Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Preview of the New Coloring Book

Just saw this in an e-mail newsletter from Ellen Million Graphics* (the publisher of my coloring books and other coloring books for grown-ups).  Eek!  It's a preview of all the pages that are in the new half-size Sprites coloring book, vol. 1.

image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics
The Sprites coloring books will be in a smaller format (easy to fit into your bag and carry anywhere and whip it out and color whenever you have time to kill).  And fewer pages than the full-size cousins (so that the books will be able to actually close and don't look as if exploding LOL).  Same paper stock and one-sided printing as the other books.  This book is rated "Pretty Easy" so it is suitable for children and adults who love these little flower babies.

You can order this coloring book right now at Ellen Million Graphics at this link.

I will be listing this coloring book at the AuroraWings Etsy shop once I have stock at the house and be able to process your orders right away.

The book will probably become available on Amazon here shortly as well since Ellen sells all her coloring books there as well.

* Ellen Million Graphics has been publishing coloring books for grown-ups way before 'adult coloring' became the big trend it is today.  The current trend still has a major focus on mandalas and repetitive doodle-like designs mass produced by large publishing houses, but Ellen's books are created in a totally different way.  She is a fantasy artist herself, and her business has always focused on products that bring other fantasy artists together and promote their work.  She used to publish a monthly e-zine called EMG-Zine with articles, tutorials, fiction, poems, and artwork contributed by fellow fantasy artists.  Ellen also is the tireless host of Sketch Fest, a monthly event, where anyone can give prompts for participating artists to select and work on.  Ellen Million Graphics' coloring books are books of fantasy themes by fantasy artists.   You'll still find princesses and mermaids, but the lines are more complex and geared toward teen & grown-ups.  Some are single-artist titles like my books, and many others are multi-artist collaboration compilations (I contribute line art for these, too.).  Whatever books you choose, you can feel good about supporting the creative efforts of individual artists, each one of them is a micro-business of their own.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ice Cream Sundae Sprite

With new coloring books of my Sprites on the way, I just finished my 63rd, "Ice Cream Sundae Sprite".  Originally, the Sprites were flower babies, but then some came along that were veggies and mushrooms.  Then came the cupcake and ladybug.  So now, I'm in an expansion mood.

It's so easy to get behind on the coloring of my digital stamp images.  I'd like to have them ready when the line art digis come out, but more often than not, I don't get around to doing the color version.  I like having the partially colored preview/sample image on my listings, so in a time crunch, I literally only paint parts of the image to make the preview.  I don't want to get in a habit of that as it restricts what else I can do with an image, like licensing for other products from tubes to cross stitch charts.

I'm happy to be able to show this fully colored version for a change this time.  ^_^

For a Sprite, this one is loaded with details.  When you just look at the digi version, it looks simple enough, but when you really stop and think about it, this one has a lot of different textures in it, making for a nice challenge if you want to really tackle it hard core. lol  Whipped cream (as white stuff is always tricky), syrup, shiny fruits, then glass bowl.  Glass is intimidating for a lot of people.  It's actually kind of fun to really look at something and try to reproduce it.  In my work, especially with the digis, it's so easy to relax and go on an auto-pilot mode doodling manga/anime style all the time.  It was nice to actually push for a little bit of realism with the colored version of this new Sprite.  I'm pretty happy with the way the bottom of the image came out with the swirls of chocolate syrup and melty ice cream showing through a clear glass bowl.    All in all, this was a fun one, though I was up past 1:30 on Thursday night working (But it's partly because I took a lunch break and watched an episode of Ink Master, which turned into a stretch of binge-watching of multiple episodes...  Got to get better at time management!).

I really need to get the Green Man inked.  I also have another exotic plant Sprite sketched out (Black Bat Orchid aka Bat Flower) and waiting to become Sprite #64.  All the while, cleaning up more files for the coloring books and catching up on coloring all the inked-but-not-finished stash that need to be sent to my cross stitch chart manufacturer.  Busy is good, right? :D

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Garden Sprites Coloring Book in the Works

Thanks to the wonderful response my coloring books have been receiving, I was able to get a new coloring book project rolling with my publisher.  I have received many requests for coloring books of my Sprites, so I'm thrilled to share with you that they are in the works!

I have drawn over 60 Sprites to date.  These books will be a half size (approximately 5.5 x 8 inches) and will have fewer pages than my full-size coloring books.  The Sprites were originally produced as ACEOs, which are, by definition, 2.5 x 3.5 inches.  The digis of them have been offered at 5 x 7 inches to make coloring easier and to give the digi users a little more flexibility in size for crafting with them.  The coloring books will be similar in digi size.   I've been busy redrawing some of my earlier Sprites on my digital tablet for the fist volume of the book.  I could really see the development of the style over 60+ Sprites!  :D

The books will contain 12 Sprites each.  The editor decided that this was a good number for a smaller format book (Too many pages and the book will not quite close right...).  She and I picked out the first set of Sprites to go into the upcoming release.  We've decided on categorizing them and presenting them in non-chronological and non-alphabetical order.  So you will get a nice mix of my Sprites from back when they first debuted in the summer of 2013 on original ACEOs to more recent digi releases.

Cover image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics

I spent last week working on the digital redrawing of the line art of many of the early Sprites.  The files have now been sent to the publisher and we now wait for the proof from the printer to come in before the final green light.  The project is moving at a faster pace than what I originally anticipated (sometime in 2016), which is great!  I can't wait to give the preview of this book.  ^_^

Speaking of previews, there will be yet another Sprite joining the ever-growing family this Friday (Aug. 7, 2015) at the AuroraWings Showcase Blog.  My designers and I are working on a gallery presentation of an adorable new Sprite.  Here's a tiny sneak peek (There's so much more to this one, but I'm only going to show you a little bit here.  Hehe.)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fundraiser for Numbats

Recently I came across a Facebook post by Project Numbat Incorporated about their fundraiser to raise money for 25 radio-collars for the conservation study to be carried out by the Perth Zoo in Australia.  Their fundraiser page at MyCause.com was urging people to donate for the cause or run our own campaign to raise money to help their effort.  Well, I've been a fan of numbats for a while ever since I was introduced to their cuteness by my fellow Enchanged Visions and Sketch Fest artist, Jenny Heidewald.  So, I thought of a way to run my own little campaign, and Color for a Cause was born.  :D  (I also thought about Color for Collars, Craft for Numbats, etc.)

All funds raised by my campaign will be directed to the one by Project Numbat (Check out this link for all the details of their effort, and scroll to the bottom of the page to see my little contributing campaign.  ^_^  ).  I am giving away this never-before-released "Numbat Fairy" digi (300 dpi, 5" x 6", 12.7 x 15.2 cm, black & white JPG file) to everyone who donates through my campaign.  Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated!!  After I get a notice from the campaign site, I send out the digi as an e-mail attachment.  I am in the US, so depending on what time it is when you make a donation, there may be a time lag before you'll hear from me, but I'll be sure to get to your donation in 24 hours or less.

There's a second part to my fundraiser.  I am hosting a special event contest at the Stamps by AuroraWings Facebook group for my generous donors to show off their projects made with "Numbat Fairy" for a chance to win one of the two prizes to be awarded - the Artist's Choice Award and a random winner.  Both will receive their choice of $30 USD worth of digis OR one (1) coloring book with international postage covered.  The contest album is already set up to accept your entries right here.

I have a fundraiser page with PayPal donation button set up at the AuroraWings.com site for those of you who may not have a credit card.  Donations received through the AW site will be added to my campaign periodically and donation total will be updated.

This fundraiser will run through August 15, 2015.  The Color & Craft Contest will be open for entries through August 29, 2015.  Thank you for your support of the numbats~!!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

Source -  http://wallpaperest.com/captain-america-4th-of-july-wallpaper-401932
Found this awesome wallpaper this morning, and couldn't resist, as I'm a fan of Captain America (both the character and the actor who plays him, Chris Evans).  Anyhow, Independence Day is known to be the day with the highest number of accidents and injuries, so, wishing my peeps a SAFE and Happy Fourth of July!  :D  Hope we all get to enjoy time with family and friends for a spectacular weekend.

Wanted to talk about my Sprites' cross stitch charts that are available from Lena Lawson Needle Arts today.  I am licensed with this company for the Sprites Collection and some of the whimsical animal images - all small size.  I have been with two other cross stitch companies previously for my larger fantasy illustrations.  Suffice to say that cross stitch charts have never been a big chunk of my art business in the past.  So this time around, I went into the agreement rather tentatively to see how the Sprites will perform in this type of product line.


I have to say I'm very pleased with the way these little ones are doing as cross stitch charts.  ^_^  We have been adding steadily to the lineup, and now we are up to 22, including whimsy animals.

They are not the huge, intimidating size as projects, which may very well be the secret to their popularity.  It could also be that the marketing effort by this company is much better than previous companies I dealt with.  Also, I've had samples sent to me by mail, so I can tell you with confidence that these are really nice, high quality, full color charts.  Printing is done with standard industry resolution (no cutting corners there), and the result is clearly printed, easy-to-read, beautiful charts.  Kudos to Lena Lawson Needle Arts!  I'm very happy to be represented among the artists whose lines she carries.

If you enjoy my Sprites and cute little fluffy animals, and you also enjoy making things by hand, you might enjoy cross stitching these characters.  ^_^

Lena Lawson Needle Arts

Friday, June 26, 2015

My First Attempt at Doll Making

Had no idea what I was getting myself into. lol  I've been wanting to make some kind of dolls for some time now.  I think something in me was craving for 3D art after doing a lot of 2D stuff.  I started buying books on doll making on Amazon and started making a project in paper clay earlier this month, but it involves waiting the clay to dry before moving onto the next phase of the project, so I ended up starting on a cloth mermaid doll, with the intention of working on both in alternating phases.  What happened was that my clay doll head being left on the drying rack and my focusing on the cloth doll.  ^^;  I'll eventually finish the clay one.  I promise.

I took some pics along the way since it was slow-going.  Well, it's my first attempt, so I wasn't expecting it to go fast by any means.  ^_^  I've made dresses before, so I knew how the sewing machine worked.  And I have lots of patience, so I figured I could try my hands at this. :D

The books I was using for instruction are by Jan Horrox - "Introduction to Making Cloth Dolls" and "Making Fantasy Cloth Dolls".  The books include patterns at the end which are actual size for the projects demonstrated with text and photos in the books.  The body parts are also interchangeable between projects and books, so you can try different types of heads, hands and feet, and body.  I wanted to make a mermaid - also figured this would be one less limb to deal with as my family quickly pointed out - so I based the tail on Jan's mermaid from the fantasy book and used the body from a fairy from the intro book.

She recommended Pimatex, so I ordered a yard from an eBay seller.  The cloth needed to be dyed some shade of skin color, and the dye mentioned in the book had to be shipped from the UK, so I looked up Rit's web site, found formula for a custom shade, which required 3 bottles of different colors.  The Rit dye turned out to be available widely at stores, but never the complete line in one location...  So I ended up buying their "Camel" (shade of brown/tan) and eyeballed it with a scrap of Pimatex.  First test turned out too dark, so I went easy on the whole yard of fabric.  Amazingly, I got lucky and got what I wanted. :D

Head was harder than I thought. :(  My sewing machine is old ... like over 20 years, and I only have a very limited assortment of 'feet'.  So the process probably was harder than it could have been, but managed to sew up something that looked like a head.  Ears were fun.  And of course, drawing in the face was a fun part although my black Pigma, which shouldn't have reacted to water, actually ran a little bit when I was cleaning the purple 'disappearing ink' lines with a bit of water.  *Note to self: wait for it to air dry and disappear next time.

Then came the body and limbs.  The hands were tedious, trying to make all these tiny curves with a sewing machine.  Also difficult was sewing in curved lines - I was always just slightly 'off' one way or the other.  No two limbs are exactly alike, in my case, which I guess is actually also the case in nature.  ^^;  At least, the hands with webbed fingers did not require my to turn the fingers one by one, which looks like a total pain in the rear...

I did my mermaid's bust differently than the book, by the way.  I wanted her to actually have breasts, so I altered the instruction on one of the fairies that wore a bustier.  Instead of using print fabric, I just used the skin color to make the cups.  The tail was fun to make.  Actually, the whole thing seemed less daunting once the hands and arms were done.

Gave her a bra top, then beads and sequins all over.  I like this kind of work.  Tedious yet simple, so mind is free to wander off... ahem, ponder on all important things.  lol

Did some more painting with acrylics on her shoulders and along the spine.

Gave her pearl earrings. :)  The plastic bag behind her head is the dyed Tibetan lamb's wool I purchase from another seller on eBay.  It said "remnants" on the listing, but I got a lot of this stuff for as little as I paid.  I'll be going back to this seller for more hair in my future project, no doubt.

Anyhow, I made a mistake of attaching the tail to the body before attaching the arms to the body like the book instructed.  Getting disorganized by combining parts from two different dolls in two different books...  Nothing major.  Just a lot of things that get in the way of the thread when you're trying to attach the head to the neck between the limbs (BTW, I think I will shorten her arms' pattern in my future dolls... they're disproportionately long for my taste.) and all the beads and sequins on the tail.  ^^;

The hair was a bit of a mystery to me at first.  In the books, Jan used yarns, strips of cloths, etc.  And she also used lamb's wool, but attached the sheet straight onto the head.  I wanted to try the method shown by the lady I bought the hair from (She makes beautifully intricate polymer dolls and keeps a detailed blog with lots of pics.  Totally inspiring!).  She cuts the locks in small segments and glues them in one small section at a time.  First, I had to check if this was feasible with cloth head.  So I did a test attachment on a scrap of Pimatex.  It worked really well.  So I started out at the nape of the head, gluing the segment of hair one small bit at a time.  The Fabri-Tac glue is reasonably easy to work with.  It has a consistency, for a lack of better word, of nasal mucus, quite a bit stickier, of course, but if you get a little on your finger, you can just roll the glue into a little ball and pling!  lol

The mermaid's hair took me hours.  And the lamb's wool kept shedding even from just handling the remnant sheets.  This was, by far, the messiest stage of this project.  In the end, my mermaid ended up with more of a Troll  look (Remember these pudgy guys?) than what I originally envisioned for her, I like her wild fluffy hair just as much.  ^_^

Source http://kleberly.com/309685-troll-doll.html

I hope to take her to the park or a botanical garden one of these days and do a nice photo shoot.  This pic was taken mid day on a super hot day.  We're in the Wisteria vines for the dappled sun.

I don't live near a beach, so sea and sand are not easy to access for a photo shoot.  This mermaid will have to live in the trees for a while.  I decided to name her Adriana.

Here's the thing.  With this many parts and processes involved, there's bound to be mistakes and mishaps.  Sure enough, once everything settled, although I thought I was being very careful when attaching the body to the tail, she doesn't quite sit straight.  T_T  She kind of requires a wedge to support from both sides at the hips in order to be securely seated (Most likely her butt is not flat enough!).  I thought about what to do, and an idea came to me when I was watering my garden this morning.  I'm going to make her a swing so she can be properly balanced and also be displayed.  :D   Thinking I'll make her swing out of some natural fiber, crochet an open half-pod like swing and decorate it with shells and cheese cloth.  Sounds like a plan to me.

I already have a few doll ideas for the near future.  This was a lot of fun for me, so hopefully, I get better at it with each attempt, and learn even more about doll making.  ^_^

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Christmas in July

I can't believe this is already the 3rd annual "Christmas in July" shopping spree giveaway! *wow*  Since I opened my Etsy shop in late November of 2012, every summer, I've offered this $50 shopping spree giveaway.  I write the username of the customers who place an order on small strips of paper and place them in a jar every day during the campaign period.  It's always fun to be the bearer of the good news to one surprised customer at the end of the giveaway.

The first "Christmas in July" happened back in 2013.  I was just beginning to add digital stamp listings at the time, so the big win went to a customer who was collecting my art as prints.  The second year (last year) in 2014, I don't remember who the winner was (mainly because I was so busy with my digi business... and I had yet to become accustomed to the routine of it all), but I remember how full the same glass vase I used in 2013 was.  So many names were in there!  I was having to push down to keep them all in there.

This summer, I'm expanding this special event - one winner at AW Etsy shop and another winner at the digi shop at AW site - to have two winners who will win $50 shopping spree each.  It'll be a lot of fun, and I'm sure it will be two full vases.  ^_^

If you're a fan of my art, coloring book enthusiast, or digi enthusiast, any and all order through July 26 will earn an entry into the random drawing automatically.  You can multiply your entries simply by leaving reviews/feedback on your Etsy purchases during the same period.  Since I don't have the feedback feature at the AW site shop, entry there will be based specifically by orders.

Oh, and... AW Etsy now accepts Etsy Gift Cards and a bunch of other payment methods, including PayPal. Now it's easier than ever to give a gift of AuroraWings digis to your favorite crafter!!

 www.AuroraWings.Etsy.com                  www.AuroraWings.com