Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Maybe in my desperation not to paint oceans and lakes, I am now falling into a trap of painting forests...

Anyway, here is a little forest I painted in a desperate effort not to paint an ocean or lake.

I snuck in a little Totoro/Gengar-type named Ghoulio Iglesias.

It was meant to look like an ordinary old forest until you look just a little closer...mighta been thinking of this old number.

Not normal,


Monday, August 28, 2017


Been so focused on digital for the past few months, I haven't done anything traditional in the meanwhile, so I need to get in shape for Inktober.

So we're kicking of practice pre-Inktober prep with good ol' Fred, nice and easy.

Not normal,


Friday, August 25, 2017


This is a take on that old "doorway to another world" trope.

It's kind of a reference to the very first rare I ever opened in Japan. I was studying abroad for the summer and saw a pack of JP Magic out in the wild! I couldn't read any Japanese back then, so I had no idea what this card did.

Anyway, it was only partially inspired by that, though. I really wanted to draw a mountain, high above the clouds, with the lower ground peeking out from beneath them. It did start out as a snowy mountain, hence the file name, but things shift around as we free-form these sketches.

Once we settled onto an ok mountain, it felt like we needed something to anchor the image, like a goal, so I added a Stonehenge-like thing, carved some cryptic runes, and then slid a sliver of an upcoming piece beneath it that we're not quite ready to unveil yet.

Directly calling back to my sense of awe at seeing the larger version of
Yeong-Hao Han's Millstone, I included a tiny figure that was ascending this hitherto scale-free scene.

I wasn't sure I was actually finished with this piece, but it's far enough along to remove from the docket and post here, meanwhile we're still toiling away at a couple concurrent illustrations.

Not normal,


Wednesday, August 23, 2017


I was talking about Ixalan when the topic of Chupacabras came up, and thought it'd be neat to draw a "cute" Chupa.

This piece originally started with the snowy mountain background, actually.

But I wanted to include a figure, and one that is super close-up on the camera. No closer than that.

And I thought of my little doogy, who does that super close-up thing when I try to take photos of her, so that's who I modeled this little chupa after--down to that strand of fur across the little nosie, and the really pink eye sockets.

Ok, it was originally a generic goat/reindeer-type animal, but it morphed into a chupacabra after thinking how rando it would be to have blood everywhere, particularly because of this cute little dooder.

So that's how this piece came to be. Plus I am so sick of hot weather at this point...maybe I'll see snow again some day...

Not normal,


Monday, August 21, 2017


On the heels of "Under-Cooked Week," here's simply a minimalist drawing of Z smoking a cigarette well past its...what do you even call that? Expiration?

The idea was to have a maxed-out, ashed-out cigarette, pushed beyond any usefulness, yet nevertheless smoked and stubbornly lingered onto, and have the piece cropped so as to look like he's butting his head against a wall in defeat.

I was feeling quite down when I was drawing this. You know, at Yale, they always wrote "Feeling Blue?" on those posters advertising psychology studies, which I always thought was a delightfully pleasant way to describe being depressed out of your skull.

Anyway, I draw a difference between being under-cooked and being minimal. I color in cel shades when I want to speed up, and this was a pretty straightforward concept I wanted to illustrate, so it felt ok not to go all-out. It's better pulling back here.

I was drawing after a neat jacket I saw online, but ended up scrapping the complicated design for this more plain version. Am I a serious artist now? I opted not to do the more complex thing. Reward me.

Not normal,


Friday, August 18, 2017


Inspired by an Algen piece, I latched onto this because I love overcast days, and it's been nice and overcast lately, at least as of this drawing.

Anyway, this is a fitting end to "Under-Cooked Week" as this doesn't really feel ready to rock, up to snuff, or good to go, but yet here it is.

Bask in this mediocrity. Savor it. Slather it upon and across your eyeballs.

And know my pointlessness.

Not normal,


Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I finally got around to colorizing this old sketch of Stitcher Geralf, as depicted by the incomparable Karla Ortiz.

It's under-cooked, but I just wanted to make something quick without overthinking for once. I dunno. They always say to just go for volume, but it frankly disgusts me to release stuff I don't feel looks as good as I can presently make it. I understand I will get better and make better stuff than what I think is "acceptable" now, but that's not the point. I want it to look "good enough" now, not this goo-goo-ga-ga, A-for-effort stuff we're supposed to post to make us feel good about ourselves.

That's nonsense. Make it look as good as possible now, so that when you look back on it, you can claim you're legit better now, not "Well, obviously the new stuff is better, this old stuff was done forever ago and was purposefully weak. Also I'm a boxer in training trying to feel good about myself by picking a fight with a toddler."

Not normal,


Monday, August 14, 2017


Here's a little foresty study.

The name comes from the wonderful construction of "Record of Lodoss War," which is a series I only vaguely remember from when it was briefly on the "Toonami Download" (is that what it was called?), which was Toonami's minisite for their online-only series.

Anyway, I don't know if this counts as falling into the "water trap" of drawings, but I do know I tend to do sparkles a little too happily when painting forests, so that's definitely on the flagged list.

Been a bit stressed, hence the slowdown on updating here (it's 9/19/17 as of writing), but landscapes are soothing. Plus I got to emergency-recycle this BG into a future piece that otherwise would have been just another figure floating in space--yuk.

Not normal,


Friday, August 11, 2017


On his way to jail here is Devon Reyes, in a scene from Lost in Arcadia, a novel written by my old classmate, Sean Gandert. I met Sean while we worked on The Yale Record, our college humor magazine.

I remember one day in the office a few of us were going over some old issues or something and I believe I was talking about something fringe, like Magic: The Gathering for some reason. It might have come up from seeing the old "Religion Issue," which I recall had a Magic spoof in it. Midway through my meandering little aside, I realized I was about to receive the usual blank, disinterested stares from people merely humoring me in my quest to find people at least vaguely aware of what I was mumbling about. The sole reply was from Sean, seated just to my right, which I assumed meant he was the most obligated to offer a perfunctory response. He said something like, "Yeah, that's cool," so I dropped my shoulders just slightly with that familiar feeling that I just wasted my breath yet again trying to tell people about something that I love so much, but that nobody else has any knowledge of or curiosity about.

I retreated into that futility-fueled monotone I use when I want to fade as soon as possible from a pointless social interaction. I agreed, "Yeah, really cool," without a decibel of enthusiasm in order to expend the minimal amount of emotional investment while still politely acknowledging Sean's seemingly canned confirmation that my words had been heard by a human in the general direction my voice had been pointed. But he sensed my defeated, Sisyphean vibe and actually took time to affirm he was serious, "No, really." And he was serious! I was floored that he (anyone!) actually knew what I was talking about! Just about everybody I ever met at Yale didn't seem to even know what Magic was! At Yale! Yale! What I'm getting at is that Magic is actually in Lost in Arcadia! In other words, royalty check, please!

Or not.

Whatever. Look, I've said it before, but if you want to develop an inferiority complex, go to Yale. Everyone there is more talented, skilled, and storied than you. If this is not true at any given gathering you attend while on campus, you're probably in the company of that creepy Davenport gnome, which isn't actually a person, but it's still probably more traveled than you, anyway. Or am I thinking of the Travelocity gnome? Is there even a difference? There is not.

My point is that my classmate wrote a novel! Geez. That's intense. I read it a few days after it released, but have only now been able to complete this drawing. It was strange! And I wasn't sure what happened in the end! You might even say, I got...lost. And I actually hadn't ever heard an apple described as "mealy" before, but you definitely get a mealy bang for your buck with this book, bud. Anyway, I was thinking about drawing the final scene where Devon [verbs] (no spoilers), but that didn't seem, well, arresting enough. Hence I illustrated this scene, which happens to be the chapter he previewed online, conveniently enough. The chapter depicted here was written as a video game walkthrough, which was something I wasn't aware was a possibility, and thought it was a pretty cool concept. A novel concept, even.

Here are some early exploratory stages of the image, including the abandoned full-paint preliminary. Kinda rough. Speaking of rough, I should warn potential readers, this book can get a little discomforting if you aren't prepared for it (and even if you are), prepared. I had gone into the book with limited information beyond knowing that it was supposed to be a futuristic yet eerily accurate-to-present-day-climate dystopian novel. He began writing it years ago apparently, but there's a racist, fascist guy in the White House, implementation of a Great Wall of Freedom, etc.

I myself wouldn't call it a "satire," as I understand it (I heavily regard humor as an essential ingredient beyond mere exaggeration). Since we met on the Record, I had hoped the novel might even be some kind of dark comedy. But nevertheless satire's a term I've seen associated with the book. I guess, it's because what he describes in the book is kind of happening now is why it doesn't feel exaggerated, although it surely was at the time of writing. So regardless of intention, the book, as read today, felt more like we're just observing a world similar but not utterly outre to ours and with better technology. In any case, I was in it mainly to support Sean, but also to see how frighteningly accurate he predicted present day, and to see how Arcadia worked--I love the idea of an alternate world consuming people trying to escape their realities.

I didn't quite feel the immersion or all-encompassing nature of Arcadia. Something happens in the end that sorta gets to where I thought we might be throughout the novel, but then the book ends! Instead, logging onto Arcadia felt like, well, starting up Firefox. You can spend all day there, but it doesn't really feel like you're logging into the Matrix, where you are in there to the potential detriment of your actual being outside of the system. I didn't feel like I was abandoning this world for a limitless jungle, but just seeing a picture of jungle on the wall of a room I fully occupy. I guess it's not as big a deal, but then again, I never really felt lost in Arcadia, just stopping by Arcadia. The end arguably makes up for it, but it's so brief!

Bonus WIP version here, by the way. It all started with an orange basketball. Or jumpsuit. Note Devon's is oversized and the giant to the left has an undersized one. Still managed to get the tears in there, too. That was the key detail I wanted to capture here, him struggling and failing not to cry.

So I didn't really latch onto Arcadia so much as Devon's story, as well as Gideon's and Haight's, who wasn't explored as much as I was hoping. In fact, it almost felt like those non-family sections, while interesting and context-setting, didn't really impact the core family story. Like it was just a bonus, concurrent story on top. There's some intersection in a general sense, in that both family and Haight occupy the same country and climate, but they really felt more like parallel worlds than inter-meshed ones--it felt like a story about grass with occasional snippets about the clouds. But Haight's chapters are definitely not to be missed, short but sweet(?) and weird(!). Ah, maybe "Haight" because he exists so high above everything else, rendering them essentially irrelevant to him, which I definitely felt. I already got how each of the kids represents a major function of the Internet: business, play, creativity, indulgence, but that felt pretty straightforward.

Over all, I would say Devon's story was the most compelling, though I am of course biased towards finding stories about younger people more credible than stories about grown ups. The novel follows each family member's individual stories throughout, though, and the slow buildup finally goes off like an explosion in the last few chapters, as we dart around to see how everybody's doing in the final blitz once everything really starts to come together. It is around these final chapters where I found the most image-conjuring scenes. But that's another story.

Not normal,


Wednesday, August 9, 2017


This is sorta inspired by Oceans Deep, which captures several elements I find enchanting: oceans, massive scale differences, and the color purple.

I'm kinda on the fence about this drawing so I'm dumping it into the archives on a day I seemed to have missed.

I drew this pretty quickly, and just don't feel like it's worth refining any further.

I dunno. Greetings from the future (1/17/18) by the way, things are still awful.

Not normal,


Monday, August 7, 2017


This is a digital redo of an old sketch.

It drives me insane seeing how people just write "it's" so carelessly.

Like, how hard is it?

"It's" means "it is." The other one means the other thing. Easy.

Not normal,


Friday, August 4, 2017


I saw these old inks, based on these lines, and thought I should take them to final at long last.

I had just wanted to update the inks to digital and then simply use solid mask for the character with popped red and white over a painted, starry background for a striking but minimal image, but we ended up getting carried away with the character colors.

I was happy how comfortable I felt trying to color via different layer effects rather than purely painting, in my effort to find a speedier way to color. I am trying to simplify more, but there's always another step or tweak I feel I ought to take, so we end up simplifying in certain ways, but then adding complexity in others.

The spacesuit's colors started a lot cooler, but I wound up moving towards a red and white motif to match the original scheme's punchy elements.

Here are a few alternative takes. The left most one is what we posted on Twitter and Instagram, the middle was a sorta vintage look inspired by my usual BW value-check version, and the last one was a neat effect I noticed when just keeping the reflection of the character up.

Not normal,