Art: Inception - The Big Under

My entry for the Inception "The Big Under" comic book cover contest. I've been working on this nonstop for the past week or so, even on the plane flying back home for holiday break. We rented the movie, and I'm a little embarrassed to say I watched it seven times while painting (and three times in theater when it first premiered). Cobb's face is referenced from a shot in Fischer's hotel dream before he kicks in the door of Room 528. This is the text-less version. The text version is on my deviantART.

I went for a painted look since I thought I could better convey drama through light, color and value than line. In my mind, the core of the story is Cobb manipulating the relationship between Saito and Sonia. Hence, I left out Arthur and Nash (as much as I love Arthur). Along the same lines, I left out guns, samurai swords, rosaries, and the camera - since they facilitate the plot but don't relate directly to the core. I chose to focus on Cobb crossing mental barriers between dream worlds - so his background is a maze - something with infinite possibility but no reference to something that exists. I put Cobb's legs in a way to form a triangle up into the more detailed parts of the image. The PASIV device and the wires are another mechanism to lead the eye around the otherwise dark area. The running pose is homage as well to the promotional material from the movie itself (the poster with Arthur in the rotating hallway). Again, to focus on the relationship between the characters, I wanted the arms of the lovers to connect, and form a subtle but dynamic triangle with the Extractor. Another tactic I used to keep the eye circling is re-using the red from the title in small articles on each character. Here are some detail shots as well:



For my ninety-fifth (wow, we've been around for a lone time!) regular exchange at Private Exchange, for Eri.  I haven't done a digital painting in a very long time, so I tried out this character who didn't have picture references. I was trying to get atmosphere, light, and glow effects, but I should have referenced.

We only have thirty days left, and we've raised $1,770 for the Boiled Fish Art Book project, coming Spring 2011! At least forty pages of illustration, sketches, and walkthroughs from ten great artists. Also include exclusive content - and you get more exclusive bonuses if you preorder. You may even win an original sketch! Please support us - through donation or advertising - here: http://kck.st/c8Afi8 Please help us! We're so close now!


Art: PE ACEO Exchange III

We're almost at $1,378 for the Boiled Fish Art Book project, coming Spring 2011! At least forty pages of illustration, sketches, and walkthroughs from ten great artists. Also include exclusive content - and you get more exclusive bonuses if you preorder. You may even win an original sketch! Please support us - through donation or advertising - here: http://kck.st/c8Afi8

Please help us! We're halfway to our deadline and halfway to our goal!


This is the third Artist Trading Card Exchange! I really wanted to push the lighting with marker. If you'd like your own card, I am taking ACEO Commissions. Please send me an e-mail to fongmingyunATgmailDOTcom. It will be $10 for greyscale (pencil) and $15 for color (marker). Includes domestic shipping, please add $2 for international.


Art: Morbid Ending

LOL... Happy birthday to my favorite character ever! Ironically, I've drawn you dying. I've been playing around with my story's ending, but I don't want to write it up for you all just yet. Minus a few egregious anatomy errors, this came out just how I wanted it to. Unfortunately, the colors are so subtle it looks so much better in real life!

"Argia dena pilio. E leva ei senta ni pienara. Em korvi reduka ta tari en sinera."

Wrath begets Pardon. I depart and feel no pain. My body returns to the earth in ashes.


Art: 028/100 Themes - Sorrow

Sororea.” – Sorrow. 28/100 Themes.

This is an immediate, temporal, continuation of the “Breathe Again” picture for this same series.

I think there are some things that might cause readers to question the consistency in my characters’ personality designs, but all I can say is like any human being, Rivek does things that are contradictory, things that he will ask himself later why he did them. Like, instinctively save the life of someone who he feels betrayed him. I want to convey the idea that he’s not an innately “good” or “bad” character and often does good things for selfish reasons or bad things for someone else’s reasons. We all have difficulty making decisions, and I want something more complicated than the standard “good because society says so” hero or the not-so-standard “self-serving but coincidentally good” anti-hero.

I removed the rope situation for continuity – assuming the pair has floated quite a way down the river by now, there’s no way Bohren would be on shore with a rope. That would assume Rivek had been able to swim upstream back to the bridge. Nevertheless, Fenne’s dad is a douche.

Rivek surfaced from the water, lungs raging and gasping for air just as cold as the water itself. The initial shock froze him momentarily before he remembered to lift the prince’s head above water. With one limb incapacitated by the other man’s weight, he struggled to find some patch of underwater ground he could at least walk on. He kicked around for a minute, often losing to the current and winding up a few inches further downriver. Finally, his feet made contact with soft, but stable, earth, and he used the resistance to throw the body over his back. Through the cold, wet, skin and cloth, he had no way to tell the prince was still alive.

As he trudged back toward dry land, he had a thought that sickened him slightly. He found he personally didn’t care in particular whether the prince survived, only that he feared the repercussions – likely, violent – he’d face if he had let a member of the royal family die, no matter how much trouble that family member had been.

He collapsed to his knees and unceremoniously threw the prince off his back. He paused as his body re-accustomed to the weather, causing him to hack blood and water onto the ground. Despite having come from inside a warm, living, body, the mixture exiting his chest was completely frigid, but at least the cold minimized the blood from burning the insides of his trachea. As his eyes and throat cleared, he noticed the prince still hadn’t moved. “Fuck,” he rasped, but the speech caused him to enter another coughing fit.

After recovering again, Rivek crawled over to the still form and put his fingers against Fenne’s neck. Whether he felt a breath, a pulse, or his own shivering, he couldn’t tell. Either way, he wouldn’t take the chance. He pushed down on the prince’s chest, awkwardly forcing some water from his lungs through compression. Fenne’s eyes stayed closed.

“Get away from my son.”

Rivek stood up and backed off on his knees. He crouched, ankles now submerged into the icy river again, and watched as the king and his envoy marched through the nearby trees. The ruler motioned toward his family medic. The healer rapidly placed his hands on the unconscious boy’s chest, and the water flowed steadily out his mouth. As the last bit ran down his cheek, he began to breathe normally again. Shortly after, he sat up and opened his eyes. First, he looked to his father, who only responded with a stony glare, and then to Rivek. He lifted his eyebrows as if to say something, but thought better of it. Instead, he turned away to take the dry towel the healer and offered him.

Rivek knelt on the riverbank, shivering, and watched as Fenne’s father put his arm around his son’s shoulders, and the pair walked away without so much as a glance backwards in return. Sopping and stumbling, Rivek got to his feet. He knew if he wanted dry clothes, he’d have to find them himself.


Art: Blast Radius

Rivek, with some Fallout 3 Influences. An exercise in rendering dirt.

Not happy, and I lost the original idea (the empty space had another character), so this picture will be re-made soon.

We just hit $1,000 for the Boiled Fish Art Book project, coming Spring 2011! At least forty pages of illustration, sketches, and walkthroughs from ten great artists. Also include exclusive content - and you get more exclusive bonuses if you preorder. You may even win an original sketch! Please support us - through donation or advertising - here!


Art: Voici, le Moulin Rouge!

Unless I come up with something suddenly tons better, this will be my second submission to our Boiled Fish Art Book project, coming Spring 2011! At least forty pages of illustration, sketches, and walkthroughs from ten great artists. Also include exclusive content - and you get more exclusive bonuses if you preorder. You may even win an original sketch! Please support us - through donation or advertising - here: http://kck.st/c8Afi8

I was very active in musical theater in high school, and it's left a mark on me today. Moulin Rouge maintains its place as one of my favorite movies of all time (Ewan's voice!). I love the vibrant, over-the-top aesthetic, especially of past ages.

I colored this in two days with marker and gel pen. This is the most elaborate marker piece I've done, focusing on lighting (and some design detail). It's not as soft as I had hoped, though. I'm a little unhappy with the overall saturation-everywhere feel, but I hope others will like it. My hands are stained as if they did bloody battle with an army made of colors.


Rant: To The Passive-Aggressive, Socially Awkward, Teen-aged Asian Female Living In the United States

For those who deem this "TL;DR", the overall message is "nut up or shut up."

You are not your grades.
You are not your SAT scores.
And whether you like it or not, you will fail.

And you probably will stubbornly refuse to learn anything until you do.

Your parents grew up in a nation where everything was defined by test scores and money. If you wanted to be powerful, you did perfectly in school. Or, if that wasn't your thing, you could just buy your way to whatever you wanted. So what your parents have taught you is to be smart and be cheap. Except, you're now in a country with an entirely different set of values which tout anti-intellectualism and luxurious spending. As a result, you are merely a nerdy cheapskate, and you are wondering why you're so unhappy.

You want to believe that you are a good kid, so you try really hard - because you think what you lack in talent, you will make up for in effort. In Japanese cartoons, screaming harder always helps the good guys win! Surprise, surprise, exerting effort just makes you tired. You sacrifice sleep and food to attain that perfect grade - because self-sacrifice is glamorous. And what you make when you're tired certainly isn't worth that 4.0 that you keep striving for, so you're never going to get it. Seriously, just drop an assignment. The best lesson the you're going to learn is that no one cares, so manage your time and just do what is a priority. Don't lose sleep over it. When you don't turn in your homework, you get marked down, and the world goes on.

Always forced to study - potentially since you were in elementary school at places like Kumon, you've been socially deprived for many years, and you can't imagine how anyone could like you (or if you're so arrogant, how anyone couldn't like you). The thing is, people don't like you for quantitative reasons - that you're good at math, or that you can draw pretty well - they like you when you are fun to be around. So get out of your study hole, and make some friends, even if it costs your grades to slip a little. And you shouldn't expect them to be perfect-numbered people, either. You're looking for friends, not employees, right? Those six-figure jobs your parents keep pestering you about are obtained through interviews, anyway, and if you spend your life talking to a computer, there's little likelihood you can talk to a person. Otherwise, no one will notice you, and the world goes on.

Oftentimes, you are a financial hypocrite. Part of you wants to do that thing your parents do where they fight for the check and then pay for the entire meal, but you're a student, and you're cheap. Somehow, it hasn't sunk in that Americans usually split checks, and when people pay for everyone, it's because they're genuinely nice, not showing off some familial status. So while you make these shows of being rich, you take your cut back through the little things by forgetting your cash, borrowing a few bucks here and there, mooching your friends' food or asking them to drive you places (because, as an Asian girl, you were never taught to drive - your brother was your chauffeur or your parents didn't have the patience for it). Just be fair and split your bills. If everyone pays their share, you don't stir up resentment, and the world goes on.

You're good at a lot of things, but you're not great at anything. And your history of never messing up on top of your parents' endless demands has led you to need a lot of positive reinforcement. Your drawings or violin solos are good, but they're nowhere near professional quality. You seek attention to make you feel good about your perceived-as-childish hobby, to validate why you continue to do it. However, you have become so callous from shrugging off your parents unrealistic comments that you've immunized yourself to honest critique. The thing is, no one in the real world is going to waste their time giving you praise or feeding your ego. People have better things to do. You have to find a deeper, inner drive, for what you want to do because no matter how desperately you need a hug, you can't be sure anyone's going to stop to give you one. Besides, those Ivy League schools like people who do interesting things, and pure test scores aren't interesting. If you define yourself by what other people say, people will get tired of reinforcing your self-image - the world goes on.

Finally, because your parents stressed how terrible boys can be, you are deathly grossed out by the mere concept of sex. Make-up is practically foreign, but what's worse is that you have no confidence in the way you look. It doesn't matter that you're 5' 8" because you grew up drinking cow's milk - you're a size XXL in Asia, and that means you're fat. And now that you're in college, your parents are asking you why you don't have a boyfriend, and why he's not a doctor. But, you can't have a healthy relationship because you have no idea what one consists of. You expect American guys to act like the mirror-boys in Korean dramas. So when that guy asked you for your number after class, he was certainly a "creeper" with no intention to actually study with you, and even if you did find him cute, he could never, ever, ever, be a nice person because he is the one asking you out. But, on the other hand - you have no confidence in yourself, so you'd never ask a guy out! Even worse, your low self-esteem might be so detrimental that you have turned your self-life into a series of highly unrealistic, sexless, boy-boy romances played out on internet forums with other girls. BL is fine - and can be pretty hot - but it's still just fantasy. So, within reason, take care of your looks and treat guys as friends, and then maybe you'll get your doctor - but he probably won't be a doctor. Or look like a Korean supermodel (that's all plastic surgery anyway). Otherwise your would-be special someone find a girl who actually treats them like a human being. The world goes on.

All I can say is I speak from experience. You can tell me this advice is crazy, but hey - I'm happy and learning when I make mistakes, and you're moping about how much you suck - so you tell me now, who's crazy?


Art: High School Sucks

Inspired by Wen-M (and the fact that I did go to a private school), I designed prep school outfits for my characters, trying to put them into classic high school stereotype roles. A large part of me is just amused by how much petty drama there is in high school that we make it such an ingrained part of our media culture - think, teen horror films, teen romances, teen slice-of-life shows.

These pseudo-bios will be pretty bad since I am tired, so I apologize beforehand.

Despite the large amounts of money put towards his education, Brian Taylor, the Jock, has little more ambition than to get a soccer scholarship to a state school and spend as much of his junior year as he can getting drunk. Outside of that, he has an uncouth sense of humor that, while well-meaning on his end, is both surprisingly sharp-witted yet lewd. Haha, boobs.

Fenwick Arthur III, the Nerd, has two, rich parents - descended from a couple on the Mayflower - whose first date was at Renaissance fair. However, when he placed first at city-wide MathCounts, his competition pants-ed him on stage, resulting in three years of self-esteem therapy. He spends his free time playing Dungeons and Dragons and preparing for the SATs which he is taking early, as a sophomore. If he had his way, he would turn into a minotaur and gore everyone else.

River Aaron, the Punk, was named after the movie star, but no one realized that and just made fun of him. His grandfather fought in the Korean War and took home an "Oriental" wife. Their resulting daughter became an active, protesting, hippie. The ensuing filial drama tore the family apart - which didn't bode well with all three generations under the same roof. As a result, Rivek thought it would be a good idea to "make a statement" with multiple facial piercings and rock concerts. He secretly prays his track scholarship will get him out of this mess, but he still has a year to go. Worst comes to worst, he'll join the Air Force.

M. Aaron, the Burnout, would never admit her real name is "Mirabelle," nor that she is repeating her senior year. Completely devoid of ambition, she pays no attention to her brother or anybody unless they have smokes or a bottle they're willing to share. Oddly enough, she has concentrated much of her unexplainable inner rage into amateur boxing, but she never tells anyone why she disappears from school since she prefers the social anonymity silence provides.

Sophia Williams, the Art Kid, came from a family with no financial hardship, where she was constantly told to express herself. Despite being unable to control a pencil, she owns a very expensive camera and takes artful but painfully cliche photos. Sheltered most of her life, she has a tendency to dramatize ordinary events - like pop quizzes and break-ups - to seek attention, preferably with herself in the middle. However, to her parents dismay, she desires to go to art school, not invest her talents at the Ivy League university they, as alumni, would have preferred. Luckily, she is a freshman, and they still have four years to convince her.

Stephen Anderson, the Prep, was the only sophomore to have a car - and it was a Lexus convertible. He was born to powerful parents who made their fortune in the stock market (particularly in the energy sector) and weren't affected too badly by the recession thanks to embezzlement to offshore accounts. However, most people know him as an unsympathetic douche, so he has a tendency to only form relationships with freshman girls who dump him once they realize there is better out there.


Art: King of Hell

Happy Halloween! I've wanted to do a crazy ink piece since high school with a strong manga feel. If you've followed me for awhile, you'll find a lot of recurring themes from my work. I wanted to do a (very feminine) prince-like demon which at first looks very regal, but upon closer inspection, is more disturbing. This was done entirely with felt-tip, Staedtler pens.

Also! This is my first submission to our Boiled Fish Art Book project, coming Spring 2011! At least forty pages of illustration, sketches, and walkthroughs from ten great artists. Also include exclusive content - and you get more exclusive bonuses if you preorder. You may even win an original sketch! Please support us - through donation or advertising - here.


Art: 027/100 Themes - Foreign

"Etrani." - Foreign. 27/100 Themes.

Rivek and Mirab are Alisian on their father's side and Brennan on their mother's. Prejudice, violent history, and no effort from either side to understand the other resulted in both societies growing increasingly xenophobic of the other. Each child was raised and assimilated into one of their respective countries but their peers would make sure they always knew what it was like to be foreign. Not completely relevant, but Rivek is 5'10" and Mirab is 5'8".

Funny how those lambasted for being foreign consider those that ridicule them just as foreign. And those with half-blood are foreign to both. In addition, Mirab was much more of a crybaby when she was little.

If there's a sudden change in writing quality (be it better or worse, it's because this excerpt was written over three years ago.

The wooden boat skidded to a stop on the rocky shoals. “Careful not to poke a hole in ‘er,” muttered one of the two actual seamen on board. “These islands aren’t friendly. In more ways than one.”

Rivek stepped out of the boat and rubbed the light drizzle off his eyelashes. Ocean travel had never been his thing. He dropped his dagger and sword in the bottom of the craft seeing as he wouldn’t need them. “You all stay here. Don’t go exploring until I’ve returned.”

“Not like we’re particularly hell-bent on being slaughtered by you demon-blood types. I’m happy right where I am,” muttered the sailor. Rivek threw him a glare, but decided that reprimanding him was not worth the effort.

The shallow water lapped at his boot heels as he circled the cliff base to find a passageway he hoped he had not forgotten, but a decade was a long time to remember a secret road. Despite the cliff face, this was the easiest place to dock ships around the entire island. Any other inlet threatened to rip off the outer layer of one’s hull.

There it was. The path looked smaller, but he suspected it would since he had been only a child when he last left it. It was a little thing, meant for people to move single-file up the rock.

He ascended slowly, unsure of his footing. He kept his dark cloak wrapped around him, hood over his face, to keep the salt spray away from his eyes and to keep the chill out from under his shirt. He forgot how often it rained and how cold it became. Occasionally, he put his hand out on the rock to steady himself and wondered how many extra calluses he would have if he had lived his whole life here.

At the top of the cliff, he walked to the side of the road and let the pine branches brush against his arms. It was something stupid he had done as a child. People had made fun of him for it, but he hadn’t noticed them enough to stop. The trees felt the same. All things considered, they probably were the same, just older. He was the one who had changed as he aged.

The road itself was little more than footpath. Horses were too large to be commonly used on the islands. Things like plowing and pulling carts were usually done by people. Te tens, te resbilas. “Your things, your responsibility,” was one of those Alisian-mother phrases burned into his head, one that had carried over into his Mainland life. Albeit, in his case, his father was the one who usually did the Alisian reprimanding. His mother never bothered to learn much of the language outside of what she would need in a marketplace. He rubbed a drop of water off the tip of his nose.

“Akero.” Stop. More like 'halt,' actually.

Rivek stopped walking before stepping into the sword blade inches from his stomach. “I hold no quarrel with you,” he said, fumbling with the much more formal, now slightly foreign, syllables. “I wear no arms.” What a waste of time, but he had known it was something he’d have to put up with. From what Rivek knew, most Alisian actions were driven by nothing more than tradition, and everyday occurrences – security patrol among them – turned into bizarre rituals.

“Your accent is unfamiliar.” The other man sneered. “Where are you from?” Rivek knew there were probably now at least two other people behind him, also pointing something sharp in his direction.

“Mainlaid, Tirid.” He felt those two other weapons close in to rest against his back. The extreme xenophobia of his own people – although justified in most cases – did prove rather inconvenient on occasion. “I am here to speak with Ailinar Ailinar Mirab Imrin.” He carefully reached up to put down his hood, revealing the distinctive scar on the right side of his face.

The guard blinked a few times. It was uncommon to know someone’s fourth name let alone to use it. The blade poked at Rivek’s navel, but he knew the man wouldn’t try anything. To draw blood was an action with many connotations, over half of which could get you into trouble. The patroller motioned to a bush. Or rather, someone hiding in a bush. Rivek’s guess would have been someone with a blowgun, just in case things had taken a turn for the worst.

Waiting with three blades pointed at your torso was not something Rivek enjoyed doing, but it was something he would put up with. Even so, he hesitated to roll his shoulders a bit despite their stiffening up.

The fourth guard would have to run back to town center, or whatever the Alisian equivalent was, to get Mirab. There was probably a fifth somewhere, a magic-user in all likelihood, someone who didn’t need to be seen in order to fend off intruders. Alisian patrol tradition tended to have two or three groups of five circling the community at once. It was an odd version of town watch that most adults took part in although it was usually unnecessary, and the only things they killed were feral animals.

Rivek wasn’t sure if he could call this place a city. It was too small, and the physical structure wasn’t like that of a town. If you wanted to buy something, you wouldn’t go to a store. You would simply knock on the door of the man you knew made the things you wanted. Domara, the word for Alisian community, derived itself directly from the word for ‘family,’ and the two were usually considered one and the same no matter how confusing lineages became. Lacking space on the island, the Alisians had built upwards rather than outwards, and carved homes into hillsides and stacked shelters up trees. A record number of small children died from falling off of things. Even Rivek still had a few scars.

The runner returned, followed by a tall, blonde, woman whose long hair, decorated with random braids, flapped against her lower back as she walked. She would be what, now? Twenty-seven? She was four years older than he. Few people would see the similarities between the siblings. Her eyes were green and her nose significantly smaller, but they shared the same thin, regal, skeleton trademark to the wiry Alisian people. Lucky her, though, she got the prettier traits from mom.

“You’re dead,” she hissed.

“I sure don’t feel like it,” he replied in Common, their mother’s language, the language his sister and him used to speak between themselves when they didn’t want other people to know what they were talking about. Although, most people who had been off the islands at some point or another had picked it up. “Although if you don’t call these fellows off in a second, I very well could be.”

It took her a minute to process the words. She hadn’t heard this tongue used in ages. It struck her that she would have no idea what her younger brother looked like now. The only resemblance between this man and the eight-year-old boy she once teased was the scar across his face. And, well, scars were relatively common and easily lost and gained. Ten years, you’d think it would have faded. She was not about to get her hopes up. “I need verification.” She nodded at the runner. “He says you came across the channel, and we do not take kindly to strangers.”

Rivek sighed, but he had come prepared for this. “You have a birthmark on your shoulder that looks like a pig,” he said, switching back to Alisian.

She scoffed. “Everyone knows that. Try again.” He could feel those pointy things in his back sinking into his skin.

“You’re missing one of your back teeth because it rotted out when you were seven.”

She made a face. Obviously, not her favorite piece of information. “Someone could have told you that.” She reached for her own sword, a curved, one-sided blade that one could visibly tell received regular usage.

He sighed and switch to Common. He didn’t know why, it just made him a little more comfortable. “When you were nine, you had a pet snake, Dudu, and he died when our cousin stepped on him. We gave him a funeral in your best friend’s back yard and scattered the ashes over the ocean, but that night, you slept outside with the sheep because you didn’t want anyone to see you cry. And I went to look for you when it didn’t look like you were coming back. And then, I found you sobbing against a ewe. And then - you made me promise never to tell our father.”

Mirab inhaled sharply as the whole story played out in her head. She waved the guards away. “He has my custody. Go finish your duty.” They bowed and walked off, glancing backwards on occasion. Rivek took the opportunity to stretch his shoulders.

“I really thought you were dead. Word got back that Mom was caught in a fire…”

“That’s not the nicest thing to say to your prodigal brother when he first comes back, is it?”

“Fine, how’s this? You got tall.”

He smirked and hugged her. She came up to his chin. “Better. And you got short.”

She flicked him in the ear. “Still talking to birds?”

“As if I could stop.”

She laughed and returned his embrace.

“Welcome home.”


Art: 026/100 Themes - Tears

"Triez". - Tears. 26/100 Themes.

Born in the lap of luxury with a gold-star education, Willowren is a flawless healer for most people. However, most people don't have dark magic - something entirely foreign that no class could have prepared her for. Given that she takes a lot of things for granted, her inability to easily heal Rivek's physical (and emotional) wounds is troubling, challenging, and humbling for her.

When I design magic powers, I don't really like them to be flashy, no glowing lights and smoke and stuff. It's grotesque, organic manipulation with an academic overtone - representative of how we try to study to understand the things around us. I want it to be something humans have attempted to harness but is powerful and mystic but a little bit horrifying in such a way that it draws respect from its users.

Haha, everything I write has the same tone. Too much of what I write is driven by dialogue and too much of it is painfully sarcastic.

Despite the warm, muggy weather, Willowren felt goosebumps on her shoulders. "I'm so sorry, oh my god. I've never done this before." Her fingers were so stiff, they trembled as she unbuttoned Rivek's torn shirt.

"I'm sure you've seen a little blood." He winced. The wound was deeper than he'd expected, and his corrosive, acidic blood was widening the gash every second.

She massaged either side of the tear, trying to coax the muscle and intestinal fiber back together. The skin would hold itself together momentarily, but seconds later, the blood would burn its way through again and put her back to the beginning. She grimaced as she felt the muscle underneath her fingers writhing as he breathed.

"Really, usually, it stays closed." On any other man it would have. How disgustingly ironic that her best friend would be the only one she couldn't easily help.

"I'm thinking you'll have to do this manually." He coughed, partially to clear the blood welling in his throat but more fighting to stay conscious.

She fumbled while threading the needle, cursing her own hands as her friend's complexion grew paler. She swallowed, hoping not to retch from the stink of burning flesh. Finally, she was able to dig the needle into his skin. Relative to his current situation, the needle felt like a minor nick.

"You can do it." He scoffed to cover how bad the pain was. "But wipe your eyes. I'd rather not have you crying when you operate on me."


Art: Rivek... in Color!

I have realized it's been years - probably since high school - since I've drawn Rivek in full costume, in color.

Happy birthday to me. Haha. I'm so old.

Art: 025/100 Themes - Trouble Lurking

"Erumna delitesa." - Trouble Lurking, 25/100 Themes.

Finally, a quarter of the way through!

The Historian hasn't had his visual design completed, but he is a highly specialized magician. He reads bodies like he reads books, and re-opens the old wounds of his victims. Formerly a Heilmdoran professor, learning magic he wasn't born with drove his mind to a very sadistic edge. He works under Sorian, but is probably fated to die. He's one of my better magician concepts. I try to come up with things that aren't particularly standard (as in, "oh, ho! I control the elements!"). I'm happy to take peoples' ideas if they have them.

Also, I realize there are other characters out there with the same name. I might change it if I can think of something better.

Rivek wiped his good hand in the snow, trying to clean off the clotted blood from holding his wounded shoulder. As little respect he held for them, it wouldn't be proper to leave a stain on church doors.

"Hello?" he knocked, leaving a mark despite his previous efforts.

No answer.

He tried again. "My name is Ari Faulkner, and I am in service of her majesty. I need a place for the night - and clean bandages if you have them."

It was true, though, that the church had never looked well upon soldiers. Well, a half-truth couldn't hurt.

"My regiment is dead, and I am the sole survivor."

He didn't bother to mention his regiment consisted entirely of himself.

A church, he winced, really? Hell, a brothel would have been better - less judgmental, if anything - but he had no money left. Were it not for the gash on his arm, he would certainly be sleeping in the much less expensive outdoors.

The door frame creaked open, covering him in the thick stench of prayer incense. It smelled like a skunk took a piss on a bag of tea leaves. As his pupils adjusted to the candlelight - much weaker than palace mage-light - he noticed a lone, hooded figure at the altar, perusing a heavy, ragged book.

"I need a place to stay," he muttered.

"Rather forward, aren't we?" The hooded figure clicked his tongue. He stood and picked up a lantern, holding it to Rivek's face and revealing his scar. "Courteous strangers give their names."

"Ari. Faulkner."

"Well, Ari," he chuckled. "If that is what you wish to be called, so be it. I am the Historian."

He shut his tome and laid it on the table, making no gesture to welcome his new charge inside.

"People are much like books, in a way. I can tell under your composed, hard cover, you have a number of pages, filled with rather interesting stories. Many of which are painful. Many of which are lies. Isn't that right, Rivek?"


Art: 024/100 Themes - No Time

"Ni teimpo." - No Time. 24/100 Themes.

"Take off your armor."

"Rivek, you're fucking nuts. What if I got hit?"

"You're already hit. It's magefire - you can't see it, but you can feel it, right?"

Bohren nodded.

"It's white magic - white magic that's going to burn inside you until it reaches your spine, rendering you immobile until it burns through to your brain."

"Fantastic bedside manner you have, but I'm pretty sure don't want to die."

"Then shut up and take off your shirt." Rivek unlaced his gauntlet and slashed open his palm. "Not the best, but really all I can think of at the moment."

Rivek tore a corner off the now-useless shirt and clenched it in his bleeding hand, letting the fibers saturate until the gray fabric had turned a deep purple. As he peeled the wet cloth from his cut, he felt a distinct sting for every strand trying to stick to his wet palm. The area which had been closest to the self-inflicted wound had already begun to thin from the acidity. Sloppily, he used it to bind Bohren's shoulder.

"Now how long do we have?" Bohren muttered. The fire was already starting to cool as the black blood ate away at the fire's magic source.

"Until I die from blood loss. Let's just hope that's not anytime soon because I"m not a great doctor."

"I think I prefer Willow."

Art: 023/100 Themes - Cat

"Mao." - Cat. 23/100 Themes.

Fenne has a pet cat. Rivek hates it with a passion. Undoubtedly the stupidest theme I've done so far. I can't draw animals.

"You're never full, are you?"


Art: Doll

For a brief moment in high school, I wanted a ball-jointed doll. Now having seen them in person, in normal lighting conditions, I am convinced I don't. They hit the uncanny valley fast and hard for me, but that doesn't keep me from liking them in the right light.

Dude looks like a lady... or a scene kid. My friend said he looks like a guy from Twilight.

Referenced face from a photograph of a doll Lynsey sold a few years ago.


Art: Sketchbook Lite 2010 III

I am so rusty with watercolor, but here is another sketchbook lite drawing.


Art: Sketchbook Lite 2010 II + Weapons

Here are the next three figures from the Sketchbook Lite exchange.

This is for the weapons lightning rounds. The post was so hard to get right - I referenced from a Japanese figurine.


Art: Sketchbook Lite 2010 I

Lots of sketches today. I signed up for a "sketchbook light" exchange where we draw and exchange a total of twenty pictures over three months. I've finished half of them!


Art: Lord Wilmore and Prismatic Ferret Gaia Commissions

First off, we're holding an Inception-themed joint art auction on Gaia. Please check it out here.

I joined a monochrome joint art auction with Rhiou, and the winner requested their World of Warcraft character.

Someone also visited my shop and asked for art of his avatar.

Work is keeping me pretty pre-occupied these days. It's a bit of a chore to remember to upload my sketches. It's a shame, though, that I haven't gotten around to doing much finished art. On the plus side, I'll be going to all of this Fall's workshops at the Concept Design Academy in Pasadena.


Art: o Red o Gaia Commission

Was asked on Gaia to do a commission of someone's avatar in the style of this collaboration with Melinda:


How to Hire an Artist - with Perspective

Work in progress post....


There's been a lot of fuss on the Internet lately. Dan Howard, a recognized professional illustrator and good friend of mine recently posted a particular student's article and a professional's response.

Businessman. Artist. Programmer. Professional. Student. Hobbyist. Freelancer. Full-time. Independent. Mainstream. Games. Animation. Hundreds of potential situations exist in the computer graphic industry. Each may require you to act differently. Personally, I am a full-time, mainstream industry programmer who does independent, freelance illustration as a hobby and possesses some business education background. I obviously haven't been in every situation ever, but I may have touched enough to suggest ways people can make better decisions through better awareness.

The name of the game is "due diligence." This is the background research practice commonly used by investment firms when funding ventures. If you are a developer holding the money, you are an investor in your product. But if you are the artist making the assets, you're also an investor. Know what is on the table, know what you want, and the best products will surface. For future reference, the "contractor" pays a "creative" to make or help make a product.

1. Consider the product.

What is being made? Are artists serving as human printers or as creative directors?

2. First, consider both positions.

As a creative, you should understand your skill level. If you are a student, you will likely have to charge less than a seasoned professional. In addition to skill level, consider your personal, financial situation. If this is your only source of income, you may want to charge more. Research other people on the same level as you to see how they behave and what choices they make.

Contractors, on the other hand, need to understand exactly what resources they require. Certain functions, like converting a raster logo to vector, may not require much creative input or advanced experience from the artist, in which case you have more leeway shopping around. If you have a particular idea for desired style, you may have to pony up to hire a specific person known for that speciality. For example, a contract who wants to build a Flash game for an online portal will should not seek out a full-time, console programmer. Creatives come in all different types, and contractors must pick accordingly.

Finally, understand your motivation and your product. Why are you making this product? Is it one of many? The core of hiring creatives comes from motivation. Most creatives are internally driven. They make things because they enjoy the process of making them.

On frequent question arises: pricing. Creatives often have trouble putting a number on their work due to their internal motivation. Some will even work for free simply out of interest. The end price should be affordable enough for the contractor but large enough to take money off the mind of the create. This video explains it quite nicely (with cartoons!).

2. Consider the relationship you want.

If anyone is familiar with the prisoner's dilemma, it seems like one should always default to the option that will gain themselves the most at that moment. However, it's been proven that, over multiple iterations, the "tit-for-tat" method works out - start off nice and non-envious and forgive the other party if something goes wrong once, but if this occurs on multiple occasions, retaliate. The golden rule still applies in the business world: "Do unto others as you would have done unto you."


I'll divide opportunities into two categories: one-off and long term.

If you are sure you will never work with someone again, then it is actually in your financial interest to take as much as you can. For small projects, like schoolwork, you should probably do this.

However, the game and movie industries are small, and people move frequently. Especially in mainstream entertainment, you may work with the same person twice. Here, consider that "the best customer is a returning customer, and the best way to keep them coming back is to have a valuable product."

One benefit, though, of a long-term relationship is that cultivating many relationships with many clients builds a brand. For creatives, this means more exposure in an area you excell at. For contractors, this means more artists willing to work for you in your desired style. A brand in itself becomes an investment, and it grows as you do personally and technically.

In the end, it call goes back to motivation. If you cannot commit the time to a full-time position - like if you are a student or have non-work-related affairs, you may want to take more one-off jobs. However, if you want security, look for long-term relationship in full-time emplyment.

3. Proceed with caution.

I cannot stress enough how important a business plan is. For contractors, a defined business plan will show potential creative employees your security which will help you get better talent. In addition, it provides a solid road for the contractor to organize him or herself. Remember, though, as development continues and creatives are hired, the business plan is likely to change. However, any document serves as great organizational points.

Put important things on the table. Employees feel better and often make good suggestions when they know what is going on. The more involvement a creator has, the more ownership they feel, and the higher the liklihood the product will be worthwhile. Contractors worried about information leakage should write NDAs before explaining their business plans.

Lastly, make sure everything is in writing. When making contracts, I most importantly look for information regarding possession of the specific asset versus its associated intellectual property, and amount, method, and frequency of payment. Mainstream companies will always have employees sign contracts. You will probably have little room to negotiate, but in exchange, most of their contract are reliable because they have to maintain long-term relationships. Work-for-hire creatives should be given contracts stipulating which assets must be done by which dates, and the pay will be distributed in such a manner. If you are a creative without a standard contract template, ask others for help or - if you can afford it - go to a lawyer. Make sure all of this is agreed upon before the work begins. I would be wary if a job must be paid entirely up front or entirely at the end - divide work into paid milestones and make plans for revisions. If you are being paid hourly, I personally recommend using a shared Google calendar for complete transparency, to keep track of which hours and mark what was done when.

I hope that these bullet points have made whoever is reading this - contractor or creative - more aware of potential situations. Regarding the other articles. It may just be me, but I feel - In the end, the exception does not make the rule. The only rule is that there are no rules! Keep common sense about you, and judge each opportunity by that opportunity's circumstances.


Art: Rivek and What-I-Wore

I am a creature of organization and habit, so every time I start a new sketchbook, I draw Rivek in his most recent costume update. It helps me keep track of time, I guess.

And here are some of the outfits I wore to work. I am horrible at drawing me.


Art: 022/100 Themes - Mother Nature

"Naturea." - Nature. 22/100 Themes.

I'm back at it. Rivek, in half-transformation. Still can't draw feet.

Art: Magnum Original and Miscellanous Sketches

I'm archiving my sketchbook before I move, so I finally got around to scanning the original sketches and unshaded comic sample page I used for the Magnum design. If you're wondering: Yes, I got in. No, it won't be posted here. And the person I'm up against is Zimmay, and I am super intimidated since she can, you know, actually draw comics.

And also, here are some Mondigan sketches for 100 Themes which need to be re-done (I may save "Mother Nature" and "No Time," but in order to do so, I must re-do "Cat"). In addition, I have an unfinished sketch of a winter uniform inspired by Sam Weber's cover for The Shadow Rising, a painting which pretty much incorporates everything I love, haha.

Art: Gaia Bookmarks

So, I found a ton of old paper I had stolen and cut from the art room in high school, so I offered headshots and bookmarks for Gaia. I'm not done the headshots, but you can view all the bookmarks now in a spectacular collage.

Art: Gaia Art Trades

I've owed a couple of Gaia art trades since the semester ended. I'm just finally putting them here, now.

The first is for tuna yo, her Gaia avatar. Very cute outfit, if you ask me.

Next up is Kimaya, her incestuous, evil, sibling characters. She's so sweet, and I've known her since the Art Corner! She helped me out when I was trying to win a Gaia auction, haha. I had a awesome time on the hair.

And finally, my favorite, Winter for water under bridges, who is one of my oldest internet friends and a fantastic artistic influence. She just keeps improving, and I adore her style so much, and it's been great to see her evolve. Guh, Winter is just one of my favorite character designs ever!


Art: PE Round 90

I don't CG often enough, but this only took three or four hours from sketch to color! This is a normal Private Exchange round, Elaine for Tinkerbelcky. I think two more normal rounds, and I'm calling it quits from the group. I've been there since I was a sophomore in high school, haha.


Art: Magnum Accessories

Wow, I got a lot of feedback really fast. Which is great since the contest I need this guy for has its deadline on Sunday. Everyone liked the tunic-shaped stripes, and someone tossed me an edit with a better-shaped 'M.' I didn't want too much, so I decided I should add one more thing, but I couldn't decide if it would be the thick stripes, the gloves, or the boots. I feel each one implies a different thing. The thicker stripes leave his limbs black, which I think implies acrobatics (think Nightwing, as usual, haha). The gloves imply punching, and the boots imply running. All in all, though, he's a character who'll just shoot a bad guy in the face, so I am unsure which is best. The belt breaks up the composition, but it may be necessary for the story (he carries guns, and if I decide to be really stupid, they will be Magnums).

In response, I'm running a poll here on deviantART: http://fongmingyun.deviantart.com/journal/poll/1285091/ . Once I've decided, I'll probably go over his hair color again, and then call it finalized.

Also, putting the PSD up made is super convenient to get other artists' feedback, and Brian sent me this outfit. I think I'll use it as the base for his alter ego design - he even kept the M on the chest.

Art: Magnum Layered File

If it's obvious, I've been drawing but not posting. I'm having some trouble with a relatively simple character design, so I made a layered file to play around with things. I'm still undecided, so I'm uploading it for feedback.

Superheroes are this iconic thing, so I wanted to create the most shallow superhero ever (heavily inspired by Kickass, I suppose). By day, Richard Cox is a rich-kid investment banker who likes martial arts. By night, he becomes (the ever appropriately-named) Magnum - a superhero whose only motivation is to rescue attractive women, take advantage of Nightingale Syndrome, and bed them. He's the type of superhero who just shoots villains. Kind of a dick. The other thing being, for all his desire to be arrogant, he is a masochist and in part, takes on this identity to get the crap kicked out of him.

Anyhow, I'm stuck on the visual design because I want something sleek, but everything I draw looks like Nightwing. I didn't make him hulking-ly Superman muscular since he's meant to be pretty unappealing in his alter-ego - in that Draco Malfoy, useless, pretty boy, too-arrogant-to-like, way. Magnum is supposed to compensate for this. Therefore - no capes, no extreme armor. I am trying to incorporate the 'M' as a symbol, but it's difficult. The colors are set, at least.

Download the PSD here:


You know, this would be a lot harder if I hadn't taken life drawing.


Art: AnimeNext 2010

Here are most of the commissions I did for AnimeNext. It's mostly fanart, as per usual at this convention. I slightly lowered my color prices, though, and I ended up with a lot of them.

The first one is some headshots of someone's characters, inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender in a modern setting.

I also had to draw this very odd-looking Pokemon, Blaziken. Bipedal, humanoid Pokemon irk me. The fire in the background was fun to do, too.

I was also asked to draw Taokaka from the video game Blazblue. I like how this one turned out.

I spoke with Yoon, and she said my commissioners kept coming to her to pick up work I was doing for them. Do we look alike? Haha.

The next day, I drew a couple cosplaying as characters from .hack.

A friend of mine also asked me to draw his youngest daughter with her favorite Pokemon, Eevee.

I sketched out a couple as chibis.

This piece is one of - if not the - most elaborate piece I've done. Two original characters for a constant, returning customer. I threw in the semi-background to thank him for his loyalty. This one piece paid for the con for me, but it took all of Sunday to draw!


Art: Wizard World Philadelphia 2010

I went to Wizard World Philly his past weekend. It was a nice change or pace, being able to draw women with muscles and curvy bodies. I may come from the anime side of things, but I do appreciate American comic book culture. Not to mention, commissions at comic conventions go for way higher price points. I got a record number of tips because people were so satisfied by the pieces I did specifically for them.

Not like Fanime, where I got a tip for basically entertaining three children who I was drawing chibis of as they watched me the entire time I was drawing them, haha.

By the way, oh my god, I saw Bruce Campbell! I didn't see Patrick Stewart as hard as I looked, but I am happy to know that he and I were in the same room. That man is so amazing. And oh my god, I was sitting next to the man who draws Green Latern, and I saw the guy who did the covers for Strathmore's new paper line, and so many more. It was insane.

But, yes, uh, art... The first thing I was asked to draw was Supergirl:

I really enjoy when people get full-body pictures since it gives me more leeway with the posing. Another man asked me to draw Vampirella in his sketchbook. The same sketchbook that a hell of a lot of professional artists had drawn in. I was intimidated silly. The proportions were a bit off since I was rushed and am not used to working on such large paper.

A guy came by and asked me to draw his daughter as Star Sapphire, who she had dressed up as for Halloween:

Another guy couldn't decide between Sailor Jupiter (my childhood hero!) and Nico Minoru (I love her design... and Jo Chen), so he got me to draw both. Haha, well, he was also debating about adding Alice Cullen, but I nixed that one. I'm not much of a Twilight fan.

Robin. Again. Time Drake, this time. Maybe this is a sign. His eyes are too high, but I like the exaggerated jaw structure which I don't get to play around with as much when drawing anime (which leans toward softer features).

Nice guy came at the end of Saturday and asked me to draw Emma Frost overnight. Then he told me the next morning it was the best piece he'd ever bought. Ah, I forgot to take a picture of the second one he asked for! Emma Frost with a Flyers hat and hockey stick. Haha.

Ah, the people were so nice. This guy asked for Powergirl, then said thank you again on my deviantART, then showed it off on his Twitter.

Finally, in the last three hours of the con, a young man asked me to do Avatar artwork, and our discussion slowly transitioned into me drawing Zuko and Draco - two characters who are intended villains but who are not thoroughly evil but merely have something to prove to their own self-worth. I'm really glad he took the shading option since it gave me a chance to play with the lighting. I think he was happy, too. It may have been more expensive, but I tried to make it worthwhile.

I've discovered it takes me awhile to warm up at a con, so the first and commissions aren't the best. But if I get rushed, they tend to turn out pretty bad. You want to bet somewhere between third and fifth.

I've just been so busy with school, moving, and conventions, that I haven't had much impetus to do original work. How sad. :(