Thursday, August 21, 2014

Angel of Sympathy

The original sketch of this was done on June 13.  I just looked back at the blog post and confirmed.  So almost 10 weeks had gone by before I finally got around to inking it. T_T  Better late than never!  Not always, but for most anything that I start out doing, this saying definitely fits.  So, I'm happy that I managed to get around to it.

My second angel.  I'm going ahead and releasing her as a digital stamp without the fanfare of the showcase.  After all, I feel it's kind of depressing to color an image that's primarily for sympathy cards.  Also, you just never know when someone might need it.  I feel better to make her available sooner than later.

Ink on paper, 8.5" x 11".  While I was working on sprites (They can be easily drawn in a space smaller than a sheet of paper one fourth of this size.), this just seemed like an enormous task and I danced around it until it got buried under other projects.  Once I finished these two monster line drawings for the collaborative coloring book projects, this one seemed like a nice easy walk in a park.  Funny how a change of perspective is all it takes sometimes to remove the fear and trepidation from something.  ^^;  Like I've said before many times, cleaning lines as I ink is not a meditative, pleasant undertaking.  It's simply nerve-racking and stressful.  Requires much concentration, focus, and control.  At the end of a session (as I tend to work in a really long stretch unless someone/something comes up to bother me), my eyes are tired and my right shoulder definitely holds a lot of tension.  Not fun. LOL  I need to learn to take small breaks.  (The reason I can't take breaks is that despite all this complaining I do, I'm having FUN with all this!)

Over all, pretty happy with it.  Don't know if I ever get to color it with the work load lined up already...  I still haven't had a chance to finish the colored version of "Leanne's Angel"...

Anyhow, I'm just happy that I'm feeling almost back to normal after something like a food poisoning on Sunday.  Today was the first time I could comfortably sit at my drawing table and work. :)  It feels good to get one of the almost-forgotten pieces finished.  Always a good feeling.

UPDATE:  "Angel of Sympathy" is now at my Etsy shop here and at the AW web shop here.  The digi comes at 2100 x 2700 pixels at 300 dpi (7"x 9"/17.8 x22.9 cm), large enough if you want to color the angel for framing, or size down for any card project.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Made the Deadline with Time to Spare

Yippee!  Managed to get the inking done on this monster piece after all! *HAPPY*  I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make the deadline with the print-ready file.  The deadline is 3 am my time tonight.  It's 12:15 right now!  Woot!

I thought my "Desert Rose" had a fair amount of details, but oh boy, this one sets the new standard, even for me. XD  I guess I've been craving to do work like this after months of producing simple pieces to be released straight to digis.  Sprites and mer-tots are fun in a different way, but it's "Rococo Cinderella" type of work that I can really put my personal stamp on.  I love taking my time figuring out mind-boggling details (usually in a format a little too small), just to push myself and see it finished.

When I had the figure inked, I felt a little overwhelmed about the pumpkin carriage (I generally don't like drawing things like circles, straight lines, arches, etc.).  This one required design details to be worked out before I could ink, so it was extra slow going, cleaning the lines as I inked.

"Rococo Cinderella" WIP 1
I even took a break to see who won the "Last Comic Standing".  Not the lady I was rooting for, so that was anticlimactic - two hours of dillydallying programming and then ...disappointment. ^^;  Oh, well.  Came back to my desk to finish up the woods and rose bushes in the background.  Relentless.

As Jr. remarked, this is probably the most I've ever done of the background.  I feel it's a bit of an overkill, but hey, the whole Rococo style is all about overkill.  I like researching the period costumes of most any kind.  But this era in particular is about as fun as Japan's Heian period.  Excessively decorative garments among the highborn in both cultures.  It's outrageous and impractical as he**, but that's what makes it FUN!

"Rococo Cinderella" line art for submission
 I am submitting this piece to Ellen Million Graphics call for submissions of the Fairy Tales coloring book.  These volumes (Dark Fantasy, Mermaids, Arabian Nights, Zombies, and Fairy Tales) will be multi-artist collaborative compilations.  I wish I could have submitted a few more, but this is the minimum I wanted to (hopefully) contribute this time, so I have to be pretty happy that I made the deadline. ^_^

I have two volumes (not one, but two) of coloring books of my own in the works with Ellen.  I hope she's about ready to finalize the selections for the above mentioned titles, so we can get ready to proceed. :D  The deadline was extended several times, but each extension by progressively shorter duration.  First extension was by 6 month, then 1 month, and then 2 weeks, and now 1 day.  I hope I'm not the only one who procrastinated... ^^;

It would be so wonderful if the books can go into print well before this Christmas. *fingers crossed*  Coloring books are fun and they do well in my shop.  It'll also be so fun to color my artist friends' works when these compilation titles come out. :D

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Deadline Looms

As much fun as it is to be able to draw whatever I feel like and list them at the shop, I always enjoy the push and challenge of working for some projects that offer opportunity to produce something for a theme.  I'm currently pushing deadline for the submissions for multi-artist collaborative coloring books.  These books will be published by the same publisher, Ellen Million Graphics, that has brought my coloring book "Gardens & Goddesses", so I know the quality will be wonderful.  Besides that, I'd be working with many of my close friends from Sketch Fest and Enchanted Visions Project, and it's fun!

Currently on the list of call for submissions are: Dark Fantasy, Mermaids, Arabian Nights, Fairy Tales, and Zombies.  I've already submitted a piece to the Zombies book, and the first two titles may contain some images I've previously submitted for my own coloring book projects, so what's left for me are the Arabian Nights and Fairy Tales.

Though I originally wanted to work on a flying mechanical horse story (with a steampunk spin), but I've ran out of time and had to settle for a belly dancer image.  It was something I've always wanted to do, along with Irish dancer, geisha, Hula dancer, among many other dances of the world, so I'm not bummed that I didn't get to work on the mechanical horse bits.  Some day... I will get to it!

"Desert Rose" cropped view

I'm only showing the cropped view above, but this one actually has a simple arched window with desert landscape with a crescent moon beyond.  The belly dancer had to strike a pose on her knees in order to fit without losing details in a blur within the 8.5 x 11 inch format.  I find it rather interesting that she ended up looking peculiarly like Mila Kunis.  I never use a reference for my characters' faces, so that was a coincidence.  It was fun to draw the ornate costume.  It's always fun to draw the costumes because I get to play the designer. :D  Something I've always found fun ever since my childhood.

Next, in the next two days, I'm going to try to get a piece done for the Fairy Tales book.  Keeping my fingers crossed as I have multiple errands (kid-related) to run and choppy days like that tends to be quite unproductive for me. ^^;

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why Do Some People...

Think pictures/images should be free?  I, like so many others, have often wondered about this.  When you're in the business of art, sooner or later, you'll see someone you know - be a famous artist or one of your artist friends - become a victim of art theft of one kind or another.  And sadly, sooner than I had ever thought, I've come across it, too.  Multiple times.

Most are fairly harmless, though rather infuriating cases.  DeviantART is full of art thieves, but most of them are newly joined members (under age) who desperately crave attention.  Because of their need for recognition and attention, they will either download or save someone's art they see on the site and upload it onto their account and claim they painted/drew it.  Some would even go as far to alter the image just slightly (e.g. mirror the image, edit the colors a little, add their own poorly attempted watermark without removing the original watermark).  Luckily, in my case, I have enough followers and they either report the cases to me so I can take action, or more often, they'll take action by commenting on the offfenders' profile.  As rampant as art theft is on deviantART, their customer service desk's action on art theft is swift.  On cases where I made reports personally, most have been taken care of within hours, not days, weeks, month... HOURS.  I like them for that.  It seems to be vastly superior compared to sites like Pinterest, Facebok, etc....

As an artist who sells digital stamps, file sharing is a concern.  When a customer reports that one of her friends tried to talk her into swapping some files, it saddens me.  It's a clear indication that these few people just don't understand the harm they're doing to the art community at large.  These file 'sharing' (What a nice word!) people clearly do not believe in paying for images.  I doubt that they routinely shoplift from a brick and mortar store that sells physical goods.  There's this perception, a lingering perception, that digital goods (images, PDF files of books, music) somehow fall outside of the 'you pay for it' concept.

Perhaps not as guilty as those who steal, but just as annoying, are those who think 'asking for permission to use image' means 'getting to use it for FREE'.  I no longer agree to any of these requests unless the exposure is fairly large that being seen pays off in some way (or there is, at least, a 'perception' that there could be something in it for me).  Among those asking for "permission", the most offensive has to be the 'asking for permission to use image for a tattoo" crowd.  These people are willing to pay good money to their tattoo artists, but they expect to get your image for free.  Makes no sense to me at all.  And my short answer is always 'no'.  I've had people innocently ask me "But isn't it flattering that they like it so much they ask for a permission?".  Not really.  I don't know where on the body it's going to be.  I don't know how good (or bad) the tattoo artist is going to be.  And flattery does not put food on the table nor roof over my family's head.

Music industry has suffered immensely.  Art community continues to suffer as well.  There seems to be a  perceived detachment between the product and the person who produced it.  The art/image these thieves (and people who refuse to pay for it) see is not connected to an individual artist who made it.  And they definitely do not see these artist are people just like you and me, who have family (at the least, themselves) to support.   And that's what saddens me the most.  I know that majority of the artists who sell digital stamps are not hugely successful million-dollar companies.  Most are micro-business of one artist doing all the work.  Art is their source of income.  By sharing and swapping files among "friends", these people are stealing from the artists (and their families).  By sharing and swapping, they force small companies to close and individual artists to stop selling digital stamps.  So despite the appearance that "they're not hurting anyone", the contrary is true.  They're hurting individual artists, companies that represent these artists, and the whole field of digital stamps and the paper crafting community.

The anonymity afforded by the web experience, no doubt, plays a role in the rampant art theft and file sharing.  As much as I tried to be available and be engaged with my fans on Facebook and through my shop communications, there'll always be those who think nothing about file sharing of digital stamps because they think that anything and everything that's on the Internet is free for taking.

I don't want to wrap up my post in a negative tone, so I'll say this.  I'm fortunate to know thousands of good, honest people who pay for my digital stamps.  In the short amount of time I've been in the business, these kind and creative people have really embraced my art by purchasing my digis and creating beautiful projects and showing them online in various places.  They send me words of encouragement, thanks, and so much love.  So the overwhelmingly large majority of the positive will completely overshadow the few bad cases that pop up here and there.  In the end, it is a reflection of the cross section of life in general.  Some good, some bad.  I'll keep going 'sharing' my art by selling my digital stamps with those who enjoy it.  I will align my energy with the positive people and things in my life.   And secretly pray that karma will be a b*#$^ to those who do bad.

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Release "Marie Nyantoinette"

With my daughter's school back in session, this week was a little more hectic than I anticipated (and I anticipated busy and loaded schedule).  This morning was a bit of a struggle as I had less than an hour to wrap up all the loose ends I had to quickly take care of before the new release + DT showcase of the new digi "Marie Nyantoinette".

The digi was finished a while ago, but with so many other things going on, I didn't get around to start on the full-color version till it was too late. ^^;  I ended up making the "partially colored sample" that goes with the Etsy listing out of half finished image this time around. XD   Well, I'll get around to it.  Just have too many things on my plate at the moment.  And you know how it is.  When you're already stretched to the limit, more work flows in from forgotten sources.

I just recently had to turn down a commission request (I've been turning down so many commission requests since around March of this year...) from a family friend.  Because of the health situation he is in, plus it was for a family reunion, with his parents celebrating something like a 50th year wedding anniversary, I felt terrible for saying 'no', but it simply was not feasible.  He wanted a family portrait ... hand drawn with who knows how many members (He has 3 kids himself, and I have no idea how many siblings he has.).  And he wanted it by next month...  Not possible. :(

Close up look at the work in progress.  I've added 'mouches' (fake beauty marks that were all the rage back in the day).
I've become quite 'unavailable' to people who used to know me casually or from my ballet days.  I still get asked to teach ballet classes (How amazing is that?), and get inquiries for Japanese lessons, but you know... I'm doing what I really wanted to do and enjoy doing, and I no longer have to do all these other things I'd rather say 'no' to, even if it's art-related.  I feel very fortunate about my current situation, but not everyone has caught on to my schedule change. ^^;  I guess I'll be fielding similar questions a little longer. LOL

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Gift

I had the line art done a while ago and released the inked with no colors version as a digital stamp last month.  Finally got around to color this piece -- "The Gift", one of Enchanted Visions Project's older themes I never tackled... until now.  I've been back doing more digital coloring in Corel again after a stretch of a year or so of doing mostly "traditional" (drawing and painting on paper) work.

I can't say about other digital artists out there, but for me, the painting process is pretty much the same as I would be working in watercolor with some mixed media thrown in like colored pencil and pastel.  Still, having the convenience of the 'undo'  command when there's an accident of whatever kind (or testing something out and changing my mind immediately afterwards lol) is ultimately what makes it less stressful, fun, and relaxing for me.  My line work usually require a lot of concentration (regardless whether I'm inking on paper or inking digitally), so I can't exactly say that I enjoy that phase of work all that much.  Coloring, on the other hand, even if it's with actual watercolor and brushes, is far more relaxing.  And even if I need to redo something when I'm doing traditional work, there are ways to lift colors (albeit not completely back to a clean slate...) to minimize most "damages" I manage to do to my own work.

I still have several pieces of pencil sketches just waiting for me to work on. ^^;  Plus, there are two images I would like to submit to a couple of compilation coloring book titles (I don't even have the sketches for them... just mental images.) by mid-August.  And I've taken on a few pieces of illustration for an author.  Anyhow, this will be yet another crazy busy fall-winter.  Tons of ideas floating in my head and not enough time.  ^^;

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Coming Attractions at AuroraWings

Busy busy and it's a good thing.  In fact, it's great! :D  I get to earn money doing what I enjoy.  I call it doodling.  I honestly never dreamed that I'd be making a living doodling!  While I was growing up, my teachers believed in me, but none of my family members liked the idea a teensy bit!  XD lol

Now that I've got myself a second team of designers for the digi business, I'm getting a little more organized and less haphazard about releasing my digis.  Prior to finally coming to this arrangement, I would draw, scan, clean, and list an image whenever it was finished.  Now that I have a lot of crafters wanting to help me out, I'm able to get their help making spectacular samples made with my digis.  A lot of my ladies are so creative and such wonderful thinkers outside of the box, the 'inspiration' pieces we can offer at the AW Challenge Blog are phenomenal on a monthly basis.  This is great because there's just no time for me to do it all if I were to be able to draw and produce new art on a regular basis.

Getting more organized about new releases largely means that I have to hold onto the digi files that are ready for weeks at a time.  I do get a little fidgety and like to do some teasing by showing a cropped image here and there.  I guess it's also a good thing to create a buzz and keep everyone interested. ^_^

Marie Antoinette #2 is coming.  This one almost sat in oblivion with all these ruflles and hair details.  It's fun to look at once it's finished, but it's a little mind-boggling and can be overwhelming on a wrong day. LOL

Another preview of Marie Antoinette #2.  This digi will be released along with a big designer showcase with my Challenge Blog DT. :D  Coming August 8, 2014.

But before Marie arrives, there will be more of the Mer-tots coming. :D  Can't believe I still haven't given my collection a name.  I call them Mer-babies, Mermies, Merbies, etc.  They're fun to draw.  I'm hoping to capture the fun, wonder, and joy of childhood in these mer-tots images.  This one is scheduled for release on August 4.  I will be unveiling my new Showcase Blog DT on the same day with a showcase of their creations with this digi.

Here's another sneak peek view of the same digi. :D  I do like teasing the members at the FB group. LOL

And also in the works is this one.  Yet another from the Mer-tots series.  This image is getting worked on by the designers.  I have come across a delay, though.  I'm hoping to release around mid-August, but not 100% sure.  *fingers crossed*

As if all of this doesn't keep me busy enough, I just recently learned that the second licensee of PSP tubes (these are web sized images with background removed, so you can basically do digital scrapbooking to make forum tags, etc.) decided to close its door.  There seems to be a lot of tube companies - some big, many small - out there.  It's never been even close to a major source of my art income for me, but it's one industry that routinely pays much better royalties (most of them are around 70 to 80% rather than the "industry standard" 10% ... or even less).  I believe tubes were the very first contract I signed when I was a newbie in the fantasy art world...

Getting back on track here.  What I've decided to do with my tubes is that I will not sign with another company.  I'm going to go rogue.  Well, that sounds kind of bad (or bada$$-ish...).  Let's say, I'm going to go solo. LOL  Yep, I'll be selling my PSP tubes at my Etsy shop since they handle digital downloads to make things easy for us, and I will also set up tube shop at my web site.  I'm not expecting much business from tube sales anyway, and this is not something that require actual customer service in a traditional sense of the word, so I might as well sell on my own and get all the profit.  ^^;

How I'm going to squeeze that project into my work load...  That's something that I'll have to think about later. :D