Buy it now!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tamara Henson Studios now has an Etsy shop!

Until (and in addition to) my main website's store is complete, I'll be selling my paperback novel, merchandise, Ragdolls of the World and a slew of other things through Etsy! Give it a look and let me know what you think!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Myth-Babies BJD Progress Collage 4

My first Myth-Babies girl just got all pointy-eared! She's gone through a lot of work that you can't see, too. (She's lounging on my work table, on her towel and cookie sheet.)

Here's what I've done since last time:

1. I reworked her head and face to have the pointed ears I originally planned. I refined her eyes and re-sculpted her nose. I adjusted her mouth and worked on the socket for her neck.

2. I cut out her knees and sanded down the too-large elbows to make a flat-sided knee for her. Then I attached the knee piece to the front of her knee. Added clay to fill in the empty spots and smooth it.

3. Sculpted new elbows using smaller beads and Sculpey. Sculpted feet over a foil-and-wire armature attached to a wooden bead. Mr. Dremel helped with the cuts in the bead.

4. X-Acto'ed and sanded and sanded and carved and sanded some more to hollow out the limbs so they could receive the knees, elbows, wrists and ankles and generally refine overall sculpture. I. Now. Hate. Sanding. Will follow instructions to make these joints BEFORE baking in the future... But she's finally starting to look smooth rather than lumpy. :D

5. Fitted upper and lower torso better by adding clay and making another impression.

6. Painted hips and shoulder joints to prep them for casting in resin. (That's why they're absent in this collage.) I want to have duplicates in case I mess up!

7. Prepped some beads to start the hands soon!

Let me know if you have any questions on this first-time process. I'll try to help where I can. I also appreciate constructive criticism! (Which translates to "Pleeeeease help me if I'm messing up!)


(I plaster my website on there, but it's in need of an update. So far, dA is more up-to-date...)


Head Sculpt :

Progress Collage 1:

Progress Collage 2:

Body, Arms, Legs:

Progress Collage 3:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reference VS. Outta My Head

I posted the following on DeviantArt and am waiting for the potential backlash. I don't have many watchers over there, so I doubt it'll create a stink. But it IS a legitimate concern I have. Let me know what you think:

"In the extensive browsing I've done here on dA, I noticed how far I have to go to reach my full artistic potential. Some pretty amazing stuff on here! But then I realized that the major disconnect in my art and "theirs" is the extensive use (legal or otherwise) of reference material for the completion of many of these works. As I work mostly out of my head, but don't disdain use of reference, I found my work doesn't compare to many for this really basic reason. Most of my art is doodled when I don't have access to reference, or when I want to preserve a stylistic approach that reference would affect.

I have noticed repaints over copyrighted photography or artwork, blatant redraws of anime/manga pages, and impressively-drawn/finished digital art that may or may not have used "reference material" in the completion process. Reference material is to be looked at for inspiration, not to be ripped directly from the source material. Now, I know such a staunch position on use of reference can't be all that popular in this community. I doubt many people who misuse reference will respond to this message unless they are angrily defending their process or angrily denying their process. So in that case, please don't bother commenting. I mean no personal disrespect. Your methods, while they may garner much attention and praise, simply are not my methods.

I could discuss at length how the beloved Masters used mirrors and other tricks to exactly copy the portraits of their subjects onto the canvas, and that these methods were considered acceptable for accuracy's sake. It wasn't the resulting "copied" drawings that made the Masters... Masters. It was the finishing of the work. But when photography came into existence, the need for accurate recording of an individual's face by an artist dissipated. Art was freed to be more organic and less "perfect." (That's just the Master's degree talkin'. Teachin' art is a habit and one-time profession.)

Now, apparently the "change three things" rule exonerates copiers from the copyright laws. And, more apparently, as long as an artist doesn't make money from that art, it's okay. (The originator of the character or concept COULD sue you for damages, especially if your work is wildly popular.) You're not going to see someone paint a near-exact work of the Mona Lisa and expect someone to believe they originated the concept. Also, I do not count useful "Master's Copies" among blatant copyright infringement. They have their place in a student artist's skills development. Sharing techniques, skills and procedures is an age-old method of creating improved artistic techniques, skills and procedures. And deviantArt is very generous in this respect. So even THAT isn't the issue.

I think, at the core of what bothers me, is that some artists soak up praise for their work and don't readily admit that they used or abused the reference process. Why? Because they wouldn't get as much praise for it. I'm not good at keeping up pretenses. If I use reference for more than it's basic intention, I'll let you know. And if you've read this far and would like to answer my questions, I welcome your opinions...

Now, I know we're all "deviants" here, but at what point does use of reference lose it's respectful position in artistic society? Do you agree that money-making is the fine line between okay and not okay? Or is over-use of reference without commentary a breach of trust to viewers, who think some artists are awesome without basis?

Curious as to what all...2 or 3 of you will think! :)"


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

100 Posts, and BJD Progress!

Myth-Babies Ball-Jointed Doll Progress: 

Row 1: I worked on the face, giving her better eye shape and depth. There's a lot of difference from that first pic on the left to the current head shape! I narrowed her cheeks and lengthened and tapered her chin. I also filled in the too-long lip line for a cleaner sculpt. Next: new ears and full details! (Pay no attention to the green stuff on her face. That's my Sharpie marks to keep it symmetrical. Still need to work on her nose, too...)

Row 2: Testing the fit and function of the unfinished hip joint after hollowing out parts of the legs. The third picture is of my sorta finished hip, shoulder and elbow joints. I cast solid hemispheres from Batchix's Shapeways parts, glued them and Sculpey-ed them together for the spheres. I used small wooden beads and Sculpey for the elbows. I may or may not have used hot glue to hold these pieces together... ;)

Row 3: Comparison of old bust/upper torso and new bust/upper torso. I wanted to give her a more natural breast shape. Plus, she needed a thicker neck.

Let me know what you think!



A New Review for Rowan Jun!

"From the opening sentence to the very last period; this story not only held my attention, but threw me head first in a very strange world."

Honest reviews are hard to come by. This early on, it's obvious that most of my readers are people who are either close to me, or I at least know their name. Some of these readers promise to plaster praises in a review, but I beg them not to. That kind of review serves no one. I'd rather have a few honest reviews than many promising shining perfection to a reader. So each reader gets the same request from me: "When you're finished reading, please write and post a serious review, telling what you like AND what you don't like, so other readers can make an informed decision about buying the book."

My lovely friend Mika promised a no-B.S. review of The Pathos of Rowan Jun, and delivered. :) Here's the result, as posted on her blog ShutterBlossoms:

Hope it helps!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Four Horsemen Group

I drew this group as a project in my Advanced Drawing class years ago (2003???) during my senior year as I finished my Bachelor's degree. Hmph. Now I feel old! These guys are not my best character work, but I have a strong sentimental attachment to them. Since I made them, they've demanded their own wall in every place I've lived. Oddly enough, I don't feel "at home" until these precious little harbingers of despair are displayed. :D

Each drawing measures 2'X3' and is completed on powder blue heavy paper with charcoal and various brands of pastels. They're also arranged in the order of intended display:

From the left is Famine, Pestilence (also called The Antichrist), Death, and War.

Overall, the pieces have some intentional perspective skewing and some accidental perspective skewing that arose from working on such a large scale with insufficient displays. I kept my references to a minimum to ensure a stylized end product. I used pure pigments for emphasis, and muted all other colors. I focused on the characters, their props and the horses, as well as the dynamism suggested in the scriptures.

I see places where I could improve, areas where I DID improve, and other things I wouldn't change at all! :) I'll also be slipping characters modeled after these guys into one of my novels later on... (Did I really complete all of these guys in just a week of class time and a couple evening sessions? Huh...)

I kept the large scale trend going. Later on, while finishing my Grad degree, my work included gigantic graphic novel-inspired pages, larger than life portraits, and a 6'5" jointed geisha doll.

My horsemen boys commanded the focal point wall (as I said, they always do!) of our Senior Exhibit and got a lot of unexpected reactions. Several viewers decided to study the related scriptures. I think this is pretty dang cool. And others reported different levels of fear, creepiness, and uneasiness. I think this confused me, since I "birthed" these babies. Now, just because The Antichrist is staring a hole through you, that's no reason to feel uneasy, right? :D



P.S. My personal spiritual walk and focus on simplicity of spirit notwithstanding, I approached this art project from a characterization standpoint. Yes, I understand the scriptures, the concept of symbolism, and spiritual buoyancy of believing in God. Yes, I am a Christian, a believer in things of the spirit, of the soul and of the mind. And no, I won't argue about those simple, steadfast facts.

I welcome believers and nonbelievers to view all my creative works, and to take from the experience something positive, and to contribute constructive criticism where it's needed. And in return, I give you leave to believe, love, understand, care, and just BE you. After all, it's hard enough just being yourself without one more person in the world waiting to judge you, right? :D

Friday, April 13, 2012

BJD Mash-Up, Plus Novel Progress!

My first Myth-Babies BJD now (sorta) has arms and legs, a torso joint (also sorta) and a more refined lower body. It's nice seeing her thrown together like this.

Myth-Babies BJD #1!

I assembled her to test her proportions. So far, her neck is too long and so are her legs. I made the legs and arms a little too long so I could embed the ball joints before I bake them, so they'll be cut down before I call them finished.

I plan on refining her face a lot more before that is baked again. I have a lot of lumpies to sand down and a lot of aesthetic tweaking to do all over, but I'll do all that after I get the mechanics of the ball joints and stringing worked out.

I used a mix of Original Sculpey and Sculpey III. I made an armature of aluminum foil covered in plastic wrap for her head and body, used a straw for her neck and limbs. I'm using :iconbatchix:'s ball joints from Shapeways, modifying them for both double joints and ball joints.

Next up, setting the double joints into the unbaked clay, baking them and making hands and feet.

Hope you like it! :)



P.S. I have realized the potential for this sculpt to be used as several different novel characters, not just  Centaria-inspired Myth-Babies. I would simply sculpt a new head and tweak some other parts. Also, I have since decided to redo the joints I had already made. I found an excellent tutorial on how to make them better. Off I go...


1. Some progress on Volume 2 of the Pathos series, Silver Empress. I made an ugly Frankenstein's monster that I shall call Volume 2 Rough Draft X Outline. I just went through the draft and inserted outline plot points, new notes and reminders into the text, inside brackets with all caps. This helps me to focus the flow of the book when I go on a tangent, and then rewrite for clarity. Of course, one of my rewrite notes is " [GAG ME WITH A PITCHFORK!]". Apparently, I didn't like the gushy, romantic section at all!

2. The Pathos of Rowan Jun eBook just went "premium" on Smashwords. So it's coming soon to Apple, Barnes & Noble (to join the paperback, there), Sony, Kobo and more!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Creativity VS Making Money

Some comments that may be of value about creativity versus making money. I've talked about this story somewhere before, but it reared its ugly head again. 

I posted this comment on Goodreads a couple days back, in response to a comment, in the thread for Stephen King's On Writing book: 

"A friend gave me this book following his Creative Writing class in college. His VERY anti-King professor told him that he could have assigned a dozen great books on how to write well, but he assigned On Writing because the students wanted to learn how to make money writing. The professor hates King's writing but knows the man makes a killing doing what he does best: telling good stories. Writing well and making money writing are not always hand in hand. Oh, and I loved the book. Other than the awesome personal-life accounts, King gives basically two orders: 1. Write every day. 2. Keep writing."

I received a response to the effect that the professor was a jealous idiot, and that Stephen King writes well, and could write better if he wanted to, but chooses to focus on the story instead. I consider this a moot point. So I responded in kind:

"Well, this professor isn't an idiot, but he does have it out for King. Just doesn't like him. Jealousy may be a factor, but most likely it's the haughtiness I've witnessed in some professors. One of my dear art professors, for instance, is an awesome artist, but he disdains Thomas Kinkade for shirking tradition and "lessening" the value of his work by selling prints AND by doing simple genre scenes.

It is all quite silly. Kinkade made a killing with his art prints and brand, and is one of the most well known artists of his generation, painting what everyone wanted to hang in their homes. Also, far be it from me to judge an author like King who brings home millions, writing (pretty vividly) what people want to read!

As a writer and artist, I have my own biases. But they don't cloud common sense. Creative people create. Financially successful creative people create what people want to buy."

I repeat: Financially successful creative people create what people want to buy.

End of story, right? Or just the beginning? :)



Thursday, April 5, 2012

BJD Body Sculpt-- In Progress

Ummm... Do I put up a NSFW notice for a lump of clay? Don't know yet. Either way, here she is!

Progress shots of the unfinished Myth-Babies BJD body, along with the creepy-eyed head. 

I popped the body in the freezer, cut the rib-seam, then baked her. Then I removed the core while she was still warm-ish and hacked at the inside of the upper torso with an X-Acto knife to start hollowing it out. Still so much more work to go. So far, I like her curves.

Debating on adding pointed ears to the head and lengthening her chin...

Criticize away, please! :)


P.S. This is a doll! There will be nekkids. Why do I feel as if I should apply a mature content filter??

BJD Progress Collage 1

Since I'm only posting finished work on my official website (and there isn't that much finished work over there! :D) I decided to do some collages and tutorials of my BJD project.

1. Rough form over aluminum foil ball wrapped in plastic wrap. It's shiny because the Sculpey is too warm. Into the freezer it goes! (Yes, plastic wrap melts in the over. Just followin' instructions from Vivcore's awesome tutorial:

2. Pouty lip! By the third or fourth mess-up on her mouth, she was sad. :)

3. Crooked eyes! After I baked and built up the back of the head (leaving an opening for the head cap, I noticed how horribly crooked the eyes were.

4. Profile of built-up head. No armature here. Just free-handed it.

5. Body armature: More plastic wrap over aluminum foil, with a drinking straw inserted for the neck. This time I used safe-release masking tape over the whole thing.

6. Front view of unfinished amply-proportioned body. Yeah, they're big. Bad habit of mine? *shrugs* (I toned them down before baking... sorta!)

7. Profile of boobs, I mean body, prior to finishing and baking.

8. My second sketch of a Unisex doll concept. Obviously not basing the doll on this sketch, except for proportions.

9. The unfinished head with eyes. I just used the Dremel to thin the face from the inside, making a place for her eyes. I was able to figure out where my proportion issues are gonna crop up. Not an expert, but I'm thinkin' these cheap eyes are a bit too small for my girl. She looks neurotic!

So this is how I spent my mid-week weekend. Using a combo of Batchix and Vivcore's techniques has worked well so far. :D Since I snapped these pics, I have sculpted the head cap, tweaked the body sculpt, and baked everything.

Throw some constructive criticism my way! :D


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My First BJD Face Sculpt

STEP 1: My first rough face sculpt for the first Myth-Babies BJD! Find out more about Myth-Babies on my website:

I sorta followed the tutorial listed here:  It's a great visual resource. The only changes I'll be making are 1) My doll's knees and elbows will be double-jointed and 2) I'll be using Batchix's Shapeways doll joints to be found here:

Building up the head next, then starting on the body! A full tutorial with pictures will follow, hopefully with pics that the provided tutorial maker didn't include...

I built up this face-plate over an aluminum foil ball covered in plastic wrap. Plastic wrap was suggested by the tutorial maker, and is kinda silly since I had to peel it off after baking (expected it to melt anyway, plus the Sculpey wouldn't stick to foil, anyway!) The face is un-sanded and still needs tweaking, building up and hollowing out so her eyes can fit.

I used a 50/50 mixture of Sculpey III and Original Sculpey, mainly because of a resounding lack in local REAL craft supplies stores. Only found a multicolor-pack at Wal-Mart. Also, stretching the stuff because I am cheap. The hubby and I mixed all brightly hued Sculpey III together into a big brownish-purple lump, then combined it with the white Original to get a nice violet. That's my art degree put to good use... ;)

I'm still trying to decide whether my body sculpt will be unisex, adult male or adult female. Since this face is female, that may rule out one option! ;) Anyone have any suggestions or feedback?


Monday, April 2, 2012

My First RTV Silicone Mold

Since I want to eventually offer resin dolls through Tamara Henson Studios, I need to learn how to mold and cast Master doll samples. Enter RTV Silicone Moldmaking and Casting Resin. I had ordered some doll ball joints from Batchix's Shapeways account and got her permission to use 'em however. I decided to practice my moldmaking with the parts.  

I read up on the process, ordered supplies and made my first mold. Turns out, practice moldmaking was the best route for me. The rest of the Internet can explain the science and specifics of the process. I'm no expert, but I'll do my best to answer any questions you may have. I also welcome constructive criticism. Hope this helps anyone who's looking for basic 2-Part silicone mold-making procedures:


RTV Moldmaking Silicone (I bought mine here.)
Casting Resin, of some type... (Mine is polymer. Sold by the same guy as above, here.)
Disposable plastic cups
Disposable plastic spoons or wooden spatulas... or new chopsticks!
Oil-based, non-drying modeling clay
A small cardboard box that allows at least 1/2" on all sides, top and bottom of your part
Petroleum Jelly
A scale that accurately measures grams (kitchen scale, $20, Wal-Mart!)
A ruler
A simple part or non-porous object to replicate
A wooden bead to make register marks
Hot glue gun
Plastic (To protect surfaces)
A soft, small scrub brush
Elbow grease ;)

1. Add 1/2" clay to taped-closed bottom of box, pressing to make no cracks remain. Press parts into clay so that no silicone can seep under them. I also sealed the slit in the side to keep out the silicone. Dig a shallow registry trench around the perimeter using a chopstick (or an actual sculpting tool, if you're feeling ambitious). Press and twist wooden bead in spaces between parts, no more than halfway up the side of the bead. Using the paintbrush and your hand, smear petroleum jelly on exposed sides of box and anything that silicone will stick to. You can see the register running around the perimeter between the part and the cardboard wall, as well as a couple other registry depressions between the parts:
Swirly modeling clay. Note the chopstick on the right.

2. Mix silicone and catalyst by volume according to package directions. (Use your scale!) A chopstick is not the optimal stirring device for this task, since the silicone is REALLY thick, worse than cake batter, and the catalyst is basically colorful water. Also, stir slowly, being careful not to pull in air and make undesirable bubbles. This is true especially for the silicone touching the object you're molding. 
The catalyst is purple, the base off-white. And, no kidding, it smells like grapes!
3. Pour the silicone. I poured the first layer, making sure all the parts had a layer of silicone. But then again, I'm silly and mixed by the plastic cupful, so I did this several times. You want to cover up the object, giving no more or less than a half inch over the highest point of the object. (Use your ruler!) My last couple batches have bubbles. I don't consider that a problem, because those bubbles aren't affecting the casting surfaces. A tip from someone online: Pour in a thin, steady stream in the corner of the box. The silicone will spread out on its own. (Too late, buddy. Next time, though!)
Lubed up box, and such a pretty color! Also, oops-bubbles!
4. Let it cure, probably overnight. Then cut a piece of cardboard and hot-glue tack it over your smooth silicone to support it when you flip the box. Assuming you didn't fill the whole box. Your stirring arm must be tired, and your wasted silicone was expensive! (No more than 1/2"... No wasting!)
Strategically placed hot-glue blobs
5. Get ready for side 2. Flip the box and cut the tape. Scoop out the modeling clay and clean the silicone with a paper towel. Do not remove the parts yet! You can see that some modeling clay is still crammed down in the holes. Trusty chopstick dug that out for me! You can clearly see the bumps I created with the bead and the ridge running around the outside to help the two pieces match up. 
Getting ready for the Core Mold step!
6. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to EVERY EXPOSED SILICONE SURFACE and the cardboard box! Aw, heck. Apply the stuff to every surface, like I did. A brush will leave ridges that the silicone may pick up, though, so be careful not to leave streaks on your object. (I lubed the parts as well, because I felt some rough edges I hadn't sanded, AND because all the doll joints I cast from these will be sanded anyway...) Then, mix more silicone and pour it in. The "pour it in the corner and let it seep into crevices" advice would've worked better here. But I was stuck poking at big bubbles with my chopstick. Let it cure overnight again. 

7. Rip off the box and gently separate the two parts of the mold, using an X-Acto knife, if needed. You should be able to gently pry apart the halves with your fingers. Remove the original part(s) at this time, using a combination of your fingers and some minor X-Acto work. (My mold had a couple places where the silicone covered the edge of the original part. I just carefully cut that thin stuff off. This is the mold before I washed it. You can see the shiny, overly liberal application of petroleum jelly AND the remnants of some modeling clay I neglected to remove before. (Since this mold is for casting doll joints, not finished products, this doesn't bother me.)
Left: Core Mold (looks like Spaceballs city), Right: Base Mold

8. Gently scrub the mold with warm water and dish soap, removing any gunk and as much jelly as possible. Let the mold dry thoroughly. At this time, I cut some vents in the core mold so that air could escape. I just slipped my X-Acto knife up through the thin ridge you see around the base of the dome shapes (where the resin will rise), a couple slits for each piece. Not really necessary for this mold, but I wanted to practice. Place on plastic for the horrid mess you'll make in a few minutes...

9. Mix resin base and catalyst together, following manufacturer's instructions. Most resins are exothermic, meaning they give off heat as they cure, and they have a very fast working and cure time. Even so, stir thoroughly and slowly so you don't get bubbles. Pour into mold wells, and set core mold on top, making sure it fits into register ridge. The excess resin will either spill over the sides or rise up through the vents. Yeah, I made a big mess... (No pic. I was rushing to not waste the stuff!) Since this is not a complicated mold, I didn't need to do any fancy resin injection or holding it together with rubber bands or bungees. That type of mold will come along soon enough...

10. De-mold. See the fruits of your labor, and the extent of the mess you made. I for instance overfilled to the point of having a thin cover of resin across the whole mold and drizzled all across my makeshift Wal-Mart bag table cover, which had a perfect resin mold-shaped rectangle. Since the mold is flexible, you can bend it and twist it to remove your pieces. My parts needed a lot of trimming, but it didn't take a lot of time. There was a thin film of resin in the slit up the side of the dome and all around the base of each part. Also, some parts were actually UNDER-filled. Don't know how that happened, considering...
The Mess! All that not-purple is resin, covering the whole surface of the mold!
11. Finished parts! Not bad for a first-time mold. You can see that some parts are a little rough around the edges, but the next casting should be better. 
Finished parts: On my kitchen scale, in the disposable plastic lid I used to contain spills! :)

Moldmaking tutorial, complete! :) I take questions and constructive criticism seriously. Lemme know what you think, and how I can improve.



Sunday, April 1, 2012

Volume 2 Cover Progress

I think I've mentioned that my favorite part of self-publishing is total creative control. The Pathos of Rowan Jun was a real challenge. I had to draft, revise, edit, proofread, format, illustrate, make the cover, write blurbs, and everything else for the book, plus make adjustments for a total of three versions (Paperback, Kindle, Smashwords). And that's not even mentioning the marketing process, which I'm still fine-tuning.

I posted progression artwork for The Pathos of Rowan Jun here, so I figured it would be a good idea to do the same for Silver Empress. It's interesting to see how the concept grew from scribble to final concept. (I'll work this final concept into the finished cover. It's nowhere near ready yet!)

The Scribble:

Art informing writing content... Cluttered composition. Changed my mind at this time about releasing a short story collection. Instead, the two background characters will get their own short story book, and Silver and Briescha (foreground) headline volume 2. Smoother design possibilities, smoother story flow.
From the time when Silver Empress was going to be a short story collection.  Not anymore!
The Re-Scribble:

The decision to narrow the focus of the book to this MAJOR plot swivel made my cover characters obvious. Fiddled in Manga Studio with existing sketches and my trusty tablet to produce a new composition. Focused on the faces and worked out some loose angles and things. Very rough design...

Silver, left. Briescha, right. Foreground: Scribble hand  and sword! :)
The Final Drawing and Base Colors:

I realize that I forgot to save a JPEG of just the basic finished black and white drawing. Oh, well. Here's the finished drawing with some base colors, a texture on Briescha's skin, and no background. Silver is all base-gray and solid black at this point. She'll have mirrored skin, God-willing, when I get finished with her. (Still not happy with her mouth shape...) I've overlaid another texture on Briescha's skin to soften the shadows, but there's sooo much left to do...

Final V2 line art with base colors, some shading

As always, the images contained in this blog post are copyright Tamara Henson, Tamara Henson Studios and may not be used without my express written consent.  I welcome any feedback and constructive criticism you can provide on this design, either via comments below or direct messaging on FB or dA.