Monday, August 29, 2011

The Blog Entry I Almost Forgot to Write

My husband and two oldest sons are off on a trip, and it's just been me and Logan here today. It's been a great day for getting things done, but otherwise it's thrown my daily grove off a bit. Here it is, 10:00 p.m., and I was thinking about going to bed, when I realized I hadn't yet written my blog entry for today. Yep, that pretty much summarizes how today has gone.

Looking down my list of possible topics to write about, two stood out as good bets for today's topic. First was World of Warcraft. The second was D&D narratives and anecdotes. WoW drew my attention because I've been playing it this evening. D&D narratives stood out because I was thinking informal stories, kind of like those told in taverns in D&D, and I have been drinking--not much. =P However, I haven't been drinking mead or elvish wine or anything remotely D&Dish, so I think I'm going to rule out writing about D&D. That's another one to save for next week *after* our D&D game for September. One of these weeks I'm going to post a special Saturday entry narrating our game as it happens, just to give you a taste of Team Sidequest craziness.

Thus, tonight's topic is World of Warcraft. Now, to make things clear right from the start, I am not a diehard WoW fan. I've been playing off and on for maybe 2 years  now. My husband likes it better than I do; I personally still prefer Ragnarok Online, except not how Ragnarok Online is right now, but how it was, and isn't anymore which is why I'm not playing it anymore. You know that was probably a run-on sentence, but I'm tired so I'm not going back to fix it. =P Back on topic... XD Let's start with a brief overview of how I got started playing WoW. Shortly after WoW was initially released, several of our friends started playing it--these were members of Team Sidequest before we called ourselves Team Sidequest. A year later, my husband and I started playing Ragnarok Online--he wanted to write a paper for some class or another while working on his masters degree on an MMORPG game. We picked RO because my cousins played it (also members of Team Sidequest, even though we didn't call ourselves Team Sidequest at that time, except they weren't part of it then) and I really liked the art and character designs. I'd found wallpaper art for the Priest and Knight classes and resolved to cosplay them about 1.5-2 years before we ever picked up the game. For the record, I have cosplayed as the Priest and High Priest classes. I still haven't gotten to do the Knight, and probably won't. XD

For many years, WoW was the game several of our friends played but we didn't, and we'd take turns trying to argue each other away from one game and lure them to the other. During that time, we moved; Shaun finished his masters degree and moved on to his doctoral studies. RO went through various changes, some good, some bad, and most the good came too late, as is sadly the case with many good games. For a little while it was still a decent game; I played mainly for the social atmosphere. However, once my friends from RO and I connected on Facebook and other places, our time on RO faded. Then during his dissertation work, Shaun decided he wanted to use 5 case studies featuring 5 different games from 5 different systems and 5 different genres. He studied Tetris--the cell phone release version, Halo, Wii Sports, Final Fantasy VII, and for the PC he chose World of Warcraft, which at the time was probably the most played PC game around--although it might have been 2nd to The Sims. Given his personal tastes, he chose WoW. And there was much rejoicing, among our friends. So, they set Shaun up with an account, and I borrowed my best friend's account. We poked around played for a little over a month, then quit. Shaun wrote his paper--although really, it was more of a book than a paper since it was made up of chapters and was more than 300 pages long.

Then, several months later, my mom decided she wanted to play WoW, and she wanted someone to play with her, so she gave me one of the trial account things she had so I could start up an account and help walk her through the interface and show her how to play. I played for a couple of weeks until the trial expired. Several more months passed, and everything (literally, everything) was in storage since Shaun had graduated and we were moving to be close to where he worked. We had computers, but no games to play, and for lack of anything better to do, we renewed our WoW accounts. We've been playing off and on since then. We're about to let our accounts expire again--they'll be up in a couple of weeks.

That's basically our history playing the game. Shaun and I like MMO's like WoW because they are games that we can play cooperatively together. There are other games where that kind of play is possible, but I greatly dislike first-person shooters and most any game that requires hand-eye coordination with a few exceptions; that rules out a lot of games. My favorite type of game has been and will always be the fantasy-themed turn-based rpg. WoW works; Shaun and I can play together, and it's close to a genre I really like, so I can forgive the fact that it requires some hand-eye coordination. We tend to compliment each other well in games like WoW, too. He likes wizards, and I like playing healer/tank hybrids. In Ragnarok Online, I played a priestess and eventually a high priestess who could function as both tank and healer for small 2-3 person parties--my husband played a wizard/high wizard, and between the 2 of us we made an awesome team. In WoW, I play a Paladin, and he plays a mage. We still make a pretty good team--questing is easy with a combo like that, and we can even manage to go through at-level instances--maybe a little slower than with a full 5-person group--with just the two of us.

This is really why we play; we like doing things where we work together to achieve a common goal. Part of why we're letting our accounts expire is we're trying to cut expenses and put any extra money we can toward paying off student loans, since we have a lot of those--that's the downside to being over-educated. XD The other reason is that we're really digging into some of the projects for Team Sidequest, the game company. We've got the makings of a zombie card game that should be ready for basic play-testing in the next week, and *might* even be ready to release by the end of the year. We get the same kind of fun out of these projects as we do playing WoW or RO or any other game like that together. One day, it's my dream that we can make a decent living off of making games and comics and our creativity in general. We really love what we do.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Munchkin: Board Game Style

Munchkin Quest is Steve Jackson Game's board game version of their awesome Munchkin card game series. We picked this up a while ago for my husband. However, right after purchasing the game, we moved, and did not find the box we packed it in until our move the end of last month. I'm glad we found it; I'd honestly thought we'd lost it permanently.

On that note, I thought it'd be worth posting a review of some kind on the game. The game features a lot of the same kind of humor and play style that you can find in the card games. Beyond the basic concepts behind Munchkin, art design, and some of the classic items and monsters, not much remains from the original card game.

The first thing you'll notice upon opening this box is that this game has *a lot* of pieces. This is also the first significant deviation from the card game which contained two decks of cards and a dice. This game has dungeon tiles, door tiles, monster tiles, level counters, 10 dice, colored stands, monster tiles, and three decks of cards--I might be missing something there, but you get the idea.

Of course, with all these new pieces, the game got more complicated. The basic goal of the game is very similar to the original card game. Be the first to get to level 10. This version adds the additional condition of "escaping" the dungeon--this involves getting back to the entrance and fighting a boss monster. Not too bad so far, but once you get into the actual game play, you'll see where things can get a little more convoluted. First each player has movement tiles--you start with three. With those movements you can explore a new room, search the room you are in, or activate the special "deal" associated with the room you are in. Also, you have to keep in mind that there are door tiles for each side of the room which can include open hallways, regular doors, locked doors, and hidden doors, and to move through the latter two, you have to spend three movement. Ok, still not that bad. Let's keep going.

Let's go into a little more detail. When you explore, you open up a new dungeon tile. Each tile has something special about it. Some allow for "deals" where you can trade items, money, or cards in your hand for various things. Many rooms also have symbols on them that correspond with the races and classes of the game--we'll get back to this point later. So, you place the new dungeon tile on the board. What's next? First, you draw a card from the Deus ex Machina deck--this deck contains a mix of old treasure cards and door cards from the old deck. Basically it's any card that doesn't count as an item or a monster, so this would include "Go Up a Level" cards and cards that enhance monsters. Next you draw a monster card from the Monster Deck; yes, in this game, monsters get their own deck and you will never have monsters in your hand--another big deviation from the card game. (They still have wandering monster cards and other such cards, but those involve moving monsters on the board or simply drawing a new monster instead of playing monsters from your hand.)

Here's where things get a little crazy: you've got your monster for your room. Now you find the monster tile, and then you role a 6-sided dice with colors on each side: purple, orange, red, green, blue and yellow. If the color matches a player color, that player draws a Deus ex Machina card. If it doesn't, you get to pick the color, but you can't draw a card if you choose your own color. Get a stand of the appropriate color and stick the monster tile on it. Next you compare levels and play any items or effects you or other players want. Now in the card game, that was the end of combat. Not so here. Next you and whatever player "owns" (matches the color for) the monster role one d6 (or more in some cases). Add the role to your level and the monster's level respectively. Resolve combat. If you win, yah; draw treasure, gain a level, and if the monster had the same color stand as your player color, you draw a Deus ex Machina card. If you lose, take a hit and then try and run away; failing to run away still results in bad stuff. The "take a hit" part is another new addition to the board game. All players start with three health tiles. When you "take a hit" you flip a health tile from red to black. When all your health tiles are black, you die. There are slight differences with death that I won't go in to here. I did learn this evening that you can commit suicide if it is to your benefit to do so. XD

So that should give you a brief idea of how much more complicated the board game is than the card game. That was just a basic combat. I haven't gone into searching, which can lead to more combat, the drawing of treasure cards, or gold tiles (yes, the board game gives you money). So, each player can explore, search, move, or deal on their turn until they run out of movement tiles. After that, the colored d6 is rolled again, and the monsters move based on the color rolled and colored arrows on the dungeon tiles (and don't forget that monster movement can be influenced by symbols that appear on certain monsters). 

When all is said and done, the game is still fairly fun. It has a really high learning curve, but if you can get a good group together that has a handle on the game play, it's really not too bad. Learning to play, or playing with people unfamiliar with all the rules and nuances of the game, is tedious at best. Turns can take up to 30 minutes, and that's for just one player. There are enough new rules and new mechanics to the game that even with a seasoned group, it's easy to get bogged down. My opinion on the game: I won't say it's spectacular, but it's still a pretty good game; just make sure you have a lot of time if you sit down to play this one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Works in Progress No. 4, Vol 6.

If you read Monday's post, you'll know that most of the last week has been spent formatting the tarot cards and communicating back and forth with printers. The art is on its way to the printers right now, but because of how the procedure works the order won't be complete until their art department is content that the files meet their specifications and I approve the digital proof. Only after all that is done will the order actually go through officially (i.e., I tell them how many decks, what kind of paper, etc. and they tell me how much; then I pay them, and the order will be in my hands within 2 weeks + shipping). Because I'm always paranoid of kinks in any kind of process like this, I will not be making pre-orders available until we hit that last step and I'm just waiting for the cards to ship.

Most of my time has been spent working on the tarot card deck. Let's look at what else I've gotten done since my last super late WIP post this past Saturday. Lineart for Aquarius has been finished. The garden bunny mini-plushie has been completely finished. Sadly, that's about it. Well honestly, considering how much time was eaten by the tarot deck, I'm happy to have gotten anything done. Over the next several weeks though, expect to see lots of new Zodiac artwork, plushies, prop knives, and cosplay updates. This week's pictures are of the finished plushie, inked Aquarius, and a sampling of the newly formatted cards in the tarot deck.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Anime Tarot: Last Stop Before Moving On

In June, I wrote about the end of the journey to complete the Anime Tarot set. When I wrote that, the last two cards were nearing completion. At that time, I thought I was finally through with the set. Over the three and a half years it took me to finish the set, I got a lot of requests for the set as an actual deck of cards. I thought it was a good idea, so I resolved to look into it when I finished drawing the set.

When I posted the the Anime Tarot journey was over, I felt that the hard part was done--the hard part being getting all 78 cards drawn. Seriously, how difficult could it be to get a printer to print the cards? I might need to do a little editing, but nothing major, right? Little did I know what I was getting myself into. The first hurdle I encountered was that most printers are not equipped to print card decks. They could print business cards, postcards, or any other sized "card" I wanted, but the best I could get there would be square-cornered "prints" on card stock with no coating or finish. This was not what I was looking for. After a lot of poking around and calling, I came up with a list of about a half a dozen places that specialized in printing card decks. Working through that list of places, I narrowed it down to two. This process was easy as only two companies had the correct contact information on their website and bothered to answer their phone. One was based in the UK and India. The other was based out of Florida and somewhere else, I think China--I'm being lazy and not going to look it up now. =P No offense to people in the UK, but I was really hoping to find some place to print them in the United States--there are a variety of practical reasons for this that I'm not going to go into here since that'd be boring.

Moving on to the next hurdle--seeing what it would cost to print, what kind of quality product I'd be looking at, and all those "fun" details. After a week of phone conversations and emailing back and forth, I walked away with a quote and some card samples that I could live with. The cards will be the size of a standard deck of cards not like a larger tarot deck. This keeps the initial investment for the cards in the range of what I can afford to pay, and keeps the price for what I would charge for the deck in the realm of reasonable.

The current hurdle is adjusting each card to be printed as part of the deck. I'd originally designed the cards to be 8-1/2" x 11" prints and 3" x 4" badges; I wasn't really thinking about cards. Needless to say, just shrinking the current designs down to fit in the 2.5" x 3.5" space I have for the cards doesn't look very good. So I'm completely reformatting every card right now. I'm giving them a new border. I'm going to try and work some kind of symbol into the corners of the minor arcana so that you can tell what suit you're looking at with a glance. The new border has been designed--it's simple, but then at that size anything super detailed would be lost. The symbol hasn't happened yet, but whether that works out or not, each suit will have a different color for the border. On top of the adjusting, there's the fact that I needed to design a back for the cards. All this is taking a lot more time than I'd ever thought it would have. XD I'm notorious for underestimating time like that.

I'm hoping that all the files will be ready and in the printer's hands tomorrow. Considering how things stand now, I'm not feeling too optimistic about that happening, but I guess we'll see. As soon as the files are in the printer's hands and I have an idea for when I will have the decks in my hands, I will be posting a Pre-Order listing on Etsy.

Back Design
Front Design

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Works in Progress No. 3, Vol 6.

Wow. I can't believe I've actually been keeping this blog up for 6 months now. It really feels like I just started it. I've only missed a couple of posts in that time. I'm encouraged. If I can keep this up, maybe I do have a chance at keeping a webcomic going--my husband and I have been wanting to run a webcomic centered around the characters for the Archetype set. I've been holding off because I want to make sure that once I start I keep up with it consistently, and with all the moving and crazy stuff going on, I've felt like it's not exactly been the best time to start a webcomic.

But anyways, this is the Wednesday WIP post--yes, I know it's Saturday. XD This past week has been an adventure. Tuesday we spent with my in-laws because my husband had a faculty conference he had to be at for work Tuesday and Wednesday that was near where they live. Then, Wednesday afternoon, we drove to Black Mountain. Black Mountain is probably the most awesome place in the whole world to me. I grew up there, and going back there really reminded me how much I really love the mountains. After the long day of driving, we opted to pass out early and I watched Tangled instead of posting my blog. (Tangled is awesome; go watch it if you haven't.) Thursday was the day of my brother's wedding and we spent that with family and catching up with old friends I haven't seen in years. Friday morning I went shopping with my mom for fabric for Suzaku and Euphemia at Carolina Fabric Outlet--this place is absolutely amazing for fabric. They don't have everything, but what they do have is good quality and well priced. So, I thought I might post when I got home last night. Clearly that didn't happen. XD But, I'm posting it now, so, yah!

Since we've been out of town most of the last week or so, I haven't gotten a whole lot done, but there has been progress. Let's start with art. Squall and She Ra are completely finished. I finished the Capricorn and Aquarius sketches posted last week. They're nice and clean and ready to be inked. I've also started on sketches for the new Pisces and Gemini. I've included pictures for Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. I've got a design I like in my head for Gemini, but so far there's nothing more than scribbles on paper, so no Gemini this week since as far as I know there isn't a way to photograph something that's inside my head. =P This week, I'll be working on more Zodiacs and the card back for the Anime Tarot Deck.

There's not a whole lot new in the world of crochet. The mini-Garden-Bunny I was working on is almost finished--he's missing his button eyes and little cotton tail. I've also started a Pikachu since I need to restock my plushies from Otakon.

We've also got a new product in the works. My husband and I wanted to try something that was more of a collaboration between the two of us. We, of course, collaborate on a lot of the art sets you see on my site since I do the art and he does all the writing, but we wanted something where we had to work together a little more. What we've come up with is decorative props. We liked the throwing knives my husband made for my Mai cosplay, so we're going to make similar throwing knives that I will then paint with pretty designs on them. I've included a photo of the rough sketch for the first design we're going to try and make. This week I hope to get this first design finished, plus I want to see some more concrete work finished on the Suzaku and Euphemia costumes (considering AWA is now 6 weeks away and counting).

First Decorative Prop Design
It's a Pikachu, for realz.
Garden Bunny - almost done

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Little Bit of a Lot of Things: A Look at my Week

It's nice to be *almost* settled in. So, I still have a handful of boxes I still need to deal with. So, parts of my workroom are still more than a little unorganized. I am glad to have my workroom back, at least to some extent. Admittedly, it's not as awesome as it was a year ago--I had a huge counter, lots of shelves and a big work table in the middle of the room, great for all kind of projects. All that stuff is in storage now. I have just one little desk and a couple of shelves. Still, it is a room that I can call my own.

I do have a ways to go with organization. I fully admit that I'd be happy with the way it is now (mostly) if we weren't trying to keep the house up for sale. Right now there's still too much clutter for the house to be "showable" especially in my work area. I need to finish organizing the boys' school work (on my side) plus crafting supplies and tools. I also need to get current projects sorted into appropriate places.

Still, if you consider the kind of mess I'm usually capable of, this place is almost sparkly. Having less stuff does help. I may have stuff left to put away and organize, but it's not an overwhelming task. We have one last wedding for the summer to go to this week (my baby brother is getting married Thursday =D), but after we get home from that, I expect I'll be able to really get going on some projects I've been really wanting to work on. I'm especially excited about starting work on the Suzaku/Euphemia cosplays for Anime Weekend Atlanta. My mom and I are planning to go fabric shopping this Friday before we head home from the wedding festivities.

With only 7 weeks left till AWA, I expect this week will be like the calm before the panic centered around convention preparation sets in. In those 7 weeks I plan on finishing Euphemia and Suzaku costumes along with touch-ups on my friend's Azula costume. I will be rewearing my Mai costume, my husband his Zuko costume, and my cousin her Ty Lee costume. My cousin and I will also be wearing our Pineapple Kitty and Gothic Panda lolita costumes. In the world of art, I'm going to make a serious effort to get the next set of Zodiacs finished both, non-chibi prints and chibi badges. That might be a bit optimistic, but I guess we'll see. For this Wednesday's WIP, expect to see some of Aries. I'm not sure what else will be there; a lot depends on if I can get any work done in the car or during down time (assuming there's any of that at all). So, this was a bit of a rambling post--I blame my short attention span. XD

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Origins of ... Oh Look, Shiny!!

A few weeks ago, I published a post about where the name Gothic Panda came from. Today, I thought I'd do the same for the name of our gaming company, Team Sidequest. Currently this name belongs to our D&D group, the invisible sponsors of Physics Not Included, the WoW guild led by one of our illustrious D&D group members, and the game company consisting mostly of my husband and I and occasionally a couple of other members of our D&D group. Of all of these manifestations of Team Sidequest, the name has belonged to our D&D group the longest.

Over the years, our D&D group has become notorious for ignoring the main plot and instead would wander off on side quest after side quest. Between 4-5 years ago, we started to jokingly refer to ourselves as Team Sidequest when recapping adventures, since usually it involved describing how we got distracted by the shiny side quest and completely missed the obvious main plot. Sometimes we'd see the plot. We'd know deep down that we should follow the plot. In the end, however, the side quests always drew us away. They were shiny nuggets of goodness added by our Dungeon Master to make the world we played in more well-rounded and exciting. There were many nights where our D.M. would watch us in bewildered wonder as we turned what should have been a 15-30 minute role-playing side adventure into a 3-4 hour fiasco. To make communication between members easier, we started a private Facebook group with the name Team Sidequest, except Facebook failed and in general at least half the group would miss notifications and information on the next game and other such important details. It's worth noting because the Facebook group was when our group officially adopted Team Sidequest as our name.

In that vein, Team Sidequest seemed an appropriate name to apply to the game company my husband and I have been trying to put together. Our only product to date is the Anime RPG book, currently in its beta version. Team Sidequest, the D&D group, has played a large part in the evolution of this book. It is true that my husband wrote the entire thing, and only one other group member really took the time to sit down and hash through the mechanics for the powers (he is rewarded for his time and effort with credit on the cover, and if we ever turn a profit with Team Sidequest, the game company, we might even pay him). Although most of our D&D group had nothing directly to do with the book, they were our faithful guinea pigs when it came to play-testing. They suffered through the alpha version of the book, which never existed in any published format. They still play and offer feedback on the beta version, which helps us as we are editing and preparing the next version. We also expect they will be willing sacrifices when it comes to play-testing future game products we put together.

Team Sidequest also makes an appropriate name for our company as both my husband and I--well mostly me--are easily distracted and tend to wander off on cool ideas we have and neglect whatever our current projects are. We currently have plans for at least two supplements to the Anime RPG along with a revision to the current book--including looking into the Pathfinder system and including a version for that for 3.5 fans plus an e-book release of some kind. Moving away from D&D, we also have plans for nearly a dozen different games--board games, card games, and even a phone app or two. Thankfully, my husband is not nearly as easy to distract as I am; he helps keep us at least a little focused on 1-2 projects at a time, or else we'd probably never actually finish anything.

So, that's where we got the name from and why we chose to apply it to our game company. The logo of the dragon with the crescent moon I actually borrowed from my old cosplay commission business. The commission business was named Lunar Dragon and was my 4th attempt at running a business--Gothic Panda qualifies as #6 and Team Sidequest makes #7 (maybe one of these days I'll write a post about all my various adventures and mis-adventures in the entrepreneurial world). Incidentally this was before the Lunar Dragon game was released--I think it was for Play Station, but I'm not sure and I'm going to be lazy and not look it up right now. =P I really liked the logo we'd designed for that business, so we saw no reason why we couldn't just recycle it into the Team Sidequest logo for the game company since as of yet no other version of Team Sidequest has a logo we might have wanted to reference. So that's where we got the logo you can see printed on the back of the Anime RPG book.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday WIP - Commissions

It's been a slow week for work on art stuff between driving all over the state of North Carolina to my cousin's wedding to continuing to unpack and try and remember what I've done with things. However, there has still been some progress. =) I have spent most of my art time working on commissions--these will always take priority over projects for my Art Tables or Etsy shop.

First up is Squall: since last week, he has been line-arted (is that even a word?) and has a base layer of color. I like going through and flat coloring an entire character before I go back and add shade. When I started running tables in Artist Alleys I would color and shade all at the same time, so I'd start by completely finishing the hair, then move on to the skin, then the eyes, and so on. I don't remember when this changed exactly, but now I flat color the picture, then I go back and start working on shading.

Next up is She-Ra: I have made the most progress with her. I have finished the line art, the flat coloring, and I've started shading her. It took me a while to get the shading on the skin to a place where I was happy with it, and I'm still not sure I'm 100% pleased with it; I might have to do some more tweaking later. The first picture is the line art and flat coloring. The second is the shading I finished earlier today. The third is a close up of some of the shading.

Finally I have a sketch finished for a "special" badge project I'm working on. I'm not going to say much about this one--I'm allowed to post some WIP pics and hint a little at what I'm doing, but you'll have to wait to see what it's for until the project goes live at the end of this month. ^_^

And Now For Something Completely Random

This is not Wednesday's regular blog post. This is just a funny story about what happened to me last night that I wanted to share.

Yesterday we had to leave our house in Garner at 4:30 a.m. (I don't think I need to go into how I felt about being up that early). My husband had an 8:00 a.m. dentist appointment in a town that is a 2 hour and 45 minute drive away. I know that's a long drive, but that ties into the whole move thing we had to do the end of July. We're being optimistic that our house will sell soon, so we're not moving dentists, pediatricians, scout troops, or anything back up here unless we absolutely have to. It will mean some difficult days, but I'm hoping they won't be many and that soon we'll be able to move back to closer to where my husband works.

Anyways... We spent yesterday running errands and taking care of stuff in the Misenheimer area, and we ended the day by taking the boys to Scouts. After scouts, we left for home. About an hour into our drive home, we saw flashing blue lights behind us--never a good sign. We pulled over. It turned out one of the front headlights on our car was out. So, the officer gave us a warning ticket, told us to fix it, and we were on our way again. About an hour and a half later (less than 5 minutes from home), we saw flashing blue lights in the rear-view mirror again. We stopped. The officer walked up to our car.
"Are you aware you have a front headlight out?" he asks.
"Yes sir. In fact, we got pulled a little over an hour ago for the same reason."
"Are you kidding me?"
"Nope. Here's our warning ticket. We're going to take care of it first thing tomorrow."
We hand the ticket over; he looks at it and laughs. He notes the county we got the ticket in. We add that we are on our way home. He checks the address. "Wow. You guys almost made it back." I think we made his evening. It was funny for us too, since it wasn't anything major. Really, what are the odds that we would get pulled twice in less than two hours for the same thing. Incidentally, driving down the road we live on, we passed another car with just one headlight. I wonder if they got pulled last night too. So, that's my random funny story. I'll post my regularly scheduled WIP post in a little bit.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Panda's Watching Stuff

One of the things my husband and I wanted to do as part of the reorganizing and simplifying of our life associated with this move is to make a serious attempt at paring down our "Things to Watch" list. There's a lot of stuff there... and I mean a lot. Now, we could of course just opt to not watch some of the stuff on the list--and we might actually do that for a few things--but that isn't our goal. Most of the stuff on our "Things to Watch" list are there because we wanted to watch it, at least a little bit. Some are of course more appealing than others.

Since we've decided not to delete titles off the List, the next obvious thing to do is set aside time to start watching more of the stuff on it. Over an undefined period of time starting last week and going through whenever, we will be watching two episodes from two different series a night. We'll watch kid-friendly shows earlier and let our boys watch with us. The other shows that the kids should not be watching, we'll watch after they go to bed. We each get to pick a show to watch, so, at least theoretically, there's at least one show to look forward to watching.

To start things off, I chose My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. My cousin and several friends have been really getting after me to watch this, and since we did slaughter 3 of the ponies during our last D&D game; everyone seemed extra excited at the deaths of Celestia and Pinky Pie. That was definitely one reason why I chose to watch this series--I'm curious as to why. Also, a lot of people whose opinions I generally respect also had a lot of good things to say about the writing and the series in general. On top of that, I saw so much My Little Pony stuff--in Artist Alley and a lot of cosplays--at Otakon. I admit hoards of rabid fans usually scare me, but when I got D&D, Renaissance Faire, and serious steampunk types who I wouldn't expect to like cutesy things praising it as well, I'll admit it piqued my interest further... so, we're watching My Little Pony.

My husband has chosen to finish Soul Eater--we'd gotten a 10-episode start into this series when life intervened and we had to put it down for a while. We're not on a mission to finish this series, and on a random side note, I really really want to draw Death the Kid as a My Little Pony (in fact, go ahead and expect to see it one of these days). XD I also want to draw a Soul Eater bookmark set (Maka, Soul, Black Star, Tsubaki, Death the Kid, the Thompson sisters, Shinigami, Stein, Medusa, etc.) Anyways, back on topic... Personally, I really like the animation style, and the wacky humor of the series. I've heard it gets really dark, and I hope I keep liking it after it starts moving away from the craziness of the earlier episodes.

When we get a little farther into these series, I will be posting personal reviews of them and maybe some random fanart as well.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Plans... What Plans?

That's kind of how my life seems to go at the moment. I make plans, but then life has other plans which pretty much always override my plans. Sometime I wonder why I even bother making plans--aside from the fact that without some kind of plan I'd spend my days utterly distracted with absolutely focus.

Nothing ever seems to go the way I have in mind for things to happen. For example, just today, I'd planned to spend the morning working on lesson plans, and then I'd spend the afternoon working on the Team Sidequest website (which needed to be up months ago) and commissions. This evening has been claimed for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner for my cousin's wedding, since I'm one of her bride's maids and Ty is her ring bearer (btw he looks absolutely adorable in his little tux). What actually happened today? First of all, I got up 7ish, then ended up back asleep till about 10. Admittedly it was nice sleeping late, but that killed most of my morning. I then got a text from my Mom, who was 'stranded' at her hotel--she'd come up early to help with wedding preparations except everything's pretty much ready and my dad got called into work and he'd taken the car and left her at the hotel. So, I only ended up lesson planning for maybe an hour, then I went to pick up my mom. I have spent the rest of the afternoon looking around for preschool stuff for Logan, and outdoor toys and activities to keep the boys busy (i.e., shopping). Admittedly it's also been nice to go out and do some girl time stuff (with a house full of boys that doesn't happen very often). Also, my husband's sick and has been in bed all day. @_@ The tally: lesson plans for next week are not ready; commissions are sitting about where they were yesterday--lineart for Squall is finished and lineart has been started for She-Ra, and that's about all that's been accomplished since Wednesday. I also have a couple of 'surprise' projects I'm working on for someone--I haven't said much about it, but keep an eye out. ;) Really I'd planned on having at least one of the commissions completely finished by now. Failsauce.

Life has rewritten my plans similarly most every day this week. It's getting old and a little frustrating. Does this kind of thing happen to anyone else?

Also, would anyone be interested in a post about my drawing process--the steps I follow for most of my art?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First WIP Post for August

I've only been home from Otakon for a couple of days now, and a lot of that time has been spent unpacking and trying to organize things in the Garner house--remember how I posted a couple weeks ago that we have to keep this house so clean that it looks like no one actually lives here. @_@ That said, I still managed to find some time to get some work done on projects for AWA--we had to make an unplanned trip to Misenheimer yesterday to tie up some loose ends, and my husband offered to drive for the whole trip so I could work on some stuff. I took a ball of yarn and a sketch pad, and I got started on a new mini-plushie and some of the new Zodiacs. I also finished a few plushies at Otakon, so there has been progress. =D It feels nice to be able to say that after several weeks of doing nothing but packing and cleaning.

First up, at Otakon, I finished 2 Kitty and 1 Bunny mini-plushies. The gray kitty with the dark brown ears and tail sold almost as soon as I put it on the table--I almost didn't put it out; I designed it to look like our new kitten Kisa, and I didn't really want to let go of that one. I'll have to make another one for myself. The in-progress one I started during the car ride yesterday reminds me of zucchini and squash.

Here are 2 sketches for commissions from Otakon. I got the sketches finished at the con; I'll be inking them starting this afternoon--spending most of the last 2 days in the car has made it hard to do any work requiring a computer. =P The first one is for a custom "What Would ___ Do?" character--this one is going to be What Would Squall Do? from Final Fantasy VIII. The other is a commission for She-Ra; that one made me exceptionally happy. I loved that show when I was younger, and I have many fond memories of it.

Lastly, I finished 2 new sketches for the next Zodiac set--actually I have 3 but I'm scrapping the 3rd one. =P It was an attempt at drawing a male version of Libra... let's just say it was horrific and leave it at that. I'm currently trying to burn the memory of it out of my head. So, the 2 I'm showing here are girl versions for Aquarius and Capricorn. The coloring will match the guy versions. Generally I'm pretty pleased with how they're coming out so far--I still need to clean up the sketches a bit and make some adjustments to proportion and such, but design-wise, I'm happy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Otakon 2011

Otakon is over. It was an interesting experience, and yes, feel free to interpret "interesting" any way you like. So, here's what my weekend was like:

Thursday: We left the in-laws' house first thing in the morning--Logan spent the weekend with them. We stopped at the Misenheimer house, finished packing up and cleaning up what little was left--mostly stuff for Otakon. We loaded up both our little cars with the last couple of boxes and the four cats and turned over the keys. Good bye house in Misenheimer. From there we went to the Garner house where we unloaded stuff and the 3 older cats. We dropped Kisa off at my aunt's house since she's still a little young to be left for a weekend. With all of that settled, we finally got on the road to head up north. We spent the night with another aunt and uncle who live in northern VA just an hour or so outside of Baltimore.

Friday: Onward to Baltimore. We didn't get too lost finding our hotel, and I only had to circle the block once to catch the entrance to the overpriced parking deck. We checked in, and then left to haul the table stuff to the convention center. If we do this again, we will hike to the convention center, get our badges, then come back and haul the table stuff. XD It was really hot, and the walk to the convention center was miserable with the heavy bags. They had a pre-registration lane just for Artist Alley and Panelist people, so we didn't have to wait too long to get in. Check in at the AA went smoothly as well. The worst part was actually finding the right pre-reg line and then getting to AA. The Baltimore Convention Center was huge and I had to stop and ask directions about a dozen times. I got everything mostly set up just in time for AA to open. I wasn't 100% happy with Friday's display. It was a little rushed and I didn't get everything out. After AA opened the day pretty much flew by. I got some great pictures, but my phone's internet was really spotty down in AA so I didn't get many pics uploaded to Tumblr--I'll be uploading them over the next couple of days.

Saturday: On Saturday, I kind of wanted to go to the Lisa Ortiz autograph session, but I hadn't remembered to bring anything for her to sign, and I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed by the number of people at Otakon. I was generally content to sit and hide in my little spot in AA. Saturday was especially crazy. Usually when I'm in AA, people come in clumps, but there are lulls between them where I can sit back and relax and watch people and check out the nifty costumes and such. Not so this time--not that I'm complaining; I got to talk to some great people. I loved watching people read the text on the "What Would ___ Do?" set and on the backs of the badges. Whether they bought something or not, I really like seeing people enjoy something I made. That is the main reason I do the whole Artist Alley thing. Saturday was long and exhausting, but it was fun. I finished 2 new mini-plushies, and I got some really fun commissions that I'll be finishing this week. I'm very excited about those.

Sunday: AA was supposed to only be open for about 3 hours on Sunday, but it ended up staying open for an extra 2-3 hours. I finished a 3rd new mini-plushie for the weekend--I was being extra productive. =D My husband and I came up with some fun ideas for a new set of stuff to draw while sitting at the table--it had me in stitches, so even though I don't really need anything else on my list of stuff to do... I think there will be another massive set added (massive as in it just might dwarf the Anime Tarot set) to my list. I'm hoping to have part of it finished by AWA. The drive home that afternoon/evening was long and tedious--traffic was horrible almost all the way to the NC border, so what was supposed to be a 4.5 hour drive ended up being almost 8 hours. @_@

Will we be going back to Otakon? Maybe. I think I'll probably just leave it up to chance--I'll send in an AA application next year, and if I make the lottery and get a table then I'll go.