Tuesday, December 28, 2010

xmas Warlock t-shirt

I designed this for my brother-in-law for xmas. He's an evil warlock! I printed it using opaque yellow ink on a navy blue t-shirt but unfortunately I can't find the pic anywhere.

So far I've made my boyfriend, sister, friend, and now brother-in-law each a t-shirt with their character on it. Strangely I haven't gotten around to doing my own :P.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Walking eight ways

Click the image to see the beautiful pixellation!

I hear Google does this thing where employees get a day during the week to work on side projects. I need to implement this in my life. I really want to make more progress on my adventure game, but other stuff keeps getting in the way!

I had a hard time getting the sizing of the figure right in relation to the rest of the screen. I still think she's a bit tall for my purposes, but if I make her any smaller she kind of dissolves into a blocky blur.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Two Expansions Ago

I started playing World of Warcraft at the start of the Burning Crusade Expansion. Back then, the big baddy was a dude called Illidan and he had this pair of swords called The Twin Blades of Azzinoth. Getting on of these swords or the other, let alone the set, was the coolest accomplishment in the entire game. Very rare and hard to obtain, it was almost an honour to be cut down by these swords when another player had them! Their green glow and eye-catching shape and size are so distinctive that I think they remain the signature weapons in WoW.

World of Warcraft has since moved on to other evil villains and legendary weapons, but the warglaives will always hold a special place in my heart. Which is why when I stood in line to pick up Blizzard's newest WoW expansion, I was inspired to put my favourite weapons of all time on the back of a t-shirt.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has been lots of fun so far. But it is a little sad that the game world has changed so much and I'll always miss the way things used to be. Change happens and as Illidan used to say, "You are not prepared!"

Julia Minamata site/blog


Another t-shirt for the boyfriend, using a pic of his main toon. A female Draenei paladin. Yeah, I know.


Thought I'd buckle down and post the other Warcraft-related stuff I've made over the years. In case WoW Insider actually posts my submission, I want people to have more to look at than the one t-shirt!

T-shirt I made as a gift for my boyfriend. Who can resist a murloc? No one? Didn't think so!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Obit illo, December 6th issue

It's published! This obit image was for an Italian immigrant who came to Toronto. I wanted to give the impression of Italy in the distance with a Toronto backyard. These obituary illustrations present a challenge because I want to create a good image, but the photograph in the middle has to be be the focus. It's a great design problem, and I'm always trying to come with new ways to solve it!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sugar High

I love those junk food booths at the CNE. Here's a piece inspired by lots and lots of sugar. I did a whole doodly pattern for the background, I'll post it in its entirety later!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Something pretty

Here is something decorative and pattern-y that I've been playing with lately. I think it'd be a lovely graphic on a silk scarf! (Herm├Ęs, call me :) )

Here's another colour version:

And here's a simple version of the pattern:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Anyone hungry?

I enjoy a bit of sculpting from time to time, here is a mage table I made for my sister.


Here's a gift for my sister, of her mage main!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Entertaining Sheep

Here is another set of playful animals for my deluxe version of Penguin Ultimatum! See more of the animals here. All the animals are performing the same four activities: Singing, acrobatics, dancing, and juggling. So I wanted to make sure there was still a decent amount of variety!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Macleans: October 18 issue

Here's my latest illustration for Macleans for the obituary on the back page. This time, it was about a man who was a computer game designer and musician -- taking a different road than his family, who were all in the medical field.

I had a lot of fun doing this image because I got to work in some pixellated effects. I was inspired by the adventure game stuff I'm working on. I'm hoping to incorporate more of this in the future!

I've posted some (but not all) of the other images I've done for Macleans, I ought to get around to posting the rest at some point :P

Friday, October 8, 2010

Save on airfare

I stared long and hard at the little hearthstone icon in the game. I wanted to make my sculpted version look as much as possible as the "real" thing!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Here is some more art from the Penguin Ultimatum game I recreated for my sister. Stay tuned for bears, sheep, and kangaroos!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Going My Way, continued

Here's something I'm returning to after being busy with other stuff. My Wizard of Oz piece! I decided to update her look a bit to make it a bit more fashion-y. It's kind of the same thing I did with my Alice piece, although visually I have a different look in mind for this one.

Yellow and green are two of my favourite colours to use, so I'm kind of surprised it's taken me this long to do a Wizard of Oz illustration!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Partying Penguins

My sister is a huge board game geek. Her gateway game was Settlers of Catan, but she's since gotten into all manner of Euro-style (aka not Monopoly or Game of Life) strategic games -- of the kind designed so often by Germans (Klaus Teuber, Reiner Knizia, shout out!). Of course, I've been a guinea pig for her playtesting so I've seen my fair share.

A game we both enjoyed was The Penguin Ultimatum, which is about penguins and parties, and kangaroos. The art is very lo-res and pixellated, so I offered to redo the game completely. Here is the first set of cards!

The idea is that these penguins are entertaining their king, so they perform fun routines such as (clockwise from top) acrobatics, juggling, dancing, and music. I really wanted to be playful with the colours, which you think would be hard when the game is set in the snowy Antarctic! But actually, working with white is great because it sets of any other colour so well.

If you're interested in making your own playing cards, definitely check out this Board Game Geek forum post. I used the same materials and got colour laser prints on linen cardstock and they are turning out amazingly.

I'm glad I set up my blog this year, because I can share stuff that wouldn't necessarily go on my portfolio site. Experimenting with all sorts of different kinds of art is inspiring me in my professional work -- I'm so impressed with the playing cards that I think it would be be a terrific way to produce a print promo!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Here's a Munny I painted! I used liquid acrylics. I have my eye on a blank Raffy to paint (giraffe-shaped figure). It's a lot of fun to do 3D stuff now and again.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Work/Life is a celebration of Canadian illustration. I was so fortunate to be able to participate in this project. It's a gorgeous book and shows not only the work of some of of finest illustrators Canada has to offer, but their workspaces as well. It's a beautiful book.

Work/Life was published before I started my blog, so I hadn't posted about it! It's time I fixed that :). They're still available for sale, so pick one up if you haven't already!

Click here to purchase online at UPPERCASE Studio Shop.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Alice in Wonderland original prints on Etsy!

I've added my Alice print to my Etsy Store, check it out! Also for sale is my Rose Red print, here's the blog post I made for that one a while back. I hope to be adding more prints to my shop in the future. If you would like to purchase any of the prints I have on my site (that aren't for sale on Etsy yet), please send me an email and let me know. I'll take a look around my studio and see if I have extras!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Click the image to enlarge and read type!

I did this illustration for the movie "Inception" in the style of those old fairy tale books I used to read when I was a kid. Grimm's, Hans Christian Andersen, Perrault. Monochromatic line drawings with a passage from the story underneath. Love that stuff.

After I saw the movie I really wanted to create an illustration about it but I didn't want to do a straight narrative piece. There were so many interesting ideas in "Inception", it inspired me to go in a different direction with my thinking. Mal floating ashore on a giant brain a la Botticelli's Birth of Venus was something I finally came up with after kicking around the idea of Mal bursting out of Leo's skull like how Athena busted out of Zeus' noggin.

Because this iteration of Mal is a product of Leo's subconscious, I thought using the Venus figure emerging from the sea foam worked metaphorically. The sea has long symbolized the mind -- a seemingly fathomless, unknowable frontier.

Mythologically speaking I like having Mal represent Venus. It fits better! She's the love goddess, after all. And Leo standing in for the nymph with the cloth helps the concept. The visual reference of the water, shore, and buildings is also a shout-out to some of imagery in "Inception", too.

I was going to do a colour version but I really think it looks better this way.

"Inception" was a decent movie. One of the few original movie ideas I've seen lately, although I do wish Christopher Nolan was less drab with the colour palette. JunoGirl's suit was the illest-fitting suit in the history of clothing. Pete Postlethwaite is the man. JGL wears clothes like a fiend. 8/10!

Julia Minamata site / blog

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Old School

Here's some additional gif-y goodness I did today for my little adventure game project. The animation is very basic at this point, no special delays or anything so it looks pretty robotic. Fun to make moving art, though :)

I made the character red, yellow and blue so she'll stand out against everything else. Also, I love me some Laura Bow from Sierra's Colonel's Bequest and Dagger of Amon Ra! My next mini-project is to do walk cycles.

It's a lot of fun to see how much can be done with a few blocky pixels. These are a work in progress.

I am working on another illustration portfolio piece that's coming together, so definitely watch this space!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mage n' Lock silkscreen prints on paper

Here is a pair of World of Warcraft symbols I screenprinted for my sister and her husband, the mage n' lock as a wedding present. Getting the symbols to look good is actually a little bit tough because I grab the images off of a google image search and they're usually pretty pixellated and not that contrast-y or clear.

Each print is something like ten inches in diameter and nicely framed. They put these up in their computer room / WoW lair, along with this one. I think they add a nice pop art flavour to the room!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Doug Stanhope portrait

Here's something fun I did for comedian Doug Stanhope. I'd read a while back on his forum that he was looking for art to promote his shows with, so I came up with this and emailed him. When I saw him perform in Calgary I gave a framed screenprint to someone who worked at the venue, who told me he'd hand it off to event coordinator and that it would eventually get to Doug.

This is the first time I used nearly the same ink colours on two pieces. Check out my recent Canadian Running piece to see what I mean! I changed the yellow, but the peach, blue, and orange are the same. It just so happened that I thought the colour palette would work equally well for both. And it's really helpful when you've already printed the colour once so you know how it'll look when it's dry, and how it'll look with the other colours.

I wanted to give it a "Garbage Pail Kids" look, with the drippy brown letters and the gross colour scheme. I think the yellow-splattered clouds are a nice touch.

It's a square composition because hey, maybe he could use it for an album cover! I can dream.

I haven't heard anything back so I don't know if it ever got to him, but I still hold out hope! I have all his albums and have seen him live three or four times, it'd be awesome to get a chance to work with him on something. When I was doubled over with airsickness on the way to Calgary I listened to his "Something to Take the Edge Off" and "Die Laughing" to get me through it. I'd bought the albums on iTunes (he finally started selling his albums there) specifically for the flight. What a miserable four hours. Nothing like feeling nauseous in a confined, public space with no hope of escape.

He says that he trolls the Internet googling his own name so maybe he'll find this blog and see the piece if he hasn't already!

***UPDATE: Woo hoo! He thanked me on his Facebook page! It didn't even occur to me to check there, because I don't use Facebook for anything besides Farmville. But I probably should.

Julia Minamata site / blog

Friday, August 6, 2010

Going old school

I have a really, really soft spot for old school, early 90s Sierra and LucasArts point-and-click adventure games. King's Quest 1-7, Space Quest 1-5, Quest for Glory 1-4, Colonel's Bequest, Dagger of Amon Ra, Monkey Island (all except for the 3D one), Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Grim Fandango... Played them all, loved them all. I especially love the ol' EGA, 16-colour-ful ones.

So when I found out about Adventure Game Studio, a user-friendly program that allows people to create their very own adventure games with minimal programming savvy, I couldn't resist. I've started to teach myself how to use AGS and YouTuber densming's video tutorials have been terrifically helpful. Eventually I'd love to make an entire game!

In the meantime, here's a character portrait rendered in glorious GIFness, with the number of colours running in ascending order: 2, 4, 6, 8, 16, 32, and 64. There's something about jaggedly, non-aliased graphics that really take me back.

Click each to see them enlarged in all their boxy glory!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reformatted site

I've reformatted my site slightly -- it's no longer Flash-y! About a month ago I got my hands on a sweet, sweet Apple 3GS. While it might be mankind's greatest achievement, it isn't friends with Flash. Nobody's perfect. So, I've redone my site in html and now my site can go anywhere!

Click here to see.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cannon Spike!

Super Street Fighter IV is super thumb-blisterin' fun! Cammy's my current favourite, although I'm stuck on Seth at medium difficulty. I'm not awesome at the game but I've been a big fan of the art for quite some time!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Canadian Running Half-Page Illustration

Here's a half-page illustration I did for Canadian Running, it'll be published in their September/October issue. It's for a regular column they run that's written by a runner named Peter Hadzipetros who shares his insights, funny stories, and lessons learned about marathon running.

In this piece I wanted to challenge myself a bit, so when I silkscreened the colours I did two gradients. The yellow and the blue both do a gradual fade into white. In this piece it helps to indicate the haziness of a hot day and the distance reaching back into the background. Gradients are tricky to do with silkscreen printing, but I think I might start using it more in the future.

Here was my initial sketch. The client wanted it to be simpler and to incorporate a face, so this was my next one:

Here's the second sketch, which I like a lot. The simplification really helped. And because it's more of an entertaining opinion piece, it's nice to have a personal focus with the figure. The client wanted the full figure shown, which leads us to the final product. I always seem to lean towards cropping images in close, so it's good that I have a full figure in my portfolio now!

I don't often use orange, I don't know why. Whenever I try to, it creeps into the red or pink territory. My "Add Rhyme and Mix" piece also has some orange in it, lately I've been making an effort. So not only am I glad I got to work on doing hand-done colour gradients, but I broadened my colour palette, too! My next goal is to do an illustration with a cool purple or blue in it.

It's always great to get a new client, I was thrilled to get a chance to work with the magazine! Hope you enjoyed seeing my process.

Julia Minamata site / blog

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 28th Macleans illustration

Here's the final for the Macleans illustration. The subject of the piece was a Thai welder who came to Edmonton to make a living and to support his family back home. He was a devout Buddhist, so I wanted to make the design resemble temple decorations and use Buddhist motifs. Hope you like it!

Julia Minamata site/blog

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Macleans illustration, coming to a newsstand near you!

Here's a little sample of one of my latest jobs, the obituary illustration on the back page of Macleans magazine. It's published in their June 28th, 2010 issue. I've done about half a dozen of these, but this is the first one in a while. I get a particular kick out of doing them because my mom get a subscription and there's nothing cooler than getting your artwork published in a magazine that your mom reads!

I also love the stories of people's lives. Creating images to accompany and augment amazing stories is one of the reasons I love editorial illustration. For me, the more information and details I get to work off of, the happier I am.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New work on t-shirt @Rogue Monk: Please vote!

Here's something new and fun! I submitted my work to Rogue Monk, if it gets voted up enough they stick it on a t-shirt. Please visit the site and vote me if you like it! You have to sign in, but that means you can also vote for a bunch of other cool designs. Try it! -- Julia

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Casino Royale

Here's an image I did based on the Vesper-Lind-Drowns-in-Venice-in-an-Elevator scene from Casino Royale. This is more of an interpretive take on the event, not a straight-up narrative representation.

I was flipping through one of my Toulouse-Lautrec books and I love his use of coloured line to define figures, so that's what I'm playing with here. Daniel Craig is a brooding Bond, so I've got him in Thinker pose. His nakedness indicates his psychological vulnerability. He's holding the Algerian love knot necklace that Vesper wore during the film. Vesper is blue because she is full of water. Oops, I guess that's a spoiler! Also, they were on Earth all along. And he's actually a dude.

Julia Minamata

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Add Rhyme and Mix

Just finished the album cover for Mr. Attic's new album, A.R.M. (Add Rhyme and Mix). Attic is a crazy talented hip-hop artist and Juno award-winning producer based in Toronto (Choice cut Records). The music is terrific, if you get a chance to check it out I highly recommend it.

The concept plays on how Attic creates his music: mashing up a bunch of records, taking the best bits, and mixing them into something original and fresh. The girl's pose is reminiscent of a DJ. There is a small portrait of the Attic on the poster in the background, and the other poster shows an Ensoniq EPS sampler, Attic's real tool of choice. In the cardboard box are some of the other albums that he's worked on. Lots of fun details!

Here's the initial sketch for the idea.

This is a further developed sketch. Very close to the final! I like doing a really tight sketch for a client because that way, everyone knows what they are looking at. Gives me a chance to change anything that needs changing before I get into the silkscreen printing. Although the magic of Photoshop can cure most ills! Composing in a square is always a challenge. I wanted to make a balanced composition that wasn't overly symmetrical.