3D Printed Sufferborn Figurine by J.C. Hartcarver and Mixed Dimensions

How’s everybody doing on this fine day in 2021? I just wanted to take a moment to show you how I like to waste my time—haha! Just kidding, I don’t actually consider it a waste. I just love doing crafty things. It’s what gives my life meaning and purpose. Truly, I live from project to project. That’s how I like it. And I’m always thinking of crazy new ways to get paint all over my hands. This time I made a figurine. Check it out…

This is Wikshen (my favorite Sufferborn character. Shhh, don’t tell the others). If you haven’t noticed already, Sufferborn is kinda about him, to be honest. He’s more than a novel character to me, though, he’s an artistic outlet. If I’m trying out a new medium—of any type—you can count on seeing Wikshen appear in that medium. Anyway, about this figurine…

The very first step was sculpting him in the Daz Studio software. I just LOVE that software! I sculpted him using various morphing tools I had to buy to get the job done. I guess you can say he was expensive even to digitally sculpt. And then I used the GamePrint plugin to send my sculpture to the printing company, Mixed Dimensions, to get my sculpture created in real life 3D. It was not cheap, I must say, hahah! This was a high-end pricy little project. He stands at about 9 inches tall and his skin color was printed as well. I only added a few painted elements of my own to enhance his eyes and add his side brand and arm bands, and etc. Some parts of his clothing didn’t print in the color I needed, so I went over those with my own black paint. Consider this post to be a glowing review of all of those services I mentioned: Daz Studio, GamePrint plugin for Daz Studio, and Mixed Dimensions—all highly recommended!

What I actually submitted for printing was an incomplete figure. He had no hair and only wore his underwear. Notice his hair and “battleshift” are both made from organic materials. I wanted this figurine to be partially a hands-on art project for my own personal joy and satisfaction. I had to create the base he is standing on—not because I wanted to, but because I had no idea how the printing process would play out—if I would get a complimentary base or not. It turned out that I was not given a base by default. He arrived as a loose figure who couldn’t stand on his own (poor fella!), so I went to all the trouble to pick out a wooden oval thing from the craft store, stain it, sculpt the rocks and soil using a two-part apoxie, paint it, and added moss for a realistic terrain effect. The finished product turned out better than expected.

And that hair! Thanks to my history of enthusing in the world of Asian ball-jointed dolls, and honing my process for creating wigs, I was able to craft this for the figurine. This part I knew would be a better option than printing his hair from the resin material he’s made of. If I had done that, the figure probably would’ve cost $100 more than it did! I did run through the shopping cart process a few times to figure out my options. So making the hair saved me money, and it looks 100 times better too. I was able to use hand-dyed suri alpaca hair that was left over from a past wig I made (because I totally made a ball-jointed doll of him in the past!). This also makes his hair removeable so I can replace it in case of damage or whatever.

Look at that dirty bastard! The last thing I applied was his battleshift which is made from a scrap of linen I had kicking around. Did I also mention I’m a seamstress? Well, I didn’t actually sew this together, I “sculpted” this garment by cutting and gluing pieces directly onto the figure, so this one is not removeable. His battleshift hides the wire that I used to stabilize the figure to the base, using nothing short of caulk to secure him down, which includes under his feet.

I’m not going to say this project was “simple” or “easy” but it probably wasn’t an expert-level project either. I was able to alleviate my chores a bit by ordering a color printed sculpture instead of primed. The tasks I did take on required a bit of planning and know-how. For instance, I also had to invent a way to let the figure stand safely on his own without facing the risk of falling and breaking off one of those gorgeous, tiny fingers while I worked on him. To do this, I glued a Styrofoam “brick” to a flat piece of cardboard, carved foot holes into the Styrofoam and, voila, he had a temporary stand to prop him up while I crafted his wig.

I have a few mixed feelings about continuing this as a hobby. 1. Yes, of course I want to do another one! He looks lonely without his Kalea to stand there being impressed (or horrified) by his antics, heehee! 2. But it was such an “extra” thing for me to juggle. It took a long time to finish just because each session was spread out across weeks and weeks. I could only work on it a little bit at a time each weekend, sometimes skipping weekends. 3. It’s an expensive hobby…But who am I kidding? I LOVE doing arts and crafts and don’t mind spending money on a project! 4. Um…there isn’t really a fourth feeling. I enjoyed doing this but it’s not very convenient. I’ll just play it by ear. Maybe you’ll see a Kalea figurine in the next year, who knows? Until then I have a Book 3 to finish and a computer to build. Yep, I’m still working on that computer. It will make my future of using Daz Studio a bright one.

Thank you for reading this! If you catch me at a convention in the future, I will most likely have this little guy on my table to make it look cool. He’s a one of a kind.

God Bless!

P.S. I did a little filming as I worked on this project, so you can expect a creation video on Youtube soon…just gotta get that new computer running (*sigh*).

Growing Pains and Sufferborn Book 3

As it is close to the middle of the year, I feel it’s appropriate to give you all an update to the progress of Sufferborn book 3.

I’m expecting its release to be around early 2022—but please don’t think that sounds bad, it’s really not. For the past two years in a row, I’ve managed to release book 1, Sufferborn, and then book 2, Unwilling Deity, in the fall of each year. There is a certain rhythm I intend to keep for my book releases, and as a result, the starting and ending points of each book creation will land a little later in the year, each year (for example, Sufferborn came out in October of 2019 and Unwilling Deity came out in November 2020). After taking my annual “between books break” in 2020, I started writing book 3 (title to be announced) on January 1, 2021. So far, it is taking a bit longer to write this one than the previous two, and I think that is due to my trying to juggle it with various different things like marketing and such. But I am hopeful that the book’s first draft will be finished soon and I will proceed with its publishing tasks.

However! There is one thing in this year that could possibly delay book 3’s release, backing it up a little farther into 2022: I am building my first high-powered workstation computer.

Let’s put an emphasis on “possibly,” because I’m not entirely sure if my pc building venture will actually delay the book. I am having to work more hours at my day job to come up with the money, and my new workstation will not be cheap. As long as I can keep up my discipline and wake up extra early every morning, I shouldn’t lose any writing time. But the cost of pc building will have to be juggled with the cost of publishing (and this year I have to buy another 10 pack of ISBN numbers. Yay :[ ).

The thing about pc building is that in order to make a workstation, and not a gaming pc, I need better/faster components and lots of memory. I want to do this right, so my pc will work faster, longer, and allow me to do complex operations like 3d rendering. I’m EXTREMEMLY excited about what I will be able to do with my new pc—the art I will make—the new software and media I will try! Right now, I’m working on a pc that has a 4-core AMD processor and was the cheapest pc in Best Buy 6 or 7 years ago. I am planning to put a 24-core threadripper CPU into my new computer, so I’m expecting the difference to be like night and day.

As far as pc building goes, there are circumstantial complications for this year: a shortage of graphics cards and insanely high inflation for them in both retail and on the second hand market. As far as getting a graphics card goes, I’m biding my time as I have to save for all my other expensive pc parts, but it’s still a worry. In 2021, building a pc costs more money than ever before. Between it and my busy life, I’m estimating Sufferborn book 3 may release in February 2022. That’s my best guess-timation, but I will follow up if I foresee any developments.

I might also show a few pics of my new workstation pc when it’s complete. I think my Sufferborn art, book covers, and marketing graphics are about to get a LOT better. Art is my favorite part of life. It’s half the reason why I’m in this business. ❤

Sufferborn’s New Look!

Finally, it’s here! I am proud to present the brand new cover for Sufferborn (book 1)! It was a long journey, short if you consider the time frame, but a fairly smooth transition. The worst part about it has been my anxiety: what should the new cover look like? Which idea to go with? How long will it take to paint? How long will it take for the final oil glaze to dry? How long will it take to get it professionally scanned? And can I get a ride to the photoimaging company downtown Nashville?

The thing is, I needed to get it all completed before February in order to use the new cover for an ad I had already bought. Though all of those concerns ran smoothly, it was the waiting that hurt the most. When you have a big project (and OMG, yes, making a good, hand-painted book cover is a HUGE project), you just want it to be over and done right now—hahaha, know what I mean? But patience and diligence pays off. Even if it takes a long time, practicing patience and diligence will get you the narrower time frame—procrastination will draw it out for additional months and even years.

So the painting. In my haste to create and get it done, I have been completely uninspired about what to name it. Though I usually love naming paintings, this one I couldn’t quite take the time to care about what it was called—lmao! I slapped the title “Sufferborn Trio” onto the back for the benefit of identification when dropping it off at the photoimaging company and called it a day. Dusted my hands off.

Sufferborn Trio is a great one, I think. In my opinion, it’s a fine replacement for the original cover, titled “Open Heart.” Sufferborn Trio is no less complex and expertly done. I did my best to be as expressive as possible, keeping loose, while at the same time digging in hard to create the BEST possible piece I could within my personal skill boundaries.

Take notice of the two characters at the sides, Daghahen and Lamrhath, the insidious twins who will become quite the epic pillars of drama as time passes. Looking at my references, I knew that the two characters on the sides had to be foggy and recede so that the central figure, Dorhen, can clearly stand out. I had two steps for making that possible: step 1 was to paint them thinly and “coldly,” and step 2 was to go over their whole figures, after they dried, with a whitish glaze. A glaze is when you add a tiny speck of paint to a large glob of pigment-free linseed oil. Because I need my book cover paintings to dry fast, I used liquin original instead of oil for this. I especially used a lot of thin, expressive strokes for Daghahen (at left) to create his elderly appearance. A lot of his blue underpainting shows through. Lamrhath (at right) was painted similarly, but with more careful, thoughtful strokes and coverage. His colored layers are still thin, allowing the underpainting to show through, but all of him is still extremely thin and even, dare I say, underdeveloped. That’s how they both turned out looking faint and cold. It also kept my painting time short and simple, a win-win.

Dorhen, on the other hand, got all my love—as he always does. His face contains the thickest layers of paint on the whole piece, followed by the rest of his exposed skin. Any piece of clothing that appears dark, I take the liberty to keep thin and easily executed, which is something that I’ve picked up in the last decade of painting.

But I won’t bore you anymore with painting techniques. In effort to make this new cover communicate the book’s genre more clearly (dark/epic fantasy), I chose these three characters. These three are present in the prologue of Sufferborn. The twins are the root of the problems that concern the main characters, Dorhen and Kalea. And this scene depicts a moment at the middle of the book when all the elements come together to create the “real” dilemma in the Sufferborn series. This should be a fitting cover indeed.

There you have it! A brand new book cover. Hope you enjoy the book and its new look! If you are a person who misses the old cover, subscribe to this blog on the sidebar for news on when I have posters available. If you would like to get your hands on a copy with the old cover, click the “contact” tab at the top of this site to ask me directly for one. I have a few kicking around and might be able to hook you up (and I’m happy to add autographs)!

Check out Sufferborn on Amazon!

Sufferborn will get a new cover for book 1

That’s right, folks, a new cover for Sufferborn is in the works and will be released soon! You may or may not find this news favorable and I understand either way. So for now, I’ll fill you in on my reasoning and let’s take a moment to appreciate the old book cover.

Why am I changing Sufferborn‘s book cover? The answer is simple: advertising. That’s all. I do love the painting on this cover and will cherish it forever, but in order for me to have more flexibility for advertisement, I’ve decided to design something a little less edgy. Lately, my attempt to buy an ad was rejected for reasons of “blood and gore”—hahah, I’ll take it as a compliment! So that’s the practical reason for doing so. Let’s go back in time a few months though. Although it IS a good painting and I love it a lot, I can’t deny that I’ve felt a slight…hesitance(?) about how the cover was looking. It was one of those things that you love at first, but then your mind starts wandering into foggy territories of doubt. My doubt was so, so slight, it’s hard to explain. I did not voice my doubt for a long time, but it was there. After a lot of wonder and debate and finally asking my husband and friends if they thought a book cover change would be good (my husband was against it), I decided to just leave the cover as is and move on with my plans for book 3… And then the advertising problem happened. It was the answer to my dilemma.

What made the old cover so special? My friends, it was special. Let me tell you. I don’t know if it was the ideal cover for book 1, but I really put my heart into it. Let’s take a look at “Open Heart,” Sufferborn‘s soon-to-be-former cover…

What to say first?… “Open Heart” was designed to express the character that is Dorhen. His soul. I thought, “If I can paint his soul, I will.” The wound is symbolic. In the book, he tells Kalea, “I lost my soul.” And in another scene, Kalea tells him he has an empty heart, or maybe a hole in his heart. The hole in his chest means a lot to this book. It’s everything in the book. The look on his face was aiming to show Dorhen’s desperation in the book. He’s looking at Kalea and showing her his wound. He needs her help and he’s pleading to her. The fire in the forest behind him is his past, a literal representation of something in the story. Even his codpiece is made apparent on the cover—something of his garments that is brought to attention. This, I would say, is a perfect image of Dorhen. Dorhen is a character I’ve had trouble painting and drawing for many years. Not that it’s hard to come up with a brown-haired boy with sad eyes, but maybe its all the emotional signals I had been missing in previous attempts.

How did I construct this character in paint? Dorhen in this painting is made up of a radical number of different references. Even I was shocked at how many things were blended to create this person! Once again, I was also shocked that I had finally created such a perfect image of the elusive Dorhen. Who would’ve thought that all I needed was a photo of my husband, one of my favorite bought art model photos (who looks nothing like Dorhen), and a few stock photos of manly chests? The most recognizable trait of my husband’s is the hands and forearms. I snapped a photo of him doing this pose and it proved all I needed for the arms. As a result of using his meaty Scottish arms, Dorhen turned out looking strong—like someone who can take a lickin’ and survive in the forest. The “strong” trait was exactly what I was looking for too, because I don’t think of the “Norr elves” as being lithe and delicate. The Norr elves are rugged and tough. Male elves (a.k.a. saehgahn) like to fight within their own communities, and building a strong appearance for female elves to ogle is very important to them. Dorhen’s face was a thing of trial and error and it required many layers and a little frustration and repainting to achieve. Each step, whether it was on purpose, unplanned, a mistake, a repaint, or a well-planned system of layers, played a part in achieving this face. When I put down that final “draft” of the face, it was a magical moment.

The fire in the background was by sheer accident, regardless of what I said about it being a direct communication of the book’s content. I was going for a sunset effect behind the trees (to symbolize that his time is running out). Instead, it looked like the forest was on fire, and I went with it. It had to have happened subconsciously though, because I was quite emotional around the time of painting. Lots of emotion was flowing as I worked, and I think it shows quite clearly.

In conclusion, “Open Heart” was emotional, tragic, fiery, sad, desperate, and a little romantic (gotta love that codpiece!). It seemed like the perfect cover for Sufferborn at the time. But now I’m moving on and trying something else. Fans of this painting, do not be sad. It may be disappearing from the book cover, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually going anywhere. I still have the painting and always will. And I’ll see about putting it on a poster for sale soon. Look at it this way: printed copies of this book cover will soon be rare collectors’ items!

When does the new cover come out? I’m aiming for early February (2021). I spent the Christmas season painting and right now the final cover is deep in the works. I will share a cover reveal teaser soon, followed by an official unveiling. The new cover is also one I find very relevant to the story.

Check out Sufferborn on Amazon!

Reflecting on Book Creation in 2020

Well, we made it. 2020 is almost over, lets be joyful. I spent the entire year writing and publishing the second book in the Sufferborn series: Unwilling Deity. Sorry for my lack of a post back around November 26, when it came out. I’ve been living in a whirlwind! But yes, the book is out now, and I’ve often pondered that this one was created in 2020. I wonder if I’ll always remember that.

Unwilling Deity is a pretty wild book, I must say—at least as far as my history of writing. I shocked myself with the things I worked up the nerve to put on paper. I tore down some boundaries, hopped to the outside of my comfort zone, and set loose the wildest side of my imagination. I guess Kalea experiences a similar whirlwind within the book. It’s almost like she goes through her own “2020.”

As usual, creating the book took total dedication and diligence, but as I sit here, on December 29, 2020, I feel relaxed and at ease. I might just be getting the hang of this book thing. Heck! I even already have book 3 outlined! I’m supposed to be on a 2-month vacation away from writing, but found it feasible to go ahead and do the outline, working for only a few hours each day until it was done. It’s not 100% done yet, I still have to arrange my scene summaries in proper order, but the hard part of that is behind me. On January 1st, the next book will begin.

Creating the book in 2020 wasn’t terribly hard, of course, even as far as taking my cover paintings to be professionally photographed. The process had its usual stresses, but all in all, I feel positive that book creation might become much easier soon. I’ve done two novels now, and am about to write the third. As a hard-working person, I feel after 2 years, that I can handle it better now, physically and emotionally. I’ll let you know if it unfolds otherwise, hahah!

Before I go, I’ll tell you a few things which might be necessary. Unwilling Deity turned out 40,000 words longer than Sufferborn, and that resulted in an increase in its printing cost—which means I had to raise the price to 17.99 USD for paperback. In order to make up for that price increase, I added two additional illustrations to the lineup. So where Sufferborn had four illustrations in its paperback form, Unwilling Deity has six! I think that’s pretty cool, and I do think that it looks good this way, so therefore I’d like to use this amount of illustrations for the rest of the series. I do wish I could write the next book slightly shorter, for my convenience and yours, but alas, my book 3 outline has several more entries than even Unwilling Deity had. This is an epic series, after all, and by nature epics tend to get thicker with each installment.

Also, Sufferborn, book 1, will get a new cover! It already has a new blurb on Amazon, and a new front cover is coming soon. I’ll talk more about this cover change soon. I’m currently working on the painting, and enjoying the process, as usual.

Hope you had a good 2020. Happy New year!

Sufferborn on Amazon

Unwilling Deity on Amazon

Happy Book Birthday Sufferborn!

Has it been a year already??? Holy crud.

Guys, I don’t know what to say. This book is special on so many levels. It’s the project I devoted my life to–literally, every life decision I made centered around this. At age 13 I started coming up with the characters and adventures that would eventually blossom into a book called Sufferborn. At age 34 I published it. I couldn’t be more proud, and now I am overwhelmed because I’m about to publish book 2 Unwilling Deity (Preorder here!). Where did the year go?! And in the near future of January 1st, 2021 I’ll begin writing book 3.

Sufferborn, though, is amazing, I must say. It truly is the fruit of my life-long labor. It’s epic. Lots of characters, lots of attention paid to those characters’ development as well as the development of their cultures–particularly the elven culture. It’s sweet, it’s sad, it’s magical, it’s brutal. It’s tragic. The first book is only the beginning of a much bigger story. If you haven’t tried Sufferborn yet, what are you waiting for? It’s only 99c until Black Friday 2020!

Here’s to the birthday of my first novel! Cheers!

“Unwilling Deity” Book Cover Reveal!

Unwilling Deity coming November 26, 2020

Sufferborn book 2, Unwilling Deity is ready to show its face! Please excuse my lack of pageantry in this cover reveal, just a simple blog post, but I’m very very busy…publishing the darn thing! It’s the year 2020 at the time of this writing so I don’t think I have to explain that things have been a little…weird. It was not a good year for me—for other reasons. Hard to explain. Anyway! I’m looking forward to the last bit of the year because that’s when it comes out—the book (*cue the angel choir*). All my work will pay off. Just the satisfaction of holding the final product in my hands—that’s what I live for.

I work EXTREMELY hard at this stuff in order to put these books out in a timely manner. I promise, you won’t be waiting yearS to get the next installment of the story, just…you know…ONE year XD. I have to work overtime, besides doing my day job, in order to create these books, it’s a very big deal (at least to me) and it shakes up my life like I’ve never known before. And now that turbulence is the norm.

So the book cover! It’s an oil painting. Are you surprised? “Her Ecstasy,” was painted on linen stretched over a panel. In person, it’s 27×36 inches big, and I’m not sure how long it took to paint. My process usually takes about 40 hours, BUT I gotta tell ya, it took several tries to get this right. My first attempt I painted over and then scrapped my second attempt before I finally came up with this beauty, so there you have it. The book cover. A long, frustrating process, but I am happy. It says a lot about the story on the pages. Lots of themes going on here to prelude what you are about to read.

This book, folks, was really something for me to have to write as well. It put me on an emotional rollercoaster besides the whole “2020 effect.” The book is rough, dark, gritty—it’s wild! I don’t know, you should just read it.

And it will release on November 26! Thanksgiving day, because this is what I’ll be thankful for (*glasses clinking*). I’m going to see about putting up the preorder soon, perhaps in a few days. So you should DEFINITELY follow this blog! Just click the button on the side panel and you’ll never miss a future book in the Sufferborn series!

SUFFERBORN Available Now!

Get it NOW at your favorite retailer! Available in ebook, paperback, and hardback. The ebook can be found on Amazon Kindle, but will soon be available in a greater range of stores, so please check back soon.

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Signed Sufferborn copy on Etsy

T-shirts on Etsy

Back Cover Description:

Her life had been planned out for her, until an elf with a fiery past came to tempt her future.

In an age of hostility toward elves in her region, Kalea couldn’t just stand and gawk when one of the handsome creatures was caught stealing. He might’ve died had she not helped him escape his grim fate. This was her first sin and she is aware of it. She might have set in motion the ruination of her social standing, her chastity, and ultimately her life…if not her own preservation.

She warns him not to follow her, yet the elf, Dorhen, manages to find her home at the convent where she is looking forward to a long, peaceful life of prayer and study. She is about to take her vow of chastity, and although consorting with any male is forbidden, Kalea can’t resist her fascination with his beautiful eyes and sweet, gentle nature. A precarious interest in Dorhen begins to blossom within her. Meanwhile, a sinister plot unfolding in her home region is about to slither right into her safe little convent in the forest, bringing Dorhen’s ominous past with it.

When sorcerers raid the convent and kidnap the other novices, Kalea manages to escape with Dorhen’s help, but he vanishes in the aftermath of the attack. Determined to save her sisters and the elf she loves, Kalea sets out on a perilous journey across a land rife with magic and festering with an unknown evil… an evil that threatens to destroy all Kalea holds dear.

Sufferborn is a sprawling, dark fantasy with sensual elements that explores the power of faith, supernatural dreams, and love. It follows the treacherous journey of a heartbroken young woman as she struggles to let her old life go in order to achieve the desires of her heart.

Trigger Warnings: This story was written for adults and has an overall sexual theme. Contains violence and blood , sex, slight and brief rape scenes and reference to rape, abduction, cruelty, and moderate swearing.