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)
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Project Basra – Pining for The Elder Scrolls Online

Tonight I took up a new hobby to help pass the time between now and The Elder Scrolls Online‘s (new) Spring 2014 release date. I am exploring the ancestors of my future ESO character! If you want to see some nerdy character crafting of mine then this is the place for it!

House-Basra-TES-Project

The plan is to play a character through Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim, all members of the same family line as the, as yet not created, ESO character. In this case I am going with an Imperial family line because a) I fell in love with the character name ‘Basra’ in SWTOR. I am reluctant to give it up just yet and it seems a plausible Imperial name to me. b) I just darn love the Roman feel of the Imperial culture!

I think it could be a fun travel down through the ages, to follow this family and feel, when I roll my ESO character, that I almost know her already. That I knew her great-great-grandmother and she was a tough gal! They won’t all be the same character – where would be the fun in that? But I imagine there will be similarities that follow, not only the family name,but also this muddied, Septim-bloodline off-shoot.

You can find my ESO scribblings at: HouseBasra.blogspot.ca or look for a perma-link to this post in the ‘About’ menu above!

It is pretty corny, sure! Which is one of the reasons I stuck it over on Blogger, but I think this makes a fun project. I also could use the lore refresher course and we do have Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim for me to build my family tree in. Although if there is a generous reader out there, who would like to gift me Oblivion on Steam, so I can make screenshots and videos to go with the posts, I would probably scream with delight!

If this project has inspired you to make your own Elder Scrolls journey/journal please do share in the comments below!

Meet the Artist: Kaela Croft – SWTOR, AC3, Elder Scrolls and More

Meet Kaela Croft – avid Assassin’s Creed and Star Wars fan – and her graceful lines and strong women. Scroll down for the full interview where we talk about her arts, future and favourite games as well as show off a handful of  her newest works! In the meantime I hope you will forgive me for hijacking the article with a bit of exposition on what the plan is going forward with fan art posts here on the WeeMadAggie blog.

Fan art, in its countless guises, can be everything from the most sincere expression of appreciation to some very disturbing what-if scenarios and everything in between. This means that as an art genre the word itself is almost meaningless. We use the term to describe anything that builds upon the original work of another, which comes with its own bit of of hypocrisy: What bit of “original” work doesn’t build on previous works in the same genre.

Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.
– Pablo Picasso

So when I tell you that I would like to bring you an injection of fan art as often as possible on these pages, I mean a very specific sub genre of the nebulous term: Gaming and nerd culture fan art. The reasons are both complex and very simple at the same time. Put in simple terms I wish to celebrate us. You and me and the interests we share which include games, movies, TV, books and cartoons. When I look at a talented artists rendering of his or her love for a certain game or story that I also loved, that connection is made manifest in that piece of art, regardless of what form that art takes.

As gamers, sci-fi and fantasy lovers we have come a long way from tacking up the Baldur’s Gate map on our wall because it’s cool. Mind you, that map still is cool but many of us may not have upgraded it to a frame for various reasons. Gaming still carries its portion of stigma, but if, like me, you spend more than an hour a day on games or on science fiction or fantasy tales, then why shouldn’t you show off that love in your home and in your life? I want to inspire you to sport fan art of your favourite interests on your desktops, phones, clothes or walls and feel good about it. Even if I can’t entice you to seek out an artist and buy up all her works in print, I’m still happy to bring you a little colour and a little love for our shared interests during the week. I’m convinced it’s good for you.

MTA-Kaela-Croft

Kaela Croft is 20 and from Denver, Colorado where she is a student at Arapahoe Community College. Right now she is getting her Associate of General Studies at the end of this semester but the plan for the future is to get a toe into the gaming industry. Right there is our first clue that Kaela is also a gamer.

Last time we spoke, you were heavy into Skyrim and Deus Ex: Human Revolution but that was back in October last year. Is that still the case or are you playing something new now?

I still play Skyrim frequently, however, ever since Assassin’s Creed III was released I’ve been playing the multiplayer of that game nonstop. I’m super competitive and like to keep my ranking and stats decent.

“Assassin’s Creed III” by Kaela croft

Any titles you are planning on picking up in the near future?

I’m a huge Tomb Raider fan. I played the first two games when I was maybe eight or ten, I don’t remember exactly. I wasn’t exactly allowed to play shooter games so I played in secret. Now I can’t wait to get my hands on that new Tomb Raider game.

Oooo! Any chance we’ll be seeing some Lara Croft pics from you when you do, do you think?

I definitely see some Lara Croft pictures in the future. I think I’m going to try and get something done before the release of the new game, so early March.

You said you’d like to break into the game industry. Is that still the case and if you could pick any where, any company what would you do and where?

Yup, that is still the goal I have. As much as I would love to stay and work in Colorado, I wouldn’t mind working outside of the USA for a really large company such as Sony or Blizzard. I would want to work with concept designs or do texturing. I’m leaving my options open really.

“My Darkside” by Kaela Croft

Do you play SWTOR? Seems you are inspired to produce a lot of very touching fan art for the game?

Actually, I’ve never played the SWTOR series! If I had a computer that could handle the game I totally would. I just get a lot of commissions to do artwork from the game.

Two characters in particular keep showing up in your works; the light saber wielding lovers Derek and Sakiko.

“Hey There Stranger” by Kaela Croft

Could you tell us a little bit about who they are?

Oh, Derek and Sakiko… These are two of my Star Wars original characters.
Derek is a Sith and Sakiko is a Jedi. Initially they started out as enemies, but they become unexpected allies as time goes on. As they get to know more about each other during missions they develop a bit of a romance. Derek is completely attached to Sakiko, yet Sakiko is torn between her loyalties to the Jedi and her love for Derek. There is so much to say, but that pretty much gets the point across!

They are definitely an eye-catching pair and it’s been lovely to see their features evolve and solidify over time!

Here is Sakiko with her padawan:

“Taking a Chance” by Kaela Croft

(One of my favourite aspects of Kaela’s art, apart from her gorgeous colour palettes are the hair and cloth movement. It’s so swirly and caught in motion!)

I was looking at this piece of yours, “Hunted By The Thalmor” (see below) and first I have to say he’s very interesting (/fans self).

“Hunted By The Thalmor” by Kaela Croft

I may have to change my plans regarding one of my future characters thanks to this. But I was curious about what you wrote in the note for this image in your deviantART gallery. You noted that you had to cure him of being a vampire in Skyrim, because it was too annoying; what happened?

Altmer are a fun race to play for their appearance alone. I had to cure him of vampirism because I kept forgetting that I need to feed before he reaches stage four otherwise everyone attacks when you approach. It got in the way of selling items and going near any cities.

“Elegance” by Kaela Croft

Have you given any thought to The Elder Scrolls Online? Do you think you’ll play?

I recently found out about The Elder Scrolls Online, and after looking it over I’m very excited to play this. As long as the game runs smoothly on my computer I’ll be playing.

I was also admiring this piece, “Easy on the Eyes” (again, see below) and it made me realize that the women you portray in general are all very ‘normal’ looking (as opposed to overly skinny with balloon boobs) is that a conscious choice or did that just happen along the way?

I like to give my women realistic proportions. Logically if the woman has a small frame she’s going to have small breasts. If she is a bit heavier then she’s going to have larger breasts.

“Easy on the Eyes” by Kaela Croft

From your lips to the ears of a great many cartoonists in the world! Thank you Kaela (again) for indulging my curiosity. And dear readers, this was a very small selection of Kaela’s work. Please visit her galleries at Kaelacroftart.deviantart.com for the full experience. And if you want to team up with Kaela on the Playstation for some AC3 multiplayer, her PSN tag is: sakiko0art.

Feel free to call out in the comments below, both Kaela and I would love to know if you have a favourite among these pieces and why! And let me know if you liked the article set up, image, title and so on or not. Every bit of well meaning advice, suggestion or opinion helps.