Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WIP - Marianne and Elinor

I don't usually post WIPs (work in progress) on this blog, because they feel like spoilers to me. But here's an exception.

This piece is for the upcoming Ladies of Literature Volume II anthology, a collaborative art book with the theme of female characters in literature and female authors. The organizers (Arielle Jovellanos and Janet Sung) are planning to run a Kickstarter for the book in February, and I can't post the finished illustration until then. I'm going to have busy winter so I'm getting started on this early. By February you'll have forgotten about this WIP, so I'm ok with posting it now.

I chose to depict Marianne and Elinor Dashwood from Sense & Sensibility because I liked the idea of illustrating their contrasting personalities. Technically I'm only supposed to draw one main character, and the other has to be more of a supporting character. So I'm focusing on Marianne because she's always upstaging her sister anyway.

Deciding on a color scheme is proving to be a challenge for this illustration, because I want the whole thing to have a cool English foggy tone, but I also want Marianne to be very colorful. Conundrum!

Are the open and closed books too obvious a metaphor? Definitely.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sketches of Handsome Actors

Last night I discovered that sketching handsome actors is a pleasant way to pass the time. This is Ioan Gruffold, from the new tv show Forever.

I've been watching House M.D. lately. It's a good show to watch while drawing because it's just constant dialogue interrupted by the occasional seizure.

This is Omar Epps from House.

This is either Benedict Cumberbatch or a young Tom Hanks...I'm...I'm not sure. Whoever you think it looks more like, that's who I meant to draw.

Another attempt at Benedict Cumberbatch. He is freaking hard to draw. I suggest a new challenge: Draw one Benedict per day.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alternative Press Expo (APE) Roundup

Last weekend was the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. I shared a table with my dear friend Anna Inkyung Lee. Many of my classmates from the Academy of Art University were also there as attendees or exhibitors.

APE took place at Fort Mason, in a gigantic hangar. I was afraid that the isolated area would effect turnout, but as you can tell from the above photo, I needn't have worried. Between the hundreds of eye-catching displays, the thousands of tattooed and dreadlocked and rainbow-haired attendees, the noise and the late summer heat, it was pretty overwhelming.

The weekend was an interesting mix of ego-boosting and ego-crushing. All day long I got to hear people say "I like your art!" and "your art is beautiful!" I felt like some kind of celebrity - especially when people asked me to sign things. But there were also slow periods, especially in the mornings. At one point, 3 hours had gone by and I'd made $3 selling 3 postcards. I was starting to question my life choices. I was also very hungry.

Despite those low moments, overall my sales at APE were pretty good, similar to what I made at Spectrum. The profits didn't cover the cost of the trip, even though I was able to keep my costs down by staying at a friend's house instead of a hotel. People seemed to like my $1 postcards. I hope that someday I'll figure out a way to make these art shows more profitable, because I like doing them.

There were so many things I wanted to buy at the show! Very difficult to hold myself back. I bought these cute stickers of Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope from heymonster. I want to put them somewhere where they can remind me to work hard.

I bought this graphic novel for my brother, who is an Abraham Lincoln fan. Author/illustrator Chris Butzer drew this amazing picture of Lincoln on the inside cover, totally from memory.

Later he bought one of my art books. I drew a picture of Abraham Lincoln on the inside cover for him, even though my book has nothing to do with Lincoln. I thought I being was so clever and funny; Chris seemed mildly amused.

This was the view from the convention hall. At any time during the show we could step outside and see the sailboats go by. Amazing!

San Francisco is a beautiful city. Every time I visit I feel lucky to be there.

I plan to go to next year's APE, if I can.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Helpful Links for Illustrators

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Style Evolution

I thought that you guys might like to see some of my old drawings, like old stuff from art school and REALLY old stuff from childhood.


My favorite things to draw were fairies, ballerinas, princesses, brides, dolphins, angels and swans. I enjoyed the vintage illustration in classic fairy tale books, so I tried to make my heroines slender and elegant. I wrote my own books with illustrations on each page - including my own "choose your own adventure" books, because I didn't feel like the library had enough of those.


My Mom gave me a book about drawing pencil portraits, and from then on that was all I did.  I mostly drew Lord of the Rings fanart and portraits of my friends. I improved a lot in drawing realism and faces, but my work lost all its imagination and narrative. I also got into anime during this time, but I believe all my early attempts at drawing anime have been destroyed, thankfully.

After college, before art school (2010)

Because I majored in Japanese, I didn't do much drawing during college and my work hadn't really evolved since high school. I stayed in my pencil portrait comfort zone. While I could draw realistically, I had no idea how to develop a scene from my imagination, relying entirely on photographs. When I applied to the Academy of Art University, they asked me to submit a portfolio. Here are some of the things I submitted.

Beginning art school (2011)

Here I began to attempt digital painting, working in color, and drawing simple backgrounds. I still used photo references but also tried to introduce some imaginary elements. Oil painting classes taught me a lot about light and color.

Middle of art school (2012)

As I took classes about perspective and environment, I was able to start drawing complete scenes. My illustrations and color schemes became more complex, and I began to be able to express some imagination.

Last year of art school (2013) to present

In my last year of art school I really felt like I hit my stride. I developed my own method of digital painting that worked for me and produced consistent results. Interestingly, my specialty is now illustrations that tell stories, and I almost never draw characters floating in space - the opposite of what I used to do. I would like to improve at drawing buildings and city scenes.

In childhood I focused on telling stories, in adolescence I focused on drawing people realistically, and as an adult I've found a way to combine those two interests.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Quote of the Day

"I avoid burn-out by refusing to be too hard on myself. I always take weekends off and I refuse to act on self-destructive thinking patterns like 'I'm not doing enough, I should be better by now, I am not as good as other artists.' The stress that these thoughts can cause is poisonous."

- Lois Van Baarle in Design Inspiration

Monday, September 22, 2014

Personal Work: The Lost Princess

As Princess Rosamond grew up, everybody about her did his best to convince her that she was Somebody; and the girl herself was so easily persuaded of it that she quite forgot that anybody had ever told her so, and took it for a fundamental, innate, primary, first-born, self-evident, necessary, and incontrovertible idea and principle that SHE WAS SOMEBODY.
Recently I was commissioned to draw some super, super girly book covers. I can't post them online yet, but trust me: there were sparkles, there were magic rainbows, there were tiny glowing fairies, and it was fun. Since then I've wanted to draw something girly, but I wasn't sure what to draw.

Something brought back the memory of a favorite childhood book: "The Lost Princess" by George MacDonald. Published in 1875, it seems to have been mostly forgotten by the modern world. In the book, Princess Rosamond is a horribly spoiled brat. She is kidnapped by a wise old woman, who tries to do the princess a favor by teaching her humility, gentleness, and empathy. She uses magical tests and trials, and an intelligent sheepdog named Prince, but it's not easy to reach someone's heart.

The story is actually a profound spiritual allegory about the nature of sin and repentance. I regret that my illustration fails to reflect this whole aspect of the book - I was just really excited to draw a pouting, sullen princess.

My thumbnail was pretty bare. I designed this as a wraparound book cover, just to make things harder on myself, I don't know.

As you can see from this process gif, I sort of made this up as I went along.

I tried to make the princess's dress pretty over-the-top, to emphasize her pampered lifestyle, to contrast her with the solid grey of the old woman, and to make her look out-of-place in the natural surroundings. The ruffled collar might be my favorite part of this drawing.

I used Kyler Webster's gouache brushes on this piece. Sometimes they're difficult to use on tight details, but I like the brushy texture they add.

This is how I imagine the front cover would look: