Pink Dance

Pink Dance by River on Strike A Spark
Pink Dance by River on Strike A Spark
Featuring Cloud!

❤ Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

I hope you have a wonderful day with the people you love.

While I don’t have a Valentine’s-specific artwork, I thought today was the perfect day to post this sketch I did for the Colour Collective challenge on Twitter.  This week’s color is Boto Pink, a sort of dusky, mid-tone pink.  So for this sketch, I used only Boto Pink and white, and a little creativity with layer types and effects in GIMP. 🙂

The style is a little different because I am trying out a new technique recommended by my friend Yureya, whose cute sketches I admire.  Yureya’s technique is to sketch loosely with a soft brush on lower opacity.  I like how loose and flowing the lines become with this technique, and how soft the shading is.  And because I was able to loosen up a little, this piece came together very quickly! I think it will be fun to do more sketches like this~

Time: ~1.5 hours
Tools: GIMP 2, Wacom Intuos pen tablet


Shine a Light in the Dark (Chibi Animals #2)

Shine a Light in the Dark - a Chibi Animal painting by River
Shine a Light in the Dark - a Chibi Animal painting by River
When the darkness seems overwhelming, it’s time to shine a light.

After finishing up the chibi bunnies a few weeks ago, I simply had to do another chibi animal.  This time, we have a cat dressed in a cute furisode (swinging-sleeve kimono). Two of my favorite things: cute animals + cute kimono!

“Shine a Light in the Dark” took almost two weeks to draw, from sketch to finishing touches.  Most of that time was spent in the flatting and shading phases.  Because the color scheme is quite dark this time, I had trouble balancing the colors. :/ It was difficult, but I think it turned out well in the end!

Special thanks to Cloud for finishing up the smoke effect in the background!  Couldn’t do it without you! ❤

Time: ~12 hours
Tools: Wacom Intuos, GIMP 2

Thanks for looking! (^_^)

~Sweet Dreams~ Bunnies + Happy New Year!

~Sweet Dreams~ Bunnies by River on Strike A Spark
~Sweet Dreams~ Bunnies by River on Strike A Spark
Soon, the rising sun will dye the sky with pinks and purples and reds.
Soon, the birds will serenade you sweetly.
Soon, the morning will dawn brighter than today.
Until then, sweet dreams. 🎵

It’s been a while!  How have you all been?

Lately, I’ve been wanting to draw something cute. . . so chibi bunnies it is! :3

It was so soothing to work on a painting like this, something cute that exists “just for the fun of it.”  While I also enjoy working on characters and paintings that are for a larger story, sometimes it is tiring to work exclusively on concept art and on pushing my skills forward.  Taking the time to make a whimsical piece like these bunnies, or the Alice in Wonderland-inspired piece “Falling,” is very relaxing.  Almost like an art vacation. 🎵

And (though it may be a little late), I want to wish you all the best for the coming year.  May 2018 be filled with joy!

* * *


Time: ~10 hours

Materials: GIMP 2.8, Wacom Intuos tablet

Mission Success! River and Cloud’s NaNoWriMo 2017 Experience


We won!!!

Okay, I just had to say that before anything else!  Haha.  This is the first time I’ve ever won NaNoWriMo, so it’s still a little unbelievable.  But those stats don’t lie:

River's NaNoWriMo 2017 stats. Screencap from

I think Chiyo expresses my feelings on the matter perfectly:




JUMP! ft. Chiyo by River on Strike A Spark

It was tough, but we made it through somehow, huh?  Many thanks to Cloud for being my best writing buddy and un-block-er.  And a shout-out and many thanks to our friends who encouraged us this whole month: Nana, Yureya, and Claire!

Now that the challenging month is through and I finally have free time again, I have a lot to catch up on – I finally have time to draw!  I missed having the time to just sketch and free-write.  And I’ve really missed blogging these past weeks, and missed seeing what my friends are up to.  So that’s next! But first, I thought I’d do a little debrief of our experience:

Our Process

Rondo of the Rising Sun cover - wip!
Rondo of the Rising Sun cover – wip!

Since our current project, Rondo of the Rising Sun, is a collaboration, we’ve gotten a few questions on our process for NaNoWriMo and how we divide up the work.  Usually, the work on our collaborations goes something like this:

  1. Cloud and I start talking about a new story.  During this brainstorming period, we come up with new characters, event ideas, and develop the world.  We also spend a lot of time getting a feel for the characters’ personalities, and talk how they would react to this or that situation.
  2. After a while, it gets difficult to remember everything we wanted to do with the story, and we end up going over the same things again instead of new events.  At this point, we write down everything we have so far in a document so we can move forward.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2.  And again. And again.
  4. At some point, we’ll have a lot of plot ideas, character details, and lore all thrown into a document.  So we’ll take some time sorting the information and writing down anything new.  (This step basically sums up our Plotober.)
  5. Now we have something resembling an outline!  We start writing the scenes we’re really excited about.  (Beginnings are hard, though, so we’ll leave them until later.)
  6. Now we have a lot of disconnected scenes – you couldn’t call it a story yet!  So it’s time to write all the connecting scenes, and anything we missed the first time through.
  7. After spending time in the story, we know more about the characters’ motivations, and fears, and desires, so it’s easier to write a good beginning . . . and a good ending. (Or so I hope.  We haven’t reached “ending” stage yet, after all!)
  8. And now, edit until it feels like the story we wanted to tell!

The whole time, we’ll keep talking about the story, and learning about the characters, and revising different events and situations.  The one who writes it down is whoever feels like it or has a better grasp of the scene.  It’s a very collaborative process, based on discussion and story-telling rather than writing. . . we tell the story to each other before we write it down.

For the NaNoWriMo challenge, there were several factors that made it necessary to change our process a bit.  Up until the 4th step was the same.  However, Cloud was very busy and didn’t have much free time to write, so after hashing out the plot, I took over and did the first draft mostly on my own.

It was weird to write Rondo mostly on my own.  Of course, I’ve written short stories by myself, and it usually goes smoothly from start-to-finish since I know where I want to go with it.  With a collaborative story, on the other hand, it feels like I only know half the story at any one time. . . there’s this vague feeling of unease that I’ll veer off into the weeds and start telling a different story entirely.  Luckily, Cloud was an immense help at unblocking me when I got stuck, and we had regular story meetings to make sure we were on track, so it worked out in the end.

Though I can’t say that the first draft is completed yet.  At the end of November, Rondo is about one-third of the way through the planned story.  So there’s still some writing to be done!

The Stats

In the spirit of “What Gets Measured Gets Managed,” let’s take a closer look at our word count for this challenge:

River's NaNoWriMo 2017 stats graph. Screencap from

The first ten days went well; I met or surpassed the average word count (represented by the diagonal line) each day.  I had enough to take a few days off (days 10 – 13), and even though we fell behind, I made up the word count by day 16.  In fact, it went well up until day 22. . . exactly three weeks after the challenge started.

I hit a slump.  Even though we’d outlined all the exciting events we wanted to explore, even though we had kept up the story meetings, and even though I sat at my laptop every day and tried to type, it felt like I kept slipping further and further behind the word count.

Luckily, Cloud made some free time the last three days of NaNo.  Whenever I hit a roadblock, she talked me through the block until I could write again.  So together, we managed to make up the backlog of words and hit 50,000 words on November 30th. . . just in time!

Moral of the story?  When you get stuck, take a break and get away from the page. Take a walk.  Talk to a friend, work your way through the story so far and the roadblock you’ve stumbled into.  Then you can get back on track and write at the speed of light!

. . . . At least until the next block.  So, rinse & repeat as necessary! 😉

NaNo’s over. Now what?

NaNo was fun, and difficult, and so challenging.  I really thought we weren’t going to make it there for a while, but we managed somehow. . . mostly thanks to Cloud’s intervention. 😉 And now that it’s through, we have 50,000 words on a new story.  Where do we go from here?

Well, like I said above, I’m going to take some time and get back into drawing.  The whole time I was writing, I kept thinking of new paintings! Haha.  And I want to finally finish the Rondo cover!  I’d like to do some studies too, so it looks like my art schedule is filled for a while.  😀

After a little time has passed, we’re going to do a review of the NaNo draft and finish writing the story.  I’m sure there are scenes that no longer fit, or that need editing – and there’s still two-thirds of the plot to go. So we’ll pick that up again, and move it forward.  Maybe we can finish it & share it with you all next year!  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Thank you all for following along with me and Cloud on this madcap adventure.  The first leg of the journey is done, and while there’s still a ways to go, it’s time to rest and celebrate what we’ve accomplished thus far.  Tomorrow, we’ll start again.


Only Ten Days Left (NaNoWriMo 2017)

Can you believe that we’re already two-thirds of the way through November?  I can’t. . . It seems like just yesterday I was staring at a shiny new blank page of (digital) paper, excited to start writing.  And now we’re almost through!  How does time fly so quickly?

This month, NaNoWriMo took center stage.  I expected to spend a lot of time on it, but I didn’t expect that it would take over my life this much!  It’s to the point where I don’t have time to draw or blog as much as I’d like to.  But it’s okay – I’m having a lot of fun getting the Rondo’s story down on paper. ^^

As I scraped out a little time today, I thought I’d do a quick update on my progress!

  • As of yesterday, we broke 31k!  Rondo of the Rising Sun is now officially the longest NaNo project I’ve written. (TTuTT)
  • It’s been difficult to keep up with my 2.5k/day goal. . . I’ve had to work the last two weekends to catch up.  I’m going to work hard this week so I can take a day or two off, and let my hands rest.
  • Plot-wise, we’re only about 1/3 of the way through the RRS story. . . so it definitely won’t be “finished” this month.  At least we’ll have 50k written by the end of the month!
  • The biggest problem we have right now is all the unnamed side characters.  We’ve been calling them things like “Acquaintance 1” and “Adventurer A.”  💦 I’ve had to make an extra document just to keep them sorted out!

So, things are going fairly smoothly for once!  It helps that Cloud and I have regular story meetings to discuss what we should tackle next.  It’s really nice to have someone you can bounce ideas off of when you get stuck.  ^^

For all of you challenging NaNo, keep it up!  We’re at the final push now.  You can do it!

Lazuli believes in you!

How’s your November going?  Let me know in the comments below!


(Psst – one last update!  I’ve finally put up a gallery for my Inktober paintings – you can check that out here.)

NaNoWriMo incoming! Are you ready? (Final Plotober update!)

Plotober graphic. Made by River using photo resource from Mark Levin.

Dear Plotters,

Plotober is winding down, and NaNoWriMo is almost here!  Are you getting excited?  I am~  It feels a little like, “Finally! I can work on this story!”  So this will be the last Plotober update for this year.  Next up, NaNo!

The Successes

To date, Cloud and I have had multiple successes this Plotober.  We have:

While there are still things under construction – namely, the timeline, the various important side characters, and the world – overall, our Plotober project was a success!  I feel we’ve grasped enough of the story to take a good stab at the first draft.  Not bad, considering I’ve been a pantser for many many years before this.

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo incoming! Are you ready? (Final Plotober update!)”

Rondo of the Rising Sun Costume Designs Batch #1 (Plotober #9)

Plotober graphic. Made by River using photo resource from Mark Levin.

Dear Plotters,

It might be a bit of a stretch to call this a part of Plotober, as costume designs are purely aesthetic and will likely change over time, but nevertheless!  Today I’m happy to share with you Ruby, Lazuli, Tiria, and Luna’s outfit designs!

(Click to enlarge)

I’ve focused on these the past week or so as I felt I ought to get a better grasp of their outfits before I continue working on the cover.  Now that the main four are done, I think I can ink the sketch.  ^^ I’m hoping to finish the cover soon, but realistically it probably won’t be done until sometime in November at the earliest.

You may have noticed that Luna and Lazuli are in Western-style garb, while Ruby and Tiria are in Eastern-style.  This is mainly due to personal preference; the world of The Third Turning includes areas inspired by different cultures, so there’s a lot of choice available. There’s also Tropical, Tribal, and Northern styles, for example; I just haven’t drawn any characters who wear those styles yet.

Now back to plotting.  Today I’m tackling the timeline and some worldbuilding.  Wish me luck~