New Project – The Gothic Geisha Online Comic

This is a closeup of Akemi brandishing guns is from Sandra Chang's Gothic Geisha issue #2's cover.

The Gothic Geisha story has been lingering in the back of my mind since 1996. Its original conception was as a comic book I created called Akemi. It was both released in color (published through Brainstorm Comics) and in black and white (Sypher Publications). I followed issue 2 with a homemade ashcan unveiled at the San Diego Comic-con. Later on, Akemi was reprinted in Yolk Magazine, a publication that showcased Asian talent in media. I tried to continue the story in Yolk, but the magazine was eventually cancelled. To my dismay, I found no distribution for Akemi and I couldn’t afford to publish it myself, so I never finished it.

Since then, Akemi would be a shadow in my consciousness, evolving and changing, depending on life experiences and the movies I was exposed to. One movie that profoundly affected Akemi was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It was an intriguing idea to have your mind brainwashed and then relive the same mistakes. Other influences were the Bene Gesserit in Frank Herbert’s Dune and the Mord’Sith in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Books. I loved the idea of a sect of female warriors not just as soldiers, but as a religious, political entity. Hence the new embodiment of Akemi was formed. Last June 2012, I began recording the story down on paper; reworking the plot, scenario and introducing new characters. I wrote it in a novel format and it grew to be 88 pages. I created some new concept art; rough background environment drawings and character sketches. I am now ready to embark on this new venture and christen it, Gothic Geisha.

Akemi is still the main character. She lives in a future dystopia called the Unopolis, governed by an Authoritarian Government ruled by a dictator named Augustine Caine and his Calcedonian Council. She and her brother, Kenji, join a group of rebels who plan on overthrowing the dictatorship. This is the short version, of course, it gets much more complicated.

I am working on the very first page now, (it’s sitting on my drawing table). I’m planning to release the comic several pages a week online for free on a WordPress page. Hopefully, if all goes well, I will release it this month. I created a facebook page to showcase my progress. I would appreciate it if you could like it.

In the meantime, I will leave you with some conceptual work to get you interested. But first, here is artwork from the original Akemi Comic Book, so you can get a basic idea of the story.

New Concept Art.
Environment Design Background.

Character Sketches

These are initial concept design images, the final designs will probably change.
Hopefully my next post will be the actual working online comic url. Please like my facebook page for further information! Thanks!

New Art and Tutorials

Again, I apologize for my aversion to writing blogs. It’s almost the end of the year and the doomsday on the Mayan Calendar (Dec 21) is rapidly approaching. I don’t have any emergency supplies stocked up nor did I book passage on those high tech arks in China (from the movie 2012). We’ll just see what happens. At least it falls on a Friday and I’ll be in Kung Fu class…I won’t take this lying down!!!

I worked on another tutorial, a four-page How to Paint a Steampunk Character for Advanced Photoshop Magazine, Issue 98. It was a major undertaking, almost like writing a term paper in college. The difficulty was cramming all the techniques into a mere four pages. In the last tutorial I did for Digital Artist Magazine, I had two pages to explain how to depict hair, here, I had 90 words. For this endeavor, I delved into traditional fairy tales and chose Little Red Riding Hood. I tried to break things down to basics and textures. I began with creating a color comp to laying  in the background, creating stone textures with splatter brushes. I simplified the background using smoke and silhouettes, again custom brushes in Photoshop like the smoke/cloud brush came in handy. I went over how to paint skin, the handy tool here is the mixer brush, it creates lovely blends effortlessly (as long as you use the eyedropper to sample local areas of color). The rest were techniques to paint silk, leather, hair, diaphanous material, metal and glass. I guess if you are interested in more details, you can hunt down the issue. What is helpful is that I included the pencil drawing, the layered Photoshop file and some customized brushes on the cd. Here are some screen captures step by step (some of these were not published in the magazine):

Steampunk Little Red Riding Hood Drawing

I did a pencil drawing and scanned it into the computer.

Steampunk Red, Progress 2

I laid flat colors over my drawing.

Steampunk Red Progress 3

I added light and stone textures.

Steampunk Red Progress 4

I added the silhouettes of the buildings in the background. Used gausian blur on the lights and used by handy smoke custom brush to create atmosphere.

Steampunk Red Progress 5

I painted her face and the silk skirt.

Steampunk Red Progress 6

I painted her face and the leather parts of her costume. I used masks to create the stripes in her stockings.

steampunkred final

I used vectors to create the hard geometric outlines of her guns. Then I used the gradient effects on the layers to color them. To create glass or diaphanous cloth, I painted on a layer above and erased parts of it, setting the opacity lower.

I also have a ProTip coming up in the next issue of Advanced Photoshop. I think it’s issue 104. It’s a short 150 word tip on how to paint a woman’s portrait. For this, they are printing an old painting of mine, the Geisha Faerie.

Geisha Faerie and Orson the Dragon

Geisha Faerie and Orson the Dragon

Some new paintings I worked on during this time is my Steampunk Veronika painting, based on Veronika Kotlajic, the Perfect Muse and former Playboy Lingerie model. Here I looked up reference for a World War 1 tank. Honestly, I didn’t know they existed all the way back then. They are small one-man contraptions…very claustrophobic I would imagine! I love sunsets, so I used the soft oranges and purples for the color palette. I think Veronika was very pleased with the painting.

Steampunk Veronika

Veronika Kotlajic was the inspiration for this painting

This past June 25th marked the third year anniversary of the passing of my music idol, Michael Jackson. I can’t describe how heartbroken I was upon learning the news three years ago. Like a true fan, I am in denial, I dream sometimes that he’s not dead, he faked his death and is hiding away from the world, somewhere in the Middle East. Then I wake up despondent, realizing the truth. To commemorate the spirit of the King of Pop, I painted this eulogy. I do believe that his marriage with Lisa Marie Presley was real and that he did love her at one time. Here he lies in the lily pond, reminiscent of John Everett Millais’s Ophelia painting. In an homage to John William Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Mermaids, I painted Lisa Marie as a mermaid curled about him. Water symbolizes rebirth and I thought this was fitting, since Michael can be cleansed of the prejudices of the World. He gave so much love and was vilified. I wanted originally to paint a serene expression on his face, with his eyes closed so he would be at peace, but I couldn’t bring myself to paint him in that deathly repose. Instead, I painted him bursting with joy. My friend, Alicia, commented that he looks so happy. But that is how I want to remember him, smiling with the vigor of youth.

Michael Jackson Ophelia

Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie as a Mermaid Among Lilypads

Step by step screen captures of both Steampunk Veronika and Michael Jackson Ophelia are on my Facebook page. Go to photos, galleries. They are in the Miscellaneous Gallery.

Of course, if you are interested in prints, here is a shameless plugging of my Etsy store.

I also have a new Society 6 store. It’s a print-on-demand online store that sells cool merchandise with my artwork. It has iPhone and iPod cases, Laptop and iPad skins, pillows, stationary cards, prints and canvases. Eventually, I want to open an Ebay store to sell large size prints and original oils (not to mention unwanted Mord’sith costumes). I haven’t done that yet. Mainly, I just have to reserve some time to read over the regulations.

Last but not least, I was commissioned by the students at my Shaolin Kung Fu School in Las Vegas, Shaolin Kung Fu Chan, to paint a portrait of the master, Shifu Xing Wei, a 32nd Generation Shaolin Monk. The occasion was to commemorate the 7 year anniversary of the current location of the school. I originally wanted to do a massive oil painting, but we had just moved to a new house and it was Thanksgiving weekend. To facilitate things, I painted it in Photoshop and had it output at Staples on canvas 3ft x 4ft. This would have been expensive, but when I went to pick it up, they had printed it 2ft x 3ft, so they had to redo it. They gave it to me for free because it’s store policy if there is an error. I had a mat cut and Luann Nguyen, one of the senior students had everyone in the school sign it. Another student, Tom Shahan, built the frame and we presented it at the celebration. My nerves were on edge that day since I had to also perform in front of everyone with 4 other girls. It’s been six years since I had competed or performed in front of an audience and I had trouble sleeping the night before. Nightmares of playing as a child at piano recitals are still fresh in our memory. Luckily, the demonstration went without a hitch. All I can say was I was relieved when it was over.

Shifu XIng Wei

Shifu XIng Wei, 32nd Generation Shaolin Monk

Posing with my friends with the Painting

Here we are in the garage assembling the painting. I’m the second from the left.

Posing with the painting at the Celebration

I’m the second from the right. Shifu Xing Wei is directly behind the painting.

Here we are Performing at the 7 Year Anniversary

I am the second from the right. This is a funny picture!