Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Some fun :D

So... You know that really odd situation we have set up for ourselves these days where you have these friends who you really like and respect but have never actually met in real life? One of my friends of that particular sort is Cheeko. I've been following her for some time and have had some fun conversations back and forth. (A side note being that she is really popular online and probably doesn't even register I'm the same person from conversation to conversation... but oh well. I guess that just makes me a creepy stalker XD ) A few weeks ago she posted her rendition of the cast of the Avengers as Ponies. I commented to her about how they were really awesome and would probably get really popular really fast, but she brushed off the comment with a laugh and moved on with her life and art. So what did I do? I took that as a personal challenge.
I am a fan of a website called 'I Waste So Much Time'. Many of you have probably heard of it. I really do waste so much time on it. It's my go-to site on migraine days.
So, to try to boost the viewership of Cheeko's piece, I decided that every other day or so until they accepted it, I would submit Cheeko's piece to be featured on the site. It took about four days. (immadork)
I don't know if I can really accept credit, but I like to think so.

So...yeah. To further prove that I have no life, I had decided earlier that I wanted to finish inking and coloring the ones she hasn't finished.

Actually, I really wanted to do it because I want to practice the coloring style she used. I really struggle with clean inking and coloring, especially digitally. Most learning artists will agree (at least most I've ever met) that it is nice, when you're trying to learn something, to take out the steps that you're not actually focusing on. In this case, I took out the design and drawing steps by borrowing Cheeko's base and 'just' inking over it.

Here's a little preview of how it's going :D (I'm kind of struggling, but I know I'll have learned a ton from this exercise in the end)

(Oh, yeah, also, before I post anything finished, I'm going to ask her if she doesn't mind me posting them here. So teasers is all you may get :) )

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Feature!

I know, my last post was a sunday, too, wasn't it? oops. hahah, well, hopefully this week you'll be able to see some in-progress shots of a reproduction I'm doing as a gift for my dad.
First off, though, it's still actually Sunday for about fifteen minutes, so I'm gonna do this feature thing!

Since inspiration has been something I've been severely lacking in for some time now, here's some inspiring things!

'Vanishing Cultures Photography' has been one of my favorite go-to sites for a long time whenever I need something to push a particular story or character along. This photographer travels the world in search of the rare and the incredible. Some of their stories in the 'journeys' section of the website are just so incredible and touching.
Unfortunately I can't repost any pictures from their website- you'll just have to go explore for yourself :)

'The Cool Hunter' is pretty much what it sounds like- they hunt down cool stuff and blog about it. My favorite running series of posts is 'places to experience around the globe'. Such an amazing series! And I love the fact that on the first page of the series I find a place I've already been...

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

I'm always on the lookout for things like this, that make you sit back and realize how wonderful and amazing the world is. If you're ever feeling down or in a rut and just want to see something really cool, go to youtube, and search 'people are amazing' or 'people are awesome'. One of my favorite things to do.
Where do you go for inspiration? What are you most amazed by? Please do share!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quick Sunday Feature (it's not sunday anymore at all, but oh well)

So, some of you know I'm kind of avidly into webcomics... maybe not just kind of. I actually have a dream of someday starting up one of my own, as soon as I find a style that I not only like but can actually do well, and as soon as I have the kinks hammered out of this plot I've been working on for years now...
So this is likely to be the first of many webcomic features :)
First off, Johnny Wander. A mostly autobiographical journal-comic, a team effort by artists
and Ananth:
I am absolutely in love with this comic and hope to someday meet these two (and perhaps to someday draw like them, too)

The second for today is a fun fantasy/sci-fi romp that for some reason makes me think of Hell Boy artist Mike Mignola. Minor Acts of Heroism is a superhero comic with a classic flavor and a modern cast.
The main cast features:
 12-year-old Everywhere Kid
 12-year-old Sergio Carter
 and the reigning king of Atlantis, 12-year-old Nilus

As well as an assortment of generally (not at all) stuffy and unimportant adult figures, the King of the Vampires, an unbearably adorable hellhound, and a stuffed octopus.

Go! Read! Be amazed! (or amused or aghast or whatever you prefer to do with comics)

Also.. I don't know how to change time zones on this setup. It seems to think I'm in an entirely different time zone. I have to admit (it might explain something I haven't even realized I've said yet) that it is in fact three in the morning here... Couldn't convince myself to sleep. Oops.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Epic Pizza!

So... I really need to figure out just what recipe my roommates used for this pizza crust. They say they just found it online, but it came out really really good. One thing I'll do next time, though, is brush the crust with olive oil and basil.

The biggest key to amazing pizza is amazing crust. One trick to help that cause along is to PRE-BAKE your crust. Just till it starts to turn the lightest shade of gold.

I think this one was my favorite pizza yet, though. And I've had some pretty epic pizza. (At the end of the post is a 'recipe' for the most epic pizza I've ever been part and party to...)

 So, as I said, the biggest trick to a really good pizza is the crust. Spare no expense/time/effort. The crust is key. Get it all ready to go, spread out on the pan, and poke it with a fork every few inches to prevent bubbles (i forgot to do this last time... oops). I like to pre-bake mine on a lightly greased pan, at about 450 (or so my oven claimed it was... it took longer to brown than it has in other ovens.)

After that it's all up to your personal taste. For me, I can eat red-sauce pizzas... I just don't like them. They're just food. For a pizza to be something special and, well, title-of-pizza-worthy, it has to have either a white sauce or a pesto. Perhaps someday someone will come up with a tomato-based sauce that will convince me otherwise, but it has yet to happen.

For this particular beauty, I used some of my roommate's alfredo sauce, and spread it very thinly over the warm crust with a rubber spatula, and mixed in some pesto for good measure.

Then it was time for the first layer of actual toppings. First, a very light layer of mozzarella cheese. Sliced FRESH mushrooms, spinach leaves, and grilled chicken strips were next, followed by more mozzarella. Be generous with the cheese :)

The fresh veggies are another reason to pre-bake your crust. If you're using fresh veggies, you want to be able to know that they are fresh even after the pizza is finished cooking. To actually pull this off, the veggies need to be in the oven for as little time as absolutely possible. Baking the crust first cuts the time the toppings are in the oven down, at the very least, by half.

Oh, and another nice touch here is to sprinkle basil flakes over the whole thing. Some people also use parmesan cheese, the fine grainy kind you get in those little shakers. It browns very prettily and if you put enough can add to the flavor in a nice way.

Then the pizza goes into the oven. Since it is already hot from baking the crust, just turn it to broil and toss the pizza in (you'll want to turn it down a bit to about 400-ish if your oven allows you to control the broil temp. Some don't, so don't worry if that's the case. As always when using a broiler, keep a close eye on your food!)
When I looked in and saw that the cheese was mostly melted and the crust starting to darken, I pulled the pizza back out for a moment to garnish the top with thinly sliced tomatoes, the last of the sliced mushrooms, and spinach.

Waiting till the last minute for that little touch makes sure that the fresh veggies on top look pretty and do not get over-cooked. It's especially important with the tomatoes, in my humble opinion, because the more a tomato gets cooked the more the flavor and texture are irreparably altered.

...and that's that. An amazing pizza (if I do say so myself) :D

This is the Most Epic Deepest Dish Pizza I mentioned earlier-

-use a deep casserole type dish for baking!
-prepare crust and bake for ten minutes before topping. (this is important!)
-put on desired amount of sauce (we used an onion and garlic tomato sauce)
-one layer of pepperoni (as little gap as possible)
-seasoned hamburger (our cheap sausage)
-red and green bell peppers and green onions
-cheese until you can't see the toppings anymore
-tomatoes go on in the last five to ten minutes of baking

We nearly filled the baking dish.

We apologize for the interruption...

...but I have to say it.


That is all.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


First off, my most recent cooking endeavor... I wanted honey walnut shrimp, like Panda Express makes. Minus the walnuts. Not because I'm opposed to walnuts at all... I was just too cheap and too lazy to actually go buy any.

I looked up a few recipes, and the first thing I noticed was how all of them seemed to agree on the general ingredients, but nothing beyond that. The second thing was that I didn't really like the look of any of the recipes anyway. So... I took the ingredients under advisement and went about doing my own thing.

First off, pet peeve- I understand that it's supposed to look pretty and all, but I hate it when people bread and fry shrimp with the tails on. So, even though my shrimp came pre-cooked, shelled and de-veined, I took the extra step of taking off the tails. (I think I did about twelve to fifteen shrimp, as this was just an experiment)

Start the sauce first- it does best if it gets to cook down just a little.
For the small amount I was making, I put about (in a small pot)
1/4 cup water
~ 1 Tablespoon (maybe a bit more) of honey,
~ 2 Tablespoons brown sugar,
a dash of orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
(Later you will also need:
1 egg yolk (keep the white for frying)
1 1/2 Tablespoon mayo,
more salt,
black pepper,
lemon juice)

Let that boil for several minutes while you fry the shrimp (stirring occasionally), which you do thus:

Heat a pan with about a quarter to a third inch of oil, for frying
Separate out an egg white (save the yolk, you'll need that later)
prepare your shrimp (rinsed and patted dry)
a plate with a generous sprinkling of CORN STARCH

Now, I thought the corn starch thing pretty odd, as I've never heard of such a thing before, but it's one of the few things all the recipes agreed on. And it works, surprisingly.

Toss the shrimp in the egg white so it's completely coated, then roll it in the corn starch as best you can. Fry the shrimp till they're just turning light gold, or the crust has a nice crispy texture.

One thing to be very aware of here is not having the oil too cool. The longer the shrimp sit in that oil, the tougher they will be.

Now, back to the sauce. Take that yolk you saved from earlier, and beat it together with about an equal portion of mayonnaise. Turn down the heat under the sauce and stir the mayo-egg mixture in vigorously so that it mixes before it has a chance to cook and congeal.
At this point, you season to taste. Sorry, I didn't keep any tabs on my measurements here. I used a pinch of allspice, a slightly more generous pinch of fresh-ground black pepper, more salt, and about half a teaspoon of lemon juice. I also found that I had let the sauce cook down a bit too much and it was approaching the consistency of caramel sauce, so I stirred in water until it was closer to a syrup. I then put all the shrimp in a bowl, poured the sauce over top, and tossed it till they were pretty evenly covered.

Mine looked something like this:

They kind of went so fast between Andrea and I that I didn't really get to plate them or take any thought-out photos. But it's pretty nonetheless, no?

Also, a visit from The Doctor XD
Apparently this kid was driving by on his way to his birthday party, saw the lovely Police Box on my friend's door, and decided to stop by. My roommates and I had been vegging on the couch and, once we'd seen him, it took very little convincing to get us all out for a pic XD

Tomorrow's post: epic pizza!!

Also, Dark Knite Rises. I am there. Probably right now, waiting for them to open those stinkin' doors and let us in. :D

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It turned into pop art...

Was not expecting that...
The drawing itself took about two hours (here's the reference) :

...and then I decided to try some color behind it and spent another hour just messing around with colors XD

Tomorrow will be an epic food post :D (and maybe The Doctor)

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'm absurdly proud of this...

It is my first ever semi-successful horse, and the first time I have even really attempted to draw a horse in probably four or five years. So... in all it's non-glory, here is a horse :D
I used, for reference, a photo from facebook, of all places. I figured I'd stick in the description from the photo: "Gary McDonald and REALTA` NOVA (sired by *SF Sir Real) won the 2012 Region Three Show Junior Champion Female Championship, as well as the Yearling division."
I have a wonderful friend who breeds part-breed Arabians, and has many connections throughout the breeding and show community. This little beauty belongs to a friend of hers.  
(Oh, and here's the underlying sketch. I kind of like it better than the 'finished' product...) 

Friday, July 13, 2012

I need to get more creative...

But for tonight, it's yet another figure drawing. :)

I'm really starting to thoroughly enjoy paint-tool sai. It has a nice feel, some really great little quirks, and cooperates so nicely with my bamboo touch and pen... If you're looking for a new painting program, I'd definitely give it a try. A bit of a learning curve, and it's certainly not suited for any sort of photo-editing, but that's kind of where some of its greatest strengths lie- by cutting out all the tricks and gimmicks and filters and actions, sai opens fast, runs smoothly, and has more room for actual paint-type tools.
So, yeah. One of my roommates is awesome and all about the performing arts, so she and I have this wild idea to do a bit of a collaboration, where she'll choreograph a dance, and I'll design the costume for it. I've been looking at a lot of dance photography lately anyway, so I figured I might as well start sketching now. 
This is one of my motion sketches. I've been noticing a bit of a trend in what female dancers like to wear, and I'm having so much fun with the concept of fabric in motion :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Feature

I want to institute a thing. Every Sunday I'll pick one or two of my favorite things that I've found on the internet that week :)  Let's see how this goes.

This little literary jewel is written by one of my virtual friends on DeviantArt, the other place I post artwork and where I suspect I get over half my blog views.

Hemingway Would Hate This

by *UntamedUnwanted

The trouble with the Boy was that he didn't have the heart of Shakespeare, the voice of Poe, or the soul of Wordsworth, nor the knowledge of Rembrandt in his darkest days. He didn't have a trace of Michaelangelo's spirit nor the angst of Carvaggio and this on its own was enough to dissuade him from understanding that technique was far better than solidarity and possession far more ageless than youth.

He didn't have any of this knowledge because his father hadn't had the courage to tell him that he needed them all to win over the heart of a woman who had the dreams of Austen, the ideas of Da Vinci and the scent of a high priestess of Venetian origin.

The Girl was all those things and more, and her value, her estimate in the market of souls was higher than most. She was an angel amongst Gods and He should never have let her go into the world thinking that it was Keats hearted. Because like all women who live their lives story shaped, she was soon broken by ridicule, humbled by ill experiences and riddled by judgement of the people who didn't understand.

It was odd then, that when the Boy told the Girl she deserved more, she shook her head till her long hair was a curtain around her face, hiding the tears that one cried only when they knew they were safe and would never have to cry again.

You see, she knew that the trouble with the Boy was that he didn't have the heart of Shakespeare, the voice of Poe, or the soul of Wordsworth, nor the knowledge of Rembrandt in his darkest days. but what he did possess was the determination of Joyce mixed with the sheer undaunted, witty, spirit of Dickens.
I would definitely recommend checking out the rest of her work. She has some real gems in her gallery!

Also, Minna Sundberg is awesome. She does this absolutely stunning (now daily) webcomic, and plenty of terrific art on the side. This is one of my favorites:

And that's that for today! If you want to do a feature exchange or suggest someone you think I should feature, I'll always be open for suggestions!!