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

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Fabric Releases from Fantasy Fabric Blocks Art and Crafts

Six new images are released as fabric blocks and iron-on transfers today at Fantasy Fabric Blocks Art and Crafts today!  This batch of release includes; "Steampunk Fallen Angel" (aka "Steampunk Dark Angel -- Bloodless"), "Freyja", "Thep Kinnaree" (aka "Kinnaree"), "La Sylphide", "Lily, Lily", and "Santa Muerte".  

All images are available as the following.
* fabric block 2.5 x 3.5"     $3.99
* fabric block 5 x 7"           $6.99
* fabric block 8 x 10"         $12.99
* iron-on transfer ACEO size 2.5 x 3.5"    $3.99
* iron-on transfer 5 x 7"                            $6.99
* iron-on transfer 8 x 10"                          $10.99

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Believe in Tomorrow"

*Click on the image for a larger view.  For even larger image, please visit my Shadowness account or deviantART account.

An all-pink piece for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October).  This is its 25th year of the iconic pink ribbon campaign for the cure and early detection.  With the probability roughly being 1 in 8, this is one of the major health issues in many people's lives (although the number one killer of all women is heart disease).  I myself have been fortunate to not have any member of my immediate family or close circle of friends being directly affected by this disease.  That said, I do know friends whose mothers have died from it.  So this is my humble prayer for the better tomorrow for all -- mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, grandmothers, grandfathers -- for our lives are intertwined.

I think I will donate all proceeds from the sale of this print and other products with this image on at my Zazzle shop to the cause during the month of October.

Products Magically Disappear at Zazzle

I'm hoping that the missing products will magically reappear shortly. XD  I'll have to keep a sense of humor about these things that are FREE, like facebook and Zazzle.  Many people seem to love the opportunity to bitch and complain.  In fact, people are probably 100 times more likely to complain about something not meeting their expectation than compliment someone when they exceed their expectations.  There's something wrong with that mindset, I feel.

That said, it's a bit frustrating for all shopkeepers when their shops don't appear right.  We tinker with our shops all the time about every detail (well, at least, I do), so they are to our liking.  That's a lot of time and effort.  So when our baby is not looking 'right', it's a cause for concern to say the least, even if we created and have maintained this baby for free. lol  Zazzle has just implemented a new tagging system (citing ease and speed of product posting and usability/searchability for customers), and the products' disappearance coincided with that new change.  I've always looked upon 'upgrades' with suspicion because 80% of the time, the supposed 'upgrade' is not what it's all cracked up to be.  There are glitches and bugs that generally cause things to slow down (not to mention the learning curve of learning the new features)... and in this case, magically loses your files, or at least, misplaces them for you.

*Most of my missing products are from my 'Santa Muerte' section.  
There should be well over 20 products, but only 7 are showing up.

I'm not passionate about facebook, so every new feature implemented does not provoke a strong emotional response in me.  I'll notice something is different, but I'll simply dismiss it as such and move on without making a fuss.  But when it comes to my Zazzle shop, I feel a lot more emotionally invested. ^^;  Luckily, I can stay calm and wish for the best (safe return of my shop's appearance to what it used to be) since we've seen this before ... multiple times.  Each time, things got fixed (including something new that I actually liked that got reverted back...).  It may take a while, but they always EVENTUALLY figure it out.  So, I sit here taking a break from my artwork and checking on my shops, bitterly noticing that things are not back to normal... just yet. XD

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Freyja" on EMG-Zine

* "Freyja" as cover art of the October 2011 issue of EMG-Zine, an e-zine for fantasy and sci-fi artists and writers.

This month's theme is Scandinavian Mythology.  Art gallery features works by Selina Fenech,  Constanza Ehrenhaus, Nicole Cadet, Erika Harm, Marianne Mathiasen, and myself.  There are columns, features, and three pieces of fiction, too.  Highly recommended!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Believe in Tomorrow" WIP

*Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Here's a sneak peek at my current piece, "Believe in Tomorrow" -- an all-pink image for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October).  I am fortunate to know no woman in my immediate family or closest circle of friends stricken with this disease.  However, I do have friends who have lost their mothers to breast cancer.  And with the probability being 1 in 8, this is an issue that most anyone will experience in some degree in one's lifetime.

My pink art is an image of a fae child praying for the cure in the garden of pink flowers.  I hope to achieve the soft, reassuring, peaceful mood when it's completed.  There are so many shades of pink, but some can be rather assertive and dominant while others are gentle and quiet. ^^;

*Close-up view of floral detail

Farewell to My Tag Art

*The beautiful section banner they made for me for my gallery page at My Tag Art.

My Tag Art has just announced that it will be closing its doors on November 1st, 2011.  The last day to purchase tags, redeem any gift certificates, etc., and contact customer service is October 31st.  Meanwhile, the whole month of October is their Blowout Sale month with great deals to be grabbed while still available. ^^

My Tag Art is one of my very first licensing contracts, and the first one that I approached myself, and therefore, I am sad to see the company go.  I feel that I really didn't get to know them as well as I would have liked.  They were very well run -- e-mail communications were prompt and always courteous, they treated me (a relative newbie) with respect, and the royalty payments were always on time.  As an artist, one cannot ask for more than that, especially when we all know that there are crooks everywhere along with false promises, hyperbole (over-promising and under-delivering), and all that goes with things not quite living up to expectations.

I myself had no idea what tubes were when I first looked into it.  It was something I decided to sign up for because I saw so many other artists (especially the up and coming ones) doing it as well.  There are artists with literally dozens of images made available as tubes, but I've quickly learned that images with high levels of detail do not look the best when presented in such small format as images intended for signature and web graphic usage (low resolution, smaller images).

Another thing that happens with your image when you make them available as tubes for tag-making is that you see some stuff that you don't necessarily find to your liking.  After all, consumers, upon purchasing the tubes, are free to manipulate the image by 'collaging' it with any number of other tubes to make their own tags and whatnot -- all the while they are required to put the artist's copyright mark.  Which does create certain confusion for anyone viewing the final tags ... making them wonder how much of it is the original artist's work and how much is the work of the tag artist.  Maybe it's the control freak in me, but I didn't really like this aspect of having my artwork licensed for tubes.

I don't intend to go out and seek new representation when my contract terminates on November 1st.  It was a fun learning experience, and I was fortunate to have this opportunity with a wonderful company that treated its artists fairly and courteously.