Since I work in Japan, naturally I come into contact with other English teachers and since I'm also working as such, I'm pretty familiar to what's popular among the students and have some awareness of contemporary pop culture. I received a commission to create English language lesson materials utilizing characters from the popular anime/manga series Demon Slayer(鬼滅の刃). It was a fun gig that got to explore the children's favorite characters in a school related fan-fiction context. The theme of this particular series is "Yearly School Events and Activities", all of which are universally recurring in Japanese public schools today.
Looking back on some of these after working on my landscape stuff, I can tell that a few of these could do with some value adjustments in the backgrounds. I think its tough to see the silhouettes of characters if the draw distance isn't clarified with atmospheric perspective. I'd probably also change the value or eliminate the linework in the few backgrounds I did draw.
I think if I ever do something like this again with another IP, I'll have a cleaner approach to rendering and clearly stating contrast and points of interest within the composition. Maybe there will be a JuJutsu-Kaisen(呪術廻戦) flashcard series in the future. What do you think? What anime or manga have you been into recently? What's a favorite anime from your past?
Leave your thoughts down below and feel free to like and share this post.
Until next time,
What's up guys,
So, for the past 8 months or so I've been trying my hand at narrative vignettes and landscape paintings. Drawing and designing landscapes has always been one my weakest points as an illustrator, so why not take an assignment and improve. In some ways, this is record of growth, so lets reflect on the process first.
All of the pieces are depictions of nature with a surreal or fantastical element/quality to compliment the subject and inform a greater wonder/mystery. Some pieces are straight up studies done to increase clarification for design choices for later works. I've been producing these pieces in batches of 4, exploring alternative painting and design techniques to find the best method for communicating my client's needs. That said, for the sake of brevity, I'll only provide one example for each of the 8 batches with a carousel for the images in order at the bottom. I've provided a title for each piece to identify a point of interest that I wanted to develop and build upon sequentially.
I think after a few more refinements in line weight, vibrancy and variation of the mixed media elements I'll have created the best template going forward. Trees and stones aside, waterfalls and rivers are other subjects I'm looking forward to expressing in this design language. Perhaps enough assets can be created for legitimate world building. I've tried to stay away from manmade elements, but the introduction of ruins might pop up more frequently later if that is an idea worth pursuing.
What do you guys think? What is one the most beautiful view of nature you've personally witnessed? Red striped mountains in the desert? A majestic waterfall in the rainforest? Black sand beaches at the base of a volcano? Leave your thoughts down below! Like and share if you care. Until next time, peace.
What's up guys,
These past 18 or so months have honestly been a time sink in some ways. Its also been a while since I posted any music, unless you follow my instagram (plenty of music in my stories). Anyway, I decided to consolidate my unique perception of time throughout this pandemic in a curated soundscape of dreamy and melodic beats that just bleed into the next. So, enjoy what I've vibed too during this isolated period. Some of us still can't travel, but you can at least take a journey with music. Finally, since I love underdogs, I've chosen some lesser known artist to be featured this time around.
Most of the music listed below has minimal lyrics or none at all. Artist that do have lyrics melt seamlessly into the tracks that accompany them and are generally arranged in a melodic way that I feel is unobtrusive to the overall composition of each piece. Some artist to note would be Nina Cobham, an upcoming English artist that has a very soulful Spanish flare, and TEK.LUN a producer that hasn't been too active recently, but never fails to deliver a good dance beat from time to time.
I realize that all of these songs have a similar thematic tone, but that's kind of the point. Each day of this pandemic drifts into the next, blurring the demarcation we've all been accustomed to, but what do you think? What have you been listening to over the past year? I'm always searching for new music in new genres, so leave your recommendations in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post.
Until next time,
We gotta talk about Netflix and Lesean Thomas' newly released original anime, "Yasuke". Unfortunately, that's where my first qualms for the series lay, in the word "original". Some aspects of the show are certainly unique, and thus qualifying it as "original", but 2 episodes into a 6 episode series and I couldn't help but notice how derivative the plot and characters seemed to be. By the end of the show, I was convinced; Yasuke is a contrived mediocre show at best. But before I really get into it, I'd like to give Studio Mappa a shoutout for the great animation and Flying Lotus for his artistry on the soundtrack.
While I won't spoil any plot details in this review, I will critique the exact points in which Yasuke fell flat for me. First, the story is too simple for the level of sophistication that the source material deserves. For those unaware, Yasuke was an African man brought to Japan whom would eventually become a retainer to then daimyo, Oda Nobunaga in the late 1500s.
Watching this show, you wouldn't know how this plays into our hero's central narrative at all. This intrinsic element acts as a mere primer for the inevitable escort mission Yasuke finds himself on for the duration of the show, which by-the-way, has the faintest of relationships to Yasuke's personal connections to the world the showrunners have established. Which brings me to the second problem, "surrogate father escorts young girl across a dangerous land" trope. Maybe the sheer amount of content created over the past decade has skewed my views a bit, but this particular trope is so tired. SO many IPs from various industries have used this time and again with much better results i.e., Logan, The Last of Us, Lone Wolf and Cub, etc.(that's just the L's!"). But sure, lets approach this from an objective perspective and greenlight this plot device. As you can imagine, these two characters are intended to be polar opposites that should eventually compliment each other by the end of the show. They progress the story in a way that allows their hijinks to develop a kinship capable of spawning some sort of epic team-up by the end of the finale.
Unfortunately a lot of the time spent between these two characters is wasted, since Yasuke is a brooding and pensive character that I wouldn't call "one dimensional", but flat nonetheless. I would like to give Lakeith Stanfield and Jun Soejima credit for lending their voices to the role. Their contribution certainly made Yasuke a more likeable character(even more so in Japanese), so I honestly think this might be a script issue. For the sake of argument, I think Afro Samurai has more personality than Yasuke, which is pretty impressive considering Afro doesn't say much of anything. However, its the characters that surround Afro that do much of this heavy lifting since they are reacting to Afro's beats. Yasuke lacks this type of supporting cast in certain areas of the show, so it made it difficult to really sympathize with his struggles vicariously through others or even personally as a black man.
Finally, my last gripe would be "consistency and focus". Yasuke is all over the place. From story to art direction, Yasuke lacks focus. Occasionally, the audience is treated to flashback sequences that explore the mystery of Yasuke's history and intrapersonal relationships, which I personally found to be some of the highlights of the show, but there vague connections to the current timeline leave much to be desired. I often found myself wanting to know more Yasuke's time under Nobunaga opposed to the fetch quest we inevitably return to. Lastly, I understand the creative desire to mix high fantasy and technology elements into a historical setting, but I think this decision ultimately diminishes the significance of what it means to be Yasuke, i.e. black in this ancient time period and foreign land.
If there are 10 meter tall robots and half bear people walking around, who really cares if our protagonist is black. At this point Yasuke's complexion is most useful as a conversation starter at best. This is probably the anime's most egregious offense, the complete overshadowing of historical reference for mass appeal? Accessibility? He could literally be any other color and it wouldn't have changed much of the story at all, so it feels quite clear that we are riding the diversity wagon for this. Which, to be clear, diversity and representation are noble goals to strive towards, but this can easily be considered pandering in unskilled hands. Considering that a lot of the producers for this series are black I'm quite disappointed at how badly they fumbled this project. I was originally quite excited for Yasuke, but it seems the importance of his story got lost in the shuffle of trying to make it stand amongst the great anime that inspired it. In the end, we received a tepid story that missed its mark in highlighting one of history's forgotten legends.
Have you watched Yasuke? What did you think? What would you have done to improve the show? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post. Keep it locked for more, peace!
Whats up everyone,
I've had the pleasure of working on some pretty unique projects since October of last year, so I thought I would take the time to post an update.
First, a logo design project for an independent book publisher called Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC. Since I had the opportunity to work with these clients before(see TMIJ), laying out the vision of the design was straightforward and fluid. This especially holds true since the design is a direct representation of its namesake.
It is also one of the rare occasions where my client had a clear idea for specific details that included size, orientation, color, and complexity. So, upon discussing their needs, I was able to seamlessly incorporate their ideas into my design methodology; moving from concept to completion expeditiously.
Since this project required both a logomark and a wordmark, we reviewed various san serif font styles in tandem to ensure style compatibility and legibility.
After analyzing our choices, I proceeded to finish our initial draft in a vector format using Inkscape. Having a vector image is especially important for print materials since bitmap files don't scale well. Vector images use mathematical formulas to keep the integrity and fidelity of the original design at scale. This was doubly important in my clients case since they needed the logo formatted for banners/advertisement, book bindings/spines, business cards, and icons. You see can each of those versions below, as well as an optional detail oriented design for my clients to consider if they felt the need to liven up the simplified logomark.
Its quite rare for me to work in vector tools, so the experience was really enlightening. I was able to identify areas of my workflow that could help bring about more precise and easily modifiable designs in the future. What do you guys think? What other insects do you think would make for suitable logo designs? Write your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post to see more content in the future.
Until next time,
Welcome back to another entry on the SunKing Designs blog. This time around, I wanted to provide a look at a design that has been sitting, incomplete, for at least 6 years in my sketchbook. I think its safe to say that many artist start projects that typically wind up unfinished for even longer periods should they get distracted by other prospects both exciting and more time consuming. However, it might be a bit more rare for anyone to revisit an old design without completely revising it, but since there were no "glaring" issues regarding the initial portrait, I elected to maintain most of the original design since I thought it would be a waste otherwise.
Originally, the client requested a logo for their craft beer brand, "Holy Craft". At the time, I was working together with a friend specializing in Advertising, so I must give him credit for suggesting the image of a priest. You can see the reference photo collected via Pinterest to the right. I think the recommendation was well suited for the brand, but I concluded that plastering a random priest on a label would be a bit too "on-the-nose" and thus not very creative. Since priest are supposed to follow their faith diligently, associating the imagery with alcohol is adversely impious. I think this contradiction makes the design more appealing. So, after some discussions, I suggested we "darken" the tone of the portrait by sharpening the bone structure around the cheeks, elongate the nose, and protrude the eyebrow ridge. This naturally allowed me to increase the age of the model through his hair and adjust features in the face such as the lips, eyes, and forehead. This is certainly an occasion where the devil is in the details, since I went as far as to extrude the ears to replicate a more sinister expression. To dramatize the features even further, I implied subtle burns along the shadowed portions of his face just to add a bit more uneasiness to priest's character. Overall, I think the portrait was a success, but since the project was abandoned before we could address the typography the logo failed to be much more than a character portrait.
Fast forward years later, the acute imbalances in my original render became much more obvious with fresher eyes and accumulated experience. For the sake of the blog, I mirrored the image above and highlighted key points of interest.
1. The left hemisphere of the skull was out of perspective. This makes the forehead appear larger and flatter than it should be. Since the cranium is a round object, portions furthest from the viewer should turn back into space accordingly.
2. Though details in anatomy become more unclear in shadowy areas, I darkened the area around the cheek so much that the skull starts to lose form; again becoming too flat.
3. I think the unfurling parchment style "text box" was both cliché and off-center, so that too was nixed. You can tell from its absence that the entirety of the logo would be leaning to far left should I have left it. To further acknowledge this imbalance, I went ahead and highlighted the space around the head with red and green. Green being the most ideal proportion of space compared to areas in red.
After editing these areas, I selected a bold, gothic, san-serif font that featured a more contemporary style resulting in the final image below. Using the in-program measurement system, I was able to find the correct proportions of the composition from the typography to the portrait.
By this point I decided to change the name of the brand since the project was no longer being pursued by the original client(hence the name "Devils Craft"). Yet, I was still unsatisfied with this simple monochromatic rendering and opted to add a splash of red to push the design into more "ominous" territory. Since the Devil is commonly associated with red, I was inspired to replicate the effect of blood splashing across the entirety of the design. If you look carefully, you'll notice some of this red coloring has stained the color of the priest, effectively bringing the design to a finished state.
What do you think? I'm pleased to finally release this piece after such a long period of time. Its a shame that this design couldn't have been used for an actual product but perhaps I will get the opportunity to design a new beer label in the future. What would you like to see me design next? A coffee logo? Perhaps a fruit juice product? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and don't forget to like and share this post!
Until next time,
Whats up guys,
I haven't posted one of these in almost a year, so I'm definitely overdue for a revision of something. As noted by the title, I decided to remake an old character design of the now 2x US Open Championship winner. Originally I created a turnaround sheet of Osaka early last year, after Nissin's disastrous Cup Noodle ad campaign that featured a totally whitewashed Osaka. Because of that disgraceful mishap, I ended up rendering the turnaround sheet below. You can read more about this design on my blog, here.
For the purposes of animation, the above turnaround sheet serves its purpose, but I can't help but notice that some poses are off model and the execution isn't as tight as it should be. Overall, the piece is not the greatest representation of my knowledge of anatomy and design; which makes it an ideal candidate for revision. So, for this "Throwback Thursday", I've scrapped this turnaround for a brand new composition with different goals; starting with the sketch seen left.
I wanted to focus my drawing skills in areas I'm particularly strong in, gesture, anatomy, and design. Using a few references, I designed a pose that exposes Osaka's power and grace on the court. I knew I wanted to keep Osaka's color blocked tennis outfit, but also incorporate those same colors onto the court in a dynamic way. Since this affects the harmony of the overall composition, I took care to apply value in specific areas, for specific colors to maintain compositional balance in the future.
The differences are obvious but there are a few key areas I paid special attention to. First, in regards to color/hue, the variety and depth of shadows, visible highlights, and subtle temperature shifts. Next, in regards drawing, a consistent line of action, linework, weight, and clothing anatomy(particularly the skirt). Lastly, in regards to design, economy of space, balance, and composition. Though I am fairly satisfied with this render, I still think I can make improvements. What do you think? Whose another athlete I should consider drawing? Whats the most difficult part of the body for you to draw? I had trouble getting the hand holding the racket just right; its super tough. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post.
Until next time,
Whats up guys,
Its been a while since my last post, but I've been extraordinarily busy with a surprising increase in commissions these last few months. I've done so much between a logo for honey-infused water, Beelieve, album covers for DinoJr., and my marathon run of podcast thumbnails for the Musicks. Expanding the breadth of my services comes a commission that desired branding for a growing Twitch channel.
At first, the client only required a banner that featured the channel name, subtitle, and watermelons(seen above). It wasn't a fussy project so I looked into ways that could describe the goofy but mature personalities of my clients. I started by sketching a pattern that could be stamped seamlessly. This naturally became the background element of the banner. And since Cindy and Jay have a warm, home-bodied nature, I felt it was appropriate to reinforce that idea by mimicking the texture of wallpaper with a soft overlay of noise and box blurring.
Next was the icon design. We knew we wanted caricatures of the two, so I collected their photos and went to work sketching. There weren't many iterations of face shape and technique, but I did play with different hairstyles for Cindy's caricature. Developing the sketches would later help me design various expressions for their emotes seen below. As for the application of color, I used a brush within the Krita suite that recreated the effect of pastel chalk. Again, I wanted to involve those previous ideas of a friendly and inviting nature at all levels of the design process, "painting" included.
Finally, subscribers to the channel are awarded emotes to be used during live streams across the Twitch platform. Using the above icon as a base, I designed various expressions based off of the most common emotions. Since there was an upload limit of just 8 emotes, I provided some extra options just in case an image failed to communicate or otherwise be appealing to my clients.
Final Emote Selection
Taking care to maintain consistency between the channel icon and the provided emotes, I elected to simply copy and paste the base painting, altering color and shape accordingly. What do you guys think? Which emote is the strongest? Weakest? What troubles do you have when drawing expressions? I occasionally have trouble staying on model, but I think I've improved since college. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post!
Until next time,
Hello SunKing Design Blog Fans!
I am UntidyVenus aka Izzy. Today I am sharing with you some of my illustration and drafting process, which I won't lie, I don't document often. It's not because it's some big secret, but because I’m just too lazy and I never thought that anyone would be interested. Then the SunKing himself asked me to write something up and so I procrastinated for… 4 months? Yeah, four whole months. So here we finally go!
I start with an idea. Today I was feeding my pet shrimp (yes I have pet shrimp, that's another blog post) and was thinking about silly shrimp puns. So the idea came for a tee shirt/sticker design. I tried to come up with as many bad and terrible shrimp puns as I could possibly come up with, to get the bad ideas out of the way first.
"Shrimptastic, shrimprific, shrimpzilla, shrimpnado, Shrimply irresistible, Shrimply the best, Shrimply Amazing etc etc etc."
Then I hit Google. There are thousands of types of shrimp. My personal pets are Cherry Shrimp, aka Neocaridina, Taiwanese shrimp red variety, etc. They are tiny, less than half an inch (about 12 mm) so my personal observations wouldn’t suffice and I don’t currently have a macro lens for my camera. After researching the shrimps every last detail, its time to start doodling. Finding your best way to “shortcut” real life is the way to finding your style. After a few shrimp doodles in my sketchbook, which a cat spilled coffee on before I could get a picture (sorry!) it's time to pick a pose and start sketching.
Sketching & LineWork
My preference for sketches is a mechanical pencil with an architect's lead. The lead is hard, therefore very light, and comes in a variety of colors (well, red and blue) that blends in beautifully with watercolor if I am unable to erase it all in the end product. I start with a motion line, or the spine of the subject, and build the shapes from there. Since I work mostly in watercolor I need a waterproof marker for line work, my preference are Sakura Microns.
Now that the line work is done, we need color!
I decided to pull out my never used Koi brand travel set for this. I purchased it thinking it would be great for travel and plein air painting a few years ago and maybe tried it once. So, essentially never used. Whenever working with colors, you need to know how they will react to each other, so I made a swatch grid. After playing with paint on a fresh sheet of paper, its time to jump in! Looking at my references I found the shrimp are red, but also translucent, that is, light passes through them but they aren't totally transparent. So, a warm red with cool red shadows should work well for this.
Tools & Application
You don’t need fancy paint brushes to paint watercolor, but you do need at least one RIGHT brush. A brush that holds a lot of water and comes to a fine tip is really all you need.
I lay down a coat of the warm red for the first layer, thinking about the highlights, where the light would touch the shell, and the shadows as well. While the paint is still wet you have the ability with most colors to drop more fresh water in where you want less paint, and “push” more paint into the parts you want darker.
Once that was dry I added a second layer of the warm red, quickly followed by some of the cooler red. That way I could blend the colors. I live in a very dry and arid area (on top of a mountain in Utah!) so things dry very fast, which means I have to pay attention and work faster.
Digitization & Clean-Up
I now take the watercolor to my scanner, and scan them as super high resolution. I personally have an older Epson Workforce that scans around 600 dpi, dots per inch. Thats MUCH more resolution than I need for almost anything, but I like having extra pixels during the clean up process. I bring the file into Adobe Photoshop, and select and copy a shrimp. Each one will be its own file from now on. Shrimp one gets pasted into a high resolution file, and I proceed to use the eraser, clone tool and zoom to delete the background so he is transparent (and yes, this is a male shrimp I did not paint a “saddle” or the ovaries into him) and use levels to correct any color changes in scanning.
I take my puns very seriously, so I select a font that matches my line weight on my art, have someone outside double check my spelling (autocorrect doesn't know shrimply, so will miss my SHIMply!) and save for use!
These guys are now ready for upload on your favorite sites! I have them available on Teepublic and RedBubble, as well as stickers on the way from StickerMule!
Whats up guys,
Like many of you, I too am spending most of my days indoors. I typically work from home when working on art anyway, so not much has changed in that regard.
Anyway, I got a selection of music that you could listen during your quarantine. There is some house, baile funk, techno, hip-hop, french pop(?) in this batch. If thats not your vibe, perhaps check out my J-List.
World looks crazy out there sometimes, but thats probably the best time to chill. What do you all think? What have you been listening to these days? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, dont forget to like and share this post~
Stay safe and stay healthy
What do you all think? Are you interested in other genres of music? What would you like to hear next time? Perhaps more of the same artist? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, dont forget to like and share this post~