ART! 15 Days of Inktober Fun!

Last year I tried out Inktober for the first time and while I really loved doing it, I only made it day 9 because it was around this time last year that the arthritis in my hands started to get worse and was making it very hard to hold a physical utensil. This year, I’ve been taking it a lot slower and have been using my Surface because drawing digitally means not having to control the pressure with my hand, but with the brushes instead. It’s a lot easier for me to hold the thicker tablet pen too.

I’m days behind but I’m being forgiving of myself because this is the most I’ve been able to draw in awhile and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. I decided to sketch animals that mean something to me in someway so every animal that follows has made some sort of connection in my life.

Hope everyone has had a very happy and spooky and cheerful October! You can follow the rest of my progress by following me on twitter or instagram. Update: Because of health issues, I wasn’t able to do any more inktober-specific art. BUT! This gave me a good boost of confidence in my art and I can’t wait to draw more. Thanks for all your support!

Learning How To Draw Again

One of my fave artists (she made my custom Shepard portrait) is helping me become a better artist and has been sending me really helpful tips and exercises to do that will help me relearn how to draw while dealing with arthritis (it’s been really hard on my hands). Her name is Cheyenne and she’s wonderful (you can find her work on Tumblr and her words over on Twitter). First step: gesture drawings to focus on how my hand moves.

Since I can’t stop watching Yuri On Ice (I’m watching it for the fifth time now), all my gestures are based on figure skating poses. These are each quick 30 seconds sketches to loosen up my pen flow. I’m still pretty slow and rigid, but I’m getting there and it means a lot to have the guidance of an artist I admire so much.

I’ll keep getting better every time I draw. One sketch at a time!

Lady Loki WIP and Accountability

I had mentioned before about the accountability swap I’m doing with my friend Meg. We were both absolutely swamped the last couple of weeks so it ended up falling off the radar, but we’re getting back at it. Our last topic was the Avengers (Meg’s choice) so I decided to do Lady Loki. Here’s the work in progress of it.

ladyloki-sk

Lady Loki channeling her inner Xena

One of the things I’m hoping to get out of this project is to work on my anatomy skills and attempt to draw some more dynamic poses and more realistic styles. I felt like doing a super hero was the perfect time to try to push myself on both of these things. I’m somewhat happy with it, though I’m definitely still struggling with anatomy. I used a comic book reference of Loki himself for the pose. One thing this is teaching me though is that I’d really like to start going to figure drawing classes again. I think it’d be a good reminder on how the human body works and moves.

What this overall exercise is also teaching me is that I really need to start actively making more time to draw. It’s so easy to let work overrun everything and then just climb into bed and ignore the rest of the day. I have a full-time 9-5 job and a part-time job on weekends (and some evenings), so drawing tends to be the first thing that falls to the wayside. But when I make myself actually sit down and be creative and force myself to set aside time, I always feel better. There’s a certain zen to drawing that I don’t feel with anything else and so I’m thankful that this accountability is there.

Anyway. If you have some anatomy advice or anything else, feel free to comment and let me know! ♥

Hey look! I remembered how to be an artist!

It’s been awhile since I drew on a daily basis, but I’ve been attempting to make it a regular thing again. Thanks to my awesomesauce friend Meg Smitherman, I’ve been at least doing it weekly. We’ve been doing an accountability sketch thing where we give ourselves one weekly topic and then draw it or sketch it however we see fit. Figured I’d do an art dumb of some of the sketches I’ve been working on for the challenges.

asyr

Topic: Star Wars | Sketch: Asyr Sei’lar, Rogue Squadron

edi

Topic: Mass Effect | Sketch: EDI

luna

Topic: Harry Potter | Sketch: Luna Lovegood

orianna

Tiefling Barbarians FTW!

That last one isn’t for the sketch thing – I just wanted to draw up an avatar for my Tiefling Barbarian that my play in our D&D campaign. Her name is Orianna and she’s loud and brash and likes shining things. She’s also very sarcastic and smooth with the ladies. I love her.

I’ve also been doing a little post-it note doodle challenge with myself to try and get the creative juices going in the morning. Usually I do these while I’m on client calls when I’m not taking notes (having my hands moving keeps my mind focused on what I’m listening to – I was a notorious doodler in classes too but it really does help) so they’re pretty small and silly. You can find these over on my twitter account. I try to post them pretty regularly. When I’m not sick. Fighting off a bad cough and cold right now so I’m a little slow.

Will post more art later! Working on finishing that Asyr sketch and the Luna one. Wish me luck!

Artist Showcase: Natalie Sklobovskaya

Haven’t done one of these in awhile, so let’s bring it back. Today’s artist showcase is of Natalie Sklobovskaya – an artist I discovered years back and haven’t been able to get out of my mind since. Her work is colorful and dark all at the same time and reminiscent of some of the old gothic romanticism-era artists.

nat05

nat01

Natalie studied Fine Arts and Communication Design at Washington University in St. Louis. A lot of her projects in college combined illustration with videos and her ability to tell an animated story in this way is pretty amazing. One of my favorites of hers is a video she did of Roza Shanina, a 20 year old female sniper from Russia. It’s a gorgeous piece of animation and you should all watch it.

nat04

nat02

When not illustrating, Natalie is a user interface designer and developer for software in California. She likes to learn languages (both of humans and of computers), writing, and eating desserts.

nat03

You can find more of Natalie’s work here:
Website: http://sklobovskaya.com/
Behance: https://www.behance.net/sklobovskaya
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/sklobovskaya
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sklobovskaya

Previous Artist Showcases:

Matt Spangler
David Lanham
Chelsea Conlin
Meg Smitherman
Viet-My Bui
Danielle Corsetto
Lois van Baarle
Erika Moen
Anne Julie Aubry
Jason Chan
Rory Doona
Phil Wall

kickstarter_jdillon

On my bedroom wall is a an art print called Life in Motion, by an incredibly talented artist named Julie Dillon. I’ve been a fan of her work for years, so when I heard tell that she had created a kickstarter to fund the first book of her Imagined Realm series, I was ecstatic to pledge.

This campaign isn’t just great because it showcases Julie’s amazing artwork, it is also an incredible for another reason: “‘Imagined Realms’ gives me the opportunity to spend more time creating my own illustrations and projects, and also gives me the chance to create more illustrations that feature positive and diverse representations of women.” Every piece of artwork in this book is of a beautiful, empowered, diverse and unique woman, all set in a fantasy world all her own. The end product is breath-taking.

I am incredibly excited to share with you an interview with Julie Dillon herself. She has graciously taken the time to answer a few questions about her artwork and her already-funded Kickstarter campaign.

jdillon01

Interview with Artist Julie Dillon

01. Your kickstarter only just launched and it’s already exceeded your goal. How do you feel with having such an amazing success already?

I feel relieved! This whole process has been really stressful, and it’s a big weight off my shoulders to know that I was able to get it funded. There’s still a ways to go to reach the stretch goals, and I have a lot of stuff to add on if the kickstarter gets to that level. Of course, while I want this to be as successful as possible, I’m also very aware of the fact that the higher it goes, the more work I’ll have to do to pack and ship everything. It’s just a big undertaking in general.

02. Tell us a little about what your process was for launching your kickstarter.

There was a lot more preparation work than I realized. At first I was only focused on making the art for the book, which was a big enough task in itself and took up several months. But as I got ready to launch, I realized I had to make all the site graphics, write up the press release, create a video (which I’d never done before), shop around for printers, price everything out, etc. I tried to stay on top of everything and not get too overwhelmed. If you just take it one small task at a time, it’s not so bad.

03. I adore that you’re focusing on empowered and diverse women. Is there a female person (fiction or non) that has inspired you in your work?

I don’t know that I can point to one individual person. I think rather I take inspiration from most women I meet, in some way or form. Their perseverance, how they handle adversity, their joy and love and how they express that in different ways.

jdillon02

04. Your work is so wonderfully colorful! Do you have a favorite color palette you enjoy working with the most?

I noticed a while back that the purple and gold combo tends to show up a lot in my work. I’m partial to anything with a complimentary color scheme, since that tends to be a very eye-catching and dynamic. Sometimes I try to do something with a more subtle or desaturated palette, but I always end up making it more bright and colorful in the end.

05. What advice would you give another artist who is hoping to launch a kickstarter for their own work?

Get as much prepared beforehand as possible, and plan your promotion strategy long before you launch. You need to get the word out, or it’ll be a lot harder to get funded. Avoid promotional services that you have to pay for; I tried a few and so far they have done absolutely nothing, whereas working with my existing contacts and networks led to most of my traffic. Think about what kind of blogs and websites might be interested in your project, and send them your press release and ask if they’d be interested in featuring you or maybe even interviewing you. Many won’t respond, but some might, and every little bit helps. Be prepared emotionally if the kickstarter doesn’t go well, but also be prepared logistically if it ends up being really successful. Lots of people get overwhelmed in the order fulfillment stage because they didn’t plan properly. But, also bear in mind that at the time I’ve written this, I’m only about a week and a half into my first kickstarter, and I still have a lot of learning to do myself. 🙂

jdillon03

Pledge to this Kickstarter!

You can pledge to Julie’s Imagined Realms: Book 1 Kickstarter by going to that page and donating at any pledge level. She has some great rewards and some even better stretch goals! So pledge, share, and celebrate in the awesome crowdfunding abilities of art lovers!

The World of Hayao Miyazaki + Beautiful Fanart [Part 1]

This is a post long in the making. A post I have been in the process of writing for a long time. A post highlighting the work of the greatest animator of our time: Hayao Miyazaki and his wonderful Studio Ghibli. A man who has brought more tears to my eyes than any other movie creator. I can’t adequately explain how his movies make me feel, but anyone who has ever watched Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke or any of his epic masterpieces… well. You understand.

Who is Hayao Miyazaki?

“Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese manga artist and prominent film director and animator of many popular anime feature films. Through a career that has spanned nearly fifty years, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a maker of animated feature films and, along with Isao Takahata, co-founded Studio Ghibli, a film and animation studio.” – Wikipedia.

He is best known for his strong female characters, his simple line art but elaborate background paintings, and his love for nature and magic and the belief that children are the most remarkable and courageous people on this earth. All of this shines in every one of his works.

In honor of The Wind Rises arriving to the US, I thought I would do a showcase of some of my favorite Miyazaki movie fanart. I absolutely love seeing how different artists bring his characters to light. Because he’s done so much amazing work – I’m breaking this up into 2 posts and we’re going to focus on the work he directed under Studio Ghibli. On with the show!
Click here to continue reading this article.

Today’s Webcomic Wednesday is one from the FUEL archives – we’re going back in time for an interview with E.K. Weaver of The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal fame, a (more than epic & NSFW) comic about two guys who throw caution to the wind, and take off on a cross-country road trip. As the author puts it, “”This is the story of two dudes who drive from Berkeley to Providence, take multiple detours, smoke too much weed, eat terrible Chinese food, sleep in seedy motels, get kicked out of a Goodwill, contemplate fate versus chance, piss into the sunset, start a brawl in a Waffle House, and fall in love.”

On with the Interview!

thumbnails

What started you down the road of comics?

I wouldn’t really say I’m “on the road of comics”… maybe on a smaller frontage road, or in the bike lane. I’ve always liked drawing quick sequentials, but never really identified as a Comic Book Artist – partly because it’s not how I make a living; partly because I’m still a very green amateur. Honestly, what got me started working on a comic book was realizing the story I had in mind was best told in that medium. That’s it. I’ve come to love it, though – the craft of comics, I mean. Scripting, pacing, timing, layout. It still blows me away that when you make a comic, you manipulate time with art. How cool is that?
penciled

Who was your biggest inspiration in the field of comics or cartoons?

Oh gosh, um. There are so many amazing artists (many my age and younger) who are continually evolving inspirations, but if we’re going with the past tense, I’d have to say Al Hirschfeld and Kyle Baker.

I’ve always admired Hirschfeld’s knack for distilling a person’s likeness down to its essential forms – not just facial resemblance but style of motion and posture as well. He depicts someone’s essence clearly even while rendering it in impossible ways – placing the eyes below the mouth, say, or drawing tight spirals for eyes. Not only that, but watching the documentary The Line King and seeing how instead of just flinging out these effortless curves and perfectly placed lines (as I’d previously thought), that he took each drawing through a painstaking sketching and refining process… it was like a beam of light out of the blue. I saw that pouring effort and time into artwork showed dedication, not inability to “get it right the first time”. That artists aren’t gods but people who work really damn hard.

As for Kyle Baker: His comics showed me the importance of acting. Characters don’t just move through a scene, they live it – they act it. Just read the first 10 or 15 pages of I Die At Midnight and you’ll see what I mean. His work is incredibly cinematic. Also, Baker’s books Why I Hate Saturn and Undercover Genie – and more recently, How to Draw Stupid – have been huge inspirations. There’s a LOT of Saturn influence in TJ and Amal – building characters through conversation and facial expression, setting the story in its place and period rather than trying to make it ‘timeless’, telling the story in ordered vignettes rather than one continuous arc…

What were some early creations – and what do you think of them now?

Comics-wise? I don’t really have much to speak of. Most of my creative projects before TJ and Amal were commercial illustration and design, or fandom stuff I did just for fun. Nothing I could call a truly original creation.
inked01

What is your favorite medium to work with?

Plain old mechanical pencil.

Regarding your process of creating a finished panel, what is your favorite part? Sketching, lineart, or the color?

Probably the first passes in pencil and ink. That’s when things really start to solidify, and when the emotion starts to show clearly. It gets me pretty pumped to see everything finally taking shape.
inked02

How long does it take you to create a final, fully-detailed comic?

We’ll find out. Three years, at least. *haha* A single page takes between 6 and 15 hours, and a 10-page segment usually will take between 3 and 6 weeks. (I have a day job, so comicking happens on weekends and at night. )

Who is your favorite – TJ or Amal?

I can honestly say I do not favor one over the other. Amal’s easier for me to relate to, but TJ’s dialogue is much easier to write.
finished

If TJ and Amal were stranded in a rainforest, do you think they’d survive? (And who would crack first?)

Probably. TJ’s appetite might have him end up eating some nasty mushroom, though. (Amal would crack first, just because of all the bugs.)

Annnndddd…. What is your favorite webcomic?

Oh man, that’s like setting me loose in a cheesemonger’s and telling me I can only pick one! Erm, so I won’t.
For strips, probably either Nedroid, Hark! A Vagrant, Girls With Slingshots, or Something Positive. I’ve been following those last two for a long time. Long-form webcomics I like include Hanna is not a Boy’s Name, Templar, AZ, The Meek, Octopus Pie… I don’t think I can go on without leaving someone important out, but there are way more than this! There’s so much love, enthusiasm, and talent out there in the webcomics world. It’s really exciting.
final
You can find more about E.K. Weaver and her art here:

americangods
Polnoc by Faqy

“I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.

I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen – I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women.

I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.

I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.

I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds.

I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman.

I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.

I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.

I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too.

I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

Neil Gaiman, American Gods

moongod01

“Making his plush debut, it’s the cuddliest, cutest Little Moon God! He is an original character I created years ago based off an Inuit legend about the Sun and the Moon. In the Inuit legend, the moon is a male deity and chases the female deity of the sun all throughout the sky for eternity. The character has evolved over the years and I’ve now refined him into a super cute design fitting for a perfect, unique and exciting plush toy.”

Whenever I see an illustrator I follow get on the crowdfunding bandwagon and start up a Kickstarter, I have to jump on it. So when I saw that Kaitlin ‘Kit’ Reid had created a Kickstarter for her gorgeous Little Moon God Plush, I sent her an email straight away asking to showcase it and interview her. Thankfully for you all, she said yes!

moongod02

I love LOVE Kit’s artwork and I think it’s every artists’ dream to see one of their creations created into something physical enough to cuddle. I’m so happy I give Kit’s Kickstarter a little push to enable her to meet her stretch goals and create more gorgeous pieces of art. That being said, let’s get on with the interview!

Kickstarter Interview: Kaitlin Reid

01. Where did the idea of the Little Moon God come from? How has his character evolved and why did you decide to make a plush out of him?

The idea for the Little Moon God came from a college assignment, actually. We were tasked with illustrating a folktale of our choosing. I chose a very interesting legend about the origins of the sun and moon, and created two characters to embody those themes. At first the Little Moon God was “moon man” and he stood upright on two legs, and had glowing teal tattoos all over his body. He has morphed into the little fellow we know and love over 5 years or so. I decided to try to make a plush out of him, specifically, because he has always been a character people are drawn to, plush I feel a certain connection to him as well having worked with the character for so long.

02. How did you go about defining your pledge levels and rewards? Your stretch goals?

It’s a lot of math, planning, and kind of hoping it pans out. I’m not going to lie, it was very stressful and I almost quit a few times. My wonderful boyfriend helped me through it and supported my horrible math skills by supplying his own. You need to factor in your taxes and shipping fees, and be willing to gamble with potentially spending money out of your own pocket. If I just hit the basic funding level, I’d still have to put money into the project. There is no such thing as free money!

03. What’s been your favorite part of the whole Kickstarter process?

The love and support of people that I both know and do not know! It’s been an incredible first few days. I never dreamed I’d hit my funding level within the first 24 hours. It’s incredibly validating to see so many people really excited for your work.

04. What’s been the hardest part of the process? How did you deal with it?

I believe the hardest part was the one I mentioned before. I did almost quit a few times because the numbers seemed so against me and almost impossible to make. I would never have imagined bringing in over $5,000 in pledges so quickly.

05. What advice would you give fellow illustrators and creatives who are looking at starting their own Kickstarter campaigns?

Research! Spread your social media networks! And most of all really do your accounting. I’m learning as I go, and it’s certainly the least fun part about the whole thing. You really need to budget everything and come up with multiple scenarios for how it might all go down. You can’t predict pledges, so budget for the worse case scenario so you don’t actually wind up in the red from the kickstarter! Research what it will require to package and ship all of your orders out as well, it gets expensive fast.

06. LAST QUESTION! What is… your favorite color?

Ahh, I have to say pink! Though right now I am SUPER obsessed with the mint color that’s been floating around this seasons fashion…I painted my studio in mint a few months ago!

moongod03

Kaitlin Reid graduated MICA and currently works for a small animation studio in Baltimore. In her down time, she enjoys drawing fantasy critters and people, making costumes, and going to conventions.

moongod04

You can find from Kaitlin on her website Sunset Dragon, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Etsy!