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Copic Sketch Card Step-By-Step


A few people have been asking me the process I go through when I draw a sketch card, so I thought I would show you a step by step…

This card is part of my contribution to Viceoroy’s ‘The Deep’ Sketch Card set. You can see more of my contributions on my my Gallery page. This particular card if of a Flame Angel Fish.

Firstly I begin by gathering reference for the fish and deciding on my layout. I then draw the basic outline faintly with a blue line pencil. Once I am happy with the pencil outline, I go into inks and start adding the shape and details that I want to be inked in black.

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After I am happy with my inks, I erase the pencils and go over any points of the card that might have grayed with the erasing. I also add a thick holding line around the image (this is a personal style preference more than anything). I then leave the card for an hour or so to make sure that the ink has dried completely. The Viceroy Card stock was gorgeous and thick and held the ink very well, but as you can never be sure how different company’s stocks will hold, it is always best to leave it to dry just in case (and have a tester card for experimenting).

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Once the ink has dried I can start laying down the base colour. I start with the lightest colour which will eventually show the highlights on the image. As you can see here, the ink still spread in with the Copics even after leaving the inks to dry for a few hours as the stock was so thick and you always have to be careful that the alcohol won’t re-activate the ink (this is waterproof ink, but it’s still always worth caution).

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I then choose the next colour in the spectrum and start to blend it into the darker points. Once I have blocked in the darker colour, I go over its edges with the lighter colour I used previously to blend it into the new colour. You can skip this step if you would prefer to stick to graphical cell shading, but I was going for more realistic shadows with this piece. You can repeat this process until the image is all set and shaded.

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Once the primary image is finished, I can add small details like scale shadows, eye shadows, highlights on the scales with white gel pen etc. When this is done I start doing the background (which luckily in this case is a nice simple ocean). Much like the fish, I start with the lightest point and add layers of colour in gradients going down to the darkest point, blending as I progress to each stage.

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The last stage for me is all about personal preference. It completely depends on your own style. I personally like highlighting the main image by outlining it with white gel pen. I also add extra highlights and bubbles. And finally the image is finished and I can sign it! (For some reason, I never sign it until it is complete – superstitious weirdo that I am).

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So there you have it!  Sketch Cards tend to vary in how long they take to draw depending on the intricacy of the character/creature, but also the layout. Even though they are only 2.5″ by 3.5″, they still require as much preparation and work as any larger pieces.

Don’t forget to check out my gallery for more sketch card samples. 

 

The #SelfLove Tag


The #SelfLove Tag

A good friend of mine recently wrote a blog about the importance of loving yourself and, in the ethos of getting back into blogging, but also spreading the importance of #selflove, I thought I would join her. You can find the original post here at Lisa’s blog ‘A Star Fell On Her’. Also, if you’re not already following her, I highly urge you to.

Recently I have gone through the task of converting old home videos to DVD and it’s actually been quite an emotional job. One of the things that struck me as I watched them back (apart from how my brother’s 80s toddler mullet was fantastic!) is just how confident I was when I was a young kid.

http://momrenewal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/CupOfSelfLove1-1024x736.png

It’s strange to think this boisterous little tyke turned into the self conscious, shy and socially awkward mess I became in High School. Saying that, I can also spot the small moments of silence, seriousness and contemplation that, even as a 4 year old, I managed to have. I definitely grew up very fast. Whether or not that was because of the impending genetic onslaught of Depression just waiting for the hormonal cocktail of puberty to set it free, or maybe I was just what my Nan used to call an ‘Old Soul’. Either way, there was some point where this little girl who sang Ghostbusters as she sat on the potty and told her little brother how to hold his lunchbox on the first day of school, turned into a socially awkward, self conscious adult.

I’m not going to lie; I had my loud, fun moments growing up. As soon as I left High School I very much came into my own, but that self consciousness was always there niggling at the back of my brain. It made me constantly crave approval – whether through being on stage and showing off, throwing the best parties, or acting like a complete tool when I was drunk! I’m sure everyone has this little demon on their shoulder constantly telling them they aren’t good enough, but mine always seemed that little bit louder and, well, meaner, than everyone else’s.

http://momrenewal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/CupOfSelfLove1-1024x736.png

So, I guess why this hash tag is important. We are all always criticising ourselves or being told by the media that we should criticise ourselves if we’re not already. But we all need to stop. Even if for a moment (Because, let’s face it, you can be the strongest person on the planet and with the amount of adverts, posters, magazines and social media out there, even you will question yourself at some point). The media will never be on our side whatever we look like or however we act, so first and foremost we need to make sure that we are on our side!

Anyway – rant over – onto some questions…


What’s your favourite thing about your appearance?

I actually really love my hair. It’s the one thing about me that I feel is really me and reminds me of when I went away to The Kubert School, which was probably one of the best times of my life.

What do you like about your personality?

I am pretty damned stubborn and determined, which may sound like a negative (and sometimes can be, of course), but I am pretty proud of as it has got me to where I want to be. I am always determined to prove people wrong when they think I can’t do something and that has fuelled me to take on a career which is definitely not one of the safest as far as financial security, but makes me ridiculously happy.

Tell us something you’re good at:

Skill wise, I’d like to hope I’m good at art… I always find it strange talking about what I’m good at as we are always taught not to ‘show off’ and be arrogant, but when your career is based around your own unique skill you have to learn to put that aside and just be proud of your skills; because who wants to hire an artist who sells them self as being ‘just okay’. So, yeah, I’m good at art or at least the way I do it. And I’m a damned good singer.

What has been your biggest achievement, over the past 12 months?

Probably going to Dublin MCM. It was my first overseas convention as an exhibitor and I was nervous as hell. Everyone was very supportive and welcoming, but you never really know until you try out a new convention (let alone a new city… and country… and currency!) how it’s going to go. I was pretty proud of doing it on my own and actually managing to have a good time too.

Also, since last year, I have been at a convention almost every week since the beginning of the convention year in the UK. I guess that’s a pretty big achievement. It’s been exhausting but really useful and extremely fun.

Psychologically I think I have finally started to make progress with actually enjoying my shape. I am a pretty short girl and, more importantly, I have quite a short torso. Since I’ve realized this more and more (it’s mostly obvious when I put on weight – it always seems to bunch around my top half), I’ve started to appreciate my legs more and dress accordingly, wearing longer tops and just trying better to dress to my shape.

What goal are you most likely to achieve this year?

I’m really looking forward to creating and publishing my first ever creator-owned book later in the year. I feel like I’ve been pretending for so long that I’m a comic book artist, when realistically I have only ever worked freelance for other people. This will be my first creation that is entirely mine and from the heart, so it’s pretty nerve racking to be putting something that personal out there.

I think I’m most likely to achieve this goal because I have a great support system of encouraging friends and I know they will push me to succeed with it. Not to mention the fact that they have all already shown so much support and encouragement about it becoming a Kickstarter, so I really can’t wait to get started on it.

Are there any other goals that you think you’ll achieve this year?

I really hope that I will finally be sending my first novel manuscript out into the world this year. I actually wrote it for NaNoWriMo in 2009, but have been slowly editing it and adding to it over the years. This is, again, quite a personal story, so even if I end up publishing it myself, at least it will be out there and part of the world rather than bottled up in my own head.

I’m also trying to work towards a much healthier lifestyle. For those who don’t know, the artist lifestyle (especially a commercial one) can be very unhealthy. I’m not a huge junk food eater and I tend to avoid fizzy drinks (believe it or not), but I do sit down pretty much all day and not get up for long periods of time (especially when I have a deadline), consequently the pounds have been creeping up on me over the last year or so. I’m not aiming to be thin (if anything, I wouldn’t suit it – I’m quite happy being curvy) but I do like feeling healthy. Consequently I have been cutting down on carbs and eating a lot more fruit and vegetables. I’m also trying to get out to the gym when a lot more – even if it’s just for a long walk on the Treadmill.

What was the last thing that made you feel good about yourself?

I went shopping with my mum the other week to buy some more Summer style clothes and found a gorgeous maxi skirt. I tend to shy away from maxis as I mentioned before, I am pretty short, so they tend to blanket me; but this one was just gorgeous. It also had horizontal stripes, but my mum assured me that the whole ‘fattening’ aspect of these was a fallacy so I just went for it. When I wore it with my big black boots, it actually lengthened my body out and was really flattering. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve been quite happy with my style and shape.

Other than that, I have to say that my mister makes me feel good on a pretty much daily basis. He is always pushing me to work on my art and writing and he consequently gets inspired my drive. It’s always good to be in a relationship where you can reciprocate encouragement like that.

Have you noticed any positive changes in yourself recently?

When I was younger I used to be a bit of a push over. Despite being a stubborn person I would always let people walk all over me, be they friends or not. In the last couple of years I have started to notice that I don’t take much laying down any more. I have been unfortunate to meet a few people in my life who actively encourage negativity, or try to create drama out of nothing; and I think I just got tired of it. I am an incredibly loyal person and will always stick by my friends no matter what, but I think it’s got to the point where I’m finally finding it easier to know who my real friends are and who aren’t. Consequently the friends I have now are some of the kindest and closest I have ever had.

Share something that fits in with the theme of self-love:

Obviously I have to share the blog that led me to answer these questions in the first place A Star Fell On Her. She has recently written a post on body consciousness which I found really inspiring – here.

Also, this blog I follow, Rad Fat Vegan is incredibly inspiring for positive body image.

A book which I found really inspired me to love myself more, The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler.

I’m still pretty new back to the blogging scene, so I don’t follow many people just yet, but please feel free to share your own blogs which fit in with this theme in the comments below. I’d love to have a look at them.

When was the last time you treated yourself? What did you do, and why?

When I was working at London MCM I decided to take the Friday off and actually enjoy the con. I haven’t done that in a long time. It was so nice to get out of ‘seller mode’ and actually see the con through the audience’s eyes. It made me remember how fun and different these events are and how lucky I am to go to so many. And, even more so, how lucky I am that this is my job.

When do you next plan to treat yourself? Any thoughts on what you’re going to do?

The mister and I are planning to London in July for my birthday to see the band ‘Baby Metal’. The gig is in Camden, one of my favourite places, so we’ll probably be spending some time down there scoping out the market stalls. There is also a comic book art exhibition in the British Library that we’re hoping to catch while we’re down there.

Give us a tip for improving self-love:

Just remember that you are not alone. Everyone doubts themselves and questions the things they do. That voice can be a conscience or it can be doubt, either way it shapes the person that you are, it’s just a case of controlling it and changing the way it affects you. I’m not particularly good at this sort of advice as I’m not even close to figuring it out for myself yet, but here’s hoping we all do some day.

Hallowe’en Artist List Revealed


 

Perna Studios’ ‘Hallowe’en’ Artist List Revealed…

Perna Studios have today announced their full artist line up for the 2014 release of their ‘Hallowe’en’ Sketch Card Set. Looking through the list I am so proud to be a part of this set as  Iknow a number of the names from various sketch card forums and Facebook groups and the quality of this set is bound to be stellar. Their recent set ‘Classic Mythology II’ has been doing exceptionally well among sketch card collectors and has featured some fantastic takes on classical mythology and pagan lore. I for one cannot wait to see what Tony and Elaine put forward with their Hallowe’en set and will definitely be picking up a few packs of my own. If you would like to see links to all of the artists various web pages and DeviantArt accounts, be sure to check out Perna Sudios’ original post here.

What sort of thing would you like to see from the Hallowe’en  set? Trick or treaters? Vampires? Mummies? Let me know in the comments section below…

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Wednesday Wish List – Penny Dreadful


Wednesday Wish List – Penny Dreadful

Since setting up my new Sky+ Box I have been gorging on box sets by the dozen. I have a habit of having TV on in the background when I’m drawing and a lot of the time the different shows inspire me. Lucky for me, as I am currently working on my own little series of ‘Penny Dreadfuls’, Showtime has just started playing their new series of the same name on Sky Atlantic. If you haven’t seen it yet and you are a fan of horror, literature or just good old fashioned gore, then I urge you to check this out. The literary allusions and homages are brilliantly done (anyone notice The Phantom of the Opera cameo in episode 3? Genius!) and very fun. The costumes and set are beautiful and so far I am finding the story very intriguing.

So I decided to go along the Gothic horror/Victorian theme this week with my own Penny Dreadful themed Wednesday Wish list.


 Lace Up Print Tattoo Socks

https://www.etsy.com/listing/155190446/new-nude-color-one-size-lace-up-print?ref=favs_view_18

I wear a lot of leggings and tights so these are a must have for me. The great thing about the foot being bare is that they would be brilliant to wear with calf length boots, high heels or even low top sneakers. Personally I would love to wear these with my New Rock Boots. Unfortunately the Etsy Shop selling these gorgeous tights is currently Sold Out of this particular style, but I guess that’s the fun of a Wish List. They also have some beautiful artsy ‘socks’ which include flamingos and deer.


Maxi Dress by Religion in Top Shop £55

http://www.topshop.com/en/tsuk/product/clothing-427/dresses-442/maxi-dress-by-religion-3007123?bi=201&ps=200

It’s always nice to find dark dresses that are suitable for the impending Summer climate. I love the grunginess of the bleached material and the fading text on this dress and the ‘mullet’ design of the skirt means that it can be dressed up or down quite easily with your foot/leg wear. The literary reference in the text on the dress is always welcome and I would have loved to have had a dress like this to wear to lectures when I was studying Milton! This would be perfect to throw on in the morning at a rock festival or for a gig (or lecture!) and looks incredibly comfy.


Barefoot Sandals Ankle Corsets £45.92

https://www.etsy.com/listing/104544315/tatted-barefoot-sandals-ankle-corsets?ref=af_circ_favitem&atr_uid=5877502

I have seen these ‘Ankle Corsets’ around a lot lately, most recently on an episode of Throne-Cast and I have to say I’ve fallen in love with them. I don’t personally wear heels, and a lot of the flats I own for formal events are pretty boring, so this would be a lovely way to goth them up with no real modding effort. They can also be used a ‘barefoot sandals’ or with flip flops and instantly add a little element of lace Victoriana to your Summer footwear.


Maleficent Lip Stick by Mac $16.50

http://www.maccosmetics.co.uk/product/shaded/12809/30816/New-Collections/Maleficent/Lips/Maleficent-Lipstick/index.tmpl

A few years ago I invested in a tube of Maleficent’s Dark Deed from the Limited Edition Venomous Villains Collection by Mac, while I was strolling through duty free. I ended up using it primarily for pantomime as it was (obviously) a perfect villain lipstick for my Evil Queen in Snow White. It also happened to be one of the best lipsticks I have ever used! It was long lasting, moisturising and even tasted lovely, so even though I am not a huge make up wearer I knew when they brought out the new Mac Maleficent range, I would have to get something from it! I have been hankering after a nice deep red for a while as, being quite a pale person, it seemed only appropriate, so here’s hoping this will make it’s way into my very sparse make up bag sometime soon.


Jawbreaker Ouija Leggings from Blue Banana £19.99

http://www.bluebanana.com/product.php/1011882/0/jawbreaker-ouija-leggings--black-#.U5hSPPldXas

Blue Banana have recently brought out a small range of Ouija themed clothing including a shirt dress and vest top, but these seemed to be the most flattering for me. Being a Pagan I am pretty anti dabbling with spirit boards, don’t get me wrong, but these are pretty well suited to the Penny Dreadful theme considering Eva Green’s character; plus the style of spirit boards are actually quite cool. As long as no one uses my legs for summoning spirits from the Great Beyond, I’m fine with it.


Frankenstein Literary Scarf £19.59

https://www.etsy.com/listing/155787595/frankenstein-literary-scarf-knit-jersey?ref=sr_gallery_10&ga_search_query=frankenstein&ga_ship_to=ZZ&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

“My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy, and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot imagine.” –Frankenstein’s Monster.

Oh how I wish I had this scarf back when I was in University. The person who makes these lovely scarves also makes Wuthering Heights and other famous literary pieces. I love the fact that the scarf is designed so that the words will fall in a readable fashion across the chest. Considering the inclusion of Victor Frankenstein in ‘Penny Dreadful’ I thought this would be quite a nice addition to the list.


https://www.etsy.com/listing/73288190/black-death-soap?ref=shop_home_active_7

The final Gothic addition to my Wednesday Wish List is this gorgeous piece of London Plague soap. A little bit out of time with the events of the show, but I thought it would be a nice nod to Billie Piper’s character. I found this shop when I was looking through A Star Fell On Her’s Freaky Fashion Post a while back, and I loved some of their horror themed soaps. This soap is 100% vegan and contains Avocado oil, Camelia oil (green tea) coconut oil, olive oil among other things and is scented with pure lavender essential oil. So, it sounds like it smells pretty gorgeous. They also do some very cool jewelry including this Tell Tale Heart Choker Pendant.


Well, that’s all for this week’s Wednesday Wish List. I hope you liked my little horror theme and saw a few things you might like. How many of you have been watching Penny Dreadful? What do you think? I would say next to American Horror Story this is one of my new favourite TV shows and I can’t wait to see where it goes next. 


Chaos Hour Anniversary & Competition


I was checking through my social media backlog this morning and LinkedIn informed me that it is currently my two year work anniversary with Chaos Hour.com!

This got me to thinking as this is pretty much a big deal for me socially as well as professionally. Not only does this mean that I have been with Chaos Hour; watching it grow and supporting it through one site overhaul, a Kickstarter project, commanding a team of over 30 writers at one time, helping launch a very successful Twitch.TV channel and attending several LANs and conventions over the course of 2 years… but I have also been with my partner for almost 3 years!

I don’t usually talk about my partner, especially as we work together professionally so we try to keep that sort of thing separate, but when the two are inexorably linked like this, it’s difficult not to. So, insert origin story below (feel free to skip to the bottom for fun photos and competitions if you don’t want to get diabetes from the sweetness).

We met, of all places, in a video game shop. It was a few days after my birthday and I had been out the night before so I was somewhat disheveled. My hair could use a new coat of dye, I was wearing a stained old hoody and ripped jeans and the bags under my eyes were enough that they could have taken me backpacking around the world twice over. Needless to say, I wasn’t ‘looking for love’. So I had decided that I was going to grab whatever I could stomach from the local supermarket then head over to the game store to get some new video games with my birthday money and vegetate in front of the TV until my hangover decided to leave me alone.

I ended up buying Ghostbusters and Portal 2 for the xBox. This got me chatting to the very cute video game store clerk who asked me if I had played the first Portal game. I said I had, but on the PC. We then started talking about PC games and how I reviewed them on my website and loved RPGs. I ended up signing up for a reward card in his store, which I never normally do unless the person serving me has been particularly nice. A few days later I had a random Facebook friend request from the exact same cute video game store clerk!

Being the social idiot that I am, I had absolutely no idea why he would ad me, a complete stranger; so I did a bit of digging around his profile. I soon found out that he ran a website which published video games reviews and deduced that this MUST have been the reason for him adding me. So, I sent him an email which basically read like a job application, stating that I would love to write for Chaos Hour one day. Being the honest guy that he is, he quickly emailed me back saying that, while he would love for me to write for his site, that wasn’t why he was getting in touch (cue an extreme amount of blushing from myself).

What proceeded was about 3 months about what my Nan would call ‘courting’ until we actually started going out. I went to my first music festival with him, I went to my first LAN party, we had chats that went long into the night and went on random adventures in the middle of the night just because.

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A year or so later, I did start writing for Chaos Hour and the site was launched officially at Cardiff Comic Expo in 2012. Thanks to my experience as an editorial assistant in HarperCollins, I quickly became ‘Senior Editor’ while he took on the business side of running the website (i.e. getting advertising and marketing contacts, building the actual site and getting prizes for giveaways). I won’t lie and say it was easy, it was pretty difficult a lot of the time. We would fight about silly things like website layout and which writers should write which articles; the site was (and still is to an extent) a financial strain, so dates would be replaced with prizes for competitions and giveaways; but we both managed to find a way to keep our personal life separate from work. He now has a great team of friends who advise him and help him with ‘website politics’ and while I pitch in myself, my place is primarily with the writers and we try our best not to ‘take work home with us’ (though we do still play games together and ask each others opinions before we write up our reviews).

I love Chaos Hour and can’t wait to see it move on to the next step. I owe a lot to Chaos Hour, but I was already attending conventions and press events before I started there. While the work I do with them is nothing new, the relationship I gained from it is completely unique and I have learned so much about myself from working with my partner, so I can’t thank it enough.

Right, soppy talk over! We decided to have an impromptu Chaos Hour get together the other day with some of the lovely staff of the editorial team, so I thought I would share that with you. Also, I have a little competition to mark my anniversary with Chaos Hour, including an Amazon voucher, some exclusive merch and artwork. So scan to the bottom for more details!


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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wildstar In Wonderland


I am currently working on a review of WildStar for www.ChaosHour.com [Edit: Now Live Here], but in the meantime I just wanted to share with you this cute little hidden gem to the game. I decided to start the game playing an Exile Aurin (for those familiar with the game, yes those are the cute little rabbit looking elves). As I love playing stealth/thief characters I chose a Stalker class and as I am a bit of an map/collection completion-ist, I decided to go Explorer path. So, the first thing I decided to do upon landing on planet Nexus after the beginning tutorial quests was thoroughly look around and start gathering up those Explorer achievements. Little did I know I was going to find this gorgeous little homage right in my back yard in Celestion.

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After finding a White Jabbit I was compelled to eat a small mushroom which I found in a cave next to the waterfall. Next thing I know I was shrunk down to even pintier-pint size than I already was and walking into a colourful little hidden world (complete with obligatory chest). Sat on top of a large mushroom was a Hookah Smoking Splorg (That sweet little catterpillar looking dude) and in a hidden room next door was an adorable little tea party! Just in case I didn’t like where this game was heading already, they only went and put this delightful literary reference of an Easter Egg in there! Here’s hoping I find some more along the way.

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Are you playing WildStar? If so, have you found any fun little Easter Eggs like this one? Let me know below…


 

Wednesday Wish List – Etsy Highlights


Wednesday Wish List – Etsy Special

Well, at the moment I can safely say that the top of my wish list is for my internet to be working again! My phone line and broadband have both been down now for 14 days because of a ‘common’ fault all the way in Chatham of all places! So, I am currently writing my Wednesday Wish List from the lovely home of my partner while I leech internet from him for the umpteenth time this week (Thank you mister!) If you guys have been following my Facebook Page you may have noticed that last week marked my first week as an Etsy seller! That’s right, I have finally taken the plunge into the wonderful world of Etsy and so far I am loving it. (You can check out my online store here if you like) So, I thought I would ring in the occasion with an Etsy themed Wednesday Wish List. So, here are a few of the fun things I have found so far while introducing myself to the site.


Totoro & Pangur Bán Cat (Studio Ghibli / Miyazaki x Secret of Kells Crossover) Art Nouveau 10×20 Poster – £7.97

https://www.etsy.com/listing/155315545/totoro-pangur-ban-cat-studio-ghibli?ref=favs_view_2

Starting off with a piece of beautiful art (which is the primary reason I love Etsy) depicting one of my favourite little characters, Totoro. I love how illustrative this is and the watercolour look. I would personally love to have a copy of this up on my wall. And at only £7.97 for a poster print, this is a steal for any Miyazaki fan.


Snails Shell Candles Handmade Eco-friendly Reusable Candles – Choose Your Scent – Set of 6 – £6.13

https://www.etsy.com/listing/108740773/snails-shell-candles-handmade-eco?ref=favs_view_18

I have been finding a lot of snail shells around this year, and while this might make me sorta sad (poor little guys), this is a beautiful and unique way to preserve them. I’m also a bit of a pyromaniac so I love covering my house in candles (one of the great things about being a Pagan – SO many candles in the house). These would be perfect for an Earthen altar set up or just a pretty alternative to tea-lights.


Plum Octo Hair Clip – £2.85

https://www.etsy.com/listing/97041599/plum-octo-hair-clip?ref=favs_view_15

There are a whole bunch of these designs from the same seller in varying colours, but I probably like the plum colour best (if anything it would go well with neon blue). I love the shapes and design of octopus art. Ever since working on Viceroy’s ‘The Deep’ set and drawing different forms of octopii, I have loved the style and intricacy of tentacles. They lend themselves really well to art nouveau, which may be another reason I love them.


Octopus Pendant – Green Pink and Blue Pastel Striped Glass – £22.06

https://www.etsy.com/listing/127852884/octopus-pendant-green-pink-and-blue?ref=favs_view_1

Sticking with the Octopus theme, I found this sweet little pendant which would also act well as a small statue or figurine. The colours in the glass are gorgeous and I love his cute little face. not sure if I would wear it as a pendant myself or would prefer to display it, but the good thing about it being glass is I would be able to wear it if I wanted to (Remember my weird aversion to metal? Yeah – works with jewelry too)


Gothic Tote Bag (with Plain Lining) – Michael Miller Fabric – Handmade for You – £36.99

https://www.etsy.com/listing/127083881/gothic-tote-bag-with-plain-lining?ref=favs_view_2

Ending on a gloriously Gothic note; I LOVE the fabric design of this tote bag. I wish I was still and English Literature student because I would blatantly use this bag to carry my gothic horror novels or Poe anthology! That being said, it is still the perfect bag for Hallowe’en or when I am just in a bit of a Wednesday Addams kind of mood.


Well, that’s it for my first dive into the wonderful world of Etsy. No doubt I will be able to create all sorts of themes from products on this site alone, but next week I will be preparing for my first LAN of the year so expect a video game oriented post. In the mean time, why not check out my own Etsy Store and see if anything there is to your liking and I will speak to you all soon. 


London MCM May 2014 Roundup

by Anastasia Catris in Convention Comments: 8 tags: Convention, london mcm

It’s been a long month. I didn’t really realise it until I was sat at my desk at London MCM Expo and my neighbour asked me if I had done an MCM before. I had to think a little bit before I answered. Since February I have attended Telford, Birmingham and Dublin MCM, as well as London Super Comic Con in the Excel; and several other regional conventions. In the past month alone I have attended three cons. This was to be my fourth and last until July. I simply answered, “Yeah, I’ve done a couple…”

I don’t think I realised how exhausted I was until London MCM. It may only seem to be working weekends, but preparing for cons takes up the whole week leading up to it. The stock taking, restocking, commission drawing, packing, new prints… it becomes a full time job. So, as I sat at my table – the table cloth in need of washing, my pens in need of re-filling and my stock of hand drawn sketch cards whittled down to only a few; I was pretty glad that this would be the start of a month’s break.

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The Friday of MCM is always quite quiet. Most people who come along on the Friday tend to save their purchasing until the weekend. And, considering the regular working hours of most folk, Friday can be a bit of a ghost town. A lot of the other artists (especially those with day jobs) don’t even turn up until the Saturday, so the Comic Village itself isn’t the most inviting of attractions; although it does mean that those who are there get the first pick of punters for the weekend. Considering that Saturday was already set to be a sell out day, however, I figured I could use this time to have some business meetings and generally just warm up into the weekend. So, I decided to make the most of it and use this opportunity to actually enjoy some of the con.

When I attend a con on my own, getting the chance to walk around can be a rarity. It all depends on how the day is going. If it’s a really busy, financially rewarding day, I can be loathe to leave my stand even to get food, drink and go to the loo, as I feel like I may be missing out on sales. On a slow, quiet day, however, this can be easier but completely depends on my location, if I have neighbours I can trust and (especially in the case of MCM) if the toilets or food facilities are so far away (or are expected to have huge queues) I will be away from my table for a long length of time.

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Luckily for me, London MCM has started to become one of those cons where I can feel at home. I know a lot of the artists now and there is a great sense of community between them so that I can trust people will look out for suspicious activity and (on EXTREMELY rare occasions) shoplifters. The security staff at the Excel are very friendly and helpful and the Comic Village itself is in a slightly more out of the way area than the main hubbub of the retail stalls making it easier to spot dodgy behaviour.

So after a couple of slow trickling sales in the mid-afternoon on Friday, I decided to go against every retail instinct I had and actually enjoy the convention as a punter.

I don’t regret a thing!

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Not the best picture of my outfit, but I was pretty happy with what I was wearing: Skirt from Monsoon, Boots from New Rock, Sleeves from Scrapunzel, Vest from New Look. The CEX Octopus seemed to like it :/


I forgot how much I love wandering around cons. The atmosphere is always electric as you know that you are surrounded by people who love all the same things as you. You are introduced to new games, films, comics and manga that you may have never seen. You see some of the best cosplay has to offer and there will always be someone who has outdone themselves by coming up with a completely obscure character that will make you feel nostalgic, or impressed. From my perspective, it’s great to see what new trends are appearing; what shows and films are the most popular and, of course, what other artists are coming up with. The artists in the Comic Village are a constant source of inspiration and really challenge me to improve myself, my work and my stall; so meeting them and being inspired by their work is an essential part to any con.

I managed to meet up with some Kickstarters I had supported including Super Duper (which is currently running and you should definitely check it out here) and the awesome guys from Afterlife Inc. I have been following Afterlife since Bristol Expo two years ago and watched as their brand and book has gone from strength to strength. It is probably one of my favourite indie books out there right now and you should definitely check it out. We also picked up a copy of Heart of Time by Sarah Millman. This is a gorgeous book and the lady who writes and draws it is always such a ray of sunshine at any con. As well as a couple of books and pieces of art, we managed to pick up a few fun things including some awesome Okami tee shirts from TeeTurtle, a LonLon Milk candle from Soapasauraus (it seriously smells of Mini Milks – how could I resist?)

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Wore my Okami tee shirt from TeeTurtle for the Sunday of the con. It was super comfy and lightweight – perfect for the hot convention.


After the Friday con, we went back to our hotel to recharge then popped out to the cinema to watch X-Men: Days of Future Past. We didn’t actually realise how long it was though, and inadvertently ended up having a pretty late night, so the next morning (which also happened to be the busiest day) was a little painful at first. On the plus side Saturday was very productive. I broke even (on everything including accommodation, petrol, stall and stock – which is always a plus), so Sunday could be stress free. I also managed to meet up with the guys from Cult-Stuff and hand in my Sherlock Holmes cards. I even managed to do a couple of extra ones on the day, which I handed in as a bonus.

I met up with Soapasaurus to have a chat about a super-awesome-amazing project that I am working on with them (not sure if it is hush hush right now, but I will assume so just in case) and handed in my rough illustrations for them. I also met up with some of the guys from MCMEsports and Riot Studios, who had taken some of my artwork as a prize for their competitions. They were very complimentary of my work and even popped by my table to pick some Jinx and Teemo prints up later that day.

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The prize pack I donated to Riot and MCMEsports including a Jinx print, Kill Teemo print, Off The Clock comic and six sketch stickers of various champions.


That night as we were leaving the con to hang out with some of the other artists, we stopped by the rave outside. Yes. A rave. Outside a con. It was awesome! You have not lived until you’ve seen a gang of Deadpools moshing alongside Pikachu and Link, while a bunch of Attack on Titan cosplayers are starting a conga line with Batman. After a few drinks at the hotel bar, the mister and I drove across town to the Wildstar launch party, which we were kindly invited to. We got to hang out with Reaperfox which is always a plus as we very rarely get any social time together. The game itself looks amazing and the guys in charge are so passionate about it, it’s pretty infectious. If you haven’t heard of it you should definitely check it out. If you are a fan of MMOs but have been looking to be a part of one from the ground up, then this would be a great place to start. We even got some very cute loot!

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I think this little guy will be joining the Chaos Hour Poro as an official LAN mascot!


Sunday was much slower, as is expected, but I had a lot of people come back to buy things who hadn’t picked things up over the weekend, so it was still a good day. So, after a long , fun weekend, we started the almost five hour journey back home (including a necessary dinner stop of course) and I pretty much collapsed. I now have a whole month to draw, re-do my stand and generally just catch up with myself before cons start up again. I’ll be at London Film and Comic Con in July (for my birthday week – wee!) followed by a whole bunch of Autumn cons… where has the year gone? I also have time to work on the Cirque Du Mort, which I am very excited about getting started. But first, it’s time to catch up on all of those commissions I have had laying around and Breygent’s ‘Women of Dynamite’, so, if you need me, I’ll be holed up in my studio…

Is there anything you would like to see me add to my stall? Any fan art or prints you would like to see? Let me know below.


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The mister strikes a very Game of Thrones pose… on an octopus toilet seat (yes, there was a toilet seat under there!)


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One of the lovely ladies who bought a print from me also gave me a cute little present!


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My beautiful recycled sleeves from the very talented Scrapunzel (http://scrapunzel.co.uk)


Wednesday Wish List – Gaming Special


Wednesday Wish List – Gaming Special

After a weekend being surrounded by gamers, video game previews, cosplayers (dressing as video game characters) and Poros… oh so many Poros, I figured a video game edition of Wednesday Wish List was in order. A lot of these things I was lucky enough to see at London MCM, but some of them have been in the back of my mind for a while.


League of Legends ‘Poro’ Plushie

https://img0.etsystatic.com/011/0/6846645/il_fullxfull.462573028_fck0.jpg

Okay, so it seems finding the official link to these little guys on the internet is nigh on impossible. If you know the store that was selling them at London MCM, please leave a comment in the comments section below as I would love to share it with everyone. These little guys were THE mascot of London MCM this year and you would be hard done by to find some one who hadn’t seen them that day. These particular Poros actually had a small clip on the base so you could attach them to your clothes. A must have for League of Legends fans, or just fans of cute fluffy things! If you fancy a little bit of crafting, there is a sewing pattern available here.


Wildstar – Standard Edition – $59.99, Deluxe – $74.99

http://wildstarbeta.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/wildstar16.jpg

I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of this game at London MCM alongside ChaosHour and it looks absolutely amazing! I actually signed up for the Beta a while ago, but sadly never got the chance to play it. A good friend of mine, Reaperfox was able to take part however, and she could not speak more highly of it. I haven’t ever been involved in an MMO from the ground up, so I am really excited in getting involved in this one as the gameplay looks fantastic and the art style is beautiful. I am still very much a Guild Wars 2 girl at heart, but it will be nice to be involved in this game with a few of my friends and give me a chance to hang out with Reaper in a social setting rather than always meeting up when we’re working.


Poro Print – ReaperFox – £10 Etsy

https://www.etsy.com/listing/183377943/poro-invasion-league-of-legends-marker?

Speaking of Reaperfox (and Poros) and linking my first two entries neatly together – I need this piece of cute art in my life. I’ve seen it staring at me at a couple of cons now and I am always meaning to pick it up. Perfect for the League lover in your life – or, again, if you can’t resist their cute little faces!


TeeTurtle – ‘The Painter’ Tee Shirt – £20

http://teeturtle.com/collections/top-sellers/products/the-painter

I love TeeTurtle. Pretty much every design they make is absolutely adorable! But none so much as this lovely little design of  Amaterasu from the Capcom game ‘Ōkami’. I haven’t actually played any of the new versions of this game, but I have always been in love with the design of the character, plus look how cute! I managed to pick this shirt up for £20 from TeeTurtle at London MCM and it kind of fitted in perfectly given the theme of painting (and me being there as an artist), but I had to resist buying EVERYTHING else from their store (so many Totoro and Pokemon tees…)


SteelSeries Guild Wars 2 Gaming Mouse – £49.99

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Steelseries-Guild-Wars-Gaming-Mouse/dp/B008PQJZZC

I am not going to lie, I kind of need this in my life. I already have the SteelSeries Guild Wars 2 Gaming Keyboard and it is an absolute beauty. I even have a Guild Wars 2 Mouse Mat (yeah, fangirl, I know), but my sad little mouse that sits on top of it is hardly worthy. I’m not a huge fan of overly complicated gaming mice (mouses? Is it still mice when they’re not animals? I dunno…), I mean, the R.A.Ts are pretty ridiculous. I just like the nice simple, easy to use smoothness of this mouse. It just screams relaxed, but dedicated.


The Art of Bioshock Infinite – Amazon, £22.49

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-BioShock-Infinite-Irrational-Games/dp/1595829946

This book has been on my Amazon Wish List since before the game even came out. I followed the concept of Bioshock Infinite pretty closely as the teasers were being released and I absolutely fell in love with its style. I was wary at first as they were leaving Rapture to travel above the clouds and I loved the underwater, art deco style of the previous two games so I really didn’t think I would like this one. But as the creatures and powers slowly got leaked, I knew I was going to fall just as hard for this game as its predecessors. There is nothing like a good concept art book for the coffee table… now all I need is a coffee table big enough for all of my art books…


Well, that’s all for this week folks. What gaming gear are you currently hankering after? 


Alice in Wonderland Blog Party


Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay! It’s time to grab a cup of tea and travel down the rabbit hole into the world of books…


I found this tag via Bloglovin’ and am ridiculously glad that I did! I love ‘Alice In Wonderland’. It was always one of my favourite books when I was a kid (even if I didn’t entirely understand what was going on at the time) and consequently one of my favourite Disney films (even if it was a little terrifying).

When I was 11, I appeared as the Five of Spades in a school play. I was painting the roses red – it did not end well. When I was 16 I appeared in a very surreal physical theatre version of the classic tale ‘Alice: A State of Mind’, performed in the Sherman Theatre. I played Alice and had to be ‘born’ out of a hole in the stage (a very scary trap door with a 6 foot drop, full of dry ice). Looking back on it now, it was probably one of the weirdest, but most satisfying pieces of theatre I had ever done (if anything because I got to do the ‘You are not a unique snow flake’ speech from Fight Club.


Alice Madness Returns


That leads us up to recently, where I actually played the Queen of Hearts in a touring pantomime of ‘Alice In Wonderful Panto-land’, travelling round the country screaming about people stealing my tarts. Not to mention American McGee’s Alice is probably one of my favourite video games of all time! Needless to say, this book holds a special place in my heart.

So, when I found the Notebooks Sisters Blog Party celebrating the anniversary (blog-iversary if you will) of their blog in a truly frabjous way, I just had to join in. And so, without further ado, get yourself a cuppa tea, change places and let the madness commence.


Just Alice

What book cover(s) has made you super curious?

Miss Pergrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I have a habit of judging books by their covers, mostly because (despite what we’re taught) after working in a publishers I quickly learned we are actually meant to! Covers are marketed to certain audiences and this one was definitely marketed towards me! It’s dark, sinister, intriguing and creepy. I even love the font. From the Tim Burton-esque chalk writing to the classic book plate style of the title, this definitely got me hooked from the get-go.

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I loved the cover for this. If you haven’t seen it in person, the butterflies are embossed with gold and orange foil, which just makes it even more inviting. Ironically, this book is one of the reasons I actually ended up getting a Kindle (despite it being a beautiful hard copy book). I bought it and read it in one night because I enjoyed it so much (Amanda Hocking is now one of my big authorial heroes), even though I paid £7.99 for the pleasure, while the Kindle version was only 94p! It was a pretty easy decision to make. So now, even though I still buy hard copy books, I tend to read the cheaper versions first before deciding whether or not I will read it again/love it enough to buy it for my shelf.


Mad Hatter

List the craziest character(s) you’ve ever read. 

Gone by Michael Grant pb

Drake Merwin from Michael Grant’s Gone Series has to hold the title for craziest antagonist, let alone craziest character development. I won’t give it away for those looking to read the series, but the evolution of his character (and physicality) is nothing short of unique.


Red Queen, Off With Your Head!

What book have you felt like beheading?

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It’s not so much that I hated this book enough to chop off it’s head, it’s just the most disappointing read I have had this year. The dystopian society wasn’t really embellished on enough for me to care about it before the heroine actually escapes from it. Yes – the concept behind why she is kept in the dark is horrifying, but I would have liked to have seen more from the world of the school before she leaves it behind. The allusions to ‘Peter Pan’ are also so glaringly in your face that they become hackneyed quite quickly.


White Rabbit

What books or series have been insanely popular but you’ve been “late” to pick them up?

1358862664_7321_Book-Cover    HarryPotterPhilosophersStoneBook1    Hungergames_poster

I’ve been late to the party on quite a few big names over the years, the biggest of which was probably Harry Potter. The first book came out when I was 11, seemingly the perfect age to get into the series, but I just did not enjoy the writing style. Sacrilege I know, but I was a complete book snob at the time. I changed my ways and later got into it when I was about 18. Hunger Games and Divergent also passed me by until I heard they were being made into movies and as a huge Dystopia fan I had to read them before they came out. The complete Hunger Games collection took me about a weekend to finish, Divergent was the same.


Caterpillar

What’s the most confusing book you’ve read?

Foe_(novel)

There was me thinking I had forgotten all about this one. I studied this alongside Robinson Crusoe for my English Degree and I have to say it was one of those books I just could not grasp. I understood the themes, the ideas and the general stuff they wanted me to ‘get’, but it was just a very difficult read as it was more like reading an extended piece of poetry than a novel – but I suppose that’s where the intricacies and beauty of the book lay. Definitely one for study rather than enjoyment.


Dormouse

What was the last book that sent you to sleep?

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It took me a while to remember this one as I don’t tend to dwell on books that I don’t enjoy. The shame about this one was that I loved the first installment, but this section just bored me. Maybe it was the overly described teenage angst, or maybe it was just that my favourite character, Lena, was changing into an annoying moody cow because the story was told through Ethan’s eyes, and I just couldn’t get on with it. The problem with it being from Ethan’s perspective rather than Lena’s is that despite her going through an admittedly very hard time, you only ever hear about how it effects her ‘boyfriend’. I would have preferred to hear what she was going through instead of how it was causing him problems.


Cheshire Cat

Book that made you laugh and smile?

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I read Fangirl as part of the Tumblr Book Club and absolutely loved it. Being a massive geek myself and knowing so many people who read (and write) fanfiction, this book really managed to get inside the little world I used to live in when I was in High School. It’s charming, sweet, funny and there are some brilliant moments of romantic comedy as well as poignant moments.


Knave of Hearts

Most recent character who stole your heart?

The_Earth,_My_Butt,_and_Other_Big_Round_Things_cover

Virginia Shreves may not have stolen my heart in the cliché romantic sense, but she was definitely the most heart wrenching heroine who spoke to my heart in the most profound way. I loved this book and her character really stuck with me long after I had finished reading. I don’t tend to get romantically attached to book characters, but I do find those who I would love to be friends with and she would definitely be my new best friend.


Jabberwocky

Best villain you’ve read this year?

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Jeanine Matthews was probably my favourite villain of this year. She was just one of those characters I loved to hate. She was also a scheming, intelligent character who was so cold and calculating, you almost understood why she thought all the things she was doing was right.


Down the Rabbit Hole

What’s the latest book/series/author that’s completely swallowed your interest?

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As I said before, I love dystopias and I am really enjoying the Unwind series by Neal Shusterman at the moment. I am currently on the final book and it’s one of those series I just don’t want to end! I love the concept behind the dystopian society, that dysfunctional teens are targeted by their own parents, it raises so many good questions about society, parenting, religion and other more political issues. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys dystopian YA as it is a great example of writing with some highly intelligent concepts and well defined characters.


Are you going to join in the tea party? Be sure to visit the Notebook Sisters Blog for more information and to pick up their graphic. Also, what are you reading at the moment? And, more importantly, what tea are you drinking right now?