#1 of 33 Art Projects

#1 of 33 Art Projects

In 2014, I started the 33 Art Projects series to practice my artistic skill. Here’s the 2016 revamp with one of my firsts, a hand-drawn and colored banner:

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Created a pencil sketch.

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Cleaned up the sketch.

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Inked the sketch and added in shadows.

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Did preliminary coloring with Copic markers.

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Continued coloring with jacket, shirt, and gloves.

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Finished coloring the pants.

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Complete coloring with a saturation and brilliance adjustment in Photoshop.

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My final product: a banner for Jade’s Escape.

2015 Resolutions from a Japan Fan

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2015 Resolutions from a Japan Fan

Last year, I made some typical resolutions–losing weight, saving money, reading 50 books, and completing 33 art projects–and I met some of them. I lost 15 pounds after July’s knee injury (no exercise, too) and read 55 books in 2014. I unfortunately didn’t finish 33 art projects nor save money, so I felt a little disappointed in myself. Still, I’ve battled the horse through injuries, failures, and burn-outs, and I’ve found one thing to be tried and true: I’m going to do accomplish many goals before I leave Japan this year.

Read more manga. I really want to read old manga. I feel like old manga had more meaning. If you look at my reading list for last year, I started reading older or re-released manga including Barefoot Gen, 47 Rounin, Doraemon, Sazae-san, Children of the Sea, Gundam Wing, and Evangelion. The reason why I’m looking at older manga and classics is because the newer stuff isn’t cutting it. I also read Assassination Classroom, Crimson Empire, Devils and Realist, Sankarea, Ultimo, and Zero’s Familiar Chevalier. This latter group just rubs me the wrong way. Every plot device in manga is glaringly obvious, so much so, I just dropped them off my reading lists–or ranted about them on the Anime3000 and Manga Corner podcasts. If you have any good recommendations for me with atypical plots and characters, please contact me right away.

Do more art projects. So I didn’t do 33 art projects last year, but I’m set on doing it this year. I’ve set a goal for myself on Anime3000’s Manga Corner: to do a motion comic per podcast. I can do it. I just need to buckle down…and get a Mac. ( ̄◇ ̄;)

Wean myself off the internet. Yes, yes, it’s a weird resolution, but I sit in front of a computer maybe 8 to 10 hours a day. That’s too many hours sitting down.

Post more manga artist stuff. If you’re an aspiring manga or comic book artist, I’ve got the section for you. Last year, I posted “Online Communities for Aspiring Manga Creators“, “Manga Pens for Manga Artists Outside of Japan“, “Deals and Savings for Manga Artists“, and “Manga, Comic Book, and Graphic Novel Courses for Aspiring Creators“. Got something you’re always looking for as a manga artist? Let me know in the comments section, and I’ll compile a list of resources for you and other artists.

I hope I can accomplish this stuff in a year. I’ll be leaving Japan, my second home, in July or August after 5 years, and I’ll have to adjust to American culture again.  \(^▽^@)ノ

#10 of 33 Art Projects: Ryukyu Star Winter Issue Cover

I had fun doing this cover for the Ryukyu Star. I used the knowledge I gained from the last cover and quickly finished this one. The hardest part about this project was deciding the colors. It’s a good thing I let the colors speak for themselves.RS-winter-cover2015bw

I penciled, inked, and scanned the base image.RS-winter-cover2015_1

I made several layers in Photoshop and colored the image. I usually start with a base color–in this case, warm colors–and work my way from the body to the rest of the image.

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After I apply a base color, I put in dark layers, light layers, darker layers, and finally, the lightest highlights if needed.

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The final image has warm colors (autumn) and cool colors (winter) to show how one season goes into another.

#9 of 33 Art Projects: Fall Cover of the Ryukyu Star

I’m getting used to making digital art nowadays, and this next project proves it. In my past art projects, especially the last Ryukyu Star cover and my personal avatar picture, I had trouble with the coloring. There was a thin layer of white surrounding all the lines I filled in even when I made the pictures into vectors in Illustrator. I finally looked up how to color hand-drawn images from a free class on Skillshare.

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I highly recommend joining this website. It has classes on art, writing, and marketing–all things artists, writers, and self-promoting bloggers need in this digital world.

The hardest part about this project? The actual concept. I hate re-using other motifs, and if I have to, I’d rather just not do it or tackle it in a different way. I pulled out the most famous part of Alice in Wonderland–falling down the rabbit hole–and replaced Alice with a man working on something because this is the busiest time for English teachers.

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I ended up changing the original concept and added a fall-to-winter doorway.
rsFallcover2014_1 After changing the original design, I started to paint the image in Photoshop. I learned that if I put the image’s layer in Multiply mode (it’s usually set in Normal mode), all whites in the picture would become transparent. This solved my white line problem and made my life a lot easier.

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I did almost lose the colored picture. I was happy to play with lots of colors and gradients to get the final image below.

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#8 of 33 Art Projects: Bingata Lends Itself to Ukiyo-e

Every summer, the art teacher in my school does bingata lessons. I did this last year and the year before.

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First, a water-soluble resin is put through a stencil with wire and dried. Afterwards, you can paint directly on the dried parts. The painting process is similar to making woodblock prints (ukiyoe). You first apply the base layer, which is usually a light color. In all of my paintings, I use really light colors that contain yellow (unless I plan on painting blue or purple over them). It’s really important to know what the final picture will look like so that you can plan the base accordingly. If not, it’s easy to drawn out the base color with indecisive colors.  After the base colors are applied, you dry the dye with a hair dryer and go on to the next part of the painting.
140819_1427The second part of the painting process is putting the final shades and tones. I use a small soft brush and a regular brush (one in each hand) and blend the colors. Because I started out with bigger brushes, the phoenix in this image came out funny. It’s my own lesson to choose my brushes carefully from now on. Once all the colors have been applied, you dry the dye until the resin flattens. Place your finished painting into water for a few hours, or if you want the resin to come off more easily, put it in water for a couple of days. Finally, you wash the resin off without rubbing the fabric together, and let the fabric dry.

This one wasn’t my favorite bingata because I only had an hour to make it where I previously took two or three hours to make.

What do you think about it?

#7 of 33 Art Projects: Summer Cover of the Ryukyu Star

“How do digital artists take drawings from pencil to fully-colored images?” I’m always wondering this. In every digital art project, I’m looking for a breakthrough, and even if I flip through magazines and tutorials on the subject, the best way to learn is to practice.

This was the first image I colored without converting the inks to vectors. I deleted the negative space, going in as far as pixel by pixel, and darkened the inks with some level adjustments.

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I created a separate layer and colored it as the base color.Maybe it’s just habit from painting, but putting down a bright base color makes the other colors brighter, especially if the colors are placed using around 80 percent opacity. In this project, I used a bright orange-yellow that would lend itself to dark and light colors.

rs-summer-cover-baseI made different layers for each color, usually starting with the medium color followed by the dark colors and highlights.

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What do you do to digitally color images? I really like to get constructive feedback and how I can improve my art!

#6 of 33 Art Projects: Sketches for Writing

I write different stories for contests, and every day, I get stuck. Sometimes, I can’t imagine a character’s clothing or a certain scene. I draw to brainstorm ideas until I get a clear image in my head.CIMG2850

Costume ideas for a story.

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Scene for a science fiction story.

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First scene from a story…and, no, it’s not a manga.

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Studying glass of water for a T-shirt design.

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As William Zinsser says, “[…] look for your material everywhere, not just by reading the obvious sources and interviewing the obvious people” (On Writing Well, p. 58). I usually draw people I see because they provide material for stories. The picture above are two people I saw at the bookstore. Oh, and I do write in Japanese sometimes. Saves space.