Friday, October 29, 2021

Pixeldust keychain!

My first piece of book collab merchandise with my very crafty sister is now available for sale! It's the logo for Lucky Frog, the game development company in Pixeldust who developed Heroes of Avonell

Pick one up today so you can walk around feeling extra geeky!

More keychain designs coming soon! What would you like to see next?

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Howdy readers! I hope you're all having a fantastic October!

I've got awesome news for you! I'm partnering with my sister's Etsy shop to make merchandise for my books! We're thinking stuff like keychains, t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags.

So I'm wondering, what kind of designs would you be interested in?  Are there any of my books or characters in particular that you want us to focus on? Please let me know!

One thing I'd definitely like to do is a t-shirt with a logo for Cooper-Rutherford Automatonics (the fictional engineering firm that built Hermes and Kronus in Thunder Girl). Any other ideas? Drop 'em in the comment box!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

More Pokemon-ish thoughts

Please excuse my consistent spelling of Pokémon as Pokemon (without the acute). I have an English keyboard that makes adding diacritics difficult in a web browser. 

I've been having some thoughts about Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as well as Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and because I'm pretty sure none of my social media friends care about Pokemon as much as I do, I figured this was clearly a better topic for my professional blog.

So, Gen IV remakes. I'm actually not super pleased with the direction I'm seeing them going in, which is apparently as faithful a reconstruction of the original games as possible. While this might be fun for people who have never played the originals, as someone who has played every generation of Pokemon games, I can tell you that half the fun of the remake games for me has been the content that deviates from the original so I don't feel like I'm just playing the same game over again. Remakes are supposed to be a fresh experience for newer and older players alike, in my opinion. I even liked Let's Go Pikachu - despite having played Red, Blue, Yellow, and LeafGreen - because it completely rehauled the catching mechanic in an addictive way, and allowed you to ride Pokemon which is something I've probably wanted since the days of Red and Blue.

If there isn't enough new content, I get bored pretty fast. And that's what worries me about Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl--I'm getting bored just reading the news releases. Everything looks just about the exact same. They even kept the overall aesthetic - just trading in pixels for high-res polygon models - rather than update the look to match the current generation. Am I the only one who wanted BD/SP to look more like Sword and Shield? Even the character artwork has nothing new compared to the original Gen IV art--no new character designs, just CGI-ish renderings. So far I'm not seeing any changes to the storyline, no additional gameplay content, and relatively minor new gimmicks (they rehauled Amity Park... big whoop). 

And that's really, really disappointing to me. If we're looking at virtually a port with enhanced graphics, I'm not sure how much fun I'm going to have playing it. (Maybe it doesn't help that I just replayed Platinum a couple of years ago.) I'm also frustrated by how the press releases seem to keep touting features of the original games as if they're something new, when pretty much every Pokemon fan over 20 years old still remembers them from the first time around. "Oh wow, Lake Guardians! And look at these weird Team Galactic guys!" Been there, people. Been there.

Well, I've already pre-ordered Brilliant Diamond, so I guess I'll just have to play it and hope it's better than my expectations. And maybe there's still some exciting new stuff that they just haven't announced yet. I hope the Grand Underground is at least interesting. I still think they really missed a big opportunity by not making it an MMO-like space like Galar's Wild Area. Then again, maybe they did and just haven't said anything about it yet. But argh I am very frustrated with how little they're seeming to offer to veteran players in what they've talked about so far. It's like they're so hung up on making the games look like faithful remakes, that they're not trying very hard to appeal to people who want to see a little more innovation.

And Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Overall I'm really looking forward to this game. It pretty much looks like Pokemon: Breath of the Wild and it's amazing and beautiful and I don't know if I'll have a life after purchasing it. Buuuuuut I'm a little put off by how dark some of the Pokedex entries are for the new/regional Pokemon. C'mon, Hisuian Zorua and Zoroark? Basculegion? And they're calling this an E-rated game?! One of the things I really enjoy about the Pokemon games is how lighthearted and kid-friendly they are. I really don't want to see things head in a darker direction. That's no fun for me. Guys get it togetherrrrrr.

Will I still play Pokemon Legends? Probably, because overall it doesn't look too violent. Will I cringe at some of the Pokedex entries? You bet. This is not a trend I want to see continue.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Friday, October 22, 2021

My awesome art student did this super cool portrait of Renny Gallahan from Blue Diver! She said I could share it here.

Thanks everyone for your patience while Blue Diver is in the editing phase! I'm aiming to have it out before the end of the year!

Friday, October 15, 2021

More pony designs! These are for my fanfic Radiant Dawn and the Pegasus Plot, which I will probably put on the blog after I'm done putting up all my Neopets stuff.

Red Tape is Princess Radiant Dawn's ever-helpful secretary who gets put in charge of running the kingdom of Daybreak while Radiant Dawn goes to help the pegasus city of Pelopponysus. Red Tape's special talent is bureaucracy, so she is a big help to the overworked princess.

Eclipse is a top officer in the Pelopponysian army. She has an interest in ancient Equestrian history, and is especially fascinated by alicorn magic. Éclair is a resident of Daybreak who runs a donut shop.

¡Viva Fiesta! (exclamation marks are part of her name) is a resident of Daybreak who is implied to be a distant relative of Pinkie Pie. If you're wondering why there's a running theme of pony OCs related to Pinkie Pie, all becomes clear in a subsequent fic. :)


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

More sketches, including Cotylorynchus (excuse the misspelling) which had some of the oddest body proportions of any tetrapod ever. 

Neopets concept sketches for Blynn and for Terra's appearance in Return to Lynwood, which I will put up on the blog at some point. Return to Lynwood involves a lot of tromping around the Haunted Woods in autumn, so Terra needed some sturdy adventuring garb. From the looks of it, she probably bought most of this stuff in Meridell, which doesn't fit with the Haunted Woods's general Victorian-era vibe, but Terra doesn't particularly care about being anachronistic.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Update: The Neopets Team has put out a response to the protest, apologizing for the disappointment and dismay that the NFT project has caused, and especially for the misbehavior of the project's social media team. They have stated that the social media channels will be managed more responsibly moving forward. While Jumpstart is still moving forward with the NFT project, I think this is at least a step in the right direction, and a big win for Internet civility.


Today I'd like to bring awareness to a matter of professionalism, respect for a fanbase, and good business conduct.

The virtual pet website Neopets was a huge part of my adolescence and young adulthood. I loved the thoughtfully-crafted world of Neopia, its abundance of enjoyable activities and events, and the ability to explore it alongside colorful companions of my own making. Perhaps some of you have similar fond memories, or even still play the website. (I still write fanfic for it, despite not having submitted anything to the Neopian Times in quite a while, because the lore and my own Neopets just made that much of an impact on me.)

Unfortunately, troubled times have come to Neopia. The website was sold to another company a few years ago, and that company has been making one questionable business decision after another. Their latest project, however, really takes the cake. They have revealed plans for a large offshoot of the website called the Neopets Metaverse. While details about the Metaverse are still scant, the big news is that it will involve the usage of randomly-generated NFT (non-fungible token) Neopet images.  

Here's what makes this problematic:

Friday, October 8, 2021

Miscellaneous sketches.

These next two are my doodly ideas as to what various Neopets species would look like if they were rendered a little more realistically and didn't look quite so cartoony. Here we have the Acara, Chomby, and Korbat.

And the Ogrin and Pteri! The Ogrin is such an unusual design with no clear affinities to any real animal... so I reimagined it as being based off of Paraceratherium. Because it's never a bad time to fangirl the largest known land mammal eeeeee

Also, I would like to mention that even though I no longer play Neopets, I am aware of the current controversy over their new NFT project and I support the boycott. The entire direction of the website has taken some serious turns for the worse ever since the old team was fired, and in fact that was the reason I stopped playing in the first place. It's really unfortunate, but I believe the new owners and developers can right the ship and make Neopets a fun and fulfilling place to be again, if they stop focusing on money and start focusing on providing a quality player experience. There is no point in developing a franchise in a direction that goes against what made it so beloved in the first place. #NoNeoNFTs

Also, Espeon.


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Today's sketches are a journey in character development!

These are my concept sketches for my My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic OC General Ironclad of the city-state Pelopponysus. When Princess Radiant Dawn is summoned to Pelopponysus to help them uncover the leaders of a dissident movement, she finds a proud, militant pegasus community with a dislike of Princess Celestia and her namby-pamby peacemaker ways. Things get more complicated when one of their generals is assigned - against his wishes - to work with her to investigate the growing insurrection. Can Radiant Dawn convince him and the other Pelopponysians that life isn't just about discipline and martial prowess before it's too late?

(Spoiler alert: they end up getting married.)

Anyway, looking at these sketches, I think they present a good case study for how I refined a character design.

Here's my first try at Ironclad's design. I had the basic (vague) idea of what I wanted with his aesthetic: gunmetal-gray coat, silver mane and tail, general Greco-Roman military hardcoredery (real word). But I wasn't super pleased with the mane and tailstyle which I felt weren't distinctive enough, and the armor was likewise very generic.

So on to phase 2. I defined his facial shape a little better and gave him a beard, both for further visual distinction and to visually age him a bit better (he's in his mid-to-late-30's, so he shouldn't look like a young stallion). I also tried something different with the manestyle which was a step in the right direction--now he doesn't look like every other male pony out there with a shortish spikyish mane, he's got some cool warrior flow going. Plus, I defined the armor design for the Pelopponysian troops, moving away from generic Greco-Roman-ness and deciding on something more ornate, substantial, and original.

I still wasn't super pleased with his forelock, which was just kinda hanging out not doing much (on a visual design level), so I moved on to... phase 3! This sketch, I think, continues to push his design to a more refined level, as the forelock becomes more visually decisive and ties in better with the rest of his mane (which I also altered the flow of to add an extra level of flair). I also designed his cutie mark.

A short while later, I did one last sketch to tweak his design just a bit more. I made his forelock a little messier to suggest someone who's just spent a long day drilling troops (or on the battlefield), bulked out his facial shape a bit (he is a large pony), and gave him a fuller beard (I am not entirely sure how equine facial hair works, it's a cartoon, just use your suspension of disbelief). I also designed the crest of Pelopponysus and decided on their state colors, black and gold. They stand for valor, discipline, unity, and being able to totally crush you in a fight.


Monday, October 4, 2021

Miscellaneous sketches, including my boy Mallow.

 Mallow liked to take naps in the fireplace. I don't know why. He was an odd little fellow. He'd always come out covered in soot. His big brother Chewie thought he could get away with sneaking into the fireplace because his black fur would disguise it, but we could always tell when we petted him.

Friday, October 1, 2021

I drew this stuff for a paleontology blog I started before realizing that a) I am not a professional paleontologist and am not qualified to write about it and b) I simply don't have the time or energy to devote to multiple blogs.

I got to draw Carnotaurus getting hugs, though, so it's all good.

Also, yes, one of these is a Pokemon. Guess which one.