Saturday, June 11, 2016

Frantic Birthday Card Making

It always seems that as soon as I have a block of spare time, there seems to be somebody I should be making a card for. Since I'm still learning, this takes me forever and I'm not clever enough to make more than one at a time (although I plan to change this in the near-future).

I originally wanted to make a pop-up card for my husband. He and I both work from home and it's hard to find time when I'm completely alone. I was also working at the last-minute, so I needed to find a technique that I could do in short bursts of time. I figured that a pop-up would require larger blocks of time and that I should make a card that lights up instead. Both of these things I plan on exploring more and designing my own, but time wasn't on my side and I had to get this done quickly without my husband noticing. At least I already had the supplies!

I did a quick search online to see if anybody had tutorials up since my last search half a year ago. And yes, Chibitronics had partnered with Lawn Fawn a few months ago and shared the results. The slide switch appealed to me because the lights wouldn't go on unless the card was pressed, so it won't drain the battery. Plus I wouldn't have to worry about building a sliding tab switch.

Then I went about looking in the Silhouette Store for a design I could use. I was this close to making my own, but it would have added anywhere between two and ten hours and I needed to get it done.

I managed to run my Silhouette Cameo while my husband was hanging around and he didn't notice that I was cutting a Birthday card. I then went to bed pleased with myself that I was a day ahead of time and that I could easily make the circuit the following day. I was seriously proud of myself.

Then the next day he was going to drive out of town on an errand. I waited. And waited. He left and for whatever reason I didn't get started. Which turned out to be a good decision because instead of being out of the house for two hours, he was gone for 20 minutes. He said that traffic was bad and that he'll try again the next day. Then he said he was going to do some sorting in the spare room. I waited. And waited. Never happened. He stayed in the office with me and declared at 11pm, "I'm not getting much done today. How about you?" I had to sifle a laugh.

The day I was going to gift the card, my husband leaves for his errands. I thought I could get the circuit done quickly, but drew it wrong and didn't realize until after I laid down the copper tape. And Oh no, I don't have that much time left! Quick, lay down the tape. Test the lights. Yes, they're working. Glue it to the base. Test the lights. The middle isn't working. WHAAAAT?! How do I troubleshoot that? Hell if I know. Just put the design on top and call it a day.

But oh yeah, it needs a greeting. Good thing I've been practicing a little (very little) with the Tombow brush pens. This is actually the main reason why I want to work on my hand. The calligraphy is Not Great. I had to define the letters a bit with the black liner. I guess I'll be downloading practice sheets later tonight.

I have a wedding card to make before the first week of July. I think I'll start on that this week. :heh:

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Big, vast emptiness ahead

[Oh, that's really funny. I hit "Tab" and it published before I even started. Given the title of this post, it's even funnier!]

This month of June is looking pretty bleak work-wise. I don't seem to have any jobs coming in. Mixed feelings because I really do need a break from working pretty much nonstop for the past 23 years, but since work has been tapering off for the past six months, I have no funds with which to enjoy that time.

On the other hand I have lots of time to do other things like crafting, drawing and practicing calligraphy! Which is good because my prep for Frankenstein's was pretty disastrous. Starting at the last minute, is never a good thing. Starting at the last minute and having multiple mini-failures is catastrophic. Around 9pm, I had to kinda throw in the towel and just call it a night.

This week I'm revisiting some milestones I've made up for myself and realized that, once again, I'm getting to them at the last minute. When will I ever learn?!

So last Saturday I forced myself to sketch something. It was hard going, but then I found my roll and went with it.

I screwed up the perspective on the face a bit, but I liked the energy of the line and don't feel like inking over it and losing it. Then I isolated the linework to throw color on it. Three (saved) passes later, it (digitally) looks like this now...
I'm not sure I'm happy with this one either, but it thumbnails really nicely. Painting this made me realize why I prefer rendering POC. When I paint white people, they come out ashy-looking or too peachy. I should probably look up some tutorials for making the skin more vibrant. Yeah, sure, just another thing on my way-too-long list of to-dos.

I've also done a little bit of craft lettering, but nothing terribly share-worthy. Maybe later I'll bunch some of it all up into a giant image. June is going to be the start of yet another 29Faces sponsored thing. With all-male faces this time: ‪#‎Juneguys‬. Since I'm only posting when I more-or-less have some art or craft thing semi-done, I'm hoping that June will be a busy month of blogging.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Overwhelmed Much?

I caught a cold and was laid up for an entire week.

All my prep time? Gone. My dayjob stuff? Not late for once, but it takes a priority now.

I managed to make this Mother's Day card for my aunt right before I decided that I should hole up in bed with a "Tiny House" marathon on TV.
 Cut file from Silhouette, color is Dylusions spray.
That break ended up lasting for about five days. The only good thing was that I was able to work on one of my books in bed. The idea was to make two cards at once, but that wasn't meant to be. I had to send the one card that afternoon and the other could wait until the morning of Mother's Day. A few days later, I crawled out of bed to make this card for my mother.

Cut file from Silhouette, color is Dylusions spray, poorly edged with Distress ink
When I started to feel better, I looked at the calendar and realized when my dayjob projects are due. I had to hit the ground running on some work here.

Melville's Moby Dick adapted by Chabouté
Ever since I updated my version on InDesign, the internal dictionary is now randomly hyphenating words so I have to really watch what happens when I move the edges of text frames. I mean. seriously, "unders-tanding"? If anybody can tell me how to fix this, please let me know!

Fate/Zero #3 by Gen Urobuchi and Shinjirō
When I took a small break, I went into my hobby room and saw I still had some of these left undone.
These still need to be domed.
 I am officially overwhelmed and seriously doubt I can have stuff ready for the next Frankenstein's Swap Meet next week. Color me a little bummed. These are pictures of stuff I've actually done. There's so much swimming in my head. Some things percolate to the top and go under just as quickly and others stay long enough for me to capture it. Needless to say, I have a to-do list that's as long as two arms and part of a leg. The things that keep surfacing is calligraphy and small illustrations as ACEOs. I just have to get these two books lettered before I can work on those things. Hopefully when I AM finished, they won't bubble under to be replaced by something else (Cardmaking! Decal cutting! Pop-ups! Paper circuits! Dioramas!).

Sunday, May 01, 2016


While I work, I have a browser window open to Pinterest to poke around while my computer processes files, etc. I stumbled across Dawn Nicole and her online art-lettering group class thing. There's a lot of moving parts and I haven't quite got it figured out, but she has a monthly challenge group on Facebook and Instagram (‪#‎DNDChallenge‬) and I just happened upon it on the last week of April. Here's my first entry for the group.

This took me far longer than I had planned and it was killing me. I woulda been able to knock this out in acrylic, but watercolor is so not my thing and I labored over it. I couldn't control the saturation like I wanted.  re-applying a stroke when the paint is still wet results in the pigment spreading. (duh) After a while I gave up, found a broken colored pencil and outlined the flower for definition. The entire process was kinda painful.

The background was pre-primed with Distress mini pads. I'm new to stamping and I don't understand how people can get such juicy colors from them. I was pretty certain my mini-pads were dried out until I heard they should be stored upside down. I tried that for a few weeks, came back to them and hoped for the best. They were wetter than before, but it would take a lot of effort to color a tag with these. So now I'm not sure if I need to re-ink them or buy the larger, normal sized pads. On the other hand, the background worked nicely with this sketch.
If anybody reading this can tell me has any experience with wet or dry mini-pads, I'd love to hear from you!

I've been doing the Artist's Way Morning Pages without skipping so far. Which is pretty incredible since I left for Seattle when I started! They've helped me focus a lot and I've seen little things kinda come together here and there. I haven't done any of the exercises though. I'm sure they're rather important, but I'd much rather apply energy to projects than to sitting and thinking. I already do that for those Pages.

Of course I find out about the latest #100daychallenge one month into it.

This is another thing I'm working on. I did the initial resin pour about a month ago, but finally got my act together and put together the inclusions.
I can't decide whether they'll be pendants or magnets. I guess I'll have more of an idea once they come out of the molds.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Back from Seattle

I'm one week back from Seattle for Emerald City Comic Con. The timing was bad for me because taxes and late work, but hey, what can ya do?

I've found a group doing "Artist's Way" and I thought I'd give it another shot. Maybe being in a sorta group would be inspiring. At the very least there'd be other people to talk to if I needed it. For the record, I quit last time because of the one-two punch of "shadow artist" and the exercises getting a bit on the dopey side.

I managed to do some sketching at ECCC. It took this long for me to scan them because once I got home, I had to hit the ground running with work and finishing those taxes.

This was done at the park adjacent to the convention center, where all the cosplayers hang out. There were actually a bunch of other people around this guy, but I thought he was the most interesting person in that corner.

...While waiting for food at Dragonfish.

The W hotel in Seattle doesn't really have a proper lobby. It's a bar. And it was weird. And sometimes oontzy.

I have way too much on my plate right now and not enough time to get it done. I got two books to letter and my plan was to get some crafts made for the next comic swap in late May. I just took a peek at my crafting area and aiyiyi, I gotta pick up after myself before I get started!

I'm also hoping to post more here. But between the Morning Pages and scanning/posting images, it takes a lot of time! lol

Monday, March 07, 2016

Fussing, not much Doing

Been quiet lately since day job work rolled in.

Here's what it looks like:

(Wandering Island ©Kenji Tsuruta 2011)

Meanwhile I'm going nuts trying to figure out what kinds of crafty things I can sell at the local comic book swap meet. I'm going to try something new and it may not work out, but oh well. The swap meet being two weeks is adding to some pressure, but then again, it's a deadline to motivate me.

In other crafting, I tried some Prisme paints and that didn't go too well. For whatever reason the paint didn't bubble. It threw a wrench in my plans and I promptly avoided the craft room for a week.

When things don't go as planned, I tend to run away, but I also spend that time evaluating and making a plan B. Well, I figured that maybe the paint wasn't warm enough and I put them in my pocket all day before using them again. It's not looking like cold paint is the problem either. :sigh:

In more positive news, I finally found an online art course that inspired me! Looking to jumpstart my creative juices, I've been poking around for some free courses. I was really excited about one on creative lettering for journals and was disappointed that it was basically links to a series of videos that talked about a paid course the person is offering. The instructor didn't offer anything free as promised. I was disillusioned (and wanted my 45 minutes back).

So when I saw the Strathmore Paper course on journaling, I was a little skeptical, but figured, why not? Holymoly, it was inspiring! The instructor reminded me of some of my classmates from art school and captured the energy I'm trying to get back. The first thing he did was trick out his sketchbook with a blotter/bookmark that doubled as a pen holder. He also super-thinned acrylic paint to make it easier to prime pages with. I've been struggling to lay down the acrylic with the right consistency and this might solve some of my problems.

Anyway, if this sounds like your cup of tea, definitely check it out. You have to register, but it's free.

Now I gotta find jars to make acrylic wash with...

Friday, February 26, 2016

So. Many. Product Photos.

...and they're all so-so. 

I've been trying to get my etsy started* and I've been struggling with taking decent product shots. Historically I've never been the best photographer.

I have one of those fold-up light box setups, but I can't seem to work with it too well. Also, the plastic that holds the lamps has cracked in a few places so they kinda point to just one angle. I've had to wait for a sunny day to shoot these. I've also found that mica shift is kinda hard to capture too.

So when the sun came yesterday morning, I took a BUNCH of random photos. Now that it's raining I've been sitting here processing photos. This is not my idea of fun.

I should be working on my next Face or that Thing I keep thinking I'm gonna do for March.

*As of this posting, it's not open yet, but if you're interested its: