Saturday, December 31, 2011

"A Dark Undercurrent"

My last piece for the year 2011 is a dark mermaid.  Finished in time! :D *happy dance*  I had fun with this one.  This one is my 20th piece for the Enchanted Visions Project.  I'm slowly scratching off past themes one by one from my list, while I make a point in working on each monthly theme.   Participating in EV's monthly themes has really helped me increase the number of works in my portfolio. ^^

Here's a closeup on the mermaid herself.  I love the white hair, light grey eyes with bloody under-eye circles look! XD

Happy New Year!  I hope to do many more fantasy pieces in 2012.  I would like to make enough 'dark' pieces to be able to compile a 'dark fantasy' calendar for 2013. :D

Friday, December 30, 2011

"A Dark Undercurrent" Lines

Finally finished inking my evil little mermaid for "A Dark Undercurrent", one of the old EV themes that I had on my list of themes to be completed.  I will do a quick color test on this here in a bit.  She was changed here and there during the inking process which is nothing new.  I gave her a larger collection of skulls to play with. XD  Still not sure if I want her to be mostly black/purple or ghostly white.  I'd like to get her finished as the last piece of 2011, but this will be close, as I'm not fast and there will be tons of detail work put into it.

EDIT: A quick color test.  I'm liking her creepy eyes! :D :D :D

Friday, December 23, 2011

"A Dark Undercurrent" Concept Sketch

There have been 27 themes announced at the Enchanted Visions Project so far, including the next month's "Dragon Lore".  I have completed 19 in my 17 months with the project.  "A Dark Undercurrent" has been one of the few that captured my imagination from the very beginning, but I hadn't had a vision come to me right away like some of the other ones.  Recently though, after the massive updating (remodeling) of the EV official site, this is the theme that comes up right at the top of the list since is it alphabetized, so I have been reminded time and time again that I want to tackle this one.  It's been nagging at the back of my mind for a few months, and although I thought I was itching to get started on the dragon theme, a dark mermaid made an appearance on my paper when I sat and scribbled.

It may sound weird to some, but sometimes when I sit at my desk with a blank paper, I can almost 'see' the image appear on the paper.  I kind of trace it with a pencil and usually I like the results.  Among my recent pieces, "Santa Muerte" was one of those who just appeared/posed for me. The general artistic process and brainstorming get taken care of.  This is close to the feeling of being in the groove or the peak 'flow' experience.  Things seem almost effortless.  Doesn't happen often, but I know enough that when it does happen, I should just go with the flow and complete the project.  ^^

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Circe" Completed

As usual, I began the coloring phase with the background.  Then the surrounding elements, namely the flowers.  Then I painted Circe, and finally, the lion.  I have many cats at home and am a huge fan of long hair, fluffy cats in particular, so once I got started on the lion, I had so much fun with him.  After laying down the foundation colors and some shadows/darks, I went over putting down the individual strand of long fur in lighter colors.  As his mane grew fluffier, I felt happy -- the same simple joy I feel when I'm brushing my long hair cats. XD  After painting this piece, I'm even more tempted than ever before to give one of my orange and white Maine Coon mix a 'lion cut'.  (I probably never will out of respect for the cat, but I'd love to see him with that haircut just once... maybe in the peak heat of summer. XD)

*A closeup view of the main figures

After painting some Christmas fluff, it was nice to get back in the groove of theme prompts at Enchanted Visions Project.  I really enjoy the gold and brown, earthy, color schemes.  I think I've made more pieces in this color scheme this year than ever before. ^_^  

I must also say that I am looking forward to getting started on the "Dragon Lore" theme.  Mine will be a bit on the dark side and I will be depicting the serpentine Asian dragon, if all goes as planned. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Circe" WIP

This marks the first time that I failed to produce a piece for EV in a timely manner.  Since August of 2010, I've always managed to paint at least one if not more of the themes every month. XD  Even in the month when I didn't care for the current theme, I managed to do an existing  theme from a list so I had something new to post.  Well, stuff happens. ^^;    Hopefully, this won't become a regular thing for me, but I guess when some theme just doesn't jump up and grab your imagination, this is to be expected.  Plus it's the holiday season and most of us have so much going on it's hard to keep up and keep track of.

So a day after the deadline, all I've got to share here is a shot of work-in-progress.  I think I like the way it's coming along, but I have no solid idea where it's going (or more precisely, where I want to take it).  There's nothing like an unfinished work to bug me endlessly, so I will get around to finishing it and most likely before moving on to "Dragon Lore".

Update: WIP 2.  Still have the lion and the background details left to do. ^^;  Getting there, though.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Circe" Line Art

Finished inking "Circe" after letting her sit on my shelf for a few days while I caught up on things around the house, including the Christmas shopping, which I am still behind on.    I knew I was going to procrastinate, but I didn't quite plan on being so late with this one. XD  Tomorrow is the official deadline.  I have 1.5 days to finish coloring this one.  I might be able to get it done if all goes well.  *fingers crossed*

The flowers that ended up appearing in this piece are: belladonna (deadly nightshade), opium poppy, and appearing faintly in the background to the right, hemp. The wisps of smoke or clouds in the background are suggestive.  I don't want to talk too much about the plant selection in this piece because I don't want to sound like I'm glorifying or condoning the use of these plants or drugs in general.  They're placed in there as the elements in Circe's life and surroundings as freely interpreted by me, since she was supposedly a potion-concocting witch who turned men into docile large cats and pigs.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rough Sketch of "Circe"

I've done 3 scribble sketch (That's what I call my pencil roughs.) on the theme of "Circe".  I couldn't decide that I liked my angle of approach on this one.  Usually, when the theme is announced for Enchanted Visions Project, I have a mental picture that pops up, and all I have to do is go after it.  This one gave me no such idea.  So as usual, I did a bit of research online, and got the basic story on Circe.  I knew I'd have to put an animal for sure, plus some kind of drug/potion reference to capture the essence of the character/story of Circe.

I thought about doing a harem of pigs, but instead decided on a lion because it's easy to convey that it's a male because of their manes, unlike other animals.  And I found the poisonous/medicinal plant 'angle' agreeable since I love to draw flowers and leaves, and they're great as 'space fillers'. XD  So, here's my rough sketch for "Circe", with her looking as if to say, "I am not impressed...", which is probably the attitude she had for all the men who came to visit her.

The deadline is the 15th.  I think I can get this done by then. :D

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Christmas Fairy - Blue" Complete

I worked on a blue version of the Christmas Fairy.  (Working two separate color schemes back to back can become boring very quickly, I learned. ^^; )  The red and green version looks very down to earth and human, but this version looks a little more ethereal.  As usual, the downsizing for web does it such injustice! :(  So below is a closeup look.

Yep, she's a blondie in this one.  And her wings are aurora borealis colored.  I hear Elvis singing "Blue Christmas" when I look at this picture. XD lol

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Enchanted Visions January 2012 Theme & More

   As I mentioned in the previous entry, I was asked if I had any suggestions for themes for Enchanted Visions Project by Lisa last month.  Oh, boy, did I have one!  I was so ready for an idea, but I had no idea that they ever asked anyone to just pick one.  I assumed that Amy Brown was always selecting or giving approval to something suggested by the head of administration.  But since I am a humble member of the administration now, I got asked. :D  And the theme I chose is...

   "Dragon Lore"

   I've been thinking about this mental image that I've had that involved a dragon.  I thought maybe I could work on it for one of the yet-to-be-painted themes left from the past, "A Dark Undercurrent", ... but since this opportunity just landed on my lap, I went ahead and suggested it.  Amy has given it a green light, and it has been announced to the members.

   As you may already know, next year, the year 2012, is the Year of the Dragon in Chinese zodiac.  So, as the first theme of 2012, it suits the group.   Plus, dragons are just about the only fantasy creature that I can think of that 'exist' in multiple cultures around the globe.  We have the winged European dragons that breath fire, and we have the serpentine dragons of the East that fly without wings.  Dragons will also give many members a technical challenge for many of the members are 'portrait artists' who do not venture out of their comfort zone or experiment with different approaches.  So I'm very curious to see what everyone will come up with.

   I have an idea that I've been holding onto for the last few months.  If I managed to pull it off, it would be pretty cool.  But I have my doubts whether my ability is enough to bring my mind's vision onto a tangible image (and be convincing... that's the part LOL).  I do feel the need to approach this subject and tackle it.  Challenges like these are good for me.  One can't always just paint girls and flowers after all. ^^;

   And now, the '& More' part of my blog entry title.  I was amazed by the number of sales I got yesterday, December 6, 2011 at my online shops both at CafePress and Zazzle.  I beat my previous personal record of 25 with a new record of 40.  This is looking to be a GREAT holiday season for me and my family. :D  I hope other artists are doing equally well.

   Another big plan is my Etsy shop for the fantasy art of mine.  This is something I've been kind of thinking about for the last several months, but have been too busy to actually pursue.  My daughter is an Etsy fan (who  is also in need of some sort of fundraising ventures to make money for her Junior year trip to France in the spring of 2014), and she knows her way around the place.  So I decided to put her in charge.  I will provide her with the products for listings, help her with the initial photo session, writing up the necessary information that goes onto listings, and let her set it up and be dealing with the operation of the shop. ^^  She is excited, and I am, too.  We start work on this project when her Christmas break starts in 2 weeks.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"Christmas Fairy - Blue" WIP

I started the blue and silver version of the "Christmas Fairy" after playing around a lot with the tube version of her (courtesy of Lisa Cree at PSP Tube Stop) and made a whole bunch of holiday merchandise.  I'm afraid they may not be seen nearly as much coming into the marketplace this late in the season, but it was fun, and Christmas never goes out of style, so if not this year, the'll be good for next year and beyond. :D

Looks like this one will have ... wouldn't you know... 'aurora wings'! XD  I was originally going to give her some kind of drawn background, but when I took her out of my scanner where it's been sitting (since I worked on the red and green version), I realized how little space this picture has left.  The fairy is definitely bigger than usual because I was primarily making the lines for the holiday digi download and for the holiday tube in mind -- not at all the same approach as my usual fantasy work.

After this blue version is finished with, I'm going to tackle Enchanted Visions' "Circe" (I think I've already complained that I didn't really like this theme...).  But hey, Lisa at Enchanted Visions gave me the opportunity to pick the next theme and I've been told that the supreme mistress of EV, Amy Brown, has approved my idea, so I'm going to be looking forward to tackling that one. :D  (I'm not going to blurt it out on my blog though.  The official monthly e-mail has not gone out yet. ^^; )

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm Now with PSP Tube Stop!

This is a milestone entry.  It's my 100th! :D  I believe I started writing here at Blogger in March, right around the time of the earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan.  Well, almost 9 months later, here I am with my 100th entry.  I've been averaging 9 to 13 per month, which seems amazing.  I hope many more good news and artistic inspirations will keep coming.

Today's exciting news is ... as the title of this post stated -- I'm now with PSP Tube Stop.  This is a brand new upstart founded by Enchanted Visions Project's head of administration, Lisa Cree.  She's a unique artist on her own right, but also a dedicated volunteer, and an entrepreneur.  She approached me with a very artist-friendly contract when My Tag Art closed its doors on November 1st of this year.  I was in negotiation with one company, while weighing in on options from other companies.  But knowing her through EV, plus the excitement of being a part of a brand new business venture (and her contract as I mentioned before) eventually led me to sign with her.  This will be my first time working so closely with a business owner.  As you may know, I assist her with the Facebook page and the forum of the Enchanted Visions, so I'm in communication with her a lot, which is wonderful.

And here's a look at the tube that just came out; my "Christmas Fairy".  What's wonderful about Lisa is that she makes multiple layers, and I don't mean 2 or 3.  She makes 4 and 5!  For example, this one, as you can see on the image on the right, has 4 different elements in individual layers: the fairy, the bell, the rose with cranberry bubbles, and the star with cranberry bubbles.  Just imagine the creative options this single purchase (for only $1.80) will give each tagger!  Take a closer look here!

As of this writing, she has three of my images at the shop and there will be many more to follow as she adds listings to the shop section of the PSP Tube Stop web site.  You'll recognize several more artists from the Enchanted Visions Project there. ^_^

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Fairy (Red & Green)

The first of the colored version, "red and green", of the "Christmas Fairy" is finished.  It's nice to finally get around to doing a festive holiday-theme fantasy work.  It's lighthearted and cheerful and just pretty with no deep meanings to go do research for. ^^; (Refreshing!)  Anyhow, I gave my "red and green" fairy a nice earthy brunette and brown eyes -- I think she's lovely with warmth radiating all around her.

Next, I'm going to do a "blue and silver" version with platinum blonde hair for the girl.  I'm guessing that this one will be a more ethereal, otherworldly look.  I hope it doesn't get 'too cold' in its look and feel.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Christmas Fairy" - Lines

This is my first "Christmas Fairy".  Since I've only been doing fantasy art since the spring of 2010,  I don't have a holiday-themed fantasy piece in my gallery yet.  As it is getting closer to Christmas, I finally got into the mood.  As time-consuming as it is, I still like stippling for shading.  I don't do it often, especially for line art that will be colored later.  I love stippling and crosshatching for shading of pen-only piece.

Here's the closeup view of the stippling on the wings and her face.  I just recently watched 2005 version of "Garasu no Kamen" (Glass Mask) anime series.  She looks a little like the main character, Maya Kitagima, when she played Princess Aldis from the play "Two Princesses". ^^  She was all sweetness and warmth.

I scanned this and saved as a file of its own for digital download/digital stamp, but I would like to add a big of background (probably some roses, evergreens, and cranberries... stuff like that).  Looks like I'll be able to have a holiday greeting card after not doing one for so many seasons. XD

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Am Now a Member of EV Administration.

I have just been asked and have accepted a volunteer position as a member of the administration for the Enchanted Visions Project, helping out with their Facebook page and the forum. I've been an active contributing member since August of 2010, participating every month with one or two new artwork.  But this is the first time I'm getting involved as a co-administrator.  I'm happy and excited to contribute in a new capacity to a project that really helped launch me and my fantasy art into the industry. ^_^

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Christmas Fairy" - Rough Sketch

I've been doing nothing but updates on my site and shops lately that I needed to take a break and do a doodle. XD  Since I've never done a "Christmas Fairy" in red and green or red and white, I decided to draw one.  This is just my usual scribble with pencil and the final image will probably look quite a bit different, but it's fun to do a seasonal theme (Especially since we didn't get one for EV...).  And whenever I draw a fairy, I can't think of any other footwear except for pointe shoes. XD  I guess ankle boots would be cute on this one, but I just can't resist.

Here's a quick color test.

My first idea is red and green.  I would also like to try a blue and silver version.  I think both color schemes would be pleasing.

I think I'm going to ink the lines as is and scan to save a file for the digi download and stamp.  Then draw a background for the complete version.  I know from looking at the crafters' projects so far that fully rendered version of my line art has way too much detail.  For craft, scrapbook, and card-making purposes, the main figure has plenty detail to make interesting projects.  So this is something I'll probably start doing more and more.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Enter to Win a 2012 Calendar

I'm holding a random drawing giveaway of a 2012 calendar featuring my art.  This is a different calendar from the ones sold at my online shop.  This one is a limited edition, 'not for sale', promotional calendar. ^^

Images included in this calendar are (listed in order from January to December): La Mer, Thep Kinnaree, Wisteria, Abundance, Steampunk Dark Angel, Along Came a Spider, Crimson Wings, Pansy, The Green Faery, Lady of Compassion, The Ruby Slipper, & Shades of Blue.  Each month has a colored border, which is coordinated to match and compliment the featured image.  US holidays are marked.

*** How to Enter ***
Simple, although you need a Facebook account.  Go to my Facebook page "Fantasy Art of Mitzi Sato-Wiuff" and click on the 'like' button found at the top.  Your name will be entered into the drawing.

*** Increase Your Chance of Winning ***
You can do so simply by 'sharing' the giveaway information link on YOUR Facebook profile.  For each sharing of the link mentioned on my fan page, I will TRIPLE your chances by entering your name three times.

*** Announcement of the Winner ***
Saturday, November 26th, 2011.  I will announce the winner on my Facebook page and contact her/him via private message.

Good luck to everyone!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Spirited Away"

The piece created for this month's theme of the Enchanted Visions Project, "Spirited Away", is finally finished.  The line art was done a while ago, but with holiday shopping season almost upon us, I had a fair amount of listing  updates to do over at my ballet shops and fantasy shops that delayed the completion of this work.  (I was also overhauling the entire site earlier this month, which took away my time as well. ^^; )

   The phrase "spirited away" is translated into 神隠し (kami-kakushi), literally meaning "god hidden" ("hidden by god") in Japanese, my native language.  It refers to incidences where someone goes missing without a trace.  When I did my research for this piece on the web, scraping the Japanese language sites, I came across a lot of forum threads discussing the phenomenon of "kamikakushi", which is a euphemism for more common and direct terms, "kidnapping", "abduction", and possibly, "murder" or "human trafficking" for the purpose of "slavery" or "prostitution".  Historically, in old times where many Japanese people lived in smaller, countryside villages,  where everyone knew everyone by their names, crimes of this kind was unheard of, so when a person goes missing, the possibility of 'abduction by spirit' must have been a convincing one.  It often happened to a child or mentally or emotionally disturbed woman who happened to be alone in the woods or in the mountains.  (Interestingly, port cities along the shorelines had high incidences of missing persons within Japan, suggesting the possibility of human trafficking rate being high in these regions.)

   The indigenous religion of Japan, of course, is Shinto, which reveres spirits in all things.  Old trees, certain species of trees, boulders, rivers, springs, lakes, ponds, forests, and mountains can be designated as a spirit's dwelling or a gateway to their world.   Often, these objects are marked with garlands made of straw ropes and/or paper decorations.  Crossing past them or entering into a deep woods can be considered 'entering' into the domain of the spirits.  And there are spirits of all kinds -- some benevolent, some mischievous,  and some malevolent.

   In the old days, when someone is reported missing, a whole village will mobilize in a search effort.  The methods vary by regions.  One of the commonly observed approaches was to go walking, reciting a certain phrase of request for the return of the person while beating on a taiko drum.  There have been cases where the missing have returned after a period of time, usually with amnesia of the event itself and the period while the individual was 'gone'.

   These bits of information and historical accounts were enough to get my imagination going.  I started with a blank piece of paper and the sketch appeared within a short time.  I had a profile (side view) version of the same scene, but I scrapped it in favor of this angle.  During the coloring phase, the darkening of the foreground (I hope) helped to give the feeling that the viewer is a witness to this scene of abduction by mysterious spirits.

*A close-up view of the details of the Celestial

   Within the image, a variety of animals and insects are presented, all of which are symbols in multiple world traditions -- butterfly, bird, fish, dragonfly.   Butterfly is the symbol of transformation.  Bird (as well as winged insects) usually is the symbol of air and different perspective, as well as 'spirit world'.  Fish exists in an entirely different domain, sometimes murky and hidden from our view, ...mysterious, foreign.   So the spirit/celestial being here is a winged mermaid with butterfly ears, suggesting her ability to go freely between different realms/worlds.  Added to the multiple animal features, she wears a bird-face mask.  Mask of any kind suggests mystery, assumed identity, and/or hidden secrets.  Here, the reason for her mask is to imply her hidden intentions.  A beautiful celestial with possibly a malevolent intent.   Incidentally, the child was originally drawn with her hand already in that of the celestial, but I changed to pull it back to suggest that she is hesitant to trust the celestial. Will she take her hand and be abducted easily or will she turn around and run to the viewer who just might be able to get her out of the forest and back in the safety of the human world once again. ^_^


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Walkthrough of "Santa Muerte"

This is probably more of a collection of WIPs than a 'walkthrough', but I haven't written one up on my blog before, and I found that I did keep shots of stages as I worked on this piece after all, so I thought I'd share them here today.

After I scan the pen lines, I clean up stray lines and specs of dust that show up.  Sometimes I have pencil line fragments that weren't completely erased before I scanned, so I would digitally erase any elements that I don't want in the final piece.  I lighten the lines by lowering the contrast and then brightening the whole thing.  After that, I colorize the lines to give sepia tint to the line.  The final preparation before I start coloring is giving the whole thing a starting base, here a slight beige tone, by adjusting the red-green-blue.  All of this is done in a photo-editing program.

First thing I do with every piece is the background 'wash'.  In my software, Corel Painter (what I'm currently using is not the latest version, mind you ^^), the image file in JPG (the prepared line art) becomes 'canvas' layer, which is fixed.  All subsequent layers will be placed on top.  This works fine for me since my approach uses highly transparent (low opacity) colors in repeated 'washes' to build up color while maintaining transparency so that the line art stays visible.   Here, I used 'diffuse water' brush from the wet media section.  Opacity is set at between 4 and 7%, brush sizes are fairly large, and grain is set at 100% for a lot of 'bleeding'.  I don't use the 'color mixing palette' in the program at all, instead, I use the circular 'color wheel' (I'm not sure if this is it's official name...) and just precision pick what I want.  Usually, my colors are muted variation (grey-ish) within a color group.  I vary my stylus pressure quite a bit while I apply "washes", which also creates variations in saturation levels.  I play with the 'salt' brush, once again, varying sizes and opacity with each stroke to create a natural look.  I erase the stray strokes of 'wash' from the layer.  If this piece was done in traditional watercolor, I would have gone through the trouble of applying masking fluid to the main figure.

It's hard to see at this size (click on the image to see it larger, if you like), but I started experimenting with the background's highlights at this stage.  I'm basically tracing close to the line art with a light cream color 'soft charcoal' in small tip sizes.  The highlight is a single separate layer, sitting on top of the 'background wash' layer.

I set up another layer for the figure's props and accessories and start painting, brush used is the same as the background wash.  Just higher opacity and smaller size.  Grain setting is still 100%, so the colors bleed into one another a lot.

The blade of the scythe is utilizing 3 layers.  Foundation color (base item color) is done on the same layer as the prop and accessories.  Highlights seen on the carved detail in the middle of the blade is on the same layer as the background's highlights.  I gave the shine effect to the blade on a separate layer by using a single stroke with a low opacity, large size 'soft charcoal', then erasing the excess off.

Giving the dress the color.  First, grey-ed down beige in large size is applied with 'diffuse water'.  I slowly build from light to dark by applying more washes over the valley of the frills while leaving the peaks fairly light.  Additional highlights are given on the same layer as the blade's shine.  I give the illusion of satin ribbon trim detail by applying just highlights.  Lace trim is done on the same layer as the background highlights.  Peals are not given additional treatment other than highlights, giving them the look of reflecting the surrounding light and environment.

Adding the skull painted face and eye details, done on the same layer as props, as well as skin highlights and shades.  Additional texture is suggested by adding the little specs of light on her dress.  Total number of layers used for this project was 7, which is very low for digital art (Many digital artists utilize several dozens.).  Everything is free-handed with no 'imported' graphic elements and I do not use 'effects brushes'.  My traditional/digital mixed media is pretty basic and low-tech, however, I am fond of the overall look of this approach of mine.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Digital Download Images for Scrapbooking & Crafts

I am now exclusively with Scrapbook Stamp Society for my line art for scrapbooking and crafts purposes.  Now, you, the craft and/or scrapbook enthusiast, are no longer restricted to the small 2.5 inches to 3 inches size of the rubber stamps, but you can print them as large as 8 inches by 10 inches.  These printable downloads will allow for resizing for maximum customization for your projects, ease of coloring, and more visual impact.

Here are some examples of cards made by others that beautifully illustrates my point. (*all photos courtesy of Scrapbook Stamp Society)

The beautiful outside of this embellished card.  Doors open to reveal...

A stunning view!   
This elaborate project was by Cynthia.

A ballerina kitty on a pull-out card.  So unique!

A unique folded card with lovely embellishment of lace and floral print paper.

A striking red and black combination is simply gorgeous!
All three ballerina kitty projects by Mrs. Sassy Crafter.

Refreshing pastel colors with embossed bubbles to compliment the line art.  Stunning!
Project by SunshineSher.

A beautiful treatment of the lineart with careful shading.  Circular theme inside of a square format is outstanding.
Project by Diane Ahlers. ^^

Talk about a major challenge!  These are no easy lines to color, but this project by Jill Angel with vivid orange red against the teal green is breathtaking!

This card by the Crafty Dream is elegant!  Black with jewel-toned flowers and rainbow glitter on the wings are just PERFECT!  Lovely project by Gabriela Brito Beard.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Spirited Away" WIP (partial view)

"Spirited Away" WIP -- close-up view of the Celestial.  This one is going to be one of those terrible thumbnail pieces (as most of my images are), so I cropped the picture to show mostly the moth-bird-fish being from another dimention.  Line art is pretty detailed, and this is a relatively small piece in terms of the size of the paper the original pen drawing was done on (8.5 x 11").  Trying to put the main figure with the little girl and still show the air by the use of vertical space is really pushing my limit here. ^^;

I'm liking the mood of the image so far.  I still have lots of high lights to do and subtle details to add.  There are some things going on in my life at the moment that are just not helping by draining my energy.  I tend to distance myself and clam up when I encounter unpleasant people.  It's like after being exposed to certain type of energy that really disturbs my own vibration, I need to center myself and regroup.

Also, as much as fun and inspiration as DDs are, they can 'intimidate' you into all the self-talk and second guessing about the 'next piece'.  Not that every single piece needs to be great or anything (There's no such rule anywhere. lol), but I think we all kind of start thinking about the 'expectations' and 'standards' after a large number of people have suddenly been exposed to just one sample of your work (and probably have formed their opinions/expectations about your art already).  I like doing different things, and in the process, challenge myself in different aspects, be it subject matter, style, or general approach.  Sometimes I wonder if I really belong in the likes of the fantasy artists that specializes in nothing but big-eye cuties or fairies and pump them out like as if from a cookie factory.  I just hope people don't come to expect that from me. ^^;

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

deviantART Daily Deviation

"Santa Muerte", my piece for the Enchanted Visions Project's theme for October 2011, "Dia de los Muertos", has received the honor of a Daily Deviation.  This is my second of the year, and the fourth in my 3 years on deviantART.  I'm very psyched about this one because I do think that this one is my best piece to date, and it's relatively new in my gallery (so I'm still emotionally attached somewhat).

This theme demanded a little more reflection and research than most since I did not want to do a sugar skull, Catrina, or just a pretty face painted like a skull (I don't think a pretty-face portrait ever constitutes a fantasy art.).  I'd say, judging from the response I have received so far for this piece, all that research and brainstorming that I did paid off. ^_^  I'm also glad that I didn't go with the predictable dark color scheme.  It's nice to take a chance and experiment with approaches that are not taken often and be recognized for it.

The products with this image have already been available at my Zazzle shop, and I actually entered their Halloween Phone Case Design Contest.  My iPhone case featuring "Santa Muerte" was showing up high on the contest page, and the product page itself was getting a lot of views.  So maybe it's a good sign (although I don't even know when they're going to announce the results...).

I'm truly grateful for this recognition and the support from the dA community. ^_^

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Spirited Away" Lines

   Just finished inking the line art for the "Spirited Away" piece.  This one really does have a lot of details.  I'm going to have to start looking into a larger scanner so I can begin using larger paper to do my drawings on.  It is physically difficult to put as much fine details as I'd like to into a space that's only 8.5" x 11" after all. ^^;

   I really like the way this is looking so far.  I'm particularly fond of the main figure which is a combination of moth, fish, and bird, but the mask is probably my favorite part of all, making it difficult to tell whether she is benevolent or if she has something to hide.  Also the fact that she is of both water creature and the flying creature makes her a being who is capable of travelling between different worlds (air and water) and having the understanding of what's visible as well as what's hidden (as in murky depth of water), intellect and subconscious, yin and yang, etc.

   I also like the skeletal fish with gnarly teeth lurking about.  You can't tell whether the celestial figure is trying to save the hapless child from those scary ghost fish or if the ghost fish are the minion to the mistress, just helping her to lure the child into a trap.

   And there's the apparent hesitation on the child's part which I hope is visible in her not-too-eager-to-reach-out hands.  She seems to be reaching out to the hand of the celestial being, but she's not absolutely certain if that's what she should be doing or not.  I love it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Product Featured in Zazzle E-mail to Buyers & Sellers

OK, so the deal itself is not their most 'screaming' of all offers, but I'm totally psyched about this e-mail because of the product being featured on the second row, third from the left.  That's my Santa Muerte iPhone 4/4S Barely There Case by Case Mate!  This is my very first time that I have had one of my products featured in their official e-mails to customers and sellers/designers, so I'm psyched.  It's really exciting! :D :D :D

Here's a closer look. ^_^  

Zazzle was running a Halloween product design contest for all their new mobile phone cases, and this one just happens to be my limit-one-per-designer product that I entered into the contest.  I hope that this means that they took notice of the design. ^^;   I think the grand prize is the iPhone 4 and runners-up will receive $25 gift certificate.  I'd love any of these prizes. :D

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Spirited Away" Color Test

   I usually wait till I finish inking the lines before I do a color test to decide on a general direction of the color scheme, but this time I had NO clue what I wanted, so I decided to do a really quick color test last night while watching the Biggest Loser on TV. XD  Sometimes I really love the sparseness and faintness of my color tests, although 99% of the time, I like the fully-rendered versions better.  There definitely is a certain charm to those quickly tinted sketches like this one. ^^

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Spirited Away" Rough Sketch

   Two versions of the rough sketch for the Enchanted Visions Project (EVP, just like Electric Voice Phenomenon lol) theme for October 2011 have been sitting on my shelf for longer than a week now.  The basic concept was the same -- a celestial figure was in some kind of communication with a human child.  One was a profile view, but I like this one better.  I've also added some crazy elements to the celestial figure's design.  She was originally supposed to be a decaying mermaid with bones visible on the tail end, but I scrapped that idea and turned her into a bird-fish-butterfly morph.  It's crazy and maybe even a bit creepy, but that's how I LIKE it. XD  I think I'm going to go with this idea (especially since I'm running out of time).  There will be more skeletal fish swimming in the background, too.

   Now, as for the color scheme... I can't say I have an idea at this point.  I'm leaning towards greens and purples since I haven't used these colors in a while.  Definitely not pink this time.

   Anyhow, when I start on a theme, first thing I do is to see if some visions would come to my mind's eye, which usually happens.  Then it's time to try to put that down on a blank piece of paper in some form that resembles that vision in my mind (Still so tricky after all this time... T_T).  Sometime it's easy.  Sometimes it turns into something similar to an automatic drawing session where I just scribbles with either my pen or pencil very lightly until some kind of cohesive picture emerges.  This theme was like that.

   At this point, I get the urge to do some research, now that I have certain direction I want to go with.  Since I'm Japanese, I couldn't help but go with the term 'kamikakushi', which is translated as 'spirited away' in English, but that's what the Japanese call it when a child or a person disappears without a trace.  The word literally means 'hidden by god(s)'.  It kind of gave me the idea that maybe 'kamikakushi' was a paranormal phenomenon where a person actually slips between dimensions and encounters spirit beings there.  He/She may return ... or be lost to the human world forever, enchanted or adored by the beings from another dimension.  It's a fascinating thought and this theme certainly gave us much more room for interpretation than "Dia de los Muertos" of last month (although I've come to really like the final piece of mine ^^; ).  I think most of us, artists, really like themes that give lots of room for individualistic interpretations.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Free Greeting Card Offer from Mitzi's Ballet Shop

Dance of the Snowflakes Holiday Greeting Card by StudioMiyabi

Use the promo code JSOWASEIUNVJ to get one free holiday card printed with the design shown. Limit one per customer.

Now through November 24th, 2011, you can get yourself one free holiday card featuring the watercolor image of "Dance of the Snowflakes" from the ballet "The Nutcracker" by Mitzi, featured at her ballet gift shop, Custom Dance Gifts by Studio Miyabi.  This card has been featured as Zazzle's Today's Best Award earlier this month.  Front and inside text can be easily personalized by simply filling out the text fields in the template provided on the product page.

Legal Disclaimer (aka "the small print")
100% of card net sale price (excluding shipping and taxes) is deducted when qualifying greeting card is purchased from and the coupon code JSOWASEIUNVJ is applied at checkout. Offer does not apply to create your own cards. Offer does not apply to card orders of two or more. Buyer is responsible for shipping and handling and sales tax charges. Failure to comply with promotional offer conditions may result in order cancellation. Offer is valid through November 24, 2011 at 11:59pm PT. Offer does not apply to past purchases and may not be combined with any other Zazzle promotional or volume discount offers. If a volume discount applies to your order, you will receive either the discount set forth in this offer or the standard volume discount, whichever is greater. Offer valid on only.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Banner Design

   As you can see right here on this blog page, I've been working on my web site after switching the editing software a few days ago.  I'm getting it closer to the way I envisioned it little by little.  I don't have an extensive knowledge of HTML or CSS, so the whole process is full of trial and error for me.  Tweak something here and there and preview to see what happens -- that's how it is most of the time.  In some spots, I know what I'm doing, but that's only a small part of the whole. ^^;  At least, this blog is now officially a fully integrated part of my site. :D

   My previous flash site was created with a software with maybe a little too many details worked out and built into the templates (great for people who just wanted something quickly), which in tern restricted many aspects.  As snazzy as it was, I really hated the idea that people had to wait for it to load before animated introduction started.  Granted that I did not have a lengthy video (I absolutely hate those that are seen as many dance company and studio sites with no option to skip...) before things got going, I cringed at the thought of someone trying to access my site with a relatively slow connection speed and having to wait for a while... maybe a LONG while.  Long time ago, I once read an article on web design that talked about the average wait time people were willing to give was 8 seconds.   I don't think people would wait that long these days when everything is high speed and practically instantaneous.

   So I'm happy with the static, simple, and 'light' look for a change.  I'm still looking to add a guestbook, newsletter signup form, and maybe even a free e-greeting options, which I once had with my very first web site that I made for Studio Miyabi Ballet Gift Shop on ... AOL Hometown (a free service that's long gone LOL).  I've also coordinated all my related sites (blog, Zazzle shop, and CafePress shop... even my dA journal) to have a consistent branding with the same banner and background.

*My dA journal footer, incorporating the same design.

   I really like the new banner, which came to be quite by an accident.  I was making tubes from "Believe in Tomorrow" to use as web graphics on my new site.  I loved the single butterfly, so I thought of making a divider/border with a bunch of butterflies.  The divider sort of turned out to be kind of 'chubby', but it looked about right for a banner or header/footer.  Originally, the butterflies were in cool colors (icy pink, purple, electric blue, etc) and fit the 'Aurora Wings' theme perfectly, but was clashing with the floral background of warm colors.  I had two choices.  One -- make a new background.  Two -- make another banner with a warm color scheme.  Since it's fall in northern hemisphere, and the warm colors are just perfect right now, I decided to stick with the same background and make a new warm color version of the banner.  I never modified any part of my artwork quite this extensively just to create web graphics, so it was fun, although maybe a bit tedious... ^^;

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Coloring Book Now Available for Pre-Order!

*cover image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics

The coloring book exclusively featuring 19 of my line drawings, "Gardens & Goddesses" is now ready for pre-order.  Stock is expected in early November for shipment.  Each staple-bound coloring book with sturdy cover is printed on  moderate weight pages one-sided, leaving the back of each image blank to allow colorists to use most any media including markers and watercolor.  They're priced at $8.50 (plus shipping & handling).  Available at Ellen Million Graphics.

Here's a slide show of all the images included in this volume. ^_^

Hope you find some (or many) of your favorite images among the 19 pieces in this volume.  These highly detailed drawings of mermaids, fairies, spirits and more should provide hours and days of coloring fun!! :D