Most of my inspiration came from the video games I played as a kid. I love creating pixel art and am self-taught in many different styles. My venture into pixel art began at the young, impressionable age of ten when I discovered Microsoft Windows Paint at school. I picked up Mario Paint for the Super Nintendo around that time and was introduced to spriting and basic animation. This taught me how to draw using a mouse since I had no computer at home. I still create all of my digital pieces, including paintings, with a mouse instead of a tablet.
It was hard to pull me out of the school library once I figured out that I could make my own digital drawings. I would glue myself to the nearest computer and create character group scenes in the style of 'Where's Waldo,' pixel-by-pixel, using only my imagination and the characters from my own stories. I didn't have a desktop PC at home until the age of fourteen so I'd usually print these pictures to save them. I wish I could find those print-outs today but sadly I have lost so much from my childhood in the process of moving. Every eight to twelve months my Mom, brother and I packed up and moved somewhere new so plenty of things have gone missing over the years.
In High School I finally started carrying around floppy disks for Computer Lab projects and at this point the computers had high speed internet. When class ended, I'd comb through hundreds of pages dedicated to the Furry Fandom. I read every comic and fanfic that looked good. I also tried my hand at writing and still do a bit of my own storytelling to this day. I'm embarassed about the ones I wrote before the age of eighteen so I'll refrain from sharing those.
I first got involved with the Furry Fandom through the Sonic Fan Universe in 1999. My character, Tacoma, was exclusively anthro and inspired heavily by anime and cartoon "Sonic" styles which you can see in a piece of gift art I received here. As I grew older, Tacoma grew with me. During my teenage years, Tacoma had a cynical, moody personality. She often wore a spiked collar, including one on her tail. Her appearance reflected my own at the time. I was battling a lot of inner demons and, while drawing was an outlet for this, my perfectionist nature made art just another source of stress. I vanished for months on end and stopped posting my work online. I didn't feel like I measured up against a tidal wave of other artists. Social media put so much pressure on me to improve that I simply shut down under the weight of it.
I grew increasingly frustrated with myself when drawings did not turn out the way I wanted them to. Practice sheets like this were common as I struggled to keep proportions realistic and facial features expressive. I experimented with Photoshop and tried my hand at digital coloring which eventually grew better with time. These days I am much more confident in my Photoshop abilities having learned light sourcing, proper shading and use of color. It took me a very long time to get where I am today, and I can honestly say every stressful, anxiety-ridden moment on the way there was worth it.
In real life, I am an androgynous female in my thirties. Freelance art is my only job at this time, as I am unemployed due to chronic illness. Art has been anything but lucrative, but I enjoy it and would rather do something I love than be stuck in a job I hate making money I can't enjoy. I have always loved animals and have been a guardian to mice, rats, hedgehogs, hamsters, gerbils, ducks, snakes, cats and dogs over the years. Currently I have two sweet all black bombay cats named Button and Zipper.
I live with my wife, Lunati, whom I met on Furcadia in February of 2004. Lunati and I remained close online for many years, talking every day on AIM or Furcadia. We first met in person on February 2006. We spent the next six years of our relationship making annual trips to visit one another. I lived in the suburbs of Tampa, Florida and she was 1,300 miles away in St. Paul, Minnesota. It took me years to settle my affairs and build up the courage to move in with her but I am very glad I did. On February 14th 2016 we were married at the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul.
Multiple Sclerosis runs in my family. My mother was diagnosed in the early 90s and lost her ability to walk around the time I was diagnosed in 2005. I ended up taking care of her for the first eight years of my adult life. I missed out on a lot of social opportunities like college, learning how to drive and finding a well-paying job, but I don't resent her for it one bit. Family has to look out for one another and I did what I could in the absense of other help. After I moved out of state to live with Lunati, Mom moved in with her sister and now has nurses who come to visit her and help out each day.
My own battles with MS and anxiety have affected my ability to focus and keep a steady hand while drawing. Because of this, I have slowed down on traditional pieces like sketching, inking and pencil work as my accuracy has decreased. I find that digital art is more forgiving, with erasers and undo commands that let me go back and fix any uneven lines and wonky features. Pixel art is equally forgiving. With digital work, I don't have to worry about running out of a specific color because the entire palette is always available. I can take my time on personal projects and experiment easily with different colors.
The process of making pixel art has been therapeutic to me. I work pixel-by-pixel, one at a time, gradually shading and adding texture, color and life to each sprite. Every piece is truly a labor of love. My most used programs include Aseprite, Microsoft Paint Classic and GraphicsGale. A feature I love that's hard to find in programs is the ability to swap between two color sources with one keystroke. The Furcadia FOX editor is one I go to a lot for this reason. Photoshop, Illustrator, SAI and Manga Studio are all wonderful programs that I use regularly for digital pieces but when it comes to crisp, clean pixel art I will always prefer the basics.
As mentioned before, most of my inspiration comes from the video games I played when I was young. I keep a list of what I've finished and am currently playing over at Backloggery. I'm also an active Pokémon shiny hunter/breeder and my friend code is 0877-1068-0552. My Steam handle is Cloudtigress and Blizzard Battle Net ID is Smokie #1777. Let me know if you add any of these and I'll be happy to return the favor!
My furcadia community Club Nimbus has grown so much since I started it in 2004. I love our roleplayers and casual loungers equally. I am so happy whenever someone discovers the dream and ends up coming back. It is my oldest project and I am glad to share it with so many amazing people. If you haven't yet, come visit us sometime and say hi! I am usually active between the hours of noon and midnight CST.