Process: Year of the Fox

It has been a while, world! Putting aside any excuses on how I was not able to make time to work on some personal illustrations for several months (7 to be exact), I am extra giddy the universe allowed me to create a new one this past week. And to kickstart the first official artwork on this new old blog, here is a quick rundown on my process for ‘Year of the Fox‘.

YearOfTheFox-Blog

Every time I start a new illustrating season, the first output always has to be a self-portrait just because I am vain like that. It also gives me a chance to sharpen any skill that have rusted through time because of neglect. The last one I did was all cutesy and nice, so this time around, after getting over a lot of self-doubt, my goal was to create a much stronger character for myself. Char.

I go through these phases where I associate myself with animals and think of them as spiritual totems and for the past couple of years, I have been using the fox to symbolize mischief and playfulness, cunningness and being able to see through deception, and because I have always related to the fox in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book ‘The Little Prince’.

0

Initially, I would sketch my concept on a square divided into 9 equal parts so I can balance the composition of the image. And when I’m settled with the basic elements of the drawing, I would transfer it to my big Moleskine sketchbook for more details.

Knowing my process, the sketch won’t be as detailed because I tend to move around, add, and omit elements during production. The lineart remains as guidelines to the most important things on the canvass. Here, it’s the characters.

1

I scan the final sketch so I can trace it on Illustrator. But before playing with the pen tool, I would carefully pick out the color theme and come up with the initial 36 colors to be used on the entire thing. This is where my obsessive-compulsiveness strikes as I strictly stick to my palette until I move on to the next phase.

If you notice I have already redesigned the fox because I found the first one to be a bit elitist and snobbish, qualities I don’t want to be associated with.

2

3

When I started working on the background, I realized that the big ass mountain behind the main guy wasn’t working out. This has been a recurring realization with my art, some things may look good on paper but would not translate well once I start rendering the drawing. Every time this happens, which is quite often, it would set me back for a few hours staring at the canvas to think of a replacement.

Sometimes, the answer is as simple as adjusting the height of the mountain that would show my character is at a more significant height than the previous one. Because the mountain range looked too simple, I decided to add some Tibetan prayer flags. These flags are used up in the Himalayas to promote peace, compassion, wisdom, and strength and the Tibetans believed that these prayers will be blown by the wind to everyone below, benefiting all. Taray.

4

The next challenge was to figure out what to do with so much space on the upper half of the image. My usual go-to escape is to fill up the sky with clouds, and I was almost contented with the outcome until one of my colleagues at work suggested I put a starry nightsky instead (Thanks, Gene!). So I grabbed a random photo off the web and placed it for comparison, and although it looked good I wasn’t sure it was right for the aesthetic I was going for because it suddenly made my illustration too dark.

But to steer away from my default cloudy sky, I adjusted more elements and compromised with the idea until I was happy with it. It certainly had no need for clouds after all. I thought of adding a Scorpius constellation at the top (I’m a Scorpio), but Gene asked if there was a constellation of a fox that I can use as an alternative. After a quick trip to Google, we were surprised there actually was one named ‘Vulpecula’. Awesome.

Fin

This is why I believe it’s important not to be too attached with the initial sketch because in the process, one would always find new and better things to change and add in an illustration before it would feel complete. After adding some texture and a few more color adjustments, it was done.

On the first ten days of the year!

Here I am sprawled on the bed on a Friday night, sipping on a glass of hot dalandan juice freshly squeezed with my trembling hands 20 minutes ago, and the soothing smell of Vicks VapoRub on my bare chest and philtrum calming me down. It’s the 10th day of January (I thought it was the 9th!) and I am under the weather.

IMG_20140104_152306

Three years ago, on this month, I spent a couple of weeks recovering from surgery. Every year after that I found myself suffering from respiratory problems caused by that darn cancer stick (I swear I’m gonna quit this time!), and change in climate. Dry cough, flu, sinusitis. The works. It’s making things a bit miserable for me at the moment, however… Continue reading

10 life lessons I learned in 2013

What an interesting year it has been! From starting it out quite miserably, the last 8 months brought me tons of new experiences and life lessons. Turns out, more mistakes make you more resilient to bullshit until you are finally fed up well enough to start making some changes. Stop consuming bullshit, people.

"Being grown up isn't half as fun as growing up"

“Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up”

Everything’s still in ‘Work in Progress’ stage but there is a bit of relief to how things are shaping up. And since I firmly believe in the concept of equivalent exchange, I have lost quite a few important things in order to acquire new ones. Sacrifices I’m willing to make at this point. Continue reading

Meraki: work with heart

meraki

At 10, I kept a journal with information gathered from books and kid encyclopedias. Each spread containing trivia that normal kids at that age would find irrelevant like illustrated types of clouds, an alphabetically arranged list of all the countries in the world and their capitals which I then memorized, nautical flag guides, wilderness survival symbols documented from when I was a cab scout, and many more. My favourite sections were a map of constellations that included brief descriptions of each group of stars and their origins, and a long list of mythological gods and monsters. I had early signs of being an adventurer with all gathered information laboriously recorded on my notebook by hand.

At 13, I created two graphic comic books in between classes and during summer vacation when I had no friends to play with in the neighborhood because none of the other boys liked effeminate behavior. The first was about anthropomorphic heroes in medieval times; the second had characters inspired from role-playing games like Final Fantasy 7 and Suikoden 2. The line work was terrible, the plot awfully conceived, but I thought I was a genius.

At 16, I compiled the lyrics of all the songs I liked and kept every page filed in a self-binded folder that grew to an inch thick. Two columns, back to back, font size 10, cyan, Tempus Sans. It was passed around classrooms and returned to my hands at the end of each day. I kept a separate notebook where the words to my favourite songs were carefully handwritten on the black pages using silver metallic pens.

At 21, I had a folder on my desktop that contained digital illustrations and scanned sketches that I have created since I started college. A new file would be added to the collection at the end of each week. Sometimes two. At most, I can whip up five decent artworks in seven days and I would post them online where people from all over the globe could tell me how great I was even though I believe there was still much to be done.

At 25, I had documented hundreds of stories about my personal life since I stepped out of college. Recorded on it were personal experiences, first-hand account of explorations, achievements, heartbreaks, and cherished relationships. Each sentence represented a minute of my existence, an hour of my life summarized in a paragraph, a day shortened in a post.

At 27, none of those things mentioned above exist anymore. Instead, I have fragmented memories of the past, a list of unfinished work, a mental note of future plans, a collection of misunderstood relationships, and a handful of life lessons.

If the universe permits me and if I allow myself, I wish to pour the essence of myself into something again by the time I hit 30. It has been a while. It’s about time.

Twenty-seven

So it’s true. It’s not how much you spend on your birthday but how and who you spend it with that matters. Since I was not able to plan on a special trip, I figured treating my friends to a great dinner would make up for a boring weekend.

IMG_4027

Cheers for the most flattering photo of the night!

Continue reading

November exhibitions

Hello, November! It seems to be a very hectic first half of the month since I’ll be part of two group exhibitions and I am still not finished with any of my pieces! So typical. They are opening on the same weekend, so do drop by if you are available and near the area since there are tons of great artists that’ll be showcasing their works.

Group shows for my birthday month!

Group shows for my birthday month!

Continue reading

Chapter 26: The transition

2

Last February, I sat inside a coffee shop with Mikka, my pretty and petite friend from college, as we shared a sunset and several sad stories about how our lives were far from personal expectations. We pinky swore that things must change for the greater good and I find it amazing that eight months later we would be exchanging happier stories to each other. It’s about damn time!

Continue reading