Dollfie Dream Neris!

After much luck and waiting, my first complete limited Dollfie Dream has arrived, a Shining Hearts Neris! She was delivered safe and sound with a box full of goodies.

When the Dolpa 25 lottery started I didn't think I was going to be able to get anything. I figured I had no chance when I heard how popular Neris was. I entered for her twice. When I got the Volks email saying I won, I didn't know if it was real.

However, here she is! Here are some quick box opening pictures.


You can see some of her face looking out from inside the box.


She came with a lot of items. Even a little basket. The hair is nearly impossible to get on her head as is her default top.

Here are a couple quick shots of her.




More Loot!

I got my boxes from Amazon today. They contained some anime, manga and camera items. A couple things I needed and some just for fun.

After reading the first issue of Cat Paradise, I wanted to read more. The style is really clean and expressive and the story is cute and interesting. I tend to collect a lot of the work of artists I like so I can study their style more. So I picked up the rest of the Cat Paradise series. If you love cats and students fighting monsters, this might be up your alley.


Next are a couple of Blu-Ray anime.  Anime on Blu-Ray is becoming more common now, so I'm glad to see that. This time I picked up the second movie to the redone Evagelion series, Evangelion: 2.22. I was/am a big fan of the original series so this was on my wish list for a while. I'm eager to see this one since my favorite Eva character, Asuka, makes her appearance.

Ga-Rei Zero is a newer series for me. I watched it recently on Netflix and was hooked. I love this series! It's very well done, in my opinion. It's a friendship story surrounded by monsters and action with a little comedy. I certainly recommend it. Even though I have already seen it, I still wanted to have it for my collection. I'm sure I'll watch it again.

Lastly for the anime is High School of the Dead. I wasn't too keen on the manga, which I picked up a while ago, but I heard good things about the anime. I only watched a couple episodes and I must agree. It's much better. I really like it in fact. Can't wait to finish it.


Finally, I also picked up some camera gear. Thanks to a suggestion from a new friend, I bought a flash remote trigger set and a flash stand/umbrella set by Cowboy Studio. This will (hopefully) allow me to use my flash off to the side, instead of dead center, and have it diffused with the large umbrella. I'm still learning how to take good pictures. I hope this will help out.


That's it for now, but I have more coming up in the next couple days. Be sure to check back.



Desk Diary 7-21-2011

There are a couple recent items to mention. First, if you have a keen eye you may notice a different monitor on my desk above. A couple weeks ago my 24" Samsung LCD monitor died on me.

The monitor just went black with no fanfare. At first I thought it may be my video card, but after testing with a spare monitor, I found that wasn't the case. So for a while I was stuck with a small, old, LCD from years ago. It was also only 4:3, and after using a 16:10 (widescreen) monitor for so long, it was hard to go back to. After some online research, I picked up a new 24" Samsung LED LCD monitor. Two days later it was returned. The LED backlight gave a blue tint to the screen and no amount of adjustments could get it to a point I was happy with. Maybe it was a lemon or just a low quality item, but I didn't like it.

Working with pictures everyday, I need a monitor that I am comfortable with. So again, I went online to research a new monitor. This time it was for a regular LCD monitor and not LED. Reviews for an HP 25" 16:9 LCD monitor came up and seemed like a decent choice. It also happened to be on sale at Best Buy. Even more luck would have it that the Best Buy near me was the only one to have it in stock in the area.

In fact, it was the last one in stock! Was it fate? After getting it home and setting it up, I was much more pleased with the screen's colors compared to the LED monitor before it. So this will be a keeper. It's the first HP and gloss screen monitor I have owned.


Last month it was announced that the Dollfie Dreams would arrive from Japan before the original time-frame of August. Volks USA later announced that they received them on July 1st. They still had to go through all the orders before they could be shipped, which took a couple weeks. Yesterday I finally received a shipping notice for my DD Neris! She will be here on Tuesday the 26th. The other one I won, Airy, will arrive about a week later, since she was won through a Volks retailer.

I also picked up some other items. A couple books and a few items from Volks for my incoming Dollfie Dreams. I also have another package coming from Amazon and yet another from Hong Kong. Expect posts for all that soon.





One Year with Jaimee

One year ago I got my first resin BJD, Jaimee. It's hard to believe it has been a year already. Just last month I got my second resin BJD and I have two Dollfie Dreams on the way, but Jaimee was the first and will always be special to me because of that.

Ordering Jaimee was a big decision. At the time I was certain I was crazy! She was an expensive purchase. She was not sitting on a shelf somewhere, she was made because I ordered her. In essence, she would have not existed if I didn't order her. The same goes for my latest resin BJD, Alexis. It really makes them feel more special that way—more personal.

She's been with me for a year and it's been great having her around! I'm glad that I took the chance and clicked that order button. I thought one would be enough, but it seems I'll need more space soon.

After ordering Jaimee, I was certain that she would be the only BJD I'd ever own



Mirai Suenaga Figma

Danny Choo is just your average guy that started a blog and created his own mascot. He's a fan of anime, manga and Japanese culture. He also collects Dollfie Dreams and anime/manga figures. He shares photos that he takes of Japan and provides a lot of information about the country to those that follow him. He has become so popular that his mascot/character, Mirai Suenaga, was recently released as a figma by the Good Smile Company. Mirai is just a "forever young" 17 year old girl and Danny is currently working with several people and companies to spread her all over the place, from clothes to games and more.

Danny is a hard-working guy. He's gone from a simple blogger to someone that many people follow around the world. It's not his popularity that I find interesting, or even so much that his mascot has become popular enough that she has had a toy made after her. If you read his posts or see some of his seminars he tells you about how he came from nothing, had a not-so-great childhood, deals with a condition and yet he never stops pursuing his dreams. He pushes himself, stays focused, learns, and does what he needs to do. He's determined and ambitious. He tries to tell others that anyone can do the same. He tries to share what he's learned and inspire others. I think that's pretty rare today. He seems to be such an average, fun-loving, down to Earth guy that loves life, no matter what it throws at him. Danny is one of the few people I look towards to inspire me to keep moving forward. Looking at his posts, seeing his journey and progress, is really inspiring and it sometimes gives me that kick I need to keep going.

To help remind me I ordered his Mirai figma. I think it just shows how anyone can succeed if they keep at their goals. The Mirai figma is cute and fun to play around with, but having her on my desk is a great reminder of what is possible if you work hard enough.




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.




Let's Get Digital!

At first I wasn't completely sure how long it would take me to transition to fully digital illustrations, but after a week of using my Wacom Cintiq, I'm now pretty addicted to it.

Paint Tools SAI has really been, I think, the main reason I've been able to jump into this with little trouble and enjoy it as I go. SAI might not have all the bells and whistles of PhotoShop, which I've been using for the better part of 15 years, but what it does do, it does well, which is draw.

The interface of SAI is nice and simple and it has some unique features for drawing. I was able to assign one of the Wacom's side touch-strips to rotate the canvas. This way can use my right thumb (I'm left-handed when I draw - right-handed with the mouse.) to quickly slide up and down the touch-strip when I need to rotate. I also assigned buttons to reset the rotation, zoom in/out, and on the pen undo and move the canvas. It's a really simple setup, but it works well for me.

Another great thing about SAI is the stabilization setting. With this, it slows and smooths your pen motions—making it easier to make smooth lines. For sketching I turn stabilization off, but for inking it's a great asset, especially for long curved lines.

Once I got everything set, and after a little playing around, I started to try and draw some real images. I learn better by doing, so doodles weren't going to cut it. When sketching, I quickly realized how nice it is to be able to select something and move or resize it. If the head is too big I can just select it and scale it up some. This is a whole new sense of freedom I didn't have with pencil and paper!

Inking is pretty easy with the stabilization. With my traditional inking pens I was always a little limited by how thin the pens could get. Thick and thin was never really as easy to control as I would have liked. With the Wacom I can manage to get some nice, thin, smooth lines, though it will take some time to get used to it. Unlike paper and pens, you don't have any real friction on a Wacom's smooth surface.

The sky is the limit for coloring digitally. After watching the great SAI videos on YouTube by really talented artists I realized there are so many different ways I can color now with the Wacom. Before I would just use the selection tool in Photoshop. The mouse is way too imprecise to color with. Now I can color using the same motions I use to draw. Almost like coloring an image in a coloring book!

The possibilities seem endless and I'm excited to see how it improves my illustrations.



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.