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:star: Pencil Types and Photo References (Easy Hands)!

I recently had someone by the name of :iconamalika: to ask the question about the pencils I use. It was a good question and upon answering her question I felt the need to show what I was using and where it was applied! But first let's take a hands on look at how using references from your own photos can really help tighten your illustration - especially for those hard to do poses from any part of the body.

In this case we'll focus on the hands (hands are a pain in the ass to draw right?)

I started out with a quick thumbnail of :iconcooperthehedgehog:'s commission (featuring his friend's character :iconsonniejaye:). I had a solid idea at the time and it only required a couple of thumbnails to solidify my idea - it was a matter of choosing which orientation would best capture the moment between the two characters Art and Cooper.

Untitled by darkspeeds

Now I'm pretty confident with my figure drawing by now but I still need some extra help with hands. So I took them myself with my brother's Lumix camera. Here are some shots I came up with to match the idea I had based on the thumbnail.

Hands 1 by darkspeedsHands 2 by darkspeeds
Hands 3 by darkspeedsHands 4 by darkspeeds

Great, so I had dome my prep and research, now let's do some sketching...!

Untitled by darkspeeds

Not bad huh?

So after I've laid out the framework it's time to render it fully, this was how it looked like:

COMMISSION #20 Cooperthehedgehog ($40) by darkspeeds

Not too shabby at all! Now then, let's giveyou guys a little exercise, which of the numbered photos matched the hands on the illustration?

Well I'll make it even easier for you and show how it compares and matches from photo to illustration:

Show of hands by darkspeeds

So what's the lesson here? DON'T BE AFRAID TO USE REFERENCES!!! Encourage yourself to put in that little bit of extra effort on research cuz it'll go a long way in the long run. ;)

Now then back to our earlier inquiry about the type of pencils I use for this commissioned illustration - trust me you don't need any smancy-fancy to create stunning graphite drawings. Just go to your local art store and buy some graphite pencils, any brand you like - they'll do the job, seriously.

If you really want to know what I have been using then it's the standard 'Goldfaber' Faber Castell GRAPHITE PENCILS - the horizontally striped ones that has blue and gold coating on it. Yup you can get it at your local office supplies or newsagent, they're cheap and reliable.

You can get yourself the whole range that comes conveniently in a box - i.e. 5H, 4H, 3H, 2H, H, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, and  8B but that's a lot of pencils that you don't really need if you're just starting out. Try out a few of the basic ones first like H and 2B, then when you want to get more technical with your rendering then it is advised to purchase more types of pencils that range outside the H and 2B

On this project I used 3H, H, HB, & 4B. Really that's all you need. Something really soft and something really hard in value.

Also important when it comes to adding arsenal to your graphite drawing tool collection are MECHANICAL PENCILS. God damn they will come in handy for the more pin-point stuff you need to draw for lines. If you want precise and clean strokes, you'll be thankful to have purchase some. And because I can afford some smancy-fancy stuff I paid a little extra to get myself Engineer/Draftsman/Architect quality mechanical pencils - they are much more durable, holds your leads tighter than your cheaper brands and they look sexy. Go on, spoil yourself, it's worth the extra. I bought three sizes - 0.3mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7mm (thinnest, thin, thicker lines).

I decided to grab all of my tools in one hand to show you what it looks like while I was working on Cooper's commission the other day. Why? Because I can.

Untitled by darkspeeds

Now here's the fun part, now that you know what type of pencils I use on the regular for graphite illustrations, let's take a look at which specific pencils have been used on certain sections of the illustration - I take into account the LINE-ART and RENDERING. Go and have a wander and observe carefully - you may learn something useful!

Pencil shading diagram Darkspeeds by darkspeeds

And that's it! Hope you'll gain something out of this mini behind-the-scenes.

Remember my article on how awesome it is to have three screens? Well here's how it looks like for my next quick project (my client being :iconja-the-shadow-hunter:):

Untitled by darkspeeds

And once again I'm using the same set of graphite and mechanical pencils like my previous projects.

Untitled by darkspeedsUntitled by darkspeeds

Anyways it's adios from me! Now go out there and start drawing! Get the right tools, get inspired and tighten your illustration work! Good luck! *thumbs up*

:star: YUSH! More SONIC BOOM TV Footage!

Just sit back and relax. This is fun to watch!

Share your thoughts! And also let me know if you have attended the SONIC BOOM Convention in New York City! Share with us your experience and what you did at the event.

Last but not least, why does Tails look SO ADORABLE with every new screenshot. They look like brothers having a conversation:

Tails: "Sonic you suck balls."
Sonic: "Bite me."

:D :giggle: :D

Screen-Shot-2014-10-05-at-00.15.22 by darkspeeds

:star: The Advantage of Three Screens!

As many of you know I'm currently working on Geo's commission that involved the production of two character sheets. Having more screens means you have the ability to hold more visual information at any one time. I potentially have another screen but it's not in the form of a monitor but my ipad mini. 

I just want to show you how beneficial it is to have this visual information when you're illustrating or working on a project for a client.

Shots of my Workstation 
Screen00 by darkspeeds
Screen01 by darkspeeds

Screens 01, 02 & 03 (Left, Middle, & Right)
Screen02 by darkspeeds
Screen03 by darkspeeds
Screen04 by darkspeeds

If there is a downside to having three screens well I guess you can say that it will eat up more on your energy bills (not much in the US but in Australia electricity is pretty expensive). If you manage your usage well you can conserve energy during studio time.

Another downside some might say is that having too much information can be too jarring for the eye or that it'll complicate the process but I think if you have a strong idea and have solid references that go with your idea (arranged and managed properly) then you'll be able to enhance the visual impact of an illustration. In the long term it's worth - give it a go!

:star: Character Sheet Commission (NEW!)

:iconkafelnikov: was kind to give me a unique job that involves the visual design of his two female characters from 'The Wayward Astronomer' in the format of a CHARACTER SHEET. 

Do you know who you are? by Kafelnikov

Now I haven't done a commission that involved the final artwork to be a character sheet but I found the prospect to be fun and a nice change of pace! If it all goes well I shall add it to the list of commissions I'm able to offer as a service (btw I have updated the terms and conditions of my commissions page, do check it out if you have any inquiries!).

Here are some concept sketches to get myself a warm-up!

CM27 Kafelnikov 2 concepts 01 2014 by darkspeeds
CM27 Kafelnikov 2 concepts 02 2014 by darkspeedsCM27 Kafelnikov 2 concepts 03 2014 by darkspeeds

:star: Sonic and Chip Talking in Chinese! :D

Cantonese to be more precise. Go check out how they sound like! X3

My Sonic Werehog voice in Cantonese sounded like Silvers! ;_; lol XXD

Projects like these are fun to record and audio edit as always! I'm very pleased with the lip sync, performance, and sound production matching to the original cut-scene from the game.

My Cantonese ain't that great so I hope someone could correct me on any mispronunciations or any other phrases that I could have replaced on the dialogue to reflect that. Hope you enjoy!

:star: Mr. Monster Guy Is Back!! (Cut-scene in Chinese)

It's a lovely Sunday evening and I'm in the mood to finish a 'Sonic Cut-scene in CHINESE' project that I've been planning to complete while I was studying in the US. 
I've done the one for Sonic Lost World which can be viewed below:

Now it's time to give Sonic Unleashed a go! I love voicing as Chip, Sonic, AND the Werehog in this scene (and the sad Ice-cream Man... Another one of Mario's distant cousin I reckon... XD) - but it'll be very interesting to hear how they sound like in Chinese - Cantonese to be more precise. 

Let's see how I go! I'll probably be able to finish it by the morning! This will be fun to do! ;) 

For those who haven't watched the cut-scene before do check it out in English first - you'll see the contrast later in Cantonese! 8-)

:star: Sakurabana Club and Commissions FULL!

I don't often post stuff up for people but :iconfly-sky-high:'s been pretty cool and I want to raise awareness of her situation and the lack of funding for her local community club - actually it's a Japanese pop culture convention that's doing a lot of good for her community in Serbia - in fact it's personal for Sky since the cause saved her life. And now she wants to give something back.

Check out the full details here, spare a few dollars and she'll commission you some fantastic sketch work - or fully rendered drawings.

In other news I'm currently half-way through working on :iconloor101:'s commission. I originally had Sonic Werehog's jaw wide open, but Elle suggested that clenched his teeth - I think it worked out better having Sonic a little less ferocious to show contrast to his threat that is Kncukles in werechidna mode.

Eruptive Deadlock Elle's Commission 02binked 26thS by darkspeeds

Here's what it looks like with inks and flats.

Eruptive Deadlock Elle's Commission 03colour 26thS by darkspeeds

So yeah hope ya dig!

So far my list of clients for the month of October are totally filled up - the roster includes:

:iconchicago-pd-stars: :iconironhedgehog: :iconja-the-shadow-hunter: :iconkafelnikov: :iconimmarite:

November slots will be available during mid-October. Send me a comment, private message and such to potentially get yourself in line. Thanks for your business! 8-)

:star: Much better! (1 Commission Slot Left!!) (OCT Commission Slots CLOSED!!)

After tweaking to a more 'Sonikky' look, based on my client's request, the first sketch didn't look right and hence I wasn't satisfied with the outcome. When this happens I take up another option that I feel invested in - Option #2 came to mind. So I started doodlin' away and presto! I think it was the right choice to go with the one below!

Eruptive Deadlock Elle's Commission 01sketch 26thS by darkspeeds

Anyways :iconkafelnikov: has taken the second remaining commission slot available for the month of October - who will take the last one? Good luck and I look forward to doing business with ya. ;) 8-)


Looks like :iconimmarite: has taken the final slot! Thanks guys, NOVEMBER slots will be available for booking after mid-October 2014. I'll remind you guys about this again on a future journal post. *thumbs up*

:star: Werehogs Attack! (3 Commission Slots Available!) (2 left!)

I love showing WIPs! Here's how it looks so far! 

Elle Commission notes2 SEP2014 by darkspeeds

In the case of this project I have forgotten to mention to my client that my style that I'm utilising is much more anthro than the toon-Sonic style (this was evident on my previous sketch commissions last month). 

Still it doesn't hurt to inform to my client if they are okay with this arrangement. :iconloor101: do let me know if you're prefer something more toony/Sonikky because their designs (especially the face) is much more different than the one I'm using - I think it's cooler to get something drawn differently this way (you get more details too due to the realistic anatomical nature of the design). However, at the end of day, it's your call. No pressure! ;)

Also, this just in: :iconja-the-shadow-hunter: has taken up the first slot. I have two slots left for October! Better hurry!

:star: The Werehog Has a Tail! (+ OCT Commission Slots!)

Elle Commission notes SEP2014 by darkspeeds

Indeed it is true! I just added on to him, too bad Sonic you just gotta stick with it! 

Werehog: Graaww.. (= (

Anyways October commission are open and I'm almost full already based on previous waiting-listers of the past month! :D

Right now I've got:

:iconloor101: :iconchicago-pd-stars::iconironhedgehog: so far confirmed for commissions. I had a few people in the past requesting to be in line including: :iconshadowremix: & :iconfriskecrisps:.

I'll open an extra THREE SLOTS to the public for the month of October - first come first serve basis.

Here's information on my rates and terms and conditions:

Darkspeeds' Commissions Info (Updated JUNE 2014):bulletgreen: WHAT'S ON OFFER? :bulletgreen:
Hi everyone! I've been meaning to make a page dedicated to what I can offer in terms of commissions! I'll keep this updated as my portfolio grows. Commission prices may change at any time but I'll try to keep it as fair as possible. Without further ado let's see what's on offer!
:bulletblue: [Description]
A drawing of one character posed on white background. This is done in a drawing style similar to what you'll find in a sketchbook!
:bulletred: [Cost] = $20 USD  (+$10 USD for additional characters)

:bulletblue: [Description]
A drawing containing the standard full-bodied character shot of your choice. Fully inked and colored. You also get the sketch, inked and base color files at HIGH RES along with the final render. Preferably can be used and edited as your personal perso

This should keep me busy. 8-)

:star: IT DOESN'T MATTEEEEEEEEEER (if you're having fun!)

I think my throat died after doing this. lmao 
Daymn Tony, how do you manage to go so high!!? XXXD 

Anyways I'm pretty pleased with the result, there were parts that can definitely improve or need fixing but I only have a limited amount of free time to spend on these. 

Also Jayhan (aka :iconjuliapopstar:) managed to link me to her recording and blimey is her take stella! Great job girl!

Now then, what will be my next song to attack...? Hmmm... I'm feel like a 'spy'... Yes... Hmmm...! 8-)

:star: Sonic's Theme - Tough to Crack That Vocal!

I gave Big's Theme a try the other night... And it turned out terrible!! LMAO! XXXD

So I decided to go for something else, one that I didn't expect to sing since it's kind beyond my vocal range - Tony Harnell's 'It Doesn't Matter', theme to Sonic the Hedgehog, not the SA2 version, the Sonic Adventure version! I'm up for a challenge. Check out my studio, I'm having too much fun this weekend.

Untitled by darkspeeds
Untitled by darkspeeds
Untitled by darkspeeds
Untitled by darkspeeds

:star: Hey Big Guy! Hey Little Guy! Wanna Sing With Me? 

I'm in a really good mood today. 

The weather here in Perth is excellent as we start to hit the first warm day of Spring - it actually takes me back to some wonderful memories of my time in San Francisco and California in general, I swear that you guys have awesome weather like we do in Australia.

Now then if you haven't heard the news SEGA have just recently released a repackaged Sonic Adventure Era soundtrack comprising the origianl vocal trax to Sonic Adventure's 1 & 2, PLUS, the INSTRUMENTALS!! And you know what that means... It's time to dig out that mic and sing along to your favourite tune karaoke style! :D We didn't have that opportunity for over 10 years and it's only until now they officially released the original RAW quality files of each vocal track from the SA series. Great Scott!

BwqhRviCcAIUiPx-1024x1024 small by darkspeeds

Jun  Senoue also did an amazing re-tune on the original Sonic Adventure 2's theme to Sonic the Hedgehog - It Doesn't Matter. If you haven't heard it already you're truly missing out cuz it's one hell of a kicker! You're too awesome Senoue-san!

Now then which one am I planning to record? Well the title to my journal is pretty much a give-away - I've ALWAYS wanted to do my take on that song! It'll either be a disaster or it'll sound pretty good but all in all I'm here to have a great time - and to relive the awesome tracks that got us into the spirit of the 'adventure era' of Sonic the Hedgehog (Dreamcast days for me).

So how about it? I dare any one of yas to record something and post a link to this page and I'll make mention of it! If it's good I'll post it, if it's awful, I'll still post it! We're here to have a party, let's celebrate with passion and pride (nice one T)! 8-) 

For more information on how to purchase individual copies of the songs or the full album go check out the news at The Sonic Stadium.

Oh and one last thing, I've been taking a break this whole week, mainly because I was takin' out my sister-in-law's friends up North for a mini roadtrip they have organised. It was most pleasant to spend quality time with family and relatives. I also got the chance to spend more quality time with my immediate family since I'm still in the process of looking for my new job.

And before I head off to do my recording I spent the past few days playing 'The Last of Us', and omg... It's intense!! Play it if you haven't already! I'm almost to the epic conclusion of this award-winning gaming title from Naughty Dog! Watch out for those Clickers!!

The Last Of Us Box Art-wallpaper-1280x800 by darkspeeds

:star: Great Advice to Writers (from David Lillie) :star:

I recently posted an article about great advice to artists who plan to tackle the creative media industries by Joe Madureira. Now I want to share with you yet another excellent article that concerns storytelling critique - who are these people who do give you critique and how can you tell whether it's good or bad , story telling tools commonly use by writers - what are these tools and is there a right or wrong way to using them?

David Lillie is the creator of the Dreamkeepers series, a successful self-publisher, writer, illustrator, and someone who advocates good story telling. His advice on the subject continues to be an inspiration but he'll take that one step further with this article he just recently posted on his blog. Go check it out.

Critiquing Critiquing Story

Cast In Shadow By Dreamkeepers-d7551th by darkspeeds

:star: Great Advice to Artists (from all walks of life) :star:

I couldn't stand having that 'cover' hanging in my front page for another day! So I bring you something completely opposite to what's bad in the arts/creative entertainment industry - something good and positive! Professional advice to be more precise but this guy named Joe Madureira (some of you will instantly recognise his art style in Marvel comics) knows what he's talking about, and he's one of the many hundreds of professional/commercial comic illustrators out there who are in the same boat. But what I like about Joe is that he's been very successful in his career, and after years of observation and feedback from aspiring artists he has decided to share some advice.

"But Elson, this is pretty much the same as any other professional artist who give the same kind of advice at Comic Con panels specials or Comic Artists Podcast..." True but he's one of those who don't generally like to instruct or be open to the public about what it takes to be a pro in the industry. And then one day he decided to write a blog about it because he was in a strange mood - I find that refreshing. Furthermore what I like about Joe's advice is that he tells it as it is - advice that is straightforward, real, and sincere. Think of it as a reminder or wake up call to those who want to go pro in the industry.

I for one do not want to go pro and earn a living from it (this decision was made after my year long experience living and studying a abroad in California a couple months ago) but I will tell you this - I'm still an artist who takes pride and joy of what art can do as a lifestyle and within that lifestyle I see many who look up to me on deviantART (a small percentage who are close to becoming pros in the industry) and still ask me the same old question of what it takes to break into the industry, and for those who are not taking it as seriously and would like art to become a part of their lifestyle (like mine) ask me what can they do to improve on their illustrations.

Well I shall leave Joe in your good hands, his article that is, to give you some answers. Cold hard facts and experience, proven for many years and it's never going to change, because the work you put in reflects what you get out of it. Take it away Joe!



Believe it or not there is a difference. I’m not usually a soapbox type guy, I don’t like instructing people, and I think I’m a terrible teacher. But hey, it’s Friday and I’m in a strange mood. So here goes:

I’ve noticed that a good number of my fans happen to be aspiring artists themselves. This is for all you guys. I get asked constantly: "Where should I go to school?""What classes should I take?" "What should I study for anatomy?" "What pencils and paper do you use?" "Should I be working digitally now instead of traditionally?" "How do I fix my poses? Learn composition? Perspective?" "When am I going to develop my own style?" "Who were your influences?" "Teach me how to draw hands!" The list goes on…

Here’s the deal. All of that stuff *is* important, and it may nudge you in the right direction. A lot of it you will discover for yourself. What works best for one person doesn’t work for another. That’s the beauty of art. It’s personal. It’s discovery. DON’T WORRY ABOUT ALL THAT CRAP!

Instead I’m going to answer the questions that you*SHOULD* be asking, but aren’t. These are things that have only recently occurred to me, after doing this for 20+ years. These things seem so obvious, but apparently they elude a lot of people, because I am surprised at how many ridiculously talented artists are 'failing'professionally. Or just unhappy. The beauty of what I’m about to tell you is that it doesn’t matter what field you’re in or what your art style is.

In no particular order:

1) DO WHAT YOU LOVE. If you are passionate about what you’re doing, it shows. If you’re having fun, it shows. If you’re bored, IT SHOWS. Some guys are able to work on stuff they have zero interest in, and still pull off great work, but I find that when I do this my motivation takes a huge hit. And Motivation is key. Money is not a great motivator. It’s temporary like everything else. And honestly, I’ve gotten paid the most money for some of theshittiest work I have ever done. That may sound awesome, but it’s not. And here’s why…

2) You MUST stay Excited and Motivated. Have you noticed that there are days you can’t draw a god damned thing? And some days you feel like you can draw anything? It’s 4am but you don’t notice because you are in the ZONE.Your hand is racing ahead of your mind and you can do no wrong?! Maybe it’s some new paper you got. Or a new program you’ve been wanting to try out. Or you just found some amazing shit on DeviantArt, or watched some movie that just makes you want to run straight to your board. This relates to the above because while it is possible to involve yourself in projects you aren’t excited about—maybe you need the cash, or think it will look good on your resume, whatever it is—it’s not going to last. You need to stay fresh. Expose yourself to new things. New techniques. You should be getting tired of your own shit on a fairly regular basis. Otherwise other people will.

3) Check your Ego. If you think you’re the shit, you’re already doomed. You may be really, really good at what you do, but there’s someone better. Sorry. There’s always plenty to learn, even for us old dogs. So when I meet young upstarts who have this sense of entitlement, or a know-it-all attitude, I just have to laugh. Some of the biggest egos I’ve ever witnessed were from people who have accomplished the least. Meanwhile, most guys who are supremely talented AND successful, and have EARNED the RIGHT to have an ego and throw their weight around, don’t. Why is that? It’s because…

4) RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT. This may be one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn. Early on, I didn’t value my relationships with people. Creatively or otherwise. I felt like I didn’t need anyone’s help and I could figure everything out on my own. Let’s face it,many of us become artists because we are reclusive, social misfits. We’d rather stay inside and draw shit than go outside and play. We like to live inside our own minds. Why not?! It’s awesome in there! And sometimes we don’t want to let other people in. But like I said—you can’t do it alone. I can honestly say that as much as I try to stay current, as much as I try to push my work and draw kick ass shit that will excite people, I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for all the other people I’ve met and learned from along the way. Guys who pulled strings for me. Took risks on me. Believed I was the right guy for the job. You need to manage your relationships. You need to network, and meet people.Drawing comics is still a pretty good place for reclusive types—but if you want to work in big studios—Making games, Films, animation, basically any other type of job on the planet, you’d better start making some connections. Be likeable. Be professional. That doesn’t mean be an opportunistic ladder climber. Fake people lose in the end. Be yourself, but be professional. It’s no secret that when people are hiring, our first instinct is to bring in people we know. It’s human nature. I don’t like unknowns, even if their portfolio is awesome. If we have a mutual connection, if they have great things to say about you, you’re in. If you have AMAZING artwork to show, and I call your last employer and they tell me what a pain in the ass you are to work with, you’re done.Talent and skill only get you so far. I am literally amazed at how often I meet guys that are total assholes and think they are going to get anywhere.

5) Here’s the BIG ONE. The greatest obstacle you will ever have to overcome IS YOURSELF. And the Fear that you are creating in your own head. Stay positive. Stop defeating yourself. There are artists I know that are so damn good they make me pee my pants. I look up to these mofos. I study their shit and I want to draw like them.And they are almost NEVER working on their DREAM project.And—big surprise, they aren’t happy in their job. “Why NOT?! WTF is WRONG WITH YOU?!” is usually my reaction. And the answer is almost always "The market isn’t great right now" "Other stories/games/comics like mine don’t do very well" "The shit that’s hot right now is nothing like mine, It’s just going to fail." "I’m not sure I’m good enough." "I need the money." "Too Risky." "I tried it before and failed. " It doesn’t matter what words they use, they are afraid for one reason or another. I know. I’ve been there.

But here’s the deal. YOU NEED TO TAKE RISKS. Guess what?YOU ARE MOST LIKELY GOING TO FAIL. If you want it—REALLYwant it, that won’t stop you. You will learn A LOT. My good friend Tim constantly jokes about how I jump out of planes without a parachute and worry about the landing on the way down. You may think that I’m lucky, that it’s easy for me to say because I’m already successful, that I’m in a different situation than you all are. But it’s not true. Risk is risk, no matter what level you’re at.If you’re already successful, you just take even bigger risks. But they never go away. Everything in life is Risk vs. Reward. Not just in your career. LIFE. You’d better get used to it.

I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when I got into comics. I left the #1 selling book at the time ( Uncanny X-men ) to work on Battle Chasers during a time when'Conan' was about the only fantasy comic people knew. And no one was buying it. I wanted to work in games, so I started a game company. I had NO IDEA WTF I was doing. I just wanted it, really bad. We tanked. It failed. No big surprise. But the people I worked with got hired elsewhere and rehired me. I started ANOTHER game Company. We had 4 people and a dream, and some publishers wouldn’t even meet with us, because their ‘next gen console’ teams had 90+ people on them. I literally got hung up on."Stick to handheld games, it’s smaller, maybe you can handle that…" one MAJOR publisher told us. I don’t blame them. But we didn’t let it stop us. Thank god we didn’t listen to them. Vigil was born. Darksiders happened, AND we got to make a sequel. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the best games in the industry, and the most elite and experienced game dev studios in the world. How is that possible?!!! Hardly any of us had even worked on a console game before. I’ll be honest, I was thinking we would fail the whole time. I just didn’t care. If I had to play the odds on this one, I’d bet against us.

Why am I telling you all this shit? This is not me patting myself on the back. It’s just stuff that has somehow only dawned on me recently when it’s been staring me in the face for so long. I feel like I need to wake you guys up!!! I’ve been limiting myself. I’ve gotten afraid. I’ve taken less risks. I saw my career going places I didn’t want to go. I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t excited. And I’ve realized, that all that stuff I just talked about is the reason I am where I am today. Not because I have a manga style, or I draw cool hands, or there’s energy in my drawings, or all the other things people rattle off to me. There are other guys that do all that same shit, and do it better. And amazingly, those same guys constantly tell me “Man, I wish I could do what you are doing.” “SO DO IT!!!!!” PLEASE listen to me—because I want you guys to make it. I want to look to one of you people for inspiration some day when it’s 2am and I need to keep drawing. Stop worrying about all the other stuff—the pencils, the paper, the anatomy, all that shit. It will only get you so far. You’ve already got most of what you need. I hope this helps some people. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all the support over the years. You are all one of the greatest motivating forces in my life and my career. Sappy but true. Ok, let’s go draw some shit!!!”


It’s my personal challenge to learn to live by this sort of advice. So far it’s been going pretty well, but I’ve come dangerously close to ruining mine and other people’s lives with my carelessness— take this to heart, guys.

Awesome stuff, hope many of you illustrators will find this article useful and fun to read. And like he said, go out there and start drawing! Do what you love doing and live it to the fullest. Now it's time for me to get back to drawing Silver the Hedgehog for StC - Online, if anyone here would know Silver's one of my top favs. Let's get crackin'!

(Credit to Lesean Thomas2 for bringing up this article via Tumblr)

:star: Check Out The New Cover! (Lara-su Chronicles) :star:

Apparently this is better...!

tumblr nbh8b9sYpv1sqbnweo1 500 by darkspeeds

:star: Sweet Mother of Jesus... :star:

TL-SC Cover Art R1 Web by darkspeeds

I'm sorry, words cannot describe this.

I cannot undo what I've just seen this morning.

:star: Eeeee...! :star:

Untitled-222 back! by darkspeeds

:star: A Tip To Commission Artists...? :star:

And here we have what seems to be the final product... *SHOT* XD

Untitled by darkspeeds

Ha ha, okay, okay, no it's not the finished artwork but more importantly they are thumbnails to potential final artwork. It doesn't have to be fancy at this stage.

With practice you will soon see why it is important to start out with a few doodles on your sketchpad or piece of paper before commencing your commission - do make it a habit.

Let those ideas flow around your brain, taking into account what your client has requested, and start sketching on an impulse but with thought and clarity on your strokes. 5-10 minutes of prep can lead to a polished artwork that you can be happy with at the end, plus those 5-10 mins can be your perfect warm up if you are aiming to work on your commission sketch that is aimed at the 2-3 hour mark.

Hope that tip helps for those who have been inquiring to me on how to prep for freelance commissioned work.

:star: Martial Artists Training Together (Jaka's Commission) :star:

Here's my next thumbnail preview for my next client.

Untitled by darkspeeds

All I need now is some T-Time while I'm drawing away. Be sure to listen to it, it's a great radio show done by my mate :iconironhedgehog: during the good old days of SEGASonic Radio. Click here for the download! My favourite episodes of all time are: 

103 - The 8-T's - Retro TV & Anthems Show
106 - 9-T's - More Retro TV and Anthems!
120 - The T-Raccoon Time Zone

Download it kiddie-winkers! ;)

Oh and I better clear my desk, it's a little messy!!

Untitled by darkspeeds

:star: Archers Attack!! (Sirburnout's Commission) :star:

[UDPATE - Work-in-progress 2]

Decided to go with two since the client wanted to have the two characters battling each other's wits with their bows and arrows. :D

I had option two in mind because I didn't want to go for the generic, wouldn't it be cool if an archer used an unorthodox method for surprise attack? Nevertheless I'm doing what I can to make those two archers fighting for their mortal lives with their weapon of specialty - notice how Gareth almost go Bow in the head twice (hint: see any marking on his hood?). It shows how skilled Gareth is, but Bow is just as skilled and is patiently aiming for pin-point accuracy! 

Untitled by darkspeeds

[Work-in-progress 1]

And here's how it looks like in quick thumbnail form! Which one should I do? Hmmm.....  *starts drawing* :D

Untitled by darkspeeds

:star: Commissions CLOSED! (Five slots taken!) :star:

My goodness that was quick!

Alrighty then looks like I will be taking up more jobs than I could chew, but I think I'll manage. 8-)

I will be working on a commission for the following deviants:

:iconsirburnout: :iconforeversonic: :iconja-the-shadow-hunter: :iconthetodstar: :iconavlynnthefox:

I will say that Foreversonic has been very generous to donate two commissions to TheTodStar and AvlynntheFox, he's not only 'giving' but also helping me out as a friend - what a kind soul you are Simon.

Also a thanks to SirBurnOut for paying for another 12 months to my deviantART subscription, in exchange for two characters to be illustrate on his behalf.
Now then, let's get to work!

:star: Quick Commissions OPEN! (Three slots available) :star:

Hi guys and gals, hope you're doing well! Here's an opportunity to get some illustrations hand-drawn exclusively from me. 

I'm in the mood to flex my drawing muscles, what's available are the following options:


Bullet; Blue [Description]

A drawing of one character posed on white background. This is done in a drawing style similar to what you'll find in a sketchbook!

Bullet; Red [Cost] = $20 USD  (+$10 USD for additional characters)

COMMISSION #12 JokerxMint ($30) by darkspeeds  (Sample #1: $30 for two characters)
COMMISSION #13 Cooperthehedgehog ($20) by darkspeeds (Sample #2: $20 for one portrait/character)

The next one, I'm hoping to get at least one of these to do, I really want to apply my new digital inking and rendering techniques to good use!


Bullet; Blue [Description]

A drawing containing the standard full-bodied character shot of your choice. Fully inked and colored. You also get the sketch, inked and base color files at HIGH RES along with the final render. Preferably can be used and edited as your personal persona ID or avatar.

Bullet; Red [Cost] = $40 USD 

COMMISSION #03 - DISASTERFOX by darkspeeds 

(+plus the following extras!)


So yeah feel free to send me a note along with some details on your personal request. I must tell you that it is is IMPORTANT to describe your character - his/her personality, likes, dislikes, fashion sense etc. Also feel free to give me a little story about the character so that I can have a very clear idea of how to best portray them in my final artwork - especially when it comes to choosing the right pose, I want their pose to speak for themselves.

Anyways happy hunting! I shall get straight back to some Sonic Boom: Unwrapped comic pages!

Kind regards,

Elson 'Darkspeeds' Wong

P.S. Also to my previous clients (:iconironhedgehog:, :iconchicago-pd-stars:, and :iconfriskecrisps:) who requested BIGGER jobs, I'm going to reserve those until I'm done with the Sonic the Comic: Online's 'Silvery Story' 10 pager. I should be available in October to attend to your commission, thanks for being so patient! Also do not feel pressured to continue with the commission, if you want to cancel the job, you are more than welcome to do so - no hard feelings at all! 8-)

:star: [COMIC DRAMA] Dreamkeepers: Void's Return :star:

Finally, two years ago I already had most of the voice files recorded - Paige, Scuttler, and Void. Things happened and I had to put this project on hold.

Two years later and after a week's work of recording (as Mace, Whip, Randy, Grunn and extras) and video editing it's finally finished!

Enjoy, there are more to come in the future!

For reference here are two previous journals relating to the project (each containing more behind-the-scenes and work-in-progress shots):

Over 270 Layers! Video + Bloopers 60% complete!:star: Over 270 Layers! Video + Bloopers 60% complete! :star: 
I'm getting there! Woot!
I'm having a ton of fun after deciding to throw in a Bloopers bit at the end of the video - it'll show me stuffing up some of my favourite lines and also questioning how to do some of them!
Here's how it looks when you've individually cut out each layer from the Dreamkeepers graphic novel in preparation for the animation work in the video production.

I should have the video ready by sometime on the Friday! Catch you guys then! ;)
:star: YES! 25% of the way with Dreamkeepers Comic Drama! :star: 
Omgosh, omgosh! I'm getting there! ^___^ 
I'm using some new techniques to make the visual transitions flow a little more life-like as we look into the drama. It's amazing how a little bit more effort and creative thinkin
  How does it sound to get VERY HORNY?? XXD:star: Bumped Into Boobies :star:

Ha ha! This scene was a lot of fun to do.
I'm almost done with the next Dreamkeepers comic drama. Four more pages of audio production and then I'm into the video editing stage. Expect this to come out by Friday at latest!

:star: How does it sound to get VERY HORNY?? XXD :star:
Oh gawd...  This is gonna be fun... REALLY FUN...... Ha ha.... Haaah...!
I get to record a VERY HORNY Slob. In fact I get to rape Grunn!! XXXXXXD *starts recording*

Also I just finished recording as the child abuser - Grunn! He's nasty to the kids at the orphanage.

And... The sleazeball Randy...! Everybody loves Randy!! (That annoying, despicable jerk...!)

Star! Mace's Clever Prank <

:star: [BLOOPERS!] Dreamkeepers: Void's Return :star:

I can't express how much fun I had making this. 

Nevertheless here's a preview of what's to come for tomorrow's official release of the long awaited :icondreamkeepers: comic drama that has been on hold for two years!

However this is no ordinary preview, far from it.

Check out what it's like to experience moments of pure enjoyment, energy, and enthusiasm in a home studio recording - what kind of recording you say? Why voice acting of course! ;)

:star: Over 270 Layers! Video + Bloopers 60% complete! :star: 

I'm getting there! Woot!

I'm having a ton of fun after deciding to throw in a Bloopers bit at the end of the video - it'll show me stuffing up some of my favourite lines and also questioning how to do some of them!

Here's how it looks when you've individually cut out each layer from the Dreamkeepers graphic novel in preparation for the animation work in the video production.

Over 270 Layers! 01 by darkspeeds

Over 270 Layers! 02 by darkspeeds

Over 270 Layers! 03 by darkspeeds

I should have the video ready by sometime on the Friday! Catch you guys then! ;)

:star: YES! 25% of the way with Dreamkeepers Comic Drama! :star: 

Omgosh, omgosh! I'm getting there! ^___^ 

I'm using some new techniques to make the visual transitions flow a little more life-like as we look into the drama. It's amazing how a little bit more effort and creative thinking can create an impact on the visual entertainment value.

I got inspired after watching this soon-to-come Sonic Universe comic drama 'Chaotix Quest' by the wonderful StarPost Productions team

Kieran who was responsible for the moving visuals (including the awesome moving text) really adds an extra dimension to the standard comic dramas I've seen from the Sonic community. The moving text technique will not be as elaborate as theirs in the Dreamkeepers final cuz it takes 4 times the effort than what I'm already putting in - also you need Adobe Effects to create the effect, I'll have to find extra time to re-create the visuals as effectively as Kieran did.

Also regarding Sonic comic dramas the brilliant Tasha (aka Donniegirl12) had just released this the 'House of Cards', comic drama to Sonic the Hedgehog #178. Please go check it out, alot of work was put into this fan-production and I'm very pleased to say that it's been very entertaining to say the least. This comic drama is an example of quality work - my biggest approval was the music selection used to accentuate the drama, perfect in my opinion.

Anyways time to get back to the video editing process! 


DKChapter01 1m6 by darkspeeds

Oh and one last piece of awesome news, I know many of you have been waiting a long time for this (and have gotten the message), but to those who haven't - GHOSTS OF THE FUTURE IS BACK!

GOTF issue 12 Cover by EvanStanley

Issue twelve is out now. :iconevanstanley: will be posting one page every week for the next six months. Go there if you haven't already! 

:star: Bumped Into Boobies :star:

Ha ha! This scene was a lot of fun to do.

I'm almost done with the next Dreamkeepers comic drama. Four more pages of audio production and then I'm into the video editing stage. Expect this to come out by Friday at latest!

Bumped into Boobies by darkspeeds

:star: How does it sound to get VERY HORNY?? XXD :star:

Oh gawd...  This is gonna be fun... REALLY FUN...... Ha ha.... Haaah...!

I get to record a VERY HORNY Slob. In fact I get to rape Grunn!! XXXXXXD *starts recording*

A very HORNY Slob by darkspeeds


Also I just finished recording as the child abuser - Grunn! He's nasty to the kids at the orphanage.

Grunn - Child Abuser by darkspeeds

And... The sleazeball Randy...! Everybody loves Randy!! (That annoying, despicable jerk...!)

Sleezeball Randy by darkspeeds

Star! Mace's Clever Prank Star! 

:bulletred: :bulletred: CLICK HERE TO LISTEN :bulletred: :bulletred:

Ah! It's 4:30am in the morning! XXD I'm having too much fun. Anyways!

Here's a sneak preview to 3 pages out of the 28 that is present in the first full chapter of the hit self-published graphic novel series: Dreamkeepers by David and Liz. This comic drama project has been on hold for two years but I finally found it again and am ready to finish it this month.

Hope you like it guys and gals! I certainly had fun doing the voice acting and compiling the audio and bgm together! Huge props to Samantha who voiced as Paige - she, in my opinion - sounds perfect as Paige. More to be revealed in future! ;)

Here are the three pages that the preview is based off on. Follow the audio drama from there! 

V1page0016 by darkspeeds
V1page0017 by darkspeeds
V1page0018 by darkspeeds

V1page0019 by darkspeeds

Alright, time for bed! :D

Star! Dreamkeepers Project Revived! Star! 

Just when I thought I was going to take a break from comic dramas... I recently did a bit of diggin' around the archive of incomplete comic dramas and I found this particular one that focus on the opening to the Dreamkeepers series by Dave and Liz, go check it out if you haven't already :icondreamkeepers:.

Anyways before I reprise my role as Mace, Whip, Randy, and Grunn here are some photos to share.

Untitled by darkspeeds Untitled by darkspeeds
Untitled by darkspeeds Untitled by darkspeeds Untitled by darkspeeds
Untitled by darkspeeds

I want to give a BIG shout-out to Samantha (aka Lady Tenkage) :iconheir-of-tenkage: who contributed to the female voices for this project two years ago (has it been that fast already? Two years already? Goodness me time flies...). She did an AMAZING job as Paige (the best I've heard), and surprisingly she was able to switch to the highly intelligent, seducing, and scheming' villian Tinsel - blimey! She's naturally talented. 

Also I think I'm going to need your help :iconashie-kins: to play the role of Lilith. I remember I asked you to do her part in the past but now with your upgrades in tech. equipment and improving vocal performance there ain't a better time to give it another shot! = )

Anyways let's get recording!

Star! 52 Sonic Boom Strips Star! 

Why 52? Cuz there's roughly 52 weeks in a year that's why! Let's see if I'm able to achieve this goal within the next couple of years, I've already done 2, let's work on the next one! Next one's going to feature Sticks but what's going to be the message? Check out the minute thumbnail I did below - nothing fancy but I know who's involved and how the story will play out.

I'll give Stick's boomerang to the first person who could decode my awfully rushed handwriting!
Sticks: "HEY!"

SB-OP 03 - (preview)b 21-08-2014 by darkspeeds

Also on my previous two pages you can check out how they looked like in thumbnail form too - both done in a couple of minutes or so.

SB-OP 03 - (preview)a 21-08-2014 by darkspeeds

Man's Best Friend by darkspeeds                          Distraction by darkspeeds

After this I've got one more idea in mind, it'll involve two more secondary characters not yet featured in my stories of the Sonic Boom franchise. We shall find out who those are soon!

Star! STAR PICK THIS FRIDAY (Z-Doodler) Week 3, August 2014 Star! 

+FEM S0NIC B00M!+ by Z-Doodler +MS - Poke+ by Z-Doodler

Yow-za! Check out this high impact graphical style by :iconz-doodler:. What captivated me immediately was a combination of unique application and weight variation in her strokes (something I would call dynamic brush strokes), stocky-toon proportions and high contrast rendering - something that you may see in a lot of pop-comics/graphic novels such as Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim.

Because of this, I couldn't help but try to study her method and eventually I achieved this result: New Power Generation by darkspeeds 

It's great to learn new techniques and I'm starting to embrace my own unique style with more practice. Wish me luck!

Oh and also...


"NOOOOOO!!! *falls down into his knees* How could I *sniff* be beaten by... By..!! A CLONE!!! ARRRGGHH!" Shadow: "There there Sonic..." *pats him on the shoulder* It's okay. It's okay. *hugs him*

...... *Both hedgies look at each other... and.... Starring at one another for a brief moment... Eye's droopy... The suddenly...! PKOL!!!!*

*Silver then joins in* Silver: "YAOI THREESOME TIME!!! WOOT!!"

Darkspeeds sitting on a couch with a storybook in hand by the fireplace says, "And that my friends is how babies and rainbows are created. The end."

Wow, thanks to everyone who shared their input on my previous journal.  

[Writing Stories, it's FRUSTRATING.]

Really, I may have read up on a ton of advice in the past but what's the use if I don't put it to practice?  

In addition to that, I believe that you can learn a lot more from shared experiences, hence the reason for my previous post. At face value I am frustrated
and impatient - thinking that all the research and beating around the bush makes me go back to square one. It really makes me feel like I've wasted valuable free time.

But behind the mask I needed help and reassurance that all the effort I had put into crafting a story so far for 'Ashworth' was not a waste a time and because of your insight into your own experiences of creative writing and your own personal encouragement towards me it really helps.

I think what I will do is find something that can relate to me as fuel to creating the next story. If that doesn't work I want to write the stories that I'm interested in telling to the audience and, as some of you have noticed, my approach is more 'character driven' followed by context. 

The other thing that I must point out is that I know where my strength truly lies as an artist when it comes to sequential art - and that strength is being able to articulate the stories I'm interesting in telling based on already existing worlds or story works.

Sonic the Hedgehog is a prominent example. I don't have to worry about coming up with the world, characters and premise, I will instead focus all my energy on how to make the elements work together to create something refreshing for the fans, and I think it works best in both ways - sticking closely to the canon universe or deviating from it.

Why did SA2 Fan Comic work out? Why did Tails Away still continue to be complimented from fans of old and new from time to time? It's because I know I've create something interesting for fans that is timeless, it's by no means a blockbuster, but it's story that's fun, entertaining and can connect at an emotional level (my fans tell me this).

Why doesn't Grand Hunter get mentioned as often as my fan-comics? It's because it's a got a terribly weak story, confusing armature, and no conclusion to the story.

Having said that I have no regrets on working on Grand Hunter because it's been an experience that I can use to improve on for the next story.

In order to advance one must know their own strength and acknowledge their faults, and to really accept it.

This is why I feel that in the next five to twn years - the key to getting the best out of my story for this 'Ashworth' character is to practice more sequential art through collaboration, in other words using people's scripts that I'm interested in working on and utilise all that I've learnt so far from the Academy of Art university to bring the script to life and to the best of my ability. I'm not a good story maker but I believe that I have what it takes to illustrate that story in a compelling fashion.

So to kick start it I'm going to attempt two projects:

i) Silver the Hedgehog story exclusive to Sonic the Comic Online (written by Seumidh MacDonald) - 10 pages, to be released in August 2015.

ii) The Wayward Astronomer: Chapter 9 by :iconkafelnikov:  The Wayward Astronomer: Chapter 9
[Chapter 9]
Before setting off into the night, Hal took a few minutes to change into some fresh clothes that had fewer bullet holes in them. Though he was feeling quite weary after a difficult day, just the simple act of wearing something clean and fresh gave him a second wind of energy. He opted for an older but comfortable leather jacket that blended well with the background of the nighttime city streets, and made sure to clip a small knife to his belt that was covered by his clothing but easy to reach at a moment's notice. His large raptor feet and claws made it impossible to wear traditional shoes or boots, but he wrapped his lower legs with some heavy-duty cloth to protect his scales from the grime and debris of the city streets. His tail continued to look out the window attentively as he prepared himself.
He stood from the edge of his bed and retrieved his cane, steeling himself for the walk ahead of him with a few deep breaths. Jonny ran an illegal gambling racket from the back
 (ongoing project)

On top of that I'll be working on the Sonic Boom: Unwrapped comic series for practice and recreation.

I'll tell you now that I'm really lucky - the beautiful part about my life, from a recreation standpoint, is that I have the luxury of connecting with fans, even today, through the power of my artwork, community initiatives, and shared life experiences. This is how I made some of the coolest friends on the planet and some of them remaining my closest.

Anyways enough dabbling on I also want to make an effort to contribute towards :iconyuski:'s awesome XDRAGOON series by doing alternate covers for each issue. I'm working on Chapter 28 as we speak:

XDragoonAlpPhaGalaxyArc Alternate cover00 sketch(D by darkspeeds    XDragoonAlpPhaGalaxyArc Alternate cover01 sketch(D by darkspeeds

 XDragoonAlpPhaGalaxyArc Alternate cover03b sketch  by darkspeeds

Chapter 28 will be available this coming Friday and from what I've seen of his latest work it's improved a lot in terms of his sequential art, line art quality and rendering. Do check it out! This is his official cover for Chapter 28 where the Dragões and the Morphs fly back to their home planet and are expected to face new adventures and mysteries!

tumblr n9nl407Tic1s96mrqo1 1280 by darkspeeds

Oh and one last thing to mention.

On top of the Ashworth story (which I aim for it to be a bit more grim in tone), I want to create a story for the other character I really like which is Captain Jack Blue - his stories will be more adventure spirited, sci-fi mercenaries/soldiers of fortune ala Firefly/Guardians of the Galaxy vibe. Here's an exclusive drawing of him done by a friend of mine who drew it during Comic Con in 2011 - god damn doesn't he look awesome (and sexy XXD).

Captain Jack Blue by Riley 2011 - Copy by darkspeeds

So yeah I'm writing this down for the record. Let's hope I stick to the plan and achieve some comic makin' goals in the next 5-10 years of my life! 8-)
I can't believe that spent the whole night researching on themes, settings and ideas and came up with nothing concrete.

It's frustrating when that happens and I'm sure many of you who are writing stories will find yourself in the this situation from time to time.

I think I'm just overthinking about the story I want to write for Ashworth, hence it can lead me to endless possibilities and not sticking with just one idea.

Here's an example: Just who is Ashworth and what is his goal?


i) He's a king of the Wombat Clan, he's done gruesome things to the innocent bringing tyranny to towns and villages around the nation. However one day he was betrayed by his own clan and was disposed of, presumed dead. He survives a presumed death, comes back with a refreshed perspective on life - perhaps looking for redemption for the bad things he's done. With a change of heart will he go back to his clan in a double act of revenge and put an end to their terrorism or will he attempt a more civil approach by forgiving them for their acts and convince them to stop their terrorism?

ii) He's a victim of circumstance where he was a war general who fought for his clan but was presumed to have died in the battlefield. He wakes up from a coma, only to find out that he was saved by the true victims of civil war - the innocent farmers, villagers and businessmen who are stuck in between the chaos. His experience with recovery from the village enlightened his views on war, maybe there is another solution other than killing each other for a new government/monarchy? This is where Ashworth sets out to find the answers to the civil conflict.

iii) He's a soldier of fortune hired by the Wombat clan, he is selfish and ruthless and doesn't give a crap for humanity, what he cares more is money and using that money for himself to get by life. It's pretty much an 'Every man for himself' scenario for Ashworth. However one day he was mortally wounded on his biggest mission yet. He wakes up only to find himself alive and being looked after by people who live in the mountains - they are safe from the civil war that's dominating the entire nation at the very moment. However as soon as Ashworth recovers the village suddenly gets attacked. Will he run away and save himself, or will he have a change of heart and return the favour?

Not bad for a start up but I still remember last night that I kept on insisting that story needs to be better - it needs more meat.

My problem is that I'm not easily satisfied with what I write sometimes, once again going back to the 'keeping it simple' concept I tend to add too many ingredients to the broth, spoiling the soup.

Perhaps I just need to sit down and take things one step at a time, and not overlook those ideas.


Actually now that I think about it, that's not my core problem.

It's the fact that when I stick with an idea I'll go through an arduous trial of:

i) Asking plenty of questions about the story, characters and the setting (design process).
ii) Whether the world I'm establishing makes sense to the readers.

And not being satisfied with the combination of elements into making sense out of the story while making it interesting enough for me to write and continue it.

It's really tough when you're in that phase, what's the point if you're not heavily invested into a project that you'll be working for hours to end?

Care to share me some of your experiences and advice writing stories? How do you approach it and what motivates you to stay in the game?

Ashworth concepts1b by darkspeeds