Monday, October 31, 2016
I'm writing this after the election. I kept posting on the daily features (Twitter and Instagram), but just didn't have time to update here, but here is MTGinktobber Day 25, "Tired," featuring Chandra, who I call "Eye of Chandara" because of that one Das Racist song where Lakutis says "Eye of Thundera," and I just love how those syllables hit. The linked song has strong language. Anyway, drawing this series has been exhausting and at this point I was drawing this at like 4 or 5am. I did enjoy the actual physical and mental tiredness. But I have stopped being vigilant about working since the election, and I have allowed myself to sleep again, no alarms.
Anyway, it is extremely difficult to pretend any of this stuff matters, but I'm trying to press on. I won't hide the disgust and shame I feel. I want it known that I feel ashamed of my race, gender, and country. This "we'll get 'em next time" stuff is simply not to my taste. We shouldn't be in this position. This is how I've felt my entire life--people flocking to the loud, empty windbag meanwhile the reserved ones have to prove themselves over and over and over and not always winning. I don't like Hillary Clinton, I don't think she's cool, she may not even truly be kind--maybe whatever acts of kindness she commits are meditated and everything's a scheme and chess move to her. I don't know.
But I do know, I know, that doesn't matter if what she does and how she conducts herself helps and benefits good, deserving people. And just as equally I know that she can't act to hurt people if they haven't earned it. We put people in prison if they are bad--depriving someone of freedom is not good, but we do it when we must, and to the best of our abilities we commit this only to people who have earned it beyond the shadow of a doubt. Obviously I'm not so naive I ignore that just people still go to jail and evil people still roam free, but that is not the intention of the system. I know it's abused at times. Everything good can be abused. Every single thing. Drink enough water and it will kill you. That's not the intention.
Pick your favorite President (who served more than a month, Chuckles McGoo). That person has sent people, even young people, to their deaths in some capacity at some point somehow. Our people or other people. Every president must kill in some way--war, some law they pass that initiates the course of events leading to some rando killing another, some key resource deprivation that somehow shaves one day off someone's life they otherwise might have. Every president must hurt somebody somehow in some manner. But it is generally unintentional hurt. I know, I know, I know she cannot possibly derive pleasure from inflicting hurt upon others as that orange fraud clearly, demonstrably does. It is not hypothetical, it is freaking public, it is on tape, in print, on record, it is documented on every form of modern media we have in existence.
But let us grant that she does take joy in hurting others. It cannot possibly be greater than that which the orange idiot publicly does. Let us assume they derive an equal amount of pleasure from hurting others. One is at least so extremely private about it, the FBI could not prove it. Hostile foreign forces invading her privacy could not expose it. Decades of enemies could not bait it out. The other of hypothetically equal schadenfreude does not even feign to hide the joy he derives from hurting others, and has done so for literal decades--that is manifest, injurious behavior over the course of series of tens of years. If you must accept both as equally hurtful and pernicious, how do you take the blatant person over the one you may well go to the grave having no actual proof of longstanding, interminable hurtfulness?
Anyway, at the time of drawing this, I passed the 10 year anniversary of having this little plastic star in my pocket, which I got soon after moving into Farnam, my Freshman Year dorm at Yale. Yale remains the only years of my life where I have felt comfortable, relevant, and valuable. I miss it so much. I always capitalize Freshman Year because it was so important. Obviously I was a wreck just, what, four months later? As early as December, for Christmas dinner at Commons, I remember starting to feel like an outcast, but the outright rejection in March or April was life-defining. I suppose I should loathe Yale, but I love it. It gave me art. It gave me no other choice but art. And through art I achieved personal value. I reject that garbage of "everyone's special," and "A for effort," and all that. You need to earn it. I earned it then. I knew nobody, I was the first of my family to go to college, I had no friends, I refused to drink or party or live so that I could do art, and in the end I became of value to people I didn't know. People respected my work and knew nothing of me, and that is what I cherish of my Yale years. It was that you don't have to know or like me to respect my work.
This star is beat up and worthless, but I always, always, always have it on me in my pants pocket because it is one of the very first memories I have of being at Yale, being a Yalie. It was from a Duracell battery pack I bought for a flashlight shortly after moving in. I was the only one of our suite assigned a roommate, who I still hold dear, even if he never knows it (I despise the word "friend," but he's up there, like a "hall of fame" or "ally emeritus" type deal). I hanged the star outside our door facing into the dark, empty FB01 hall, where it blinked steadily and incessantly after activation until it eventually died. It was included in the pack so kids could clip it on, particularly during Halloween so they could be safe in the dark. I basically haven't been in touch with people from Yale since graduation because I still don't feel worthy of talking to them. They are all achieving great things, and I am just screaming, blinking into the darkness.
However, with this Inktober series, I have finally managed to reach some new people, but I expect as always, nothing to come of anything. I write assuming no one actually reads the text--it has always been for me not to forget more than others to read. People just pop in for the art and get out, and that's fine, I expect nothing more. It has always been about the art first, everything else is just DVD extras. The text on this site is an unnecessary accessory to already unnecessary work.
This was our MTGinktober for Day 26, "Box," with Tymna the Weaver, who I thought might be able to have some kind of weaving magic that would allow her to sort of manipulate thread into a box shape. She's also sitting on a block of marble, which is supposed to be another box-like element. I wanted the threads to feel like a web, concentrated around her head, and her jewelry and hair to feel like a spider resting on her head.
I don't get why Wizards of the Coast doesn't make even one of their "core" Planeswalkers black or dark-skinned. They're all just shades of white. Even Chandra, whose complexion perplexity I've discussed in the past. I have no ill will towards Wizards on this, they can absolutely do whatever they want--I care about the game itself infinitely more than I ever could about its artistic trappings and I have no actual investment in race (again, I myself was raised with no strong racial identity--which perhaps makes it more disgusting that people of my race were just gullible enough to fall for a malicious fraud, owing to traditional trends of priorities in our racial identity). But if they are truly, truly serious about representation and stuff, they can silence any grounds for accusations of tokenism by making their main cast--not supporting (here and there popping up), not key (important for a specific block or set), but main (these are the dudes we will throw in your face at every opportunity)--yes, their main cast more diverse.
It struck me the other night, walking home...the reason I care about this specific thing and not race in general is because whenever you see the "hooray diversity" stuff, it always feels not quite right, not quite "honest." It clicked after seeing this one comic--I wish I could remember where I saw it--but a westerner did a short "manga" comic where a mysterious manga lady is walking down the street, gets alarmed by a runaway cat, then a little manga black girl emerges to collect her wily cat, apologizes, and then asks the manga lady if she wants to pet her cat. Manga lady politely declines because she's allergic, goes home, etc.
The immediate thing I felt was, "Why does the little manga girl have to be black?" Then I thought, "Why am I thinking this? What is making me think this?" It's because I don't normally see black people in manga. "How do I know a non-Japanese artist drew this?" The manga styling was a clear, but with that signature "not just quite manga lines" vibe, so this indicates this is supposed to feel like a Japanese work, but if this truly were, it is almost a dead certainty the little girl wouldn't have been black. That means the author intentionally chose the girl to be black. Why? To make the piece and thus the comic's world feel more diverse, above all. What does that mean? It means the author recognized a deficit in representation of dark-skinned people in manga and sought to correct for that under-representation. This is on paper a positive effort. But ultimately, to me, it rang as somehow dishonest (not in a malicious way, clearly in an unwitting way). I couldn't figure out exactly why it felt this way, but then it clicked on my own walk home.
The side character, not the main character--who we follow before the cat and after the cat, meaning this short was about her from her perspective; the story was not about the little girl--the incidental little girl was black. Both could have been boys, white, older, same age, aliens, nigh whatever. This story was about the twist at the end; any sort of identification on the two characters was pretty much arbitrary because the story called for no special particulars other than that the main character is alone, has an uncontrolled negative interaction with an agent the audience is assumed to like, a separate responsible character offers a positive interaction in compensation, the main character declines, and then leaves alone for the twist where the main character nevertheless has a positive, controlled interaction with extremely similar agents. There was so limited interaction between the two, there could even be only severely limited room for romantic subtext, it was as straightforward a story as you could get. So free from any narrative-driven mandates of depiction, we can examine any existing depictions in either character as results of more than non-arbitrary choice-making.
I should preface that it is surprising how some people simply don't realize this, but drawing is not like taking a photo or writing a sentence--in drawing, you must determine depiction. You must make choices, on everything. I have a pencil in my hand. What does that mean? You know what it means. But if I draw that sentence, I have to decide--
Who is "I"? What does that hand look like? How realistic is this? Are we sketching in pencil? Going to Copics? Sketching on the tablet? Does the hand's skin color get reflected? Is this drawing black and white? Is there grayscale? Mere tones? Is it simply enough just to draw the hand and the pencil, or do you expect to see the arm or body or setting? What is the setting? Does it matter? Is there a background? Do we just indicate a desk or something? Back to the pencil, is it traditional? Mechanical? Is it sharpened? Do we show it's been used? How used? Does it have an eraser at the top? Oh, how about we make it traditional so I can draw nibble marks into the pencil because it'll feel more real and cool. I don't have a traditional pencil, so why don't I just draw my actual mechanical pencil? It'll feel way more real if I draw the actual pencil I use! Do we change the brand of the pencil? Do we need to include it? Can we make a neat little joke or pun with the brand? Dude, you know what would be funny, draw it literally--a pencil jabbed in a guy's hand.
--There are an insane amount of tiny little decisions you must make when you draw anything. At some point everything has some degree of intention.
The author chose to draw two females, one of which was a little girl who was black. They made that decision. Who knows why for certain, but I would deduce it was to make the environment feel more welcoming. But it doesn't feel quite "true" to me, meaning it doesn't feel like it accomplished its mission to make the place feel more inviting because nevertheless, it was not the black girl's story. It was about the manga-white main character. That is how I feel about Magic. I'm not saying they're being dishonest or mean or even misguided, I'm saying they are not achieving what they seem to be striving to achieve. I appreciate what they're endeavoring to do, but this is why it just doesn't quite resonate with me as a minority. I don't enjoy Magic a drop less or think less of the people behind the decisions. I love and advocate for Magic as a game and artistic vehicle as passionately as ever, and for the story as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ as ever.
My gosh, why are we talking about this, oh, right, distracting myself from the reality of post 11/9. Look, enjoy the art.
Friday, October 28, 2016
This was our MTGinktober for Day 23's "Slow," starring Meandering Towershell as a young pup! He's hanging out in a Tasigur-style fruit bowl.
This is the version I posted to Twitter, but I knew I wanted to go all out on the zombie as well, so I gave it a little more juice for Removal. I used a fudepen for the back lighting, by the way, and it really shows off the texture of the paper I'm using.
This is the version I posted to Instagram. When I started Inktober, I thought Twitter would get the "early edition" and Instagram would get the more polished version, but it turned out to go the other way since I have Instagram on east coast time, and Twitter on the west.
This piece is also a nice demo of my theory that study is more interesting when there's something directly fruitful--this is essentially a still life drill, but since it has a point, it is an illustration that calls for such a still life composition, it feels interesting to me and I have true desire to study and execute it. But if it's just drawing fruit just to draw fruit...what's the point?
And here's our Day 24 for "One Dozen," starring Tibor and Lumia, dining on presumably so many donuts. This cafe/diner is where Tibor first met Lumia--she was on her way to drop off her final paper and stopped by for a quick pre-celebration donut, but her order got mixed up with Tibor's who was doing the same. The place was crowded that day, so the had to split this booth. They ended up chatting about school, and eventually giving a mock thesis defense to each other after discovering they were in the same department, but then they both missed their delivery deadlines! They had to sneak into the department after hours by jiggering with the security system, but they safely got their work into Chair's all-important, un-monitored dropbox. And the rest is history. So they eat here every "Donut Day." It's not their real anniversary, but they remember the date because they had to present their theses at their respective departments at a major symposium that Saturday. They celebrate their anniversary as normal married couples do, but always come back to this diner on Donut Day and split an order of donuts equal to how long they've been married. This year Tibor ordered one dozen donuts.
Tibor triumphantly came back to their favorite booth with the box of donuts, pretending as if he had slain a great beast for his lady and was bringing back spoils from the hunt. "Feast, my dear, on the warm, doughy, sugary innards of yon felled beeste!" Lumia wasn't even giggling; she's usually the one leading the conversation, goofing around, and teasing her geezer husband about his age. She'd been low-energy for the past few months, actually. Tibor was hoping Donut Day would be a sort of pick-me-up for her. He tried stuffing his face with donuts like a child to cheer her up, playing up how old he felt, and how she never seemed to age, how she seemed to retain and multiply every ounce of brilliance she had from the day they met. But she was lost in thought, staring at her uneaten donut. She loved sugar donuts.
"Lumi, there's starving kids in Kamigawa that would want that donut, hey? And you don't eat that, you don't get any dessert, little girl--and dessert's more donuts!"
"Tibby...Tibor...I...I want a divorce."
"Uh, you'll have to forgive me, my child, in my old age, me ears ain't so good, I--"
"Tibor, I...I'm not joking...I don't...I don't love you anymore."
One dozen donuts seems like a lot, but you'll also notice a lot of holes accumulated in the bounty, too.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
This is MTGinktober's day 21 post, "Big," starring my absolute favorite monogreen creature, one of the very first rares I ever opened back when I started, Silvos, Rogue Elemental. Going into this piece, I didn't realize how nondescript he looks--I'm not sure he has a face--so he ended up being pretty challenging to capture...
But anyway, I knew I wanted someone smaller in the foreground to contrast with his size, but who? Well, if I'm including my all-time favorite greenybopper heartthrob, then I had to include Mortivore, my all-time favorite creature, period (and perhaps the absolute first rareature I ever opened). But this was the Silvos show today, so I needed to sneak Morti in there, especially since it wouldn't be a clear comparison. Regardless, I did want to push Silvos's size anyway, so a human would be best, but how could I sneak Mortivore in there? Tie him in thematically. Thus the foregrounder had to be fellow green legend, Saffi Eriksdotter, of Lhurgoyphobic fame. So if you look at her boots and bracers, I incorporated all 8 type-named Lhurgoyfs (as of Kaladesh), including the Ice Age and 8E versions of the namesake star/star. Her knee pads are the Ice Age expansion symbol, of course.
The story I came up with in my head about this image is that Saffi was fleeing the Lhurgoyf, yelled back to Hans to run, too, but he ended up getting caught and eaten. Stricken with survivor's remorse, Saffi eventually decides to jump off a great cliff in the forest to atone for her cowardice in not staying back to help Hans. Her sorrow and pain are so great that in the middle of her fall, her spark ignites and she planeswalks to safety. She eventually teams up with Silvos and they decide to protect the deep forest from poachers and to assist anyone lost or in danger. Silvos will never be tamed, but he will obediently take command from Saffi, in whom he sees a hungry, honed power greater than his own.
I am super wiped out from these MTGinktobers, so when I found out (kinda expected, after "Big") that Day 22 was "little," I was relieved cuz it meant I might be able to do a smaller piece. This Metropolis Sprite got out of hand and while I had just wanted to draw her huge next to a d6 or something for a reality-check scale, I kept seeing more fun stuff we could incorporate at bite size.
For instance, there's an M15-bordered Japanese Mortivore (doesn't exist), a Champions of Kamigawa d20 (which doesn't exist, to my knowledge), and a From the Vault: Lore Dark Depths, curled to kingdom come, in reference to the famously horrendous and dangerous foiling process they use for these supposedly extremely special edition printings. Since college, I've enjoyed hiding my signature into my art so that it adds to, rather than detracts from a piece (and it's harder to remove or notice by nefarious people)--this was heavily inspired by studying Will Eisner's designs--so I did have to puzzle over how to hide it in the wing. The d20 hosts my favorite number at top, 13, using the old dice font.
Oh, I also recorded myself inking some of the wing, by the way. The full video ended up going for 15 minutes, but Instagram has a 1 minute version. Wish I knew how to time lapse...I'd like to do some video stuff, including streaming when we return to digital...kinda want to color a couple of these...
Monday, October 24, 2016
This was a bit of a special MTGinktober for Day 19's "Flight." At first I thought I might do something relating to Kazu Kibuishi's classic Flight anthology, since it was one of my absolute biggest inspirations in college and even earlier (I aspired to be good enough to enter that anthology some day...). We even named the Yale Comics Club anthology Escape in homage to it (and by the way, how cool that the Flight prompt comes right after Escape!). But in the end, I decided to go with a special Magic Angel that's not strictly Magic-related, but pretty much kinda Magic-related, Sakura Tenshi.
I'm a huge fan of inside references nobody could ever hope to get (another reason I list them online is so I don't forget myself years down the road), so let's detail what's going on with this piece. First of all, it's a medley of all kinds of nods to The Vossfather, Algenpfleger, who's been an inspiration since college. Obviously we have Thalia, and slightly less obviously a quasi-Restoration Angel, two of his most famous illustrations. The Angel is not a direct cover of Resto, tho, it's his famous playmat design Sakura Angel or Sakura Tenshi. Not to brag or nuffin, but I pretty much Art Directed that whole piece, so in other words I basically drew it for him, trust me, don't ask him, just take my word for it what were we talking about again oh right the next section which is starting now ha ha hey look what's that over there.
Right, so next we get a little more eagle-eyed with the references. Thalia's little design details on her belt and sheath are actually little German B swooshy things -> ß. And then since we're using Thalia's background, I thought it'd be neat to mimic the playful side of his aesthetic and have little dooders hanging out on the grass. And not just any bugs, but references to his famous token series. I included a little seal because that's his mascot, of course, but I dropped in the little Germ because that was the very first token I ever got from him (I call him the "German Germ" and he watches over my Drafts from my Draft kit deckbox). The caterpillar balancing out the bottom right corner is my own design, but using the JV club style. And that's pretty much everything I snuck into this piece. If I can sum the experience in a word: edutainment.
Next, Day 20 was "Squeeze," so I decided to try to draw into a cramped space--the space of Japanese coins. I wanted a deeper meaning than simply drawing in a confined area, though, so initially I wanted to draw Owen Turtenwald and three rats, in reference to his command performance with Monoblack Devotion during Return to Ravnica-Theros Standard. But then I thought of his good friends Reid Duke and William Jensen, who famously have an incredibly tight bond--you might say they're squeezed together tightly.
They're so tight that their collective name is the "Peach Garden Oath," and Japanese money has flowers and stuff on it, so I thought it'd be neat to make a Peach version of our 5 yen coin to round out our yen collection's donut-hole-having member. I wanted unconventional expressions so I scoured the documentary Enter the Battlefield for interesting shots, but I knew exactly which scene I wanted for Owen, which I also knew was going to be a special challenge to capture the subtle emotions there.
Bonus sketch: I've wanted to do fan art of ETB for a while and this felt like a good opportunity to do a quick sketch--plus I wanted to test out my maru pen before using it on the actual piece, so I sketched this for the test run. I'm pretty used to the G-Pen by now which I've used on every MTGinktober hitherto, but the marupen (a finer-point nib) is still noticeably harder to pilot...Anyway, this sketch was inspired by one of the saddest scenes in the film, I tear up every time. Note the sketch depicts fiction, but I just wanted to capture the emotions I feel while watching that scene. I believe there exists a photo of Owen hugging William Jensen after falling just short of winning Worlds(?), so maybe that subconsciously influenced this sketch, too, but I just drew from the gut on this one. Owen is a controversial guy, but any critics really ought to watch this film. Regardless of how you feel about him, it kinda helps put stuff in perspective.
(The Chris Pikula storyline is also surprisingly poignant--man, that part where he talks about his kid and/vs. Magic...I don't know why that hit me so hard. I guess cuz I've decided to give up on all "real life" things for art? I dunno. I don't care about the real world so I literally don't even know what I'm missing. Friendship, love, it's all alien to me, but I do know--ignorantly--I would never forgive myself if I chose those over art. I'm obviously missing something, but I'm terrified that allowing myself to learn more would make me balk or unmask regret.)
I will say, though, the only real problem I've had with The Big O was when he posted a picture of himself smoking a cigar. My understanding of influential people (specifically people who kids look up to) smoking has taken a huge dive since living in Japan--the poor kids here are almost expected to start smoking. It's so incredibly sad. They don't even have a chance. Everyone--fathers, mothers, sports stars--they smoke right in front of kids, it's culturally normal. It's heartbreaking. Obviously it's the guy's choice to do whatever he wants and Magic sure doesn't pay enough to warrant influencing his personal life, but I admire guys like LSV and Reid Duke who nevertheless do put in an effort to accept that they are unwitting role models. You ever see that picture of LSV signing autographs for those little girls? My gosh! Another oddly emotional experience. Anyway. You know, for a Magic-centric post, it has certainly gotten pretty emo. Sigh. Wish my deck were emo, that way it could cut itself. ZING!
And yes, I'm fully aware Zero smokes, but that's because/so nobody likes him. Also I am a nobody.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Day 17 of MTGinktober was "Battle" and I knew I absolutely didn't want to do a traditional battle, so my mind first went to a rap battle (<--severe language warning), but as I thought more about it, as much as I wanted to draw a crowd going "OOOOHHH!!!!" I thought a dance battle might be more visually interesting.
I don't really take dance seriously as an artform, if I'm being perfectly honest, but I do know Les Twins are true artists--there was this interview with Laurent just sitting in a chair and grooving along to some music, and that alone was astounding. That is art. Plus his/their mentality is just wonderful, basically, "just kill it always." Anyway, I knew I wanted to draw two to four people in the battle, so I immediately thought of doing a Les Twins style piece, though I still kinda wish I coulda drawn the Planeswalkers in Les Twins gear. Still hoping to draw modern-day PWs at some point.
What's exciting to me about this piece is it debuts a new technique I thought of. Usually I just have a ton of references open while I draw, but this time, I mocked up the illustration I wanted to do by chopping up and collaging my references. I'd post that previz but I'd imagine it's a copyright issue. Anyway, this piece stars Kaya and Koth cuz, well, they be black, yo, and while I wanted to mimic Les Twins, I knew I wanted a guy and girl team, so it all worked out. I had a great time drawing Kaya cuz it felt like drawing Alexis Blight again and I always loved drawing her hair. By the way, this drawing of Koth marks the first time I've drawn a character without a shirt...Speaking of outfits, I turned a New York Yankees hat into a New Phyrexia hat. Million-dollar-idea royalties, please.
And then Day 18 was "Escape," which gave me quite a bit of pause to figure out what to draw. I read the prompts before leaving for dinner so I can think during the walk and while eating, and I was drawing a blank for a good while. I finally decided something small and ground level in a mad dash from something might be cool, maybe a homunculus weaving between enemy legs. I eventually settled on Squee fleeing imminent murder, as I understand he dies a lot (the Weatherlight saga was just before my time, but admittedly I have little interest in Gerrard and Co., though oddly enough, I love hearing Mark Rosewater talk about that era).
Squee turned out to be tough because there aren't any super clear depictions of him, and the best one is by Greg Staples, but his version looks markedly different (and buffer and more finger-having) than the preexisting incarnations. So for my take, I used Greg Staples' earring, hair, and fingers but the non-royal classic get up. Battle turned out not to be as action-packed as I had initially thought it would, so I made sure to up the action on this one.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
This was for Inktober's Day 15, "Relax," starring Tamiyo readin' like a noid. Ironically, this was not as relaxing as I'd hoped it would be; I'm kinda exhausted from working on these MTGinktobers daily, but it's a good kind of tired. I've been pushing myself on these all month, and after the first Liliana piece, I've been really winded, so I'm just hoping to keep chugging along and get these all done on schedule.
Tamiyo was mildly difficult cuz there are tons of little inconsistencies across her official depictions. Like the gloves--some have them open fingertips, some have palm-side trim, one rebel even has no gloves! I love details, so it was tough deciding what was "correct." I was delighted to find she tucks pens in her hair bands, so I gave her a G-Pen, like mine. Plus she's reading a scroll on Yale and Astrophysics, how about that!
Next for Day 16's "Wet," given my well-documented love of rain, I knew I wanted to do something with skytears, so after a couple quick brainstorm sketches (I try to keep pre-planning to a minimum so pieces can be as "live" as possible) I decided on a Totoro spoof starring Garruk as Totes and Kid Lil as Bobby Bouchet ft. her dead brother as the ghost of Encino Man.
I knew I needed a huge, bulky character to contrast with the tiny girl in the composition, so Garruk felt like the best choice since I could use his fur-trimmed, muscular silhouette to mimic Totoro's shape (I used his Relentless look). And I thought of Lil' Lil pretty soon after pausing to ponder who to "cast" for that role.
It clicked when I realized she had a brother who died, and the pose called for a little figure to piggyback. I also thought of that famous historical war photo of the Japanese kid who hiked with his dead brother on his back, so this image acquired an even darker subtlety baked into Liliana's already grim deadbro-carrying.
As a little bonus, this was almost the image I was going to go with before hitting upon the Totoro idea. It was Tibor and Lumia in their academy days, before they got married, where Tibz first kinda puts da mooves on Lumia, by which I mean offers her his umbrella on a rainy day. It was cute and I still kinda want to draw it...all these new ideas I want to bite into after Inktober. But for now, on with the show.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Onward ambles MTGinktober with Day 13's "Scared," starring Liliana Vess, terrified at a wonderful, wonderful world. I was pretty pumped to do this one, as I enjoy drawing these more unsettling emotions.
This piece took a ton of reference, including having to pose myself into my bigger mirror (my smaller mirror usually handles most reference). The boots were intimidating, but ended up being a lot simpler than I had thought they would be. I was surprised to find they only have half of the ring shoelace port things, though.
Easter Eggs: Kev Walker's Cavalry Pegasus in kawaii mode.
I had a couple of rejected poses I was working with, and I initially wanted to play it straight horror, with like blood dripping from the top of the piece or something, but then I thought it'd be funny if she were horrified by pleasant things. So there's hearts and stuff everywhere. I'm not a MTG lore scientist, so I don't know if actual scary things scare her, but I've decided to take liberties with these characters myself, such as the assumption that Nissa's bad with directions.
Next, for Day 14 "Tree," after such an intense run with Liliana, I was (and am) pretty tired, so I needed a little bit of a break, and thought I'd try something more minimalistic. I wanted the tree to dominate over any figures involved, so I was thinking I'd need tiny characters and negative space. That meant an excellent chance to try something like Jock's incredible cityscapes, but in a forest, using Algenpfleger's flying-dust sketch technique to help inform the void.
I initially wanted to draw Mina and Denn sorta recklessly hand-standing on top of a lone tree, but I was really feeling the tiredness and opted to just go with Selvala hanging out like Spiler-Mayne. That Tyler Jacobson art is just killer and I was happy to get to take a stab at his design.
Friday, October 14, 2016
MTGinktober lurches onward with Gisa and Geralf as our floor models for Day 11's "Transport." I unfortunately caught this prompt ahead of time and was somewhat dreading it since I don't really draw vehicles much. But I tried to keep it out of mind and focus on the given day's prompts instead.
I knew I wanted to avoid traditional concepts of transportation, and idea of piggybacking hit me, but then, rather than buddies, why not an adversarial take? I thought of the zombie bros. from Innistrad, Gisa and Geralf, as drawn by Karla Ortiz, who I've wanted to cover for a while. What if they were teaming up and used zombies as their personal rickshaws?
Fun Facts: The animals hanging out in the tree are two bats and a robin who thinks he's a bat.
Easter Eggs: The background echoes the faint zombies in Gisa's card. Geralf was inspired by Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Edward Scissorhands, and his hair contains Jack Skellington's curly mountain.
Next was Day 12's "Worried," and I was not sure what to do on this one. I was thinking maybe Pia Nalaar facing execution or something, but then I thought, wait, why not kid Chandra? I loved the idea of a menacing arm guiding the kid, which is terribly disturbing. I hate the idea of adults abusing power and bullying kids. I've had to be around people who disrespect kids and it's utterly sad.
The thopter was pretty fun and I loved getting really tight with the details there. I feel like I leveled up a bit on this piece because I managed to get the G-Pen to work with my ruler smudge-free (ish). Also, I liked that by using shadow, I could turn the Kaladesh guard's white sleeves almost black, but the black Evil Empire glove was a must.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
MTGinktober rolls on with "Broken" for Day 9, so I thought I'd draw some kind of artifact creature. Kev Walker's Patagia Golem was one of the very first card arts that I just loved, so I knew I wanted to depict a soft/delicate artifact creature. Another one of my favorite card arts from my early Magic days was Chippy's Beast of Burden because of how quiet it was, plus I loved the contrast of the loyal, huge machine versus the somber, little girl, so I thought I'd draw the pair's potential future.
A little girl and her artifact friend were inseparable, but one day they got ambushed. The girl defended her young robot friend as best she could, prepared to fight to the death, but the attack was so severe it ignited her spark! She had become a Planeswalker at that very moment and got flung to some far-off world she could not name. She trained for years, honing every skill she could, until she was finally able to planeswalk back home. When she at last returned, she immediately began searching for her old, robot friend. And then she found her friend. Broken. She collapsed, and they were unified in uselessness.
Easter Eggs: There's a little Planeswalker logo on her outfit, which itself is modeled after her younger version's getup.
Next, for Day 10, we have "Jump." I don't know the daily themes ahead of time (so I draw day-of for maximum excitement), and I had been wanting to draw an action scene for a few days now, so I found some posing reference and drew Nahiri jumping over an artmage...I mean archmage.
The archmage's hood was modeled after Jace's, but I refuse to draw that dude, so I went with some sakura leaves, angel feathers, and some kind of Germanic eagle logo dealio.
Monday, October 10, 2016
This weekend's MTGinktobers yielded Nissa for "Lost". The initial concept of the piece was Nissa frustratedly studying a map, since she seems like she would be the responsible navigator who can't stand getting lost despite her prep and affinity for nature, meanwhile Chandra would be haphazardly/futilely looking around from a tree, possibly Jace scouting out, too.
This is how it looks in its "prep"/"principal photography" mode, right after initial G-Pen inks. I am floored with how versatile it is, even on super fine lines like with the eyes, just need to get comfortable using a ruler with it. I do use my .03 Copic liner to strengthen/hatch the super fine areas, though, but the G-Pen can generally handle just about everything.
I was listening to a Jake Parker interview where he said he used to pencil tightly before ultimately letting his pen handle more of the detail work, and I though, maybe I'm stuck in this detail-obsessed stage...I pencil quite tightly not out of love of detail (though I love detail), I just don't like "guessing" at the inking stage. Inks feel like the performance, pencils are the rehearsal.
No time for this initial background concept, I just went with what I could safely pencil within my deadline, which was a landscape fusing elements from Ghibli and stuff. I knew I would be ok with live-inking finer details here because it's just natural textures and stuff, so less necessity to be exact. Plus, at a certain point, you've done enough of this stuff that you don't have to rely on pencils to texture-coach so strictly.
Next was "Rock," and I knew I wanted to do a planeswalker/rock-band piece. We ultimately ended up just trimming down to good ol' Domri Brown. This one's a good example of a purely live-inked background, though I did rough (then scrap) a similar stagelight concept (just circles and cones of light).
Here's our principal photography. At this point, I knew we were in a pinch: No time to pencil a proper background as initially concepted, and even the abstract stagelight idea would be too time-intensive. So that meant our only option was to live-ink something even more abstract. And of course that entailed using our seldom-used size 1 micron, which all too easily chews paper up into potentially dangerous ink-wads.
Fortunately when I went into town the other day to buy another eraser pencil (for the first time in my life, I finished--didn't lose!--an eraser), I also picked up a white pen in my continuing search for a strong enough white overink. This Zerba Kestick tends to stutter and flat-out-stop a little too much, but it was quite excellent when it did work. I'm happy to continue working with it, though it does have a super strong scent... As for the pencils, as you can see, we were going to have a little band scene, but not enough time for all that jazz.