Category Archives: Art

Lumbia: A Free Sketchy Cartography Brush Set for Fantasy Maps

Lumbia: A Free Sketchy Cartography Brush Set for Fantasy Maps

If you spend any time on cartography forums or cartography-related subreddits, you’ll eventually run across folks using Star Raven’s Sketchy Cartography Brushes. You can see why, the whole set is incredible, cohesive, and you can make beautiful maps in no time.

I have always admired Star Raven’s work, but I began to see it everywhere. One thing I love about maps is how unique each felt, and I wanted to do what I could to help maintain that feeling of discovery. Star Raven was a big inspiration for me to create Lumbia, my own sketchy cartography brush set which I’m giving away today for free.

A tiny fraction of the brushes included in Lumbia 1.0
A tiny fraction of the brushes included in Lumbia 1.0

The set consists of over two hundred brushes designed for high-resolution use. Each mountain, tree, and hill are separate by design—I find this allows more custom placing than the block method, it lets you decide the look of the forest and ranges.

Lumbia 1.0 Includes:

  • 1 Mother of Mountains (an absolute unit)
  • 15 Large Mountains
  • 42 Medium mountains
  • 25 Small Mountains
  • 71 Hill
  • 17 Scrub bushes
  • 9 Cattails
  • 13 Cacti (prickly bois)
  • 9 Bone Trees (spoOoOoky!)
  • 9 Cyprus Trees
  • 10 Acacia Trees
  • 21 Maple Trees
  • 19 Pine Trees
  • 12 Generic Jungley Trees
  • 12 Tumbleweeds

The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set and a transparent PNG in case you’re using a program that doesn’t support the brush file. A vector set isn’t included in this initial release, but will most likely come in later a later version. I’m sure I’ll announce it here when its ready.


DOWNLOAD LUMBIA 1.0


Lumbia is free for any use and is distributed with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License that means you can freely use it in commercial work and distribute adaptations. So have some fun.

If you like Lumbia and would like to support my work, instead of a donation, consider buying one of my urban fantasy novels. They’re available in stores and online, and you can find out much more about them at bellforgingcycle.com.

Enjoy Lumbia, everyone! Have a suggestion or request for future Lumbia versions or want to show me what you created, feel free to send me an email! Have a friend who might be interested in using Lumbia? Share this post with them.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

I'm Obsessed with La Machine

I’m Obsessed with La Machine

The French production company La Machine has been producing urban operas since the early 1990s, and to put it simply: they’re stunning. Using wood, leather, copper, or glass, they create enormous mechanical marionettes with a surrealist bent and a bit of a steampunk aesthetic. (This is particularly noticeable in their Elephant marionette.) The movements are precise and that breaths life into the machines. These creations are then used in multi-day operatics with light, sound, steam, music, and even weather effects. I find myself awe inspired every time they perform. But you can just see for yourself in the videos below.

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#LongMa🐎🐉, Queen of #ottawa2017 #ottawa #LaMachine

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It’s so cool. New bucket list item: see one of these productions in person. This year’s show was The Guardian of the Temple held in Toulouse, France—it was an interpretation of the myth of Ariadne, who helped Theseus defeat the Minotaur. Each production typically lasts through several acts played out through a city and performed over several days.

You can learn more about La Machine on their website. (I’ll link to the English version.) Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They also share much more content over on YouTube and on their Instagram. La Machine has upcoming shows scheduled for Nantes and Calais in France.

I’m excited to see what they do next.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Revisiting the American Horror Story Title Rankings

Revisiting My American Horror Story Title Rankings

A year ago, I sat down and ranked all seven of the title sequences for FX’s anthology horror series American Horror Story. It was a fun project. While I’ve never considered myself a die-hard fan of the show, I’m always drawn in by those opening titles.

Here we are a little over a year later, and FX has released American Horror Story Season 8: Apocalypse and it looks to be a doozy. Of course, with a new season came a new title sequence and this prompted me to revisit my rankings and decided once again which title sequence reigns supreme. So which was it? See my updated list here.

How would you rank them? Shoot me an email or leave a comment below.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Visual Inspiration: Brian Coldrick

Visual Inspiration: Brian Coldrick

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. It’s a book that contained a series of images, each was accompanied by a few lines of text that sent one’s imagination soaring. These small one-shot scenarios were fascinating to a younger-me and were often more imaginative than many of the novels I’ve read in later years. I’ve thought about them often over the years.

So, imagine how delighted I was when I stumbled across the art of Irish-illustrator and sloth-enthusiast Brian Coldrick and his unsettling series Behind You. These single-shot stories follow a similar method to Burdick but the stories themselves skew towards the modern horror or creepypasta—and damn, are they ever compelling.

Behind You is extensive—there are so many pieces it’s difficult to pick a favorite and the series is still ongoing. The loose style and muted colors work remarkably well, blending the fantastic with the realistic and letting the narrative fill in the spaces in between. You’ll find yourself enthralled.

If the static illustration wasn’t enough, Behind You now includes subtle animations as well, which only further each pieces’ effectiveness. You can see a few of my favorites below, click on any image to view it larger. Or just start at the beginning.

That’s only a tiny portion of the entire series and you should take some time and explore the narratives. Recently, many of these images have been collected into the book Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories, which I recommend buying (link takes you to Amazon, but I’m sure you can get it all over the place.) As I mentioned above, Behind You is still ongoing and can be viewed at Tapastic or Tumblr. Making cool art isn’t free—Coldrick has a Patreon (of which I’m a member) and I’d encourage you to throw a few bucks his way so he can keep making these delightful terrors. You can buy prints of his work from Society6. Finally, be sure to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Deviant Art, and Instagram.


If you like Brian Coldrick’s work be sure to check out some of the other artists who I’ve found inspiring in the past. While there’s certainly a theme to the art that inspires me, you’ll find lots of different styles, tones, mediums, and moods.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

The Midsommar Dream

The Midsommar Dream

My friend Redd Walitzki is a wonderfully talented artist who blends watercolor, oil painting, and mixed media on laser-cut panel to create detailed and incredibly vibrant works of art. On September 22nd she launched her latest solo show, The Midsommar Dream at Haven Gallery, in New York. It’s stunning and worth checking out.

I’ve long been a fan of Redd’s work, but this series, in particular, stands out. There is something personal at play in each piece, but that intimate disclosure interlocks with a compelling narrative. The series is more than just magical creatures dancing through a lush dreamscape, Midsommar serves as a treatise on reality itself and the dreams that push at its boundaries.

I’ve included a few of my favorites below. Click on any of them to view larger. Be sure to head on over to Haven Gallery’s website where you can see the whole show.



The Midsommar Dream runs through October 27th, so if you’re in the New York area (particularly Long Island), then I highly recommend visiting. Redd’s use of vibrant color is beautiful on screen but it strongest in person. Be sure to contact the gallery with inquiries about any particular piece.

You can see more of Redd’s past work at her website. Also be sure to follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and make sure you subscribe to her newsletter.

Visual Inspiration: Filip Dujardin

Visual Inspiration: Filip Dujardin

Often when I share an artist that’s been inspiring to me, it’s usually someone who works as a concept artist. Today’s entry will be a bit of a departure from that. Filip Dujardin is a Belgian photographer who manipulates photos of architecture and cityscapes to create beautiful photomontage works that question the notion of architected spaces.


“I want to play at being an architect. All my creations leave the impression that they could have been built, it’s just that you’ve never seen them.”

—Filip Dujardin


In many ways, I think of my own work—and Lovat in particular—as a love letter to cities. Even if it’s just tangentially. There’s something fascinating about the constructed spaces and interactions that happen within. I love the optimistic concept of the city and the unpleasant realities that dwell in the shadow of that idealism. I find those juxtapositions beautiful. Many of those same themes are present in Dujardin’s work, in particular, his Fictions series. The interplay of form and function both natural and unnatural are warped and distorted, and it gives me pause as a viewer. I’m forced to reflect on the nature of urban environments and our interplay with them as occupants—what they mean, what they remove, how they shape us, and how they distort our experiences and change our perceptions.

I’ve selected some of my favorites below. Click to view them larger.

This is just a tiny sample of Filip Dujardin extensive body of work. You can see much more in his book Fictions and over on his website. (Be sure to check out his Guimaraes series.) If you’re looking to purchase any of his pieces, many are available online at Artspace.com.


If you like Filip Dujardin’s work be sure to check out some of the other artists who I’ve found inspiring in the past. While there’s certainly a theme to the art that inspires me, you’ll find lots of different styles, tones, and moods.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →