Industrious Illustrating #13 – Mini Con Ja Nai

It’s now the first week of October, and that means that Animania (UMich’s anime club) is hosting Mini Con Ja Nai in the MLB on October 8th between 12 to 7 PM, and that also means that I’m nearly fully prepared now to table at the Artist Alley there! I’ve been working on ordering, preparing, and categorizing my inventory over the past few weeks in addition to creating new print-worthy artwork.

While I’m not a graphic designer by any means, I had to make these graphics for myself so that I could have helpful product “menus” for customers to look at. Unfortunately, being a sole proprietorship means that I have to do all of my business-related stuff myself, which means that I can’t just focus on making more art. But as long as that means that I get to enjoy conventions and selling my work, I’m willing to put up with having to learn a wider variety of skills to do my job.

  If you’re able to make it to Mini Con Ja Nai this Saturday (which is tomorrow as of this posting), I hope to see you there! If not, see you next week when I make my next Industrious Illustrating post!

Industrious Illustrating #12: A New Semester

A new season means a new semester, and a new semester means a new Industrious Illustrating banner! It’s been a while since I last posted to this blog, and I hope that the summer was a restful or productive time for all of you, whichever one was your goal. While I have some exciting new projects I want to share with you guys over the next few weeks, I want to focus first on a brief recap of a few pieces I made over the summer.

For most of the summer, I was spending time living with my parents in Hong Kong. We lived pretty close to the beach, so sometimes I’d go down to the beach and look for interesting-looking animals in the sand and rocks. Attached are a few watercolor and ink sketches I made of a Fiddler crab, as well as some clams, sea urchins, and sea snails I found when the tide was low.

Aside from sketching the wildlife, I also made more refined illustrations based off of the scenery and sights I saw in Hong Kong, albeit with a few changes for artistic effect. For example, one of the new pieces on my year 2 banner features a tiger girl dressed in summery clothing while leaning over the railing of a staircase next to overgrown terraces. This is actually based off of a real staircase near my summer home that led down to some tropical fruit trees and a tiny beach (though it wasn’t the one I frequented).


If you look at the other side of the new banner, one of the pieces I added features a girl floating in a brightly lit vestibule as if she’s in a spaceship. This is actually inspired by the Moncler clothing store display in Hong Kong’s International Commerce Center, which always caught my eye when I was walking from the Kowloon MTR stop through the ELEMENTS shopping mall and the ICC lobby. I made a few tweaks to the lighting to make it look more dramatic, but otherwise I kept it close to the reference in an attempt to capture what I liked about the design.

For a side by side comparison:


Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to making more studies of the sights I saw in Hong Kong, or even more pieces inspired by what I saw in Hong Kong, but I’ll be sure to work on some and post them when I have time!

What did you guys do over the summer? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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!