Industrious Illustrating #54 – Progress Pictures

This week’s column is a day late because I’ve been tabling at Isshocon, a new 3-day anime convention located near us in Novi Michigan! So far it’s been going fairly well considering that it only has fewer than two thousand attendees — I’ve made more money than at Motor City Comic Con Fall for a much less expensive table, though my work is much better geared to anime conventions. Here’s a picture of my table:

The main topic of this week’s column is going over some work-in-progress pictures from my recent drawings, which has been on my mind because the application for Fanime Con (a large anime convention that happens in San Jose, CA on Memorial Day weekend) required a signed work-in-progress picture to weed out AI “artists” and art thieves. I’m in a group chat with a bunch of other artists who sell at conventions and seeing everyone else’s progress pictures was really interesting for seeing how other artists work. I won’t use the work-in-progress images I used for my Fanime application to keep it private, so I’ll instead go over a chibi mecha design I drew last year with WIP screenshots I took during the process.

My typical digital working process starts with “blocking” out the drawing as a color sketch, working more on getting the general idea down rather than having perfect proportions or coloring.

As I work on this base colors sketch, I freely use the lasso tool and eraser to resize and edit parts I don’t like in addition to working more with the default oil paint brush tool I use for my work.

Once I have a baseline I’m happy with, I start doing lineart from the top to the bottom on another layer, working more on the rendering and polish as the lineart solidifies what I want the drawing to look like.

Compare with my finished drawing:

Would you guys like to see me do more breakdowns/work-in-progress sequences of my drawings in the future? I’d love to know if you do!

Industrious Illustrating #42 – Summer of Artwork


Sorry about the late post! I had a bunch of deadlines and personal matters come up toward the end of the week, so This week, before I make posts about broad topics, I want to share some of the artwork I made over the summer that I liked the most.

I recently designed this shaker charm themed around Devil’s Hole pupfish, which are a critically endangered species of fish native only to a specific pool of water in Death Valley! Shaker charms are basically acrylic charms with a hollow interior compartment that has individual acrylic pieces which can be shaken around, as I demonstrate in the below video:

In other fun animal-themed merchandise, I also designed a fat squirrel wood pin as a fun and eco-friendly alternative to enamel pins. It’s a loving reference to the chonky squirrels that populate the Diag, though they also have general appeal for anyone who enjoys round orb-shaped cute animals.

I also made myself a logo to use on my branding online and at conventions featuring my original character Toshiaki and his mech “Bhairava”. It’s simple but also still drawn in my style to reflect my unique artistic style. You can also see it in the top right corner of the 2023-2024 Industrious Illustrating banner!

In terms of my digital painting skills, I spent a bunch of time working on improving my painting skills with bigger and more complex drawings than before! I translated one of my mecha digital paintings into a physical iridescent foil print which makes their lights change in color from different angles, defying the usual static rigidity of a paper print.

I also experimented with more complex perspective and color schemes I don’t usually use in my artwork:

All in all, I feel like I had a pretty fruitful summer of experimentation and improvement! I also tabled at a handful of smaller one-day events where I brought in alright sums of money to tide me over before I do a few three-day events in the winter, which I’ll talk about in another post! Anyway, see you guys again next week!

Industrious Illustrating #35 – Mecha Design

While I’ve posted mecha art and mecha designs here a few times before, I haven’t posted an actual mecha design sheet akin to what would be used on a project such as a video game to guide 3D modelers and other artists further down the production pipeline when replicating the designs that will appear in the final product. As such, I fleshed out and designed Toshiaki Mizushima’s Oyoroi mech “Bhairava” to demonstrate my mecha and character design skills in a portfolio-ready art piece.

While I referenced several different mech design sheets (such as color guides for gunpla and design sheets for fanmade Gundams) to inform what visual information I needed to convey with this design sheet, I took heavy inspiration from the information conveyed by this mech design sheet made for Honkai Impact 3rd.

Also, if you’re on campus on Saturday, April 1st, you can come see me and buy prints from me at the What the F Art Fair in the Kuenzel Room of the Michigan Union from 12:30-4:30. Yes, it’s on the same day as Hash Bash, and no, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke! You can also come find me tabling at Con Ja Nai in the Modern Languages Building on April 8th from noon to 6pm, so there’s plenty of opportunities to come find me!

Industrious Illustrating #25 – A Year of Progress

This month I’ve been working a lot on “Flamechaser” behind the scenes as the team develops the 0.6 demo build that we hope to post on Itch ( early this year. It’s been nearly a year since I joined the team, and as a result of foraying into game art and mecha design for the project, I’ve developed a lot of new techniques and built upon old ones.

I drew the new illustration of the Penguin and the Phoenix Heart clashing in hand-to-hand combat this year on the 11th, while I drew the old illustration of the 3rd of February last year. When I put these two images side by side, I’m pretty satisfied with how much progress I’ve made over the past year! I’m motivated to keep working on my art to see what new heights I can reach artistically in the future.

If you’re an artist, I encourage you to try redrawing an old piece of art that’s a year old or older and compare them side by side to see all the places where you’ve improved and where you can still continue to improve. I promise it’s a good exercise and also motivational!

Industrious Illustrating #22 – Model Kits

Hello again! I ended up taking last week off because of final projects and exams, so to compensate I’m making more posts than usual this week.

Recently I started building a plastic model of the F-15E Strike Eagle mech from the visual novel “Muv Luv Alternative”. Because the model’s joints are articulated and its overall design is blocky and mostly angular, it’ll be a good default pose reference for figuring out how a mech’s body and limbs would look in three-dimensional perspective while also making changes in my mind’s eye to better fit whichever mech I’m actually drawing. While I didn’t think of myself as a very hands-on or crafty person before, I’m actually really enjoying cutting and filing down plastic pieces to assemble into a working model. I plan on purchasing more model kits in the future for either reference material or simple enjoyment.

Here’s what I have done so far:

While I am a little disappointed that I haven’t had much time to make new artwork over the past two months, I also increasingly feel like it’s important to feed one’s artistic psyche by enjoying life’s many offerings and gradually processing them into memories, feelings, and knowledge that can inform one’s creative output. I hope that my non-art posts demonstrate that I’m not a machine creating fully formed artwork on a dime — I’m always gathering new information and reference material that may one day show up in my artwork.

I’ll be spending most of winter break traveling abroad, so I’ll bring back a lot of reference photographs that I’ll use as inspiration for future artwork. I hope everyone has a relaxing and fun winter break!

Industrious Illustrating #15 – Flamechaser

Hello again! It’s almost November already, and yet I still haven’t finished posting about what I made over the summer.

Starting from earlier this year, I’ve been working alongside a team of other UMich students to make an anime-style visual novel called “Flamechaser” about lesbians piloting giant robots in space and uncovering a deeper conspiracy lurking in the shadows. We released a demo of our minimum viable product earlier this month on, and we’re planning on releasing the full game on both and Steam in the spring of 2023!

I hand-drew all of the mech and character sprites, as well as designing the logo and painting all of the background art. There’s another artist on the project helping with cleanup/flat colors/graphic design/some of the character designs, but otherwise the majority of the art can be credited to me. I feel extremely lucky that I’m getting the opportunity to work on this project alongside some really talented people, and I’m going to put in my best effort to make this visual novel a brief yet enjoyable experience for its readers!

Here is the current main title page featuring all of the main characters:

Here is a promotional poster design I drew to celebrate the release of the Minimum Viable Product earlier this month:

Here’s a few select screenshots from the game’s most recent build:

If you’re interested in following along with the game’s development, be sure to check out our newest builds and updates on our itch page and our Twitter:

Now it’s time for me to get back to working on making new prints and managing my inventory before Youmacon happens in two weeks… See you guys next week for the next post!