Vicki Tsai (vickisigh), the artist behind the Galaxy Painter illustration for our 20th International Illustration Contest, told us about her workspace, workflow, and advice for new artists!
Note: The original article is in English. On sites other than the English site, this is a machine translation.
Who am I?
Hi, my name is Victoria Tsai aka vickisigh aka Vicki and I’m a freelance artist as well as a business owner. Basically, I make drawings for other people but I primarily make drawings for myself.
My workspace is a pretty simple setup. I have a desk that my partner’s father built, a beautiful and sturdy wood piece that supports my laptop, tablet, drawing tools, and an assortment of knick knacks that put a smile on my face.
On the wall in front of me I have a variety of art prints and designs from artists I love. What’s important to me is cultivating a space where I feel like I can always have fun and experiment and that ultimately reflects my personality.
I also sometimes like to work from the couch while drawing on my iPad. Freeing myself from the confines of the desk has encouraged me to be more creative in ways that don’t come across when I’m sandwiched between a chair and desk.
The Ins and Outs of My Art Process
I used CSP for the first time around a year ago and it instantly became one of my favorite art programs. It’s packed with features, yet intuitive enough at the same time so the barrier to entry feels low making the workspace approachable.
① Rough Sketches
I started this illustration in my usual manner. I always begin with a rough sketch to capture the general feeling and energy I want to come across.
Colors play a big part in this process too as I rely a great deal on color to translate the emotions of a piece. I used blues and purples to emulate outer space and feelings of calm and reflection and balanced it with warm oranges and pinks to interject energy and brightness amongst the vast expanse of sky.
From there I move to lineart, which brings me to one of my favorite features in CSP: vector layers. It’s a literal godsend. I drew the lineart on a vector layer so I didn’t have to worry about changing the size later, always good to keep in mind when working for a client.
I love drawing with the pencil brushes in CSP, specifically the default darker pencil brush. It tapers gently and responds well to pen pressure, which helps create the rougher traditional feel I like in digital drawings.
I’ve found that the freedom of customizing brushes often keeps me from the straightforward act of drawing so I like when a brush is simple, no-frills and doesn’t hit any snags.
Once I wrap up lineart, I color everything in, which is a chaotic process in and of itself. It’s the least straightforward part of my work and changes from moment to moment based on how I’m feeling.
For this particular piece I started by flatting colors underneath the lineart, and once I like how that looked, I merged all the layers and painted on top of it all. I tend to feel limited by lineart, it reminds me of trying to color in the lines. So making a new layer to paint over areas allows me to experiment with changes like adding more details or simplifying parts I don’t even think of when just working off the lineart.
After that, I like to take breaks from working on a piece and come back to it after a night’s rest so I can look at it with fresh eyes. I’m a strong believer in changing something if you don’t like it and I think that can feel hard with art, especially if you’ve poured a lot of time into it. However, it’s the one thing that always keeps me open and receptive to new ideas.
Advice for new artists
My best advice for artists who are just starting out and who are interested in growing a following online is to start now. The first step to become known is to put yourself out there! I think there’s sometimes a pressure to have a plan before you’ve begun but I say just have fun with it.
I started out posting fanart of characters and games I love as a way to connect with other fans and feel part of a community. I think if I had gone into it with the intention of making art a career, things would’ve turned out differently. Situations become inherently serious when words like “job” and “money” become involved. Not that either of those things are bad, but my understanding of those words at the time was shrouded in my equally distorted idea of what “being an adult” looked like.
As with many things in life, there is no one right way to be an adult, to make art, or to go about your career. So go into it with love, because love keeps you sane throughout the uncertainty of turning your personal creations into something that can also support you.
20th International Illustration Contest Now Open Until April 10! Theme: Fantasy Job
Let your imagination run wild and submit your illustrations based on your ideal “fantasy job” to our 20th International Illustration Contest for a chance to win 200,000 JPY (approx. US$1,840)! We can’t wait to see your creative interpretations of the theme.
Grand prize: 200,000 JPY (approx. US$1,840)
Submit your artwork through the following entry form. Make sure to read the terms of the contest before submitting any artwork.