Feast of Lights 2019 Character Portraits

Every year the University of Redlands puts on an extravagant display of music and artistry called the Feast of Lights. This is a Christmas-themed program that I have enjoyed and performed in while a student at the University, so it is a special project for me to contribute to! Here are three character portraits that I made with the direction of the lovely individuals at the School of Music, including Juan Garcia and Dr. Nicholle Andrews!

It was such a pleasure to work with them! The process went very smoothly and the project was well suited to my interests with Victorian-inspired elements.

I had some pretty clear instructions up front, so the preliminary thumbnails closely resemble the final illustrations. I was tasked with creating a patterned border, adding an architectural motif based on the University Chapel, and to somehow incorporate the “Puer natus est nobis”, a significant Gregorian chant written in neumes—the precursor to modern music notations.

Here is a little peek at my direct reference for one of the portraits: the shepherd. I’m using a Daz 3D model for lighting information, a decked-out 1/6 scale Artist Figure from Sideshow Collectibles, and moi. Reference material is serious business folks.

Here are close-ups of the faces because I really liked the method I used with a more bristly brush that shows more stroke detail than my other work. It adds more visual interest while at the same time allowing me to let go of applying unnecessary detail, so I will make greater use of it!

If you live in the Inland Empire, you should definitely check out the Feast of Lights! The production raises donations for those in need and is a magnificent choral, instrumental, and theatrical display!

Sculptable Clothing

My quest for better art reference has brought me to a new material with properties that would make any illustrator giddy. The material in question is waxed cotton, something I am sure has been around long before its popularity as an alternative to plastic wrap.

The amazing thing about waxed cotton is its ability to adhere to itself, stick to other surfaces, and remain rigid from the beeswax coating. All of these factors play a role in making the fabric sculptable.

The kind I ordered is uncolored, but not pure white, making it perfect for photographic reference. Waxed cotton is also available in patterns and bright colors for those who would like to use it for doll clothing projects. Scrap pieces you want to save condense well and stay put for easy storage. 

Here are some more examples of the properties of waxed cotton. I find that you can get great results from pressing the fabric until it sticks to the maquette where you would see the fabric naturally rest. You can then pull the end of the drape to encourage folds that would be caused by gravity or wind. The weight of the waxed cotton does not allow for really long pieces of unsupported cotton, but you can push it! Twisting and pulling the fabric just the right way will allow for some impressive undulations.

The cotton fabric does a lot of the work by itself, but understanding the how folds should look in real life helps with the fine tuning.

Depending on the complexity of your character's clothing, sewing experience is not required. You can build clothing onto your maquette because it sticks so well. The hood I made for my female maquette is just one rectangular strip of waxed cotton that I have wrapped around her head.  

As an overview, here are the pros and cons of working with waxed cotton:


  • Heaviness prevents posing of long drapery
  • Leaves waxy residue on skin (much like Sculpey clay, but easier to clean off)
  • Stickiness makes sewn clothing hard to put on maquette
  • Difficult to draw on for cutting patterns 
  • Some fraying occurs at edge of cut cloth 
  • Smells terrible (if you don't like the smell of beeswax)


  • Sculptable for a variety of cloth posing
  • A suitable fold thickness for being realistic at a small scale
  • No-sew options for most clothing types
  • Affordable price
  • Reusable by washing with soap in cold water
  • Easy to compact for storage
  • Easy to cut 
  • Translucent quality great for backlit lighting schemes
  • Slight transparency helpful for viewing anatomy
  • Slight elasticity for more flexible maquette posing
  • Smells amazing (if you like the smell of beeswax)

There are a few more techniques for achieving sculptable clothing including:

Gone are the days of tape-covered foil! Actually, that stuff worked pretty well when I needed it. Happy reference gathering!

Imagination Takes Flight

Way back when, I performed on clarinet and had the opportunity to play with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra (RSO) as a University of Redlands student. I feel like things have come full circle with this illustration that I created for RSO and am pleased to share it with the world! Because we all know the world needs more flying maestros.


Let Me Introduce You to My Agent

Finding the right representative can be tricky business, which is why most freelancers tackle all aspects of their work. I have been extremely fortunate in connecting with a superb agency that represents a gamut of wonderful illustrators. This is a partnership that will let me focus on my favorite part of the illustration process: making magical pictures!

© 2018 Spinning Yarn, LLC. All rights reserved.

© 2018 Spinning Yarn, LLC. All rights reserved.

Check out all the cool things at my rep's website: https://www.spinningyarnreps.com/