Friday, April 29, 2011

Birthday Party

Today is my youngest son Logan's 4th birthday. Logan is a cliche boy--he's into cars, burps, dogs, and slimy things. I went to Ben Franklin Crafts, the closest craft store where I can pick up cake decorating stuff and a good selection of food coloring, yesterday to pick up supplies to make some really cool, creative original design cupcakes. What we left the store with was a Lightning McQueen cake pan and the supplies to decorate that cake, even though I'd promised myself years ago that I'd never ever make another character cake like that again.

For one, the cakes make a huge mess. Most of them require no less than 7 different icing colors--in fact it's usually more. The McQueen cake used 10. For another, decorating these cakes kills my wrist. Thankfully the McQueen cake was smaller than a lot of other character cakes. Finally, once the pan is used, it's almost never used again. This year for Halloween, I'm considering doing a Hundred-Acre Wood zombie-style, just so I can use the Pooh and Tigger cake pans again.

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that Logan was immediately enamored with the Cars theme cake pan. Logan has been obsessed with all things Pixar and Miyazaki since he was old enough to comprehend that the TV existed. Our boys get to choose one movie in the evenings and they alternate who gets to pick the movie. Logan inevitably picks something from either the Pixar studios or Studio Ghibli. Cars is his favorite Pixar movie. He waffles between Kiki's Delivery Service, Nausicaa, and Ponyo for his Miyazaki favorites, but that's irrelevant since I'm pretty sure they don't make Jiji or Fox-squirrel cake pans--although it'd be awesome if they did. When Logan saw the McQueen cake pan, he was incredibly excited. This counts as one of the few instances where I've caved in like that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday WIP - Edition 3

For all my whining about motivation on Twitter, it's actually been a fairly productive week. I'm going to start with updates on last week's projects, then move on to newer projects.

Eight of Wands: Howl is finished! View him in all his glory on DeviantArt. I will eventually post him on Etsy, but I've been waiting till I get a little closer to finishing the whole tarot set before starting to post them there--6 cards left, so I'll probably start posting the Tarot cards as soon as I finish with the "What Would ___ Do?" set.

Beholder: Still not finished with this one. It has 2 eyestalks now though. =D I really like how it's coming out so far. I'm going to aim for 6 eyestalks for now and see how that looks and add more if I need to; looking at it, I'm thinking 10 eyestalks would be too much. The eyestalks should also be somewhat poseable.

Blanket: Yes another one, and this one isn't exactly a new project. I was too lazy to get pictures last week, and it's been on hold for a while anyways. Technically I started this blanket last July. Pictured are samples of some of the hexagon pieces for this blanket. The sketch diagram thing should give an idea of what it will look like when it's finished. I'm working on the green hexagons right now; the yellow, orange, pink and purple ones are all finished. Future WIP updates, I'll probably only note the # of hexagons left since photographing the whole thing is a bit unwieldy to spread out to show progress--the completed blanket will be approximately 4.5 feet across. Right now for the green, I have 10 out of 36 hexes finished. After that, I have 30 blue and 43 white hexes.

Mai: This year at Animazement, my cosplay group is going as Avatar: The Last Airbender characters. I'm going as Mai, and my husband is going as Zuko. I think that couple is so adorable. =D I started this costume a couple of weeks ago, but this is the first week that I've had something to photograph aside from a pile of fabric. The pants are finished and her overcoat thing is almost finished--I just need to sew the gold buttons on the front and back. I also have the red shirt that will go under the overcoat mostly finished. It needs a zipper in the back (which is why it's not on the dress form--I got the back basted together, but had the wrong zipper. I have a new zipper now, but I haven't gotten it put on yet, and I didn't want to undo the basting just to take a picture for this blog post), lining added to the sleeves and the bottom edge hemmed. All in all, there's not much left. I still need to figure out how I'm going to do her shoes. I also really want to get a wig for her hair, but I may have to deal with my own hair--awkward since I don't have bangs. I am lacking time and, I'm really not all that good at dealing with wigs anyways.

Anime Artist Girl: This is a rough sketch of my design for the logo contest held by the Anime Artisan's team on Etsy. The contest is for members to design a boy and girl character to be the team logo. Once entries are in, members will vote on what they like best. I won't go into the number of versions I've trashed working on the boy design. XD

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Would ____ Do?

The concept idea for this set came while driving up to Anime USA last fall with my husband and a couple of friends. We were brainstorming ideas for things I could make for Magfest, a gaming convention that takes place in early January. We spent most of the trip trying to come up with a variety of character types from a variety of different gaming platforms. I had decided from the beginning that there would be 12 characters in the set... Anyone familiar with my gallery will see a theme there. I can't honestly say where that came from but I like to do sets of 12.

Since I play primarily Play Station games personally, and older ones at that, coming up with characters for Nintendo and X-Box (in particular) were somewhat difficult. Coming up with some characters from newer games was also a challenge since I'm stuck in the gaming world of the mid to late 1990s. This is why I'm always posting that I'm open to suggestions, and why I listen to what everyone who stops by my art tables has to say. There's a lot of stuff out there that I'm not familiar with in both video games and anime. It's worth noting that I don't always follow everyone's advice, but most the time I'll give a series or game a chance. In most cases, I've been glad I did: I can thank con-goers who stopped to chat at my table for introducing me to both Soul Eater and Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) and a fellow artist for recommending Gurren Lagan.

So, the current What Would ____ Do? set includes: Black Mage, Etna, Felicia, GlaDOS, Kratos, Lara Croft, Leon, Mario, Master Chief, Sam & Max, Solid Snake, and Yuna. I'm considering adding 4 new ones for Animazement or Otakon, maybe the guy from Assassin's Creed or Megaman. I've considered Link, but I'm not sure I honestly want to draw him again--he's in the Nintendo Noir set and in the Anime Tarot set, plus I've made 4 cosplay versions of him and I've got a stand-alone print (o.O yes I do things that aren't part of sets every once in a while) with Link and Navi. To reiterate my point from above, I'm always looking for ideas and suggestions; feel free to comment or message me on Twitter or Etsy if you have any game characters you'd like to see in this set.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gotta Catch 'Em All

Pokemon is a phenomenon that has been around since the late 1990s. I collected the cards when they first came out--I was an anime fan and was excited by anything anime back during a time when anime was a lot harder to come by. It's 2011, the newest set of games for the DS came out just under 2 months ago. My kids are playing the games and collecting the toys now. The theme is still the same: "Gotta Catch 'Em All." This morning I put together a treasury on Etsy with a Pokeball theme. I found a lot of really creative and unique items. Here is a sampling of some of them:

Pokeball Belly Ring
by RainbowKidShop

If you're interested in checking out the big treasury, you can here.

Credit for the code for the mini-treasury goes to Autumn2May. Find out how to make your own mini-treasury on her blog.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday WIP - Edition 2

The last week or so has been a bit slow for getting stuff done on my projects thanks to being sick for most of that time. However, it's not been completely useless.

I finished the blanket from the last WIP post. The finished blanket has been posted to my DeviantArt account.

Anime Tarot: Howl has moved beyond the concept phase. He's been drawn, and the lineart is finished. I need to clean it up... a lot. XD I also need to color it. =P Still, I'm really excited about the last part of the Wands suit. Starting with Howl here, most of the characters left are some of my favorites. I loved Howl's Moving Castle. It is my favorite Miyazaki movie, replacing Princess Mononoke. Some of the favorites that are coming include characters from Slayers, Trigun, and Code Geass.

Plushies: I still haven't finished that Moogle plushie. Lame, I know, especially all that's left is the wings... still. XD I've been a little distracted. I finished one custom plushie since then though. Plus, I'm working on a plushie submission for the Mom's Basement April craft contest. The theme is Dungeons and Dragons. From the start, I wanted to make a plushie something... I think the original plan had been along the lines of crochet dice (which I still might do) or something like that, but my husband gave me the idea of doing a Beholder--one of the archetypal monsters in the D&D system. It seemed like a fun challenge: make a hideous monster into a cute chibi plushie. =D I've got the base body and the central eye finished (not attached yet though). I'm working on the eye stalks and smaller eyes now--I sketched them into the photo to give a rough idea of what they might look like finished.

Hopefully by this time next week, both of these projects will be finished.

Monday, April 18, 2011

FMA: Brotherhood

This past weekend, my cosplay group got together to work on our cosplays and skit for Animazement. Only one of us actually got cosplay work done. I got sick again--that's my excuse. I spent Saturday curled up in a ball on the couch trying not to be too close to anyone. We did get our skit written, so I won't say the day was a complete flop--at least as far as intended work goes. One of our members had recently acquired Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and she brought it with her. So, most of us spent Saturday distracted by that.

Sketch by Christopher Sabat
I've heard all kinds of comparisons between Brotherhood and the original FMA, from art style to story and so on. I'm not going to compare the two. The original FMA was awesome. I will concede that the ending was a bit weird, but compared with, say, the end of Evangelion... I could live with it. Otherwise, the story was good. Above all, I loved the characters in FMA. I especially loved Armstrong--off topic: At Anime USA last year, I got a signed sketch by Armstrong's voice actor! *squee* It lives next to my sewing machine (see picture).

*cough* Back on topic... I think the only thing that disappointed me about the original FMA was the fact that it ended. It left me wanting more... a lot more. I was very excited to hear about the release of Brotherhood. Supposedly it follows the manga better. I've only read the first 3 volumes of the manga, so I can't say. I can say, however, that Brotherhood is giving me exactly what I wanted. I'm getting more Full Metal Alchemist. It's kind of like reading a really good fanfiction, except better, and it's official instead of fan-produced.

If I had to choose, I do think I like Brotherhood better so far; I like the faster pace, and I feel like the characters are a little more dynamic. For example, in Mustang's fight with Lust, he transmutes the air into hydrogen while Havoc tosses in a lighter (Mustang's gloves are wet, so he can't do his standard snap explosion thing). To my knowledge, Mustang never did anything other than the snap explosion in the original FMA. After watching this combat, I was like: =O I didn't know Mustang could actually transmute something other than "make it go boom" (even if indirectly something still went "boom" in this fight too). I still like the original, but I have to say I'm completely enamored with Brotherhood, and I can't wait to watch the rest.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Being Sick Sucks

Seriously, being suck just plain sucks. I apologize for not having a post for Wednesday--had planned on featuring WIPs for Howl, new plushie, blanket, and cosplay project (well maybe not all of those, but was going to put up a couple of them). Needless to say that didn't happen. I spent Wednesday mostly in bed feeling weak and ill. Spent Wednesday night/early Thursday morning throwing up--I won't go into details there, but let's just say it wasn't pleasant.

Yesterday, I spent my time curled up on my couch doing what I always do when I get really sick--as in so sick I really have to shut down and not do anything. I watched all 5 hours of A&E's Pride and Prejudice. I love Colin Firth. I love Jane Austin. I love that A&E followed the book almost verbatim. To be honest though, I shouldn't say "watched"; it was more like listened to or snoozed through. I of course woke up and watched my favorite scenes.

My habit of watching Pride and Prejudice when sick started about 4 years ago. I used to watch the 2-disc series annually (since about 1998 when my RUF lunch Bible study group introduced me to it). A few years ago though, I was sick, and couldn't do anything--reading made me ill, playing video games were worse, and even opening my eyes made me nauseous. I hadn't had my yearly dose of Pride and Prejudice yet, and it's an excellent series to listen to--I could just curl up on the couch with a blanket, shut my eyes, and listen to the wonderfully witty banter. At 5 hours, it also helps the time pass faster, another excellent thing when sick. Since then, whenever I get really sick, I stick that series in.

Needless to say, I am very glad that I am feeling better today--I ate breakfast 2 hours ago, and it's still down; that's a good sign. I won't say I'm back to 100%, but today's a definite step up from yesterday.

Monday, April 11, 2011

More Zodiacs

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a little on what I was thinking when I designed the Western Zodiac set I've been posting on Etsy the last week or so--they should have been all up by now, but I admit to having gotten distracted by blanketing (see Wednesday WIP 1), so I did not get new posts up for Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. That will most assuredly be fixed over the next couple of days. This post will be a little of the same, plus a preview of those zodiacs not yet posted.

Taurus: My Taurus design features bull horns and a wild, intense, earthy look--at least I think so. When I'd originally started sketching her, I'd intended for her to feature jungle colors--more greens and browns than the orange and yellow she has in the final version. The dark skin and blond hair was there from the beginning, as was the gold body paint. When adding color, however, I decided that the orange looked much better than the green for her clothing, so I went with that; there are still some green accents in the form of jewels on her costume.

Gemini: I wanted to do something extra special and different for Gemini, since that's my sign (I'm allowed right, since I'm the artist). First of all, I did not want to draw two characters. It's like I'm required to have multiple personality disorder, or be bipolar, which might be the case, but that's irrelevant. ;) I chose to focus on the adventuring and exploration side--the part where Gemini's are always trying to discover new things, be creative, and seek to understand mystery. I briefly considered drawing some kind of alchemist, scientist, or inventor with a modern or pseudo-modern twist. Those were almost immediately supplanted by an eastern-styled wizard, because I like Asian culture and wizards are awesome (I even married one).

Cancer: For Cancer, I wanted to include something from the crab, but I wanted to keep it subtle. My first concept for Cancer had been a sacrificial victim look, similar to the current design except it would have been a dress (one piece, not two) and I wanted her to have a long, sleek, hooded cloak. After several variations of the sketch, I ditched the cloak; it hid too much of her in my opinion. The crab motif can be seen in the "crab legs" worked into the gold detailing on her clothing, in her jewelry, and on her staff. Her white hair and dark skin were part of the design from the beginning--I like drawing people with different skin tones.

Leo: Originally, I'd planned on drawing a character similar to Taurus for Leo. She was going to have tiger stripe body art (I like drawing body art too), and short, wild, hair. In hindsight, the hair would have probably looked something like a blond Lionel from Thundercats. Needless to say, that's nothing like what I ended up with for the final design, which was inspired more by my addiction to sweetened iced tea than anything else. I'd originally intended for the dress to be less yellow, and her hair to be a pale peridot green. After recoloring her several times because the original color scheme did not look very good, I ended up with the colors she has now.

Virgo: Virgo was inspired by Princess Buttercup from the Princess Bride, loosely. There's probably a little bit of Jane Austin in there as well. I wanted something medieval middle class (I know this never really existed), but I wanted a dress that was a couple steps up from a poor peasant dress, but I didn't want something ornate and rich. The apron was something that I added later in the design process, to go with the flower basket--the idea being she'd been out picking flowers. Originally, Virgo was supposed to be wearing blue. Like Leo, she went through a lot of versions when I was coloring her. I had meant for her to have brown hair, or maybe a reddish-orange. When it boiled down to it though, the blond just looked better with the character.

Libra: The original concept I had in mind for Libra was air druid--I was thinking something like a stereotypical earth druid, with all the vines and leaves and bark-themed clothing, but making it airy instead of earthy. I'd planned on there being layers of veils and gauzy material... Needless to say, that's not what happened. XD I had also meant for her to have short hair (same straight cut, but much shorter). I'm not even sure how I stumbled upon this design--it was something that came out of sketching on her character. The coloring was something I meant to reflect the scales theme--light on one side, dark on the other; she also has 2 eye colors to go with the theme.

Scorpio: Scorpio is another one of those sturdy survivor-types, similar to Capricorn, except with the element of water instead of earth. So where I went with a desert theme for Capricorn, I went with a frozen, icy tundra setting for Scorpio. His clothes are lined with furs, and I felt he deserved a kick-ass weapon of some kind to go with that. =) In hindsight, I kind of wish I'd left the hood down, and I did leave it down for the chibi version--I think Scorpio is my most favorite of the chibi versions.

Sagittarius: For Sagittarius, I looked at the symbol, the archer, and the element, fire. For archer, I think woodland, elves, Robin Hood, and other similar character types. For fire, I think of something wild and untamed. The amalgamation of the two was a gypsy-type character. To clarify, Sagittarius is a guy; yes, he's bishie. That was intentional. I think it'll be a little more obvious once I get the girl version of Sagittarius finished and have them side-by-side. The blue hair is from the sign's stone, turquoise. I originally gave him black hair, then tried blond, red, brown, and a few others in there, along with different variations of colors for the bandanna and vest.

The entire Zodiac set can be viewed in the Western Zodiac Gallery on my website. I will be working this summer on adding alternate gender versions for this set, so the ones drawn as guys now will have girl versions, and vice versa.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Precious Pandas

I adore pandas. That should be fairly obvious though by the fact that there is a panda theme to most everything I do now. I've been active on Etsy now for a couple of months, and I put together a couple of treasuries. However, a few days ago, I realized I had not put together a panda treasury. I was horrified. Clearly, this was something I needed to do. =) Below is a sampling of what I found for my treasury. Hope you enjoy.

If you're interested in checking out the big treasury, you can here.

Credit for the code for the mini-treasury goes to Autumn2May. Find out how to make your own mini-treasury on her blog.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesday WIP - Edition 1

Since my last WIP post, I have finished the Seven of Wands. Sadly the Moogle looks about the same. The wings are still giving me some trouble. I know I'll get it eventually, but I would rather it be sooner than later. =P So, what's in the works right now? Here are some of the current projects:

The Eight of Wands: This one is still in the concept art phase--the part where I try and dig up good reference pictures and decide on how I want the picture to look. This one looks like it's going to be one of those where I stick the movie in the DVD player and pause on a full body screenshot, since online searching has proved fruitless. So, who am I trying to draw? The Eight of Wands represents someone who is caught in a war, and although this could apply to many many anime characters, I am drawing Howl from Howl's Moving Castle. Why Howl? Because he's my most favorite Miyazaki character ever. He is in a war that he doesn't really want to be stuck in, so he does fit the card's description. But for the why Howl over other characters, the answer is purely because I'm a big fan of Howl's Moving Castle--if I ever had a girl, I would name her Sophie. =D On a random side note, the book, Howl's Moving Castle, is awesome too. If you haven't read it yet, you should.

Baby Blanket: A week ago from Monday, I decided I wanted to make a blanket for a girl in my church who is expecting her first baby. Not only did I decide I wanted to make a blanket for her, I decided it would also be finished by her shower, which happens to be this Sunday after church. Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment; I should have been satisfied with having it finished before the baby is born (May some time). The blanket consists of 99 squares with alternating pink and white flowers. Thankfully I did not pick a pattern with an elaborate border. x_x; As of this morning I have 60 squares finished. *dances* Yah! And, only four days left to finish the whole thing. @_@ *dies* In any case, I think it's safe to say this is what I will be doing for most of the rest of the week.
Finished 60 squares. Final will be 11x9 (99 squares).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gardens + Spiders

I had planned on writing on something else this morning, but I'm going to write on gardens and spiders instead. This isn't something I'd normally write on... Okay, maybe spiders, but I'm not usually a garden person.

What happened was, this past Saturday my husband and I drove up to our old house--we've been trying to sell it since last June--to do some yardwork. Our goal was to clean up the front yard in particular and plant some flowers in the beds there, since everything from last year was quite dead. All in all, it's not what I'd call a fun way to spend my Saturday. I'm not overly excited about nature to begin with. Alright, if I'm more honest, I appreciate nature, and I enjoy looking at it... from a distance. I don't like touching it so much, so I'd much rather view a garden than plant one. This is a significant reason why I don't have a garden myself--I'm not independently wealthy enough to hire a gardener to plant and take care of one for me. But, back on topic, it's a given fact that pretty brightly colored flowers help with the curb appeal of houses. So, my husband and I picked out lots of pretty little yellow, white and pink--and not the shade of pink I like, the really bright pink that hurts my eyes--to spruce up the front of our house. If it was going to be my garden, I would have picked reds, purples, and whites... maybe some oranges instead of the reds, and also lamenting the fact that flowers don't generally come in navy blue or black. But, this was supposed to be a garden that would appeal to the general populace... not me or my weird tastes. I got some pictures here of the final product. Considering how non-gardening I am, I was pleased with the result.

Now for the more interesting part of this post, at least in my opinion: Spiders!!! I have a love-hate relationship with spiders. They creep me out, horribly, but a the same time, I find them wonderfully fascinating. I used to keep Black Widow Spiders as pets when I was younger--I'd catch them in the back yard--true story. Well, back on topic, while playing with nature, we of course saw lots and lots of spiders. Mostly we saw your standard garden spiders and wolf spiders--we even got to see a smaller wolf spider carrying around her egg sack, which was kind of neat. Unfortunately my 2 older boys were not with me because they might have found that interesting. As it was my 3 year old was completely oblivious and just wanted to squish bugs and step on the flowers all in the name of being helpful. What was most cool though was while working on the side yard garden (see the last 3 photos above), I saw a spider I'd never seen before. =D Always exciting right? It was about the size of a quarter and was light brownish-red in color. It crawled underneath the leaves of one of the Petunia's I'd just planted and kind of wedged itself in really close to the base of the flower. This was sad because I really wanted to get a picture of it to see if anyone could help me identify what kind of spider it was. After poking around the internet since I got home, I've determined that *I think* it was a crab spider. It had the coloring and some of the shape of a brown recluse (of course not sure about the red-markings on the underbelly because I never saw that), but it's back end was way to round and large for a brown recluse--not to mention the whole spider was really too big as well, but there are always mutants to ever species, so I wouldn't have discounted that if it had looked exactly like one except for the size. Anyways, it also has some of the shape of garden crab spiders. Unfortunately, even with all the digging, I haven't found a crab spider that matched the coloring of what I saw (and once again I lament not being able to have gotten a picture), specifically, the spider I saw had no visible markings at all; it was all the same color, and all the photos I've seen of crab spiders have some kind of marking or pattern on them even if it's not much of one. This picture below is the closest I could find--it's the right shape, but the wrong color.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Happy April Fools Day. ^_^ Today's subject is.... my kitties! =D Why? Because they're awesome. ... ... Ok not really. They're actually kind of lazy and useless, but they're very good at making messes, breaking stuff, and generally making it difficult to finish projects. They also shed fur on everything, like to randomly carry off parts of yarn projects, and sit in my face when ever I'm trying to work. They're also very affectionate, to a fault, especially the youngest...

Which one's the real cat?
You took my picture. You will die.

This is Bunny. I found her 10 years ago outside of where I worked at the time, just trotting along the highway. She was a tiny little thing then--I have a picture of my brother holding her in one of his hands, and she fit  on his palm. She's still a fairly small cat. We called her kitten for years until we realized she wasn't going to get any bigger.

Living Art
Ty w/ Squirrel
Sibling Love
The first picture features Bunny with Ferret. Ferret is a now 11 year old tabby. We picked him up with his sister, Squirrel (the gray cat in middle and right picture above), from the Human Society. It was one of the first things we did after we got married. We both wanted a pair of cats. Those two were the last in their litter; someone had left them in a paper bag on the side of the road. Unfortunately Squirrel is no longer with us. *sad* She knocked a screen out of a window in our old house and fell out said window. She then freaked and bolted. We never found her. She was a very sweet cat, and we still miss her.
Pic 1: This is Badger. He's 4 now, and he's a snuggle-bug. I picked him up over the Christmas holiday when I was doing some short-term work for my Dad's company. One of the other ladies that worked there had a cat that had just had kittens. Well Badger was one of those kittens. When I picked him up, he licked my fingers clean--there was dregs of cake icing since I'd finished icing my middle son's birthday cake earlier that day-- and then he curled up in my arms and went to sleep. There really wasn't any way I could give him back. When Badger was a kitten and small enough, he would sit on shoulders, backs, whatever perch he could find as long as it was on a human body. Pic 2: Another pic of Badger, this time having defeated and subdued my middle son, Luke at age 5ish. Pic 3: Badger now. It turns out he has a flea allergy; we discovered this when we moved last summer--we picked up fleas during the move and he started pulling his fur out. The fleas are gone, but we're still fighting the nervous habit it created in him. This is why his fur is kind of thin around his backside. It is finally starting to grow back. Badger is also the biggest cat in our house now. Pic 4: Proof that our cats are affectionate and more or less own us (or at least my husband). This particular picture features Badger, Squirrel, and Ferret. Incidentally Bunny did try to join in the cat-pile, but she couldn't find a spot. I was kind of hoping she'd figure out a way to curl up with the others because that would have made for a fun picture.

So those are our cats. =)