“Dangers of Memory” Speed Drawing Process

Aw ye, another drawing process video. This illustration is called “Dangers of Memory”, and features a sad kid, lush vegetation, and a looming threat in the distance. I drew this mainly to practice drawing grass and shadowing faces, but I soon got hypnotized with the monster in the back, hehe.

Tools used:

  1. Copic markers.
  2. Faber-Castell black pens (must restock!).
  3. Trusty sketchbook.

The total drawing time was an hour and forty minutes.

"Dangers of Memory" Horror Art by Millie Ho

“Dangers of Memory”, pen on paper.

I’m headed to China for Chinese New Year, which would be a first for me. The last time coincided with a funeral, so there wasn’t much celebrating (though loads of dumplings were consumed). I’m looking forward to it this time around.

Have a good week!

My Art Progress & Some Observations

Millie Ho Noodles Cat Surreal Art Illustration

My current work-in-progress drawing, ft. cats and noodles and bloodshed.

I started sketching at least one idea since July, and I’m happy to report that I’ve made more progress. Here are some highlights from the past couple of weeks.

Millie Ho Cat Parallax Art Surreal Illustration

“Cat Parallax”, pen on paper.

As you can see, I’m adding in more colours and details now. All the recurring motifs (cats, junk food, unimpressed teens) are still there, but they are now less one-dimensional and stiff compared to my sketches from a few months ago.

Millie Ho Phobia Art Surreal Illustration

“Phobia”, pen on paper.

I’ve been filling up more white space. My lines are getting more fluid and automatic. I feel more confident when I pick up the pen now.

Millie Ho Cat Vomit Surreal Art

“Cat Vomit”, pen on paper.

Experimenting with different art styles has also helped me achieve a level of comfort with what I illustrate. When I first started drawing every day, everything came out Studio Ghibli-like, and the feedback I received was almost enough to keep me headed in that direction. Almost.

Millie Ho Oreo Ordeal Surreal Art Illustration

“Oreo Ordeal”, pen on paper.

Thankfully, I remembered how miserable I was when I listened to other people tell me what I should be doing creatively, so I said screw that, and went exploring. So now here we are.

Millie Ho Art Illustration Pop Surrealism Self-Sabotage

“Self-Sabotage”, pen on paper.

Is this surrealism? Pop surrealism? All I know is that it’s fun to draw, it makes me feel better after I’ve drawn it, and it gives me an excuse to draw more cats, and that’s all I’m really asking for.

Some Observations

It’s interesting how my efforts with making art daily is mirroring my efforts with writing daily, in that I’ve become more honest with myself about what I actually enjoy making, and have improved incrementally over the past several months.

It was a challenge for me to get started, to move from a full-time job mindset and into a freelancer mindset that allowed me to draw and write (and travel!) more, but after I started taking the necessary baby steps, and after I stuck with these new habits long enough, I did improve.

I’ve come to the conclusion that everything you do affects everything else. If you change one area of your life, it will spill over into another area. If it’s a positive change, then one good habit reinforces another, and soon you’ll be snowballing your way to a more enjoyable life.

My art style will continue to evolve. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and finding out what else I can draw, and more ways to improve.

I will post some drawing process videos next!

More Experiments With Art & Illustration

Millie Ho Sketch Surreal Bunnysuit Illustration

I’ve been experimenting with a variety of art and illustration styles as part of my back to basics efforts. Most of the experimenting has been done on pen and paper, with a few digital illustrations.

Millie Ho Towel Head Surreal Illustration Art

The weird/surreal sketches come easiest to me, but I think they can be improved if I build a narrative around them, like I did for the supernatural sketches I posted a month ago. I’m still working on this.

Millie Ho SORROWBACON Cat Illustration Perish Art

Since I draw a cat comic, I also tried doing cat illustrations with a slight comic book slant. For some reason, the cat sketches in this style always come out chaotic and disorganized, but maybe that’s just the nature of me drawing cats. I’m not good at drawing calm cats.

Millie Ho Art Supernatural Office Illustration Supernatural

The above is the complete and digital version of a sketch I posted last month. I discovered that I like using bright and psychedelic colours for the final product, which I believe makes the content a little less gloomy (or maybe more gloomy by contrast).

Millie Ho Illustration Cat Eating Poison

Aaaaand here is a digital illustration of a cat binging on what looks like poison. This one was the first time I scanned a sketch and coloured it on my computer. I feel like I’m getting closer to what I want to achieve with illustration. At the moment, I think my style is like an extension of the comic I draw, infused with this kind of depressed manic energy.

I’m still figuring it out, but it’s going well so far. Sketching every day helps, so does committing to drawing weekly comics. Once I finish revising the New Story and send it off to beta readers in mid-September, I will have more time to work on the art stuff and update my portfolio. Huzzah!


Millie’s Note: Do you have a favourite art style/artist?

Back to Basics With Art and Illustration

Millie Ho Illustration Work In Progress

My work-in-progress digital illustration.

Here are some sketches and illustrations from the past few weeks. I’m getting into the habit of sketching at least one idea a day. At first, I was just drawing to update my Art page, but now drawing has become a daily habit.

Millie Ho Sketch Supernatural Office

The original sketch, “How you doin’?”

I always sketch with a pen because a pen glides better, and also because I don’t erase things much.

Millie Ho Cat Riding Fish Sketch

A cat and a translucent Leviathan.

While I love drawing cats, the more I sketch, the more I find myself introducing supernatural elements into my art.

Millie Ho Giant Cat Sketch

“I bring you peace, I bring you love.”

I think the process of sketching a lot, like writing a lot, is that you get to know yourself better and discover what you actually like to draw, beyond the default options.

Millie Ho Sketch Submerged Woman Art

I sure hope that’s gum.

Once you let go of any judgement and faithfully transport what’s in your mind onto the page, that’s when you discover who you really are.

Millie Ho Illustration Demon Hugging Cats

Inspired by this book on giants I’ve had since forever.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my life would’ve turned out if I went to an art school instead of majoring in business. I would definitely have a better grasp of fundamentals and the tools of the trade, and would also have produced more artwork. However, I think it ultimately comes down to working hard, regardless if you majored in art or not.

I’m grateful for where I am in life, grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, but art has always been an itch I couldn’t scratch, a hobby I kept pushing to the sidelines. But if I can learn to write every day, then I can learn to draw every day. I can and will improve. I owe that much to my younger self, to that kid who found her self-worth through art.

I must practice more, practice consistently, and maximize my potential. Basically, I’m going back to basics. But the good news is that we live in an age where anybody can learn or improve anything if they want it badly enough and keep at it long enough.

More sketches and illustrations to come!


Millie’s Note: I post more art on the SORROWBACON Facebook page.

Making A Webcomic From Ideation To Execution

Millie Ho Webcomic

Idea Map for Friend Badger‘s design.

When I first started SORROWBACON, I couldn’t find any resources online that gave me insight on how webcomics were made, so when I finally made my own webcomic, I promised myself that I would document my process so that others can benefit in some way.

So here it is: making a webcomic, from ideation to execution.

1. Ideation

This is the most difficult part. Now, I know my strengths, specifically that I’m capable of seeing one idea in multiple ways, but the downside of visualizing so many possibilities at once is that your brain starts to sputter after a while and you get mad analysis paralysis. So I switched gears and started making Big Picture Idea Maps.

Sorrowbacon Ideation

These Idea Maps can be in either list form or as an expansive visual spread. Idea Maps aren’t so much storylines as they are micro-ideas. And these micro-ideas often come to me at the most unexpected moments, which gives me ample opportunity to look like a total weirdo in the middle of a conversation as I get out my sketchpad and document them with wild abandon.

2. Illustration

OK, this is the fun part. This is where facial expressions rule and the laws of gravity no longer applies. Of course, some webcomics don’t need that much art to convey an idea (XKCD, anyone?), but I love drawing strange-looking critters in moral quagmires, so that is what I will do.

Sorrowbacon Webcomic Drawing Process

After I select the unlucky idea for execution, I draw faint outlines using pencil. (Ruler not actually used, but to give off an aura of precision and finesse.)

Sorrowbacon Drawing Webcomic Process

Then I outline in ink. Notice the change in table background. I don’t draw in one setting, and would usually do something else before jumping back in. That’s one way of keeping the mind fresh.

Drawing Sorrowbacon Webcomic Process

Close to completion! Now I pop this into the scanner and use Photoshop to do minor touchups before publishing online.

And there you go. Father angst in two-dimensional six panel feline form.

3. Execution

Execution, to me, means how this whole webcomic business all comes together. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I don’t like planning storylines in advance. Similar to how I write my novel, I have a general idea of where a story is going, but don’t care much about the details. Execution is everything, and details can come later.

And, let’s face it, if you planned your webcomic to the Nth degree, where’s the fun in writing and drawing? Writing and drawing is about taking a baby idea and seeing how far you can take it. Or how far it can take you. And that’s where spontaneity comes in.

If you look at earlier SORROWBACON webcomics compared to more recent entries, there is a very noticeable difference in style. And that’s the way it should be.

So add a little spontaneity to your routine! All that matters is that you have an idea, draw, and get the work out there as soon as you can.

I hope this very simple guide helped!

Finding Your Personal Art Style

Copic markers, pen and ink, unnatural expressions and all. This is my art style in a nutshell.

When I went to China last month, I showed some art to a cousin (whose mother is a watercolour genius) and he asked if I was illustrating for a medical journal.

“The neck looks unnatural,” he said. “And the arms, are they made of rubber?”

We laughed it off, though it got me thinking.

My entire drawing style—that of elongated limbs, disproportionate head-face ratio, and mentally vacant or insufferably effusive creatures—was built solely on not taking other people’s advice. Advice on how to draw a face, how to position the body, how to convey form and shadow. My personal art style was born from many accidents and my own stubbornness.

So how do you find your personal art style? There’s a gazillion possible answers, but for me it started with

1. Plagiarism, lots and lots of plagiarism.

I copied everything on TV and off, from cartoons to books to sparkly things that hooked my five-second attention span, and somewhere in the chaos my style started taking shape.

While I was indeed simply recreating what others made, I learned what I enjoyed drawing the most, and that was drawing movement.

I loved carving folds between eyebrows or the folds in clothing as the hyperactive superhero proceeds to gut his/her victim with a well-placed kick, and though I’ve since moved on to less motion-based subject matter, that initial spark born from copying others jumpstarted my personal style.

2. Never listen to haters.

Haters who criticize your art or way of illustrating and painting or crayon smearing have no idea what they’re talking about. Of course parents and teachers mean well, but they should also know that art is subjective and there’s no one “right way” of doing things.

After Kasimir Malevich painted White on White, “artistic merit” went out the window. Benchmarks no longer exist thanks to the Internet. There’s bad art everywhere but discourse is still being sparked, exhibitions are still being held, and people are still getting enjoyment out of it.

So make the art you want to make because there’s only one you and haters are always gonna hate.

3. Draw inspiration from like-minded people.

There’s a saying by Jim Rohn that goes, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

So what are you waiting for? Get to know other people who are also trying to find their personal art style, and, better yet, get to know those who have found it already.

Join art clubs!

Take group art lessons!

I was in an art program at my high school and my classmates inspired the heck out of me with their diverse talent and eclectic styles.

Trust me, having other artists to bounce ideas off of (and compete against) is one of the tastiest ingredients in the pie of artistic development.

4. Try automatic drawing.

Automatic drawing entails drawing randomly and freely to unearth the subconscious. This means drawing without hesitation nor purpose, simply and mindlessly, in a way that ignores conventions about form or figure, but observes your most ingrained art habits.

While most automatic drawings end up looking abstract, gradually the lines will take shape and find their way into more subject-oriented illustrations.

A lot of my pen and ink drawings were the result of drawing whatever came to mind, and now I know more intuitively that my style is more Pop Surrealist than anything else.

So those were the four main things that enabled me to find my personal art style.

Do you have any tips on finding individuality through art, or tips on creating art that speaks to you? I’d love to hear them!