The payload spun and spun within the planet’s stormy atmosphere, buffeted by high winds and fickle vortices. Visibility conditions were nil as it tumbled through the clouds, its camera feed only offering grainy flickers of orange-red and the overexposed glare of lighting, falling, falling, falling– until it plunged through a particularly dense layer and into a patch of calm.

Two purplish objects floated into view, shapes reminiscent of Earth-native Cnidarian medusae: radially symmetrical, a translucent, bell-like structure, and trailing, wispy lines starting from the bottom of the bell. The currents gently tugged at them, and like kites in a storm, they vanished just as quickly into the reddish haze.

Scribble #19: Regret

“‘Just wait till tomorrow,’” 

I started off the school year thinking I just had to make it through. Through the day, through the week, through the year, through to better times. I waited all of high school to finally get to college and make friends there, and there I was, in college, waiting for it to be over so I could be on to the next era of my life, a better one with better friends. I fell fully into the trap of living for the future and simply enduring the present.

“I guess that’s what they all say just before they fall apart.”

I’ve learned since then that things change – and with enough patience, a little luck, and a good attitude, they can change for the better. Now, I am able to simultaneously look forward to the future and enjoy where I am in the moment. This past weekend, my best friend from home came to visit me in Ann Arbor. Throughout high school and into the present, she is so special to me because I always feel like I can be my entire self around her. Having her come to Ann Arbor made me realize that I feel the same way around the friends I’ve made here at Michigan – something that I didn’t quite realize was the case until this weekend.

“I was upset, you see, almost all the time.”

It’s a lot easier for me to get through the days, weeks, and months here knowing I am surrounded by the healthiest friends I could wish for, and I find myself feeling like I am enjoying my current state of being as opposed to viewing the present as an obstacle in the way of the better times ahead. I like to think the best is yet to come, but if my present is as good as it gets, I would be able to move through life happily as well – and that feeling is everything that my past self dreamed of.

“You used to be a stranger, now you are mine.”

Listen to Regret by New Order here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5V_jUncesw 


It was on day three, hiking out into the mountainous scrublands and already sweaty from exertion, when he felt it: a rumbling.

Then he saw it: plumes of white clouds, billowing from the horizon off in the distance– no, not clouds… smoke, he realized, watching as a trail rapidly ascended.

Then he heard it: a deep roar, loud and imminent as the rocket screamed through the atmosphere.

Industrious Illustrating #1: References

Hello, and welcome to Industrious Illustrating! This is a new weekly column updating on Fridays which will show process pictures, sketches, and sometimes finished works that show what goes into making character designs, illustrations, and the like.

This week we will look at two different pieces I created based on photographs I took on a 2019 summer trip to England.

Last night, I digitally painted this piece of two girls hanging out in an alcove on the University of Cambridge campus. I directly painted over my photograph for the background, but I took liberties in the exact details and drew two figures who weren’t present in the original picture. I had to construct the lighting and proportions on the two characters based on my own understanding of how lighting and scale would work in that environment.

I traditionally painted this piece with watercolors and alcohol-based markers in the fall of 2020 based on a photograph I took at the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford. I had to eyeball all the proportions and perspective and then draw the environment by hand, albeit while referencing a photograph. In retrospect, I think some of the details and perspective look a little off. But that was the best I could do at the time without the ability to directly paint over the original photograph.

For both paintings, I had to rely on my own understanding of lighting and perspective to construct the scene. The original photographs were also unquestionably my work. Since I wanted to depict real places in the United Kingdom, I couldn’t just rely on my own imagination to recreate existing scenery, and it wasn’t practical for me to return to the UK in person every time I wanted to paint a real-life scene. So my best option was to use photographs as a tool for inspiring interesting illustrations.

Digital art programs make image adjustments such as brightness, contrast, and saturation much easier, and they also have the blessing known as the undo function (ctrl-z). They also have the ability to directly integrate photographs into paintings for textures and references, which professional concept artists and illustrators often use so that they can finish detailed paintings on a timely basis for their clients. Using these tools isn’t cheating, as no amount of fancy tools can compensate for a lack of artistic skill. Rather, digital art programs enable artists to speed up their workflow and create finished works faster for both professional and hobbyist purposes.

I’m still proud of both pieces, and I think they both have their own merits. But this comparison should hopefully show that while digital art programs didn’t teach me the fundamentals or my current skills, they do help smooth out the process as a tool akin to a paintbrush or a pen.





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Item No.     012 

The exterior of Station “B” illuminated by a billowing cloud of smoke and fire following the criticality incident at Reactor █ at ██████ on ███████, ████████, 19██. Initial report of  ██████ casualties increased to ████████ after the total structural collapse of Station “B” and subsequent triggering of ████████████████ at ████████.



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