Monday, October 29, 2018


I'm hopping with anticipation cuz it's just 8 mere days until it's finally, finally time to #PokemonGoToThePolls on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, so here's Central Kalos Dex #008, Frogadier!

We've been in a verily verdurous grove of forest-based pokes lately, so I wanted to make an effort to seek as different an environment as possible, say, the ocean.

I was so nervous having to take on MTGinktober and PokemonGoToThePolls simultaneously, but it kinda worked out--this is our last PGTP for October! We made it! Kinda. Ugh.

I mean, to be fair, we did fall super behind on Inktober, and it looks like we'll close at about 6 days behind as of the 31st.

But I'm getting myself to cope with failure, and besides, I'm itching to get back to full digital focus, oddly enough. AND an accomplishment in itself is that I didn't mess up my arm, back, hand, neck, or eyes this year, even while switching between traditional and digital for these challenges.

And speaking of not messing up, we're so close to getting this thing done, please be sure to register if you haven't already (especially since many states' registration deadlines are coming up if they haven't passed already!) and elect to be a voter on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

Nothing less than the planet is on the line here (not just as an international community of allies and leaders, but also as the environmental crisis grows closer to the point of no return), let alone your personal, national, and neighborly well-being. Please vote blue.

Not normal,


Thursday, October 25, 2018


MTGinktober pokes into Day 25, "Prickly," starring Zo-Zu the Punisher!

This was another tough one because nothing immediately leapt to mind. The closest thing was maybe something with Tetzimoc, Primal Death, but I really didn't feel like drawing that ugly, old dude, and I prefer drawing humanoids anyway. But Zo-Zu sounded interesting, especially the newer Wayne Reynolds version, since it was physically (jagged), figuratively (belligerent), and mechanically (constant, annoying damage source) on point.

Fun Facts: I actually met the original version's artist, Matt Cavotta, one year at Comic-Con. I had a portfolio review for what I later discerned was for either Duel Masters, or more likely Kaijudo before it was announced.

Easter Eggs: The background is largely based on the WAR version, but the mountain on the right comes from the OG version.

Not normal,


Wednesday, October 24, 2018


MTGinktober cuts into Day 24, "Chop," starring Fumiko the Lowblood!

I wasn't entirely sure where to go on this deceptively difficult prompt, it couldn't be as simple as drawing a besworded character, so my initial instinct to Dakkon it up wouldn't cut it; chopping is a much more specific verb. I don't like drawing burly dudes, so in striving to avoid an ax-wielder, I went with a more subtle approach--chopping food with chopsticks!

Fun Facts: This is our second MTGinktober to feature a Kamigawan chopstick user, after last year's Graceful. Fumiko was a great pick for this iteration because I can easily see her snapping at someone or something mid-chomp and taking it out on her poor food, like someone she loathes just walked into her sight. I used my fudepen for the calligraphy and it smeared upon erasing(!)--super bummer since it chopped across a white area, so it was basically impossible to mask.

Easter Eggs: 福井 on the back banner flaps, like any of those good old noodle shops. I gave her tonkatsu with curry and rice, as that's one of my favorite JP foods when I need to really feel full (and warm up--one of the rare spicy foods I can tolerate). The only thing better is cheese curry from Sukiya, which is much easier to eat since it's far less spicy. Note the ridiculously tiny glass of water they give you.

Not normal,


Tuesday, October 23, 2018


MTGinktober wades into Day 23, "Muddy," starring Cold-Eyed Selkie!

I wasn't actively playing during the Lorwyn block, but I've always been a fan of this eerie art, so I thought it would make a great mud-themed subject.

Fun Facts: My initial idea was a spoof of that famous Calvin and Hobbes illustration of them walking along a fallen tree, but it didn't feel muddy enough, and Mudhole likewise didn't quite feel right.

Easter Eggs: I hid my signature in her hair.

Not normal,


Monday, October 22, 2018


MTGinktober blings-blings up Day 22, "Expensive," starring Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Mox Emerald, Mox Sapphire, and Mox Jet!

This was one of the more interesting compositions since it involved a quieter, dreamier moment. I don't read much of the Magic lore, but I do recall reading the one about Tasigur for some reason--sometimes I'll randomly read a story just to check if it's gotten compelling yet--and unfortunately, I didn't find Mr. T terribly likable; he's kind of a jerk, so I wanted to draw him in a more agreeable moment, enchanted by his riches.

Fun Facts: This has to be one of the first drawings I've ever done of a bare midriff...I try to keep everyone tastefully under wraps. This old Zero Like Me comic, "Two Please," mighta been the closest contender prior. Also, as you can see, I had a huge ink spill, so I had to tone the pillow heavily, when I had actually just wanted to do a more delicate texture on it.

Easter Eggs: His pillow has little Turtleveld-style turtles to reference Sultai standard and MTGinktober alumnus, Meandering Towershell. Plus his arm ornament has the Sultai logo itself embedded in it. The room's lightly based on Youthful Scholar's digs. A banana's a must with Sultai, but we completed it with a Chiquita Banana style Chupacabra sticker. The featured Moxen are the Sultai ones. Tasigur's necklace chomping was inspired by Das Racist's "Brand New Dance" (yeesh, what an on-the-nose URL!).

Not normal,



So close you can poke it with a stick, there're only 15 days until it's time to #PokemonGoToThePolls on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, so here's OG Alola Akala Dex #015, Sudowoodo!

It was a toss up to draw either this guy or Silcoon, which mighta gone great with the hat since they make a good Uncle-Sam-looking poke, but I love how weird Sudowoodo's design is.

Plus it's not every day you get to draw a considerably human-looking Pokemon, and this guy gets in the ballpark pretty well.

I also enjoyed researching his TCG appearances because they give him some gorgeous background art, which inspired mine.

Using all those blues in a green forest was a real joy, but I am aware I need to relax on leaning too hard on forests for backgrounds.

The background did give me a sorta Misty Rainforest vibe, though, which was pretty cool.

But don't get too misty-eyed yourself, just get amped up and register if you haven't already (especially since many states' registration deadlines are coming up if they haven't passed already!) and elect to be a voter on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

Not normal,


Sunday, October 21, 2018


MTGinktober chips away at Day 21, "Drain," starring Blood Artist trying to paint a self portrait of his idealized form, Zulaport Cutthroat, but it comes out as a Thief of Hope!

Drain is my absolute favorite Magic mechanic, which I fell in love with with Thief of Hope, back in the day. I almost-literally always draft the set's drainer effect(s) whenever possible, I just love the inevitability of plinking away at someone and since it's life loss, and usually independent of combat damage, they are utterly powerless to stop the relentless sapping.

Fun Facts: I had a hunch and--upon researching for this piece--I confirmed, that Thief of Hope was indeed the original pure black expression of the "lose one, gain one" effect, and I fondly remember looping many, many a Hana Kami and Soulless Revival, hopefully while my thieves looked on. I still have that 80-card, rubberband-bound deck from my early Magic days gathering dust somewhere.

Anyway, for a "Drain"-themed illustration, I definitely wanted to salute all my favorite incarnations of this ability, though I did have to miss out on a couple honorable mentions: Servant of Tymaret and Palace Siege (ah, drafted so many of the former, and actually played the latter in Constructed! I remember having my opponent triple pinned once: dead on board to my Brutal Hordechief and associates triggering Da Chief, to my Crackling Doom in hand, and to my Siege's trigger, all queued up for the inescapable win on the last of our extra turns--what a feeling, while my opponent scrambled futilely to find a way out of the deathgrip!).

Easter Eggs: This is obviously a spoof of Norman Rockwell's famous self-portrait. But I have Blood Artist seeing an idealized version of himself (assuming Magic Vampires have reflections), a strapping and flexible Zulaport Cutthroat, but like any artist, he nevertheless despises himself and interprets/draws himself as a hideous monster.

But the illustration includes other clippings as references in the upper right corner of the canvas, so I went with other favorite drainers--the noted Brutal Hordechief I played in my Mardu Standard deck; Scholar of Athreos, which I drafted countless copies of; Drana's Emissary, an utter tank of a card that I always attempted to draft, but that was so powerful it was a hard card to come by (drain usually benefits from being undervalued at a table, but this 2/2 flyer with an automatic trigger that also paid off the incidental life-gain reward cards was a beater no one was passing if they could help it); and lastly Basilica Screecher, a representative of the exquisite extort ability from Orzhov, which I never really got to draft, but that I enjoyed sampling at the prerelease (I could only play preres back then).

Norman Rockwell's composition also calls for a helmet, a book, a bucket-like prop, as well as a bird for the crest above the mirror, so I went with Helm of Kaldra, Jayemdae Tome, Bronze Calendar, and the vulture from Isareth the Awakener. The Japanese in the book says ルーベンの テキストだ, which just means it's my text, and notably, I'm using the Mark Tedin OG JMD Tome--since this is an illustration about illustration, I thought it'd be neat to include wonderful Magic illustrators I've worked with in the past, so he and the Algenator got representatives here, though I guess I've worked with Donato, too, only less practically (to be fair he painted both Helms of Kaldra, so that checks out, too). Speaking of that very Voss, though, and in keeping with tradition, the little swooshy B (ß) is swooped into Blood Artist's trim, on the white part of his suit tails, not to mention a little spoof of Hannes's famously super sweepy signature. Anyway, the drink on the tome is blood, and the shield just below the vulture is a reference to the five-dot arrangement on the Magic cardback.

Not normal,


Saturday, October 20, 2018


MTGinktober breaks through to Day 20, "Breakable," starring whatever the heck that thing is in Phyrexian Unlife!

I was not looking forward to how straightforward this illustration was going to be--and how similar in composition it would be to yesterday's piece--but I knew Phyrexian Unlife would be just perfect for this prompt, and regardless, everything was going to be all about the mood and the eyes, not an elaborate setting or composition.

Drawing all the cracks and stuff was a treat for sure, you just get to live the thrill of cutting loose while making sure not going overboard and feeling out when to pull back as necessary. And it feels like it wouldn't be an MTGinktober without somebody crying, so I also looked forward to doing some more convincing waterworks here.

Fun Facts: Oftentimes whenever there are notable hand poses in an illustration those are modeled after reference photos I took of myself, so this particular illustration probably merits at least a guest-starring credit to my hands. Also, I feel like Mirrodin and New Phyrexia have been cleaning up this year, what are we on now, three M/NP-related illustrations so far? That's gotta be a record.

Easter Eggs: In this piece I really got to do something I love doing, which is sneaking my signature into an illustration as furtively as possible--it's etched onto the right side of the drawing, just above her left eye.

Not normal,


Friday, October 19, 2018


MTGinktober burns up to Day 19, "Scorched," starring Ashling the Pilgrim!

This has to be one of the most straightforward pieces I've ever done: a fire-based character burning the page. Easy peasy.

Fun Facts: This one was a toss-up between Ashling and Homura, Human Ascendant, but the more firey of the two won out.

Easter Eggs: The background is loosely from Ashling's background.

Not normal,


Thursday, October 18, 2018


MTGinktober chugs along to Day 18, "Bottle," starring Geist of Saint Traft and Johannes Voss's GP Shanghai 2015 Angel!

I was so torn on going for a vintage soda advertisement spoof or just going for a playful couple hanging out, but I went with the latter cuz it felt a little more difficult to pull off successfully. Late into penciling, I discovered the difficulty of drawing a slightly older-but-not-too guy (I don't really enjoy drawing the olds), so it was a real challenge, all around.

My MTGinktobers don't usually follow the lore too strictly, but when trying to figure out a cute couple to draw, I was delighted to find that Traft's famous angel token is indeed officially something of his guardian angel, so it would make sense if she's a little doting, as depicted here.

Fun Facts: In the frenzy of this October marathon, it's oddly difficult to remember where ideas originated, but I recall initially wanting to feature a Battlebond duo for this piece before stumbling upon GoST, looking up his lore, and then committing to that direction. A huge plus was that it meant I got to draw another legendary Algen angel (having riffed on his famous Sakura Angel in 2016). As always, I try to draw more obscure stuff, so if you want obscure Magic references, you can't beat an original, Magic-adjacent creature designed by an actual Magic artist for a Magic event's merch.

Easter Eggs: I included the VossFather's Sakura Tenshi on the sword's frieze, and a Gift of Orzhova engraving just below that. The background comes from the Duel Deck version of GoST. The drink label is a play on Dasani, but it's Ajani, get it? Hilarious. Anyway, as is tradition, when doing Algenfanarter, we include a little swooshy B (ß) in there, this time on her hip armor and in the center of her torso armor's convergence point. Last, the bendy straw is a Phyrexian symbol, watch out! Spooky stuff.

Not normal,


Wednesday, October 17, 2018


MTGinktober pumps up for Day 17, "Swollen," starring Grand Warlord Radha and Radha, Heir to Keld!

I knew almost instantly I wanted to draw a buff, or "swole" character for this prompt, but it felt way too easy to go for say Maraxus of Keld (too gross looking) or Iwamori of the Open Fist (too obvious), so I thought it'd be cool to draw Radha hanging out with herself.

Jim Murray's been one of my absolute favorite artists since Fifth Dawn, and the OG Radha's one of the coolest illustrations of his, so I've been wanting to draw a salute to that piece for years. I'm not super into her new version, but it is a cool demonstration of depicting the same character in radhacally different ways. While drawing this piece, I came to appreciate how Magic executed on the "buff girl" archetype successfully and how Icons: Combat Arena just plain missed on their character, Xana. I bring Icons up because I've been quite bummed that the game, technically still in beta testing, got all but cancelled after its studio, Wavedash Games, abruptly laid off basically everyone a couple weeks ago. I've been thinking where Waverdash fell short, and what they could have done to turn the game's reception around. As an artist, I more readily think to aesthetic issues and solutions, since the gameplay felt decent enough and I'm by no means in a position to be critiquing video game gameplay.

So when thinking about the visuals, Xana has always been a pretty apparent stumbling block to me. The great KNKL, who I admire and respect, got the charm of her in the early concept art for sure, but something of that spark got filtered out in the pipeline and she just turned into a bit of a flavorless, hulking character--she's supposed to be a celebrity wrestler, but in her final appearance, she just looks like any old, orcish warrior, perhaps even a background character rather than a playable one.

In contrast, I was delighted to discover when looking over larger versions of the art that new Radha still retains a charm to her while still being quite physically imposing and burly. It was really cool seeing how Magic balanced upon that fine line between bulky and feminine. It feels like it comes down to the gentleness in the face and the groundedness and femininity of the hair, which guides the interpretation of the character to being softer than just a grunting "Ahnold" type of character. Xana was just a bit too gruff in all directions, so despite being a fabulous celebrity on her home planet, that appeal and playfulness just didn't translate to the final design in-game.

Fun Facts: One of my early ideas was to have them posing all tough with Iwamori in the background, but it felt like that detracted from the gag/gimmick of before/after characters hanging out together. Plus the heart of the piece is Radha, no need to try to share the spotlight if a non-Radha character wasn't absolutely necessary or supplementary enough not to intrude.

Easter Eggs: You can find New Radha's sword on the left and OG Radha's club on the right. The backgrounds are a combination of both characters' backgrounds. I introduced a curve to OG's hair so its form mimics her flexing.

Not normal,