31 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Krystal Cat

Ink and marker on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

This is one of my top favorite ACEO cats I did for this series.  It was the eleventh "You as a Cat!" present I drew and the second I drew on my busiest (and final) day of the project.  It's based on one of my best friends, Krystal.  She has lovely long black hair and Asian features so an Oriental Longhair was the perfect match.  The reference image I found was so epic and gorgeous, I can only hope its beauty came through in my version of the cat X3

Available for purchase on mugs, cards, and other merchandise!

It's interesting to me how I found on certain cats in this series that I wanted to use colored pencils to give that final detailed touch but on other cats, I didn't find it necessary and relied only on the marker and white ink to do the job.  It didn't coincide with any fur color or length or anything.  The overall effect just sometimes needed that bit of extra and it was impossible to tell until I got to the very end of each piece.

30 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Scotsman Cat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

The tenth "You as a Cat!" Christmas present I completed was for my good friend and bearer of many nicknames (kinda like Gandalf) whom I call Scotsman.  I gotta say this is one of my top favorite entries in this art series.  It just came out so nice, the happy expression and lively eyes, the long fluffy fur, they look great on their own but also really remind me of my friend!  It's always fun when Scotsman is around (^^)

Available printed on cool stuff like mugs and mousepads!

Aside from being the tenth ACEO I completed for this series, this is also the first of five that I completed all in the same day.  It was finally crunch time--December 22nd--and I had to either get them all done or skip some of the people on my list.  I'm happy to report that I didn't skip anyone and I managed to complete every ACEO that I initially planned on before Christmas!  It's a good thing I had so much practice making all the others that came before XD

29 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Nat Cat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

The next Christmas ACEO I have to share is the second friend-cat of the lot.  It features my handsome high school friend, Nat!  I literally searched "handsome cat" to find a good reference photo for this X3  I didn't mention that to anyone so I was especially pleased when Nat's comment about it was "IM THE MOST HANDSOME CAT!!!"  It couldn't have been more perfect!

Available printed on greeting cards, mugs, and more!

This is the third cat I drew for this series which had brown eyes and black fur.  I'm pleased that all three cats have their own unique vibe and don't come across as too similar (at least I hope that's so!).  By this point, after making nine ACEOs with the same theme, the process and details started to get both fluid (good because it took less time to make each one) and fuzzy (bad because I kept worrying I would forget something important).  My confidence was both high and low at the same time!  (And I still had several more to go...)

26 January 2018

Birthdays December 2017 - Have a Bat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

In the midst of all the Christmas cats and the Christmas card that I was drawing, I also had two more birthdays to create presents for. This drawing is for the second birthday of the month, one of my best friends in Boise, Krystal. Following the theme I started earlier in the month, I drew what I believe to be her favorite animal (or one of her favorites), a bat! Personally, I really love the huge, cuddly flying foxes, so that's what I used for a reference. The image I chose looked really happy, so it was great for a birthday present.

Available for purchase on cool art merch like greeting cards and magnets!

The reason I decided a bat was very likely to be one of Krystal's favorite animals (I'm still not sure if I was right!) is because one of her most common screennames is "batnkat". She also occasionally posts about bats so, hopefully, even if they're not actually her favorite, she still likes them enough that she appreciated receiving a bat ACEO for her birthday XD

25 January 2018

Christmas Kenshi

Ink and marker on marker paper, with Photoshop, approximately 7x8", completed December 2017

In the midst of creating over a dozen ACEO cats for Christmas gifts in December 2017, I also wanted to get back into designing my own Christmas cards. I had been far too busy in 2016, which meant I skipped Christmas cards entirely that year (I didn't make my own cards in 2015 either, though at least I sent some premade ones). I didn't want that to become the norm--I love making and sending my own cards every year--so despite the heavy workload I already set myself, I took a break in the middle and spent a couple days drawing this. It's a picture of my dog, Kenshi, who passed on in February 2017. He was with me almost my entire adult life, save for the first year I moved out on my own (he stayed behind at my dad's house until I could find a place that allowed pets), so I decided to celebrate his memory with a peaceful depiction of him taking a nap 💙 I didn't want to be too sappy or bring down the mood around Christmastime, so that's why this is just a simple portrait. I wanted no one to know it had sad connotations unless they already knew Kenshi. Christmas is about joy and I want my memories of Kenshi to be the same.

Inked lines.

I was actually really surprised at myself when I began drawing this.  I used a photo of Kenshi napping on the couch as a reference and it was unusually easy for me to draw.  I had the pencil sketch and ink lines done in one single hour.  Maybe it's because I was so warmed up from drawing half a dozen kitties in the past couple weeks.  Whatever the reason, it felt good to get everything "right" without difficulty.

At the art meeting.
Final physical media.

On the second day, I started by coloring the piece with markers.  I used stencils to get a fun background without taking too much time (remember, this was meant to be made into Christmas cards and it was already mid-December, so I had to get it done quick!).  I had an art meeting with my sister that day, so I took the piece with me to get her opinion on it and she agreed with my thought that the background stood out too much and took attention away from Kenshi.  She helped me realize that I could use Photoshop to adjust that without risking the original drawing.

Adjustments and additions in Photoshop.

I toned down the background colors just enough to keep Kenshi the main focus of the piece and also used Photoshop to add some white highlights here and there.  As always, the white really made the image come to life.

Happy Kenshidays!
Finally, I used Photoshop to add text and crop the drawing to fit within the dimensions of a card.  I decided to write "Happy Kenshidays" to pull the whole thing together, thematically :3 I printed 30 cards on my professional inkjet printer and had them all filled out and mailed within the week.  Hopefully everyone who received one had their day brightened~!

You can purchase this piece here in a variety of formats, including greeting cards!

24 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Sarah Cat

Ink and marker on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

For anyone who hasn't been following along, in 2017 I made a series of ACEOs as presents for Christmas. Each one features the giftee drawn as a cat. I started by drawing my family, seven cats total, and then I moved onto friends. So here we have the first friend cat I drew, which is based on one of my best friends whom I have known for over fifteen years, Sarah! When I was looking up reference images of her, she seemed to have long hair just as often as short, so I decided to pick a cat that reflected that. The cat reference I found depicted a longhair Manx--short tail, long fur. This is the second cat I drew with brown eyes, but since they have so much light shining into them, it doesn't look as unnatural as some of the other brown-eyed cats in this series...

Available printed on cool art merch here!

After finishing a few cats in this series, I started to get more and more concerned about their reception as gifts. I kept doubting whether people would appreciate them, or wondering if the recipients would be confused or, worse, disappointed. I knew it was that silly inner critic talking and I kept overcoming the negative thoughts and pushing forward every day, making more and more cats so that everyone on my gift list would get one by Christmas. This is one of the biggest projects I've ever done, in terms of number of individual pieces. I think that novelty pushed me out of my comfort zone which then triggered the doubt. I worked hard on this series and I'm happy with the results. I hope the people who each received one of these cats are happy, too :3

23 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Little Brother Cat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

With this "You as a Cat!" Christmas present, I finished all my drawings of family. This one depicts my younger brother, who is actually between my two sisters in age, but I drew this and Aryssa's present during the same art session, so my drawing them out of order isn't completely nonsensical XD I picked the reference photo for this cat based on its pose. It matched really well with the photo of my brother that I used as reference. With this cat begins the unnatural eyes; since I wanted to make the eyes match the human, I ended up drawing several cats with dark brown, almost black eyes. It kind of bugs me 'cause a dark-eyed cat just doesn't look right XD

Available for purchase on cool art merch here!

This piece ended up one of the darkest, color-wise, of the lot. Since I was pulling the background colors from those which I had used on the cat, I didn't have very bright options here. I don't think it's a problem that this is dark or anything, though. Just gives it a much different atmosphere than most of the other drawings in this series.

19 January 2018

Lucky Dip I

A few years ago, I was really inspired by Ashley Picanco's Lucky Dip Videos on YouTube.  The idea of taking all my subscription box art supplies, putting them together, and randomly choosing just a few with which to make an art piece was super exciting!  When I started this blog, I realized I could do the same thing in my own way.  So in 2015, I set up my system and created my first Lucky Dip!

My first set of randomly selected supplies.

For my version of Lucky Dip, to make sure I chose as randomly as possible, I made a spreadsheet listing all of my subscription box supplies (at the time, I was subscribed to both ArtSnacks and the now defunct Pigment + Palette) and used RANDOM.ORG to generate five random numbers.  Those numbers pointed out which items from the spreadsheet I would use for my Lucky Dip.

My selected paper and random tools.
Test of each tool on the paper.

I wanted to give my Lucky Dip series a sense of structure, so I actually wrote down my own rules to follow, like a game.  If you want to start your own Lucky Dip journey, I do recommend making rules (or feel free to use mine!) because it makes the challenge that much more fun.  Working within the confines of your randomly selected tools and your predefined rules is actually one of the most exciting creative things you can do, in my opinion.  Creativity flourishes under restriction.

Here are my rules consolidated and typed out for future reference (and easy copying!)

  • A pencil for underdrawing is allowed, but all marks must eventually be covered/erased.
  • Extra tools such as paintbrushes, blenders, and erasers are allowed.
  • Substrate can be selected freely, based on appropriate use of the Lucky Dip items.
  • Final piece must clearly show use of all Lucky Dip items.

My ultimate goal when doing a Lucky Dip piece is to somehow get art supplies that I may otherwise never have thought to use together, to look as if they were chosen on purpose.


Based on the colors I had to work with, I decided to draw a blue version of my favorite raptor: the peregrine falcon.  I found a reference image online and sketched it out with my usual pencil.

Copic Sketch Marker, BG57 Jasper

After sketching, I started with the lighter blue Copic marker.  I can't remember for sure, but this may have been my first time using marker-specific paper.  I do enjoy it and I've used it again for a different marker drawing.  It definitely gets to show its strengths more when you have access to a full range of markers, instead of just a few, though.

ZIG Fudebiyori Metallic Marker, Silver

Next I moved onto using the metallic ZIG marker.  It comes across more like a typical grey pigment unless you're in really good lighting and even then, the color seems more like it has a reflective sheen rather than being full-blown metallic.  It's a subtle marker :3

Kurecolor Fine & Brush for MANGA by ZIG, Navy

In the third stage, I started using the dark blue Kurecolor marker as well as the previous two markers to add dark areas and details all over the drawing.  The falcon really started coming to life.

Copic Multiliner, Black, 0.05

With the addition of ink details using the Copic Multiliner pen, the falcon itself was complete.  I may have called such a drawing done if I didn't have one more tool left to use.  I already knew what I wanted to do from the very beginning, which is why I saved it for last.

Sharpie Peel-Off China Marker, Red

I used the china marker at the end to add a wash of color in the background and to bring that color onto the body of the falcon, as if it were in the midst of a sunset.  This not only helped fill the page and give depth to the image, I think the blue and silver palette looked incomplete on its own.  I'm glad I had one warm color to balance it out with!

So there we have my very first attempt at a Lucky Dip art piece!  I was extremely pleased with the result and I had a ton of fun figuring out how to utilize all the randomly selected items together in a cohesive way.  I've already completed a second Lucky Dip piece and have two more sets of supplies selected for future entries!  I hope you'll look forward to those pieces and maybe even give Lucky Dip a try yourself.

18 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Little Sister Cat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

The next You-as-a-Cat! present I made was for my younger sister, Aryssa. By this point, I was really starting to get the formula for creating these cats down.  I think this is one of the brightest, most vibrant pieces in this series (probably because my sister has light colored hair and blue eyes).  It just feels...refreshing X3

Available on cool art merchandise here~

As you can see, this was another piece where I just completely forgot to add the whiskers.  I did all the other highlighting details, but for some reason it just slipped my mind to add in one of the most iconic cat features XD  I'm glad I realized it later and fixed it before these got opened on Christmas!

17 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Baby Sister Cat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

For the fifth entry in this series of Christmas presents, I drew my youngest sister as a cat! For reference, I used a photo I had taken of her at Thanksgiving wherein she made almost this exact same face XD She made the face again when I took a photo of her holding up this ACEO and it proved to be an excellent match. Of all the cats I drew for this series, I think the eyes on this one are my favorite. The color and the shine just came out so nice, they look almost real.

Available printed on cool art merch here! 

By drawing all of my closest family and friends in succession, immediately one after another, I came to realize that I have a LOT of relations with hazel eyes!  I counted all the cat eye colors in this entire set and found I have five with hazel eyes, five with brown, and four with blue.  Pretty evenly matched!  Of course, that also means I don't know anyone with true green eyes...

16 January 2018

ArtSnacks - January 2018

2018 marks my fourth year as a subscriber to the monthly ArtSnacks box, though my actual anniversary will be in March.  Now that I think about it, March is also the birthday of ArtSnacks itself!  That means I'm exactly one year behind, ha ha.  Well, I'm still as happy as ever with my monthly delivery of surprise supplies; the novelty never wears off because there's always something new to discover!  Here's what I received in my January box, the first box of 2018!

Pencil shavings canister.

I was really excited to see everything in my box this month.  This year is starting off great!  Drawing materials are my favorite thing because they're so accessible; you don't need anything more than a piece of paper to start using them.  This month's supplies are neat because you can use them straight up dry or you can dilute the pigment with water for unique effects.  Here's the full list of supplies:
  • Uni-Posca PCF-350 Brush Tip Paint Marker [red]
  • Marabu Graphix Aqua Pens [cool grey, bright blue]
  • Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip Brush Pen
  • Sakura SumoGrip Mechanical Pencil
Now let's go over the contents in detail and check this stuff out!

Uni-Posca PCF-350 Brush Tip Paint Marker

This is one of the most unique paint markers I've received to date.  Not only does it have a brush tip (most tend to have chisel or bullet tips) it uses a clicker mechanism to deliver the paint, similar to a mechanical pencil.  I'm happy I got red!  The color is really vibrant and lays down thick and easy.  The brush is soft and bristly so you can get a wide variety of marks out of it.  Since the paint is water-based, I tried some water techniques but it didn't really do much.  The paint dries SUPER fast, too fast to play with it on the page.  Because of that, I really recommend keeping the cap on whenever the marker isn't in use so that the tip won't harden.

Marabu Graphix Aqua Pens

I got a very light cool grey and a bright blue color.  The pens don't have color names or even numbers printed on them, so I don't know what colors I got officially (^^;  The grey is SO light that it's barely perceptible on the page.  Hopefully that means there is a range of greys available instead of just this one.  In any case, I'm ALWAYS excited to try new watercolor supplies, especially markers and pens, a relatively new concept to me.  These pens come with a fine tip and a brush tip, although both tips are quite firm, so you can't get all that much more variation in line weight from the brush end.  Perhaps with use over time it will loosen up.  Since these are watercolor pens, it almost goes without saying that water techniques worked wonderfully.  I didn't try blending the two colors since the grey is so light it would just get lost, but I have a feeling that blending with other color pens would be super fun and satisfying.

Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip Brush Pen

Japanese black ink brush pens are my FAVORITE thing to get in my ArtSnacks boxes.  Ever since they were first introduced, I find I am never disappointed in them and I therefore never get tired of trying new ones out.  This particular pen has a really nice, unique, silky texture to the body.  Just holding it is pleasant.  It doesn't disappoint when writing and drawing, either.  The tip is small but extremely flexible so you can produce a wide range of strokes with interesting variations in texture.  Just press harder, move faster, tap at an angle--all kinds of marks are possible.  It's just as good for writing a letter as it is for inking a picture.

Sakura SumoGrip Mechanical Pencil

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed using the SumoGrip pencil.  After all, once you've tried so many mechanical pencils, it gets really hard to design anything that stands out.  But Sakura did it here!  First of all, this is one of the fattest mechanical pencils I've ever used.  It's fat, but it's still quite light and the grip is soft, velvety, and shaped like a triangle, so its girth doesn't cause me any problems.  In fact, this may be the most comfortable mechanical pencil I own.  To top it all off, it has a twist-up eraser.  The twist feature makes it easy to customize how you want to erase (if you make it longer, you can erase using the edge and get a thinner line) and it comes with plenty of eraser so you don't have to worry about buying replacements for a good while.  I twisted it out to its fullest and measured to find it is at least one solid inch of rubber, and that was after I used it a couple times!

ArtSnacks Challenges!

I'm feeling really good about my year in art for 2018.  I've got lots of well-made plans and goals and my intent is to take everything slow so I don't burn out or get overwhelmed.  My ArtSnacks subscription is going to continue this year so you can look forward to my monthly reviews from here on out!

15 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Hubby Cat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

The fourth "You as a Cat!" Christmas present I completed last December was for my husband, Sean!  I looked really hard for reference photos of a cat that wasn't just fluffy but was fluffy in such a way that it appeared to have a beard.   This is because, earlier in 2017, Sean grew out his beard really huge and even wanted it bigger, but he had to keep it in check to stay professional for work XD  I gave this ACEO cat the red color that makes up a lot of my husband's beard color.

Available on cool art merch like mugs and mousepads!

Starting with this ACEO, I began losing focus and forgetting to complete small details.  I took the photo of this and a few other cat drawings and wrapped them for gifting before realizing that I forgot to add the cats' main whiskers!  Luckily, the way I wrapped them was  simple so it wasn't too much trouble to get them back out and fix them.  I'm dang glad I had decided to take a photo of each ACEO as it was completed or I wouldn't have known which cats needed whiskers and I would have had to open ALL of them to figure it out!

12 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Papa Cat

Ink and marker on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

With the third entry into my Christmas present series, I completed all of my gifts to parents!  This one was for my husband's father, whom I refer to as Papa-chan in writing (to match Mama-chan!).  I had to call in reinforcements when it came to determining eye color because his glasses in photos made it really difficult to determine!  Got a special glasses-less close-up photo and written description in the end, so hopefully I got it right XD This cat is another one of my favorites of the bunch.  The light grey tabby pattern just matches perfectly with Papa-chan's grizzled hair.

This drawing can be purchased on cool printed stuff here!

Of the cats in this series so far, this was the first one on which I didn't see a need to incorporate colored pencils.  Since the cat is just shades of grey anyway, I was able to get the color and texture I wanted just by layering ink, marker, and more ink.

11 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Daddy Cat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

The second Christmas present I completed last month was for my dad. He's always grumpy about something or other so I found a cat that looked the same XD I chose a cat with folded ears to represent my dad's bald head and the fur color is a reflection of his hair color, as well. I can't remember for sure, but I may have exaggerated the grump in the cat's face, lol. My dad took the perfect photo of him holding his ACEO in front of his face while pulling the biggest frown and it made my drawing look just like him!

This piece is available for purchase on cool merchandise here!

I'm really satisfied with this particular drawing, it's one of the best of the lot I think. The colors I used look great together, unified, and the anatomy turned out near perfect.  This drawing made me realize I didn't need to use such a wide variety of colors for the background, instead I started choosing from the colors that I had already used for the cat.

09 January 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Mama Cat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

This was another year wherein I decided to create art as gifts for Christmas. As with some previous years, I chose an overarching theme that every present would share: for 2017 it was "You as a Cat!" I had a relatively large gift list so I also went with little ACEOs for the format to ensure I could actually get everything done on time (^^; I'm proud to say I did! The first present I made was for my husband's mom, whom I dubbed "Mama-chan" long before Sean and I were married. I actually used a photo I took at Thanksgiving just weeks earlier for the human reference image. I chose a cat reference photo that seemed to have the same sort of expression. I made it a light-colored red cat to imitate Mama-chan's hair color. The idea with all of these cats was to make a more realistic cat version of each person, rather than a cartoony image where the cat has a human haircut and wears glasses and such. So, while this cat has a tabby pattern, hopefully it's obvious that Mama-chan does not XD

Available for purchase on cool stuff like mousepads and coasters!

Since I was in a rush to complete my full list of ACEO gifts, I didn't take any progress photos, but I did take one photo after each piece was finished which shows the art along with every marker and colored pencil that went into its creation :3 Shows really well how much detail and effort goes into even a tiny trading card-sized artwork at Studio Mikarts!

05 January 2018

Birthdays December 2017 - Have a Shark

Ink and marker on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

For birthdays in December last year, I decided to draw ACEOs featuring the giftees' favorite (or what I thought to be their favorite) animals. The first was for my good friend Sarah and, obviously, I drew a shark! I don't know if she has a specific favorite species, so I just searched the web for shark reference images and finally found one that adorably looked like it was smiling X3

Available to purchase on cool stuff like mousepads and mugs!

I didn't think to take any progress photos because I was in a rush to get this done, d'oh...

04 January 2018

Tomodachi Fest Commission - Chibi Gryphon

Ink and marker on index paper, 4x6", Completed December 2017

This piece was an original character commissioned by a client during Tomodachi Fest 2017 (the convention's last year and ironically my most successful artist alley there). I was asked to choose the two animals to make up the gryphon so I chose a harpy eagle and a black jaguar. The dark plumage and fur matched the gruesome appearance of the character (being blood soaked was a requirement) so that's why I chose those animals. I also designed the dress and am really pleased with the result! Note the repetitions of four throughout the character design--that was my addition, an homage to the Japanese superstition around the number four, because it is pronounced the same as "death".

Available for purchase in my deviantART Shop.

Here are my progress photos!

Basic inking complete.

Kiki loves to get all up in my work XD

Detailed inking complete.

Coloring complete.

Final details complete.