Emerald Hall Illustration

This illustration has gone through a lot of different stages.


The initial inspiration was from binge-watching Project Runway and being reminded of my favorite type of hem on a dress: handkerchief hem, or hanky hem.

This started out as a design I envisioned as something that could be on a runway for fashion– then later a voice kept complaining in my head “this looks way too boring compared to all your other work.”

Most of my illustrations are more inspired by video game character and costume designs, and I don’t actually want to become a fashion designer (though I have been paid to illustrate costume designs before and wouldn’t mind doing that again).


So then I went back to trying to find ways to make this image more interesting for my own taste. This painting went through a bunch of iterations where I found it to be pretty ugly (well maybe some of you might find what I ultimately went with is still pretty ugly lol).

I changed the belt like 10 times again. Why don’t I do the same for earrings or necklaces? Maybe I don’t care as much about them. Then again I’m not sure if I want to turn each of these paintings into like 60-hour ordeals rather than the usual 20-30 hours.

I always do this thing where I leave an in-progress painting for a while then come back to it and keep telling myself “I have to finish it!” while switching between hating the painting and hating myself. The last finishing stretch is like the hardest for me because it feels like polishing can take forever and ever and I’m trying to prioritize putting out more work. I find it okay to rush it a teeny bit at the end because over the years I have pushed my limit on each of my paintings where I spend at least 10 hours on. I just need to get more ambitious with my ideas and then fill in the canvas. Pfft… easier said than done though.

I felt like this girl needed more panache… like literally. So when the royal wedding happened, I saw pictures/videos of hats worn at the event and got inspired by looking at hats made by Vivien Sheriff.

On her head, a hat I put…

Phew, choosing design ideas out of the many hats by Viven Sheriff was really tough. I just loved so many of them.

Here are some close-ups of the complete product:

I went back to my old favorite digital painters, including Linda Bergkvist. One of her greatest strengths was portraying depth of field, which I think kicks everything up a notch in terms of making it look more polished. Glad her artwork is still around for me to reference!

And just in case, here’s a wallpaper you can download:

Yay for more finished work! πŸ˜€ Cheers!

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Bath Time pg47

Other pages found here.


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Raspberry Lipstick Bunny

Another piece I finished after starting it while teaching a student an animation lesson. Based off of that really popular video of that bunny basically doing the same thing πŸ˜›



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Hearts Stars and Hearts Anthro Art


Just did a really quick and dirty piece of anthro art for a student and for promotional purposes, since this seems to be the most popular subject matter to draw for my younger students. I don’t even know what animal this is πŸ˜› Just kind of made her up.

Yay for finished work!

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Bath Time pages 43-46

Other pages found here.

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Gif Animation Dump from Lessons

Here’s a bunch of animations I made during lessons while teaching animations students. Most of the time, I teach the same old walk cycle, jumping and hair dynamics stuff, but just a few students choose to take more than 1 class per animation.

This first one is Spike from Cowboy Bebop:

This one is an imagined scenario in my student’s original story:

This one is from the Blade Runner Short “Black Out 2022”

This one is from Animatrix’s “Detective Story” (hmm I guess I like Shinichiro Watanabe :P):

This next one I think is sort of a made-up fan animation of Gudetama:

These next two are just referenced from GIF’s of gymnasts. Animating realistic people has actually been a great way to teach some body/muscle anatomy to students who are unfamiliar with that area of drawing.

This next one was just a random thing with a cat:

Here’s Winnie the Pooh doing his thing:

We also decided to do a crossover of Simon’s Cat with Litten, the Pokemon:

And lastly, here’s a very very rough 2-frame animation I did for myself as a personal project. I’ll likely add more frames and other stuff to it later:

Basically just trying to show that I’m not dead yet and to keep this blog updated πŸ˜›

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Featured Student: Nianna

Today I’m posting about Nianna (age 13), who recently got successful admission into LaGuardia High School (a school that specializes in the arts, basically like a magnet school) after a long arduous preparation process for the school’s portfolio requirements and audition.

After we had lessons together for about 9 months with LaGuardia High School in mind, she was able to improve her skills, build a great portfolio, and she was prepared for her audition.

Here is one of her final portfolio pieces:

Here’s some of her work I’d received before we started our first lesson together:

What I’ve realized over the years was that an artist can have the ability to draw something well, but completion and polishing for good presentation is actually a separate skill. I think what students ought to know is that there is value to any time put into practicing drawing, even if you don’t finish the work. Any sort of drawing counts as sort of like drilling, and the student acquires more of the skill of whatever they practiced. A dancer might stretch to become more flexible and be good at a few dance combinations, but putting together a polished choreographed performance is a separate item. It requires dedicated time and effort.

There is value in unfinished pieces — artists will gain skills that carry them through any future pieces that require those skills. But if you want an audience, especially as a professional, it’s important to make sure your work is completed and presented well.

The way I’m going to split up the next part of this post is by subject matter and showing Nianna’s progress over time.

Here’s a shot of a still life she drew:

In the following still life below for her portfolio, you can see how much more carefully she shaded in the objects, and how all the geometric shapes are much more straightened out:

The first time we went over color, we tried experimenting with rendering a leaf without using only green:

Here are the other colored pieces she put into her portfolio (alongside the flowers piece at the top of this post):

What I try to teach to all my students when I teach color is that, given your illustration process is open to the whole range of colors, don’t just use the light and dark versions of the same color for the same object if in theory that object is just one color (like an egg, a rose petal, a hand, or a tennis ball). Use cool versus warm colors to add more contrast. When I paint leaves for example, I like to use not only greens, but blues and turquoise for the darker areas, and orange and yellow for the more highlighted areas. Colors will pop out more and look even more like themselves if there is a color contrast next to them — this can be shown in Nianna’s landscape painting, where brown, yellow and amber colors are used alongside the greens on the hills. The depth of that painting was also accentuated by how faded out the blueish backdrop was rendered.

Nianna had expressed that she enjoyed illustrating fabrics. What can be tough about them is that there needs to be balance between stiffness and fluidity — in the line work, shading, and in the resulting illustration.Β  Since she’d expressed this interest, I suggested that she draw pictures of dresses to keep things exciting.

I think Nianna was a natural when it came to drawing draped fabrics in full value.

Here’s one of her fabric pieces in her portfolio:

In this last section, Nianna shows her drastic improvements in drawing portraits.

Like many of my students who aren’t too familiar with drawing hair, Nianna started out with what I call “spaghetti hair.” I’d written about it in the past (about halfway through the post), and it is definitely the most common mistake that artists make when they first try to draw hair, myself included. But it’s really great that artists make an effort and put some kind of hair on the head anyway just to keep the illustrations coherent, completed and polished.

Here’s some of her work during the first (or at least one of the first) lesson we had with going over hair:

Definitely the first step is to realize that hair should be parted into smaller sections. Some sections can cast shadows and sit on top of other locks of hair, some sit underneath other locks of hair.

I think Nianna’s drawings of Emma Watson were fairly recognizable, and by this time she’d significantly improved her skill of drawing portraits.

Here are the portraits that went into her successful portfolio:

With this next one, Nianna demonstrated her capacity to take risks. Portraits of people looking up are among the toughest to render, in my experience, and Nianna illustrated it very confidently. A lot of editing, time and effort went into this one and I’m really proud of her for finishing it. This piece could easily have been really demoralizing but I’m really impressed that she pushed through the process.

Well, that statement can actually be said about the entire process of building a portfolio on a deadline!

The preparation process for LaGuardia High School was a long, stressful and exhausting one — but look how far you’ve come! I am so proud of you, Nianna — you’ve worked hard, and you have earned your successful admission! Congratulations! ❀

Thank you for checking out this post everyone! I hope Nianna has inspired you all πŸ˜€

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Bath Time pages 41-42

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Bath Time pages 39-40

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Mumbai, India snapshots

Since Chris and I moved to India, people have been asking me how it is. I have a lot to say, and I find most of it pretty interesting. Everything that I want to talk about is way too much for one blog post, so I’ll attempt to split them up by topic. For this post, I’m just going to dump a bunch of pictures that’ll give you a small snapshot of life here in different aspects. I doubt it’ll be a brief post though, as I start writing this. I can’t help my eagerness to share all this cool stuff I’ve learned while living in a foreign country. I’ve been extremely fortunate and grateful to have this opportunity for such a unique life experience, and also to be able to experience it with the kindness and generosity from Chris’s business partner/our host, Varun, and his family.


Here are some shots of home-cooked food (cooked by house staff/domestic help):

I absolutely love the home-cooked Indian food. It’s so much more mild than all the Indian food I’ve ever had, but I imagine that’s by design — I’m more accustomed to Indian food from restaurants back home, which is always much more rich in flavor, salty and greasy.

Without getting too much into detail about it in this blog post, you can read a bit about domestic helpers in India here (I picked this article because it’s the main reason why people still hire domestic helpers to begin with). Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The average Indian middle-class household is home to a whole host of helpers, from maids and drivers to nannies, cooks and guards. Some homes even have people that come in just to do the laundry or grill the chapatis.

Indians can afford an army of domestic workers because salaries are so low. A recent survey by one of India’s largest blue-collar job search websites showed just how low.

I haven’t done any laundry, vacuuming/sweeping nor dishes in months — and I don’t have to cook if I really don’t want to, all because we’ve got house staff. I find this to be one of the most shocking things I tell people (mostly from back home in the US) when I tell them about my experience in India.

Here are a few restaurant shots:

I’ve had a few bagels here, and they’re mostly flatter than the ones I’m used to back in the US.


This is what grapes look like here:

In the USA, since I became vegetarian, I *never* eat anything from McDonald’s. One of my favorite things about India is that there are so many vegetarians — like 1 in 3 Indians are vegetarian, the rest of them are at least part-time vegetarians. There are two different kinds of Maharaja Macs (India’s Big Mac) — the chicken for the non-vegs and the one for the vegetarians:

This loaf of bread pictured below is 46 US cents. You see that green square with a circle in it? That’s the label that tells you the product is vegetarian. If it were brown instead, it means it’s non-vegetarian. I believe this is actually required by law. Even in commercials for restaurants they have these labels, and on some beauty products as well.

Below is a receipt for a restaurant really close to where we live. This meal came out to be less than 10USD. We ended up with plenty of leftovers. I really like the food there.

Here are some grocery store pics. Yes, they flavor their cheese slices in flavors such as Green Chutney and Schezwan. I have not worked up the courage to try any of the exotic flavors of cheese slices yet. The plain cheese slices may look kind of like Swiss cheese, but they taste just like the regular American cheese slices — only difference is none of them are that orange color we’re more familiar with.

Here’s some Pringle rip-offs I have yet to try:

Of the following munchy snacks, I think I liked the Peppies the best. Each of these bags are pretty small but they’re only 5 rupees per bag. They’re like onion rings, except instead of onion rings, they’re tomato wheels (or discs, as it’s labeled).

These were too spicy for me, but as I was about to throw them away because I’d left them in the pantry for too long, the butler said “No! It’s not garbage, these are my favorite!” πŸ˜› I suppose I’d also eat my favorite munchies even if they were stale >_>

I tried two different bags of cheese balls in India so far, and one of them wasn’t Cheetos. Both bags of cheese puffs tasted noticeably sweeter than the cheese puffs I’ve had back at home. I also noticed the cream and onion chips were sweeter as well.

Street Level pics:

Every day, at least where we live in Mumbai, the streets are filled with the cacophony of car horns. Car horns allll day.

Usually the first thing I mention to people when they ask about India is the traffic. It’s really chaotic, and a free-for-all. Traffic in Manhattan is *organized* compared to what you see in Mumbai. People cut in front of each other very quickly all the time, and the cars often crowd into random blobs rather than organized lanes. Cars miraculously maneuver past each other within inches of collision. Pedestrians cross the street in front of speeding cars all the time. From what I’ve observed first hand, I think Indians are impressively stoic. I’ve been living here for months and have yet to see a traffic collision. Drivers don’t seem to yell and swear at each other when people cut them off like they do in America. But I did actually experience just one time when I was in a car, the driver stopped so short I got really startled. I looked out front and there were two motorcyclists who decided to stop short in the middle of the street in busy traffic and get into a verbal fight for a few minutes.Β  Other than that, drivers generally don’t get verbal if they get pissed at getting cut off by someone. If they seethe over traffic conditions, they do it pretty quietly — or perhaps that’s only because I and/or someone else is in the car.

You will also see other kinds of safety hazards, like entire families on motorbikes without helmets,Β  including babies simply being held by their mothers and sitting on their laps — this is fairly common. Now, not everyone is actually being “stupid,” many of them may not have a choice. I’m sure for every family the situation is different. But in other cases, I’ve observed people riding their motorbikes while *holding* their helmets instead of wearing them on their heads. This is not uncommon either.


Don’t the crows of Mumbai look so smart and elegant?

There are lots of stray dogs and cats in the streets. From inside my apartment I do often hear dogs barking and cats yowling loudly, but otherwise when you see or meet them on the streets, they’re very docile.

The pungent odor of the beach is a perfect stormy mix of the salty beach water and sewage, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to visit whenever I go out to take a walk in the neighborhood. I absolutely love watching the animals on the beach — mostly the birds and the way the crows, pigeons and seagulls interact. When it’s low tide, I love walking further out towards the water.

Here’s some cows. It’s illegal to to slaughter them in most of India (hence the chicken Big Mac).

Here are my favorite beauty/personal care products:

As you can probably tell, I’m extremely obsessed with mogra. The mogra soap costs 25 rupees and as hand soap it lasts more than a month so far. It smells fabulous (exactly like mogra). The aloe vera gel costs 80 rupees, which is 1.23 USD for 150ml. This should be blowing your mind, because if you look for its competitors on Amazon.com (Amazon in the USA), you’ll probably be paying at least 5 bucks. Here are the things I’ve seen this product do for me, in my first-hand experience:

  • itching relief from mosquito bites
  • reduced swelling from mosquito bites
  • reduced acne
  • moisturizes skin
  • prevents scarring from mosquito bites
  • brings scarred skin tones back to normal

I’m sure there are many other uses for it. Not to mention it smells really nice. Seriously. Patanjali’s aloe very gel makes it so that I don’t have to deal with massive swelling and itching at all between the time I get bitten and when the wound heals up. Even with heavy use, the one bottle lasts more than a month. Let me know if you find a product that beats this at $1.23.

Now… the mogra water probably doesn’t actually do anything except make me really happy because of the way it smells (the one pictured above cost 220 rupees, or $3.39). The smell only lasts a few minutes at most. But I actually tried distilling my own mogra water by buying these mogra flowers from a street vendor for 100 rupees ($1.54, I probably got ripped off as a foreigner πŸ˜› ):

From my experience, it’s hard to make the mogra water yourself and expect the water to smell like mogra. Perhaps I’ll need to try practicing the distillation process a lot more before I can actually make a product as comparable as that of Soil and Earth.

And here are some things I wrote in broken Hindi:

The blue stuff was written by Varun. He helped make corrections to my writing. Hindi script isΒ really pretty to me πŸ™‚

In this shot, there weren’t any corrections yet:

During my first visit to Mumbai last April in 2017, I learned the vowels and the consonants from Varun’s mom. I simply wanted to break down the language barrier and also take advantage of being immersed in a different culture — there is probably no faster way to learn another language. Since my April visit, I learned how to use the accents online. Then I stopped learning for a few months, then got back into it and spent around half an hour a day for a few months just learning Hindi by looking at vocabulary lists and watching Youtube videos. Now I’m taking Hindi lessons on iTalki.

In summary, living in India has been wonderful! I really want to share my experience with you all in future blog posts.

I hope you’ve learned something from and enjoyed this post, thank you for reading! πŸ˜€

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