Cave Dancer

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Cave Dancer is a standalone image by Iron Eater. It ran in Artist Special 5 at, and is mirrored at


This piece was created entirely in Clip Studio Paint (AKA Manga Studio 5) using a combination of binary default brushes and blending tools working over a scanned pencil sketch.

Artist's Notes[edit]

This picture is based on a character created by my spouse for an online game; I wanted to experiment more with fabric and more elaborate painting than I usually do, so a subject I already somewhat recognized was a good match for this issue! Dance being a strong visual form of communication even gave me a connection to the theme. He is technically a type of elf, and while I tend to draw slitted cat-eyes on my elves the horns are completely the work of my other half. He actually isn't connected to World of Warcraft despite being purple.

His clothes changed multiple times based on how much of the underlying flesh tones I felt like covering up; a little shrug-coat I'd originally planned on was scrapped entirely since I couldn't stand obscuring the muscle tone I'd labored over for so long. Things like his hand/foot jewelry and the pattern on his bracers and greaves were afterthoughts that turned out to really bring everything together. Making sure he wasn't overly cut was a definite challenge since his build needed to be trim and developed without having rock-hard abs or bulging biceps. Aside from the background, the last thing I did for this composition was finishing the hair. Poor guy was bald throughout multiple WIP images I saved along the way!

The background was done in a single sitting while listening to various episodes of the Lore podcast. I could have easily poured hours and hours more into this, but part of art is figuring out when you've hit the "good enough" point, and I think I managed that here.