Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hear ye, hear ye.

I have been on a little bitty bit of a cross-stitching kick lately. I did a Final Fantasy 4 "Rydia" for myself, and then Dark Cecil and Paladin Cecil for a friend of mine. Observe!

These take a godawful long time but compared to the stuff on Sprite Stitch, I consider myself a lightweight.

And then, on Friday, I thought it would be a cool idea of create a coat-of-arms for my family unit. I changed my last name in my early twenties, and my husband took said name, so we really are a totally new unit. I figured it would be a good time to solidify our values and identity in a way that would be both bad-ass and a helpful reminder for the goals we want to strive for (before we get too cranky and old).

I spent some time in the SCA as a kid, so heraldic stuff is not entirely new to me. I think I took to it rather like a fish to water! The hours of research were quite fun and it's really amazing I didn't try to shove more symbols in. There are so many to choose from! I originally meant to put a cool crown/collar and chains on the ox but totally forgot about it when it came time to ink. Oh, well.

The Latin translates (if Google is to be believed) to "wealth (within) skill and knowledge lies". I wanted a real "working class" badge, with a hammer and star representing the quest for perfection through arts/crafts. The star also corresponds to the symbol for a third son, which is what my husband is. The 'X' pattern is a Scottish designation for the first generation of a coat. Shafts of wheat (in place of, traditionally, garish ribbons) and the wheel (in lieu of a helm designating rank) for progress, forward movement, and fruition. The ox represents fortitude/labor and the lion valor/achievement. The owl, of course, for wisdom and learning. Apparently there is a big difference between eared owls and earless owls, so I gave him ears. I will say that the one owl I saw in the wild was earless and pretty damned freaky. Every other culture of the world but the west is into them as harbringers of death.

Jerry says that orange and blue is the best color combination EVER, so what choice did I have there?

What can I say? I love symbolism.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On and off.

Little bit here, little bit there.

Here's me and my siblings as kids.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Something I ponder a lot about these days is character design and how much cartooning-down I want to do in general.

We love big, inviting eyes and people that are something like 6 heads tall - because let's be real, when you look in a mirror and realize how tiny your head ACTUALLY is in comparison to the rest of your body, it's actually kind of unsettling - and all sorts of shortcuts that make storytelling potent and hyperhuman. We also like to look at characters with either far fewer details, so we can inject ourselves into them and find them more relatable... or far more details, because then they deeply enrich the world they inhabit and become the opposing forces we pit ourselves against.

Long story short.

I was sketching and did 3 different Mae'houns, sort of as a test of how detailed and non-detailed I could get, with my usual style there in the middle.

Also, you know, to prove this point to anyone who's interested.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Uncharted Waters.

Not only do I have a job right now, but that job utilizes the words "mandatory overtime". Also, I spend a lot of my "off" time playing an MMO - my first, because I was previously concerned that I am exactly the sort of person who would become completely absorbed in an MMO. Turns out I was right!

I'm enjoying gutting fish in taverns around the world while sporting the finest West African fashions. If you see the above avatar, say hi. I totally have some Quest Mediation Permits you can buy. There's some in-game economic humor. Snerk!

Oh! And here are some of my co-workers.

I'm seeing a behavioral therapist right now, and it's a pretty positive experience. I've done a lot of really intensive talk therapy in the past, but this current school focuses squarely on my attitudes and self-worth. One of the main reasons I don't draw as much as I "should" (would, could, etc.) is that I put so much pressure on myself that if I draw at all, I'm going to Fail, so why bother? Perfection to the point of constipation. So right now I scribble Totoros on my work bench and doodle while I'm sailing in UWO. Just trying to get back into enjoying it and doing it when I feel like it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

This little piggy.

No, I haven't updated much lately! I have been tackling all the yard work possible, then I came down with the Head Cold Of Death™ that's going around. The nice thing about being sick is that once I get well again, life is completely amazing and magical and I feel capable of doing so much stuff.

Did some inking the other day. My husband was kind enough to be my foot model.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"All for under fifty bucks!"

He builds furniture.

I sew.

He built a headboard; we upholstered it; I made a matching bedspread.

We're a pretty good team.

Texture quilt.

I have a nephew on the way, so I've made some reusable wipes and have been looking at cloth diapers (which are really scary and, to be honest, beyond my abilities). I also wanted to make some kind of quilt. What I loved growing up were patterns with lots to look at; and babies love to touch and feel; so with those two put together, I decided on one of those map playmats.

I've sewn together about half of it and have the other half to do.  The "lots" and "roads" vary from suede to vinyl to denim to wool to jersey knit cotton. (Ahem, hand wash and line dry.) When the batting and first backing is in, I will machine quilt different patterns over the "lots". The fabric in the upper right is what will be on the backside to look tasteful when necessary, with a yarn-tie technique to boot. I always, always push beyond what's realistic in layering but, just the same, I always, always pull through (thus far).

I'm deferring to mama's wisdom on where to go from here. I have felt and other materials ready for trees and buildings, but do we want the playmat to have the capacity to grow along with junior, too? Do I attach buildings so it's cutesy and arty, or leave them loose as playing pieces so the LEGOs can eventually move in? Or I'm probably overthinking this, and a combination of diarrhea and projectile vomit will strike at once and totally destroy the thing, and it would be really uncool after a few years besides. But I'm toying (ha!) around.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Test frame.

I've drafted over 15 pages this week, and it feels great. Things are coming together nicely. Once in a while, I'll occupy a page with test coloring. Here's a conceptual coloring of the Spirit Ocean, full of mistakes, but, well, that's why I post it here, right?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Step into my office.

It's great having a computer desk on wheels - as well as a space dedicated solely to drawing. Sometimes I marvel more at that than actually working. I feel kind of famous just for having a cool workspace. Maybe I need to become famous so there are more pictures of it on the internet. Come on. You wish you had a sunny corner like me.

And nstead of doing dishes, I've made a point of refurbishing my thrift barstool and sewing together a small rug (made of upholstery fabric and the foam from an old DDR mat) to go underneath it.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sitting room.

Did some note-taking at my sister-in-law's place while the rest of the family crowded in to tile the bathroom. Here are some "dessert" sketches of a child's face and, of course, my nephew, Stanley the mastiff.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Half the story: lettering.

I've been fretting about this lately: how will my lettering look?

I find myself mostly fretting between two styles - a very classic look, and something more natural (with lowercase included). I refuse to computer-generate something obviously modern, since I find that so obnoxious and distracting in other comics. I could potentially be convinced to grab a professional-looking font and entering it digitally, but... that disconnects me from the panels more than I'm comfortable with. Caps are plain and rather unobtrusive, unless you realize that that's a common way for people to "yell". In a sci-fi fantasy story, is that really appropriate? Does it break the tone? Moreover, is it MORE (see?) obtrusive to digest a totally different handwriting style?

I don't think an answer is going to arrive anytime soon.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Of tabs, paperclips, and dividers.

Had to organize some papers today. They've been accumulating on my desk for over a week.

Up to 10 pounds of story and reference materials!


I've been trying to expand the weaponry horizons of the cultures on my world. The meteor hammer was a delightful discovery that I'm excited to implement with the warrior class of a central city-state. One day recently, I remembered a neolithic spear thrower, also known as the precursor to the bow and arrow. Some research was met with an atlatl sporting community and tons of great information. It's a weapon that's conceptually simple to make - with a lot of room for custom design - and lethal in the right hands.

I have yet to really nail the atlatl posture. Here's a tutorial on the proper throw. As with many - and really the goal of any - tools, the more balance and less effort used, the better. But that doesn't invite as much interest as an over-exaggerated, super-dynamic ACTION POSE! So, currently, I'm attempting to figure out how to make it interesting without pulling a Catwoman. Perhaps my rendered atlatl proteges will develop their own techniques. (My third grade teacher scorned the way I held a pencil, but I've stuck with it. Apparently it's unusual. And my writing is super tidy. So sometimes there are unusual but effective ways to do stuff.)


My husband used his fantastic woodworking skills to make a test atlatl out of two hardware store dowels - a very, very basic design to test out the concepts. My first throw left my fingers easily and stuck in the ground. Very exciting! However, the spears/darts/arrows/whatever were also made of hardware store dowels, so 30 feet (which is what I could throw manually) turned out to be the distance cap right there. A proper spear needs a lot of lightweight bending potential; that's how you achieve good, long, mammoth-killing throws. Still, I couldn't help but decorate my first spear, fletching it with goose feathers, painting it with India ink, and whittling the tip myself. (A manual pencil sharpener is much faster and more even.)

I love researching to try to bring as much depth and human history into a fantasy genre that is commonly based on middle-aged European settings. Yawn. The irony is that the more research I do into cultures of the Earth, the more fantastical I find it. I can't imagine thinking up a bow and arrow, Persian loom, or goldsmithing over a meager fire made of yak dung. Arts and technology, man! It's nuts! Creating a "fantasy" world becomes hard to do in the shadows of thousands of years of human civilization. So much of it is completely amazing and diverse. It's hard to wrap one's head around.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reading list.

Books waiting eagerly to have their pages turned.

I'm on GoodReads now. I don't review like I did here in Current Reads, but I enjoy keeping a record of which graphic novels I've experienced. A while back, I had a hell of a time trying to remember one and Googled vague plot points for hours. And it's worse for nonfiction. I went to our main city library and stumbled up and down one aisle for 30 minutes, asking two different staff members to help me find a much-needed book on African nomadic architecture. I couldn't remember the title or the author, searching the catalog seemed pointless, and apparently the Dewey Decimal System makes zero amount of sense to me. Imagine my increased capacity for headdesking when the title "African Nomadic Architecture" popped up as soon as I got home.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

More studies.

I wanted to practice some earth textures, so flipping open "Tibet: The Secret Continent" by Michael Peissel was a great place to start. Oh, Tibet.

And then my studious model posed for me a bit.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Breaking down barriers.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my story, namely from a "what will people think?" perspective.

I have known for some years now that my main characters are really just reflections of me. Whose aren't? I come from an apparently pretty abnormal background of well-concealed emotional abuse, mental illness, and the struggle of separating sexual identity from personal worth. Then, the ensuing rebellion and looking to the other extremes to find something better. This is some heavy stuff, and it comes out. How will it be interpreted? I hope some background information can save me from looking like a very, very strange person. Or at least explain why that person is very, very strange.

Melodrama is a tone I'd like to avoid in my storytelling, but I guess I've felt pretty melodramatic at times.

See, my father was a fanatical atheist Darwinist. Growing up, I heard a lot of talk about who was and wasn't fit to survive, who "deserved to" or "should" breed, and explicit rules about who I could and couldn't date (women, as well as men of color, being on the "you can never come home" list - and I better have white grandkids, or else). He pointed out every biracial child on television, made it pretty clear that women were subservient, and freaked out about recessive genes - namely blonde hair and blue eyes - being lost in the gene pool because they were marks of superiority. There were also a number of conspiracy theories and firm words about my not supporting mass genocide of an entire region (that I was actually secretly researching and finding artistic inspiration from). I experienced a lot of anxiety, repression, guilt, depression, anger, and fear as a result.

So I think it's no surprise that one way I cope with and challenge all this extreme thinking in my fantasy macroculture. Homosexuality is pretty widely accepted, women are more free with their bodies, bloodlines are considered secondary to the forces of reincarnation, mutations happen fairly frequently, and there's tons of interbreeding between the races. We start off with folklore of peoples of specific colors and, due to the melting pot, everyone gets mixed up and we see a lot of different skin tones, eye colors, etc. I intentionally took a lot of different features from races here on earth and mixed-and-matched them. I can't ignore the way I intrinsically notice racial features and genetic lineage, but I can at least channel it into a world where the interpretations are not so hateful and negative.

And when racism, genocide, homophobia, etc. does happen, you'll see it through the eyes of characters that are struggling to find their way through it all. The conflict is going to be intense and with pretty steep consequences. My childhood was definitely that!

A biracial couple from a tribal region. Because of this match, the child will likely be sterile, but neither of them cares. The spirit lives forever. That's the world I "live" in when I draw.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Life drawing.

A spouse takes on a lot of cost-effective roles, one of which is a nude model that doesn't require payment or leaving the house. Thanks to my husband, who is a super good sport. Foreshortening terrifies me, but I love the shoulder/armpit/upper arm area so much that I'm willing to work through it.

Once I get warmed up and feel comfortable with anatomy again, I like feeling the different thick-to-thins slide off the graphite oh so naturally. Made up people! Whee!