Sketches: Dominance War 2009 I

Some portrait sketches for Dominance War IV. Argh, the portrait is due Monday, and I can't decide which character to actually go and paint (not that I have time this weekend, anyway... :( ). From top to bottom:

Medic - A prodigy in his own time, this young doctor would travel from battlefield, aiding his country. Of course, being a medic causes contact with sick people, and he contracts a disease which causes white spots on his skin, which flake off in moist-yet-chalky, moldlike, bits (think ick, that disease that goldfish get). Since it's contagious, people avoid him, but there are still those who require and purposely search him out for advice. He has retreated underground, and is loyally followed by the other infected because he can, if anything, lessen the pain from their condition.

A free-runner in the drug business who makes the bulk of his money from the horse-racing business. Unafraid of underhanded action, he uses drugs to rig the outcomes of these races (think steroids). This is harder to track than selling drugs to people. On the outside, his business looks like a messenger service. Once an urchin himself, he killed a drug dealer and took his wares as start-up funds. With his money, he makes mechanical alterations to his body and hires a mob of teenagers to do his dirty work for him.

A Bedouin trader, who sells weapons to the highest bidder. The higher the bid, the bigger the weapon. However, he is underhanded and will never let anyone get an advantage over him. He modifies his personal weaponry so that it would outclass anything he sold. His army is a ragtag group of plainclothes spies and merchants which serve to protect him, only a few in each town - a combination of fear and desire for payment. If any actual client saw his face, their eyes and tongue would be taken out.

Here are the failed progresses:


The Tailor's Daughter: Girl Character Sketches I

Joy of joys, I have moved onto the character design stage. This was hard, and I seem to have landed in a semi-cartoon style. I just can't see the story working with hyper-realistic characters.

The story focuses on hair, so I started off designing that. The only criteria was "long" and "white," and I established that bangs were too modern. The top of the middle portion is my experimenting with overall figure shape, similar to silhouettes. I though the fishtail dress was too adult. This is as much a coming-of-age story as a romance. The bottom-middle row is possible dress designs, inspired by Disney princesses and Lord of the Rings elves. The picture at right is what I have so far, but I need more suggestions. I don't know what my "vision" is yet.

Sketches: Rivek, Bohren, Dominance War IV

Here's the scrapped Valentine's Day picture with Rivek and Bohren. I'm very happy with how Rivek's face turned out. Figure sculpting helped a lot. I might turn it into an icon. On another note, he is very much due for a costume re-design. His current one, although I like it, seems too feminine for the rest of the world. Which makes me question why, when I first drew it two years ago, I didn't think his midsection armor looked like a man-corset.

CGHub is participating in Dominance War IV , and I will try to participate (not that I will win, but I want a good piece and some good encouragement). I wanted to do someone kind of anorexic for my Figure Modeling final, but the Jack Cateater may have to do. I wouldn' t have the time to do two models. I'm sure Scott would love if I textured this foul beast. God, unwrapping these UVs would hurt. Displacement mapping is a godsend, and I'm learning ZBrush tomorrow, I swear. Anyhow, concept. I wanted to make a "War Lord" in the sense of a ruler who doesn't do much in terms of actual battle.

Seventeen is the age when want to becomen men, sometimes through the validation of a woman. Now, seeking a woman is a different matter. Courtship is such a hassle when one has a full purse, but these types of markets don't have purchase guarentees. The Plague serves as an eerie marker adorning those who chose to quell their sinful desires.

Jack Cateater cannot remember his real name anymore, but he remembers that one night of gold and hot sweat. Supposedly, he was once a merchant's sole, arrogant, heir. He still has a head for numbers and will still drive a deal with you. For anything you'd like. If you are willing to pay the price, of course. And the price can be quite steep.

As for the nickname, he only says, "Cats eat rats. In that sense, a cat a wonderfully diabolical, wonderfully cruel, sewer lord, is he not? Now, if I ate rats, that would make me equal to a cat. I, for one, most certainly enjoy my position as the lord of lords."

Sketches: Dr. Sketchy's My Bloody Valentine

Went to Dr. Sketchy's again today. The theme was "My Bloody Valentine." I really liked hte outfit the girl on the floor wore for the last post. Here's all the art:

Writing: Moribito - The First Japanese Fantasy?

Having seen the Moribito anime, I could not shake the vision of Balsa, Chagum, and New Yogo already instilled in my head. Also, the writing style overlooks character emotion in favor for action. Since early episodes follow the book word for word, I felt I was simply watching the show again. As the story continued, I most events began to feel predictable, like a fantasy story set in ancient pseudo-Japan.

However, it never occurred to me that “fantasy” was foreign to the Japanese. Eastern cultures have such a rich mythology that I thought it would be natural for them to draw from this well and invent their own, similar, genre. I now see how Moribito stands out. Its setting and time period fall within the conventions of European fantasy without being European. It takes place in an imaginary country which is clearly similar to an existing country. However, because the country is fictional, readers suspend their disbelief and accept magic as part of its reality. Also, the setting goes back several hundred years - feudal Japan, like feudal Europe. Stories in a time before the widespread acknowledgment of science, further enforce the magic concept.

During class, a student said that, in Japan, the Moribito release completely overshadowed the Harry Potter one. I believe this has to do with the nature of familiarity. As mentioned in previous reading, familiarity may be more important when marketing to children. Even though it does not take place in Japan, Moribito is clearly Japanese. After all, looking at the Mikado will strike you blind. New Yogo is not a foreign, English boarding school. It is a world that Japanese children read about in history class. I feel this could turn into an issue of nationalist pride, much like Japanese jazz. Must fantasy be defined by a Western setting? Or is it the use of a historical setting, peppered with magic?


Writing: More About the Father of Superflat

Last spring, during New York City’s Sakura Matsuri, I visited the Museum of Modern Art with my friend, Melinda. A devoted art student, she wanted to introduce me to Murakami Takashi. Since her first visit, the Louis Vuitton logos and bright colors had begun showing themselves in her work. From a technical perspective, Murakami is amazing – his paintings are not only filled with detail but literally “super flat” with no visible brush stroke. Unless your face is a millimeter from the canvas, you can easily mistake it for a computer print-out.

I feel now, since reading the article, “Superflat and the Layers of Image and History in 1990s Japan,” that there is more to Murakami’s work than I first gleaned. At the exhibit, I entered a room with floor to ceiling with smiling flowers. The faces, all just a little different, filled me with unease. I cannot describe it in any other way - his work has no dimension, but it still drips, overwhelms. However, I never realized that the Superflat movement was so connected to history, that it was a brightly-colored apocalypse, fueled by computers and how they store memory in numbers.

Nevertheless, because the article focuses on Superflat, it misses an entire spectrum of Murakami’s work: sculpture. The first piece I saw was a larger-than-life, fiberglass, anime, girl - vagina exposed - transforming into a rainbow-colored airplane. Later, there is a naked boy with Dragonball Z hair making a cloud-like lasso from his ejaculate. Across the room, a girl with teal pigtails plays jump rope with the milk that exudes from her nipples. Murakami’s work speaks wonders to the sexual aspects of Japanese animation, another topic we have discussed in class. I feel he is ridiculing the sexual nature of anime by making it so blatant and using cartoon conventions. By not covering this, I feel Thomas Looser misses an entire commentary on popular culture.

More on Murakami: http://www.takashimurakami.com/

Art: Valentine's 09 II

Sometimes, in our dependency on others, the line between best friends and lovers blurs.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Willowren and Rivek. Rivek isn't gay... I just don't draw enough hetero.


Art: The Sketchbook Project

In December, I signed up with a project for Art House where we each get a sketchbook, fill it with "everyone we know," and send it back. I'll come back to Philadelphia on March 4th at Chris's Jazz Cafe. Here's where else it's going. Just my view on the world, I guess - and some observational drawing practice.


The Tailor's Daughter: More Landscape Sketches

So, this time, we have the accompanying interiors for the girl's room. The perspective is horrible on the first, but it helped me get an idea of what I want. The third, though, feels too cramped. I like the second - the caged bird concept. The girl is well-treated, but everything hints to her wanting to go outside. The tapestry, her painting, her needlepoint, are all outdoor scenes.

Here are some exterior environment pictures. Trying to expand into a new look or time, but non capture the feel, as well as the second batch I think.

I can't wait to really peruse the reference photos that Josh gave me. For some reason. my middle sketch is always best.


JPop Writing: Growing Up Japanamerican

When I was in kindergarten, I watched the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers every Saturday during breakfast. I loathed Chinese school because it meant I had to leave before the episode finished. I had nearly forgotten the spandex-clad heroes until I read Anne Allison’s article, “The Japan Fad in Global Youth Culture and Millennial Capitalism.” What it said about Americanization hit home. As a Chinese girl born in central New Jersey, I knew the Power Rangers came from Asia but attributed it to an American descendant of Ultraman. I was surprised to learn it was a direct, American, re-creation of a show.

I feel if it targeted an older audience, viewers would have been more accepting of the actual Japanese version. However, children reject foreign material unknowingly. When my friend, Dorothea, also a Chinese girl, and I would play Power Rangers, she would quickly claim pink. Being stuck as yellow was upsetting. Did this mean I wanted to be Caucasian? No. At that age, depictions of Asians versus Americans did not concern me. I liked Trini. I just liked Kimberly more.

I also could relate to Allison’s other article, “Sailor Moon: Japanese Superheroes for Global Girls.” I watched the series years before it came out in the United States – in Japanese. I didn’t know a word, but I still loved it. When it was publically broadcast, I religiously got up at six AM to finally see it in a language I could understand. Seeing superheroes was empowering. However, in both versions, I detested Usagi-chan/Serena. I could not relate to her ditzy character, and even now, I cannot particularly ascribe to the “life-sized” ideal. What drew me in were the other Scouts– intelligent Mercury, strong Jupiter, and exotic Mars. Sailor Moon had drama and continuity that American cartoons lacked: long-term love interests, bad guys who were not purely evil, life-and-death situations. “Recess,” “Doug,” “Pepper Ann” told schoolroom stories. The worst thing that could happen would be little more than a bad test grade. New episodes did not reveal new characters, but with each Sailor Moon, I could expect a new and exciting foe.

However, I feel, if the cartoon had not been Americanized, I would have been exposed to more. As a child, I did not notice sexual undertones in either version. I found it perfectly acceptable that Uranus’s alter ego was a boy, and in both versions, dedicated to her partner, Neptune. In the American version, they were made into cousins. Zoisite, a bishounen enemy from the first season, was turned into a woman, so his relationship with another character would not be homosexual. I believe teaching tolerance by presenting a sensitive topic as “normal” is just as effective, if not better, than outright telling someone to tolerate it.

Americanization is tricky. On one hand, children will not accept a product they cannot relate to. I can understand why producers would have artists change sign labels to English, and have characters use forks instead of chopsticks. However, during the process, the United States also thrusts its moral opinion in, even if the topic is not one that children even think about. This may be more harmful than good, keeping youth from accepting other cultures’ moral differences.


The Tailor's Daughter: Initial Landscape Sketches II

Some more sketches of the house on a hill. I'm happiest with the middle one. They all feel pretty Miyazaki, "Kiki's Delivery Service" though. I'm going to try some more using different ethnic settings., just to see what I can do. After all, the only story requirement is that it's a house on a hill by the sea.

I want to go to New York Comic Con so bad.

The Tailor's Daughter: Initial Landscape Sketches

Environment sketches for the Tailor's Daughter project. Not quite there yet, but I know what I like: pipes coming out of the roof, Spanish-style shingles, ivy, clotheslines, broken outside walls, heavy wood-and-iron doors, and painted wooden shutters.


Advanced Animation Project: Samsa-kosara and Sena Mahara

Just some tentative character sketches whose stories I likely won't follow through with. I was attempting to make some interesting deity figures, which were at once human yet not, and all together rather gruesome (because old fairy tales were, well, actually rather adult). For me at least, I've discovered that developing story and developing visuals go hand-in-hand - that doing one helps a lot with the other.

This drawing is Samsa-kosara ("samsara" means suffering). I wanted to play with the idea of Siamese twins, "grey twins" who are the children of the Yin and Yang deities (yet un-named). They are male and female, which is impossible in nature. This gives them an otherworldly duality and unison. The female, Kosara, is immaculately pregnent with a child that grows every year with the seasons and is always stillborn. Samsa-kosara is similar to the Fates - jaded, wise, sinister, ever-present, cyclical - the kind of characters mortals seek help from ... at a steep price. They make instruments from the bones of those who don't pay up.

I guess every culture has some sort of mermaid, and I have Sena Mahara. I've always loved the concept of the sea as a woman - both loving and beautiful yet furious and death-dealing. The slime, tentacles, and barbed tale hint at her sexual relationships, all of which were sour.

Sena's father was a poor fisherman who prayed to the for a child. Therefore, the Trickster god slept with his wife, and they had a beautiful girl with jet black hair and ocean-colored eyes. Even at a young age, every man she spoke to fell in love with her. A gift from the gods must be treated carefully, but people always seem to forget that. Her father decided to arrange a marriage for her. Although her suitors offered plenty of material bribes, Sena hated all of them. One day, a red goose showed up at their door, and she chose to marry it because it is the only man she has met who does not want her for her body. Her father arranged a marriage, anyway. On her wedding night, after sleeping with him, the man her father made her marry strangled her because he did not want any other man to have her. In horror at his own actions, he throws her body into the sea. The red goose dived in after her and revealed himself as the Trickster - he real father. At his bidding, the sea creatures came to her body, filling it with their own lives and giving her control of the tides. From then on, all men had best to be careful when entering the water lest they die at the hands of Sena Mahara.

My problem is the goose. I feel it should be something that draws her into the ocean. Geese aren't ocean creatures. Maybe a herring, a red herring (just kidding). That, I also don't want to imply that beastiality is okay, either. He's meant to represent a relationship without ulterior motive.

Human folly when dealing with gods, abuse of talent, men turning into birds, and forbidden lovers seems to be a recurring theme in my work. Although, what's the difference between a "strong recurring theme" and a "re-use of old material because you can't think of any better"?

Thinking up character names has to be a weak-point of mine. They always sound like they came from a bad fanfiction. It's hard because I need something that doesn't reference anything easily found in the real world without sounding like I randomly hit letters on my keyboard. I'm very well open to changes.


Art: Valentine's 09

"Wear red. Give blood." Happy Early Valentine's Day! Bloody Rivek is fun to draw.