Learning Photoshop: Day 15 – Fireball

I am starting on what will eventually be composing scenes and added special effects.  For today’s project, I’m going with this tutorial.   Adding a little magic, as it were.

He has the link for the circle on his youtube page, but the image for the flame no longer had a working link.  Instead, I went and got some brushes here.  No use recreating the wheel when a good tool is already available.

My stock can be found here, courtesy of mjranum-stock on DeviantArt.  Lot of great stuff in his gallery, I encourage you to go give it a look.

My results?


Just need a background and a bit of playing with the reflected light, and she’s all set to fry a dragon’s face.  Tomorrow, I’m going to work on a compilation and add said background.


David Andrews

Full Name: David Gideon Andrews
Nicknames: ‘Kid’, though only Cora calls him that.

Background: David has always gotten along better with his mother, Sarah, than with his father Wyatt. He inherited Sarah’s love of music and plays the guitar. He’s a decent singer, but suffers from a bit of stage fright. David leaned toward the intellectual, and narrowly missed out on being the valedictorian. When his father nagged him about getting into a sport, David chose taekwondo over baseball, and has continued practicing martial arts. He eventually joined the wrestling team and went state, though he did not try out for wrestling or any other sport when going off to college.
Throughout high school he dated Amber Rosenthal, and the general consensus was that the two of them were going to get married. However, while he and Amber were good friends, their relationship was never actually intimate and David jokes that he and Amber were the only two people in Awaakan who actually took a telescope when going ‘star-gazing’. Amber went on to major in astronomy and got a job with NASA. The two remain casual friends.
His father insisted he major in construction and business. At the university, however, David was out from under his father’s thumb and began branching out. After class on day, he stopped to help a TA named Elliot pick up some dropped papers. To his shock, Elliot asked him out. To his even greater shock, David found himself actually saying yes. Elliot’s friend Mark initially disapproved of the relationship as David was considerably younger than Elliot and he thought David might be a gold-digger. However, after Elliot’s circle of friends got to know David better they all decided they liked him just fine. David changed his major to bio-medical engineering and got paramedic training at Elliot’s encouragement.
He and Elliot had been dating for two years when Sarah drove up to visit and decided to surprise David by picking him up from work. Elliot happened to be picking him up that day, and Sarah was surprised to see her son greeting another man with a kiss. Upon realizing she was there, David and Elliot took her to dinner and Elliot even offered to let her stay with him. Though Sarah’s feelings were very hurt that David didn’t think he could tell her, she understood. She told them to wait a few days to let her break the news to Wyatt, then she wanted Elliot to come visit them for Thanksgiving.
Just four days later, David got a frantic call from Naomi that there had been an accident. His parents had gone on a date to discuss something important, and on the way back Wyatt had been drunk and speeding. The vehicle had gone off the road. Wyatt was paralyzed from the waist down, but has no memories of the time leading up to the accident. Sarah was left in a coma. David had a pretty good idea of what had made his father behave so recklessly, and blames himself for the accident. He came home from the university and began trying to salvage things and take care of Naomi. Elliot refused to let them break up at that point, pointing out he was starting his residency and they could see each other a weekend a month, then pick up again when things settled down for both of them. Somewhat reluctantly, Elliot agreed that the relationship could be kept secret rather than risk making David’s situation even more difficult.
As the construction company was already in the red, David sold it to cover the expenses. Leona helped him out by getting him a job as a deputy. He ended up being a sacrificial offering to Cora. He was amused when she tried to frighten him off by taking him to an autopsy, as Elliot was a med student and had already dragged him along for similar events. He succeeded in impressing Cora just a little, and she set about mentoring him in earnest.

Birthday: July 15, 1989

Place of birth: Awaakan, Minnesota

Family: David and his mother were close, while Naomi was the jewel of their father’s eye. He and his father have never truly gotten along, due mostly to Wyatt’s desire that his son follow in his every footstep. Wyatt was a boisterous jock who went into construction, and David has a definite tendency towards being something of a nerd. Wyatt bragged considerably when David was chosen as captain of the wrestling team, and David never really had the heart to tell him that he was actually picked because of his nerdy tendencies (namely the ability to instantly rattle off a list of opponent weaknesses) rather than in spite of them. Despite not wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps as a carpenter, his father’s tendency to drag him along on job sites has given David many handyman skills.
He can be somewhat overprotective of Naomi on occasion, but generally their relationship is good. He functions as the family care taker, shouldering most of the work regarding Sarah’s invalid condition.

Economic/social status growing up: His family was lower middle class, though his father had a tendency to spend rather than save. When David took over the family finances, he had to downgrade a lot of things and sell off others to do the work on the house necessary to accommodate Wyatt’s wheelchair and Sarah’s hospital bed.

Ethnic background: The Andrews have a lot of Native American (Ogibwe) in them, but Wyatt’s ancestry is also Irish.

Places lived: Awaakan, Minneapolis.

Education: He did not finish his degree, which occasionally bothers him.

Special training: David was a licensed paramedic before coming to work as a Sheriff’s deputy. Cora has him do a lot of additional training, which David actually enjoys.

Jobs: He has worked as a security guard and tutor.

Friends: David was fairly popular in high school and has a lot of friends in Awaakan. In college, he joined Elliot’s circle of friends. He and Mark are still a little wary of each other, though he gets along well with Mark’s husband Thomas. David and Monty became very good friends after David stopped Monty from getting his ass kicked in a bar fight. David is also fond of Naomi’s two best friends, Janet and Emily, and he considers them part of the family.

Enemies: David and his father do not get along, which means David also doesn’t get along with Wyatt’s friend Jack and Jack’s son Edgar. Naomi’s boyfriend Keith is absolutely terrified of David, which David finds amusing.

Physical Description: David is about 6’3”, and considered to be very good looking. He spends enough time out of doors to be nicely tanned, and wears his black hair almost long enough to tie back. He has green eyes.

Mode of Dress: Off duty, David prefers a simple t-shirt and jeans combo. When he is in Minneapolis, he dresses much more fashionably due to having learned that if he doesn’t, Thomas and Monty have a tendency to start treating him as a dress-up doll.

Outlook: David has a tendency to come across as serious and dedicated, with a dry sense of humor that borders on snarky. With his friends and Elliot, he occasionally relaxes and drops his mask entirely, sometimes indulging in outright goofiness. Though not aggressive by nature, anyone messing with his friends will discover that his black belt isn’t just for show.

Vehicle : He often drives a sheriff’s car, and one of Naomi’s biggest complaints is he never lets her run the siren when he has to take her somewhere in it. He couldn’t sell the oversized pickup truck he calls ‘the beast’ due to needing it to occasionally transport equipment for Sarah or Wyatt’s wheelchair. There is also his mother’s old honda, which is his preferred vehicle to drive due to the beast getting approximately six feet per gallon of gas.

Home : David lives with his parents, though he’s now the one making house payments so it could be said they live with him. The top floor master suite is now his domain, and on occasion he avoids his father by going in the door on the upstairs deck rather than entering through the front door.

Secrets: Nobody in Awaakan knows he is gay, and he prefers to keep it that way. He lets everyone believe he’s dating a med student in Minneapolis named ‘Elle’.

Coraline Maree

Full Name: Coraline Elizabeth Maree (Langbroek)
Nicknames: Cora

Background: Cora is not a native of the area. She met Brendan Maree while he was in school in California, studying to be an architect. Cora at the time was working as a cop and slowly starting to move up in the ranks. Brendan was charming and swept her off her feet. Cora got pregnant with her eldest daughter, Candice, and Brendan proposed. Cora accepted, and the two got married. After their third daughter, Dorothy, was born deaf and Brendan was unable to find work in California, he convinced Cora to move back home with him. Reluctantly, Cora agreed.
They moved in with Brendan’s father, Jasper. Brendan was still unable to find work, and developed a drinking problem. Not long after the birth of their youngest daughter, Amy, Cora discovered Brendan also had a gambling problem and was cheating on her. She filed for divorce and custody. To her surprise, Jasper threw his son out and told Cora that she and the kids could stay as long as they wanted. Cora occasionally jokes that she got her father-in-law in the divorce. Jasper takes care of the kids while Cora is at work.
Working as a small town sheriff deputy in a county where virtually nothing ever happens was a big change for Cora. She and Sheriff Heather occasionally butt heads over just how relaxed the Awaakan sheriff’s department is. Referring to it as Heather’s Barney Fiefdom nearly got Cora fired. However, Heather has noted that Cora is actually a damn good cop and having a genuine professional around isn’t really a bad thing. She can send Cora to all the various seminars and trainings and trust that Cora will browbeat the applicable information to the rest of the department.
When Cora’s pushing about various things like mandatory CSI training and the like got too much for Heather, Heather responded by offering David to Cora and telling Cora she could train him. Initially, Cora was skeptical of a twenty-year old that was only hired because his aunt was the dispatcher. She decided to simply break him and go back to nagging Heather to start turning the department into a real police force. She started by taking David to an autopsy. When he started talking to the ME about various facets of the corpse and correctly noted the cause of death from the information the ME gave, she decided he might make a decent cop after all.

Birthday: May 3, 1967

Place of birth: San Diego, California

Family: Her parents were Oskar and Vera. Both were cops, both were killed in the line of duty. This is why Cora has actively discouraged her daughters from following in her footsteps despite being a dedicated cop herself. Cora has no siblings. Her eldest daughter, Candice, got married in college and now lives in Oregon where she runs a restaurant with her husband. Kaitlan is seventeen and going into her senior year of high school. She is the captain of the girl’s softball team and her grades leave something to be desired. Dorothy is fourteen and just starting high school, though she attends an online school due to being deaf. She is a serious computer nerd who blogs everything. Dorothy can talk but prefers sign language. The youngest, Amy, just turned twelve and is working on her black belt. She and her ex-husband are civil to each other when they speak, but try to avoid having to speak. He now lives in Vegas with ‘some floozy or another’.

Economic/social status growing up: Military brat turned police force brat. She was never poor and had a lot of surrogate aunts and uncles on the force. She keeps in touch with some of them.

Ethnic background: Her family name is Dutch, but her ancestors had been in the US long enough they rarely thought of themselves as anything other than American.

Places lived: Initially from San Diego, California, though her family moved often during her first seven years due to being in the military. They settled down in San Diego again when they got out.

Education: In addition to her law enforcement training, she has a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Special training: Cora is known for attending pretty much any law enforcement training or seminar she can, whether in person or online, and is thus often the only person in the department (unless she’s already school David in it) who knows how to do various things.

Jobs: She was a detective, and took a demotion in working for the sheriff’s department.

Friends: Cora gets along well with most of the department, though she’s known for being impatient with those who don’t take the job seriously. She is currently dating Fred Matheson, a local car mechanic, though neither of them are particularly serious about the relationship. Her best friend in town is Paul Fleming, the doctor who also serves as the town’s medical examiner, and they get together for drinks a couple times a month. She’s genuinely fond of her partner, but the fact that David is the same age as her eldest daughter means she has a tendency to be a little maternal toward him. Cora and Sheriff Heather Donnelly may be able to work together professionally and have a mutual respect, but on a personal level they don’t care for each other.

Enemies: Cora has an antagonistic relationship with a few of the town’s known troublemakers. She sends David to get her coffee mainly because the owner of the coffeeshop near the department is Ashlee Roth, who had an affair with Cora’s ex-husband. The two women don’t hate each other, they are just uncomfortable around each other.

Physical Description: Cora’s brown hair is starting to go gray, and she declines to dye it. She stands about 5’8” in height and is muscular for a woman. Her features are a little bit blunt, and her nose is just a little crooked from having been broken before. Cora prefers to wear her hair short and keeps her makeup fairly minimal.

Mode of Dress: On duty, she wears her uniform or a professional looking pantsuit. Off duty, she dresses much more casually and has a fondness for shirts featuring Disney characters. On duty, she wears no jewelry, but off duty generally wears earrings.

Outlook: She tends to be on the conservative side, and checks ‘Protestant’ on the box despite the fact she hasn’t actually gone into a church in over a decade. Cora prides herself on being a professional and takes her job very seriously. However, she does not want the actual Sheriff’s job because she doesn’t want to ‘play politics’.

Vehicle : She drives a minivan due to having four daughters. It’s ‘lovingly’ referred to as the ‘Cora-mobile’.

Home : The house she lives in his technically owned by her father-in-law, Jasper, though Cora is the one paying all the bills these days. It’s a nice house on about an acre of land in a quiet neighborhood, and Cora likes it that way.

Embarrassing Moment: She once shot a canoe. She does not appreciate having that incident brought up.


Marinus Draak has dark brown, almost black hair, and dark brown eyes.  He wears his hair fairly long, giving him a somewhat leonine look.  He stands about 6’6” in height and has a very muscular build.  Even with that, he manages to be somewhat stronger than he looks.  Among his people and quite a few others, he is considered a good-looking man.  His common garb is a simple pair of trousers with the leather vest of his people, though when he is actively being a prince he often adds gold armbands.

At the start of the story, he is twenty-seven.  He rarely uses his full name, preferring to go by Rien, and has the nickname and sigil ‘The River Dragon’.

As a fighter, he relies heavily on his size and strength, but he is not without skill.  His primary defense is to simply kill his opponent before they get the chance to hit him, and it mostly works out for him well.  His preferred weapon is a massive axe, though he can use other weapons if needed.  He takes considerable joy in fighting, and can sometimes be heard laughing in battle.  To Rien, there is no kill like overkill and he occasionally makes a game of things like seeing how many limbs he can chop off an opponent.  Rien has several scars, and wears them proudly.

He was the baby of a high ranking family, and as such grew up with few actual responsibilities.  As such, he’s fairly immature and hedonistic, and tends not to consider long-term consequences or how other people will feel about a situation.  However, as a raider he is quite talented, as his boisterous and fearless nature causes him to inspire the warriors around them, letting them accomplish feats some would claim are impossible.  However, he has a short attention span and is easily bored.  Though he isn’t stupid, he is somewhat book-dumb and has a tendency not to pay attention to what is going on around him.  Rien is prone to acting without thinking.

When it comes to responsibility, he usually handles matters by finding someone who knows what they are doing and putting them in charge of dealing with the situation.  One of his good traits is that once he does that, he then actually listens to the advice he is given and trusts his people to do their jobs.  His temper is considerable, and when riled up he often acts without thinking.  However, his sense of humor and tendency toward occasional self-depreciation makes provoking him a bit harder than most anticipate.  He finds Bastien’s invective toward him more amusing than insulting, sometimes even encouraging the man or admiring particular phrases.

As a boy, he genuinely adored his brothers, and he regrets the rifts that have grown since they all became adults.  Jurgen was more a father to him than a brother, and even as an adult Rien hero-worships him.  He used to look forward to Lammert’s returns from his travels with glee, and not just because Lammert always brought him back presents.  He and Rutger were closer in age, and throughout most of their childhood they were inseparable.

His mother chose his father because of Pauwel’s own considerable strength and combat skill.  Pauwel was killed in a skirmish against another Wilder clan when Rien was five.  He took almost forty with him when he died.


Sir Bastien Kohler has red hair and green eyes.  He is light-skinned even when tanned, and does still have a few youthful freckles. His build is trim, not overly muscular but by no means weak.  He’s a little on the short side, standing about 5’9”.  In his teen years, making height jokes got his blood up, but that was before he proved he could kick the asses of men much larger than himself in tournaments.  When the story begins, he has just turned twenty-three.

Before ending up with Rien, he dressed very modestly as befit a knight who actually took the ideal of chastity seriously.  Rien lets Maela dress him, and Maela loves showing him off.  Bastien endures it stoically.  He would never admit it to Rien, but he actually kind of liked the temporary tattoos Maela put on him.

He is a defensive warrior, using a shield and armor.  While he wears considerably more armor than the Wilders, he actually wears less than most Solsthriem knights as his smaller size and mobility gave him an advantage in combat.  His training with the blade began almost the day he learned to walk, and he wields a sword as though it is a natural extension of his arm.  Bastien is a skilled and disciplined warrior, who keeps his head and maintains control during a fight, preferring efficient and effective over flashy.

His mother died when he was three, in childbirth with what would have been his sister had the babe survived.  His parents had been a genuine love match, and thus despite his standing his father never remarried.  He kept Bastien close, doting on the boy, and thus Bastien grew up a responsible and dutiful young man, well trained as a knight.  His father was an idealist, and instilled that in his son.  He and his father share considerable family resemblance, and those who knew Aurel in his youth have no problem recognizing Bastien as his son.

Despite being polite and well-educated, he did grow up around soldiers and can curse with the best of them.  He is an avid enough reader, though not necessarily the most well-rounded.  He is a man of honor and duty, and if he gives an oath he will keep it.  He is extraordinarily stubborn and willful, and perfectly willing to fight unto the death to defend his honor or those under his care.  Pretty much the only way to get him to surrender is to threaten those he is protecting.

As an attractive and well-positioned young man, Bastien did attract a considerable share of female attention.  However, as a squire his interactions were always well chaperoned, usually by his father.  This combined with his own chivalric ideals and modesty are a large part of why he was still a virgin at twenty-three.  Also, he was often quite busy training, doing his duty, or taking part in tournaments.

It didn’t take him long to become fond of the twins despite the glee they take in tormenting him.  He can be quite protective toward them, and tolerates their teasing in a rather big-brotherly fashion.  He will endure and even take a bit of pleasure from what Rien has the twins do to him, but is extremely uncomfortable about the possibility Rien may ask him to do anything to the twins.

Slavery does not appeal to him, though he accepts his situation.  The fact that he takes some physical pleasure from what Rien does to him is something he finds irritating, but that is slowly fading as he adapts to his new life.  He will keep his oath, and keeps his anger at Rien pretty well buried most of the time.  Thus, despite the fact that he would really like to kill Rien, Bastien is someone Rien can trust absolutely.  This fact is something both men find rather ironic.