. But none of them would burn the floss wound around the glasses. It wasn’t until we picked up some rubbing alcohol that he was able to set the floss on fire. It was a very singular sound when the glasses cracked after being doused in ice water. Unmistakably glass breaking but very controlled sounding and we should mention that the break wont’ be super straight nor does it follow the thread. It will be above the thread in a more or less wavy line and the edges are sharp! Thankfully we only had one cutting accident and then Ark broke out his man toys with a miniature sanding machine and smoothed out the sharp edges.

Edges still aren’t super straight but they won’t hurt anyone now.

With the finished glass sizes finally I could measure out precisely how much natural and coloured gravel I would need per glass and how much in total. Which meant painting twice as much gravel as I already had prepared – two days before we were set to have the present over of course.

Then I pre-mixed the purple variety (because I happened to have picked up some purple embroidery floss for burning off the top of the jars.

Crappy one-handed photography! \ o /

Decided on a triple bow of the pretty dark purple string for an embellishment:

And voilá:

The extra gravel colours were in the little box