Monday, February 27, 2017


I've been listening to US history and race and civil rights era documentaries and stuff lately, and greatly wanted to do a more serious Black History Month piece.

This study was done on just three layers with the Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush, flat opacity, so there's not much more behind the scenes to make it plain, but I did blur a bit above these base layers (foreground, middleground, background) and add some noise and a gradient map to make it look a little more like the still from the Malcolm X documentary where I observed him and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the same room!

Not normal,


Friday, February 24, 2017


An older Vicky sketch back from when I was clearing out my last pocket sketchbook.

Not normal,


Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I wanted to draw something for catday, after noticing there is such a day in Japan, owing to, of course, a pun based on how you can choose to pronounce the date in Japanese dakara neko no hi.

I was going to draw Nyao, but then thought, meh, why not try something I normally would avoid, and give some BTAS fan art a shot?

So here's Catwoman, Batman: The Animated Series era.

I used a photo I took in Shinjuku as reference for our little Gotham analog, and I studied Jock covers for managing the more designy presentation, including the bold use of negative space.

I also tried mixing my brushes, so I based it all in Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush, but used the KNKL softbrush to color Catwoman, and gave the pen tool a try to get the whip to curve like that.

Not sure how successful this was, but maybe-possibly learned a little doing this.

Not normal,


Monday, February 20, 2017


Conan put out a call for Mexicanny fan art for his Made in Mexico special, so I wanted to give it a try since I am a Mexicanny fan/artist.

I couldn't decide on a final between the takes, but I favor this pair because it has my go-to lovely purples, referencing how his old Late Night art bumpers tended to use these darker colors.

This is the more high-concept version I went with originally, featuring sorta shadow echoes.

I'm not a total Mexican't, I consider myself more of an indifferent "Mehxican," but I do like the skull imagery of my culture, which goes great with Conan's famously stringy figure, so that's where this concept started.

Since I had three main elements going, I thought I'd try a version calling back to the Mexican flag.

As much as I hate the color red, I kinda like the red Conan.

And then here's the super bare-bones version.

This design thread came after hours and hours of failed alternative efforts, but glad we finally got there...

Not normal,


Friday, February 17, 2017


A drawing inspired by Grace Hopper College, previously known as Calhoun College. Back when I was an undergraduate, it was called "Calhoun College," and we liked it. Famous 'Hounies include...uh...Demetri Martin '95, who's apparently currently voicing a supreme "white bear," as they're called in Japan. And uh...I'll think of others, give me a minute.

As for Grace Hopper, I was blown away with how accomplished she was after reading up on her. She is quite an inspiration and definitely someone worth having pride and tradition in. Calhoun's current mascot is officially "the fire," if I recall, so I sincerely hope they ditch the vaguely-defined unofficial firey 'Houn dog mascot for a graceful bunny. It's such a flexible mascot, too, I can see plenty of adaptations to any circumstance from a cute, literal bunny to a more personified one, or even just an ironically intense battle bunny. "Beware the Bunny," and similar chants are a natural fit. So for my take on the mascot, I wanted to have a kinda graceful bunny-girl with that Hopper hairdo and her specs to boot, plus carrotty accents, and big, floppy ears and feet. The sailor outfit and quasi-military jacket are Naval nods to Hopper's career.

Who else was in Calhoun, by the way...(looks up the CC Wikipedia page) wow, Claire Danes (pretty sure she headed off early, though, or was that Jodie Foster? Wow, hey, she's Calhoun, too!), oh--Jonathan Coulton '93! I saw him give a Tea with the Record. Ah, neat he and John Hodgman '94 were both in CC, that makes sense. And what?! Kurt Schneider '10! I had no idea he was Calhoun! I used to watch him play in a band with Jake '09 on the street on Broadway Night and stuff, they did an incredible medley as their closer. Whenever I could, I'd just sit there and sketch as they'd loop through their set. I also got to see him play with the Sandy Gill Affair at the Space. I guess because of that band I always thought he was Morse or Stiles (shudder).

Anyway the racial stuff surrounding Calhoun never really came up in any notable way my entire four years, as far as I was/am aware. Granted, I was in JE (Jonathan Edwards), so my cognizance of CC stuff was limited (plus nobody really cares about Calhoun College, come on). Actually, one of my art heroes transferred from Calhoun into JE, come to think of it, so that kinda seals the deal, doesn't it? Answer: yes.

I'm not black, but I am a minority, so I guess I get to have an opinionish on the name. I myself was actually in favor of them keeping it Calhoun (I only heard of Hopper after they announced the change). I love the idea of that disgusting mark of our university and national history being so prominent as a college name because it disallows us to run or hide from our history, and meanwhile everything we represent and strive for and achieve flies flatly in the face of that racist's ideology. With every victory, we prove how pitifully wrong he and his ilk are and reshape the name into new meaning. Plus it's just an intangible name, which itself is not inherently tied to some vicious meaning, unlike say, a statue or something like that with immutable properties; you can reclaim the name as you will.

During my years, the master of Calhoun was even black, one of the coolest most popular professors on campus, and now he's the Dean of Yale itself! Justice doesn't get sweeter than that. Side story: one heavy winter as we were all preparing to leave for break, Master Holloway helped a Hounie make her shuttle bus by personally dropshipping her and her luggage to the pickup site via his car so she wouldn't miss her flight. He didn't need to drive or trudge around in the snow to help an outta-luck student, but he did. I was floored seeing such kindness. That's my greatest CC memory.

But I understand the desire to move past the Calhoun name, much like Pierson College (appropriately shorthanded as "PC") long retired its former college mascot with such precision and thorough eradication that you would be hard-pressed to find a student who could identify the character that Pierson people rallied behind in the early days of Yale College life. Look through the archives carefully enough (the JE library has a neat Yale history volume) and you'll learn that Piersonites in the mid 1930s gussied up for their annual plantation-themed formal and assuredly at some point in the evening, conversation would drift to boasting about one recent intramural meet or another and how well the Pierson Slaves did that week.

Not normal,


Wednesday, February 15, 2017


These pages...I am pretty sure I won't forget any time soon.

I was nervously drawing in a midnight waiting room, trying not to think.

A perhaps 5-year-old little boy, who had been resting beside me moments ago while being anxiously watched over by his father, who refused to sit but who would intermittently dab a tissue on his son's head, was now wailing like he was being tortured at death's door just feet from me in the room they soon lead him into.

I started crying. I had been crying while the kid was passed out next to me. You can't help but think. I wished there was something I could do to help.

The howling cries from within the room stopped eventually. Soon enough the boy came out, asleep in his father's arms, and they went home.

It felt like forever before they finally called me up. They said everything was ok.

I started crying again. They thought I didn't understand, and I had to explain that I did. It's ok. Good.

I can only think of one other time I've felt so overwhelmed.

They said it was stress.

Why should I be stressed?

Not normal,


Monday, February 13, 2017


I wanted to draw something nice and jerkin' for Black History Month, so here's Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats. It turns out Valerie was the first black character to be a regular on a Saturday morning animated show! That's actually pretty legit. While I've never actually seen the show or read the comic, one of my favorite movies of all time is the Josie live-action (not that I've seen many movies to be a good judge...). I watched it a bunch when I was little (we had it on VHS), and while drawing this I realized how important this movie actually was/is to me!

I've written a little bit about this before, but stories about guys and adults have never really resonated with me, and while drawing this, I realized that seeing this movie so early on was instrumental in my tendency to sympathize with female characters more than males.

I guess part of it was cuz the alternative was like DBZ and stuff, which always felt so much more apparently fictitious, whereas stories about females always seemed just a bit more plausible and that victories there tended to feel more "earned." One of my other all-time favorite movies is "You've Got Mail," haha, so I guess it's the romantic aspects they always shoehorn into female stories that get me.

The biggest female characters to me were Luann from the newspaper comic, and Misty from Pokemon, who combined with the general "Girl Power" movement (haha!) of the 90s to nurture my affinity for female protagonists. I enjoyed the stories overall just fine, but gravitated toward the "uncertain" of female-centric narrative (since male-centric stuff tends to be more "certain"--that is, it's more about "How will I prevail?" as opposed to "Will I prevail? If so, how?"), similar to stories about younger protagonists. Obviously, the hero tends to win in western fiction anyway, but you get the idea. With females (and kids), it always feels like more of an uphill battle, whereas guys tend to start at least partway up the hill.

Anyway, I loved the Josie movie because I remember how funny it was. It wasn't until college when it occurred to me it was a satire on marketing and pop culture! When I was a kid it was just a funny, charming movie with a sweet soundtrack! We started talking about movies one day in the common room, and then Phil mentioned about how underrated the movie was for its great social commentary, and I was like, "haha, yeah," and internally I'm like, "...Heyyyy....yeahhh..."

This piece actually started as a study of a guy from one of the civil rights documentaries I've been listening to lately, as I wanted to draw something for Black History Month, but then I thought it would be important to draw a female. Thinking back to the Women's March, I thought of Josie and the Pussycats, which had a black character, perfect! As a tie-in to their 70s roots I wanted to make the background kinda psychadelic-y, so I did a riff on one of their background stills from the show's theme song.

Bonus early version before I realized it was looking a bit off, and I even forgot they all have "long tails" in addition to their "ears for hats." Anyway, I love this movie and still continue to mock myself when I feel depressed by asking, "who's a rock star?" though I'll sometimes change it to some shade of "who's a great artist?" Haha. Idiot.

Not normal,


Friday, February 10, 2017


Throw it up, it's Sick Little Suicide #31, "3-Ohhh," in which we stack up the score.

Fun Facts: This drawing came from a hands study session, wherein I had a hunch I'd need this gesture at some point. I've hated the sheer stupidity of that gesture for as long as I've noticed him using it. How does making a delicate little seamstress-pinch gesture add power to a speech? Slice the air, thrust palms, point authoritatively, do anything but mime Betsy Ross to make your point.

I also hate how people like Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah have starting using it, which I only imagine comes from that principle of unconsciously mirroring body language of people you have to study. It's still annoying to see, though, since I go out of my way to avoid ever looking at that orange garbage bag.

For a while now, I've been thinking how to use that idiot's overused gesture against him--like it's a helpful hint he offers to remind us how much whatever he happens to be talking about is worth--but here, I noticed it helpfully gives the verdict his Muslim ban's denial received.

So now he will see to it that he constantly reminds himself and us of that score whenever he thinks he's emphasizing a point. 3-0. That's what happens when you try your idiocy in court where only the truth counts, you disgusting, lumpy turd.

Not normal,


Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Studying the neighborhood one rainy day, and it occurred to me I could make a simple little GIF, so I can enjoy a rainy day whenever. Love the rain.

I originally drew it as it was in the photo, the aftermath of a nice, gentle rain, but no actual rainfall. I guess the GIF idea came from some music I've had on in the background lately, like this rain mix.

Here's frame 5 from the GIF, and while it was fun drawing the splashes and umbrella drops, I'll always consider the rainless version the actual piece.

I'm doing these color studies in the hopes I unlock some greater truth.

I drew this all on one layer with the SAUB, of course, but maybe it's time to try a little bit more variety. I did allow for some nominal blur on the umbrella, though.

The strategy was to block in shapes first then refine, rather than try to draw the photo right off the bat.

After blocking in the rough shapes, I thought it'd then be easier to add in details, and that seemed to work.

Not normal,


Monday, February 6, 2017


Doing some color studies and this is from a little foresty part of town.

Adding a character just to see how it might look to mix and match styles.

This was done with Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush, so 100% opacity, but some pressure-sensitive width, though.

I really had to fight the urge to add some bells and whistles, but I feel I have to slug through SUAB studies.

For the final, I did add a gradient map to warm up the color a bit, but basically what you see is what you get.

Not normal,


Friday, February 3, 2017


Some more Adrian Simon fan art, this one for my (most?) favorite song, off of The Ivy League's self titled album, for "Silhouettes & Heartache," and I absolutely autofill-spelled that and refuse to learn how to spell it myself. This one is a merger of his Homie Airport, oceanic aesthetic and The Ivy League's vibe (it looks like the cover is of an ocean or treetops? Probably ocean. So, HA-ish, but slightly less outré.

Honestly, though, how can you pick a "most" favorite song? Off of this album? One of the things I love about The Ivy League is that it improves on The North Star without obsoleting it. That's some I am the Movie / Commit This to Memory territory. They operate like a mega album, and it's so hard to repeat a track because you feel the pain of losing out on hearing the next and previous ones! And how about how they loop together! If you end with "BUAD," it drops right into "Leaving," and you're down for another lap.

I'm not one for autographs or staged photos, but thought this was looking kinda polaroidy, so I gave it a little mock-up treatment for kicks. I guess subconsciously, it comes from when I was a junior at Yale I had a chance to see the New York-based The Ivy League play live off-campus, and I totally blew it, being unfamiliar with non-Yale New Haven and (frankly) scared of wandering around the city at night. Turns out that was my one and only chance to see them live, so missing the show is one of my sorest regrets.

I believe The Ivy League was performing with my classmate Richard, who I made sure to see live every time I could, being absolutely blown away at every single performance of his. I remember his first show was like a freshman talent showcase or something on Old Campus (Yale-a-Palooza?) gosh, he just crushed it. Haha, I still remember the day I met him, I was shaking, I was so nervous! I normally do everything I can to leave people alone, but I dunno, I just had to tell him he's great. To this day, what, 10 years later, I still think back to those shows and the precious few tracks he'd release. I still have the demos he sent me, but agonize I'll someday forget his more obscure, sketch-like tracks that just echo in my memory.

I suppose the halfway point between AS and RM is my late classmate Ugonna. He'd release tracks online so I at least got to experience his music digitally, and I distinctly remember overhearing him perform at a Saybrook party or something while I was walking across campus one evening, but I will always regret never getting to see him at a proper show. I sat there stunned on the train to the "big" city in my old rural prefecture here in Japan when I found out we lost him. Just like that.

Anyway, for this piece, I wanted to have the background be able to stand somewhat alone, since I usually just brush off whatever's going to get covered by the main figure. But this piece was more about thoroughly practicing with my blend-free Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush to combine referenced and mental drawing, so I insisted on painting everything. I did allow myself some color adjustment/tweakery and bg blur, but no brushes but the SAUB. It was also drawn on a minimal amount of layers.

I'd love to make an illustration for every track some day. That'd be pretty cool. I did do one for "You and I," but everything else has just sorta been only loosely inspired by the artist and the albums' aesthetics themselves. I have posted some abandoned sketches inspired by the Glitter & Bones era, too, come to think of it. Ok, maybe "Glitterbug" is my absolute favorite of the catalog. I just don't want to screw up that one when I give it the old college try for realz. Such a cool song.

Not normal,