I’m sure that there are a lot of artists who have used all of the downtime in 2020 to get far more work done than they would have in a normal year, but I admittedly have used most of 2020 to rest and recharge. After I finished writing The Legend of Light trilogy back in April, I told myself that I was going to take a nice, long break from fiction writing. I’ve stayed active one way or another, what between all of my writing done for Zelda Universe, and my ongoing pursuits of learning how to draw in the style of manga, but I kept my efforts in check even with those. The more than seven years of writing a high fantasy series was, honestly, exhausting. It also solidified that my true artistic goals are in a more visual medium, which is why I intend to focus on learning to draw so that I can someday put together a comic series.
2020 may have been a relatively quiet year in many ways, but it was also a very eye-opening one for me. I believe I made the right choice in spending these months determining what my ultimate goals are, rather than trying to dive head first into them. My progress with learning to draw has been gradual to this point, but I recently enrolled in a very in-depth course through Udemy, which I hope will help me attain a solid set of foundations. Right now I’ve primarily just been redrawing from references; drawing free hand or by memory is not in my skill set at the moment. Figuring out how to draw what I’m imagining in my head is where I need to get to, and I’m finally ready to start more intensive study of the craft to reach the goal I’m aiming for. I’ve spent the last two and half years getting my feet wet with drawing, but I feel like I’ve come as far as I can go with this very casual approach. There’s nothing more I can learn from just trying to recreate what others have. I need to put in the time to truly learn the finer details of the craft and develop a solid set of mechanics.
Eventually, I’d like to move on to digital art. Should this Udemy course go well for me, I think I could start making the transition next summer. Getting a good drawing tablet and software like Clip Studio Paint would certainly make a nice birthday gift.
So as the year winds down, I’m looking forward to the big projects I’m about to dive into next. Aside from the drawing ventures and my usual writing, I’ve started another fun project that’s not like anything else I’ve done before. My personal favorite of all my story ideas (and the one that I especially want to someday make as a comic or series of graphic novels) will have a fictional setting based on Poland and other Slavic regions, so to help me prepare with developing that, I’ve been researching Polish and Slavic mythology. This eventually led me to several books published in Poland about Slavic folklore and culture through the ages.
Part of what’s called the Legendarz series, the two books I’ve already picked up are called Ksiega Smokow Polskich (The Polish Book of Dragons), and Bestiarusz Słowiański (The Slavic Bestiary). I was able to order these from a seller on Ebay who’s based in Poland, and I actually have a third on the way titled Bestiariusz Zwierzęta (Bestiary of Animals). I’d love to know what the seller thinks as they keep seeing a random American buying books that are written entirely in Polish.
And that’s where the fun starts with these. Since I’m not fluent in Polish, and these have no English writing in them whatsoever, I can’t simply sit down and read them like I would any normal book. Instead, I’m in the process of putting together some loose translations for select passages of these books. That process is pretty painstaking, as I have to type out the Polish text from the book into Google Translate. The translations are certainly not perfect, as was expected, but I’m able to get the gist of the passages, which has been more sufficient to understand the heart of the fables and lore behind the creatures that these books discuss. I’ve come across some very interesting legends so far (my favorites are the stories of dragons in Poland), and plenty of mythical creatures of Slavic origin that I never knew about previously. I’m a huge fan of The Witcher books, video games, and Netflix show, which is also a fictional setting based on Slavic culture. What’s been really cool is finding some of the same monsters in these books that are featured in The Witcher media. It’s neat to see the specific pieces of Polish/Slavic folklore that clearly inspired parts of The Witcher stories.
Even though I’ve taken a step back from fiction writing, I’ve had plenty on my schedule this past year with my work for Zelda Universe. Since my Fall update from September, I wrote up a number of pieces, my favorite of which is a top 20 ranking of boss fights in The Legend of Zelda games, as chosen by our staff and the Zelda Universe community. Similar to what I did with a list for dungeons in The Legend of Zelda video games, I had an open vote for fans to cast a ballot of their favorite bosses, and after tallying all of them I wrote the official ranking. Between the ranking for Zelda Universe’s best boss battles and the best dungeons, it was easily the most work I put into any project this year, but there are no two pieces of work I’m more proud of from 2020.
Below are a few of the other things I wrote for Zelda Universe since the last update. I also lent a hand here and there with news coverage for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity on the Nintendo Switch, which turned out to be a very fun Legend of Zelda spinoff title that I’ve had a ton of fun playing. Before the year is over I will also new entries in my annual “Best of the year” and “Most anticipated of next year” lists, where I name my favorite movie, novel, comic, video game, television show, and sporting event of the past year, along with the ones I’m most looking forward to in the coming year.
Last but not least, here are a couple of my favorite drawings that I’ve done in recent weeks. I went heavy on drawing Fire Emblem characters for a while, but the one I’m most fond of is the Wonder Woman you’ll see below. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of improvement to show off in the Spring update once I’ve completed my instructional courses from Udemy!