Lazy Day

Since the box opening photos for Alexis didn't do her justice, I've been eager to get some better photos of her. This time with better light and less bangs in her face. Yes, that's a big hair-clip.

Mastery over taking good pictures is still a challenge and a constant learning experience. I haven't had time to really play with my camera as much as I'd like. However, with each photo session I pick up a little something different. One problem is good lighting. So this time I set out to take photos with a single light source. In this case, the sun. I setup near a window and didn't have any other light. I also took some with the window open. Her hair took a long while to tame, and even then it was far from perfect. Poor Alexis.

Anyway, it's only a couple of shots, but I think it worked pretty well. I'll have to try it again. I hope you like them.




Dream of Doll Calla

My second BJD (ball-jointed doll) finally arrived! This is another one from Dream of Doll. I ordered her in March, but it took twelve weeks for her to arrive. Unfortunately, DoD was really swamped with orders due to their special event in January, so my order took an unusually long time.

In any event, she arrived safe and sound today. Before she was even ordered my mind was set to give her lighter hair and a bit of a punk look. She definetly has more "attitude" to her than Jaimee (my other BJD), whom appears more calm and kind.

I decided to name her Alexis. I'm not sure where the name came from, it just seemed to fit. So, as tradition, here are photos of the box opening. A storm rolled in right around the time I started. This, unfortunately, caused the lighting in my shots to change a lot.


Just like with Jaimee, Alexis was wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap and pillows.


I already had an outfit, wig and eyes waiting for her by the time she came. When you order one of these dolls you are able to make special requests for their face-up. For Alexis I requested blonde eyebrows since I knew I wanted her to have blonde hair. I think they did an amazing job! I must say, though, the wig I got for her is curled and a nightmare to deal with. The bangs were all over her face. She didn't look too happy about it.


My natural light didn't last long this time, so I didn't get many photos, but I think she's amazing! Exactly how I imagined her. I'll take more photos soon!



Wacom Cintiq

A great big package arrived today. It's something I hinted at and should have gotten a long time ago. After drawing with pencil and paper for more than 25 years, I finally make the move to digital and am now the proud owner of a Wacom Cintiq 12WX.


Until now, for most of my work, I've been drawing on paper, inking with transparent vellum and then scanning that into the computer for coloring. It's been a usable method, but it has some drawbacks. For one I'm not very good at inking and using the transparent vellum costs a lot of money. I would also go through Micron inking pens pretty regularly. Even then I would still have to do a lot of post work in PhotoShop to clean up my work before coloring.

Many artists today work purely digitally on their computer with a Wacom tablet. Many (many) years ago I bought a very small entry level Wacom called a Graphire. It had a drawing area of about 4x3 inches. The problem for me was, as with most Wacoms, you have to look at the computer screen while you draw on the pad. That method was really hard for me to work with. Another problem was that I rotate my paper when drawing to get a better angle for curved lines, which you can't really do with a Wacom. This was a big hindrance with the Wacom tablet. So I never used it and continued drawing on paper.

With my recent desire to draw again, I decided it was time to look into going digital... again. Fortunately, Wacom now sells a line of tablets that have a screen in them. This way you can draw right on the tablet and see what you're drawing. It's the closest thing to drawing on paper digitally. They have a 21 inch model, but it costs a small fortune and that size would also be pretty hard to deal with. I don't have a large desk. So the 12 inch model seemed perfect for me.

After watching a ton of YouTube videos about it, I also bumped into speed drawing videos with a paint program I only heard of, Paint Tools SAI. It's a Japaneses made paint program that a lot of manga artists use. It also has a great feature to let you rotate the canvas as you draw. I feel this will be a great and natural tool for me. With both these new tools I think I can comfortable move to completely digital artwork. I'll make posts here showing my progress. Maybe I'll throw in a couple cute girl pictures too!



Desk Diary 5-8-2011

It's been a long time since I posted a Desk Diary update. A lot has happened, but most importantly... I won the lottery!

Yes it's true, I won the lottery, not once, but TWICE! Unfortunately, instead of winning money, I'll be spending it. A lot of it. Of course, I'm not talking about a normal lottery here, it's the Volks Dolpa Lottery. I'm one of the lucky people that has won both the Neris and Airy Dollfie Dreams from Shining Hearts.

I've known about Dollfie Dreams for a while. About as long as I've known about resin BJDs. However, the few Dollfie Dreams I looked at never really appealed to me. That's why, instead, I bought my resin BJD girl(s). Though, as an anime/manga fan, I would sometimes still look at them. Now I wish that I looked into them more. It wasn't until recently that I noticed some amazing Dollfie Dreams on the site, which caused me to really give them a serious look. After hearing about the Neris and Airy lottery, I knew I had to give it a try.


For those that don't know, Dollfie Dreams are similar to the resin BJD girls that I have in size, but they are made differently, and look like anime/manga characters. They are made of a soft vinyl with a plastic, posable, skeleton, while my current girl(s) are made of resin plastic and held together with elastic string. Dollfie Dreams are also generally sold differently. While there are a couple "standard" Dollfie Dream models out there, most people seek out the limited ones. These limited DDs are also usually licensed characters from anime, manga and games. These are produced in a low number and sold only through a lottery. You have to WIN the lottery to be able to BUY the one you entered for. If you don't win the lottery, you're left with trying to get it through an after-market auction. And let me tell you, they generally go for twice the original price, unless you get lucky.

I had to learn a lot about this lottery system. Many enter the lottery multiple times via different resellers to increase their chances of winning. Problem for me was, of course, money. Volks themselves hold the money in your bank for the item while you wait to find out the results. So my options were limited. Chatter in the community made it obvious that Neris was going to be the real popular one. I took a chance and entered for Neris twice and Airy once. That was all I could manage.

The lottery is staggered and those in Japan can attend the Dolpa (Doll Party) event and win the initial run of dolls before the rest of us, whom have to wait for the online lotteries. Word was spreading fast that Neris was going like hotcakes. Many that tried to get her didn't win and within hours many showed up for sale on auction sites. At this point I figured my two entries for Neris were a lost cause. It seemed, however, that Airy was not popular at all and everyone that entered for her won with no problem.

My first lottery results was from my entry for both girls. The email was sent a little earlier than expected. It said that I had won Airy, but not Neris. While not really surprised, I was happy that I won Airy. She's really cute, but my heart was set on the pair, since they match. My only remaining hope for Neris was my one Volks entry, but I wouldn't find out for another week.

Well, just this morning I got the fated Volks email. Yet again, earlier than expected. Surprised, the email said I won Neris. In fact, I later found out that if you didn't win you don't even get an email. It has been sad to hear from other community members that didn't win her. So I feel very fortunate.

Now, I don't really know anything about Shining Hearts, which is the game these two girls are based off of. I plan to change them into something I like—something that I feel suits them. So, obviously, I will not use the clothes or wigs they come with.

The bad news (besides the small fortune this is going to cost me) is that I will not get mine until AUGUST! Yes, this is a cruel joke, but this is how it works. So the wait begins.

I'm going to be broke for a long time...

As for my second resin BJD girl, she is still on the way. I ordered her in March, but she hasn't arrived yet. She should be here soon. It's been a long wait.




Black Gold Saw Figma

I received my third Black★Rock Shooter figma today. The mysterious Black Gold Saw! I must say, this is the coolest one so far. When watching the Black★Rock Shooter anime you see BRS fight a silent but deadly character. She's Black Gold Saw and her design is really one of my favorites.

She has a HUGE sword with a skull on the end of the hilt. It really does look like a gold "saw" with the serrated teeth. The character herself has long hair split into two movable parts. The rest of the hair is rubber and catches dust like no tomorrow! She has large "skeleton-like" hands that come in many optional poses. My favorite part is her legs. They have these really cool armor parts to them, yet they still look almost futuristic. The horns on her head are semi-transparent.

Overall she's really well painted. Mine came with some chips in her right stocking, but overall it's the same figma quality you'd expect. My pictures don't really do it justice.




Black★Rock Shooter Figma

The Black★Rock Shooter characters have really great designs and when I first saw these figma figures I knew I had to get them. I got both Black★Rock Shooter and Dead Master. Oddly enough, Dead Master was harder to find than BRS. These are my first figma figures so I wasn't totally sure if I'd like them.

They are very poseable and well made. They are packed with optional faces, hands, a stand and other goodies. The BRS figma even came with a DVD of the OVA anime. It's even subtitled in English. They kinda remind me of the action figures I used to get as a kid, but these are collector quality. They are highly detailed and painted really well. They are even packaged really well. I'm sure I'll be getting more figma figures in the future.




iPad Get!

This device should not need any introduction. While I don't use a Mac, this iPad will be a great assistant in my workflow. With it I'll keep track of my projects and goals, write down story ideas, sketch out designs and of course have easy access to the internet.

I always had some kind of portable device to keep me organized and to do minor computer actives while not at my main computer. It started with the Sharp Wizard (if anyone even knows what that is) then a Palm PDA and eventually a couple Windows CE devices. In more recent years I've had laptops for this. They are also great to be able to check the internet from anywhere in the house over Wi-Fi. Since I pretty much live on the internet now (who doesn't) it's almost a necessity to always be connected.

A MacBook Pro was the first real laptop that I had, which was later replaced by an iBook, but a couple years ago the screen died. Recently the iBook was replaced with a Dell Netbook. It did the job and the smaller size was really convenient. However, when I found out about the iPad I knew it would be a perfect replacement. I don't need a full computer to just surf the internet. With the iPad the biggest thing for me was the "instant on" factor. Laptops need to be booted. Sure, sleep mode is a little faster, but not instant. It's one of those things you don't realize how useful it is until you have it or lose it.

If I need to check something real quick, I don't have to boot my main computer, just turn on the iPad. Bam! There it is. The simple interface and slew of apps really offer something for any activity I need.

I also bought a stylus. While I won't use it to draw final images, to use it as a sort of digital sketchbook will certainly lower the stacks of paper and sketchbooks I have all over. Who knows what else I may use it for when I dig through some of the apps out there.




Radeon 5870 Graphics Card

Received my new Asus Radeon Matrix 5870 Platnum (that's a mouthful) today! Total geek moment. Now maybe I can actually run Final Fantast XIV!

When building my current computer I bought two Nvidia 8800 GTS cards and set them up to run in SLI mode. This setup had some advantages, but also gave me a lot of trouble. A lot of game don't work with SLI, so I often had to turn it off. After a while I just gave up switching between the two settings and left it off. However, with Final Fantasy XIV around the corner I knew it was time to upgrade, but also I wanted to go back to a single card.

After some research the Radeon 5870 seemed a good fit, but which one? There are a ton of different versions of the same card! Some companies I never even heard of. Asus, however, is a brand I've dealt with a lot over the years. A lot of my past custom-built computers have Asus motherboards.

This Asus version of the 5870 is already over-clocked and tweaked beyond the standard card design. I don't tend to over-clock my computers, but I wanted to get something that was as powerful without spending a lot of money on it. So I got the Asus ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum. A long fancy title, but it has a lot of good modifications to the standard 5870.


Here are some shots of my two old cards.


This card has a nice light for the name on the side of the card. It changes color depending on the load, but since my case is closed I never see it.


Right out of the box the benchmark numbers were a lot higher than before. With some of the games I tested I was able to put the settings much higher. I think it was a good upgrade. For now...



Lazy Night

It was a quiet night and I got a couple new outfits for Jaimee, my BJD Dream of Doll E-an, so I thought I'd take some photos of her. This is my second time taking pictures with her. I'm still getting used to using the camera and posing a BJD. I didn't want to do any extreme posing, so I kept it simple. I hope you enjoy them.


Jaimee is relaxing in some nice jeans and a simple shirt.


She's being a little playful.


I like these close shots, it looks like she's day-dreaming about something.



Dream of Doll E-an

My first resin BJD (ball-jointed doll) came in the mail today! I could hardly sleep, yet the doorbell rang without waking me up. Her box was outside when I eventually did wake up. I couldn't wait to open it and finally see her in person!

It took me weeks to settle on which BJD to get. There are so many, but the Dream of Doll E-an really caught my attention. I didn't really want to spend so much, but it was better to get what I really wanted instead of something else.

It took four weeks for her to be made and shipped to me all the way from Korea. Since this was my first time ordering such an expensive item from a foreign company, I was pretty nervous the whole time. While waiting I bought a wig, eyes, and some clothes. It was kinda surprising to see how big the clothes are! E-an is a 60cm BJD, which makes her about two feet tall. It's hard to realize how big that is until you actually see them in person. It really gives her a presence, making her feel more alive.

As is tradition with most BJD owners, I took pictures during the box opening. She was so well packaged that it took a long while to get her out. She was wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap, pillows, and more bubble wrap! It made the anticipation of seeing her in person even greater.


The box was bigger than I expected.


Finally! There she is!


After the -many- layers of bubble wrap she was free. She is surprisingly heavy. The face-up (the paint on the face) is so detailed and well done. Here are a couple quick shots I took of her all together with the other things I bought while I waited for her to be shipped to me.


She's so amazing! I can't help but smile. I love her futuristic top and her huge boots! I've decided to name her Jaimee!