2018 introduced itself as one of the worst years of my life. In the first month alone, I had eight separate problems come crashing down on me at once. And while the pain I experienced changed me forever, I needed to feel it. I worked through each conflict in the most constructive way I knew how - funneling my emotions into art.
I wrapped myself up in the characters and worlds my wife and I have developed over the years. Together, we slashed through our conflicts by writing, and sketching, and inking, and shading, and roleplaying, and then writing some more. And while the vast majority of our creations from that time will never be shared or posted, they served an important function simply by being made.
By shaping all the frustration and sadness and tiny shards of joy into tangible, visible things, I fought my way out of hell. Art helped me heal, improve my circumstances and, most importantly, plant a seed that pushed me to improve in other areas of my life. I'm eternally grateful and have no plans to slow down at all in 2019.
It's That Magical Time Of The Year.
Last month, our roommate gave us the seasonal plague which put me off updates for a few weeks. I've been slowly trying to catch up with a dozen or so different art pieces for both Patreon and social media, which feels a lot like trying to put out a fire with a squirt bottle.
On the bright side, this year has been very successful on the art and general life improvement front. I'm in the best shape I've ever been, I'm eating well, my wife and I no longer live in roach hell and my family has been incredibly loving and supportive of us both. But existing is still a struggle. Lunati works fifty hours a week to keep the two of us afloat in a shark-infested ocean. Most days, I battle with anxiety, depression and painful leg spasms. I have no health insurance, so right now I'm at the mercy of the universe.
My own work computer is a three-year old budget laptop and, while it's better than nothing and I'm super grateful to have it, photoshop continually chokes on itself when I attempt to load or save large files. I'd love to buy a solid-state drive. I figure I could get another two or three years out of this potato with an SSD, which is roughly how long I'll need until I can do my next pc build. But, for now, everyone wants what little money we're scraping together and that SSD isn't in the cards, either.
In an attempt to stave off the crippling despair, I'm spending a lot of time building a solid portfolio and inking the 200+ sketches my wife lovingly scanned earlier in the year. I really don't credit her enough for all her hard work and support, but she's absolutely my hero and none of this year's updates would have happened without her encouragement. My portfolio will consist of both pixel art and digital paintings. Sketches are slowly being uploaded to Patreon so folks can see what I've got in the works. I'm also signing up on existing art and furry communities in an attempt to build a larger audience. I don't know if any good will come of it, but I'm going to try my best.
More goodies have been released on Patreon, and will continue for the month of December.
A Very Big Thank You to my Patrons: Elwood Flickertail. You're a real MvP. Thank you for your love and support all these years.
Tacoma is on Patreon!
The piece up today is an older one from earlier in the year. Lunati noticed I'd been stressed and suggested I draw something relaxing just for myself. It turned out well enough that I'm sharing it here.
I've been working on more adult art lately to add to Patreon. It's been a fun experience getting back into it after many years.
Last month, I finally joined Patreon, a goal I've had since the beginning of this year. I'm excited to add new rewards, some of which will include coloring pages, high resolution art, icon packages, sketches and progress pieces plus access to a private channel for Patrons on my discord channel, Tacoma's Sky Sanctuary.
I hope to release some more goodies soon for Patrons and will continue to update with previews here as I fill the site up with more art and stories.
A Very Big Thank You to my Patrons: Elwood Flickertail.
This week's post is a simple and cute portrait of Tacoma. I drew this in a night or two after a spectacular weekend. I was in an unusually good mood and this was the result. Tacoma's profile is a little outdated by now, so this update will focus on some more recent developments concerning my main character.
The most noticable changes that Tacoma has undergone in 2018 are her hairstyle and physique. She grew her hair out and now wears a long ponytail on the top of her head with the same chin-length bangs as before. Tacoma had an internal conflict early in the year and decided to put her body through rigorous training and discipline, so she's much slimmer than she used to be.
Tacoma is quiet and stoic, preferring not to show too much emotion. As a child, she was more transparent with her feelings and was mocked for it. These days, she's more secretive and prefers to keep things to herself, sometimes to the point of it causing her grief and pain. While her demeanour can seem bitter and cold at times, she loves and protects those dear to her with great passion and would willingly throw herself in harm's way to keep a friend safe.
Her greatest strength is her adaptability. She can shapeshift at will but the process is both physically and mentally taxing. It's easier for her to transform when faced with an immediate threat that requires split-second decision making, as elevated levels of adrenaline help aid in the shapeshifting process.
Tacoma is highly intuitive and can pick up emotions quickly after just a short time around someone. She's not easily deceived and is keen to catch the ulterior motives of others . She can usually tell when someone isn't being honest or trustworthy and doesn't allow them to get too close. Tacoma is fiercely loyal and generous once someone has proven themselves a trusted ally.
Tacoma values solitude. Finding time to be alone with her thoughts and meditate on current events is absolutely crucial to her well-being.
That's it for now. When I have a little free time, I'll be updating Tacoma's page with this new data along with some extras. By October, commissions should re-open for digital art. Stay tuned!
Love Is War
Cassandra sits seductively on her favorite tank, ready to raise hell. Her heart is filled with a burning vengeance. There's no doubt she's heading straight for Cloud Nine in an attempt to take out Blacktalon's lackeys. For her, the prospect of taking over the Isles is an exciting one. Lunati and Tacoma aren't thrilled with the possibility of their home being destroyed, even if the Cirrus Cartel stole it for their own nefarious means. They'll need to find a way to convince Cassandra not to open fire before it's too late.
This week's piece is a pixel tribute to our big bad, Cassandra Chaotica, Queen of the Zengre. It was sketched and shaded entirely in microsoft paint. Lately I've been in a bit of a slump, so I needed something comforting to draw to distract from the overwhelming calamity of the present day.
Recently, Cassandra's hair color and markings have been modified to help her stand apart from the blue-haired heroes of our story. I think purple suits her well. Lunati helped me sample different palettes before we came to an agreement on what would work best for her. Overall, I'm happy with the change.
We're into september and I mentioned in my last post that I'd be unable to take on new commissions until now. While I do have some free slots open for sprites and pixel art (including furcadia patches), I've still got a backlog of full-color digital pieces that need to be wrapped up soon. I'm reluctant to take any new digital commissions until those are finished. Thank you to my past and present clients, I appreciate anyone who's kept me busy with some work these last few months.
It's been two months since my last update and I feel like such a long break deserves an explanation. My goal this year has been to release an update every week, or at least every two weeks if I got tied up somehow. So what on earth delayed an update by nine weeks?
This year, Lunati and I came to the realization that we could no longer live in Minneapolis. She lost a steady, 10-year career and savings had been steadily wiped out by rent, bills and survival. Our neighborhood was also becoming more dangerous and I didn't feel safe going out alone anymore. With the high cost of living in the city, we barely kept our heads above water. We had to think fast if we ever wanted to turn this situation around.
Florida had been home for most of my life. It's where I was born and spent much of my adult life so we fully expected to be moving back there eventually. When we shared our plans with family and friends, we received an outpouring of love and support. Lunati spent all her unemployed time looking for work with no success, her main ties to the state were now gone and we had to act quick.
It was apparent that we needed to jump on this opportunity while we still could. If we stayed in minnesota, we'd be homeless by september so we spent the next couple of months packing up our place and getting affairs in order to help make the transition as smooth as possible. An old friend of mine offered to let us stay with him while we got back on our feet.
On July 31st, we packed our bags and took our two cats on the 3 hour flight to tampa from minneapolis. We'd sacrificed so much for this opportunity but I knew in my heart we were doing the right thing. I felt a combination of pure exhaustion and relief, knowing we'd worked hard for a shot at making our lives better together. Lunati is confident that she'll be able to get her driver's license and find work. I'm hopeful that I'll have more time to work on personal projects instead of taking on commission after commission just to make ends meet.
It's worth mentioning that I won't be able to accept any new commissions until the mayhem dies down. Almost every day since the move has had some big event or distraction in store for us, so we'll need a few weeks to adjust to all the new changes in our lives. I'd like to say that I can re-open commissions by september but I'm notoriously bad with deadlines.
Now that Lunati and I are settled in, I plan on posting here more frequently when we can find a break in the storm that has consumed our lives. Despite all the madness, stress of moving and adjusting to life with a roommate, we've found a small glimmer of happiness here that was missing for a long time and I'm confident we'll be able to rebuild our lives and get our own place within a year.
The next update will likely have some more character art and backstories, a continuation of our project from earlier in the year. I'm really looking forward to it.
Morpheus: The Sleeping God
This week's update is about an important figure on the isles of Nimbaterra. If you've ever been inside the Opium Den on Club Nimbus, you may have noticed a large sleeping Cloud Wyrm in the corner of the room. That would be Morpheus, The God of Dreams.
The great drake, Morpheus, is a much respected and revered deity on the isles of Nimbaterra. His presence brings vivid, joyful dreams and rejuvinating sleep to residents of the isles. He first came to the planet when the progency of the wind and shadow goddesses was born, the original Gryphon Heart. He followed this individual to the isles to serve as their protector. In his shadow grew glorious, bright blue poppies that tower up to six feet tall and are renowned for having the most potent medicine. Morpheus is also in charge of giving the dying relief from their pain, as well as sending them off on a peaceful and pleasant dream in their final moments.
Morpheus has an important job on the isles, which he carries out once a year each winter on a day known as The Divine Harvest. For one day, he awakens and blesses the poppies that grow throughout Nimbaterra. This causes the plants to produce more medicinal opium as well as protecting those who use it from any of its ill effects. This lasts for the duration of the season. His blessing also helps the next year's crops grow healthy and strong. Once this task is complete, he finds a comfortable place to curl up, encases himself in iridescent stone and slumbers until next year's harvest is ready. Morpheus sleeps as long as he does to regenerate his gift, which he can only give once a year.
For anyone curious why updates have been slower than usual, Lunati and I are moving across the country sometime in the next month or two and have been busy prepping for it. Commissions are still open and we have some sexy updates planned for the near future, so we hope you'll stick around. :)
A Tour of Cloud Nine
Today's update is for the folks who follow my blog but who have not played, or even heard of Furcadia. Furcadia is an online fantasy world where artists and coders can use their skills to build their own housing, which are known in Furcadia as dreams. You hop into user-uploaded dream portals and are warped to an area created by the uploader. These can range anywhere from small personal homes made with default patches to entirely custom worlds in any kind of environment you can think of.
The community on Furcadia has been gradually shrinking over the years, but the work I've done for our own roleplay community has been intensive enough to build a whole other universe out of. All of the art, and the majority of the coding, I put together solo over the past decade. There are small quests, stories, and lots of tucked away places to explore. The name, Club Nimbus, refers to a tavern on the central floating island of Nimbaterra where the majority of our stories take place.
As we've drifted away from the Furcadia community, some of the names of various places in our world have changed. Club Nimbus is now known as Cloud Nine, the same tavern where bartender Skye Rufflequill serves beverages and the Cirrus Cartel do their shady work. The lower lands, or Isle of Zephyr, is situated in the middle of the sea. Tacoma and Lunati grew up on the Isle of Zephyr before a massive storm ravaged their home. They took to the skies together and founded Nimbaterra, where the Cloud Nine tavern and a port town were built to accommodate trade in the area.
This week I wanted to show some of the work I've done for this world of ours, as we're continually roleplaying and building onto the existing lore. This is home to our characters, and a lot of love has gone into it.
For more information about the different areas and rooms in Club Nimbus, check our roleplaying site.
This week's art is a kind of joke piece of Cassandra with a detatched dong in her mouth. Recently, I discovered that dick gore amuses Lunati. She was responsible for the idea, but I'm not sure what possessed me to actually draw this. I think her warped sense of humor has finally rubbed off on me.
I was going to take some time to talk a little more about Cassandra, but I think she'll end up getting her own page including the lore we've come up with for her this year. She's an old character, but hasn't gotten the love she (cautiously) deserves until recently. Cassandra's a vengeful and violent ermine, but she's adorable and fun to write. How is it that cute and evil work so well together?
I apologize for keeping this update short, however, it's been an extremely busy week for the two of us. I'm plowing through commissions at a steady rate, and can't object to the extra work as I'm struggling to make ends meet. If anybody would like some art, feel free to contact me on Discord at Tacoma #0029 or email tigressfire at gmail.com.