- Yours Truly: Information about me. Includes Personal, Style, Education, Work & Future.
- My Artwork: Information about my art & methods, as well as tips. Includes Background, Approach, Tools, Techniques, Difficulties, Resources, Prints & Advice.
- Permission: Permission for tubing/tags, tattoos, personal use, etc.
- Various Requests/Commissions: Regarding trades, requests, commissions, etc.
MOST FREQUENT FAQs
- Studies: I don’t study art, and I’ve never had any formal training. I’m self-taught. I’m currently taking the Bachelors of Law & Commerce at the University of Melbourne. (More info below, & here.)
- Commissions: Currently CLOSED.
- Requests/Art Trades/Collabs: Sorry, I don’t take these, unless you’re a friend (or unless otherwise specified).
CAN’T FIND THE ANSWER YOU’RE LOOKING FOR?
Have a browse of my Noodle Box answers and maybe you’ll find it there. Otherwise, feel free to email me any queries you have, or leave a comment at the end of this post. Alternatively, you can leave a message in my Noodle Box, which I will always answer.
1. Yours Truly
1.1 Personal1.1.1 My name
Hello, I’m Viet-My Bui. Viet-My is my full FIRST name. (You wouldn’t believe the number of people who think ‘Viet’ is my first name, and ‘My’ is my surname. EVEN THOUGH they’re joined by a hyphen!) My name is pronounced “Viet-Mee Buoy”.1.1.2 “Hi Viet, how are you?”
PLEASE, for the love of all that is good, do NOT call me ‘Viet’. It’s roughly the equivalent of shortening ‘Samantha’ to ‘Samuel’. It’s also my dad’s name, and it’s just a huge pet peeve of mine.1.1.3 Nicknames
You can call me Viet-My. Or: V, Vee, VM, VB, V-My, Raven, Ravenskar, SexyKittenFace (I’m kidding). And any variation thereof. Just please, please not ‘Viet’.1.1.4 ‘Ego si relapsus resurgo.’
It’s my personal mantra: “If I fall, I rise.”1.1.5 Music Interests
Check out my Last.FM.1.1.6 Age
I was born on 14 May, 19188.8.131.52 Height
Last I checked, which was about five years ago, I measure 5 feet/~152cm. :)1.1.8 Ethnicity
I’m an Australian citizen, born & raised in beautiful Melbourne. I’m of Vietnamese ethnicity. Yes, I can speak/read/write Vietnamese and no, I’m not very good.
1.2.1 My ‘What I Wore’ series
You can follow the series here, on my blog. These illustrations depict actual outfits I’ve worn. These were all done using Paint Tool SAI & my Wacom Intuos2 tablet.You are more than welcome to do your own WIW drawings; credit is not necessary as I’m sure my idea is not unique. They’re really fun drawing exercises, so I actually encourage you to do your own!1.2.2 Where I buy my clothes
I get a LOT of queries regarding the purchase of my clothes. Please keep in mind that I live in Australia, and most of my buys come from local chain-stores and may not be relevant to where you live. I tend to save up for quality items/shoes. I also love collecting unique jewellery pieces. Being tiny, I also have to keep an eye out for stores that stock small sizes.
Local shops: General Pants Co., Dangerfield, Supré, Sportsgirl, Bardot, Cheap Monday, Gorman, Fat, & Alphaville.
Shoes are almost exclusively from Zomp. Other places/brands include Wittner & Zu.
Online shopping: ASOS, Urban Outfitters, Etsy, ModCloth, YesStyle, Nasty Gal & TopShop.
Thrift/vintage/op-shopping is also great for unique finds, as well as those lovely little cheap Asian boutiques.184.108.40.206 Similar stores overseas
For non-Australians, the clothes I purchase are probably similar to those in TopShop, H&M, Zara, Forever21, American Apparel & Urban Outfitters. I envy anyone that has easy access to those places. :P
I don’t have any accounts on these websites and I don’t really plan to. I treat my WIW series primarily as drawing exercises; I don’t think it’s important for me to take photos of myself. :)1.2.4 Style inspiration
Occasionally runway fashion & magazine editorials, sometimes fashion blogs, but mostly street styles from all over the world.
1.3.1 What/where are you studying?
I’m currently studying a double degree (Bachelors of Laws & Commerce) at the University of Melbourne.1.3.2 Do you like it? Why are you studying something you don’t like? Why aren’t you studying art? Do you have advice for me? Etc…
If you’re interested in knowing my reasons & all of the above, I’d strongly encourage you to read my entry About My Studies. It’s pretty in depth & honestly written.
1.4.1 Current Job
I’m a part time tutor at a primary school (for general help with Maths & English), as well as a casual private tutor for Year 11/12 Literature & English. When required, I assist the family business. I’m also casually working as a freelance illustrator.
1.5 Future1.5.1 What I want to study after I graduate
Perhaps Communications & Design. Or Animation. Or Illustration. I’m not sure yet! I don’t know in which area I want to specialize. At the moment, I’m eager to learn about everything.1.5.2 Future career plans
My pipe dream would be to start my own illustration/design studio. But who knows.1.5.3 Dream job
My DREAM career would be some psychedelic mixture of Illustrator/Graphic Designer/Fashion Designer/Food Taster/Game Tester/Puppy Hugger/Photographer/Professional Sleeper/Stylist/Personal Shopper. :D
2. My Artwork
2.1 Background2.1.1 How long I’ve been drawing
Ever since I was a wee Asian baby.2.1.2 Where I learnt how to draw
I’m entirely self-taught. I took a few elective art classes in high school, but I didn’t really learn anything new from them. I’ve never had any formal art training.2.1.3 How Anime/Manga influenced my art
I’ve always enjoyed Anime. As a child, I was an extreme fanatic. I even tried to follow those ‘How to Draw Manga’ books, but they never worked out for me. I found it too frustrating to follow someone else’s example. So I did it the old fashioned way: copying my favourite Anime (Neon Genesis Evangelion & Sailor Moon). This had an obvious influence on my artwork, and for a while, all I did was churn out clones.I started losing interest in Anime when I was 15. This led me to realise my artwork had no originality, and I started to make the slow departure from that style to find my own. I also abruptly realised that I had learnt nothing during my earlier years about form, lighting or anatomy, so I began to delve into that. So in short: Anime/Manga brought me to where I am today.2.1.4 When I seriously considered being an artist
I’d always entertained the thought. When I was nearing the end of high school, it hit me how much I wanted to pursue a career in art. However, it wasn’t until the end of 2008 that I had an epiphany, and was determined to follow this through. I started take my artwork much more seriously, too, and started putting in more effort.2.1.5 Inspiration
My main influences are probably photography, music, fashion & artwork.I love, love photography. Especially portraits, spontaneous shots, fashion editorials and journalistic photos. There’s just something about the clarity, the colours and the emotion one can convey through photography that I adore.
I have really broad tastes in music, and I’m always listening to something as I draw. Sometimes I create a specific playlist to help me finish a piece. Or sometimes I’m compelled to draw from the emotion/imagery the music evokes.
Fashion also has a dominant influence in my work. You can probably tell by the costumes and outfits I design, as well as the hair & ‘make-up’ on my characters. I’m also hugely inspired by the colours, shapes and silhouettes found in fashion.
And of course, art & design are always great sources of inspiration. I can become completely absorbed in going from one art site to another. Going through my “Favourites” on DeviantART, or perusing my blog, or viewing my ‘Liked’ posts, will give you a good idea on what sort of things inspire me.
Finally, life in itself is an inspiration. As kitschy as this sounds, everything around me can become a point of inspiration. The little things in life: a conversation, someone’s laugh, a ladybug, or a storm. I also tend to observe the colours and shapes around me. The people in my life, those who are important to me, will always be an inspiration. Anyone who appreciates my artwork is an inspiration, too. :)
2.1.6 Artistic influences/favourite artists
As a kid, I was largely influenced by Evangelion’s Hideaki Anno, as well as Sailor Moon’s Naoko Takeuchi, and Dragonball’s Akira Toriyama. When I was about 12, I stumbled across Puppy52 and idolised her for a few years (and she’s still drawing!).
Once I joined DeviantART, I began to idolise Anime artists like Ferus, Joodlez, Shilin, Kurot and MincedNiku (though her style has changed wonderfully, see here).However, after a few years, my influences and tastes evolved dramatically. Again, going through my “Favourites” will give you a strong idea of which artists inspire me.
Off the top of my head, my favourite artists are currently Laura Laine, Jace Wallace, Fabian Schlaga, Barnaby Ward, James Jean, Sam Weber, Russ Mills, Loise van Baarle, Joao Ruas, Ashley Wood, Gabriel Azevedo, Patricio Betteo, Jae Liu, John Foster, Alex Stodolnik, Tomer Hanuka and Masaaki Yuasa.But honestly, there are too many to name. And amazing artists are popping up each day. It’s getting so hard to keep track of them all!2.1.7 Developing my own style
I’m always a little baffled someone asks me how I developed my own style, because I’m still trying to find one! I guess I started by borrowing heavily from my favourite artists, trying to morph my style into a clone of theirs. Then I started to shake off this dependency and began using my own head to come up with my own concepts. I think it’s basically about finding your own voice and learning how to express your own thoughts without comparing them to anyone else. But trust me, I’m still trying to find my voice. And it is one seriously tricky business.
2.2 Approach2.2.1 How often I draw / How often I practice
There is the misconception that I practice a lot. And let me tell you: I don’t. I’m lazy, lazy, lazy. In the past five years, I’ve not drawn more than 5 hours per month. And for most of my life up until that point, I scraped in no more than a few hours a week. If you totalled all the hours I’ve ever practiced drawing in my 22 years of living, it’d still probably be much less than ONE year of practice for a normal, dedicated art student or freelancer.I’m TERRIBLE.I’m certainly capable of sitting down to work on a piece for 12 hours straight, but I think my natural inclination is to just be crap. And that’s probably why I’ve improved so slowly.2.2.2 How I improved at drawing
Well, for most of my life, I haven’t tried anything to improve. I am lazy as hell. I’m not one of those amazingly dedicated artists who spend 10-14 hours a day just drawing and practicing. I never have been.
To be a good artist, I think you need two things: hard work and talent. Now, many people will completely disagree and say that you ONLY need hard work. But I think I defy that belief because for years I’ve subsisted on talent alone.I was lucky to be gifted with a decent amount of natural talent; drawing has always been second nature to me. I relied purely on this talent to get me through the first two decades of my life. Despite how little I draw (see section 2.2.1), I manage to improve with each picture I produce. And this provides a terrible incentive for me to continue being lazy. I’d probably be a hundred times better had I been a dedicated artist from day one.
It was only in the past year or so that I began making a slightly more dedicated effort to improve by drawing a little more, taking notice of anatomy, understanding light and exploring colours. And I feel this has shown in my artwork. I certainly plan to push myself a LOT more.So the rule of thumb always works: practice makes perfect. And yes, true, you can get far with pure hard work alone. But I still believe you require even a tiny measure of talent: the talent for creativity. You can’t train yourself to be creative if you don’t have that bud to bloom. But great thing is, most people don’t even realise how creative they can be.2.2.3 Using References
The lighting, shading, colours and concepts in my pieces are from my imagination. Anatomy is usually done from my own head. However, I always use references when I’m having trouble understanding anatomical details (my knowledge is very poor!).I actually want to use references more often. For my own pieces, I tend to use myself as a reference (either by using a mirror or taking a quick snapshot).
I believe references are invaluable to your growth as an artist. You learn a LOT from using them, and there are very few artists out there who don’t use them. They add a completely new depth to your artwork. No matter how great an artist you are, your knowledge is limited to your own imagination — whereas the knowledge available to you in the real world is boundless. There are heaps of stock photos available online (especially deviantART), and using yourself/your friends as references is even better.Just be wary not to become too dependent upon them, otherwise you’ll lose the essence of your piece. Try not to spend time finding the perfect stock to fit into your picture. Instead, work out the flow of your piece first, the composition, etc, and THEN find a reference to get the details right.2.2.4 Life drawing classes
I took several untutored life drawing classes early in 2009 for two months. They were really laid back, and we just practiced a few different drawing exercises. However, I found these really helped my eye for lighting and anatomy and I wish to take them again! Plus they were a lot of fun.2.2.5 How long I take on a picture
It really, really depends on how indecisive I’m feeling, and the level of detail in the piece. Usually between 8-15 hours for detailed pieces. About 1-2 hours for quicker sketch pieces. I really prefer to take my time with my work, though, and sometimes lazily add in details because I can.2.2.6 Original dimensions of artwork
I always start off in A4 size (300DPI) and crop/extend the canvas depending on the image. I make a smaller, low-resolution copy to upload online.
2.3 Tools2.3.1 Programs
I use Paint Tool SAI for all of my digital illustrations. I use Adobe Photoshop CS3 for touch-ups & editing. I used OpenCanvas for about six years, but haven’t touched it since I found my beloved SAI.2.3.2 Brush settings in SAI
I use the default brush with its default values (min size 80%, density 82, blending 53, dilution 0, persistence 61). I rarely, if ever, touch the settings. Nor do I pay much attention to them.2.3.3 Custom brushes in SAI
The brush I predominantly use is a custom-made flat/square brush. I also have a collection of other custom brushes - either downloaded from the net, or of my own creation.You can find tutorials for this online. These sites should be very helpful: SAI 101 - Creating Brushes, Custom Brushes for SAI, How To Upload Custom Brushes For SAI, How To Make Your Own Brushes (+ 9 Free Custom Brushes), Algenpfleger’s SAI Tutorial.2.3.4 My tablet
I have a Wacom Intuos2. His name is Nacho. I’ve had him since 2003 and he still works like a charm.2.3.5 Traditional Media
I just use mechanical pencils and whatever paper’s lying around.
2.4 Techniques2.4.1 General
My approach to my artwork is extremely intuitive. Rather than rely on theory and formulae (because I known none), I tend to wing it most of the time. That’s probably why I’m so indecisive. I can spend HOURS just choosing between colour swatches, because it just doesn’t feel right. Thus, it’s pretty hard for me to explain my methods. However, I’ll try my best…2.4.2 Sketching
Nowadays, I try to put more emphasis on the gesture, flow and silhouette in my sketches. Before I knuckle down on a piece, I always like to fill up my sketchbook pages with tiny thumbnails of faceless characters – just trying to figure out the pose, the movement, the shape, etc. Drawing such tiny figures also prevents me from getting carried away with details like the face/hair/outfit. That’s for later. I then sketch in more detail on the computer, getting the rest of the design down pat.NOTE: In my speedpaints, I tend to use a completely different method. I take these as an opportunity to experiment with brushes and approaches, so I tend to lay a mishmash of shapes in a monochromatic colour scheme, and mould them as I go, chipping away. I completely wing these; I never know what I’m going to draw. There is no initial ‘sketch’.2.4.3 Lineart
Sometimes lineart is present in my pieces. I may be painting over loose pencil lines, or controlled pencil lineart. When I’m going for maximum detail and precision, I’ll make a messy digital sketch and then gradually erase the bits I don’t want. It’s a ridiculously painful process, but I eventually get down to very clean lineart that still has some vestige of my original intentions. It’d be easier if I just drew over my rough sketch on a new layer, but I always find that my sketches work best the first time ‘round.
Other times, I only have a very rough sketch to start with, and I paint over it entirely. Along the way, I may arbitrarily add a few outlines here and there – for emphasis/aesthetics. I sort of just wing it. Lined and lineless; I like both kinds of art. I like how they bring about very different outcomes.2.4.4 Colour Choices
I am often asked how I go about choosing/applying my colours. This is wholly intuitive. I just slosh on whatever colours I feel might suit the picture. I love experimenting with unusual colour options and adding an unexpected hues.
My personal rule is that I will never use pure white or black; I find them too stark and add an imbalance to your piece. I tend to replace white with yellow or bright turquoise, and black with deep blues and purples. Also, try not to use a lighter/darker version of your base colour to blot in shadows/highlights. Use a different colour altogether – however slight. It will add depth & interest to your piece. For instance, though I may start with a peachy base for the skin tone, I’ll throw in reds, pinks, blues, yellows, purples, etc.
To keep the piece unified, I always try to use the eyedropper tool to pick up colours from all over the canvas and inserting them elsewhere. This is particularly important when you want to integrate your subject with the background; adding subtle hints of the background colour into your character will make it a more cohesive piece.2.4.5 Colouring/Brushwork
The technique I use to colour is also largely intuitive. I suppose my main goal, I suppose, is to maintain a painterly feel. I like seeing visible brushstrokes, so while I enjoy blending my colours, I don’t mind if there’s a rough patch, or there’s residue. I don’t spend time blending things to a flawlessly smooth finish.2.4.6 Hair
I get so many questions about the way I draw hair! There is no set method (see above). The only thing I try to keep in mind is that I want the hair to be realistic – but have a surreal (semi-)defiance of gravity at the same time. (Weird, I know.) Flow is extremely important – as well as contour and shape. No matter what style (short, long, curly, spiky, teased), there must always be flow from the start of the hairline to the tip of strands.
Gravity plays its role to a degree; never forget the weight/density of the hair. Volume is also important to me; I always insert an obscene amount into the hairstyles I draw. I want the hair to be buoyant, vibrant! Even the straightest strands have a certain life to them.
The reason why I always put so much focus into my hairstyles is that I find it is a powerful attribute of character design. The hairstyle you choose can say so much about your subject.2.4.7 Textures
I love using textures. They have such varied effects on the colours/moods of my pieces. I tend to use this method here. But sometimes I incorporate a texture earlier in the process, painting it in, integrating it carefully. Occasionally I will stray from my Favourite Square Default Brush and mess around with the other brushes, applying texture manually.2.4.8 Layers
Typically, I will use 2-3 layers to very loosely ‘build up’ my piece: a Grayscale/Values layer, an Overlay Layer (sometimes I skip this) and a Multiply Layer. Then using the eyedropper tool I will take what has been created from the amalgamation of these layers, and paint over everything on a single, new layer. A more detailed explanation can be found here.
2.5 Challenges2.5.1 Why I rarely draw guys
I just have too much fun drawing ladies. I enjoy capturing curves and flow. Drawings girls also means I have more room to play around with hairstyles, costumes, make-up. I find drawing males much more restrictive as they are comprised of a lot of leaner, straighter lines. However, I DO draw guys now and then in my sketchbooks/for commissions. I’ll try to draw them more often. :)2.5.2 What I find hardest to draw
2.6 Resources2.6.1 Tutorials
I receive many requests for tutorials, but as they are so time consuming, I’ve not yet made any. I do have one walkthrough, though. I’ll try to buckle down and make one in the future! Perhaps for hair, as that’s my most common request.2.6.2 Process Animations
I usually make these after I complete a picture. You can find them in my illustration posts (for finished pieces). I make these by compiling screenshots or jpegs into Photoshop, then using the Animation tab to make a basic gif.2.6.3 Videos
I don’t have any tutorial videos, per se. However, I do upload speedpaints onto Youtube. I record these using Camtasia.2.6.4 Livestream
I occasionally Ustream. I announce my shows on Twitter & DeviantART.2.6.5 Resources I’ve Used
I used this tutorial when I first tackled lineless digital painting. Otherwise, I don’t really know of any other tutorials. DeviantART has a great selection, though.
I tend to use these resources for textures: CGtextures & Cloaks’ Resources.
2.7 Prints2.7.1 Selling prints
Sorry, not at the moment. I plan to open a print shop in the near future, though.
2.8 Advice2.8.1 Getting started with digital art
When I first began my foray into digital art, I just experimented with Photoshop. If you’ve grown used to pencil drawings, then I think it’d be useful for you to scan those in and practice colouring them in a digital program. Once you begin grasping the basics, you can have a go at drawing digitally. Try for small, quick pictures first. Big ones come later, when you’re more confident you can tackle them!2.8.2 Tablet recommendations
Wacom tablets are probably your best bet, since they’re renowned to be top of the line. They have different models and sizes to suit your budget (remember: larger is not necessarily better). I have an Intuos2 and a Bamboo Fun, and find them both very good. I’m pretty unfamiliar with other brands, though.2.8.3 Advice for beginner artists
Don’t be like me! Practice, practice, practice. And remember: anatomy is important. If you’re unsure of where to start, anatomy is the place to go. :) I seriously wish I’d taken notice earlier.2.8.4. General advice to other artists
Aim for expression and emotion, flow & figure. Experiment and learn new things. Try to find your own voice. Try not to compare yourself with other artists because you can be lost in the overwhelming urge to “beat” them, or perhaps be swayed by jealousy. (Although for some, it can motivate them to improve.) I believe art is about challenging yourself to do your personal best; it’s not about being better than someone else.
I’d also strongly encourage you to carry a sketchbook wherever you go. It can be used for some observational sketching or jotting down ideas while you’re commuting or waiting for a friend, etc.2.8.5 Advice to someone who wants to have a career in art, but has pressure (parents, friends, etc) to do otherwise.
It’s always hard when the most influential people in your life don’t try to push you in another direction. However, if you feel it is truly what you want, and you have the means and the will to make it happen, then do it. You might end up finding that art wasn’t for you. But it’s better to have tried and failed, than to never have tried at all. Doing something that makes you happy – for the rest of your life – is an invaluable and incredibly rare opportunity.2.8.6 Looking at personal portfolios/Giving critique
No, sorry. Please don’t ask me to look at your work/give you critique. If I said yes to one person, then it would be unfair of me to deny anyone else, and that would involve spending a lot of time going through people’s galleries and leaving critique. I just don’t have time for this. If you really want some critique, and none of your friends can help you out, then I strongly encourage you to join some art forums. They’re specially designed to give you the best feedback possible.
3.1 Tubes/signature tags
I do not give permission for my artwork to be used for tubes/signature tags.
3.2 Licensing artwork
I am not interested in having my artwork licensed for use in signature tags or any other stock usage.
3.3 Website layouts
I only allow use of my artwork for layouts if it is for a personal non-profit website, and only if my website link is visible on the image. Please email me (vm.bui[at]hotmail.com) before using my artwork in a layout, so that I can indicate my approval.
I only allow use of my artwork if a link to my website (either ‘ravenskar.deviantart.com’ or ‘ravenskar.tumblr.com’) is visible on the avatar/icon itself.
3.5 Pixel dolls
You can use my artwork as inspiration for your dolls as long as you give me due credit. However, I’d rather you don’t use my art reference for bases.
3.6 Using my art as a reference
Sure, I’m fine with this. As long as you give me due credit (with a link to my website).
I would love it if you had my artwork tattooed on you! :D You don’t need my permission to do this. My only request is that you send me a photo of it after it’s done! However, tattooists do not have permission to use sell my artwork as designs in their shops.
3.8 Personal use
Personal, non-profit use of my art is fine. I’m also happy for you to print out a small version for yourself (to decorate your room, etc). However, never claim it as your own.
3.9 Website/blog features
I’d be honoured if you featured me on your site. :) Just be sure to link back to my site (and let me know if you feature me!).
I sometimes take commissions, but at the moment they are CLOSED. Please take note of my commission status (always on my DA journal & at the top of the FAQ). For more info, please email me.
4.2 Requests/art trades
Sorry, I don’t do these! Especially requests. If I drew a request for you, I couldn’t really deny anyone asking for one and this would be extremely unfair on my paying clients. I would encourage you not to assume that every artist has the time to give out free drawings.
4.3 Offering my services for free
Nor do I do this. As a full time student with many other extra-curricular and personal commitments, I simply don’t have the time to do any artwork for free.