Monday, 30 March 2015

Dromeria: If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It

If you want to come live in Dromeria, you do not have to be rich. You do not have to be intelligent, nor fashionable. You just have to be yourself, and never pretend to be someone else. Be yourself, and always stay yourself. Only then you will be able to see all the amazing things that are going on in that beautiful little village. ["Dromeria: Biggie"]

Dromeria is a series of children's stories written by a Flemish author, Marc Geyens. In 2013, he discovered some of my recent drawings, thanks to my mom and her colleagues (*Throws confetti*). Marc did not hesitate one second to contact me. Apparently, he was still looking for an illustrator that could bring his old stories to life. Insert jaw drop here.


Some of Dromeria's main characters, Summer 2013
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Marc had recently become one of the founders of "Uitgeverij Het Punt". Het Punt aims to publish the work of young, ambitious artists, such as illustrators, writers and poets. This formula eventually led to a literary explosion, as many people, including myself, were finally given the rare opportunity to share their work with the outside world. Het Punt still becomes bigger every day, and I am very happy and proud to be part of their community!


My cat Celesse and her "Dromerified" version, September 2013

I spent the Summer of 2013 drawing 20 big story-related illustrations, 20 decorative drawings, and a colourful cover picture for the very first Dromeria adventure. It took me more than 200 hours to finish. "Dromeria: Biggie" tells the story of Biggie, a big-eared pig who likes to play pranks on his friends. The book features a lot of unique creatures, such as owls, crocodiles, and turtles. In fact, many of the characters were inspired by animals that exist in real life, such as my cat Celesse (who owns a little shop in Dromeria and sells delicious cookies), my friends' dogs, chickens and rodents, and even the birds that live in my backyard!


My first time at the "Boekenbeurs", Antwerp, November 2013

"Dromeria: Biggie" was released in November 2013, during the "Boekenbeurs", Belgium's biggest book fair. As an invited illustrator, I was given the opportunity to sign the book and draw tons of happy little animals for happy little kids (What's your favourite animal? What, really, a spider? Oh, and your sister wants a dinosaur? Wait, seriously?!). I have to admit that it was a fantastic experience, and seeing all those amazed faces reminded me of the time when I was a child, eagerly hunting for autographs and illustrations at the book fair. :)


One of the 20 big story-related illustrations in "Dromeria: Lode", August 2014
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Due to tons of homework and lots of studying, I did not have a much time to draw until the Summer of 2014. Marc Geyens had written a new story, and this time, it would feature a crazy stork named Lode. Lode, a rhyming mailman, had already made his appearance in "Dromeria: Biggie". I promised myself to work even harder on the illustrations, adding more detail and finding the perfect colour balance for every single drawing. Well, I certainly did my best! :) "Dromeria: Lode" will be released next month. I am very excited to see the result.


Cover without text for "Dromeria: Lode", February 2015
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Thanks to the support of Marc Geyens and Het Punt, I was present at the Boekenbeurs in November 2014, as well. The publisher managed to surprise me with an lovely series of Dromeria merchandise: fake tattoos, magnets (These were sold out way too quick, I'm actually glad I got one myself!), bookmarks, yo-yos, and even a friendship book. Arigato gozaimasu! :'(


"Dromeria: Biggie", the friendship book, and merchandise at the Boekenbeurs, November 2014

I am really thankful to the people who made all of this possible, and those who never stopped supporting me. I honestly think that some people believe more in me than I do. I am very glad that hard work really pays off. :D I will be posting more Dromeria updates soon, including some of my older drawings. Until then, stay tuned.

See you next time!

Leen

P.S. If you would like to order "Dromeria: Biggie", the friendship book, or "Dromeria: Lode" (released next month) online, feel free to have a look at De Leeswinkel! :)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

It's Cupcake O' Clock

In November 2012, my mom went to a cupcake workshop. She came home with a huge variety of tools and kilograms (I repeat, kilograms!) of edible sugar paste. I used to love Play-Doh as a kid, so it was only obvious that I desperately wanted to learn how to design my own colourful cupcakes!

My very first steps into the magical world of pastry design led to the creation of six animal cupcakes: a sheep, a pig, a panda, a cat (This is my own cat Celesse, to be exact), a dog, and a rabbit. Very basic stuff, indeed, but it definitely triggered my love for cupcake decoration.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0AHVwV38P-c/VRKiT6D7IZI/AAAAAAAAADc/tDk3yErx2pE/s1600/Animal%2BCupcakes.png

Animal cupcakes, November 2012

In January 2013, I was in desperate need of some more cupcake therapy, as I like to call it. I had to study for my exams, but creating a set of video game cupcakes actually seemed more appropriate at that time. o_o; And that is how Genki (Saints Row), Drippy (Ni No Kuni), Daxter (Jak & Daxter), Kratos (God of War), Claptrap (Borderlands), Vaas (Far Cry 3), and Amaterasu (Okami) became a happy bunch of edible heroes! :) At the time of creating this set of cupcakes, I also had a comic series running on the Dutch Official PlayStation Magazine's website, featuring the same characters.



Video game cupcakes, January 2013

I have been a Disney fan for as long as I can remember, so my next set of cupcakes would, of course, feature some of my favourite Disney animals (and monsters, and aliens, and whatever): Robin Hood (Robin Hood), Mike (Monsters, Inc.), Stitch (Lilo & Stitch), Dory (Finding Nemo), Simba (The Lion King), and Marie (The Aristocats).

 

Disney cupcakes, April 2013

My creative friends Eva, Pieter-Jan and Sam, having noticed that pastry design is totally awesome (Told ya!), have recently teamed up with me to create a very large series of Pokémon cupcakes. So far, we have come together three times, and we already made more than 40 different varieties. Our last session was in February 2015. We always keep pushing ourselves to the limit, often spending more than an hour on a single cupcake! Call us crazy. This is my personal set of Pokémon cupcakes: Shaymin, Vulpix, Leafeon, Psyduck, Sylveon, Meowth, Raichu, Eevee, Mudkip, Slowpoke, Umbreon, Skiddo, Altaria, and Marill.


Pokémon cupcakes, 2013 - 2015

People often tell me that the cupcakes look delicious. Personally, I don't like the taste of sugar paste, so I never eat them. I hope to update you soon with more colourful cupcake designs and I am planning on writing a tutorial, as well! If you know me in real life and would like to decorate cupcakes together sometime, do not hesitate to contact me. :)

Leen

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Vivi Ornitier

RPGs are my weak spot. I have played a dozen of Final Fantasy (FF) games in my life, but I never had a chance to play them all. I guess I'm still too young for that, but I'm trying to catch up! :) FFVI was my first (and probably also my favourite) game in the series, although I've been spending a lot of time in FFXIV: A Realm Reborn lately. FFXIV is an MMO, and I'm currently part of an amazing European team that tries to clear all the difficult end-game content (This is a video of our group's recent Turn 12 clear. Obviously, I'm Fabled Fox. :D I play as a White Mage, which means that I have to keep the team alive. At least, I try to!).

My boyfriend Niels (Final Freak in FFXIV, a mysterious Ninja) is an enthusiastic Final Fantasy collector and he basically knows everything about the games. FFIX being his favourite title in the series, I decided to be a good girlfriend and buy the PSone version. I'm now only 5 hours into the game, but I can already understand why the characters are claimed to be so darn amazing. Especially Vivi, the Black Mage. To be honest, I can relate to Vivi. I always trip and fall.

So, instead of actually playing the game, I decided to draw Vivi. It always goes like that. For this drawing, I used a different style than usual. It took me about 2.5 hours to finish. Some of my close friends were very excited about this new, "borderless" style (Thank you very much for the YAYs, guys!), so I will probably try to make a similar, Final Fantasy-themed digital painting in the near future! :) I love Moogles, Gilgamesh, Tonberries, summons and Red XIII, so those are all very likely candidates. Stay tuned!

And now I'm off to bed. With my PlayStation Vita, and Final Fantasy IX.

Leen
Vivi Ornitier, March 2015
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Prelude

Hi, my name is Leen. I'm a 22-year old Flemish girl who lives in the beautiful city centre of Leuven (I'm originally from Limburg, but I fell in love with Vlaams-Brabant. No regrets.). I'm a MA in French & Spanish Linguistics and a MSc in Artificial Intelligence, and I'm currently doing doctoral research on pictographic technologies for people with cognitive disabilities. While I certainly love my job, I also care a lot about spending my free time in the best way possible: drawing, playing video games, watching series (Doctor Who, if you are reading this, please marry me), hanging out with my boyfriend (Niels, if you are reading this, please marry me), reading graphic novels and comic books, travelling, learning more about Japanese culture, studying foreign languages and programming languages, petting my cat Celesse, drinking white wine, and eating way too much sushi for my own good. Hmm, sushi.

I started drawing at the age of 3. My parents, having noticed how much I loved doodling around (and wasting incredible amounts of paper), sent me to a local art school when I was 6. During 11 years, I attended art classes on a weekly basis. I also took some additional courses on digital art, which was an upcoming art form, back then. I have been exploring digital art since I was 13 years old, and it has been my biggest passion ever since! Video games, Disney, Studio Ghibli, comic books and geek culture are still my main sources of inspiration.

While I have never been a professional artist, I have completed a handful of memorable projects in the past. In 2010, I had the honour of becoming the Dutch Official PlayStation Magazine's website's main comic artist. My comic series was named "Reset!" (because, well, things usually went horribly wrong with the main characters). In 2013, I was approached by the Flemish author Marc Geyens to illustrate a series of children's books, Dromeria. The second book (It's about a stork, who is also a mailman! How awesome is that?) will be released next month. And currently, I am teaming up with a local coffee bar to design fancy coffee cups. Because you can never have enough fancy coffee cups, right?

I created this blog to share my drawings, children's book illustrations, graphics, cupcake designs and cosplay props with the outside world. I am very thankful to all the amazing people who have recommended me in the past. But I am still learning. In fact, the learning process never stops. That's why I honestly appreciate all the (constructive) feedback I can get.

Thank you for stopping by. :) I hope to see you again soon!

Leen


Final Fantasy XIV Fan Fest, London, 2014