Friday, September 29, 2017


Giant robo "Masha" on the destructo-patho, yo!

I wanted to draw this Irong Giant-reminiscent mech on the warpath utilizing negative space to show super heated trees, and this is the result.

Eerily enough, I first published the early version of this piece on the same night as there was a wildfire warning active in California, my home state, meanwhile the whole state was suffering intense fire warnings across the board.

The illustration turned out nice enough that I wanted to develop it a little further (see the red graffiti updating the pubdate to 1/17/18 from 12/7/17), and I'm pretty happy with how we progressed on it.

I painted this mainly on two layers: BG and robo, but this piece helped me feel more comfortable getting a little more daring with wacky adjustment/effects layers and then overpainting on top of everything afterward. But the minimal-layer base keeps everything still feeling like it's all safely under my fingertips, like working on a traditional piece that know I can always manipulate on any specific portion I'd like, rather than working on a sprawling "digital" piece.

Not normal,


Wednesday, September 27, 2017


A bit of "summertime ungladness," you might say.

I really dislike means school's out, unbearable weather's in, or it's time to move, sometimes all three.

This is actually a reworking of an older illustration, but based on the same initial sketch.

And the background is a reworking of an old illustration's background!

So a little more upbeat, but that doesn't mean I don't still detest summer! It's all elaborate sarcasm.

Not normal,


Monday, September 25, 2017


I finally got around to coloring up that old Yamaken sketch.

This was kinda relaxing to paint, it felt quite low-stakes.

I wanted to include mountainy elements for the background since it's a pun on his name, since "yama" means mountain.

I've been trying to figure out a reasonable way to paint people that doesn't just collapse under its own complexity.

And this piece seems like a step in a positive direction.

Not normal,


Thursday, September 21, 2017


I love music, so I'm doing a few studies of some of my favorite albums' cover art using Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush set to 50, and never zooming in past 50%, so hard-mode studies--basically painting with a blunt instrument with no gradation.

To prepare, I organized my favorite albums of all time into rough tiers and this is the first part of tier one.

These albums are:

Commit This to Memory by Motion City Soundtrack
Classic hit: "Everything is Alright"
This perfectly encapsulates MCS's incisive self-reflection, self-deprecation, and bittersweet humor, all over a signature, catchy tune. It is a dear song that masterfully captures--in a deft manner only MCS and no other band can--the nervousness of living in an uncertain fog.
Don't miss: "Monsters Invisible"
Perhaps only underrated for being a bonus track, this song showcases MCS's more defiant, yet humble introspective mode, and shows the band's darker, more aggressive side.
Video pick: "Hold Me Down"
Sneaking in another one of my all-time favorite songs, which can easily sucker-punch me any time I listen to it, this video is Motion City Soundtrack--it's chilly, distant, yet inviting and warm, and the kids really comprise the MCS ethos--amidst the harsh cold, there're yet these sources of light and playfulness. The album version has an incredible outro that really brings this song home.

I Am the Movie by Motion City Soundtrack
Classic hit: "The Future Freaks Me Out"
A salute to the powerlessness that creeps into our lives, the fight to regain control, and the lifelines some people/things play in our lives.
Don't miss: "Mary Without Sound"
A blisteringly fast, sometimes violent, and often-times gut-wrenching song that speaks to the uselessness we can feel sometimes.
Video pick: "My Favorite Accident"
Another one of my absolute favorite songs of all time, this one also has a really fascinating video, to boot, I especially appreciate the sheer frustration in that shot of Justin screaming.

From Under the Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy
Classic hit: "Dance, Dance"
This song gets you amped and ready to go: I would draw late into the night in college to this album, and this song kept up the energy; there was a version where Pete screams at 2:47 that really crushed, but it's not on the official version, unfortunately.
Don't miss: "My Heart is the Worst Kind of Weapon (Demo Version)"
Another bonus track, this is one of FOB's groovier songs, and yet it comes right for your throat with some brutal lyrics.
Video pick: "Sugar, We're Goin Down"
This straight-up classic makes you ache for a larger world, yearn for greater connections, and the video was super sweet and really captured my imagination.

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not by Arctic Monkeys
Classic hit: "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor"
From the machine-gun drum intro, through the brash charm of the lyrics, to the lung-bursting finale, this song is an adventure of youth, bottled in 4/4 time for all time.
Don't miss: "A Certain Romance"
This ending track gives the album a quiet send-off, after feeling like a bustling night on the town.
Video pick: "The View from the Afternoon"
One of the most outstanding videos I've ever seen for one of my favorite songs I've ever listened to, this video's best moment comes when the drummer realizes the song's coming back in and he is cursed to get back to the beat, bleeding hands and all.

It's so difficult to differentiate between these "tier one" albums, but I do know Commit This to Memory is the absolute greatest, with only I Am the Movie giving it any sort of serious competition. The emotional impact these albums still pack, years and years, hundreds and hundreds of listens later makes them the undisputed champions of my musical awareness. And a credit to these albums' power: it was so difficult picking just these particular songs to highlight. That's the mark of a legendary album, where just track after track, you can't pick a stone-cold favorite, you can't skip a track, you want to hit replay on each.

Not normal,


Wednesday, September 20, 2017


A sketch of Vicky Vasquez handling stress as coolly as usual.

Bonus color edition. I really want to avoid using any colors beyond black and white and red since that is thematic to the series...Again, it's all an elaborate play on the old joke, "What's black and white and red all over?" since it's about newsies, essentially.

The background text is also a play on the thematic elements of frantic editorial/note-scrawling and the general stress of newsroom deadlines, a similar stress that I've been experiencing lately, too.

This actually started with her facing the opposite direction, but when I flipped it to check for wonkiness, it seemed to read better. I've heard that facing left to right tends to connote good guys, and the opposite connotes villains...

But because I flipped it, I had to redo all the non-background text, and lose her ear-ring, which I almost missed before print! I didn't catch that her asymmetrical hairdo was reversed, though, but maybe she was just trying something new, you don't know! Ironic because I also drew this as I learned it was apparently short haircut day in Japan (4/11/18 as of writing)...

Not normal,


Monday, September 18, 2017


A rando forest with a rando-er sprite!

I just wanted to draw some giant-scaled mushrooms, I guess...

Like the whole over-reliance on oceans trope, this falls into the other pitfall I feel I have--forests.

But I did like plugging in the little sprite character and how its lighting affected the nearby areas.

I dunno...

Not normal,


Friday, September 15, 2017


I try to avoid putting super rough sketches up here, but meh, why not, this one came out ok, anyway. It's a sketch from a random face-drawing study session, wherein I randomly studied old clips of one Kobi Libii '07 from The Opposition with Jordan Klepper. I had a feeling I recognized him from something, and I remembered he was one of the few black characters in Alpha House, which was created by Garry Trudeau '70. But! I had a feeling I had seen him elsewhere, too--in some kind of...jumpsuit?--and that's when it hit me. Well, almost.

One day I was talking with an '07 classmate about The Opposition and how cool it was that my other classmate, River Clegg '11, who was my old boss at the Penny Dreadful, had recently announced he was drafted onto the writing staff for this new show. My '07 classmate then mentioned he was indeed familiar with the show, and that he had even seen his old classmate, Kobi, on the show! And then I remembered where I saw this selfsame Kobi--he was the host of the Winter Comedy Student Showcase! I had that distinct, nagging memory of seeing him a jumpsuit, but where would I have seen him dressed like that? And why? Where and why else but as a member of Just Add Water, a Yale improv comedy group!

Above all, I was and remain a big fan of The Purple Crayon, which does the Harold style of improv--meaning they improvise a whole hour-long story with recurring characters and stuff from a quick suggestion at the very beginning. But Just Add Water, which incidentally also had my classmate Allison Williams '10, was an improv group that focused on the more usual fare of Whose Line Is it Anyway? type short games you might more immediately think of when you hear "improv."

I must admit, I wasn't the hugest fan of JAW, so I didn't actually see them perform that much, but I do vaguely remember early on in my Yale days seeing Kobi in his standard-issue JAW jumpsuit. Each improv group had uniforms of some sort, and theirs were colorful jumpsuits. The Crayon had some splendid, purple t-shirts with their Japanese motto's kanji on the back. The Yale Ex!t Players had pretty cool uniforms, too--they were like sports jerseys with their nicknames on the back. It was frustrating that they never referred to these names in any way, though (at least as far as I could tell), so it always felt like you weren't in on a joke. Side note, The Ex!t Players tended to be the more "prestigious" comedy group on and off campus, and while I'm not sure what most of them are up to now, I do know that my other classmate--my old boss at The Yale Record--David Litt '08 (who I happened to have thought was the funniest member of his class) has gone on to do great things, including writing comedy for no less than President Obama! And--plot twist--he guested on River's show, The Opposition! How cool was/is that?!

And thus it all comes back to Kobi! The great Kobi! I only kinda-sorta remember him, unfortunately--it was super early in my Freshman Year, when everything was an utter blur--dude, that was my first plane ride, basically my first time leaving my home town--I got lost so many times, I couldn't even find Commons and missed meals! But I definitely do remember seeing Kobi MC the Winter Student Showcase at Woolsey Hall! He'd bring up and send off each student performer, and between acts he would often make a few funny comments about whatever with his co-host(s?).

I even remember one of his jokes! In one of these act breaks, he said something like, "You know, I'm going say [a crass word] five times because I think it's a funny word, here, watch." He paused and looked right at the audience and with a serious, matter-of-fact tone, began his experiment:

"[Crass word]."

The crowd chuckled uncomfortably.

"[Crass word]."

The crowd laughed comfortably.

"[Crass word]."

The crowd laughed.

"[Crass word]."

The crowd roared.

"[Crass word]."

The crowd laughed and cheered and he moved on to the next act.

I hadn't heard of that word before, but I do recall thinking how funny language is in that way--we only know the bad words if we're taught them and that that's what they are, otherwise it's just a tongue flailing nonsensically between breaths in a clomping mouth.

Regardless of all that rando history, though, Kobi is doing excellent work on River's show and he's easily the correspondent to watch for. I know he's going to go far!

Not normal,


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


I wanted to add a little email button for better visibility. It's inspired by those old fashioned airmail envelopes.

This was an enjoyable little mini-project, plus it makes me think of TailSpin!

Also, "Emailio Addrestevez" is from someone's old Twitter joke I saw years ago but have never forgotten. It was something like "I'm trying to reach Emilio Estevez. Does anyone have his emailio addrestevez?" or something like that.

Not normal,


Monday, September 11, 2017


The thrilling digital remaster of an already concluded oldie.

The previous piece was about the rain, so I thought I'd try giving it a snowy alternate version.

Speaking of which, I decided to try an alternate version of this alternate version, but this was the initial alternate version.

But anyway, if I had to pick, though, I gotta go with rain--snow, while beautiful, can get inconvenient and even injurious, forget about black ice!

Rain, though, is almost always just enjoyable: you can listen to it from the comfort of your room without having to worry about roofs or fences caving in, as I had to at my old place in rural Japan. And it's generally not terribly dangerous.

Not normal,


Friday, September 8, 2017


This one was more directly a desire to do an new take on Oceans Deep, but with a more monochromatic color scheme.

I love pushing the sense of scale, and this one felt like my most successful attempt at that, with the little wizard guy definitely being out-shined by the sea serpent. I do worry if I fall back to ringed stone structures too often, though, as a marker for "fantasy land."

This involved mainly painting with KNKL's chalk brush, but I felt it was actually more challenging than painting with colors! I dunno, it feels so much easier to drift into way too dark darks when it's just one color I'm working with.

This initial version posted to the Daily Sites made me want to include some color, but with considerable subtlety, mainly via gradient maps and RGB aberration, which has a neat effect when you have a lot of bright spots meeting up with darker areas.

However, here's a bonus colorized version I just did (it's 3/6/18 as of writing). I wouldn't consider this the "final" version because again, I didn't really intend for it to go to full colors, just that vaguely monochromatic color vibe.

Not normal,


Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Made some new banners for the site, retired the old iTunes game one. The Tumblr one is from a WIP of Jessie, since that site seems more fanart-centric.

The IG one's from the JP food piece, since IG is all about the filters and food and stuff.

Not normal,


Monday, September 4, 2017


Some happy little clouds.

It was raining out so I wanted to paint a rainy scene, but it never came together so I compromised with this cloudy scene.

I was recently listening to this song, "I, the Swan" by The Sound of Animals Fighting, which has the catchiest groove to it as well as excellently employed vocals, and this made me want to make the clouds look swan-like, or at least bird-like.

Initially I just wanted to paint radical, swirling clouds like Grzegorz Rutkowski's new Iconic Masters Ryuusei art, and only after I blocked in the rough forms did I start getting birdsy vibes, which led to that swannish decision point.

After putting this piece away, that feeling of wanting to use my landscapes for greater purposes kept nagging at me. I often draw backgroundless figures or figuresless backgrounds, but rarely do I mix the two from the outset. So after finishing this, I came up with a figure to complement the imagery of a couple backgrounds (including this one), but I have yet to design both elements together from the outset, at least in recent memory, so that's still on the to-do list. I'll post the figure version at some point...

Much later (today is 2/5/18) I put a little mock Magic card together inspired by this card. The Great Designer Search 3 was still on my mind, I guess, but I've wanted to make little custom cards from my art for a while now.

Not normal,


Friday, September 1, 2017


Ok, this was a weirdly weird one. It started as a picture of an elf.

But to hit deadline, I needed something faster because I knew I wouldn't be able to finish the portrait in time.

So I ended up just painting a cloudy night sky with lots of stars with the classic foregrounded silhouette in front of a colorful background shtick.

But if you look closely, you can see the remnant of the elf ghosted into the coloring a bit

I guess an interesting note is that this is another landscape where I started painting straight up and then at random intervals would just totally warp and shift the canvas to generate new ideas and keep me on my toes, so this is the product of a lot of chance.

Not normal,