Category Archives: Concept Art

My Experience with Art College

I’ve been trying to write a post about this subject for a while now because its always on my mind, and I think that there’s been a lot of media coverage about the difficulties of attending college nowadays. It is so very costly, and I attest this is true since I went through it. I had written a couple of other drafts before this broaching the subject, and hopefully, this one will be much more succinct. I’m writing this because I had in mind to be helpful, and hopefully, I’ll have somehow helped an aspiring art student to also become aware of the situation. We can’t all be dreamy anymore and choose to go to our #1 school choice, but keep in mind that feeling inspired to pursue life purpose versus finding a job that pays, almost always, life purpose goals are much better even if the way is difficult. I firmly believe though, that sometimes we can have different pathways to get to the place we want in life. So if you have to take a job that you hate to pay and fund your way to your life goal, you should probably do it. That’s my belief anyway.

I suppose you can say this is a follow up on the AAU vs. Art Center post I wrote up when I first started college. Well, now that I’ve graduated, here’s some of my thoughts.

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering over the fact that, what would happen if I had not gone to art school? I was informed by many teachers, counselors, and adults in high school that college is an important thing to go through because you don’t want to end up flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Well, the fact of the matter is, most of us nowadays are stuck doing that anyway because we can’t get the job we graduated college for to begin with. I haven’t worked at a fast food chain, but working any sort of sales or retail is sort of a sad means. They pay you “minimum wage” but to be honest, minimum wage is not on-par with today’s high cost of living: rising cost of gas, food, and housing. I could go into economics and how bad the current economy is, but I think that’s a different topic altogether that I don’t really want to get into. I am trying to narrow the subject down.

So essentially, I have been puzzled since graduating about whether or not my choice in school was beneficial for me. It’s really a hit and miss, but quite frankly, with all the online schools popping up left and right, it’s left me in a state of envy. I wish all this was available in 2007 when I started. But I had no idea what I was doing. I had the belief that college was the answer to everything for my future. But if I could go back in time and teach myself the right way, I should have gone to a community college to learn important basic academic fundamentals. And then obtain an AA or something, by then, probably would have set up a school that was by far cheaper than what I was paying for at the Academy. I remember this, and I had calculated the numbers. The only drawback is, would I be as good I am in my technical skills? I have problems with online teaching. My style of learning has always been to be immersed and to see (well, maybe that’s why I’m an artist!).

One thing that art school did do for me, was surround me with different minds — and these other minds helped me to open myself up more to different perspectives. I am much wiser than I was before. One of the things that kept me back was family and parents telling me what I should do. They probably didn’t know very much either as they only told me what other people seemed to have told them. One ability that I wished I could have built up earlier was people skills, and the ability to sell myself. This is most certainly NOT taught in schools. This is a life/street skill. And you need this if you want to become a professional. But going back to being surrounded by other people, I feel like this experience could just happen if I had gone out into the world and traveled to new areas like I initially wanted to. It was always a money issue for me, but quite frankly, when you graduate high school, you have no debts yet, and you can earn money by working part-time jobs, save up, and then go places.

One thing that I really adored was having mentors and instructors. 80% of them opened up my eyes to new possibilities, and I feel like good instructors like that are hard to come by. It’s the institution, however, that is the real enemy as they are the ones who are controlling everything else but your ability to learn. One thing I’m going to gripe a bit about is that the career section in our school was rather dismal. I grew tired of seeking help, emailing the representatives, and never getting replies back. If the counselors had problems with large amounts of email, maybe its time they hired more people to help??? I always wondered about this. Because as much as it is important to have an outstanding portfolio, one needs to also be quite literate. It is a little bit ridiculous, since the school teaches you mainly how to be someone else’s employee, so maybe they should be having more writing workshops for resumes and cover letters? There was some workshops, but it really was just one person talking in a limited time frame. I would have liked to attend a more hands-on type of workshop with one-on-one help.

My experience with freelance art is that, I had no idea what I was doing at first because the terms and words confused me. Sure, it was gone over in my portfolio senior class, but not everything was discussed. There were certain scenerios that left me confused, and the actual help that I needed was not from school or my instructor, it was from public forums on LinkedIn and reading lots and lots of blogs from other artists.

Here is also my experience with online classes at AAU:
Don’t do it. It baffled me after returning to normal on-campus classes how much more information you got from being in-person than being online. Its much harder to also connect with your classmates, and I personally believe that college is actually half for making connections and for networking, and the other half is for learning. So why exactly am I paying for full class tuition prices when I only get 65% of what I get on site? The year and half that I spent onsite made me realize that though I gained good attendance and grades, my artwork isn’t nearly as amazing as some of my other peers and that really depressed me, how far behind I felt. It took a lot of sleepless nights to get my skills levels to somewhat satisfactory. And don’t get me started on about why I should have started looking for internships sooner! There are flyers in the student lobby also that no online student can see but the only the course materials they have. I wish I could have formed better connections with my teachers too. It’s much harder to get letters of recommendation if you are an online student unless you are very aggressive at emailing…

I would alse like to point out that the article above is a bit maddening simply because AAU’s online programs aren’t impressive (as explained above), so don’t believe that you are getting quality education if you are at least in the illustration department. I most certainly can’t vouch for other departments. But one thing to note is, if you’re perhaps an older adult who only wants the course material, than I suppose its perfectly viable to attend an online course since its convenient.

Note that this is only for online schooling for AAU. If you are considering on pursuing a career in either illustration or visual development, or concept art, I would consider going to the online schools, listed below that are fundamentally cheaper to attend and the mentors are real people. So you’re basically, skipping the administration process, and being taught directly from actual working professionals who are passionate about teaching.

List of online learning:

School of Visual Storytelling

Feng Zhu or better known as FZD school – for all things concept art, especially environments. Freeeee! And you can even take the dive and go to Singapore to attend his live classes.

Sycra videos – Freeee!

CGMA Academy

CGCookie – They offer tutorials for a subscription price.


Stephen Silver – also, Stephen has mentioned if you you follow him on Facebook, there is a possibility of getting some grant funding for his tuition, which is pretty cool. His school course link:

Chris Oatley Academy

Noah Bradley Art Camp

And even trying to find a way to get your hands on Gnomon Videos would be good.

I wish I could have added TAD on here, but as it seems, there has been some bad politics and they’re no longer happening, which is a shame how much ConceptArt has fallen over the years… it was a place that inspired me so much when I was younger.


Anyways, this is more than enough to find your way to getting good educational materials. As an artist, what makes you is your amazing portfolio and brain smarts. Educate yourself and you will go far.


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Filed under Academy of Art University, Art, Artists, Concept Art, illustration, Random Talk, Reviews

Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty Artbook

Artbook review time!

I don’t remember if I have ever made a post about the Starcraft 2 art book I had before, but now I am because I just beat the first expansion of the Starcraft 2 game series. Honestly, I did not appreciate it as much as I do now. I bought it because I found it on Ebay for a really good deal. And I always thought the artwork Blizzard produces has been some of my most inspirational and contemporary influences. I even have a very old Warcraft artbook from the first games, and you can see how much Blizzard has improved since.

There is a lot of irony in all this simply because back last November when I had gone to CTN Expo, I met a really cool artist there and he told me NOT to play games. Like, I’ve been told this countless of times, but actually, I didn’t listen. It’s not because I don’t value their opinions. I really didn’t plan to play. They told me that there are videos online that you could watch on youtube that has other people playing. However, sometimes, I get these urges that don’t go away till they are satisfied. I blame it on my genes because I think that my family may have addiction problems? And these are my addictions…? hahaha… I actually did stop playing a lot of games, and I only began to play again after graduating from college. I didn’t own any of the new game consoles, and I almost feel ridiculous saying this to a gamer as much as I hate telling bacon lovers or anyone that I hate bacon. (I know, I can hear the gasps from all around even through space.) Can’t really be called a gamer anymore if one stops playing??  There was one occasion a good friend of mine lent me his DS to play The World Ends With You, which is an all around fun and very interesting fun game to play! The mechanics on that is pretty neat not to mention good music. And I love good music!

But overall, I feel like I should start understanding games again, because I am too out-of-touch with the current games now. Like, what does a gamer actually look for when they play a game anyway? Maybe this is a bad thing that I think too much. I analyze too much. But actually, I would rather work for a company that thinks about its consumers a little more instead of creating stupid games that are just all design and no content. This is almost all too apparent. I appreciate good design, but I’d rather it have some quality in other areas too. But it also goes a lot to say, that at least companies know how to market and so they invest in good designers.

Also, a side note. I finally got a taste of Far Cry 3 and its really interesting..!

In essence, though, as I flipped through the book, I had a revelation, that although this book may have a lot of artwork — it is completely filled, front and back with art, this is probably only a quarter of the art they had to produce. Why? Well, as I played this game, there were so  many units to memorize, so many building constructions to remember to build (not to mention, you need to remember what comes out of those constructions), and there are upgrades for almost a lot of those units and constructs. Plenty of characters, we all know Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan, and new additions like Tychus — who is helping me develop a southern accent, Arcturus, etc. Concept art for those guys!

The comments inside the book did say that the main focus of this first expansion was the Terrans. So there was more Terran art than there was Protoss or Zerg. I have yet to play the second expansion of this game, but I can only imagine the main focus of the next two games are going to be about each of the other two races. I’m guessing, but I need to play the next ones, ey?

My appreciation comes from the fact that since I now know these units better, such as what their role in the game is, the artwork makes more sense to me. The book itself has very little captions for all the pieces in here, in fact, it only gets wordy at the very beginning with the ‘foreword’ and introduction. Concept art is not about pretty art like regular fine art. Concept art is a solution to a question. What is this thing’s purpose? How does it function, and how does it serve the story? One should always ask this when one decides to create concept art. It’s just not all about the pretty little gadgets that you think makes it look cool. It’s aesthetic and its good design at the same time.

Anyway, here’s some pretty photos from the book to look at.



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Filed under Art, Artists, Concept Art, Games, Reviews

Life updating and One of my sketching Workflows

Is it just me or is WordPress trying too hard to be like Tumblr? If I wanted to be on Tumblr, I’d go on my tumblr… But in any case. Hi again.

I keep meaning to put a post up for Diego Velasquez… but my art books are not with me. So its been so hard to be separated from my personal library of awesomeness.. Vagabond life SUCKS. Maybe I chose this life. Or maybe it was just thrown at me, or maybe its just being young. After moving home with my parents, I moved again back to OC so I could go to work in Long Beach. It’s been interesting. Some of the glamour has faded, but I feel like my life has been repurposed just a little bit. I’ve been good at forcing myself to sleep earlier (than normal) and waking up early in the morning to either do more freelancing work with a certain client, catching up on art related thing, or working on my character designing! I’m excited to say, I’m actually drawing again. Little by little. I whine about not having enough time every day, but it actually works out in the fact that you can do so much more when you’re under pressure — because when you’re under time constraints, there’s a more likely chance to prioritize tasks and get stuff done. This is why procrastination works so well, probably! But its really better to hone that particular skill instead of letting it guilt you into work.

I used to be a night owl, but I’ve turned into an early bird after turning 23. And it works out. I remember working on certain school projects, I’ll wake up suddenly, shoot out of bed and start drawing because my brain solved my design problems whilst sleeping. And then it’ll be like, “OH MY GAWD. YESS. THIS IS HOW ITS GONNA WORK.” People have a romantic idea that this happens only when the mood strikes, but really, its a gradual process, and you have to keep working to get good. Unfortunately, I struggle with doing that sometimes still. But lately, I feel so proud of myself despite a lot of rough pathways in the road.

Sketching late night at Cefiore! I’m thinking about giving my Harpy airship an actual captain.

harpy_captain_character_silhouette_1 harpy_captain_character_silhouette_2

I dunno if anyone remembers this post on my facebook page (of the alchemy sketch below), and wondering why I’m designing demonic things. Not into devil worship or anything…

I feel bad that I haven’t finished this yet since I’ve been working on this since the beginning of January, but I’m designing the devil for my Bearskin project.

So, I’ve decided to share a bit of my process here:

I use the Alchemy sketching program, and its pretty gnarly. I love using it when I need to see shapes. It’s like looking at clouds and finding the image in the cloud.




I like to start designing the head first because I need to know what personality my character is. I always write an aside note as I’m sketching the top priorities are. For these heads, he had to be “tricksy,” “evil-looking,” “smart/cunning,” and I’m developing this with non-human traits. I was blending a bit of creature design here.

And then I start on the silhouettes. Self-explanatory. I really liked the skinny design, and it would be opposite of my Bearskin character, who’s like a bear-were-animal.


sketchbook_devil_bearskin_2 sketchbook_devil_bearskin_3 sketchbook_devil_bearskin

And my drunken animation of him walking… “gracefully.” I used gifpaint! The whole time I thought — “But I have Flash CS6!”


And this is more character sketching. I’ll actually be working on two devils, one for animation and one for video game design. So we’ll see how that turns out.

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Filed under Art, Art Projects, Concept Art, sketches

Conventions and other happenings. & Oh yes…

…It has been 43 days since I have graduated. Whoooo…. Still job hunting. Wish me luck. Sorry, I tried to keep up with the blog, however, been posting a lot on my facebook, and that has been taking up my time among other things like prepping for two anime conventions. I tried to sell; I sold my magnetic bookmarks… now I have tons… that I dunno what to do with. Perhaps I will open up an online store soon. But they did not do as well as I hoped, but in an age where iPads run rampant (even I own and use one as an ebook D: shoulda seen that one coming!!!) it is to be expected. 😦 Still… sad. In any case, selling at cons is much more difficult that it looks to be honest. I will be trying different conventions that suit my style of art better, I should say. But for now, I am so dead broke. So I’m going to retreat back to San Francisco soon. Actually, who knows how long I can actually stay there!

I will finally be posting up my EA art test I took back in May. I’m sure it will be fine to do so… So a tentacle alien worker + a retro futuristic drill rig inspired by the Venus Project.

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I dunno, I suppose what is like being a graduated art student? I’m not sure how I feel. I am conflicted. I actually like learning. I am sad it costs so much to learn so I’m happy I don’t have to take out more money to do so. However, I am feeling a tad lost. I am elated to be able to spend time on hobbies once more! Like reading… oh man, I’ve been reading so much, its AWESOME.. And I watched Adventure Time. AND THAT’S SO AWESOME TOO. Time is good, if only it were free. And I can start writing my Little Space Mermaid script. Need to do more character designs, but I am excited, maybe for once I will finish? I decided on another route for the little mermaid, keep the original story but stick it in space. Why the hell not? I’ll still be doing the comic in watercolor. It’ll work out. I dunno though, I’m excellent at starting, but bad at finishing. Lately, it’s been getting easier to do the latter however. Writing is much harder because its mind tricks that you have to deal with. Fatigue is not hard to deal with. But your mind says stuff to and drones on and on… that is why writing is difficult to finish. Reading helps me to write because it feels like I can see the other authors writing and struggling from behind their novel too. Since I haven’t been practicing with my writing, I probably suck a lot. Bite the bullet and deal.

P.S. Finally, I know that I have torn my ACL tendon after all these 3 years. Exercise is integral and important for office and desk jobs; I hope I can at least do some kind of light running to keep from getting flabby. That is all for now. Thank your for reading this far.


Filed under Art, Concept Art, illustration, sketches, thumbnails


My midterm project. Still working on it though, technically, I can move on since I all ready turned it in. Still, lotta things here and there that need to be re-looked at, but welcome for any input too.  The story is based off of Bearskin:
So I think I will do his model packet as a side thing~ It’ll be awesome. I think the double claw aspect is bo-bomb. Yet I gotta ask, how the *%#$ will he wipe his @$$?? The things concept artists must think about… hahaha… j/k.

Lotsa bears in my portfolio. Cannot be helped though, bears are hella cool.




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The Wonders of Hard Work

I am always surprised by time; not tangible time that you count on the clock, but when you’re working on something for a really long while. It does pay off, which when I was young, didn’t really appreciate much. I think we’re all in a hurry.

Anyway, my last final was yesterday, and it was particularly breezy because 1) my afternoon class didn’t have a final and 2) the second class was a writing class. I’m sorry I didn’t try hard enough in it though. I like writing. As anyone can tell, this is why I blog. But I hadn’t actually written a story in a year and a half because I could never finish. But I was able to write 2 stories. One fairly long one, and one very short short. They’re lame and I won’t post them, but I’m really glad I did them because it proves to me that I can still write something.

Anyway, I will be posting up my works from Drawing for Film:

Still waiting on my last final critique from Creature Design, which hopefully, I will get and then probably try to fix. I’d like to go back and fix a lot of things. Which I have, need to update them, however.

I really regret not being more organized, but it’s something that I’m learning to be better at. But I’m not happy with my filing conventions…. I will be working on that this summer. Lot’s to do then, though. Like learn Japanese. I found raws for Bara no Tameni and I really want to read it…. because it’s not published in the US.


Filed under Art, Art Projects, Concept Art, illustration


I don’t think I’m getting into Spring Show. T_T But if I think too long on it, I will turn depressed, so I won’t. There is always next year, or at least I hope so because I only have 2 art classes left. Need to look for an actual job again. But I finally got my seller’s permit for AM^2. This summer, I will be doing a lot of portfolio preparations.

Well, this morning I woke up at 7am! And I wasn’t feeling like a grouch. I think I’m truly a morning person afterall. Just hate waking up earlier than that. I like waking up when the sun is peaking out because my room starts to warm up and it feels really nice.

I’m quite determined to finish my finals early because normally, I’d never take advantage of the extra time to prepare and end up finishing last minute.

I knew learning Google Sketchup would pay off in the end. Thank you, Urban Sociology. That class was pretty awesome all around, except having to go about and interviewing people…. >< I failed that bit. Anyways, this assignment has reminded me why I thought sketchup was lame, because moving things is a such a PAIN. It’s very non-intuitive and I had to keep reminding myself that this is a free program and I shouldn’t be too angry with it.

Well, it was frustrating, but 8 hours later, I came up with what I needed. This is a great tool because I can actually fix the placements of the furniture around, something I had problems with while sketching in my sketchbook. There is a bit of a problem with scaling too, but I hope I can fix that as I go on. Also had several moments of epiphanies as I imagined what the interior of my harpy ship would begin to look like too.

The Zelda stuff is just there for fun because I found them while looking for components… hahaha…. I do love that series.

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Filed under Art, Concept Art

Pixar fieldtrip and Polar Bears ‘n’ Little Girls

I recently visited Pixar for a field trip/make-up class. It was one of the most neat field trips I’ve gone on. No, I didn’t take pictures and neither did I buy any souvenirs, but I have my memories! I was surprised that it was located in Emeryville, among the clusters of shopping departments. But let’s admit it, that area, though has shoppers and some pretty cool apartment complexes hosts some pretty strange people. I got hungry and didn’t know I was going to have lunch inside so I went to Subway. And there were some interesting characters hanging in the front. The lady in front of me had a strange demeanor to her child, but I didn’t pay too much attention. Just a family going out. Actually, that Orchard Chicken sandwich wasn’t too bad.

Well, I saw it down the street, with a big arch and toll booth beyond. Actually, it was not shaped like an arch, it was an archway with big horizontal letters that read: P I X A R (and then, Animation at the bottom). It was covered by a hedge of bushes. The place itself was very much like a college campus. I found that really weird, but the place is so well kept and nice. This company obviously cares much about their employees. I’m so happy for these people. It must rock to work their. Well, had lunch with the teach, now that was really nice. You never really get to know your instructors much, but this was really cool. Then we had a tour and looked at Toy Story 3 art. I didn’t mind it much because I got to see even more of the art that the art book I had purchased prior did not include. This definitely helped me in many ways to prepare my future work and portfolio. I feel very lucky to be in this class. I might complain about having too much work from 3 art classes, but I cannot imagine changing any of my experiences because they have taught me many things that I don’t want to undo. I’ve also been much more lenient on myself about certain things and sleeping a little better at night. Mostly because this past month has been positive. I think that has a lot to do with waking up early in the morning. I think I am a morning person, though I work late at night best. It’s a struggle, but I’m dealing with it. I almost forgot to mention there was a really big statue of Sully from Monsters, Inc. I was tempted to run up to it and hug it because it was so furry. 😛

I really love this sketch. Now that the final weeks are rolling around, I need to finalize all my designs for this class and I have 2 weeks. I believe that it is doable.

The assignment: created to characters that depend on each other for survival; one of smarter than the other, and the other is much more simple minded.

Firstly, I must apologize to my own bear, Snowbie because he isn’t dumb. He’s a panserbjørne. And I miss my stuffed animals, they have to be locked up in a closet in a black plastic bag, which unfortunately, makes them smell like plastic. I’m crazy. I’m 22. And I have a closet full of plush toys. And I make my own plush toys too. The crazy doll lady.

Anyway, about the characters:

The girl is:

  • aristocratic.
  • needs more parental love.
  • needs love in general.
  • spiteful and too smart for a child.
  • cannot walk and depends on things like crutches and big bears to carry her around.
The Polar Bear is:
  • a servant and protector.
  • loving.
  • patient and kind.
  • doting.
  • sensitive, but not particularly smart.
The first stages of design, I thought the bear to be like a fighting bear, so I thought Philip Pullman! and armored bears, but I don’t think it fit very well in context unless this was an adventure story. Well, I decided to give the bear a high-class suit, but tailored for a servant. I think that he is above a servant, but I think that he has to dress like one since he is the main care-taker for the girl.
That’s all for now.

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Filed under Academy of Art University, Art, Concept Art, sketches

More harpies

This harpy I designed sort of reminds me of the harpies in Phillip Pullman’s book Northern Lights, or as I used to say the Golden Compass (I think this title will stick with me more than the changed name…. it just had more meaning.) Oh wait, they were in the Subtle Knife. But I remember they looked like women but sort of scale-y in my mind… I deviated much, but I wasn’t thinking about it when I designed it. But while researching Dante’s Inferno came up, and well, I guess Pullman got the inspiration for them from Dante’s Inferno. I also thought about those ugly chickens in the Zelda game, Twilight Princess, which were apparently intelligent beings who dwelled in the sky. They were so ugly, I appreciated them.

One thing harpies seem to represent are the punishers of sinners. Their latin name means “to snatch” because of the Greek story with Phineas, they stole his food. In The Subtle Knife, they never intentionally hurt others, but only to scare and keep people trapped in limbo. Anyway, need to work on my other hws now… I want to sleep though….

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Filed under Art, Concept Art, illustration, Painting


It’s an african cape buffalo! I have a new appreciation for cows, but in animals in general now thanks to this class.

Looks like I forgot to post my design for the Red Bull from The Last Unicorn. It used to have a Wiki page, but something happened to it… Well, I sort of blended in the Cape Buffalo with a rhino and a thorny devil.

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