Monday, June 25, 2018

Dreams


"Dreams"
Chapter 1 illustration

I knew I'd get around this one, but I'm definitely glad I waited.
Like all my recent illustrations, I did this on a large sheet of bristol board, with Terra being the only inked portion on here. The trees got a very loose outline in pencil, but were made mostly straight in marker. The large bird in the sky was also more defined in blue colored pencil and colored so that it looked high in the sky.
All the lighting tricks you see were done with colored chalk pastels and a lot of anxiety. This is also the first time I've done this illustration where I had the crop area in mind when coloring the piece (the colors exceed a good few inches past the crop area for good bleed).
The original piece was called "Fate," but I changed it to match the title of the first chapter for which it's the cover to.

June 25, 2018
Micron pens, Sakura Pigma pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, gel pens, POSCA paint pens, and chalk pastels
on 14x17" smooth bristol stock.


Fated Sword Dual Balance ©Studio OZKai

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Prophecy


"The Prophecy"
First volume cover illustration

Yet another redo of this illustration, but one I'm far more proud of in size, layout, and overall execution.
On top of updating their faces to be more consistent with their updated illustrations, I changed the coloring style, the angles at which Oni and Elysium are facing, made their hair longer and curl up higher to act as strategic censoring, and even made the lighting distinct on each character.
The background phoenix is now just black with a radiant red from the center, which is mostly obscured by the forefront figures.

June 23, 2018
Micron pens, Sakura Pigma pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, gel pens, and POSCA paint pens
on 14x17" smooth bristol stock.


Fated Sword Dual Balance ©Studio OZKai

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Iris


Iris
______________________________

Childhood friend of Elysium, and brilliant archer and scout. 
She shares the same hatred for the group who destroyed their hometown, and with her sight akin to an eagle, she is able to rapid-fire arrows with extreme accuracy.

Age: 20 / Height: 5’ 8” / Weight: 138 lbs.
Birth Date: February 21 / Zodiac: Pisces / Blood Type: A
VI: Tara Platt
______________________________


[Illustration Info]

Iris (Ver.2018)

Her prior design was pretty solid, however I still had problems with the illustration itself. Of course, being an archer, I added some dynamics to her piece, and tried to do so in a less-than-typical way. I still have some issues with the way her face looks, but I'm fairly certain it's more because of the way her hair is, so it may be a non-issue.
Her leather armor has some very subtle color differences that made it difficult to do without crossing colors too much. Luckily, I think I did it right, here.
 
June 14, 2018
Sakura Pigma pens, Micron pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, and Uni POSCA paint pens
on 14x17" cardstock

 
Fated Sword Dual Balance ©Studio OZKai

Nocturne


Nocturne
______________________________

A dangerous hunter who assaults Terra early into his journey. 
Is he affiliated with the group destroying civilizations all over Ogelna? 
Or do his loyalties lie somewhere darker?

Age: 19 / Height: 5’ 10” / Weight: 188 lbs.
Birth Date: December 21 / Zodiac: Sagittarius / Blood Type: A
VI: Sean Chiplock
______________________________


[Illustration Info]

Nocturne (Ver.2018)

Possible one of the most dynamic character illustrations I've done in recent years, and this is the perfect guy for it. It was difficult balancing the amount of blacks and greys adorning his outfit, but I think it all balances pretty well.
His weapons are always going to pose a challenge, especially with no three-dimensional reference to go from, so I believe it's something I'm gonna have to get used to. (lol)
 
June 14, 2018
Sakura Pigma pens, Micron pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, and Uni POSCA paint pens
on 14x17" cardstock

 
Fated Sword Dual Balance ©Studio OZKai

Rhapsody


Rhapsody
______________________________

A young refugee from the destroyed city of Judah, she was separated from her family and ended up in the forest where Elysium now camps. 
While raised as a mage, her mother disappeared too soon into her training, leaving her confidence and potential untapped.

Age: 17 / Height: 5’ 2” / Weight: 122 lbs.
Birth Date: March 16 / Zodiac: Pisces / Blood Type: B
VI: Stephanie Sheh
______________________________


[Illustration Info]

Rhapsody (Ver.2018)

This one was one of the hardest, though most rewarding of my recent redesigns. Something I was having a huge issue with prior with her was keeping her youthful cuteness intact, and accidentally giving her more of a slight mature and more sexy vibe. I didn't like that, and I certainly didn't want that. I fixed her proportions considerable, especially her face, and gave her outfit a lot of new frills and details... Almost too many details. (lol)
The color scheme isn't changed too much from the prior version, but with the added details, some new colors came into the mix, that honestly bring everything together nicely. Her staff is the most complex thing I've designed, and I think I have a love/hate relationship with it...
But, this girl's a prominent character as the story progresses, and I want her to look the part!
 
June 14, 2018
Sakura Pigma pens, Micron pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, and Uni POSCA paint pens
on 14x17" cardstock

 
Fated Sword Dual Balance ©Studio OZKai

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Oni


Oni
______________________________

"Oni" is the chosen bearer of the fated sword of Wrathful Earth, Helgram.
Born with a deep hatred for the humans that betrayed her, she commands the group Il Inno di Morte, destroying much of civilization in search of something greater.
She will face off against Elysium and Terra, forever altering their destinies.


Age: 19 / Height: 6’ 2” / Weight: 129 lbs.
Birth Date: December 10 / Zodiac: Sagittarius / Blood Type: A
VI: Colleen Clinkenbeard
______________________________


[Illustration Info]

Oni (Ver.2018)

And if two weren't enough, I actually managed to do a whole third illustration; second that same day.I actually made changes to her design here compared to prior iterations, including armored bracelets around her wrists and ankles, made hanging ends to her various straps, and tattered her skirt, but not in a stereotypical "goth cape" way.
Drawing her sword at that angle was hell to get right, but I think it came out dead on.

Coloring was about the same as Elysium's, though a little more muted in shades. The leather of her gloves and boots were a bit tricky. I loved doing her hair and eyes, though. That eerie glowing pupil just seals what I want from her character for me!
Same deal with the white highlights, which were courtesy of my new POSCA paint pens.
 
June 9, 2018
Sakura Pigma pens, Micron pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, and Uni POSCA paint pens
on 14x17" cardstock

 
Fated Sword Dual Balance ©Studio OZKai

Elysium


Elysium
______________________________

Elysium wields the fated sword Aegis of the Heavenly Sky.
Her home city was destroyed years ago. When her refuge town is attacked, she takes up arms, leading the one-sided battle against a group destroying humanity.
When she encounters Terra, the two eventually discover just how deep the war has gone...

Age: 21 / Height: 5’ 5” / Weight: 131 lbs.
Birth Date: December 29 / Zodiac: Capricorn / Blood Type: B
VI: Kate Higgins
______________________________


[Illustration Info]

Elysium (Ver.2018)

Hot off the heels of the last redesign for Terra, I have the one that inspired me to do these in the first place - Elysium. I don't know why, but for such a simple character design, I've consistently had the hardest times drawing her proportionately, much less creatively.

I must say, for the first time since 2004, I am in love with how I made her look, here. The pose, the face, the sword's angle. Everything is exACTly how I envisioned them to be. The colors turned out to be a little less flat than how I did Terra, but I don't think it's distractingly different.
One thing I as able to do I couldn't as well with Terra was the highlights, which I accomplished with a new Uni POSCA white paint pen, which allowed some really amazing controllable white lines here and there, especially on the blade of the sword, as well as her eyes and earring.
 
June 9, 2018
Sakura Pigma pens, Micron pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, and Uni POSCA paint pens
on 14x17" cardstock

 
Fated Sword Dual Balance ©Studio OZKai

Terra


Terra
______________________________

Terra is the main protagonist and wielder of the sword Dual Balance.
A skilled swordsman and hunter/mercenary for his hometown of Gaf. In his quest to locate the other two fated swords, he will stumble into a quiet war a millennia old.
Within, he will find out the truth behind its bloody past, his blade, as well as his "self."


Age: 23 / Height: 5' 6" / Weight: 172 lbs.
Birth Date: September 27 / Zodiac: Libra / Blood Type: AB
VI: Chris Patton

______________________________


[Illustration Info]

Terra (Ver.2018)

I know, I just redesigned him nary a year ago, right!? 
But, something was bothering me too much about, not only how I designed him, but how I was designing the characters in general. I felt I was overcomplicating them, especially faces. I was so caught up in making things distinct character by character, that they ended up over detailed, leading to an almost unintentional similarity. So, I decided to look back at my first drafts from 2004 (Yes, this has been in my head for that long...), and simplified what needed and just let the art and poise do the talking.

Another thing that helps is the size and coloring. Instead of working my usual 8.5x11" stock, I decided to use 14x17" bristol board, allowing me larger areas to better express the details, especially in his armor and clothing. And the color, I wanted to look less "anime" and more fantasy, so I subdued the shading, as well as some new blending methods. 
All around, I feel it to be a vast improvement over the all 3 of my designs of him, all while returning to the roots of my first draft of him.

I'm also doing a new signature specifically for my personal creations.
 
June 5, 2018
Sakura Pigma pens, Micron pens,
Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, and gel pens
on 14x17" cardstock

 
Fated Sword Dual Balance ©Studio OZKai

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Guardian


"Guardian"
(Final Fantasy VIII)

This is a piece that has sat shelved for almost 5 years, now, but recently found again. I had considered starting it over from scratch with actual inked lineart, but decided to finish the piece as is. It was meant to be a sort-of self-gift for my wife and I's wedding, however my inability to complete it until now makes it an early fifth anniversary present.

The lineart of this was done in colored pencil, somewhat color-matching the held colors, akin to what I did (technically later) on my fist Breath of the Wild piece. I believe my original plan for the background is what lead me to walk away from this piece for so long, as I intended to fill the grass with flowers matching the petals blowing around the foreground of the image. In order to finally finish this pic, I ultimately scrapped that concept, as I had no practical way of accomplishing this effect confidently.

May 13, 2018
Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, chalk pastels, and gel pens
on 11x17" cardstock 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Ties of Sea and Flames


"Ties of Sea and Flames"
(Xenogears)

I had initially planned this for another illustration, but scrapped it and used the concept for these two for itself. The images were drawn and colored separately and put together digitally for the final. Trying to match the poses between the two while maintaining the perspective of the differences in size was interestingly challenging.

Coloring was even more of a trial because, surprise, some of my markers are wearing out, meaning I should replenish soon. So some of the colors are touched up here to keep this from becoming a shelved project. Oddly, this effected Fei way more than Weltall, which had minimal problems with marker dry-out and more just trying to replicate its shades of blues. Thankfully, the new figure announced helped me better understand its color layout, so this should be my most accurate-to-official Weltall illustration yet.

May 4, 2018
Normal pen, Sakura Pigma pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, and gel pens
on 2 8.5x11" cardstocks 

Compiling and background done digitally via Photoshop Elements 7.0


Individual images of Fei and Weltall.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Doth Thou Desire the Power?


"Doth Thou Desire the Power?"
(Xenogears)

There's not a lot I can say about Grahf that isn't spoiler-territory, but suffice to say he's definitely one of the more sympathetic villains in the massive story of Xenogears. His outfit also stands out a lot, reminiscent of a dark royal jester. It's the type of design that leaves an impression.

To start with the obvious, I was inspired by those variant covers to BOOM! Comics' Power Rangers done by Goñi Montes. And as Grahf is the masked villain of Xenogears (For good reason), it just sorta clicked.
Coloring was interesting given the detail of his outfit. A LOT of details scattered among the ensemble, and the colors were difficult to do in a way that made the focal points pop.
The background - what little there is - was a mix of markers and chalk pastels, but for the final, I did a little blurring to mask the harsh pastel marks that refused to blend.

May 1, 2018
Micron Pen, Sakura Pigma pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, chalk pastels, and gel pens
on 8.5x11" cardstock 

Background blurring done digitally via Photoshop Elements 7.0

Friday, March 30, 2018

Crisis for the Planet


"Crisis for the Planet"
(Final Fantasy VII)
 
This is a redo of a much older piece. I had it in mind to go back to this one for quite a while, however, the original had a lot of motifs I feel are now rather cliche of me, so I wanted to find a way to make it fresher.
Firstly, I changed the poses held by the two characters, putting Aerith in a prayer stance (which doubles as covering herself, lol), and placed Sephiroth in a powerful outstretched arms pose. It's minor, but adds more dynamics and personality to their presence. I also ditched the Advent Children-esque look for somewhat more classic-faithful models, which I also tried to replicate in the coloring style, mixing markers with colored pencils for a recreation of texture found in Nomura's character illustrations.
Losing the yin/yang motif, I moved the Materias to the sides, being "cupped" by the ends of the central glyph, which to keen eyes is recognized as the symbol used on the title card and opening credits. For the background colors, I wanted the base colors of the materia to start around their locations and swirl into a mix as they approach the opposite, invoking a sort of color wheel look.
As a final touch, I put my signature at both ends so there's no "real" top or bottom to this piece.


March 30, 2018
Micron Pen, Sakura Pigma pens, Prismacolor Markers, colored pencils, and gel pens
on 8.5x11" cardstock 

Paper texture added digitally via Photoshop Elements 7.0

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Champion's Return


"The Champion's Return"
(The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild)
 
Second year in a row I started with a Zelda illustration. Huh.
So, personal time. Since the end of December, I got sick. Like, worse than normal sick. And my ill state got worse within the entirety of January, with the brunt finally tapering off mid-February. During this down time, I hit a nasty artist's block that eventually turned into pure lethargy. Even as my infection dwindled, my energy never really came back. I knew I had to do something to make myself feel better before I slipped into depression, so when my taxes came around, I got a Nintendo Switch, along with... You guessed it, Breath of the Wild.
So, playing the game a second time has been a blast, and during my still-ongoing runthrough of it, I slowly felt the inspiration come back. Much like Link's 100-years of rest, forgetting his goals, I, too, lost sight of my ambitions. This is the manifest of the end of my hiatus.
Maybe not fully, but it's a start.

The bulk of the illustration is my usual traditional means, attempting some risky pen-and-marker mixes to pull off some of the effects I was aiming for, namely for the Guardian's glowing bodies and eyes. The color style's a bit of a mix of trying to emulate some of the official art's rough strokes, mixed with my own more subtle blending.

Then, to kinda suppress the somewhat busy background, I decided to do an overlay akin to the patterned design used on much of BotW's game and materials. I was really worried whether it would be too much, but after messing with the blending and levels, I think I found a nice balance that doesn't overwhelm the image it covers.

For those curious, the un-digitized original can be viewed below.

March 13, 2018
Ball pen, Prismacolor markers, Colored pencils, charcoal pencils, and gel pens
on 8.5x11 cardstock
Digital overlay done in Photoshop Elements.





"The Champion's Return" (Traditional piece)