Friday, December 29, 2017


Nothing has felt good enough to post here, so we're perpetually playing catch-up, but let's just close the year with this low-pressure zero.

I wanted to draw him sleep deprived and in a hybrid of hard, ink lines and soft, painted eyes.

Nothing's really worked out this year, even the good stuff was temporary and as fleeting as I had thought it would be.

But there's the hope things'll get better somehow at some point.

I feel like I'm ultimately an optimist, but I have to sledge through an ocean of pessimism to get there, yet that's all I can really do.

Not normal,


Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Laugh yourself to death, it's Sick Little Suicide #37, "Funny," in which we finally have a reason to smile.

This comes off of news that Doug Jones (D) beat child abuser R.M. (R) for Alabama senate, the first major victory in rebuking that orange turd's ethos. This was significant because it makes the Senate quite reasonably within reach of being flippable in November, and in the meantime makes it just that much more difficult for Republicans to get their destructive policies through since they now only have the slimmest margins of majority.

Yes, he's from Alabama, but I'm hoping he doesn't cow into a quasi-Republicanism; he has to take his election as a signal to push back on that party of frauds and cons. Another gain of this election has been that it has concretely outed the Republicans as plain hypocrites on moral authority. These villains maneuvered their way to endorsing or condoning a child abuser, and only mildly stepped back when it was inconvenient for them, if those who disavowed him didn't straight up re-join him later. But those who stuck with him dared to invoke religion in his very defense in the face of his accusers. This is flatly evil. These people are monsters and need to be ripped out of Congress, the White House, and polite society at large.

This isn't even addressing how starkly unqualified the Republican was before news of his personal behavior broke: the guy lost his judgeship not once, but twice for outright defying court orders. If a math teacher insists on using math hour to teach students Shakespeare because he feels like that's his job, consequently lost his math-teaching job after the principle explicitly told him to teach math, got his math job again, and then refused to teach math and insisted on talking Shakespeare again, and then lost his math-teaching job again, that guy doesn't deserve to be a math teacher, forget about if we find out he'd been messing with kids and had gotten banned from the cafeteria because of student complaints. And we're supposed to treat that guy as a normal, viable candidate for superintendent, who would be responsible for teachers' conduct? It's a sick cartoon.

Fun Facts: Nick Animation reposted this piece (the early version of it, but still)!

Easter Eggs: The art is based on Doug Funnie's Race Canyon alter ego, but he's in Indiana Jones's famous he's Doug Jones, get it? Anyway, it's all blue cuz that's the Democrat color.

Not normal,


Friday, November 24, 2017


A simple, little Torky for Torkoydoy, mang!

Not normal,


Monday, November 13, 2017


I didn't realize I never posted the final to that old Florrie-inspired Torn Alter Token, so here it is at long last.

Not normal,


Friday, November 10, 2017


Zero's first night was 10 years ago this October, ya know.

I drew this original sketch back during a period when I was just sketching into a pocket sketchbook strictly inks-only.

This is a re-creation of our very first meeting of Zero and Nyao (who is hurtling towards him), and it always makes me think of the Yale band Harlem Shakes's "A Night" (original version).

This was a super nostalgic draw, and I tried to do a wacky perspective for some added specialness.

I've always wanted to give this piece a proper coloring, and so here we are (7/18/18 as of writing) finally giving it a go. It looks like I never posted the original sketch, though--I must have been hesitant to post it since I knew I wanted to color it some day--so please find it above!

Not normal,


Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Well, here's a pikachu and some ketchup.

I feel like I keep falling into traps, like how I always paint ocean scenes because they're so forgiving, and this one appears to manifest the "pikachu in a forest" trap.

But I did try to get inventive, I wanted to make a kind of emo pika, and the device by which we got there was with his little ketchup packet.

I've actually drawn a ketchup-y thing before with that old Adrian Simon piece, amusingly enough.

Anyway, as the story goes, Pikachu love ketchup, at least Ash's does, so I thought it'd be neat to make that the emotional center of a piece.

I also drew this initially mainly with my good old Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush, but then took the opportunity to try out some of my new Dave Greco brushes, which I found here.

These new brushes are pretty sweet, and I'm looking forward to utilizing them some more, though I really like using the SAUB to set up a piece since it's nice and non-frilly. I turned out this initial Daily Post version pretty quickly, in fact, so it bodes well for quicker turnarounds.

Not normal,


Monday, November 6, 2017


Everyone loves a catchy tune.

Everyone loves George Washington.

Everyone loves ancient references.

Not normal,


Friday, November 3, 2017


Saw this rando bag-o sitting aroundo and had to sketcho.

Not normal,


Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Ok, we wrapped MTGintkober, but I got a request from Tibaut on Tumblr for a creature I never got around to, namely Sygg, River Guide, so here he be at long last!

My hope with this year's MTGinktober run was to hit as many of the obscurer Magic characters as I could, since the main guys always get all the attention, but I was positive I'd miss some characters near and dear to some people's hearts. Thus I made the offer early on to consider anyone's pet cards, to see if I could work them into a future illustration, and even flat-out do "bonus tracks" after Inktober ended to clear out any characters people were really hoping to see.

I don't believe Sygg was ever a candidate for a piece this year--the closest he could have gotten was maybe Deep or Underwater, but as indicated in those process posts, I had other concepts in mind for those prompts. But I got the request near the end of the run, so the cleanest solution was just to dedicate a special-edition-type post just for him.

Fun Facts: This is the first "traditional" merfolk I've ever drawn. Kiora is technically a merfolk, but she's of the convenient plot-construction school of design, meaning she's got legs rather than the usual, fishified finish to her anatomy. I also drew this in the sketchbook that only contains one Inktober 2017 piece, Ship, since I had rediscovered that the paper of this sketchbook randomly splotches ink, making it too risky to use for full-fledged Inktobers. But since this was a special edition, there was less pressure to avoid cleaning up random errors in Photoshop, and besides, I had a bunch of just-cleared pages just going to waste!

Easter Eggs: The background of this piece was based on Sygg's Lorwyn art, though we lowered the camera to get that half-submerged look.

Not normal,


Tuesday, October 31, 2017


MTGinktober covers up for Day 31, "Mask," starring Sakashima the Imposter, hobbling along in his new position as Kamigawa's chief regional Happy Mask Salesman!

I wanted to draw Nissa for this one, actually. I had this concept of doing an homage to that famous scene in Ghost in the Shell where the cyborg's head/face splits open--I wanted to draw that but with a Magic character. Drawing Nissa as the star was my cold calculation on how to make it more appealing (and slightly more disturbing). The hook was that this was more of a robotic mask. That was my leading idea until I convinced myself that was the easy way out--it's a female character, a Planeswalker, one of the most popular of the main Magic cast, a reference to a popular movie...this whole "selling out" thing has really been eating at me. This would have felt really hollow. I should have done it.

The only other idea seriously competing with this one was my absolute first idea, a reference to Skeletal Grimace, where Nissa was pulling off the skin of her face to reveal a cackling skeleton. That felt just a little too disturbing, such that it might turn people off, so I favored the GITS idea. I had also considered another Kaya and Koth piece with them reenacting the famous The Dark Knight Returns shot of a hulking Batman and lithe Robin jumping in unison and wearing similar masks, but I wasn't sold on the concept, considering I already teamed them last year, so it's like, what the only black characters can only exist together? That felt cheap and dumb, but I don't know if I was overthinking it. I've done repeat teams this year (and imagine I"ll do so again eventually), but they were thematically linked. The only link here would be that they were black, and that felt exploitative.

So anyway, my back-up plan all throughout these waffling debates was doing a take on Sakashima with a bunch of homages in the masks as our final send-off to this year in Inktober. Even better, fusing him with the Happy Mask Salesman from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. So, since I couldn't convince myself that any of the above mentioned ideas were the way to go, we settled on this admittedly unimpressive concept. This was an underwhelming finale, for sure. I knew it would be: it's a not-necessarily attractive character, it's a dude, and it's perilously close to the original art's composition, so it represented multiple levels of mediocrity. I knew the previous Liliana piece would do well, but felt that good old, self-sabotaging urge pressuring me not to employ Nissa again because it just felt too easy and I felt cheap enough this year.

Fun Facts: During research, I rediscovered that there are actually two official interpretations of Sakashima out there. Just like with Stuffy Doll, Udon Crew also made a go at this creature for Magic Online, so I ended up using the original's body and the avatar's face since it was considerably clearer to read than the card version.

Easter Eggs: So we already know it's overall an homage to the Happy Mask Salesman, whose face has become the mask Sakashima holds in his hand, which the shapeshifter created right after he murdered the maskmonger to get this gig. The mask in the back at top, facing away from camera is Zero. Appropriately enough for this coerced piece, right next to Z is the infamous Dragon Mask of legend--they say Magic was forced to use this art under pressure from the art director. To the right is Uba Mask and to Uba's right, just peeking out from behind the backpack is Vicky Vasquez, who is overlapped by Illusionary Mask. Further left is the Happy Mask Salesman's Mario mask of course, followed by Ivory Mask, which seems to have Cho-Manno's fountain in it, I discovered. On the bottom of the Imposter's pack is Mortivore and the old Phyrexian mask, which is most often seen as a logo or costume detail among Phyrexia-aligned creatures and most famously on display as the Apocalypse expansion symbol. Between those two is Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker. And rounding out the collection at the bottom of Sakashima's sleeve, replacing his student's mask, is the mask of The Blue Spirit from Avatar. I noticed Sakashima's masks all have little seals on their foreheads with cryptic characters on them, which seemed like an important detail, so I used each one to spell out my name in Japanese as well as piecemeal convey the date information.

Not normal,


Monday, October 30, 2017


MTGinktober discovers itself at Day 30, "Found," starring Liliana, the Last Hope rediscovering her long-lost pushpin pal, Stuffy Doll!

Liliana was only five so she was understandably upset that everyone was paying attention to this freshly four-year-old interloper instead of her, just because it was his birthday--she would alternate between screaming, holding her breath, and knocking over the decorations that had been so carefully prepared by the grownups. But this was the first year Josu was really able to understand why everyone was showering him with attention on this particular day. He loved his sister very much and saw how angry she was about something today and that made him sad.

He decided to make her a doll that she could always be angry at--that would make her happy! While the grownups chatted and leisurely cleaned up after Liliana's latest riot, Josu raided the grownups' cloakroom to shred some sleeves and skim some stuffing from the clothing he found stored there. His tiny, little fingers could only fashion a crude little poppet out of these makeshift materials, but he made sure to decorate it with the especially colorful paints that one of the grownups had left in his coat while their owner, the dark visitor in extravagant robes, who was supposed to be cheerily painting faces at this very moment, was instead busy helping clean up toppled decor and grumbling with his peers the way grownups always mutter amongst themselves after a loud confrontation with a child.

That grave-voiced grownup, who seemed to float when he walked, wore rich robes that matched the coat currently being pilfered, and Josu noticed they both smelled of some bitter, smoky scent. They called him the Fancy Man. He had been just about ready to begin painting the excited, queued children's faces when Liliana's most recent eruption occurred. The afternoon party ground to a halt and the Fancy Man loudly declared while pointing a furious, accusatory finger, that this little girl's continuous, rude behavior has ruined the fun for everyone. No face paints! Thank you, most kindly!

At the end of that bitter finger's aim, Liliana instantly become the center of the multiverse as all the other kids turned to scowl at her in unison. Most of the kids were Liliana's age, so they knew how magical the Fancy Man's face-painting was, and had been waiting all year for his visit and their one chance to become their favorite legends, even if it was just pretend.

Liliana's normally pale skin was burning red, and she stormed off to her room in tears, "It isn't fair!"

By nightfall, after the party had died down and all the visitors and parents departed, Josu was told once again to stay away from his sister so that she could remain alone and undisturbed to think about how she chose to behave today. "Yes, ma'am."

With his forehead kissed and himself now alone, neatly tucked in bed and assured the coast was clear, he dashed off to grab his bag before sneaking out the window to climb up to Liliana's room one level up. She always left her window cracked at night so she could watch the moon rise and guide her to sleep, so Josu could easily hear soft sobs and gentle stomach growls well before he popped his head in to greet his sister. "Hi, Liliana!"

Liliana almost betrayed her excitement to have a visitor for the first time in what seemed like forever in a child's perception of time, but she turned away into her blankets in forced disgust, "HMM!" At this age, Josu could only recognize simply that his sister was angry. But she was always angry. He hopped onto her bed from the window and swung his pack to rest between them.

In an instinctive, hushed voice they always used to keep the particularly spank-prone grownups from knowing they were awake past their bedtime, Liliana hissed, "Go awa--"RRRrrrrr. Her stomach couldn't keep up the act.

"I brought you this," Josu whispered, unpacking a few chunks of cake and a couple sweetknacks he had wrapped up earlier. "Do you want to share?"

Liliana wolfed down the entire assortment. "Yeth."

"That's ok, I had some earlier in the party. Did you like the party?"

Liliana squinted her eyes, munching all the while, trying to calculate what this brat was up to.

"Me, too!" He chirped. "There was balloons and sweetknack and the Fancy Man was doing tricks! Remember?"

Still munching. More squinting.

"And everyone said, 'Happy Birthday, Josu!"--you know, like all at the same time?--and it was amazing! It made me feel so happy and good! And the food, too! It made me feel so, so happy, like super happy, though! So I think you should feel happy and good also, so I think it should be your happy birthday, too! So I got you food and I made you this! Boom!" Josu pulled from his bag the crude, little doll he had made, placed it between himself and his sister, and beamed with a smile, "Happy birthday, Liliana!"

The silly, little doll with its fancy, fancy colors disappeared the rest of the room as Liliana found herself transfixed by its button gaze. Her name echoed in her ears as the figurine gradually enveloped the entirety of her vision. By now it was almost as if the doll itself were chanting her name. It was whispering her name, wasn't it?

"Liliana!" Josu snapped her out of the reverie. "So isn't that great? Whenever you get mad, you can be mad at this doll! I tried punching him and yelling at him and he doesn't care and it's totally cool! Try it!"

A smile broke upon Liliana as she considered the possibilities. Every violent, angry thought she housed could focus in on this dumb, little doll and it was ok. You can't get in trouble for hating a doll. In one motion, wiping from her mouth some of the remnants--saliva and all--of her frantically devoured dinner, she wound her hand back just over her opposite shoulder and then backhanded the doll's stupid face with all her might! "Ha!" she blurted out, but instantly covered her mouth with both hands to stop the laughter from escaping any further. Josu did the same, sharing in the delight of torturing their helpless, mutual acquaintance. Stifling nighttime laughter, especially with a co-conspirator, always made laughing that much more challenging to suppress.

Josu gasped, "Liliana!" And pointed to her hand. She discovered she had a small cut where she had hit the doll. She must have nicked it on one of the doll's stray corners where different materials met at a sharp angle. But she just smiled and continued endeavoring to muffle her laughter in the growing moonlight.

"Hey, Josu, I think he's hungry, too! Omm nom-nom-nom nomm!" She rubbed the drops of blood along with tiny crumbs of cake from hand into the doll's mouth. The moon was full and near its peak through her window. "Happy birthday, Stuffy!"

"Oh, me, too! We have to say it together, just like at the party!" Josu slammed his hand into the doll until a small cut emerged, and then he rubbed his blood into the doll's mouth just like his big sister did. "Mmmm! So yummy! Thank you, Josu!" he squeaked. Liliana couldn't be smiling wider. "Ok, ready?" Josu giddily whispered to her.

Liliana excitedly grabbed Josu's hands, creating a ring around the doll sitting lifeless between them, and their arms bounced in sync as they counted, "1...2..3..."

The full moon shone through the very top of the window, gleaming upon the doll's dead eyes and its fancy, glowing paint.

"Happy birthday, Stuffy!"

Fun Facts: The story in strictly this illustration is that Liliana's going through her old attic and memories, and encounters her old plushie pal. For my depiction of Stuffy Doll, I borrowed the skull-like pins from his debut card in Time Spiral, but mostly modeled him after his Magic Online incarnation.

Easter Eggs: Junk is the old slang for Abzan's color scheme (GWB), though the reference started as "jank" in the pencils, a nod to the underpowered or inefficient cards that I tend to enjoy. To sell that this is Liliana exploring her old attic, you can see a tennis racket in the pencils of this piece, but I audibled into a Staff of Nin, a busted rare that Planeswalker-like, single-staffedly took me to one of my very first 3-0 Drafts in Japan. Since the attic is a place to store old, useless stuff, I included a box called "Hopes" in reference to her card name, but also for more poetic reasons. The other thing in Liliana's toybox is a Mirari, wonder how that got in there, pretty lucky, if you ask me. The attic is actually a slice of Triskaidekaphobia, and features 13 plants of wood and 13 knots in the wood. And get this, I just noticed, if you add the digits of TriskaDeezies's multiverse ID (409891) you get 31...which is 13 backwaaaaards!!

Not normal,



MTGinktober comes together for Day 29, "United," starring Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, who together affirmatively declare their Drafting strategy: "No Wyvern, no Kithkins!"

As I've noted before, there are a couple "wish list" concepts I want to draw that I keep in mind and wait for the perfect prompt to come along so I can implement it. The number one thing I wanted to draw this year was a spoof of The Professional, or is it called Leon?, a movie everyone loves but which I've never actually seen (I don't see very many movies). So when "United" came up, I thought of drawing something showcasing like a team dynamic, which got me to my old movie spoof idea, but the eternal question: who to cast...are there any partners in Magic with drastic size differences and with a father-daughter sort of relationship? Who knows, but I went with Ajani and Elspeth. It was double delicious that this Ajani has the actual word "mentor" in his card name, and as far as I gather, they were in a somewhat teacher-learner relationship with familial undertones.

I was absolutely torn on how to spoof the movie. Thinking back to our movie parody last year, the Vess siblings and Garruk goofing on My Neighbor Totoro, I felt obligated to do a famous, iconic scene rather than just modern-clad our heroes in an original pose. So my base options were to do a movie poster send-up if such an iconic image exists, or do a more iconic scene from the movie. It came down to doing either the iconic shot of them walking down the street with the potted plant versus the famous scene of them training a gun on something off camera. I went with the latter, and am pretty sure I punted that decision tree, since, upon reflection while writing this, I can only but deem the street scene "iconic" while the gun scene is merely "famous."

Fun Facts: This piece presented all kinds of decisions on how to reconcile two vastly disparate source materials. Do you dress them strictly as the movie characters and risk overpowering their Magicness? Do you dress them as Magic characters and risk muddying the reference? Do you keep a key, but anachronistic prop like the gun or settle for a more relevant proxy? I met the costuming somewhat halfway by including both sources, and gave Magic the go-ahead on the weapon, swapping out the gun for Godsend, the very weapon Elspeth uses in the Theros story. I had to craft the spear considerably stubbier to fit on my reduced size page, even in landscape mode (I ran out of pages on my bigger-sized sketchbooks as of Day 25 "Ship!").

Easter Eggs: I decided to keep them basically dressed in their respective Magic duds, but kept only minimal nods to their cinematic counterparts. Ajani has Leon's beanie and iconic glasses, Elspeth has Mathilda's knit cap. I obviously modeled her face after Natalie Portman's, but we kinda relied on the sheer size difference between them to echo the movie's age difference, but it's supposed to be at least ballpark current in-game ages. Though I guess, isn't the point that Natalie Portman's chacter desses a little older than her age might suggest? Either way, I would presume either character would be wearing the same armor as adult Elspeth anyway. The background is pretty much what you see in that famous still from the movie, though I added the date, 1029 and 2017, as well as 1337 as numbers on the directory placard.

Not normal,


Friday, October 27, 2017


MTGinktober descends upon Day 28, "Fall," starring Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief; Domri Rade; and Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts all of whom be posing and zhushing and blue-steeling up tha joint!

Ok, this piece came about just because I wanted to dress Magic characters in fall fashions, which is easily among my top four kinds of seasonal fashions. We've crossplayed a character before, when we had Nahiri dressed as Toph from Avatar, but this time our mission was clear--this time, we're modern-cladding them.

Fun Facts: I scoured my bookmarks' fall fashion tag for, my gosh, dozens and dozens of outfits, and my reference document, which I prepare as research for each piece, was overflowing with costume ideas, last count was 37 candidate costumes. Sadly, only three could make the cut, and deez were dem. Super, super hard to trim down the options to just these, and it felt much like struggling to cut that 24th or 61st card, times 34...!

Easter Eggs: I carved my signature into the pumpkin, how about that! Also, Drana has a black mana accessory on her hair, Domri has the Gruul symbol on his beanie, and Teysa has an Orzhova brand sweater under her fabulously fuzzy jacket.

This one was quite a treat to do, and I hope to do this trick again some time with some of the other outfits we had to cut. I definitely see Domri and Teysa as little fashionistas...wonder who else we can deck out...

Not normal,