Industrious Illustrating #11 – Until Next Fall!

So I promised last week that the final update would be on May 4th. I was wrong. I ended up having an internet connection outage yesterday and couldn’t post anything from anywhere except my phone, but then I couldn’t log into my account from mobile…  Anyway, that’s enough excuses.

Over the summer, I’m planning on taking lots of reference pictures while staying abroad in Hong Kong for artistic inspiration. In this vein, I’m trying to better organize the photographs I’ve taken on various vacations and trips as references for future paintings/drawings. You can see a sneak preview of one of my photo folders here. Maybe you’ll recognize one of these in a future drawing I post to this blog!

Ever since I started posting on Arts Ink several months ago, I’ve enjoyed making posts about various topics to post every Friday. Can you believe that there are already ten of them?

As a reminder, I’ll be tabling at Anime Park this Saturday (May 7th) at Canton High School. If you want to see me in the fall, I’ve heard there’ll be another Con Ja Nai at UMich in the fall, and I was also recently accepted with a Stamps classmate to table at YoumaCon in November. More details to come! No matter if you come see my illustrations in person or just read my columns online, I’m glad to share my artwork and artistic journey with everyone! See you soon!

Industrious Illustrating #10: In Progress

Can you believe that the semester is basically over? I’ve been pretty busy with moving out of the dorms and preparing for the next con I’ll sell artwork at, which is Anime Park 2022 held at Canton High School on May 7th. If any of you guys are still in the Ann Arbor area around that time, I’d love to see you there!

Anyway, I only have some lighting studies from James Gurney’s excellent book “Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter” (still planning on expanding the canvas and adding more studies, hence the empty space) and a very messy preparatory sketch for a painting to share this week. I feel like two weaknesses in my art are bland lighting/values and not rendering my paintings enough, so those are the issues I’m actively working on. Honestly, I’m not satisfied with the limited artistic progress I’ve made this semester, but I’ll also try not to be too hard on myself when I’m ultimately still human.

The final post of this semester will be next week on May 4th as a final send-off for the winter semester. But that’s not the end! I will be returning to Arts Ink in the fall, and I plan on posting lots of the artwork I created over the summer. Stay tuned for that!

Industrious Illustrating #9: Fantasy (1/?)

For this week’s Industrious Illustrating, I want to share a painting I did as concept art for a fantasy visual novel idea I had. The painting itself isn’t done yet, but it’s in a finished enough state that I can show it to others . This is the Palace of Spades, which is a magical fusion of a Huaxia palace and an Albion castle. It floats above a deep pit in the middle of the capital city of Longjing/Sigillum — the two names given to the city by different populations of inhabitants.

The regions of Huaxia and Albion are loosely inspired by Ancient China and by medieval England, though the story takes place when the world is on the cusp of technological and societal change. After all, it’s almost been a thousand years since the Kingdom of Spades was founded by four heroes from Huaxia and Albion uniting their people to seal away the Great Leviathan, and the magical seal on the Great Leviathan is about to break. It’s now up to the current generation of Spades Royals to defeat Spades’s greatest threat once again…

To create this painting, I heavily referenced real-life pavilions, castles, and buildings for the architecture of the Palace of Spades. I’m still making more concept art and illustrations for this storyline, so I may end up sharing more of it when they’re finished!

Industrious Illustrating #8: Time/Sequence

Honestly, I’m not the proudest of this comic. I didn’t have the time to properly render or correct some of my drawings, so I would like to redo some of the pages if I ever posted these on my social media or printed them into a mini book. But for those who have been following along with my column, this comic is the result of the AEIOU (Activities Environments Interactions Objects Users) sketches I made a few weeks ago for Drawing Visualization. Yes, there’s a lot more to Toshiaki’s story than what I told in these six pages; I intend to eventually draw more comics that will tell his full story.


Also, thank you to everyone who stopped by my Artist Alley booth at Con Ja Nai in the MLB last Saturday! I managed to sell a decent amount of my prints and also had a lot of good conversations with the people who stopped by my booth. I look forward to attending more conventions and art fairs in the future!

Industrious Illustrating #7 – Background Art

Hello, and welcome back to another week of Industrious Illustrating! This week, I’m sharing some background paintings I made for the UMich anime club’s visual novel (interactive choose-your-own adventure video game made up entirely of cutscenes) project about three girls piloting big robots in space and falling in love with each other along the way. But the focus of these three backgrounds is less on the girls and more on setting a scene for the drama and action unfolding in the storyline.

For this background, I wanted to make an asteroid field that looks like a somber, quiet place where two people can have a conversation in the vacuum of space. The blue-grey color palette and lonesome star illuminating the dust clouds were selected for this purpose.

For this background, I wanted to make a desolate, empty desert where the dark sky, winding sand dunes, and distant mountains create a landscape where you can have a heart-to-heart with someone you didn’t actually know very well.

And this is just a regular starry background for any conversations, fights, etc. that happen while crossing the open expanse of space.

That’s all the background art I have to share this week, but that’s not the end of this post!

As a reminder, I’m selling artwork at Con Ja Nai tomorrow, which is UMich’s one-day anime convention in the Modern Languages Building, from noon to 6 PM! There will be a bunch of other artists and vendors also selling in the building, alongside a maid cafe, panels, anime showings, and more. My booth (Table A2) will look something like this.

I hope to see you guys there! If not, I hope you’ll stick around for more Industrious Illustrating as the semester draws to a close!

Industrious Illustrating #6 – Supplies

Geez, how have I gone this long without posting about my supplies? I guess it’s better late than never.
(Despite the posting date, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke. Unfortunate that my Friday posting schedule would lead to this confusion.)

My handy-dandy traditional supplies which I have been using for years are alcohol-based markers (mainly Copics), Winsor & Newton Professional-grade watercolors, and Copic multi-liner ink pens. Layering alcohol-based inks and watercolors on top of each other leads to vibrant mixtures of opaque and transparent colors on the paper. I also sometimes use Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils (not pictured) for additional texture, as the wax-based pigments repel water and create a unique look on the paper.

In terms of paper, I currently mostly use Smooth Bristol Board and both cold-press and hot-press watercolor paper. Bristol Board is a semi-thick type of smooth paper that somewhat resembles cardstock, and it holds inks + pigments quite well. For heavier-duty paintings with multiple layers of watercolors, though, I use one of the watercolor paper textures. Cold press is rougher and has more of a visible texture to it, while hot press is smoother, almost like a thicker version of Bristol Board. I use Arches-brand watercolor paper, but honestly it doesn’t feel that much better than the Strathmore 400 Series. I also prefer using value-priced XL or 300 Series Bristol Board from either Canson or Strathmore because it’s more cost efficient than buying higher quality but far more expensive paper pads.

I actually used to create my digital artwork on a cruddy little Wacom Intuos S until this Monday, when its USB port decided to crap out on me and leave me without a digital tablet. I borrowed a much, much better Wacom Intuos Pro Medium from the Stamps ECHO equipment borrowing office so that I could finish some school assignments, and I’ll receive my own personal Wacom Intuos Pro Medium this weekend. While a tablet with a screen would feel more tactile and closer to the experience of drawing on paper, currently I would prefer to have a portable tablet which won’t break if I’m a little rough with it.
I would recommend this tablet to people who are serious about drawing (whether as a hobby or as a job) and are looking for something portable and sturdy. While the initial price tag might seem pricey (between 300 to 400 dollars on Amazon), trust me when I say that purchasing and refilling traditional supplies instead of just using a tablet will become much, much more expensive over time. Also, it’s very useful to at least know how to use digital media in today’s commercial art world. That’s why I started to actually use Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop after I started attending university.

That’s all for this week! If you have any more questions about the supplies I use or what I think of them, feel free to ask them in the comments section!