Character Design + illustration / ArtStation Box of Mystery Challenge – my Leader character so far + MondayLeonieUpdate

In this MondayLeonieUpdate:

  • Leonie and the Box of Mystery challenge
    • struggles & getting stuck
    • early stages in story, references, sketches and designing my Leader character
    • to withdraw the challenge & do the challenge it at my own pace instead
  • Personal update and ramble time
  • Reflecting on the 7 signs of Autism in Ladies
  • Games, Pokemon Presents and Last of Us Part 2 spoilers
  • Leonie’s gaming shenanigans + Animal Crossing

My Leader character so far! Her name is Pau Pau! Joined the ArtStation Box of Mystery Challenge

You might have seen my artstation thread from last week (okay it got deleted because I withdrew from the challenge) but I started this challenge since the first week of June but only posted progress last week and today :’)

Spent the first two weeks of June struggling and stuck with coming up with a basic story from scratch like a slow turtle. Figured out some constraints to make it more manageable. Especially since I don’t have the luxury of time nor interest to decide, let alone research deep into storytelling, history, costumes, lore, culture and myths that many other incredible submissions are doing. Plus I didn’t want to put too many creative roadblocks and things to get my head around as I stare at my canvas to no end with time running out O___O;

My personal aim here is to draw fun, cute, goofy, interesting, stylised characters in a way that I’m pushing myself a bit further in my art skills. To see how I can evolve my art style and design skills in a way that remains fun to me.

Goodness I have not created character designs and stories from scratch in ages! It’s difficult when my own story, design and creativity muscles are not that strong (emotional storytelling is part of the criteria after all).

I spent lots of time getting through mental hurdles, brainstorming, figuring out what I would want to create and problem solving. Felt terribly slow at character designing, let alone storytelling altogether, especially when there’s already so many wonderful submissions during the first week and I’m just here, slow as a turtle. Felt terrifying when nothing came up in my brain so I kept thinking, researching without a concrete plan and thinking some more for some resemblance of a story :<

This is all definitely out of my comfort zone! I am definitely not a quality, fast concept artist or storyteller!

Then again, I don’t want to be one since I have grown to enjoy visualising and illustrating how I want to interpret and express things through my art, rather than designing lots of quality character concepts for others within a day or week (as concept artists do and I have attempted doing this in the past). I enjoy iterating and evolving the one design I like over and over. My brain naturally defaults to what I know in the real, current world while concept artists tend to thrive upon creating many fantastical worlds and beings. And of course throw most of it away to eventually get something that works.

Consequently I don’t want to be a character designer, even though I’ve been sitting on the fence about this in the past. Too much pressure to “provide quality options” for the client but I naturally want to research, create, iterate, evolve and illustrate the one most effective design (in my silly, biased artist opinion) instead.

From this doing this project, I’m learning that I do better if I iterate one thing! :0 I guess I just want to express myself through my interpretations of characters in my art (plus learn to be better at art and at being a human)!

You may ask, “if you prefer illustrating characters, then why on earth are you doing this character design challenge with almost 3 thousand submissions from the entertainment industry?”

Well putting aside that I have withdrawn from the challenge – for one thing, there’s no revisions to do for somebody else. And I can iterate my one design over and over ;D I get to push my comfort zone for fun too! And I’m forcing myself to create my own loose story and designs to the way that I like it! Finally I need to break away from the fun comfort of fanart and do some studies and original things every now and again :’) Hopefully this all builds into something more regular and sustainable!!

This challenge also made me consider and experiment with my focus – to push myself to make illustrations?? I enjoy character illustrations of whatever I feel like? To see if I can make more loose and efficient lineart so that I’m not killing my arm? What I can express and learn better through my art? I hope to find out as I keep learning. It’s a difficult balance of planning and going with the flow without being paralysed by overthinking and details.

I’m learning to let go the need to have “meaning”, substance and “deep story” to everything because that’s what made me so slow and stuck when doing this challenge. :< I want to encompass the fun, impromptu “I do it because I just want to illustrate it!! Yay!” vibe I usually have in my fanart too.

Also I’m being conscious that I don’t just imitate the typical, highly rendered, quality game illustrations I see (also because I’m not great at nor studying painting yet).

I’m just joining for fun, to learn and to get myself drawing my own characters for a while :’D So I’m keeping things simple and taking baby steps!

Sketches & design progress with Pau Pau, my Leader character!

It’s essentially (婆婆) “grandmother, on the mother’s side” in cantonese haha! So it’s not even her real name ;D

She’s a old mysterious, magician lady who travels and performs with 5 magical spirits to help her. Real age unknown. She leads the whole group with goofy performances and her spirits live within a box-like bowl. She dresses elegantly and enjoys directing her family of spirits, appears where she shouldn’t be and helps in solving supernatural crimes!

And that’s all the story I could loosely come up with so far!

Four iteration and sketch!

Here is where I felt reasonably happy with the design! Yay! I haven’t done a fully coloured illustration of her yet though 🙁

Pau Pau’s character sheet!

I ran out of time to finish her unimpressed portrait late last night whoops! See how last minute things are? Yeah I can’t push myself to do it “faster” :’)

Deciding to quit the challenge already & doing it at my own pace instead

I’m sorry if I got your hopes up. I know I just started posting about it here and I’m already quitting :’)

Anyhoo I’m doing it at my own pace at my blog instead! Maybe I’ll keep posting to my submission page but…I won’t make the deadline. Bummed that withdrawing means you’re deleting your submission progress page!

I had a realistic look at what needed to be done and because of my contract work and life shenanigans taking most of my weeks, I cannot do all 6 character designs, 6 rendered illustrations with character design progress sheets within the 3 remaining weeks as well. I’ll end up making terrible work, burning myself out and killing my mental health again :’)

I had a feeling it would turn out this way but I wanted to have a go all the same. I figured I should back out now so I don’t force myself to crunch over an online art challenge I had no chance to compete in anyway ;P

Please look over at Ruth Bosch’s submission progress and Fer Nevitiv’s submission progress! Both of them were early, kind supporters of my tiny ArtStation submission thread and I’ll be keeping tabs on their wonderful, inspiring work! 😀

Hey at least I got my slow creative muscles moving! And you’d be seeing more as I develop my designs at my own pace here! Thanks for understanding!


Personal update & ramble time!

  • It’s been a frustrating, stressful, emotionally exhausting past week so I played more Animal Crossing to even it out unfortunately
    • and I don’t know how this week will go with work & life :’)
    • I only managed 1 blog post too!
    • ahhhhh I neglected my personal art and the challenge! :<
  • I got art tagged on twitter by the incredible artist Ruth so here’s my art tag tweet as well :’)
    • Yes only tagged three who still use social media! I don’t know much art peeps that I still talk with :<

CW: grooming

  • found out yesterday that one of the supposedly wholesome and long time streamers/youtubers I used to watch a lot was a predator and at least emotionally groomed his underaged fans and ex girlfriend. He cheated multiple times like a player and hid this past for 9 years with a lot of smoke and mirrors.
  • his video felt vague, glossed over and self centred apparently and his stream involved a meltdown and cry fest? He keeps saying “we” need to do better and be honest? I don’t know as I didn’t want to watch him anymore
  • With much disappointment, sadness, hurt, disgust and mixed feelings I need lots of space away from him and his content
  • I hope the victims get the time, closure, justice and healing they need
  • luckily I have lost interest in his content nowadays though it all feels like a great betrayal of trust from his fans, supporters, peers, friends and community
  • as someone who used to enjoy his content, it doesn’t feel safe and wholesome anymore
  • this whole thing makes me wary of parasocial and online friendships with huge internet people because the social dynamics is not even at all. Blurring the line between friends, relationships and fans is crossing too many boundaries and is messy!
  • please don’t put people on pedestals and look after yourself :<
  • in that light, I hope people will let me know privately (at least at first) if I’m doing anything wrong or manipulative so I can do better. Sure my blog is focused on myself and learning journey but I do strive to respond when able! I hope to keep my art and blog safe, honest and welcoming 🙁

Reflecting about having Autism (please skip if you’re not interested as usual! I’m writing this for me 😉 )

  • 7 Signs of Autism in Women with Barb Cook
    • how we’re “fine” at school and/or work and then when we’re at home, we take off the mask and don’t want to talk to anyone, struggle to recover because we’ve been pretending all day :’) Yep that’s why I’d rather work from home
    • especially workaholics – like me!! D:
    • coping and struggle to ask for help and support when I misunderstand about tasks that is “common sense” to others
    • anxiety when dealing with people
    • yep I also need to know where everything is in my own environment and keeping to a loose routine or I will be irritated and stressed out
    • Repetitive Movements – I fidget but I don’t think about it
    • Restricted Interests – maybe as I do fixate on things I’m interested in more
    • Hyper/Hypo Sensory Reactivity – I need intensity in hugs too!
    • goodness I relate to overcompensating whenever I strive to do group social things, get overwhelmed and burn out within a few hours! Even when I’m just existing! D:
      • what works better for me is enjoying my own company and keeping things 1 to 1 with catch ups where possible. Even then, I need to recover after a while on my own haha
      • if there is a group involved I lurk and speak up if I feel comfortable and I have space to recover ;P
    • finding it easier to understand what people mean through text than words? Yes for me!
    • how I have no interest in how people are raising families or gossip; I only care about the well being of friends, shared hobbies and interests ;P
    • prefer the intellectual stuff and I tend to ramble on too much about what I am interested about – yep
    • I struggle and find it painful with eye contact too – it feels too intense and I need to look away to fully focus on what people are saying. Otherwise I zone out :’)

Let’s talk about games:

  • Cloud saying Tifa in the Japanese dub of Final Fantasy VII Remake
    • aww Cloud’s japanese voice actor is such a sweetheart!! Makes my heart melt for his performance and the actor shipping them two haha
    • yes I like the Cloud and Tifa couple too ;D
  • 17th June Pokemon Presents
    • I love the art style for Pokemon Smile – it’s cute!
    • cute art also for Pokemon Cafe! Not sure if I’ll play/try it! Especially when there’s in app purchases.
    • people are excited for New Pokemon Snap!! I don’t know if I’ll actually play it since I don’t know how many pokemon you’d need to snap and get them all D:
      • has a mix of smooth, simple 3D art and realistic water :0
      • I wasn’t a fan of the on rails levels when I tried the original Pokemon Snap game – you have to start the whole level over if you stuff up and you can’t take your time with things :<
    • I don’t really care for the rest of the presentation with Pokemon GO and the DLC ;D
    • curious as to what big project they’d talk about later this week :0
  • Watched most of Last of Us Part 2 & spoiler discussion:
  • loved the most wholesome moment and sequence in the game between Joel and Ellie with the museum & spaceship countdown
  • gameplay is the same/similar as the first game (so nothing new actually and it gets janky) with more terrifying enemies and gore
  • knowing that the devs crunched, overworked and some of the early writers quit too leaves a bad taste :/
  • game’s story plays out problematic, traumatic experiences trans people, LGBTQIA+ people and minorities go through in real life but with more violence and it’s not even subtle at all
    • it doesn’t even bring up positive experiences about them and their reasons why to make us relate to them as 3 dimensional people :<
    • the story just focused on misery and suffering :/
  • depression, violence and misery for all?
  • the owner/dog name calling system – how there was a scripted part where Ellie kills at least one dog on Abby’s side just to drive the point on the horrible stuff you’re doing without player agency 🙁 And for you to feel less for Ellie.
  • the revenge theme and the story isn’t really well told
  • I don’t know if people will really sympathise with Abby and her Surgeon Dad (Marlene and Joel too for that matter) since the fireflies were happy to not tell or give Ellie the choice on opening up her skull during the last game.
    • They were going to do it without Ellie’s consent and kill her without looking for alternatives.
    • They had no proof they know how to get the cure either since they have failed on other immune people.
    • And why would you allow the host to die if her system is immune???
  • So Abby and Lev is becoming the next Joel and Ellie?
  • Ellie just loses everything even her ability to play the guitar because she went for revenge for Joel.
    • She didn’t go through with it because she doesn’t want to become a complete monster to Joel’s killer (even though Ellie’s been a killing machine monster for survival up to this point with people and dog(s) she doesn’t even know???)
  • self insert of the director to motion capture the sex scene? I’m feeling grossed out knowing this :S
  • flashback within a flashback – so many flashbacks to tell the story!!
    • it’s messy, annoying and bad pacing – confusing who’s what and still alive in a given scene
  • Jesse is a good guy and Dina is just a supportive love interest – I don’t know what their roles are beyond that
  • Owen is manipulative and a cheater and Abby just goes along with it??
  • Are we supposed to side with the Fireflies??? Can we explore more about the infection? People working together?
  • lots of gruesome action sequences
  • when you play as Abby, most of her parts felt like padding :S
  • I guess Jesse and Yara’s just dead, just like how Ellie killed a lot of Abby’s bystander friends. Of course one of them was pregnant (Mel) who was jealous of Abby and was a surgeon
  • I just wanted wholesome Joel and Ellie adventures where they grow and learn from each other with new good friends of all backgrounds, sexualities, identities and abilities :’) Well that’s not how this depressing game works!
  • the story attempts to show how everyone is looking out for themselves and no one is completely in the right
    • a mix of hits and many misses as they attempt this
  • how on earth did Tommy, Ellie and Dina survive and get a farmhouse and medical help since the theatre fight??? WHAT is this plot hole???
    • If they all just died and ended the depressing game there it will make better sense with less misery :’)
    • lots of times characters should have died but didn’t
    • and yet Jesse dies and doesn’t get the plot armour 🙁
    • why didn’t Abby kill Ellie here since it was already the 2nd time they’re fighting to the death :/
  • Ellie keeps going for revenge?? Why???
  • Abby let Ellie live twice too! Both of them killed so many too. It feels so dragged out than ever during the last stretch of the game!!
  • it’s compelling early in the game that they killed off Joel so early (hence “Joel went golfing” memes) but not well told and everyone’s actions become frustratingly illogical, silly, petty, selfish and emotional
  • How on earth did Dina and Ellie find a farmhouse with sheep???
  • Dina giving ultimatums about choosing family first and putting her foot down about not doing the whole silly revenge thing again – glad she walked away from Ellie’s self destructive revenge plan this time
  • Ellie just decides to leave the family?? Where’s the character development since they lost so much already?? This is terrible and dragged out, especially when there were many opportunities she could have let go, slowly heal and enjoy her life
  • Why did Abby use her real name over the radio?
    • Same with Joel when he first met Abby’s group!! D:
    • they still trusted someone they don’t know and it doesn’t make sense in this universe – then they get killed/attacked for it
  • dragged out sequence with the vicious monster that is Ellie, she goes for Abby’s life and ends with one more forced, drawn out fight – are we supposed to like anyone anymore in this game?? Is this trying to be Metal Gear Solid??
    • Ellie sacrificed everything and morality for closure??? Only to not follow through with killing Abby
    • losing 2 fingers and not be able to play the guitar; okay then
    • the story has lost me and drumming “revenge is bad” over and over
  • depressing, badly told and executed story with lots of plot holes
  • badly written characters you don’t care for 🙁
  • Yeah I like the first game better. This was a mess of a story.

Leonie’s game shenanigans

Okay contrary to what I said last week I still played lots of Animal Crossing because of stress :”) I did scale down all of my flowers, set up the foundation of my rainbow flower gardens and set up some new areas so it’s more manageable! Yay!! 😀

  • This cool free Nintendo game called Jump Rope Challenge was released
    • You can bend your knees instead if you can’t jump off the ground
    • this is a limited PR release & will be gone by the end of September 😀
    • I ended up doing it right after Ring Fit instead of during breaks because I get to do it before eating any meals :’)
  • Played “Under A Star Called Sun
    • a short, little, poignant sci-fi, free browser game about grief and lost memories (: Have a little play!

Goodness!! What a whirlwind of a week! Apologies for the writing mess, I didn’t have much time to proofread :’) I’m sleep deprived too!

Thank you. Please stay safe and kind to yourself and each other! (:


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