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Title:
“Ghost Thread - Postman of Acheron” (ゴーストスレッド -三途の川の郵便屋-)

Alternative Title:
“A Man, a Plan, a Canal - Panama”

Jakob Knaves was horrified when a letter showed up one day at his house with no return address - the contents being a curse from an unknown sender. According to the letter, there was only one way for the recipient to protect himself and his household from the fate described within: to make 15 copies of the document and distribute them to 15 people within the time allotted.

Jakob knew what he had to do, and wasted no time. He transcribed the 15 copies to parchment by hand and set out that very night to spare his younger siblings the misfortunes that might visit them. One by one, he nailed the cursed parchments to the sides of his neighbors’ houses by lantern-light. As he was nailing the 13th copy to the side of one particular house, its occupant emerged from the door.

“Hey! What are you doing there?”

Jakob was quick to apologize. “I’m sorry, sir; I know your probably sleeping-”

And this was his mistake, for he did not know that this man was a Grammar Nazi (whose ears can hear even the differences in spelling of heterographs), and this misuse of the word “your” would be his last. Before Jakob could finish, the Nazi procured a firearm and punctuated him in the head, dropping him to the ground. His assailant then dragged his body into the nearby canal and let him loose into the currents.

This canal also happened to be where old content from a series of tubes known as the Internet is dumped out. Jakob’s body was covered in all sorts of junk, from tinypics to midi files of TV shows from the 80’s. But most importantly, he was tangled up in old forum threads - one of which was necro’d just as he was passing from the canal into the River Styx.

Jakob was brought back to life, but only part-way. He is now stuck in a limbo, confined to hopping between necro threads lest he fall back into death. His only goal now is to find a thread that connects back to the Grammar Nazi who killed him, and to follow it to his house and finish posting that poster that he left half-nailed.

Perhaps then he can at least save his family from seven years of bad luck in romance.
(SPOILER: Nope! He is too late.)
</story>


Sorry guys, it’s been a while since I wrote something like this, hasn’t it? Anyhow, I hope you like it!

This one was drawn entirely in SAI, though I did all the sketchwork in Flash. I still feel like my painting is very rough, but I also feel like I’m gradually getting there. But every time I see part of it looking splotchy and uneven, I’m reminded of my work from like 8 years ago (which is about the time I was still experimenting with raster painting) and I facepalm. And then I go “ouch!” because I am holding a stylus in my hand.

IT IS GOOD TO WEAR GLASSES, MY FRIENDS.

Made in PaintTool SAI
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Remi Niscence is a digging spirit that spends most of her time exploring the crust of the earth, excavating historical relics and crude caveman erotica. Equipped with pick and shovel, she tears through rock at such a rate as to earn her the nickname “Rock Diver.” Her pick is named Persson, and her shovel is named Spinks. The box she doesn't call anything, but its name is Tarnzach.

Remi mainly looks for two things as she goes through the earth:
 1) spelunkers to rescue/flirt with, and
 2) junk.
More specifically, “junk” of sentimental value, which she hoards in the box on her back. She loves this stuff and will go out of her way to collect buttons and broken glasses and anything else that might have been associated with some sort of precious memory. On the other hand, she couldn’t care less for naturally occurring ores and gemstones.

Anyhow, Remi is able to kind of "Sherlock Holmes" a history out of the artifacts she collects, and maybe even converse with the ghosts of the past if she can figure out enough of the back story. Here are a couple of her favorite figures from her collection (starting from the closest to Remi in the picture and then moving up and out):

 The Tin Knight - an automaton from the Tin Age. He has hearing loss in his right ear, and is bothered by a constant ringing. His model was discontinued in favor of mecha musume. (artifact: tiny fork)

 Sylphie - an avant garde seamstress. She invented the Surprise Dress. The surprise is that it bursts into flames when exposed to sunlight. (artifact: chicken cage)

 Ayah (sp?) - not really sure what the deal is with this one; maybe a scholar or something? Remi is unable to pinpoint which time period and country she's from. (artifact: bookmark)

 Mendelgrove - a gardening spirit who used to tend to a hundred trees, right up until it was taken over by a hundred bees. He was like “**** it,” and left. (artifact: ribbon)

 Dom Dominic - a dragon! Also an agricultural professor and a trader. He likes young ladies and smoking meats & cheeses in his pipe. (artifact: mesquite smoking pipe)

 Saburo - a once noble and chivalrous warrior. He got lost underground while chasing a gopher. He never did get to eat it in the end. (artifact: the handle to his blade)

 Sparrow Kid - emissary from the Heliotropics. Was really excited to visit the country, up until he learned about the indigenous giant land spider. (artifact: tear stained sky boat ticket stub)

 Hanasaka Ojou - Princess of flower girls. Wears spaulders to protect her from beggars and arrows. Cannot sell flowers to save her life. Might be how she died [citation needed]. (artifact: tin beetle)

 Lion Herschel - the blind king of the Underground, which apparently was a kingdom that nobody knew about. There were dwarves, and he ate them. (artifact: mustache comb)

 Somnia - how the goddess of sleep ended up losing anything down so deep in the earth is a mystery. So is the item she lost. (artifact: moped)

</story>


Whew! That took a while. I spent almost an entire evening just trying to come up with these characters. I started sketching this thing at the start of the month, and now we’re already more than 2 weeks in! I will hopefully have this as a print at AX (did I mention that, by the way? I’m going to table at AX again this year!). I ended up switching back and forth between Manga Studio and Flash several times to get this done:

 1) sketch in Flash
 2) paint background in Manga Studio
 3) try to paint characters in Manga Studio, then give up
 4) go back to Flash, drawing the characters there
 5) export the character colors and lighting as separate layers
 6 ) import them into Manga Studio and do some touch-up work to make it look a little less “vectory”

It was a long process, but I think it was worth it and I am pleased with how it turned out.

Miscellaneous trivia:
- Remi was originally sketched as a boy. Then I was like “I want to cast light on breasts,” and so now she is a chick. - Drawing is FUN!
- I had just finished watching YuYu Hakusho when I started this. Her baggy shirt and high-waist pants are a tribute to the fashion of the early 90’s.
- Saburo’s original name was “Bonin’ Ronin,” but I decided to keep that to myself. Until now! Now you know my secret!
- Sylphie and the Tin Knight were originally sketched to be Remi’s parents. Maybe it would have been cooler if all these people had some sort of personal ties to her? Too late for second thoughts now, though - I need to upload this thing!
- sketch and unpainted characters can be seen on tumblr here

Made in Flash & Manga Studio 5
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I don’t make fanart all that often, and it’s even rarer that I make a fanart of the same thing twice, but here we are! More art on an unreleased game I've never played, because I had this idea in my head and I really wanted to draw it.

So this piece is kind of like a culmination of three previous deviations:
1. the first fanart, featuring the playable races
2. the deviation which became part of the game, spawning a new race
3. the shading style which I recently tried and really liked; also, some of the composition.

I wanted to dress up everyone up like prohibition mobsters, but I totally failed to do my research so there are no zoot suits and the only guns are strange variants of tommy guns. I also skimped on the bonework here, so some of these guys have really long limbs! They are the lanky gang. They can reach high shelves and use their pants as hoses.

Fun fact: for the longest time, the plant dude was the only one without a weapon. He was bringing a smile to a gunfight. But at least now he is idiomatically correct!


Made in Flash
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Shingo is a waitress at a Ninja Cafe in dreamland; it is an establishment that caters to the unconscious otaku. She is not actually a ninja. The same applies to all of her coworkers (except for two, who really are ninjas, but nobody knows about it).

In this scene, Shingo is getting ready to go home, as the sun is rising and her shift is ending. She commutes by Amano fish.

Tenchou (her boss) is pleading with her to stay a little longer because it's just about time for the college students to be going to sleep and she is popular with that demographic.

Papaya (the chef/baker) wants her to take some oily bread with her because it's about to go bad and he'd rather give spoiling food to his coworkers than throw it away. A true gentleman.

Daimonji (the bouncer) is an enigma. He's trying to say something, but nobody can quite understand him. It could be poetry, or it could be profanity. Or it could be both.

---

So, why did I draw this?

While listening to some chiptunes on Youtube, I saw this in the related videos and was like

"Whoah, what is that?"

Turns out it wasn't actually anything in particular, but it at least made for an interesting could be picture, so I DID IT, and it was FUN.

Incidentally, do any of you artists out there know the term for extracting a picture from a thing by looking at it even though the picture wasn't really supposed to be there? I can't figure out the Google search terms for this. (EDIT: the best suggestion so far has been "Pareidolia;" not exactly the thing I was trying to describe, but close enough!)

Made in Flash
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Made a "blacksmith princess" for :icontheprincessproject:, 'cause drawing princesses* is the manly cool thing to do, and this type of princess in particular struck me as an interesting idea.


Valka is a dwarven metalworker with skin like vulcanized rubber. She learned her craft from old Hephaestus, and uses it to make functional 1/10 scale replicas of gundams. The other dwarves are constantly on her case about not using her skills for the good of her people, but she's like "No. I am Robo Princess," and then locks herself in a volcano with her creations. Her father the King is very concerned and often tries to convince her to get married or to get a "real job." He's even tried to get her mentor to talk some sense into her, but Hephaestus doesn't care - he thinks it's cool.

Though it would probably be even cooler if she would produce some work from Evangelion or Gurren Lagann some time, too, since those are some pretty hip designs. He's got a whole list.


trivia: "kolblár" = Old Norse for 'coal [blue]-black'

*Normally we're not supposed to upload the full version of the picture, but ~Frills-Of-Justice graciously allowed me an exception. Thanks!

Made in Manga Studio 5
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Featured on playstarbound.com (different resolutions available there as well)

This was a guest piece I made for the upcoming indie game Starbound, which I am eagerly awaiting (estimated 2013 release). Ahhh, I want to play it!

Since I don't own the lore behind these guys, I won't go much into backstory, but I suppose I could give a brief introduction to each race as they appear in this picture from front to back, with links to their official bio's (if available):

Humans - no information on them. Who are these guys who look just like us and use our name? Is mankind of the future REPLACED by something of their making?? (<- children)
Avians - bird folk. The large one can probably crush an old pear with his bare hands.
Apex - monkey folk. They weren't always like this. But now they are.
Hylotl - underwater people. No information has been released yet. The large one can probably crush an old pear with his bare hands.
Glitch - robots. They were some sort of simulation project that got stuck in the medieval phase.
Florans - murder plants. I suspect the main reason they want to go into space is so they can eat the guys listed above.

I think a dozen characters might be the new record for me to draw in a single illustration, but it was a worthwhile experience and a challenging exercise!

Characters made in Flash
Background drawn in SAI
Starbound © Chucklefish
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Sheriff Landers has caught up to Old Redd, who made off in a steam rocket with a barrel of Mrs. Clark’s moonshine. Redd is being charged with theft, assault with a firearm, and improper conduct in the presence of a lady. He is facing up to 20 years in prison, a twelve dollar fine, and a belly full of buckshot.

The sheriff is venting plasma from his right arm pretty badly, but he’ll be fine if he can get this shot off and incapacitate the red giant so he can tend to his wound. But the question is: can he hit a large, bright, stationary target in the open from less than 7 meters away with a shotgun?

Only time will tell (SPOILER: the answer is yes).


Landers & Redd are both specimens of a space-faring people I call "Novakid," which is a no-good race of humanoid gas-bags. If you want to read more about them, I made an info dump full of fake facts in a thread here: [link]

I came up with this idea by looking as ~Suweeka’s sketch of aliens, and then from listening to too much Old Joe Clark. Then I was like "OMG PUT COWBOY HAT ON STAR PEOPLE" and lo and behold, it was done. The space genre can only benefit from more cowboys, in my opinion.

This was a fun exercise in lighting. At one point I was thinking to myself "wait, if these guys are glowing, why isn't any light showing through their clothes?" and then I settled for their clothes being made of lead or something. I'm sure there's tons of bad science in this picture, like coats and gases billowing in a near-vacuum.

Made in Flash (characters & train) & SAI (background)


UPDATE: these guys are goin' into a game! Yeehaw!
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Admittedly, most perfectionists are probably more stressed out and unsatisfied with themselves than they are confident and smug.


I hope I'm not gambling too much with this one, as I suspect this one is just going to go over some peoples' heads. Well, I was in the middle of drawing something else when I got the idea for this, so it's back to that I go!

Made in Flash
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Arbalest is a pirate gunner's daughter who was accidentally left behind on an air island after they had concluded a raid (her father is very negligent). By the time the crew realized she was missing, it had already been several weeks (very negligent) and no one could remember when they had last seen her, so they're having a hard time of figuring out where to look. They might not even be trying, actually, since apparently nobody cared enough to notice she was missing for so long... *emo emo*

So now she spend her days on this island as a leech on a pastoral community. The locals do their best to ignore her, but she keeps eating their ruined produce and trying to be part of everything. She is like the annoying kid sister of the island who somehow manages to thrive despite everyone's attempts to get her to leave. How they expect her to do that is a mystery, as there are no airships on the island. Perhaps they are just hoping that the pirates will come back one day and take her back with them. Good luck with that, everyone!

But in spite of her unearned unpopularity, Arbalest does have one pretty cool specialty: she can throw an arrow pretty hard. Perhaps not as far or as accurately as her namesake can, but she could probably wreck a bird from a good distance. This ability is a secret, though.

Because nobody pays attention when she's trying to show off. *emo emo*

---
This is my first painted work in a long time (I don't count my previous submission as a "paint" job since it used pretty much the same techniques I used in Flash). The last time I tried digital painting was probably...six years ago? I like to imagine I've learned some things during my ventures in Flash and while envying *joodlez's work - namely, that separation of colors is important! Being able to blend colors shouldn't mean I blend all the colors. Otherwise I just get this muddy / noisy piece. Hopefully, moving forward I will continue to learn when to color sharp & flat, and when to color soft & smooth.

Made in SAI
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Girl: "Hey, I'm at the swamp. Where are you guys?"
Friend: "Swamp?? What are you doing there?"
Girl: "Didn't you say we were gonna meet at the swamp?"
Friend: "Nooo, I said swap meet."
Girl: "Huh. Well, I-"
Marshall: "HEYY CAN I TAKE A PICTURE WITH YOUu"

And that is the story of how the swamp treant Marshall Scumwood filled his SD card with blurry pictures of a human girl.


---
I wanted to submit one more picture for the year (and at least one for the month of December), so here it is! I realized that I haven't made a "silly art" deviation since February, and that just would not do.
In addition to that, I wanted to keep practicing my painting (I will never get better unless I do), so this one was done without the aid of Flash (except for initial sketches). It's still really rough and sloppy, but...I'll get the hang of it one day. ONE DAY.
:shakefish:

PSA: Marshall did the right thing today in asking permission for a photo before taking it. However, he did not wait for a "yes" before proceeding, and that* is what makes Marshall Scumwood...a Scumbag.
*that, and chasing her through the swamp and generally being terrifying and sometimes making frog sounds (but that might have just been the frog so it's not that creepy if you knew there really was a frog)

Made in Manga Studio 5

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