In Which There is An Age of Dragon


For those of you who don’t follow me on social media, or have had the displeasure of talking to me in the last… oh three months, then you are aware that I have become a tad obsessed with the video game series Dragon Age. It started with my bestie getting really excited about the release of Inquisition back in November, to which clueless me, was like “What’s Dragon Age?” and thus, the rabbit hole was opened and I  ended up marathoning all three games within a two month span. Yes, a two month span.

The nice thing about dumping all these hours into a game series, is it’s been really inspiring for me on the art and writing front, as I have become totally enraptured with the universe. I secretly want to become part of the BioWare development team for the fourth or fifth game, but haha yeah that will never happen, so I draw silly things that are fannish to fill my time or something. I dunno! Anyway, a few weeks ago, I threw up a request for Inquisitor screengrabs, and the same bestie was like “OH DO MINE!” so I broke out my Copics which have been long neglected and tries to get my stiff drawing muscles warm again. I’m not super happy with the outcome, and will have to do another one for her in the future. I tried using some “marker paper” by Strathmore, and it was a nightmare. It didn’t hold the ink, everything bled, and the linework transferred terribly. But it was a good experiment, I guess? I know not to use that paper for this kind of thing again.

My second experiment went much better:

reference pic from Senshi Stock

My initial idea was to try the Copic markers on charcoal paper, but they bleed like a mo-fo on the paper. Then I remembered a set of charcoal colored pencils I picked up when I got home back in August. What proceeded was a risky experiment with the colored charcoal and very light shades of Warm Grey Copics, in an attempt to blend them together and give a kind of light touch to the drawing. I’m really happy with the outcome, and need to take the experimenting further, methinks. Maybe next time, with watercolors, or using very light shades of Copic markers.

I’m also trying to work on my inks, to get the delicate, yet energetic vibe my pencils have– because with the thick thinks I’ve been doing for the last few years has really started to bum me out. I really like my pencils, and then I ruin it with inks. When I watercolor, it doesn’t matter because I can use my pencils as linework, but Copics BLEED the lead like anything, so I need to figure out some way to approach linework when I intend to color with Copic markers. Right now I’m trying to use a much MUCH thinner pen then I have since before I started at SCAD, and trying to be as light as possible with it, instead of barring down like I do with my brush pens.

What do you think? Is this linework better than some of my previous inked sketches?

Posted at January 29, 2015 3:37 pm | Tagged Art, Sketchbook

ALE-vent Calendar

So in the month long hiatus, a lot of things happened. In my last post, I mentioned my new job, which is still keeping me busy. But then there was also a few secret projects thrown in the mix during the end of October, and entire month of November, some of which I can’t share just yet. I may have also been introduced to Dragon Age: Origins, and put a shameful amount of hours into within two weeks. And yes, I am sure Alistair art is coming. Count on it.

This is one of the projects that I can talk about (Hooray!). About two weeks ago, a friend of mine approached me with the idea of making an advent calendar, with beer– hence, the ALE-vent calendar. While I’m not a beer drinker, I really liked the idea. After a long conversation on what the advent calendar’s illustration would become, we agreed on an old-time-y illustration something in the vein of Art Nouveau– which could be argued has been played out recently, but sue me, I’ve been an admirer of the style since I got into art and have been a Mucha fangirl for many, many years.

I was so into the idea of the calendar, that I also offered to help assemble the three boxes of beer into their advent-ness? (is that a word??) My friend did most of the leg work for gathering materials and taking measurements, but he wasn’t sure how it would work or how we would go about preparing it– so that’s where my old 3-D art classes came in handy!


So before starting anything, I gathered all of my materials and made precise mock-ups of how the top would fit on the boxes.


And when gathering the materials, that meant also gathering the beer. There was so much beer…


Because this was an ambitious project that took a bunch of space up, no inch of space was spared, including my bed, when we were in the processes of printing and testing how things would work. The illustration was printed out on large Bristol paper, which, when double layered with the template paper for cutting the openings, I thought would be strong enough.


A final print mock-up measurement sheet of where the tabs would be cut was measured out and triple checked.


We attached the illustrations on the Bristol paper to the paper with the cutting template using a spray adhesive. Since the boxes needed to hold for a bit, not to mention cutting with an x-acto knife, the glue was spayed twice, and allowed to get tacky before we attach it. Then it was time to cut out the boxes for the beer!


Everything all cut and ready to go on top of the box!


The tops were then taped down to the box, and then wrapped around the sides in wrapping paper. Since I am awful when it comes to wrapping things, that was left to much more capable people. (Seriously, never ask me to wrap any presents– you will be disappointed).


And here’s the final product, with the sampling of beer for the first night of the Ale-vent!

Posted at December 2, 2014 7:27 pm | Tagged Art, Design, DIY

Rolling With the Punches

When talking to people about attempting to get work as an artist, there’s an aspect to it that really sucks– and that is the turn down. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a nicely worded email that keeps the door open for the future (the best kind!). Sometimes, it’s the shutdown email. And then there’s the worst of them all, the no reply– where you send in your stuff for something, and then you never ever hear back. Like your email or application was lost to the internet ether.

I’m here to tell you to not lose hope. Keep trying! But there comes a point when several “nos” will make you start to think there is something wrong with you, your art, or your approach.

The latter is the easiest to fix. When you send that email, fill in that application, or what have you, try to look at it with fresh eyes– or better yet, grab someone and get their opinion. It might have nothing to do with you or your art, but it could be that you are not giving a clear presentation.

If it isn’t your presentation, then it might just be one of the other two– and that’s when you have to start asking yourself some hard questions that not everyone wants to answer. If your art is not to snuff, then work on it. Do more! Level up yourself!

But don’t forget to keep on sending out those applications! Even if you are not sure your art is up to snuff– send in that application anyway. Who is it going to hurt? Be brave, send that application!

As in all things, it requires balance! It’s easy to focus too much on leveling up and never apply to anything or too much on sending out your work and never focus on bettering your art. Don’t lose balance. You can do both at the same time!

Posted at September 10, 2014 2:04 pm | Tagged Artist's Ennui, Writing

Plans for the Rest of the Year

Sorry, but today won’t be an entry about how I’m having reverse culture shock and all of that. I’m sure that entry will be coming soon, but as I am writing this from the past, I have no idea how I will feel in the future. Instead, I’d like to take some time now, before my life becomes topsy-turvy again, and lay out some plans for the rest of the year. Yes, this is for accountability reasons as well, but also because you guys know I’m super open with what I am doing both on the art side and the promotion side.

  1. Set up the art studio
    This seems like a no brainer, and something that will get done quickly, right? I mean, I had one before I left Japan, right? Well, sort of. I had a tiny little corner of a room, where I had to stow supplies, reference, and my desk on top of each other. Now that I will actually have a studio, things will be a bit different. I’m not going to let myself buy too many things (namely because I have no money), but I have to get a new computer desk ASAP. The one I currently have has been falling apart for years, not to mention I’m not entirely sure I can get it into the art studio… anyway, before I can do any moving whatsoever, I have to first clean it out (it was an old storage room in the house, i.e. there’s a bunch of crap in it), paint it, and then set it up. That, hopefully, will be taken care of my first week back—with any luck, as this entry is posted, I will, in fact, be doing just that!
  2. Commissions
    Commissions will be opening super soon. For the time being, I’ll be relying on commissions to pay bills and buy food.
  3.  New paintings!
    Like, a lot. I’ve got thumbnails, I’ll have my paints back, it’s going to be great. I’m going to be trying some new techniques and there will be a lot of experimentation in the next month or so.
  4. The site
    Web maintenance and changing some things with the format are things I’ve been putting off, so I have probably weeks of fixes to look forward to in the future.
  5. YouTube
    I’ve been planning this for a super long time, but I will be going to YouTube! Well, I mean, I’m already there but I will finally start posting things. There will be process videos at first, but I am open to suggestions on what other videos people may want to see. I’m tempted to do a vlog of the days of setting up the studio, but it might be better not to distract myself while putting things together.
  6.  Mailers/New Business Cards/Social media/Self-Promotion
    While some might argue that should be the first step in my journey, and I have been working on it, I just feel I need to turn over some pieces in my portfolio before I can start sending things out. I’ve given myself a small window to produce some new work, and then I must start contacting Art Directors. It’s true that you never will be good enough, and that is partially holding me back—but when I look at my portfolio I see a lot of fanart, and not a lot of focus. I need to zone in on things, prove that I am awesome in them, and that will help me get a job than anything else I can do. So, yes, new work, then going to this step. Don’t put the cart before the horse, Aja.
  7. Convention Schedule for 2015
    I’ll be plotting and planning starting this month. I know I won’t get all the shows I apply to, so I need to have a bigger list then intended. It looks like I’ll be sticking to the East Coast for 2015. Maybe in 2016, California. My big pie in the sky is to go to a workshop for illustration and/or comics, and because of that, I need to save my pennies, and boost my portfolio.
  8. Play
    Play? What? Really? Yes, play. If having my Moleskine has taught me anything, it’s that I stopped playing in art at some point in my life. Was it in college? Was it before? I don’t know, but I need to allow myself to have fun, because in having fun, I start to discover things about my own art I never knew, and am much more open to experimentation.
  9. Comics
    I keep waffing back and forth how I’m going to return to working in the medium of comics. Should I do a one shot that’s got nothing to do with anything? Or a bio-comic about Japan things? Or just jump into the epic? Or do a one shot that is associated with the big epic and then move on to the epic? WHAT? At the moment, I’m still not sure. I’m hoping the 8 things above this will give me some clarity on where I should go first. Chances are, it will be a short first, so I can put that short together quickly and get it on the web, and build from there.

Posted at August 13, 2014 12:00 am | Tagged Artist's Ennui, Writing

Convention Schedule

  • Otakon 2020 (pending)
    Washington D.C.
    July 31 - August 2

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