Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Hi, folks! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season filled with family and friends. This cover is for ffwd Calgary and for Velvet Cinema / Hot Mess' Xmas celebrations. Here's a link to the story.
And here's a little version, showing how the whole cover looks:
Best wishes to all!
-- Julia

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cutaway buildings

Click to see image in all its pixelly glory

After blogging about some possible ways to show building interiors, the fine folks in the Sierra Gamers Facebook Group offered some great suggestions including doing a cutaway showing a bit of the exterior along with the interior, indicating doorways.

I'm glad to be sharing this work with people. The feedback's been wonderful and super motivating!

Click to see image in all its pixelly glory 

Click to see image in all its pixelly glory

-- Julia
Portfolio site

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Inside Outbuildings and Some Options

Click all the images to enlarge and enjoy in all their pixelly glory.

I'm happy to say I've completed all the backgrounds for my game! Fifty interiors and exteriors in all. Next is to do the character portraits!

One of the last things I did was the interiors of the outbuildings I've made. I decided to create the interiors nested in the exterior shots, although I'm not sure if it would be better to not have the backgrounds darkened and just have them completely blacked out when a character is inside a building. I could still go either way!

Click all the images to enlarge and enjoy in all their pixelly glory.

There will be instances when the player-character will need to walk behind that boathouse in order to move from left to right across the screen. So I decided to make a wire frame that will show the outline of the house and what's behind it.
Click all the images to enlarge and enjoy in all their pixelly glory.

 Click all the images to enlarge and enjoy in all their pixelly glory.

And here's another outbuilding interior nested in the exterior shot, with the stuff outside darkened up.
 Click all the images to enlarge and enjoy in all their pixelly glory.

Or would it be better to grey out the background like this?
Click all the images to enlarge and enjoy in all their pixelly glory.

Or more dark / completely black background?
Click all the images to enlarge and enjoy in all their pixelly glory.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

-- Julia
Portfolio site

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Hallowe'en!

Happy Hallowe'en, folks! Hope it's scare-tastic, spooooooktacular, and full of snack-size chocolate bars.

I did this image for the Hallowe'en issue of ILLOZINE. The art director wrangled a bunch of artists together and had us illustrate "Dracula's Guest", a short story by Bram Stoker. My bit involved the protagonist glimpsing the distressingly lively inhabitant of an old crypt after wandering into a snowbound, cursed valley. Eeek!

We got free rein to do whatever we please! Awesome and liberating. I definitely recommend checking it out :).

-- Julia
Portfolio site

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Latest Macleans

This one should be now. I'm always glad to be living in a time of internet research -- For this illustration I was able to find a graphic from the band the subject was in, the type of guitar he played, the church he worked at, and most importantly, the paper flower shape on which he wrote his life's goals just hours before he died.

It feels good to include personal details in these illustrations that will be meaningful to family and friends! Sometimes I hear back from them via the art director and it's one of the best feelings ever.

-- Julia

Portfolio site

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We're in the September issue of Avenue magazine!

Once or twice a month I meet up with a bunch of fellow illustrators and artists in a cafe. We sketch, chat, ask each other for advice and share our work. As much as I love to sit at home by myself and work and not talk to anyone, it's great to be social with other creative folks. 

Awesomely, we are featured in Avenue magazine! Karen Klassen, Aaron Navrady, Aaron Sidorenko, Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli, Jacqui Lee, and me! We paint, draw, make comics, children's books, and work in editorial and advertising illustration. Truly the gamut of artistic experience!

Here's Avenue magazine's September issue, online! We're on page 134 onwards :).

-- Julia

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

In the woods

Click image to enlarge

After doing 47 of these game background things, I think I'm getting the hang of them! I've been busy digi-painting happy little trees hither and thither, "sprucing" up some of my exteriors :).

For instance, here's how one of my forest backgrounds was looking:

Click image to enlarge

I didn't really have any ideas on how to fill expanse of green; the lady looked like she was on a green-screened set! At first the distant trees were grey-blue to show depth, but a wall of grey-blue trees might look impassable. And boring. And really, really far away - which doesn't work with their current sizes.

Anyway, that's a lot of bother to say... I'm getting better at making these EGA background things! And I'm still working on my game! Soon I'll be moving on to creating more characters so my protagonist will have some friends to keep her company :).

Bonus forest background!

Click image to enlarge

-- Julia

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gay Pride for FFWD Calgary

Hooray! Another cover for FFWD Calgary. The idea was doing a play on "Evolution of Man" -- How Pride has developed over the years. 

I wanted to have all the figures linked together to show a sense of togetherness and of continuation through the years. Also I tried to make it look like the walking was proceeding in stages like the original Evolution of Man diagram. 

According to the article, queer communities in Calgary aren't as centralized as they are in urban centres such as Toronto and Vancouver (much like the rest of Calgary -- sprawl is sprawl!) so it's more difficult to create  spaces where folks feel comfortable and accepted. But thanks to determined efforts, Pride Calgary is growing! 

Pride Calgary takes place from August 22 to September 1. 

Here's the other cover I've done for FFWD. 


-- Julia

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Macleans Catch-up

Whoa, it's been nearly a month since I've posted anything... I blame too much summer fun :P. Here's a Macleans I did!
I love being able to internet research. The subject of this illustration wrote and sang children's songs and had an album -- I was able to find a picture of the album on the internet and include it in the frame!

-- Julia

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

District Apothecary Fine Soaps

I'm super excited to share one of my latest illustrations! District Apothecary is a Washington, D.C. based company that makes hand-crafted all-natural castile soaps. Phil Olive is the founder, hand-crafter, and a super nice fellow. 

Phil came to me to design a soap label that incorporated some visual elements (the castle and windmill are tributes to the soap-making process he uses, for example) with some hand-done type and an Art Nouveau angle. Right up my alley! I was thrilled work on this.

I've tried his soap. It is pure, simple, and lovely. This job couldn't have come at a better time; I was struggling though some gross body wash, basically the cheapest on-sale kind I found at the drug store. The worst kind of pearlescent, artificially scented emulsion. District Apothecary saved the day!

Phil also sells these things called soap nets which I'd never even heard of before and are awesome. They're basically mesh drawstring baggies for soap. Soap nets help the soap lather (no detergents are added to the soap to augment its lathering abilities) and act as storage containers that you hang on your shower head hook. They also exfoliate. And are recyclable. 

Here's a pic of the soaps with the labels on! He was testing two colour versions of the label to see what customers thought. 

And here's the variant colour version, which do you prefer?

-- Julia
Portfolio site

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Click image to see as intended!

I'm nearly finished all the background art for my game, woo hoo! I've done 42 or so of these things and only  have a few left to go. I haven't been posting them all because I want there to be a few surprises when the game comes out!

It's only when I started doing these backgrounds that I realized there are limitations to this format that need to be addressed. For instance, with this background the characters will be walking behind it to get from the left side to the right, which means they'll be hidden from sight as they move behind the boathouse. I'm going to need to create an alternate view where the boathouse is ghosted out so the player doesn't lose track of their character! And I can't really set the boathouse farther back because the river's got to be right by the boathouse and characters can't walk on water...

Anyway, rest assured I'm still hard at work on this project. Once the backgrounds are done it'll be on to character design! Full steam ahead!

-- Julia
Portfolio site

Friday, May 23, 2014

FFWD Cover

Here's that ffwd Calgary cover I did! I was super pumped to do this because I've seen ffwd all over town and covers are always fun to have out there. 

The feature article was about the different kinds of races that are happening in Calgary this summer: Tough Mudder (muddy mudfest), Spartan race, Death Race, and a race where participants dress up as fruit. 

It was a bit challenging to fit all four into the composition, making their arms and legs do different things while not getting too cluttered. And keeping that upper left corner mostly clear, except for a giant banana stem. :{

And here's the "art only" version. I knew I wanted those majestic Rocky mountains in the distance, as well as the yellowish-brown + slightly green fields that Alberta is all about. 

We did away with the water, too busy. 

The Spartan didn't change much from those preliminary sketches, eh?

-- Julia
Portfolio site

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A bit of paint

I do a lot of my colours digitally but sometimes it's nice to get back to some good ol' real-life painting. The blue-green background I put in digitally (because who wants to waste precious paint putting down a flat colour :P) but everything else is as close to what the original painted piece looks like. 

I had to fight the urge to adjust the colours -- I kind of went all over the place and used too many different ones, I think. Maybe next time I'll practice more restraint!


-- Julia
Portfolio site

Friday, April 18, 2014

Recent Macleans illustration

Here's a new Macleans illustration. Coincidentally it was for a friend's mother-in-law -- It's the first time I've sort of known the subject of one of these pieces. Janet loved skiing in Mont Tremblant (top centre is some of the ski runs on the mountain), played the french horn at the 1970 World Expo in Japan, drove her kids and their friends to various sports (she had the two licence plates "LTL TXI" and "BIG TXI"), reminisced about living in Kapuskasing, and loved knitting her new grandchildren hats and gloves.

I always feel privileged to get to honour a life in this way, and I was fortunate to get the chance to give my condolences to a friend with this illustration.


-- Julia

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring is coming?

Click image to enlarge.

Snow, snow, snow. Here's hoping things turn around soon.

In anticipation of that: Here's a nice, Spring-like game background for you! Complete with a nesting box, bird feeder, shed, water pump, and veggie patch! (From left to right: Tomatoes, lettuce, turnips, swiss chard, carrots, squash)

As I'm making these backgrounds I'm coming up with puzzle and plot ideas. I have a very vague outline for the story, but it's funny how creating the setting in turn creates ideas for everything else. Just by adding the nesting box, I thought of some story stuff and a puzzle or two :).

Here's the other game art I've made.

Hope you like it!

-- Julia
Portfolio site

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Happy Monsters

Spring is coming! Allegedly! Because in Calgary snow can happen as late as May or even later. These happy monsters are enjoying some cherry blossom viewing and a delicious picnic lunch. Each creature is a figure from Japanese folklore

And here is the annotated version:

White circles: 
Kasa-obake: One-eyed, one-legged umbrella spirit
Chochinobake: One-eyed, tongue-protruding lantern spirit
3 Hitotsume-kozo: One-eyed bald boy
4 Tanuki: Shape-shifting raccoon dog that enjoys sake
5 Kappa: Reptilian water spirit with monk's tonsure that loves cucumbers
6 Rokurokubi: Humanoid spirit with a stretchy, serpentine neck
7 Oni: Hairy, ogre-like demon with horns, often in tiger-skin loincloth
8 Bunbuku Chagama: A tanuki that shape-shifts into a tea kettle to help a poor man

Brown circles:
Mikan: Little easy-to-peel Japanese oranges
2 Kibi dango: Dumplings made from rice flour
3 Onigiri: Rice balls
4 Kappamaki: Cucumber sushi. Named for the Kappa's love of them.
5 Inarizushi: Pouch of fried tofu filled with vinegared rice 
6 Anpan: Bread filled with sweet red bean paste
7 Onigiri II: Differently shaped!
8 Strawberry: Sweet treat for after lunch


Bonus: Some adorable stickers I found in a Japanese bookstore in Seattle featuring some of the same folklore critters:

-- Julia

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Macleans illustration out

Here's the latest! The subject loved horses, show jumping, and racing. Not a lot of food in this one, although I suppose Clif bars somewhat count. I'm fond of Cashew Cookie Luna Bars, myself!

Weirdly this is my first Macleans back page illustration that uses two tones of grey in it. Here are the others I've posted. And here's another particularly horsey one.


-- Julia
Portfolio site

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2014 Oscars Fashion and Make-up

Lupita Nyong'o. Click image to enlarge.

I haven't watched the Oscars in ages but I do love to check out the lovely dresses and sparkly bits worn by the celebrities after the fact! I'm a sucker for gorgeous dresses -- Fantasy princesses were the first subject matter I drew obsessively! 

Most of the lovely ladies did a nudey lip with more dramatic eyes and ultra subdued nails. My favourite make-up out of the nominees was probably Lupita Nyong'o's stand-out lip colour. I also loved how Lupita's yellow gold jewellery worked with her baby blue dress and her skin tone. 

Amy Adams. Click image to enlarge.

Amy Adams wore a terrific pair of earrings. The Oscars is usually a cavalcade of ostentatious diamond jewellery. I'm a bigger fan of coloured stones.  

Cate Blanchett. Click image to enlarge.

Speaking of coloured stones, I'm kinda crazy about Cate Blanchett's incredible opal drop earrings. My favourite thing of the entire Oscars. Most of the dresses were fairly muted colours, so I was glad to see a little creativity in the cut and embellishments on Cate's dress. 

Jennifer Lawrence. Click image to enlarge.

Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams both wore rich, saturated colours that suited them well.I really enjoyed Jennifer's pouffed up 'do; that's a tricky one to pull off. I like this shape of dress (including the puffy hip-things... Semi-peplums?) but I can't imagine sitting for hours in something like this. When I sit comfortably it's a very unladylike knees far apart situation :P. 

Which Oscar looks did you love?

-- Julia

P.S.: Thanks to the good folks at Julep for inviting/inspiring me to take a closer look at the awards! It was fun and I'm glad I did :).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Valentine's 2014 card

Here's this year's Valentine's Card! Starring the tragic and creepy Ice King and his helpmate Gunter. Love this show so much <3 .="" p="">
If only there were Adventure Time Lego sets, my life would be complete...

Last year's Adventure Time themed Valentine's card!

-- Julia