Friday, July 31, 2020


Ok, to wrap the series for our EchoOtter avatar set, here's the background work for the piece.

I used one of my favorite paper textures here, but modified it a little so it could sit back with the composition a little better.  Here's the flat background without the texture.

And here are the lines for the final background.  This piece hummed along quite nicely since the Wind Waker style calls for quite basic lines and flat colors, which was quite a relief, since my back and neck were in a bit of rough shape during production.

Here is the rough sketch of the background, which was based on the cover image to the actual Wind Waker game box.
Ok, now the γŠγΎγ‘, I pitched two versions of this series from the initial request of a Wind Waker or Secret of Kells style avatar.  These last few images are the Secret version sketches, starting with the default otter design.

Here's the Link from the set.  This style was also nice and "primitive," but perhaps even more so than the one we ended up going with.  The shapes are rougher and more brutal, which I found to be a really neat space to spend time thinking in.

A great example of this weird style of thinking was getting the complexity of the Indy hat to work in the Kells style.  I went with just absolute tangents, as the source material seemed to be completely unafraid of bold choices like that, even downright embracing parallax lines.

And speaking of complex, Jill's logo was a little tricky to figure out in this style, but it ended up being the basis for the Wind Waker version once I cracked it.  I also thought the limbs were thrillingly outrageous, it almost felt like Hannah Barbera or something.  Anyway, this series was quite something, I feel like I gained an appreciate for these two styles, and had a great time hashing it out.  

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020


Continuing from last time, here are the remaining hats for our EchoOtter avatar series, starting with one based on Indiana Jones.

Here's the sketch of the Indy version. This was a little tricky because it's actually two pieces--a front and a back--which made this one just slightly more complicated than simply "drawing a hat on" our hero.

And finally, here's a version inspired by Resident Evil's Jill. I only have super vague familiarity with RE, as we were more of a Nintendo house growing up, so PS games didn't really connect with me, but I do fuzzily remember playing one of the titles at some point, though I believe I got frustrated with the finite save system and the static camera angles, so I just never could really get into it.

To wrap this session, here's the sketch version of this hat, which features a Wind-Waker simplified logo design, customized with "ECHO" in place of Jill's "STAR." You know, a weird connection I realized these two series have is that both Indiana Jones and Resident Evil go by different names in Japan--they call the good doctor "Indy Jones" and the horror series is simply "Biohazard." Anyway, that's it for the core of this piece. Next time, we'll check out the background, plus some alternate sketches.

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Monday, July 27, 2020


Ahoy-hoy. This week I'm going to be posting a series I did for EchoOtter's Twitch and Twitter pages. The core idea was to have his mascot--a playful otter, of course--wearing different hats to coincide with whatever game he might be playing at the time, so what better hat to kick us off with here than one from the project's guiding aesthetic? Thusly, here's our friendly neighborhood otter sporting a Link hat.

And here is our default otter, who will be the wearer of various hats this week. We based the entire series look on the Windwaker style, which was a real treat, as you get to have really chunky and "primal" lines to work with. Not to mention, Zelda holds a special place in my heart: Ocarina of Time was huge to me as a kid--I'd study and draw art from the game manual for that and Majora's Mask, plus their coverage in Nintendo Power more than any other series.

I also liked that I got to use one of my absolute favorite paper textures, which I've had since college, I believe. You just find some nice, crinkled paper that sings, scan it up, and you've got a trusty ally at your side. This one has so much character to it, I knew it'd be a great fit. This is what our piece looks like with just plain, ol' base colors, though--no texture!

Again, thanks to the "primal" vibes of our source material, coloring was also nice and straightforward. Windwaker style has precious little detail or noodley workings, so it's liberating just to have a few colors you need to stress about and then you just go with them, not too much space to lose yourself in second-guesses.

It was quite fortunate that the coloring wasn't too intensive, actually, because right as I was preparing for this piece, my chairback started falling apart, so while I had been trying to make do, I had severe back and neck pain from the new sitting arrangement I had improvised. I've been in a similar situation before, and if your body starts hurting like that, you just have to stop--do not try to slug through it, it's not worth it.

We eventually made it through and everyone lived happily ever after, but what a little adventure this series was. Happy memories of desperately doodling after old game key art, horrific memories of suffering through old injuries, tons of adorable otter pictures googled for reference--this project had it all. Anyway, more art from this run to come throughout the week.

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Thursday, October 31, 2019


MTGinktober thrives into Day 31, "Ripe," starring Nissa, Vital Force and Utopia Tree!

AH! WE DID IT! This is only my second time clearing all 31 days! I feel like I really did level up this year, like I can draw better faster at long last (this has been a giant weight on my neck for the longest time). I’m feeling oddly emotional, like I just ended something dear, though. I guess it might be the fear that now that Inktober’s done, my big showcase moment every year, it’s more or less back to mediocrity, mundanity, and irrelevance, as most people don't care about my non-MTG artwork, to be perfectly frank. Plus there's the growing dread of having to give up art soon.

Fun Facts: This is actually Utopia Tree's second MTGinktober appearance, believe it or not, as our go-to fruit reference, since Foreboding Fruit felt too generic. And Nissa has actually only appeared once before, in our first year, 2016, one of my absolutely most popular pieces of all time. I decided to close with Nissa as a final gimme to people sticking it out over a month of obscure characters.

Easter Eggs: The background comes from Utopia tree, and as is custom, we hide our signature in the tree trunk.

Thanks so much for tuning in for MTGinktober and I hope to see you next year. Also, to celebrate hitting all 31 days, I'm down to do a couple requests, just email or message me and we'll see if we can make it happen (cool requests only).

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019


MTGinktober scoops up Day 30, "Catch," starring Kiora, the Crashing Wave and Pelakka Wurm!

Oh, man home stretch, we're almost there! I'm actually kinda bummed--I don't really want to stop drawing these things. I am super tired, though, so I'm actually planning on just doing a couple bonus tracks on a more relaxed schedule. Speaking of exhaustion, this was our dreaded, third life lost, but again, we're on our last day, so we're definitely going for the 31.

Anyway, for the past couple days I've been trying to hit more popular characters as a salute to the people who've stuck with me through a relentless assault of characters nobody cares about, and this one in particular is dedicated to super user Areeghyol, who's been supportive for a good while now. He'd requested Kiora months ago, so she's been on my to-do list ever since, and today's her day. I wanted to include a miniaturized wurm as fishing bait for our merforlk behemoth seeker and went with fellow Zendikar denizen and recent scoop-inducer Pelakka Wurm.

Fun Facts: This is Kiora's second MTGinktober appearance, with her debut being one of my most popular pieces of 2017. The official Wizards Tumblr even reposted it, pretty insane. Doing that piece spooked me from drawing Kiora again because she's such a detail-intense character (mostly the headdress), but I definitely wanted to draw a Kiora for Areeghyol, so I bit the bullet.

Easter Eggs: I love Tyler Jacobson's art, especially his interpretation of Kiora, the Crashing Wave, but Scott M. Fischer's one of my absolute favorite artists, too, so I had to include a nod to his version with the little Japanese-style ukiyoe-e waves in the background from his version.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019


MTGinktober bleeds into Day 29, "Injured," starring Liliana, Heretical Healer and Stuffy Doll!

I try to cast less famous characters as much as possible for MTGinktober, but I thought I might "sell out" on these last few pieces after being pretty good about that so far, and as a treat to viewers who've been patiently hanging on this year. So I've been looking for an excuse to cast Liliana for a while, and this felt like a great spot, since it's a twist on her earlier healer days--she needs the healing, though I wanted to make sure to have her smiling through the pain. I didn't want to draw a battered Josu cuz he's kinda gross looking, so we needed a co-star...

Fun Facts: Since we were going to have a Liliana illustration dealing with pain that involves a supporting character, who better than Stuffy Doll for a prequel to their first illustration? So this is a depiction from their early days, when they'd chillax at cemeteries at night with impunity, knowing Stuffy always had her back.

Easter Eggs: A couple crows as a nod to the Raven Man. The little tombstone had the wrong date on it, but I caught it just before going to inks, fortunately. Roman numerals, huh.

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Monday, October 28, 2019


MTGinktober rolls up on Day 28, "Ride," starring Huatli and her Raptor!

Heading into this one, I was going to draw Liliana riding a zombie, but that felt too similar to our season one entry for Transport, so I switched to a backup idea, an Akira poster spoof. The only tricky thing was deciding who was most famously a rider, possibly someone from Kaladesh associated with vehicles--but no one leapt to mind so that avenue was out--or Huatli and her dino pal, though we'd be stretching the strict expectation of a vehicle. But Huatli's my homegirl, so I was amped to get her her second MTGinktober appearance (also one of my most popular 2017 pieces).

I knew this would be an illustration with a ton of potential, as my Dragon Ball spoof went quite big, but wow, this one went huge on Twitter, the biggest response of anything I've posted there yet.

Fun Facts: I actually studied Akira in college, at Tokyo University, in fact. I watched the movie innumerable times, and yet I still don't quite understand it or even remember it terribly well! It's quite strange, but I guess college pressures you to churn through so much stuff so intensely over such a short period of time that sometimes it's hard for even stuff you analyze closely to stick with you. One of the deciding factors on doing this piece was it was a salute to my old senpai, the Tokyo Werewolf, who loves Akira.

Easter Eggs: Plugging in stickers was a treat. We've got Akira's air force star patch, an Ixalan sticker, Akira's Canon becomes Vance's Blasting Cannons (runner up was using "Common," but the double M was too lengthy and Catlacan additionally too obscure), and Citizen becomes Azcanta (Citizen is an obscure token in Magic, so I was entertaining keeping it as is). In lieu of a capsule logo on Huatli's back, since there's no reference for her from behind, I just mimicked her front design.

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Sunday, October 27, 2019


MTGinktober fuzzes up Day 27, "Coat," starring Ayula, Queen Among Bears and Lil' Mowu!

I was struggling to think of a famous coat in Magic when I recalled Jace had a notable coat in Shadows Over Innistrad, but we here at MTGinktober have a strict "No Jace" policy, so that was out the window. Enter the alternative definition: an animal's fur. So then it became a more manageable quest to find an animal-animal creature to work with, rather than a more humanish animal like Mirri. I settled on Ayula since she felt most animally, though Arahbo mighta been a better choice for pure coat value.

Fun Facts: Mowu was deceptively more challenging than I had anticipated since each depiction of his is slightly but noticeably different, but I specifically leaned on the one from Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter. The downside to having such an animalish star is that it was a little tough to make her feel like more than your average bear without mirroring her official art, but hopefully we got innovative enough without alienating the source.

Easter Eggs: If doing a bear-themed piece, I had to throw in Forest Bear, obviously, that's a given, but I also included a nod to tha OG, my Grizzly Bears from when I started, the avatar of "Basic Early-Magic Creature," ubiquitous in all example scenarios introducing or clarifying the stack or basic strategy, via that card's famous, uprooted tree trunk.

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Saturday, October 26, 2019


MTGinktober obfuscates into Day 26, "Dark," starring whatever the heck is going on in Word of Command!

Yeah, man, I'm super exhausted and thought this would be a nice change of pace to get some recovery time in, plus I was inspired to see some really sweet Word of Command alternate art for the MTGO avatar, so I know this art can have more going on than one would think initially.

Fun Facts: The only tricky part about this one was settling on an expression (I went for more of a sneer), and trying not to make my signature too blatant (tough). I basically never digitally fix MTGinktobers, no matter how much it pains me, aside from simply lightening whites and darkening blacks that already exist, but this is the first piece where, in order to save my dwindling ink supply, I filled in digital black to juice the surrounding shadows. This is also my first piece completed on one inkwell draw.

Easter Eggs: Nothing really, aside from roughing in some general facial shapes that I later shadowed over. I knew these details wouldn't make the final image, but I had ink loaded in my G-Pen to spare and thought I might as well get some live-ink hatching practice in.

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Friday, October 25, 2019


MTGinktober chomps into Day 25, "Tasty," starring Oko, Thief of Crowns!

Dude, so crazy exhausted, I had to pass out shortly after completing pencils on this one, hence the teaser image I posted to the Dailies, but fortunately upon reading the prompt initially, I knew almost instantly I wanted to draw the infamous Oko of confectionery celebrity. This included Elk of course, but for added spice, I wanted them to resemble Standard-Elked creatures.

Assembling candidates for the Elkification was a fun little exercise in surveying what's hot in Standard, and I was super close to going with Embercleave as a curveball option for an Elked artifact, but that guy's already had an MTGinktober appearance, so I had to cut him like the blade he is--I mean what is he, Chandra?

Fun Facts: I used some more negative space techniques here, as I did with our Vraska piece this year, which is also another piece we had to delay into the following day, unfortunately. I feel like this is a game where you get three lives, after which it's game over, so maybe--I'm not sure--I'll call it if I ever miss another day. I'm on the fence because we're so close to closing out 31, and we're generally keeping good pace, but we'll see how defeated I feel should that come up.

Easter Eggs: The Elked creatures are homies you definitely wanna shut off as soon as you can, namely Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and Paradise Druid. Unfortunately couldn't squeeze in a triple-headed Elk.

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Thursday, October 24, 2019


MTGinktober spins into Day 24, "Dizzy," starring Prophet of Kruphix!

Yeah, this was a really tough one, man, I just couldn't think of anything! I had thought maybe something involving a dementia summoner hypnotizing someone, or even just involving Sadistic Hypnotist or Hypnotic Specter, but I dunno, that didn't really feel like the way to go. The general idea was to hypnotize the viewer, but beyond that, I didn't really know who to cast or what exactly to draw.

Fun Facts: Prophet of Kruphix is dear to me because for a while I had a little jank Standard deck with her to enable an instant Tromokratis so I could Chandra's Ignition it to wipe the board on my turn with counter backup and then swing assuredly for the win. I call these kinds of "creature + attachment = instant win" decks, which I have a fondness for, "Splinter Twin" decks. Most recently, my win of choice was a life-linking Famished Paladin and a Sorcerer's Wand.

Easter Eggs: Nothing really, as this is a pretty spare illustration, but the little smoking platter things are from the original card (tried to work in the promo version, but again, there just wasn't a whole lot to work with). I hid my signature in the one on the right, so there's that at least.

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