I am now. Cool to see some of their tutorials come up among all the porn from everyone else that I watch.
“Catching that which catches fancy,” the sign out front said. It suggested that Mister Santoros was a collector of unimaginable oddities. Improbable creations. Peculiarities from the world over, and quite possibly beyond. Yet as Petra stood in the middle of his shop, the only fascination she derived from any such amusements stemmed from their distinct absence.
The shop, though large and airy with windows that stretched from floor to ceiling, was filled with items of a more common-place variety: wardrobes full of used clothes waiting to be bought by someone who longed to wallow in their shared melancholy; bird cages, bent out of shape and sullenly empty of life; toys whose days of joyful playtime had been fond memories for a number of generations and now sat listless on a dusty shelf to stare at passers-by with their one cracked button eye.
The long and short of it, as Petra saw it, was a simple case of false advertising.
And where was this Mister Santoros, anyway? Like his promises (and his customers), he was nowhere to be seen.
She saw a bell next to the antique cash register and rang it a few times. Drat–now her lace glove had dust on it. In all the time it took her to fetch a handkerchief from her purse and remove as much of the offending mess from her glove as possible, this Mister Santoros still hadn’t shown himself.
She scoffed quietly and clicked her tongue. Well, she thought, if Mister Santoros has no desire to cater to even one customer, then it’s no small wonder how he manages to stay in business at all!
With that, she turned to leave, letting her heels click loudly on the barren floor. But as she brushed past a display of old books, the tip of her boot caught on an edge and sent a small ceramic figurine of a girl tumbling over the side. It struck against the floor and smashed brilliantly into thousands of pieces.
“Now that your haste has claimed a price,” a deep, booming voice pierced through the air and caught Petra quite by surprise, “perhaps you could haggle it down with some patience.” Petra turned fully, her cheeks a bright stinging red, to see a man dressed in elegant silk robes of green, yellow, and red. His arms were held to his sides, and a large fluffy black beard hid the stern expression underneath. His head was also covered in an equally exotic turban, encrusted with rubies and emeralds (or very convincing forgeries, at least). His small coal eyes caught her every minor move as she couldn’t decide on whether to stand and keep her cool, or get down on the floor and start picking up the shattered pieces of the figurine.
The man took a step forward, but said nothing else.
“I-ah… I…” She stopped herself and took a steadying breath as the man continued to stare. “I apologize for my clumsiness. Please allow me to compensate you.” She scrambled for her purse but could not seem to locate its pocket.
The man spoke again. “Compensate me?” He took a step closer and folded his arms across his chest, letting the luxurious fabrics drape across his body like wings. “That figurine was intended for sale. Some day someone would have entered my shop and bought it. That can no longer happen. So it seems your compensation would be better directed toward them, would it not?”
Petra just stared, like a schoolgirl who had spoken out of turn and had been chastised in response. She let out a nervous giggle to break the uneasiness. “How much do I owe you, Mister Santoros, I presume?”
“That depends entirely upon the reason for your visit, Miss Falstaff.”
The smile faded from her lips, until she caught herself and giggled again. “Please excuse my forwardness, but… how is it that you know who I am?”
His cheeks rose, and his eyes squinted. The man was smiling underneath that enormous beard. “It is only for my business, Miss Falstaff. Nothing sinister, I assure you. Come,” he said as he gestured with one arm. “We can discuss our business over tea.”
She cleared her throat and brushed a rogue lock of hair from her face. “Well, I…” she began, wanting to drum up a polite excuse to leave. “I just remembered, quite actually—”
“That you have obligations elsewhere, I assume.” He lowered his arm. “I understand. I will not keep you from them.”
“Thank you, Mister Santoros. I will come back when I have more time.” She made to turn, but his voice caught her in place.
“Sadly you will not.”
She looked at him again. “I’m sorry?”
He shook his head. “My business requires much travel, and I do not remain in one location for very long. I’m afraid that if you leave now–which is entirely up to you, by no means do I wish to keep you–you will find neither me nor my shop here again. If you seek something from me, unfortunately now will be the only time to obtain it.”
“But I don’t even know what I’m looking for!”
“And that is why you are here. That is why you entered my shop. In fact, it is the only reason you even noticed it in the first place.”
She began shaking her head, only because the things this man was saying made absolutely no sense. She wanted to leave, but he had at least been polite. It would be rude to turn tail and run out on him now.
“I-I’m sorry, but I must insist.”
He raised both arms to his side. “And I am not preventing you. If your greatest desire is to leave, then it is my duty to provide.” One arm pointed to the door. “Your wish, as they say, is my command.”
She didn’t leave. She couldn’t. Her feet would not obey her very real desire to flee, to put this place and this gentleman behind her once and for all. She stayed put and continued staring at him. Her cheeks flushed again because she knew that she was now staring. And staring is almost as impolite as leaving would be.
“What sort of tea do you have?”
She saw the big bushy beard crawl up his face again as he smiled beneath it. His arms lowered. “I have many exquisite varieties. What sort do you wish?”
She started to object.
“Allow me to offer in a different manner: if you were allowed any kind, from anywhere in the world, which would you most desire?”
Petra searched her mind, and her lips curled back into a smile. “Darjeeling?”
He let out a bellowing chuckle. “A favorite of my own heart! Come, right this way! Darjeeling as you have never tasted before!”
Brock’s eyes focused on the small round face of a girl leaning over him. First he saw only lights and darks, but the softer details soon came into focus. The girl’s eyes were darting back and forth across his face, wide and innocent and curious. The nose was small and drawn, like a button sewn over lips that didn’t seem quite capable of closing all the way; he could see a large gap between her front teeth. Red strands of hair dangled down from a mop of curled locks. Freckles dotted the entire canvas like the final flick of a paintbrush.
She seemed to realize he was waking up, and the thin lips spread into a smile, punctuated by the deepest set of dimples he’d ever seen on a girl. With a quick bite of the lower lip, she whispered something down into the haze. He didn’t catch the whole thing, but it sounded a lot like: “you’re lucky.”
Then suddenly his head hurt like a motherfucker. It felt like someone was using a sledgehammer to drive heavy iron spikes through his eye sockets. He winced and gritted his teeth. Finding strength, he doubled up and rolled onto his side. The mystery girl giggled. Between blinding strikes of pain, he watched her back away on all fours, prancing about the dark place they were in and keeping her distance from him, but watching his suffering with a twisted, amoral delight.
His throat closed and something came up the wrong way. He leaned forward and retched up what had to be gallons of bile that splashed all over his arms and chest. But it felt good, in a sick way; at least the guy with the sledgehammer had eased up.
Brock leaned back into a cross-legged sitting position and did his best to wipe his face, even though a few thick tendrils of gooey drool still hung from his chin. He let his jaw go limp and caught a few breaths.
“Jesus H. Christ in heaven,” he bellowed. “Oh, God damn it.”
The girl giggled again and dared a few cautious steps toward him. He threw his gaze at her and looked her over again. She couldn’t possibly have been more than thirteen years old. She wore only a simple sack-cloth shirt that was long enough to cover her private areas but boring enough to warrant no real attention; a street beggar, maybe. Just his luck, he’s taken in by some poor, broke, needy little panhandler. But he quickly noticed that he was wearing a simple sack-cloth shirt as well, and it only covered his private areas by sheer goodwill. Brock chuckled and swayed his head back and forth. Gooey tendrils.
“Lucky, huh?” He wiped more of the shit from his chin and whipped it off his hand. “Where the hell am I?”
“Lucky,” she repeated and grinned at him. “Gerrick’s not here.”
He looked back at her. “Who the hell is Gerrick?”
“Gerrick doesn’t like new people,” she said and hunkered down on her legs like they were hind feet. She brought her hands to her face and rubbed some dirt from her cheek.
“Is that a fact.” Brock looked at his surroundings. The walls and floor were completely featureless and looked like smooth concrete, but felt like metal. One wall was open, leading into some other room where a soft yellow light glowed. The only light present, and in this little corner it wasn’t present by much. “Where am I?”
“You’re at home,” the girl replied.
Brock shook his head. “Bullshit. This ain’t my home. This is like a prison cell or something.”
“No,” she said and shook her head wildly. Her mop of hair flounced recklessly upon her head. “This is your new home.”
Brock stood to his feet and faced her. “Now cut that shit out!”
Like lightning, the girl stopped what she was doing and pounced down on all fours. She hopped several feet away from him faster than he could blink, and turned to stare at him. Was she afraid of him? The large smile on her face suggested otherwise. He faked a lunge at her and she did it again, only this time the smile was joined by a raucous cackle.
She wasn’t afraid… she was playing with him.
He cocked his head to the side. “Who are you?”
The smile faded somewhat, and she dropped her guard. “‘Who-are-you?’” she repeated, as if she didn’t understand the question.
“Yeah, you,” he said. “What’s your name?”
Her eyes brightened up. “My name!” She scurried closer to him in hops and bounds like a rabbit, stopping about five feet away. She smiled wide. “I am Redge! What is your name?”
“My name’s Brock.” He extended his hand for an introductory shake, but Redge just peered at it curiously. She took a few steps forward and sniffed at it.
She fucking sniffed at it.
“What the fuck is this place?” he asked the room with a shrug.
“You smell … interesting.”
He yanked his hand away. “Yeah, I’ll bet. How do I get outta here?”
“Like…” she scrunched up her nose and looked around. “Like grease. And oil.”
“Thanks,” Brock said as he looked around. He started heading for the yellow light. There was a bend in the room.
“Thank you,” he called back. Christ.
The yellow light filled the other side of the room from a small, smooth lamp attached to the wall. There were basic chairs covered in fur and a large oval basket along the far wall. The basket looked like someone had slept in it recently.
“But you smell like other things, too!”
A low doorway was cut into the right-side wall. A short hallway opened into another room. Brock took a step when Redge caught his hand.
Brock yanked his hand out of her grip and turned to her. He towered over her and yelled. “Look, I don’t give a damn what I smell like!”
Her face seemed to stretch back, causing her eyes to open wide. She turned and cowered. Her large eyes darted between the ground and his direction, but never made contact with his.
“You should though,” a male voice came from behind him, from the hallway. A grown voice. “That is, if I understand your meaning of the words.”
Brock turned to see a man, roughly forty years old, with darker skin than the girl. His brown hair was short but ragged, like the beard that covered his jaw. He wore the same sack-cloth shirt, only his had extra sewing across the front. It was a deep blue thread that formed a circular swirl pattern over his chest. The blue matched his eyes, which caught Brock’s in a fierce glare.
“The meaning of my words?”
The man barely shook his head. “Not ‘your words.’ You do not own them; only their meaning. To ‘give a damn.’ It means that you do not care, correct?”
“The only thing I care about right now is getting the hell out of this place.”
The man turned his head slowly and broke the intense stare. “What else does he smell like, Redge?”
The girl peeked out from behind one of the fur-covered chairs.
“It’s all right, Redge. Please tell us.”
She crawled out some more and brought one hand to her lips. She bit her fingernail and looked up. “Grass?” she half-whispered.
The man nodded and smiled. “What else?”
She scrunched her nose, eyes darting back and forth. Her lips twisted and puckered. “Flowers.”
The man’s smile widened. “And? What else?”
“Look, I don’t—” Brock began. The man’s face scowled at him briefly, but in that moment Brock truly felt threatened. Almost instantly, his face resumed the overly-gushy compassion toward the girl.
“What else, Redge? Can you find it?”
The girl’s face scrunched even harder. More fingernail-biting and eye-darting. She looked as though she was on the verge of solving some complex equation. Suddenly her biting and darting stopped. She looked up at the man and smiled even wider than Brock had seen her smile before.
The man clapped his hands together. “Wonderful, Redge! Good! You remember!”
The girl laughed and giggled; then rolled onto her back and kicked into the air; then she was on the chairs.
Brock only shook his head. “I smell like … dirt. Excellent. Congratulations on smelling dirt on me. Sure it’s a momentous occasion and everything, but I’d like to leave now.” He made to brush past the man into the hallway, but he stepped into Brock’s path.
“It means you’re from There.”
“There. The Beginning. The Source.”
The girl sat up. “They caught you in the Wild.”
Brock swung around. “Who’s ‘they’? Who caught me?”
Her eyes caught his. Her smile faded a bit, but remained on her face. She darted an uneasy glance at the man. “They did. Our masters.”
Brock’s eyes widened.
“Well,” the man added, “not our masters directly. They buy us from others, who go out to the Wild to get more like us.”
Brock grabbed the man with both hands. “Who are they? What do they want with us?”
The man twisted his arms around and flung his body free of Brock’s grasp as if he had been coated in butter. He slinked toward the corner and crouched, ready in case Brock came at him again.
The man relaxed as he eyed Brock up and down. “They are your masters. The ones that own us and take care of us.”
“Feed us,” the girl added.
“Not that you’d ever let them forget,” he said with a slight smile at her.
“No,” Brock said. “No, no one god-damn owns me. That’s bullshit! I already got a home, and it sure as hell ain’t this place! Now get out of my way!”
He stormed down the hall, which led to a smaller room, another hallway, and a large door. A door with no knob.
“They won’t let you leave,” the man called after him. “No one ever goes back to the Wild.”
Brock scrambled at the door, looking for some manner of opening it. But there were no handles, knobs, or locks; no panels or buttons. Just a giant slab of metal. He turned to face the other hallway.
A pair of giant hands met him. Before he could gasp for air, they were around his neck and lifting him from the ground. In a heartbeat, he was pinned against the un-openable door, face to face with the gnarliest pale skin wrinkled over the biggest head he’d ever seen. A deep growl trembled through the arms of the beast, and the lips parted to bathe him in the worst breath he’d ever smelled – not that he could actually breathe at the moment. The giant hands squeezed around his throat despite his wild thrashings. As the room began to spin and grow dark, he heard the man’s voice one last time.
“Don’t kill him, Gerrick! He’s worth a lot to the master!”
I am now. Cool to see some of their tutorials come up among all the porn from everyone else that I watch.
Color WIP - “Girl on the Floor”
Playing with some shading techniques in SAI.
Sketch - “Girl on the Floor”
Referenced. Might work with this one a little bit more.
Sketch - “Girl showing off” real clever title I know.
Worked a bit in Photoshop to fix the holy-cow-long-torso problem that I always seem to have, and some parts where I fucked up the face in the original.
These are all sketched in pen, by the way, so no erasies. That’s what digital is for.
Sketch - “Girl Walking” I guess
Also from the Black Book. Running out of pages in there.
Sketch - “Jogging Girl”
Inspired by all the fitness magazine covers that I see every day.
Sketch - “Lingerie Babydoll”
Doodled in the Black Book on another lunch break.
Sketch - “Lingerie Corset”
Doodled in the Black Book over the course of a few lunch breaks.