christmas doodles, what else

Merry Christmas, Dreaming in Color! I took a break from serious Dumping a Dragon work because I was out of the house for most of the last two days. But the good news is I discovered a wonderful new art program to use on my Chromebook! Here are my doods. They’re all still Siv and Noelia!

Discovered I really like coloring with the pastel tool. Love the warm reds and purples. Have been feeling these two colors a lot lately.
First drawing I did in my new program. It’s super free and it doesn’t even have its own app store icon and it’s called Autodesk Sketchbook but it’s GREAT and Siv is so handsome in this! A blend of sketch brushes and airbush shading.
I HAVE GOOD NEWS. I CAN DRAW ON MY CHROMEBOOK WHILE I BIKE. It was amazing and challenging and Noelia looks BOMB AS HELL in this.

holiday vibez

Christmas arrives in five days! I have three days of work before a planned week off at home with Ryan, including an overnight stay in Duluth. Similarly, I finished my first semester at Saint Thomas yesterday and I was excitedly biding my time until today when I could make an OC Christmas card.

At first I wanted to do a feature of an old crew but I decided I needed to honor the fact that I am STILL working on Dumping a Dragon, despite a few weeks in the last few months when I was thinking it was dying. I’m almost at 50 pages actually (which will be celebrated by a separate blog post). I was sure that just like Cadence, DaD was going to die right around 45 pages, and right at the part of the story I expected it to.

Making no promises about its future, I feel very proud of myself and humbled by my inspirations that I haven’t stopped working on it. Taking breaks is totally allowable and not indicative, apparently, of its certain doom.

I find myself regularly daydreaming about Siv and Noelia when certain songs come on, etc., and I’m finally going to reward myself in a few short pages of doing yet another flashback to fonder times for them, so I get to finally draw human Siv.

Anyway, of course it’s human Siv who graces this year’s Christmas card, but I think Noelia kinda steals the adorableness show in this one. Only I would totally wear Siv’s ominous YOU BETTER WATCH OUT Christmas sweater.

Noelia is supposed to look like she’s wearing crushed velvet. Limited success I would say.

Into the Spider-Verse

Another blogworthy event is that last night I saw “Into the Spider-Verse” and it was AMAZING. It made me glad for reading the first few issues of Miles Morales back when I was in college; I feel like it gives me some serious nerd cred now, haha. And Nick Miller as a pudgy grown up Spider-man was fantastic in every way.

Image result for into the spider verse

I feel like the movie paid such homage to comic books in a way I never thought I’d see; it got me at once jealous and emotional, haha. Since it’s just hit theaters there aren’t any good screenshots to demonstrate what I’m talking about. But the film regularly overlaid their handsome CGI with comic elements including yellow-background narrative text, motion lines, and sound effects. I even cried a few times! In the first few moments of the film I was like “um Miles is supposed to biracial” (because his mom presented as African American) and then she yells at him in Spanish and I was like “…oh good!” haha. There are also some noteworthy voice actors in it which I was proud of myself for recognizing.

And it was great that Miles spends the first 75% of the movie kinda failing. He doesn’t immediately gain control of his super-powers; he doesn’t even immediately believe in himself. 

Oh, also, I will say the big screen did nothing to add interest or appeal to Spider-Gwen for me. She’s as boring, generic, and Trying Too Hard as she ever has been (and her ballet flats were really stupid.)

Anyway, I was glad I got to usher in a short break from school and responsibilities with such a good comic book film! Aaaugh! 

Also my husband and I are big dorks and I love him so much because we always laugh loudly at the same fucking things and I’m sure everyone in the theater hated us, but I don’t care and I love us. SO. MUCH.

I can’t wait till after Christmas so I can finally post my new art of us. Only that also means I have to make cat art since Scribbles isn’t in it. *tear*

the never-ending man

Today I made the excellent decision to go see a limited showing of the TV documentary on my god, Miyazaki-sama. I weirdly saw it advertised on my Instagram stories and it had a limited showing for tonight at a nearby theater and I felt like I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t go see it.

My take aways include: everything that is good is a hassle (or something along those lines; I can’t find any quotes or gifs from it), and, “forward, forward, always forward.”

Honestly it makes me stop wanting to be a baby about stopping a project I start because it’s not perfect and that’s about as much as I feel the need to say on that end.

So, yay!

And also here is a doodle I did while my stats professor made us watch “Stand and Deliver” for our statistics class. >.o

a little stuck

I have a week left in my first semester at Saint Thomas after tomorrow. We also got a new kitten in our family – I got bored and fixated on wanting a baby and we needed to do something to help abate that. So we found her at Petsmart and she is perfect for us, even if Snowball doesn’t think so yet. Her name is Scribbles!

Anyway, between her taking up all my emotional energy and my stats class almost ending, and then also being stuck on a difficult page of Dumping a Dragon, that project is dragging. I guess all my creativity is actually. I got my Christmas drawing done for Ryan and that was about all that has been completed in the month of December yet.

I also did a casual crossover drawing that I let myself keep sketchy in lines and color, but it’s still a lot of fun and is a throwback to older crossover drawings I did in my teens.

lol i just noticed i never colored danny’s pants. now he’s a floating spirit.

Other than this mostly as much as I am still turning over the next steps for Dumping a Dragon and whatnot, as with what stopped me from continuing to do Cadence, I’m just wishing the story were different. I feel frustrated that I have all this passion for drawing people interacting and such a love for interesting character design, and then so much of this story is being held back by the fact that Noelia is just interacting with a bunch of oversized dragons with limited facial expressions, and then weird fantastical settings that I really couldn’t care less about so I keep under-drawing, under-developing, and avoiding in panels.

I couldn’t have expected my first go back into graphic novels to be good after 5+ years, but my problem is that these are two glaring issues that are making me once again want to work on a graphic novel project, but not this one.

My brain has been very nostalgic lately for Redefining Evil and for Nikkei and for Bakura and Danyil and the old couples I made. The other day on my drive home from work they played Animal I Have Become back to back with an Offspring song and I thought about my blissful life as a 14 year old creator for basically my whole drive. Being in middle school really did create the perfect conditions for growing an entire creative world for myself.

[edit] Ugh I just did this adorable doodle during tonight’s lecture in my diversity class and I love her. All the scrumblies were me trying to erase my class notes to save it and it was super laggy so I’m leaving the scrumblies, since they fit my style anyway.

a triumph

Early last week I reached the long-awaited point in Dumping a Dragon where, after initially riding the high of creating Sivarthis’s dragon self, I always anticipated hitting a creative wall. And indeed, whether I damned myself to that by expecting it or not, I hit a wall.

I ended my first meet cute/flashback and had NO IDEA how to ease into the next segment. I tried four or five or twelve things. I wrote out a script. I sketched thumbnails. And every time I tried a page, it felt flat and lame.

Finally while watching the latest season of the Great British Baking Show, I started inking a page without much confidence…until I added the background.

This. Damn. Mountain.

Fixed. Everything.

Honestly, not only am I SUPER proud of that in terms of being a scenery image I’m usually pretty weak at, I’m super proud that it became the first page to get everything moving again. Even though I rewrote dialogue and tweaked panels until my eyes bled, and I asked for advice before immediately rejecting it, I am proud of how it turned out. The colors, the composition, most importantly the fact that I shamelessly magicked Sivarthis into looking a bit different, a bit more manageable, and having him allude to the fact that he could just change his size at will so that he can fit into frames with Noelia, haha.

Plus, this way ends up keeping the story following the novella more closely than the alternate way I had contemplated doing this scene.

Oh yeah, of course when I had hit my wall I was also preparing Sun-Walking for a witchy friend of mine to read. Which meant, though I didn’t need to, that I reread the ENTIRE 145k thing on my weekend off. I literally accomplished nothing new. Just reread Sun-Walking. More. God I love that project so much. After my witchy friend finishes it and we make adjustments to it, I think I’m going to have my dad find some publishers to pitch it to again. I’m finally ready.

adorable productivity blockers

I guess three times this week I’ve gotten seriously sidetracked drawing Noelia and Sivarthis fluff. I think I’m missing him since I’m spending so much time trying to build his dragon personality now. :/

I wanted a background for my computer, so I made this one.
Today I kept thinking enviously of adorable shoujo illustrations and so I tried to make my lineart as fucking fine as I possibly could. I’d say I did really well in that respect, but then it was the painting that really blew me away. I blame the blue background but I tried really hard to incorporate more than just like, highlight/baselight/shadow into the skin colors and the results. Are. Breathtaking. Plus LOOKIT HIS FACE HE LOVES HER SO MUCH ARUGHGHGH

an emotional suckerpunch

Um so I was looking at My Mental Breakdown this morning and…I went through Micah/Myoku’s timeline and noticed my original Yu-Gi-Oh-esque Myoku drawing was from 2001 and my brain was like “Mary that’s 17 years” and I was like “hahahahaa no it’s not” and my brain was like “but” and I was like “no it’s not” and my brain was like “but it’s math” and so then I screeched to a halt on Dumping a Dragon and did a speedpainting of Myoku that ended up stupidly perfect and I have a lot of fucking feels now. SEVENTEEN YEARS with the same motherfucking persona of mine, looking dumb and ethnically ambiguous. 

And now I have to go to work/school. This feeling will carry me through the day though, I can tell you that much.

Enjoy this dump of old Myoku drawings

Hahahahahahah they hurt

maybe it’s the crazy

I took a bit of a break today from coloring the pages preceding Sivarthis’s long-awaited transformation to do a little fluff kiss painting I suddenly thought of when considering season-based artwork. I did it almost exclusively listening to “Turn” by The Wombats. My husband pointed out the other day how I listen to a single song spastically on repeat and then I very abruptly move on and never listen to it again. Anyway this makes me really happy. And that’s about all I have to say about it. Except that I guess I’ve gotten the hang of doing my own plaid. owo So that makes one pattern I can do confidently at least!

that ultra kind of love

After spending the last month now working almost exclusively on my tablet, I finally got around to doing a traditional painting of my heroes, Noelia and Sivarthis. One night I sketched out about 5 consecutive pages of “Dumping a Dragon” listening solely to “The Last of the Real Ones” by Fall Out Boy, because for some reason it resonated so deeply as a song about Sivarthis’s love for a small human girl who accidentally became his whole world.

I can’t quite believe how well or how easily this painting turned out. Last night when I got home from Chicago (see following paragraph) I was too worn out to try to navigate digital art, so I finally grabbed my amazing buttery smooth bristol board and started a sketch of Noelia and Sivarthis in bed. Honestly I hated how the lineart had started to turn out and I was positive I would discard it this morning. I’ve just been getting used to bold and polished lineart from my computer and I was a bit thrown by the sketchiness of traditional art. But if not for that I probably wouldn’t have approached the painting the way I did…which I’m OBSESSED with. I decided to lay tape over the last part of the lineart, which didn’t even run to the edge of the page, and then decided to try my seldom used method of creating white space with painter’s tape, since I’d never tried it on this paper before.

Not only that, but I dragged out my typewriter and managed to eke a bit more life out of it. I kind of blame my patience, but it’s becoming almost impossible to use. Granted, it definitely pays off, and I love how snugly the text fits into the center of the drawing. You should have seen me trying to glue it though haha.

And in this case, the power of their poses is definitely intentional. At the early part of their relationship, Noelia is definitely more withdrawn than Siv is when it comes to love. He sees her in a typical dragon fashion as a jewel, a treasure, something to adore. She enjoys him, but doesn’t necessarily have that depth of passion, and has a lot of doubts about them.

I decided to finally do this painting – though the image has been in my head for a few weeks – because over the weekend my nerd man and I drove to Chicago together to see Fall Out Boy perform in their hometown at Wrigley Field. We also got the chance to attend a free popup immersive art experience for their latest album. It was SUPER Walker Art Center, post modern art but like, I can accept that under the circumstances.

Also, this blog entry gets to be a testament to the fact that I am STILL working on “Dumping a Dragon!” I missed it more than my cats when I was in Chicago, and today I’ve colored 2 whole pages. 

Granted, my overview of how many pages I’d worked on during my last entry was a gross exaggeration, and I’ve just now finished up coloring page 11. But 11 pages in a month is a pretty good output and more than I ever thought I could manage.

Apparently, according to my timehop the other day, I was working on my last graphic novel …Whispered the River a FUCKING DECADE AGO, when the hell did my life get so far in?

So here’s an old romantic drawing of Cirrus and Syracrus to follow Siv and Noelia. This drawing will always remind me of when this guy at church looked at what I was working on and awkwardly remarked on the amount of tongue in their makeout.

I mean…he wasn’t wrong.

Cute little punk Cirrus in her cute little striped hoodie, with Leaky in the foreground.

I actually have every single page of the original draft of …Whispered the River scanned on my computer, so it’s kinda fun to flip through them.

Meanwhile here’s my favorite panel from the Sivarthis/Noelia breakup scene.

Clean and tidy and sad and emotive. I love both of them here but I’m definitely a bit mad at Noelia because she exemplifies all the insecurities I had about my own relationship when we were just starting out.

I’m starting my second week of school, so we’ll see how much time and energy I have to keep plugging out pages when I get home from classes.

It’s almost time to start a new scene in “Dumping a Dragon” and it’s only gonna get more exciting from this point on…so I hope I can handle it haha.

Oh also the next thing on my creative agenda is to do a drawing of my favorite couples. Siv and Noelia; Lucy and Levi; and Danny and Ingrid (whom I haven’t drawn FOREVER.)

on the DL graphic novel proj

I’ve spent the last 2.5 weeks working tirelessly – truly, tirelessly – on the graphic novelization of To Trust a Dragon – which, as a graphic novel, is probably more suitably titled Dumping a Dragon. Or something. I suck at titles.

Anyway, it’s been a LOT of fun to work on, and the pages look great, and super professional. Everything Cadence struggled to be what with my conflict between digital and traditional. In this project’s case, my Cintiq is doing literally everything it should be. Its drivers have been cooperating, so rather than like it had been over the summer where I would start my computer up, try to start my tablet, and then various things were broken that required 2-3 computer restarts, it’s been a lot more plug and play.

And I don’t know if I’m just really stupid happy with the character design for my kids (Siv and Noelia…finally added the A to her name; I tried so long to go with Noeli, and I tried to rename her, but nothing fit. So I added an A and voila…she feels real) or what, but I literally love drawing their faces over and over. The biggest tell will be when I switch Siv from adorable expressive tooth-scar man with the foof of colored hair to being his true dragony self. I will fully admit I’m scared that’s gonna put a damper on my retelling. Like I’ve got all this momentum and I’ll get like 20 pages in and get to the bulk of the story and then be like fuh I don’t wanna color 70 more pages of dragons smoking and shit. But like, at the same time, I’ve been going so nice and easy on myself that if I need to change Siv’s dragon design from one page to the next for any reason, hell, I will. But I also haven’t been stressing about saving my pages as JPEGs, because that’s so final and makes it harder to reliably go back and change things if/when I want to, so the idea of changing a character design so I can draw it more fluently isn’t super terrible.

Nothing is technically stopping me from setting up a blog for this either, but I feel like that would tie me down to this project in a way that’ll potentially scare me off from it. So, for the time being, I will make my husband help me with it, and make myself happy, and that’s about it.

Anyway, I’ve gotten 10 pages done in 2 weeks. I don’t think 5 or so pages a week is a bad rate by any means. 

And without further ado, I’m testing WordPress’s new gallery block and hoping it won’t fuck everything up!

Snaps from “Dumping a Dragon”

And last but not least, my personal favorite, my avatar for whenever I am driving/dealing with annoying people/dealing with my computer being difficult/having to convince myself not to have Dairy Queen after dinner every day…