The big news in animation this week is that She-Ra is being rebooted by Dreamworks. I swear that every artist I follow on social media drew her. So I had to too. Why? Because drawing badass women in power stands is fun! (Check out my Wonder Woman illustration for another good example.) I grew up drawing Dragonball Z characters on all my school books, so bad-ass power poses are just fun to me.
That being said, I honestly have never seen the original She-Ra! But it came out in 1985 and is a cult classic. I actually know next to nothing about the character or the original series. I knew that she had something to do with He-Man and The Masters of the Universe. I only really know about that because I loved Queen as a kid and this song rocked my little kid face. I know it’s technically from Highlander, but they sounded similar and when I looked them up as a youngster, I found out about Masters of the Universe too.
I’m hoping that they drop a trailer about it during San Diego Comic Con this weekend so I know a little more. Heck, I’m looking forward to all sorts of new from SDCC next week. I’ll have to be ready to draw lots and lots of fan art.
Dreamwork’s new design has her with a much more sturdy upper body than the original barbie-esque design. I can’t help but think of the Saiyan armor from Dragon Ball Z when I see those pauldrons though. Apparently, and not surprisingly, people are freaking out about the new design. But that’s all par for the course when you’re rebooting.
I added a little more definition to the original design, since unlike animators, I don’t have to draw this design thousands of times so it doesn’t have to be as streamlined. I could only imagine the nightmare that animating high detail hair and musculature is. Stuff like that is why I’m not an animator.
A few of the comp sketches for She-Ra. I always wanted the top-down dramatic perspective look. But the angle was a hassle to get right for me.
These were a few fan art images that weren’t really worth their own post. First is a fan art created as part of one of the Draw in your style hashtags that are going around right now. The original character was created by comic artist Carlotta Dicataldo.
Second piece of fan art was a for-fun digital sketch I did for the band Ninja Sex Party. I was listening to their stuff on YouTube. If you’re fans of Game Grumps, like I obviously am (see my other post on Monster Prom), then you’ll recognize Danny Sexbang and Finn Wolfheart from the their new video “Danny Don’t You Know.”
Third is a fan art sketch of the very famous Korean video gamer turned mech pilot D-Va from Blizzard’s Overwatch. I originally drew that with just mechanical pencils and ended up coloring it in photoshop just to experiment with coloring over a traditional media sketch.
Want to see me draw a character from your favorite game or movie? Leave a comment or get in touch on social media. I’m doubly likely to draw if I think it’s awesome too.
But I watch so many people play them.
Despite my recent post about helping build a horror game/dating sim I don’t actually play dating sims. I don’t think I’m really in the target demographic, being older and whatnot. Okay, I played Dream Daddy with my good friend because that game was really good looking and seemed funny! That being said I love watching comedians play dating sims and horror games. There’s so much opportunity for some good laughs when grown up adults are thrust into these awkward dating situations. Never too old for a good laugh, right?
Six of the eight dateable options for the game Forgotten Existence. 4chan’s paranormal board’s own X-tan and Ozoi, who I believe was a horror character from another similar image board. Both were characters that existed before the game was conceived, but were owned by no person in particular. A succubus named Alice, a mysterious character named “the butcher,” “Bloody Mary,” and a ghost named “Jackie” were all created for the game based on horror creatures tropes or classic urban legends.
Art I created of X-tan, the avatar/mascot of 4chan’s paranormal board. I’m not sure how the mythos of the character has evolved since the olden days but back then X-tan fluctuated between being a female and male. I suppose you could call the character non-binary. They were known for being a lover or horror movies and had a affinity for dark magic. You can just read all about the tradition of board mascots over on Know Your Meme.
Happy throw-back Thursday artist buddies. My sort of recent post about DDLC reminded me of an indie game I helped out with nearly a decade ago. If you follow the indie game scene for a few years, you might remember the game Katawa Shoujo. It was a dating sim that was released in 2012 by a Four Leaf Studios, a clever name for a group that started on 4chan. (Their logo is a four-leafed clover.) I mention that game because the game I helped out on, Forgotten Existence, was also a dating sim that originated on 4chan. In this case, Forgotten Existence originated on the paranormal (/x/) board.
Additional character sketches and concepts that were never quite finished included: a Victor Frankenstein inspired mad-scientist, an amphibious humanoid, a narcissistic vampire and a mad knight-templar.
It never quite got past an alpha release though. It was a game build by passionate hobbyists. Like so many of those games do, excitement fizzled without a monetary incentive to keep working hard. The game would have been a horror theme escape-room style puzzle solving game disguised as a dating sim. I have no idea what happened to the dispersed team. It was fun at the time, but I wouldn’t count on it coming back from the dead.
Weirdly enough, working on this game was the reason “cosamo” became my online artist avatar. At the time, I was still using my “csujake” name that I made when I first signed up for DeviantArt. The old csujake Deviant Art page is still up, like a little time capsule filled with my old illustrations. Now that’s a throwback. I miss the art community that was there. Doing comic collaborations with other awesome artists was a great way to learn early on. But, so, csujake wasn’t a clever name. I’m Jake and I went to Colorado State University (CSU). It’s simple. But most people were reading it as “tzu-jah-kay” as if it were a Japanese word. So I switched over to cosamo, which is just where I live, Colorado (CO), plus my favorite art piece at the time, the Nike of Samothrace (SAMO). It was nothing fancy.
Anyways, I wonder whatever happened to the old team. I hope they went on to make cool things.
I originally drew this in the guestbook up at Squaw Mountain Fire Tower, but the page fell out. I ended up contributing a page from one of my sketchbooks, with the help of some duct tape. The sketches should still be up there, if you ever visit.
This post isn’t as much about a new polished print or illustration but just about some fun backcountry doodling. I usually go out adventuring with a small sketchbook and a pen or pencil or two. That way I can draw, doodle or sketch up any character or world building ideas that pop into my head. This is where this little Adventure Team came from – sitting in a fire tower 120000 feet with good friends looking out over Colorado’s plains.
Ever played Firewatch by Campo Santo? I believe this was the tower that inspired amazing art and locations in that videogame. The characters I drew up were a simple enough little team.
If you follow the sketchbook blog or follow me over at instagram you’ve seen my little dog avatar I use. Here’s the original post about it on my blog. I created custom illustrated avatars in ink for each of my friends that came along as well. A friendly mushroom spirit, a grumpy serval cat and a leggy bird that exclusively speaks French. If you don’t know what a serval is, google it. It’s like a fancy, leggy wild cat native to Africa.
Now a bunch of my friends want their own avatars. On the hunt for your own avatar for your own role playing game or just want to have some custom art to make your digital life a little more colorful? There are still a few spots on my commission queue open. Grab one for your own adventures. →
I’ve been doing exclusively digital drawings the past month. It’s been busy with new art and a big pile of new commissions to take care of. But last night I decided to go and doodle in my little orange sketchbook again. This time around I’m doing another quick concept sketch for Everspring.
For people looking for commissions, I’ll be updating my site soon with new commission info and prices. Stay tuned!
Sketching out quick concepts like these help me plan out little details about cultures and characters; much more than just building out a character sheet that’s only a text-description. All of these sketches are worldbuilding sketches for Everspring, the novel I’ve been working on for a few months. I haven’t really been talking about too much since I’ve been knee deep in editing the first draft.
A little about the characters that I can tell. The woman with glasses is actually a character that got cut. She was a mage that had to get a side-gig working as a waitress. The mustache bearing man and woman with hat are both concept sketches for cultures within the same world. The former being a more sea-faring culture and the later being a highland desert culture.
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Natsuki and Sayori illustrations I created, placed on in-game backgrounds from Doki Doki Literature Club. Backgrounds were created for Team Salvato by Laszlo Neserd.
Fan art post time! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting some fan art for the indy game Doki Doki Literature Club. For those of you who haven’t played it, I’ll warn you that this post is filled with spoilers about the game. If you’re interested in a unique story telling experience, head on over to Steam (Doki Doki Literature Club! on Steam) or Doki Doki Literature Club!’s site and give the game a download. It’s free and takes about 3 hours to play.
Okay, now the spoilers start. Last chance to turn back.
Before I talk about Doki Doki Literature Club, it’s important to talk about what interactive art is. In a way, all art is interactive. An audience turns on a movie and watches a series of images that move by really, really fast. They are consuming that movie, but at a very low level they are interacting with it.
Snapshots of the process for creating the Sayori fan-art: thumbnail, figure sketch, line-art and full colored sketch. For these I tried to match the colors to the in-game art for Doki Doki Literature Club.
Art is known for being consumable experiences. Interactivity is more of an afterthought. An audience views Picasso’s Guernica, listen to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, or read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird. You experience these pieces of art, they inspire feelings and actions in you and that’s the end of the transaction. Maybe, if you really liked what it did to you, you come back again and again. Maybe it will inspire you to create something new. But you can’t paint over Guernica—or at least, that would be a generally horrible idea.
Now, interactive art has popped up a few times through out history. Im my humble opinion it started booming in the digital age. Computers could facilitate interaction on a much larger scale. Video games were one of the first big mediums that allowed this.
Now, you’ve probably played a video game. If not, how did you manage that? It’s almost 2020, come on. I know you’ve at least played Super Mario or Minesweeper or something. Anyways, the level of interaction a gamer has with a video game is much higher than other forms of art like movies or books. The actions a gamer takes will usually influence the story they experience and the feelings they’ll take out of it. People cannot experience a video game without interaction—it’s kind of how they work.
Interactive art mediums can provide experiences that traditional media cannot. Flash back to the 1990’s. Computers and gaming consoles were becoming a common thing in homes. Visual novels, a sort of digital comic book that you can interact with, grew as a fiction medium. Dating sims were born as the pulpy romance fiction of the visual novel world.
With dating sims, you didn’t have to just read a story about the sordid love affair between the broad chested, but down on his luck firefighter and the beautiful, but under appreciated school teacher. Now you could be that firefighter! Now you could be that school teacher! What’s more, you could navigate a simulated dating experience where you could try to win the hearts of any number of romantic interests.
These sorts of stories flourished in Japan and to a lesser extent in the USA. The doe eyed school-girl amine style were the norm. Naturally, that all sounds like kitchy pulp humbug. To be honest, often times it was. It wasn’t known for being fine art, or even art. (I mean, maybe erotic art, but that’s a completely different blog post.) It was something more like old penny dreadfuls, cult-classic B-movies, and horror zines—cheap, consumable and a worth little more than a short burst of feel-good endorphins.
Then one winter day in 2017 DOKI DOKI LITERATURE CLUB comes, looking all pink and cute and harmless and just burns everything to the ground. The internet lost their collective minds.
The title screen for Doki Doki Literature Club features from left to right: Sayori, Yuri, Monika and Natsuki. You play as the protagonist who is seeking to date any combination of these characters, if you dare.
Doki Doki Literature Club (or DDLC for short) is a narrative wolf in sheep’s clothing. It burst onto the scene in 2017 when Team Salvato, the game’s creator, decided to hit the indie scene with a saccharine-pink, sickeningly-sweet flavored wrecking ball.
There are five characters in the story. The first four are the dating options; Natsuki the tomboyish manga fan. Sayori your childhood friend, Yuri the reserved poet and Monika. I won’t say much about Monika, she’s just Monika. She’s the most popular one in class. The one everyone wants to hang out with if they were just cool enough to talk to her. The smartest, greatest heartthrob a dating sim protagonist, the fifth character, could hope for. That’s you. You’re the hapless classmate that stumbled into the literature club in the hopes of wooing one of it’s members.
I don’t mean that you’re playing as some character in the game. You’re the fifth character.
DDLC ends up selling itself as a dating sim, an interactive piece of wish-fulfillment. It lures you in with cute characters and pastel cuteness. Once the veil is dropped, it is an interactive psychological thriller. You’re the protagonist and there is, well lets call her an entity, that wants to keep you playing. Forever. So you could say things go bad here too. You have to defeat the entity. How? By digging into your own computer. You have to interact with this story or else you can’t experience it. It turns the room your in into the set of the story and damn if I didn’t get an erie chill while playing this.
If art inspires emotion and action, DDLC is undoubtedly interactive art. The disgust, anxiety, fear and paranoia you feel are more immersive than if you saw the same story presented as a movie or a paperback book. It takes full advantage of the medium to weave it’s dark story. When the entity starts talking to you, you look over your shoulder, just in case. When files go missing on your computer, a place you though was safe and outside of the narrative, you feel the anxiety that maybe you did stumble into something sinister. Like the entity that comes packaged up in DDLC, interactive art is not going to be stopped easily. It’s popping up more and more, in places that would have never expected it before.
Have a good example of interactive art? Leave a comment and let me know. I’m on the hunt for good stuff. Want to get a higher level of interactivity with me and my site? Join my mailing list and get the important news about new art. →
Another worldbuilding post for Everspring . This is part of the reason I carry around a N1 and N4 Copic markers all the time. It’s so helpful being able to add just a bit of shading to concept sketches. This sort of sketch helps a lot. It lets me visualize the space and the staging when I’m writing chapters and helps me plan out the differences between unique locations and cultures.