Saturday, 16 January 2021

The 14 Days of Blessing- participate for your chance to win great prizes!

Welcome to the 14 days of Blessing! What's this, you ask? Well, for the two weeks starting 1st February 2021, I will be running daily blog posts introducing you to the world of Azaria- the characters, the setting, the locations, and more, in the run up to the release of the third book in the series, The Blessing! And for each day you participate, you can win a prize!

The prizes up for grabs include:

A free ebook of The Binding (one to give away each day), the first book

A free paperback of Binding (one to give away)- international shipping available

One of three original art prints (three to give away, choice of Ryan and Eliza, the dove Rusephine, or the fox Nahbet)

A free ebook of The Parting (five to give away)

And, if you participate in at least 10 of the 14 days, you could win one of five ebook box sets of The Binding, the Parting and the Blessing!

Sounds great, right? But what do you have to do to be eligible? All you need to do is:

-make sure you like my Facebook page (
-follow me on twitter @maddoctorartist (
-share my Facebook page
-leave a gold 💛 and purple 💜 heart emoji comment on each daily post (either here on the blog itself or the facebook post)

And that's it! Winners will be picked by random number generation and must be contactable via email. Each daily winner will get a free ebook of The Binding, plus one of whichever of the other prizes above catch your fancy (except for the box-set).

Please share with anyone who loves reading young adult fantasy fiction, and best of luck!

The first post starts 1st February, but if you want to get ahead, click here to find out more about the stories...

Saturday, 9 January 2021

How I've Improved My Drawing Skills- by NOT drawing every day!


So, I'm sure everyone has heard of this common piece of art advice, often told to beginners. And while there is some merit to it, taking it literally is not helpful and can in fact by harmful, as it can reinforce bad habits. This has certainly been my experience, and so I decided to try something else after months of poor progress. Knowing these additional tricks have helped me improve more in a a year that I have in the last five years, so I think it's worth sharing to see if they may help you too.

One of my first Inktober drawings from 2019

One of my drawings from Birdtober 2020

 As you can see there's quite a difference in just one year, but I certainly haven't been drawing daily since 2019, so what made such a big difference?

Well, I will try to share what's worked for me, but of course there is no set-in-stone rule to learn how to draw, and different things work for different people- it also depends on what style you're trying to achieve. However, the following have definitely levelled up the quality of my drawings, which tend to a more realistic slant. Such tips I have gleaned from other art resources online and I am by no means taking credit for them- I will try to link to resources where I can if you want to go more in-depth.

Drawing every day sounds like a reasonable type of study- the more you draw, the more familiar you get making lines and strokes, and this builds the muscle memory in your hand as well as co-ordination with your eyes. However, if you're just drawing without any prior knowledge or thought, you'll start to remember the wrong things, and this can be hard to undo!

A red-tailed kite drawing from 2018- see how shaky and uneven the lines are? This is because I was guessing at what I was seeing, rather than understanding what I was looking at!

This red kite I drew at the end of 2020- doesn't it look so much more clean and in proportion? A lot of this comes from having learned to understand what I was seeing!

So before diving in, it's best to train your eye first to understand what you are looking at. Some of this will come from the particular subject, so in my case anatomy of birds is important, but this applies to landscape/ figure drawing/ mechanical drawing!

The whole foundation of drawing is built on the idea that you are creating a 3D image on a 2D plane, so you need to know how forms look to give the illusion of 3D. This is accomplished by using 3D building blocks such as cubes, cones, pyramids and spheres to create complex forms.

There are various ways to practice accurate observation- drawing from life, where you can study an actual 3D object with different lighting, and learning how to break structures down into 3D pieces. You can do this via tracing photos, not for simple outlines but trying to break them down into 3D shapes.

Tracing over photos can be very helpful to identify planes, like with this robin (photograph is my own)

My problem was that I would look at a reference and 'free draw'- try to make flat shapes based on assumptions. You can see this very clearly in my first red kite drawing. Then I moved on to measuring, which helped with proportions but still made me have to look at the reference constantly and I was still making errors. What I now do is 'construct'- more on this below.

Tutorials that help with observation:
Istebrak's critique videos
Drawing from life (take any simple object at home or a model, get a lamp to cast a light on it and draw it!)

Having got a bit more of a foundation as to how forms are structured, you can now construct forms without being too reference reliant. For me, I estimate the length and width of the subject, then use blocky shapes/ planes to fill in the main forms. Everything at this stage is a straight line, no curves, and this really helps identify angles and lengths much more accurately.

A study on 'constructing' an eagle form. This is explained in excellent detail on (the link will take you to Lesson 2 which has a more detailed explanation)

It also makes shading much easier, as you can see contours and plan where light and shadow will fall. I find this most difficult to 'see', which makes shading one of my bigger weaknesses, but using 'blocks' simplifies things and lets me judge lighting a lot more accurately. This way a form can be depicted using shadows rather than outlines, which is more realistic.

Tutorials that help with doing this:
John Muir Laws birds
Proko human anatomy
Ethan Becker

The last thing I've found that really helps is knowing how to reflect after each drawing- it's great to go over old drawings and see how much improvement's been made. It also helps to revisit and see what you could have done differently, and it can be fun to redraw old art.

The first bird drawing I did, redrawn- quite an improvement in only 2 years!

A macaw parrot from Inktober 2019
A macaw parrot from Birdtober 2020- quite a difference to the first attempt!

It is also helpful to look at what worked- often when trying new things you can get good results on accident which are then hard to replicate. Identifying what made a drawing better than another can help with this.

A bee hummingbird painting fro May 2020- I found a way to get a nice feather texture, and I replicated this with the next drawing, an American Robin that I drew in December 2020:

I also found that analysing other art that I enjoy or want to emulate is also a great thing to do. There is no harm in copying a drawing to see how the outcome was achieved (but you should of course never plagerise, and while I would avoid posting at all on social media, making very clear that the work is a study and not your own is super important).

Of course this can be difficult to do on your own, so getting into one of the many art communities can also help with getting feedback!

Resources to help with this:
Proko Draftsmen podcast
Mohammed Agbadi- as well as general tutorials he also breaks down individual artists' styles

So, having established these basics, when you draw you'll know what errors to look for. With this awareness, frequency and mileage now become important, as this will reinforce good habits and you'll be much better equipped to spot mistakes.

Have you ever been told to 'draw every day'? Did this work for you, or did you try other approaches? I'd love to know!

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Announcement: The Blessing (Chronicles of Azaria Book 3) Release Date!

Hello everyone! Apologies for not keeping up with the blog- given the unexpected pandemic, my day job has kept me quite busy!

However, after a seven year hiatus, I am very pleased to announce that the third book of my Chronicles of Azaria series (and the last book of the Goddess Saga trilogy) is finally complete! The ebook and paperback versions will be released on 14th February- the perfect ending to the love story I began writing in 2013.

What took so long? Well, initially it was because of my medical exams/ getting into my speciality training, and my rotations kept me very busy. Then, after fully qualifying as a general practictioner in 2016, I suddenly seemed to have lost all interest in writing. No matter what I tried, I just couldn't make any progress. So I decided to take a break, and I wrote a few fanfictions and focused more on my art and drawing skills.

Thankfully the break seemed to have worked, as I was finally able to finish this book at the end of 2020 and can declare this trilogy complete!

Not familiar with the series? Then let me introduce you: click here to read about the Chronicles of Azaria series, and here to specifically learn about the Goddess Saga story.

So, if this sounds like your kind of book, then you can purchase the first and second books, The Binding and The Parting, here.

Can love choose between death or salvation?

The Binding has been destroyed, and Azaria rocked to its foundations. But Ryan and Eliza's newfound freedom hasn't come without a price. Eliza has been left with devastating nightmares, with Ryan powerless to help her. Yet Eliza's hostile visions may hold the answer, as she dreams of the Blessing- the last fragment of the Goddess's power.

However, the Blessing is more than what it seems, and Eliza isn't the only one tempted by it. The Order of Amaranth are hungry to avenge their fallen leader, while the newly formed Vanguard try desperately to keep the fragile peace. With darker forces closing in, Ryan must fight to tame the power that could be Eliza's final hope, or her final destruction.

You can also read an excerpt of the first three chapters of The Blessing here- brand new and never before released!

You can pre-order the ebook right now by following this link:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK: