Trying to get Marcus to do a villainous speech while holding onto his staff was quite the challenge! Should I have his mouth wide open in mid-speech? How should his head be tilted - high up to look smug or lowered down to look sinister? Side or quarter view for the pose? Should he be carrying his staff at all? So many variables to play with but ultimately I think having him hold onto the staff with the mouth open (indicating that he's in mid-speech) adds drama to the final pose - hands raised with a posture that is not too stiff. What do you think Geoff? Stick to the previous pose that showcases his DK power or these ones where Geoff prepares for his speech to an audience?
While I wait for a reply I'm going to take a power nap and hop back onto rendering the first two poses!
Just postin' progress on 's second commissioned character sheet!
It's gettin' late and was plannin' to sketch out some ideas for his dynamic pose. Little did I know that I got stuck on one and kept on going. This was the result.
He's a lot of fun to draw! I wanted to showcase his Dreamkeeper power rather than havin' him studying schematics on a table. lol I can still look into that option if you wish but I think this is more dramatic. What do you think Geoff?
It's my second day off work, and I spent the whole day helpin' mom with house chores - it was very therapeutic! Life back home in Australia right now couldn't be more sweeter.
In other news let's talk about a few awesome things that need updatin' and sharin' - comic related news that is!
Dreamkeepers Kickstarter - 60K reached!!
To David and Liz - CRICKEY!! What a stella achievement so far and with only a week to go on their campaign to release their latest Dreamkeepers graphic novel! Their KS campaign has also reached the top-100 most funded comics projects in Kickstarter history so a huge congratulations to them on that front!
If you're into your epic fantasies, richly detailed comics, highly engaging cartoon characters with depth and personality, and stories with purpose then you can't go wrong with purchasing yourself a copy of their book (you can even go digital, but seriously you'd rather go for the real thing!).
Can't wait till I get your latest book as well as the one I've missed out on last time (aka the PRELUDE Collection 1! Fire ain't going to destroy it! HA HA!).
A reminder to those who watch me here (and there's a lot of you out there!) you can check out their devaintART page via as well as their official website. Let the descent begin!!
Son of the Thunder God
I've been approached by several months ago and he shared with me his story behind publishing a comic book featuring a character who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I admire his honesty, openness and vision to send a powerful message about respecting and embracing people with disabilities through his comic. In fact, he was even featured on the local news (how cool is that? Watch and be inspired)!
Furthermore he managed to commission one of my favourite 'pre-Genesis wave' Sonic Archie penciling artists: STEVEN BUTLER to pencil his story! They're locals and Steven took the initiative to help and encourage Adam to get it pitched to some comic publishers (what a top bloke)! Here is their pitch of 6 pages, beautifully illustrated and rendered. Please do check them out (take note also that the comic pages were colored by Matt Herms - veteran colorist of the Archie Action comics)!
You can find out more about Adam and his ambitious comic project on his deviantART page: Wishing you, Steven and the team all the best!
Lackadaisy for those who don't know already is a web-comic created by Tracy Butler and "OH. MY. GOD." is what I'll be saying to you if you haven't been following her work!
Do me a favour and watch her stuff if you haven't already. Be a Patreon to her cause, support her masterworks and... OMG!! NEW PAGE!!
Two words to describe her work.
Simply the best.
And if that's not enough, look what's sitting right next to my studio table?
Support this artist, NOW. lol You can learn more about Tracy via PATREON or conveniently on her deviantART page via
Ghosts of the Future, The Murder of Me and The Vulture!
What do these four artists - - share in common? Well they're creatively talented in their own right but they also have developed personal comic projects that involve a fundamental denominator: Sonic the Hedgehog! (actually... Not in Knockabiller's case character-wise but you get what I mean! lol).
Get ready spirit-believers cuz Evan's in the process of rendering her latest in the GOTF series (I've seen samples and they look freakin' amazing). Chapter 13 will be unleashed in the first half of Summer (i.e. late June/early July 2015) so be prepared for a climatic clash between the good guys and the bad guys! Also Evan is officially writing for #79-82 of Sonic Universe, bringing Silver the Hedgehog back into action! Looking forward to it.
Gigi's 'The Murder of Me' series has been constantly updated these past couple of months, and pages have been posted on the regular! Find out what it's like to be the hedgehog trio as they're slowly discovering their true destinies and the powers that be to be harnessed to defeated Gods! Also, her comic is available in Spanish & French! Sacre bleu!
It's been a while since I've seen a comic about Silver the Hedgehog that is drawn in a manner that's captivating, funky and... I don't know... Sexy I guess? Sexy as in super-awesome-cool! Or... Uhm... Nevermind. Knockabiller has done everything right to create a kick-ass story that embraces dynamic artwork and dialogue that connects at a human level.
Last but not least a big congrats to Cooper for recently completing her Penpals comic which embraces the relationships of Sonic and Amy Rose! I can consider her the queen of Sonic fluffy relationships cuz her pages showcase some very telling pieces, with just the right amount of it for any fan to go "Awww....". All the very best to Cooper on her next Sonic comic project where she states: "It's going to be more action/adventure oriented and it's also going to take place in the Sonic Boom Universe".
I highly encourage you to do this at least once a month to get involved with the online art community that is deviantART. If you're up for a challenge try to do this on a regular - 4 times a month, making it a commitment to do 4 illustrations in 8 hours. You'd be amazed to see what you can come up with if you and your art trading partner really dig into it.
Here are the entries from the first challenge with the theme: "Bad-ass".
It is truly terrific to see each and everyone's entries, I'd like to thank you all once again for participating in the challenge and gaining something out of it!
I'm going to see if I can make it a regular thing for me personally so my next challenge I've invited over to draw some of my characters for my upcoming graphic novel.
Both Knockabiller and I shared two things in common with this art-trade exercise. One, we both stuck to the theme of "bad-ass". And two, we agreed to focus on two of our very own OC's. And this was the result!
See what two hours of your time out of the weekend can do?
If you're artists, there ain't no excuse to kick back for a couple of hours and get creative! The two hour time limit really makes you think, it forces you to think. And believe me, if you know what you're doing, and you have done a little bit of research, the results can be uncanny.
Give it a go everyone! There is still this Sunday to submit your entries in for my next journal post where I'll be compiling people's entries!
For those who are unable to commit to this weekend, fear not! I'm going to give everyone an opportunity to get their artwork exposed by next Sunday, 6th JUNE 2015 - that's one more week which is plenty of time!
During that period I'm going to do perhaps one more trade with another artist of my choosing (sorry, but I gotta be picky with my choices!).
So grab your pens (digital or graphite) and start drawing!!
PINKALICIOUS: Speedpaint Video + Bonus Drawings!
This was crazy fun to do! It started out with these early sketches!
Check out the entire process of my art trade with on the video below - all done in just under two hours!
So far we've had some brilliant examples of the 2 Hour Art Trade Challenge - the theme being "BAD-ASS". I'll post them altogether on a separate journal!
Keep up the awesome stuff and don't forget to link them to me so that I can showcase the ones I feel deserve a feature!
This is a perfect example of what I'm looking for; open communication between artists/friends, committing to the art trade, sticking to the rules and having a blast while at it over the weekend - and look what came out of it?
What I really liked about these two talented artists are the fact that they share a web-comic series about Sonic the Hedgehog and shared a common purpose in their exercise. On top of that, why go for something predictable and do something different for a change? How about illustrating a human version of Sonic the Hedgehog of their comic series? Super neat.
Hope to see more soon! And don't forget to link it back to one another of your art trades in the description! Have a kick-ass time and draw something bad-ass!!
TWO HOUR ART TRADE WEEKEND CHALLENGE!
Seriously, who here can't have two hours to spare to do an art trade during the entire week?
Go on, challenge yourself - and a friend! You two could come up with something "bad-ass" for a couple of illustrations!
Here are the rules, let's keep it simple!
And here are some tips to share!
Keep your drawings loose! Don't commit yourself to details too much at the start of your drawing and spend more focus on a dynamic looking pose or gesture of the character.
Try to keep it to one character per trade, in other words, keep it realistic to your ability. However if you two are ambitious and skilled enough to do more than one who's to say you can't?
I did this drawing as an exercise to see what I could come up with: And it's proof that you can do something pretty neat in an hour. I just didn't spend the extra hour on additional details - if you're that good, feel free to utilise that extra hour on details!
Be respectful of each other when communicating for an art trade, it's also a skill to communicate well with another artist and have both get something out of the exercise - not only a kick-ass drawing but extra mileage on your illustration technique!
Try to really time your two hours. It's harder than it sounds. Use something like ONLINE STOPWATCH to keep track. If you're that cool, try to print-screen your progress and show it to your friend the various stages of your art trade (assuming that you're working on it digitally!)
And that's it! Have fun and good luck! I'm going to be tagging someone right now, and that someone is you !
I CHALLENGE YOU TO A "BAD-ASS" ILLUSTRATION, like right now!! XXD *note sent*
Oh mirror, thou art a wealth of references for customised poses, thou have saveth the day yet again! lol
I wasn't too happy with the pose that showcased previously (the one of the top-right of the bottom image).
After playing around with Geoff's notes on the gun and adjusting a few elements on the original pose I've evolved it an improved version as featured on bottom-right corner of the image. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, Hal feels much more dynamic while trying to load his gun!
The point of this journal update is a reminder to you all that a camera and a big-ass mirror are super helpful tools for an artist who is looking for a particular pose for a character (that is when you don't have someone around to help take the snap for you at the time). You'll be spending hours on Google search if there is a very specific pose that you are aiming for so don't be afraid to experiment with the tools mentioned earlier, and have fun while you're at it!
Dreamkeepers KICKSTARTER (Volume 4 is out!!)
I can't stress enough on how awesome this series is, David Lillie is an incredible story teller of this new generation of web-comics and had successfully campaigned a set of high quality self-published graphic novels since it's humble beginnings in 2005. I mean just look at how much they've raised in two days on their Kickstarter - it's an incredible result!
A huge congratulations to David, his wife Liz and their team of art assistants who have put in a ton of effort these past couple of years into the project and it's time they got what they deserved.
Thanks big brother, you've got me hooked on BLOODBORNE for a whole week, NON-STOP.
I just finished the entirety of the game, minus the chalice dungeons and co-op, leveled up to 105 with a maxed out Hunter's Axe.
You heard all about it, the raves, the top scores, is it all true?
Let's go back one week ago where I told myself to take a break from commissions and have some fun playing video games. About three months ago I completed 'The Evil Within'. Recently they've released some episodic content that fill in the gaps the story had, I couldn't miss out. So I paid full price and was in the process of downloading both episodes - knowing that in Australia, the internet connection can be slow - it'll take at least a day to complete the download. Prior to my brother lending his PS4 (with much thanks), he also threw in some games like MKX, Dying Light, and one other particular game in which he highly recommended that I gave it a go.
Now you all know that I'm into my survival/psycological horror (like RE4 and Alan Wake), action/adventure (like Uncharted, Tomb Raider, The Last of Us) stuff but I wasn't too keen on the fantasy RPGs (and I was assuming that Bloodborne was that kind of game, where you would spend hours on end to complete it).
12 hours left into the download, I was playing some MKX. I think I had enough gore for one night. Then I did something unusual. I said to myself: "Aww heck, it's not gonna hurt to give the game a go, and if I didn't like it the first hour I'll not look into it ever again". Boy was I wrong. BIG TIME.
Do you know what it's like when you're really invested into the game's universe?
It's one of those very rare moments in your gaming experience where you're genuinely excited, intrigued and wanting more.
What was it that caught me? There was something in the air that caught me so badly in the first few hours.
What's the word I'm looking for... Ah yes. Atmosphere.
This game was mind-blowing. I lost count of the wow-factors I had, there were so many that I kid you not.
It was a perfect combination of exploration, action, Gothic horror, and, once again, atmosphere (oh and the musical score is bloody brilliant too). Here, get a taste of it right now while you're reading this.
I can't stress this enough but the level designs, the hunter/creature/boss designs, enemy placement, intricate combat and leveling up system, it was all so beautifully crafted.
And just to let you know right now, I haven't even touched a Souls game before. Yes you know what I talkin' about.
So that made me a Souls (and Bloodborne) virgin at the time. Not anymore. Hell am I happy to have played the game and got in on what the fuss was all about.
Play it people, even if you're not into the RPG fantasy games, I encourage you to explore your doubts in gaming. And to be fair, my first 15 minutes of the game was like: "WTF? Why am I playing this?" ~ well let's just say that I got raped by the werewolf at Iosefka's Clinic and hadn't a clue what to do at the time.
So yeah, give Bloodborne a go and be immersed into the world, the characters, and the lore that will leave you with impressions unforgettable.
And to the Soul's/Bloodborne veterans, please give this guy a watch, VaatiVidya, his videos of the series are amazing. I can't wait for his next Bloodborne lore video, it brings the game to full circle for people like me who ain't smart enough to piece together the deep and intricate details of the game to form a complete vision of it's universe and story.
Right, onto other news!
Now that I'm done with Bloodborne, I don't plan to play the extra episodes of 'The Evil Within' because otherwise I'll be stuck for another week playing games and I'll be keeping my client's waiting on their commissions - which is a big no no.
So apologies in advance to the clients who have been waiting very patiently.
I've been reminded from artists like Tracy Butler, Evan about starting loose and putting less focus on details when drawing quick poses. I know it sounds fundamental but sometimes I can't help but work on an arm or a face in detail first when doing sketches of poses to use for any project. So with that idea in mind I did some loose sketches of Hal for his dynamic pose. Brace yourself, it's not much to look at! lol
Last but not least, remember how I told you guys that I've stopped subscribing to Sonic comics? It's been a great feeling so far! And now I can use the extra money to invest into other graphic novels that I can get into. Here are some titles I've purchased from Keith's store:
Recognise some of them? Bet you don't know the one at the very bottom - though you should know the author if you're into 'making comics', ha ha...
Just finished reading Scott McCloud's long-awaited graphic novel - The Sculptor and it was bloomin' brilliant. What a clever concept and it was well illustrated. In fact it just made me smile so much because he's showcasing everything he's taught in his critically acclaimed:"Making Comics"- buy that book if you haven't already - whether you're a comic artist or not!
And that's a wrap for this week! Again sorry to those people I've commissioned since last month, I'll be getting back to your request soon!
Last but not least... Something has been frustrating me to no end...
MAKING STORIES IS FREAKIN' DISCOURAGING!!!! (In my case that is...)
I've been playing around with so manyideas for my next comic to feature Ashworth. There are new worlds to create, characters, themes et cetera et cetera... I just can't find the right fit.
It's frustrating as hell and it's not fun at all. ARRRGGHHH! FUCK!!
If you didn't know already by now how I'm a big fan of David's work then here's a reminder.
Not only does his critically acclaimed graphic novel/web-comic series impress but it's also the fact that his values, opinions and wisdom on the story-telling subject that continues to blow my mind.
His honest, easy to digest and no-nonsense approach gets me hooked every time and I strongly encourage you all to watch this video now.
Best eight an a half minutes of my day, it may just be audio but the delivery of his personal advice with this format keep things intimate and less distracting from the flash-bang of visuals on other videos that offer similar advice. I'm looking forward to hearing more from him on future videos.
If you're currently stuck somewhere with your writing, whether you're procrastinating, walking in limbo, need encouragement or just need some tips to hit you off in the right direction when it comes to writing stories, you can't go wrong. Listen to what he has to say.
Also! I've been busy at work lately so I haven't been able to go full pelt with commissions. is next followed by and .
My apologies for the delay, you can also blame my older brother for convincing me to play BLOODBORNE on the PS4 - I played it for 2 nights after work and omg, it's a lot of fun! It's a nice break from drawing and working on commissions after work!
Here's the original version without the sepia tones and additional rendering using Photoshop!
There's something special about penciling your illustrations, a unique quality that can't be replicated when drawing digitally on screen.
After this exercise it made me realise that I should take full advantage of my strength in traditionally penciling and rendering my illustrations on paper and apply it to my next comic project that is Edenspell.
Anyways it's time to get back to commissions! Catch ya'll next time for more updates!
Vodka and Cute Cats
I'm almost there...!
Hmm.. But something's missing...
Oh that's much better!
Drawing cats is a lot of fun!
I've been taking a short break from commissions these past few days whilst workin' on my six shifts in a row at the casino this week. So what better way to use my time in between jobs by improving on my pencil strokes and building confidence on constructing full bodied characters. The theme? Cats!
But it's not just any ordinary bunch of cats. Take a look below to see what I'm up to this week by analysing some quick layouts of certain characters in their poses.
Can you guess who those are? For those who have been watching me, and know my affair with awesome comics of the anthro-cartoon kind, study the expressions and posture, you should be able to recognise some instantly even with the limited visual information.
Let's look what happens 20 minutes later...
............ .......... ......
It's Rocky from Lackadaisy! His grin is unmistakable, as well as his large cartoony eyebrows!
I'm taking my time with these because I'm considering this exercise as a study. I really want to nail not only the visual style that Tracy used in her wonderful web-comic series but also I want to get all the visual elements that bring a character to life done the best I can (e.g. getting the gesture and line of action feelin' right, the use of tilts on the head, shoulder and torso to create an almost contrapposto effect for a more dynamic feel to a pose, emphasis on facial expressions etc...)
So far Rocky has been a lot of fun to draw (and he's lookin' rather handsome)! Next we have Freckle but he's only half-way done.
Nevertheless I shall continue this exercise to get a better sense of illustrating cartoons and embracing the things that give a cartoon illustration the energy and vibrancy it deserves!
Oh and regarding references, as it is something that I constantly encourage people to use to tighten details (and in this case it's the folds of the character's lovely suits of the Prohibition/Art Deco era, and props), DON'T FORGET TO USE THEM!! It ain't cheatin' when done properly!
Step-by-Step with Leonarstist's commission! (edited!)
Remember how it started as a thumbnail?
I sketched it out at work during my break. I wasn't too happy with the initial 'Spider-man-esque' poses (look at the thumbnails on the other page and the sketch on the left I drew on my workplace's notepad).
I then decided that the thumbnail I drew at work was the one to go with. So I went back home to scan the drawing, import it into Photoshop and used my Cintiq for the rest of the way (in other words it'll be a digital illustration compared to the more traditional method of full pencilin' on paper, scan and import for a complete render on Photoshop). I got my image, pasted it on a new canvas, flipped it, and quickly laid out the elements - Elliot's main character (Jacob), the thugs, and the logo. Elliot intended to use the final image for his comic cover so he conveniently provided his title logo for me to use as a guide). I then added some tones to get a sense of the values. 10 minutes later and you get this...!
Okay not too shabby, but I still got a long way before I get to the final artwork!
So I started off by refining the details on the thugs. I also added the sky to give me an idea of how the background will look like (skies are awesome to paint and they are most rewarding when done right).
Okay good! At this point I was pleased with how the thugs came out - with thanks to some Mad-Max references on Google!
However I felt that the composition wasn't strong enough, so I decided to seek the advice of the good ol' 'Golden Spiral'. Check it out!
And viola! It looks and feels much better placing Jacob just a little more closer to the left and just above thug number two, we can use the main character's head as the prime focal point.
If you need some pointers on composition you can check out the tutorial I made that also received a 'Daily Deviation' for it: Anyways it was time to refine the details of our main character!
I was happy with how he came out, soon it was time to add some color into the digital illustration! Now keep in mind I didn't want this to have too many funky colors, I just wanted to keep the color palette simple with mute colors of sky blue, burn sienna, and burnt umber.
If you were wondering what coloring method I used you can review it on this tutorial I did for painting gray-scale rendered images with Photoshop. Once I was happy with the colors I decided to play around with the values a little more and making sure that the lighting made sense. I also had to be careful not to overdo the values. Last but not least I added more emphasis on the main character by blurring out the thugs and added noise for some texture. Here's the final artwork done!
Well hope that helped give you some insight to my approach to Leonarstist's commission!
There is one last thing to share and that's this!
On the cover version extra contrast is evident as the details are kept on the thugs by not applying any blur/noise effects, also the main character is enlarged for extra emphasis. Play around with your options should you face a similar exercise, and don't be afraid to experiment and bend the rules a little in order to find a result that brings impact to your comic cover!
Guys and gals, I will keep this brief right here before I get to my main topic - I'd like to share a thank you to all of you who wished me a happy 30th birthday this year. I've already had an excellent time with family back home, work colleagues and my special friends from overseas (three of whom I still plan to catch up on my days off for a Skype call).
I'm going to give some shout-outs (from the deviantART community) before I move on to some special comments that I've received and saved up since coming back home to Perth, Western Australia. The comments that I speak of revolve around my other life as a proactive freelance illustrator working on art commissions; sharing creative projects, blogs and videos that still continue to inspire others to this very day.
To the ever so lovely and her friends from StarPostProductions for their gift of an extended DA subscription.
And to the following artists who shared a kind gesture with me by illustrating a little something that's beyond awesome:
Okay now that I've gotten that out of the way here's something I really want to share with you all...!
Who I am at Thirty Years of Age - it's time to reflect back on my identity & what I know about friendships.
Being thirty right now I've come to learn a whole lot more about myself as well as to better understand what makes me, me. More importantly, identifying yourself is only half the battle, accepting who you are is another ball game altogether.
I lived a very fortunate and interesting life, even to the point where I've managed to convince others (ever since I debuted online as 'Darkspeeds' over 15 years ago) to think that being an artist seemed like my ultimate goal in life, when really it wasn't. And sure I may be wrong in saying that because of the fact that I've made an effort recently to test the waters overseas by studying at the Academy of Art University with my own investment of time and finances, however I found out that what I want out of life is to do the things that I'm happy with and be around family. I wanted security, I wanted to be home. That is why I came back.
Here's another thing that I learnt about myself - I still remember when I was studying in San Francisco, I caught up with & IRL (and their families) whenever I got the opportunity to do so. I've learnt that I'm actually an introvert. I had to clarify that for me more recently on a few Skype conversations over the past few months.
I'm not exactly 100% introverted because of my outgoing nature (based on my travels around the world for the past 8 years catching up with friends online and family relatives), energetic and proactive personality (this shows when I was attending five Summer of Sonic's, catching up with the Archie Publications panel with my own publications at two Comic Cons etc.) - so I do have some elements that extroverts have.
This was a real eye-opener for me when they made me realise the kind of person I am, there was actually a definition for it! Mind blowing.
Why was it mind-blowing? Well this comes to the subject of friendships.
How do you define a true friend?
Do you need a lot of friends to make you a happy person? Do people find you weird if you don't go out and socialise and do social activities on a daily basis?
This was something that was important to me as I wanted to truly understanding the concept. I already have my family (which I'm very blessed with), but what happens when they're not around? Who do you count on when you need help in future? Living a lonely life is not the end of the world but it sure is sad.
I don't have a lot of friends in real life back home, true fact.
I have the luxury of spending quality time with my family (and it's awesome being an uncle and a sibling at the same time), I do try to make an effort to take pleasure of interacting with family on a daily basis, however let me tell you this: when was the last time I went out of the way to spend more time with the people outside of my family?
I may be a shining star to my work colleagues (and I always show how happy I am to work with them, with a smile, and how rewarding it is to work well as a team and deliver excellent customer service everyday), I may be showing off how awesome I am at street-ball (urban term for real basketball outdoors) but do I make an effort to extend my time for them (like say go to a movie or go out with for dinner)? No. I'm very selective with who I spend my time with. And this is where I was questioning myself about whether I should be having more friends back home, friends whom I will be making the effort to spend time on a regular basis. Is it okay to not have friends? Can one live happily without them? How often do you have to spend time with your friends to maintain friendships? How does one perceive a friend?
Well according to my conversation with various work colleagues of different backgrounds and experiences (seriously, if you're young and you have the privilege of working with older people, do listen and learn from them - this is coming from experience) the answer is: there is no right or wrong answer - it's completely up to you on how you live your life.
Hearing that piece of advice really helped me to accept that it's okay to be someone who doesn't go out of their way to meet new people and make friendships out of it - it's actually normal practice. Can you imagine the burden of my confusion on friendships being lifted off my shoulders after hearing that? Furthermore you only really need a handful of friends in life, enough that you can count on one hand, even if you meet them once or twice a month, or if you're in a long-distance relationship then keep in touch once in a while, so long as you have a connection with them in the first place. Because at the end of the day when it comes to friends it's all about the quality, not the quantity.
Anyways, going back to my discovery of being an introvert, I've come to accept that I'm a very selfish person - in the fashion of: "I'd rather spend time for myself and doing things I really enjoy doing that doesn't involve extending your social life elsewhere" - e.g. exploring new places in Perth, doing my art commissions, working on the next comic drama, spend time with family where possible. This is a quality of an introvert because they would rather focus their energy elsewhere for self-reflection and self-discovery, and if lucky, you'll be able share your discoveries with the small handful of friends you can love and trust.
This is where it gets a little frustrating for me - to you lot I don't seem selfish at all. Because of all this enthusiasm that I have, my artwork, videos, tutorials, blogs, and comics that I've created over the past decade - they have been, in your words,'an inspiration', and 'an act of giving back to the community'. And hearing all these wonderful things from you guys is what keeps me going as being a creative individual and I thank you kindly for your words of encouragement - genuinely. However to further justify my frustration my family doesn't really see the things I have achieved online based on your feedback because what matters to them more are the results I achieve back home in real life - i.e. my progression and stability in my employment at Crown Perth, my well-being and how I treat and respect my family (and when you come to think about it, they're absolutely right).
Anyways the point is I've learnt recently to accept both views and move on.
I've come to accept that I'm a creative, outgoing, enthusiastic, talented, and introverted individual and that it's okay to be selfish and not have to worry about not having so many friends back home in real life.
In these thirty years I've learnt that it's important to life live to the fullest, in your own way. And also, don't ever take things for granted.
Here are some more tips to share from my experiences as a not-your-usual introvert:
i) Love yourself - your personality, your values, and the natural talent that's in you that moves you forward in life.
ii) Accept yourself, the good AND bad. You're not perfect, sure as hell will you come to know how much of hypocrite you can be in real life at some stage. Don't feel bad about crying, even if you're a guy, just let out the emotions, it'll make you become a better person. Do your best to smile and inspire others with a positive attitude but at the same time a realistic outlook in life.
iii) Keep doing the things that make you happy. As mum will tell me: Look after yourself, then look after others - this way you learn to keep doing things that will make others happy.
iv) Spread happiness by developing yourself, respecting others and giving back without asking anything in return (~ this I'm still trying to work on as it's a true weakness of mine that I still continue to experience ~ something that I've learnt will make or break family bonds and friendships if you're not careful).
If you follow these tips your quality of life improves and you'll become a better person over a lifetime.
Feedback from you guys in thanks for my inspiration and enthusiasm!
Last but not least I want to remind you all that I really appreciate feedback that genuinely reflects back on the things I do as a creative person online and offline. Let me go back to what I mentioned at the beginning of my write-up regarding: "some special comments that I've received and saved up since coming back home to Perth, Western Australia." And here they are.
From Dib, a very talented voice actor and audio engineer from the StarPost Productions team, had this to say on Skype one day:
[15-Dec-14 12:56:44 PM] Ability Phoenix:
Hey, I just wanted to say thank you so much for that shout-out and your best wishes for all of StarPost in your Issue #49 Comic Drama. One of my life long dreams is to give back to the Sonic Community in any way I can. I'm really glad that you, someone that I looked up to in the community as I grew up is noticing all of our hard work and wishing us the best! Thanks so much, Elson! Keep Smiling!
~ aka Dib
Now I didn't know Dib until Ashley told me about the Starpost Productions team. I caught up with Dib for a live-audition for my NORDGUARD the Movie project one day, and though it was only brief, I found out how how amazing the guy is for the skills he had for the performing arts and his passion for audio engineering (all self-taught!). He was very approachable and shared a lot of things in common (Sonic the Hedgehog being one of them), but what made it special was the fact that he told me all about how I had been an inspiration to him from way back - that to me was truly humbling.
And last but not least there was this artist on deviantART who wrote to me one day, and I totally didn't expect what I was about to discover. He goes by , here was his message:
Thank You! from: UltimateLife234 to: darkspeeds
Hello Elson. My name is Ryan Lai and I personally wanted to thank you for all of the work you do. My first introduction to your artwork was through the Sonic Adventure 2 manga that you posted. That comic and your storytelling was what got me into comics, and soon enough I started making my own.
I'm sure you receive messages like these all the time, but I felt it needed to be said anyways. Back then I was fueled solely by passion, and your art to this day provides me with the quintessential spark that brings that passion to life.
You have been an enormous source of inspiration to me, and your SA2 comic especially was an excellent motivational boost. It really got me through some rough times in my life. It was a part of my childhood, and I don't think I'm ever going to forget it or the effect it had on me.
Thank you again, and happy drawing!
With Sincerest Respect,
Ryan Wai-Kiong Lai
Now while I was flattered by the things he wrote I did the usual round of researching on the person to get a better picture of who wrote to me. Turns out that this guy has committed to a career in story boarding and visual development in the multimedia arts & entertainment industry and already has under been taught by animation legends such as Disney's Art Director, Ellen Jin Over, and Disney Layout Artist Robert St. Pierre. He also worked on professional projects for Dreamworks TV and internships at Hoax Films and Pipsqueak Films. You can check out of the full details on his personal portfolio.
I mean, holy cow. He's gone a long way into the 'art game' and I'm thanked for being an inspiration to him. Man, what more can I say? I'm really proud of the guy, I'm impressed and deeply humbled by his feedback and I would like to wish him all the best in his career.
Nevertheless that is all I have for today, thank you for reading, thank you for your encouragement, and may I continue to inspire you guys till the very end.
Just got back from work everyone, it's almost 5AM and I still got one more shift to go before three days off!
I really had an AWESOME 30th birthday day with my family in the mornin' - dim sum lunch followed by cake, tea and looking through travel photos of a recent trip by my sisters and family in Japan, then Warmachine with my big bro and nephews towards the evening. During the evening I went to work and was invited to another cake and birthday wishes from colleagues - you guys were fabulous.
I'm going to wake up later at noon to reply back to family and friends who posted on Facebook and deviantART. Much love to you all, may you continue to inspire others and live life to the fullest.
Turning Thirty Tomorrow!
Gonna post this now before I get bombarded with birthday messages on the front-page. lol Please feel free to post them here instead!
I will share my message of thanks the day after sojust before I run off to work, and get ready for birthday celebrations with the family in the following day here's a quick mention to those who have already posted B-day gift-art to me this week! Thanks guys!
Awesome news to share, Tracy J. Butler has exceeded beyond her milestone goal of working on her Eisner-nominated webcomic series full-time, all thanks to the support of fans and an initiative called Patreon. A big congratulations to her for making the brave and bold step into creating comics full-time whilst quitting her job (from the gaming industry) in the process. Here's a video to check out as an introduction to her initiative:
If you haven't heard of Patreon then I'm sure you're familiar with the concept of 'crowdfunding' or initiatives like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. The elements are similar but the difference is that the money you put in for the initiative is focused more-so on the individual/creator rather than project as a whole. The money you put in will support the creator directly each month to have them deliver content in good faith, whereas in a Kickstarter the money you put in involves the risk of not getting anything in return if the project fails. Here's an article on the differences if you'd like to review the concept in more detail.
I got word from another highly dedicated and talented comic artist, David, who is working with his wife Liz on the webcomic series called Dreamkeepers (which you guys already know I'm a big fan of). He's just posted an article in support of Lackadaisy and his support for indy artists goes far deeper than just throwing money into an initiative you support. What we have here is something that is revolutionary for many independent artists if all the right steps are taken and we need to see more ambassadors of this initiative to make it work - and as a result of the process may it help inspire others to do the same and make a success out of it (in fact I know some very talented friends who are seriously looking into this option if the typical 'work for a studios' route doesn't work out after graduating from their illustration/animation studies). David's article on the subject can be reviewed below:
This is why I personally feel the need to share this with you all, even though I made a decision not to live the 'art game', I can still admire and support as a 'patreon' the truly hardworking and talented artists to achieve their dream - quality works like Lackadaisy (and Dreamkeepers) who are already creating amazing content but need the backbone of funding to support them full-time.
So to review, if you have a real passion to support artists of excellent caliber and you have some funds to invest into their creative content and services, then by all means head straight for Lackadaisy's Patreonand show your support (I know I have, and I know that there'll be good karma out of this eventually).
If you're not convinced on the quality of Tracy's work, or haven't seen her stuff before, check out this sketch compilation she's done for previous clients who chipped in extra for illustrations along with the sale of her first book.
Two words: world-class (and years of mileage for someone to get this far into the 'art game').
In other news I've still got the following clients to complete commissions for:
With regards to Leonartist06's commission here's what I've snapped for thumbnails and a reference for the pose I'll be using to help me out on rendering and details:
I decided the 'jump-down-on-the-bad-guys' Spider-man-like pose wasn't dramatic enough, so I was at work yesterday during break and sketched out another pose which can be seen at the bottom-left of the photo (ha ha, I used a Crown Perth notepad, the company's logo is there to be seen!). Anyways, it looks much better right?
Here's a prime example of when to apply realistic anatomy into an illustration of this style... In the case of my current client's characters, and the way he depicts them in his drawings, it works perfectly. Here are the original references (species-wise, the man is a Mandrill whilst the woman a Flying Fox):
And here are some progress shots to share around:
You will notice that I got help on tightening details regarding the structure of the human anatomy (male and female) as well as the lighting for rendering the final image by using a really handy app called ARTPOSE.
The program is quick and easy to use, and it's super affordable. It allows you to custom-make poses with limited of options for body types and hairstyles - what's even cooler is that it features over 20 different types of pre-rendered poses that you can use and tweak from!
I tried to manipulate as closely as possible to my client's request for the pose he was looking for on his commission and it took me about a few minutes each to re-create the poses for both genders. Here is the male version:
I have to thank because he was the one who introduced this program to me when I was studying back at the AAU. I didn't get to using the program until now! Thanks bro as always!
Hope this will encourage others who own an I-Pad and are serious about improving on their illustration work to download the program and fully utilise it for your own benefit. All the best!
Tonal Composition Studies ~ Try It Today!
I recently stumbled upon a really awesome article (by art instructor Chris Legaspi) covering an aspect in composition for illustration and paintings.
I STRONGLY recommend you to check it out because understanding composition and value are some of the keys to constructing a truly captivating and beautiful piece of art - and these principles can be carried through not just illustration but other areas of visual arts like photography and graphic design!
When I have time I'm going to post some studies of my own in future and hopefully inspire others to just take an hour or two of their week to grasp the basics, or if you're an intermediate level artist, capture the essence of an illustration using the elements of composition and value.
Right now I'm working on my second client's commission which involves two characters - depicted in a portraiture. was very fortunate to provide me a direct reference (FYI the illustration is not my work) on how he'd like his final artwork to look like. I took the liberty of analyzing different compositions for before I begin my sketch. Here are some options) with quick tonal applications to establish value and mood.
My client has chosen the first option which is not a bad choice at all! The only thing that I feel would be breaking the rules a little is that the points of interest (i.e. the lines intersecting with one another the create a point) are not hitting areas like the face, hands or (in the lady's case) the breast.
Nevertheless it'll be interesting to see how it works out in the end! Art is about following certain principles to achieve perfection but sometimes breaking rules and making happy mistakes can also lead you to unbelievable results.
For those who have read up till here and are able to spare a couple of hours this week, I kid you not on the fact that if you do this study you will see improvement in the way you illustrate your next drawing. Hot tip: Just like the instructor says - LOOK AT OLD MASTERS PAINTERS or GOLDEN AGE ILLUSTRATORS - that would be one of the best places to start. Chris, in his video, mentions Anders Zorn, Edgar Payne and Dean Cornwell. I will also include my own for your additional studies: John Singer Sargent, Mead Schaeffer, Rembrandt, and Norman Rockwell.
Have fun and please by all means send me a link and I will post up and give feedback on your studies if you'd like!
What a difference! Making changes to your artwork.
Whoops! Just woken up from a long nap! XD However I will share with you something that I've learnt and it's so important if you feel that something just doesn't 'feel' right when it comes to your illustration.
Earlier I was sketching out my client's first character Bonnie - she's quite the gun fighter! I was applying the usual style that I've been developing since my experience at the AAU - a higher focus on anatomical structure on anthro cartoon figures.
I quickly realise that there was something wrong... It just didn't look right.
Why though...? I've been drawing in this style recently with success, but on this occasion it just didn't 'feel' right.
Then it struck me. I remembered this exercise I did on Shadow the Hedgehog (please refer to the middle section).
I then decided to scrap the usual style that I use on my illustration work and place more emphasis on a looser/toon approach whilst taking note of corrective anatomical structure on the figure. Here is the result.
Phew-wee!! MUCH BETTER.
So glad I made the right decision! The moral here is, if somethin' don't 'feel' right, CHANGE IT.
Let's get back to drawing!
Oh and thanks for sharin' your thoughts on my previous write-up! Happy to see you guys and gals takin' a moment to appreciate what you got back home!
I just want to tell you all that at whatever point in your life you should always spare a moment, even a couple of minutes, to reflect back and admire what you have in life right now. I know not all of you are lucky enough to live in fortunate circumstances (e.g. you may be involved in a war-torn nation, live in poverty or disease-ridden places, have a family that's abusive and unsupportive, or the fact that you live with a long term and painful disability that will deter you from doing the things a normal human being can do).
On the inside I feel very lucky to be blessed with a loving family, a small group of friends, a roof over my head, a good job, a healthy mind and body, a beautiful country and money to spend on little luxuries. I'm currently on my third day off work, Autumn has come and I dearly miss the rain and overcast days (god it was a beautiful overcast today, makes me want to go out and start painting plein air with acrylics), caught up with certain friends lately, spent quality time with family and finally I got six commission requests in less than 4 hours last night. Life feels amazing right now.
I got myself some artbooks while I did some shoppin' this mornin' (the other two books on the second photo were bought on another occasion last month), I'll be using those for inspiration as well as building up my knowledge on creative fundamentals and techniques. I feel that I need to get myself into watercolors after experiencing the wonders of what my Clothed Figure Drawing instructor Thomas Gronbukt can do with the medium (while I was at the AAU in San Fran last year), and also how beautiful sequential art can look and feel in watercolor - NORDGUARD and BLACKSAD.
I got myself a starter pack and a mixing tray to get me prepped for a watercolor session anytime this month to try out.
Anyways, just needed to get that out of the way and hopefully it'll make others feel a little more humble about where they are at right now.
Righty then, it's time to get back to the drawing board! Starting with 's commission! Gonna keep it action packed for his piece!
APRIL-MAY COMMISSIONS - CLOSED! (Order of Clients)
Geez that was super fast! Thanks to everyone who have approached me within 4 hours of posting this journal entry!
Here are the confirmed clients and ORDER I'll be working by:
Looking forward to putting my pencils on each of your requests!
APRIL-MAY COMMISSIONS OPEN - 6 slots available!
Pretty much what the title says! First come, first serve basis!
A special thanks to my previous clients on their offers! A friendly reminder - not all commissions are accepted, please understand and respect my final decision on that.
I made an update on commission types and I shall bring it up once again over here regarding a brand new option:
You can have as many or as little as you want! I can fit a maximum of 5 characters per page.
[Cost] = $10 USD per character bust
The advantage of the character busts option is the fact that you can have many more characters drawn for the same price of two CHARACTER ILLUSTRATIONS. The the only exchange is you'll lose out on the unique individuality that ONE or TWO character illustrations can have in the final artwork.
Okay getting there! Keeping the sketch as simple as possible since most of the work will be re-created digitally with custom textured brushes. The sketch is a guideline - I'm still making sure that the composition is in check, I want Mr. Pieces to be the center of attention with hidden subtle details in the background to suggest a sense of unease being with the character - afterall you may think that he's the hero/survivor in some horror flick, I don't want that!
Alright when I'm done with the sketch I'll show some WIPs on the digital side of things. Oh and if you're wondering what I'm listening to during this exercise...
Mr. Pieces... from 'AMONG THE FOG'
Currently coming up with concepts for 'AMONG THE FOG' ~ psychological horror themed short stories based off rural towns and forests of West Coast America.
Here's a quick write-up to kick start the idea:
Those who are among the fog, live in a selfish world of doubt, curiosity, and danger.
The ones who see beyond the fog learn the truth and survive, and to those who don't are consumed by the madness of the fog and are trapped forever in fear of the unknown.
The victims among the fog eventually die a fool, a puppet, or simply perish with regrets.
These are the stories of the missing and the knowing.
I'm going to start off with a character whom I was going to create as the protagonist to a previous concept called 'HUNTER' who is a survivor of his own personal demons whilst enduring threats that seemed supernatural. Now he's going to be an antagonist in 'Among the Fog' - with a visual design of an everyday man, however he is someone whom you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. He's the one with the glasses pictured on the very left hand side of the photo.
Here's a closeup to what I'm about to draw - I started out with sketch using a 0.7mm 2B mechanical pencil. I created a scene that would portray this character nicknamed Mr. Pieces (for now) because he is one of those who are lost among the fog, blinded with an ambition to dismember people he find in the forest and stitch them back together in hopes to find an exact match of his dead 10 year fraternal twins (drowned previously by a misguided and jealous ex-wife). He is also keeping a very close eye of women who match the looks of his ex-wife who killed his children.
Hopefully I can complete by next morning using speed-painting techniques used by pros from the concept design (character and environment) industry. It'll be an exciting prospect since it's something I've always wanted to learn to improve my workflow as well as creating set pieces that will help illustrate my ideas of my next graphic novel idea effectively.
Now then, let's grab myself some dinner and get started right away!
To ~ I'll begin your commission tomorrow afternoon! I look forward to drawing those twins from the series that you've commissioned me to work on!
Sonic has Tintin eyes! XXD
Back Into Illustration!! (Part II)
Oooo yes! Easter day off tomorrow! Hope ya'll have a wonderful Good Friday!
I just got back from work and an excellent game of street ball. Took a shower, rested a bit and decided to celebrate the late evening with my next freebie sketch, this time it's based of 's comic series 'The Murder of Me'~ go check it out if you haven't already!
Anyways I kick-started my illustration session with my beloved SEGASonic radio series: The Sonic Hourby the Joscelyne brothers - Svend and Rory. It is pretty much the thing I listen to every time I work on a commission or an illustration exercise. Not the best thing to listen to when you're trying to think creatively but it's just so much fun when you're working on tedious details! I'm still stuck on Season One because I can't get enough of their improv show they created throughout the season called: The Police Lieutenant Smith.
Holy cripes... IT'S BEEN TWO MONTHS of a break since I really got myself back in the habit of drawing and painting!
I've been really distracted by the fantastic experience working on the NORDGUARD project, with voice acting and audio production as a key motivator of my recent creative initiatives.
However I will say that I've missed picking up a mechanical pencil and drawing away on a good piece of cardstock paper...
It's about time I got back into illustration - not just the physical application of it but also get back into discussion on what makes good art. I also want to share people's art too and give them the exposure they deserve. As artists we are here to help each other and inspire - let's make an effort to achieve that this coming April!
In fact let's start off with a freebie that won from answering my question on this journal about 's comic series that has been constantly a hot topic within the DA/Sonic community. PrincessJey requested that I draw - in here own words: "Ok um... Can you do Bone scourge from issue 10 floating around evilly grinning?"
Here's the result! HE-MAN reference for the win btw!
He was fun to draw! Because it was a combination of four elements: flesh, bone, aura, and mineral. I love the details and overall complexity of this character design by Evan.
May I also remind you the importance of having references for the more tricky poses, or when you want to place more emphasis on details and accuracy of a particular section of the illustration. Secondly HAVE A CAMERA and MIRROR handy (even an I-pad will work)! In today's case let's look at Bony Scourge's right hand and compare to the photo below.
Okay now that I've given you a useful reminder let's move onto the next thing...
I've got another challenge and a free sketch to give away that links up to the series I'll inquiring!
Take a look at this comic page below:
What is the name of this comic series, who is the artist (make sure you paste the icon on your message/reply) and just what happened to Sonic? How did he end up in bed, waking up from unconsciousness with Bunnie by his side? Last but not least, who were the other two hedgehogs that accompanied him throughout his adventures?
If you answer correctly then you get a sketch of TWO characters from this series interacting with one another.
Oh and I almost forgot! I meant to show what the artist drew for me the other day as part of her exercise to illustration portraits of her friends!
Pretty neat huh?
Last but not least, to my wonderfully patient client here is a progress shot of your commission! I'm getting straight back into it right after I post this journal! It's been alot of fun and it's been insightful colouring Sel with a new painting approach on Photoshop!
Phew! What an update! I'll be posting another update tomorrow since it'll be my day off work for one last run for the week! Keep on drawing and inspiring everyone!
BLACKSAD: Amarillo (Behind-the-scenes recording!)
Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnd time to get silly and have fun! X3
"Noooooooooo... You ignorant PIECE OF SHIT! ARTAUD is the greatest!"
I think I had too much fun with that line, so many takes...! XXD
Bonus points to the ones who can spot a PRINTED comic page in the video and can name the title and artist of the comic! (hint: it features my one of favourite hedgehog!!)
Just woken up, had a long day at work and the rest was much needed for more on-stage work tomorrow for the next few days! Resting the vocals is paramount for this job and I'm started to learn the limits of my projection on stage per shift which has been an enlightening experience.
Nevertheless it's raining outside in the evening, one of my favourite feelings of the day, and I just got on and found out that my friend Tasha's (aka Donniegirl12 - my go to for Tails' voice and she also voiced as Freki recently on the NORDGUARD the Movie project). Do check it out as she is considered in my books to have some of the best audio productions in the realm of comic drams (most of them being Archie Comic's Sonic the Hedgehog/SONIC UNIVERSE series).
The character that I played is slowly becoming a bad-ass... (I still haven't read book three or four yet so I'm sure he's got his reasons for his behaviour towards the end of book two). I mean look at him!
*DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!*
"You got any last words for me... Punk?" He's doing a dirty Harry over there mate!
Nevertheless do check out Tasha's latest comic drama, you won't be disappointed! In fact, I'm going to do that right after I finished writing this journal - there is one last thing to point out and that's the recent post on TSSZ news on Archie Publications sales figures on the comic book series (post-reboot). You can read all about it here but I shall share with you my personal thoughts.
I used to have that complete optimism for the series where regardless of how good or bad the comic is making it's run for it's money but you know what, I'm keeping an open mind this time.
Keep in mind that the figures you see up there are sales figures from DIRECT DISTRIBUTION to mainstream comic book stores (of all sizes from across the United States). The sales, from my assumption, are not a complete reflection as we have yet to consider distribution through magazine stands at giants like WAL-MART and digital sales through e-commerce. However if you use these figures to compare to what's out now - February 2015 Comic Book Sales Figures - you'll get an idea of what they're up against in the competitive comic book/graphic novel industry.
I'd say they are hitting the mid-minor-to-low range in comparison to the other IP's available - is this a good sign or not for the future out Sonic Archie comics? Well it's something for you to think about.
I believe it's surviving on four factors:
i) It's Sonic, the IP in itself is hugely recognised worldwide and it's been going on for over 20 years. Every kid on the block should recognise his face. ii) Pre-Genesis Wave era (starting from the time team Ian/Tracey/Paul was on). iv) The quality in the artwork has improved by miles when compare to the golden age stuff. iii) Worlds Collide IP
Now that you have some info equipped I can share with you my thoughts on how the series (based on the figures) is going.
So far what I've read in the past 6 months, it just doesn't have the same magic as it did pre-Genesis wave. I remember vividly that I've always looked forward to purchasing the comics at the comic book store in person and proudly unwrapping it at home and reading it in my favourite spot over a nice cuppa. I smiled at the fact that I'm a proud fan of the series and that I support the artists and publishing team every step of the way... Until my experience in the United States.
After coming back to Australia I've been trying to generate the same magic in hopes to embrace the stories and new content post-Genesis Wave and sad to say that I'm in line with some friends who don't find the characters or stories as exciting or that great as all.
With respects, Archie Publications has done ALOT to get it's two feet back into the game post-Genesis Wave, no doubt about that, but in my opinion it's going to take some time before it may perhaps reproduce the same magic as I once saw in the series.
Also, there have been people asking me on my thoughts on World's Collide - I'm not interested in that concept to be honest and I'm certainly not looking forward to the next. I'm an adult fan of the good stories that came out during the Ian/Tracey/Paul era... Like just when we were going to find out if Team Freedom and Fighters will bring Sally back from robotisation, and how will that collide with the conflict that Silver has in tracking down and eliminating the traitor; the Secret Freedom Fighters, the Mercian Freedom Fighters, Knuckles saga, St. Geoffrey and how he may get out of that horrible curse that is Ixis Naugus playing host in his body - and perhaps his wife Hershey Cat may have been key to breaking that curse (I had a feeling she wasn't dead, yet).
So there you have it, that's my two cents on the matter for the moment.
Oh and don't even mention about SONIC BOOM the comic, I've unsubscribed it last week. It's great with the kiddies but it sure didn't stick with me for long. Here's hoping that the following issues of 'Sonic the Hedgehog' and 'SONIC UNIVERSE' will get me back in a healthy mindset to continue supporting the series.
Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject, I'm curious to learn what you guys think on Archie Publication's Sonic the Hedgehog comic series!