ANATOY Designer Toy World Cup

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Sometime in March I got the invite to take part in a Designer World cup event hosted by Martian Toys. The base is by Anatoy and the custom piece will be headed for Five Point Festival in Brooklyn. I’ve never customised a toy before so I was super excited to get started on my Anatoy Anthony when I received it. x)

Removing paint

The first order of business was paint removal. I love the fact that Anthony could be easily disassembled into parts. Most forums and youtube tutorials recommended acetone swipes, but my dear friend Jessica cautioned the melting of the vinyl in the process of those swipes, so I went with a lighter solvent Mr. Color thinner - wasn’t effective. Diluted acetone wasn’t effective either. I proceeded to try acetone without dilution and sure enough, it left a layer of melty residue on the vinyl :/

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I turned to good old sanding with an 800 grit sandpaper. Did the the job but it was particularly bothersome to get in the tight spaces. I ended up not sanding the hands and arms because their paint coats were smooth and flat already.

Here’s what it looks like after priming with all the masked nub-nubs. I used Vallejo primer for the primer coat.

Here’s what it looks like after priming with all the masked nub-nubs. I used Vallejo primer for the primer coat.

This is afterall my first toy customisation project so I came up with a little story and did sketches on my iPad pro before doing anything to Anthony.


The Story

This new guy’s story is that he is a sheep herder. His sheeps are the very same sheeps you count in bed to go to sleep. In the day, he will bring his sheeps to fresh pastures to graze. Come night time, he’ll bring the sheeps to people who can’t sleep and loan them sheeps for counting. Once the person goes into slumber, he’ll lead his flock to the next sleepless being. On his head, sits a lightbulb that’s controlled by the switch on his chest. It is the beacon of light that guides his sheeps so he doesn’t lose them in dreams.

The sketches of the shepherd reflects the AM/PM hours in dark blue and white colors. In the dark blue portions, we have speckles of stars to resemble the night sky, balanced with golden drops on the white portion.I decided to go with something like number 4.


Surgery

The head had to be cut off to make way for the tea light to be integrated. We really had no clue as to whether it was hollow in the core. Same goes for the body. We just whinged it. With tons of help from Hanyang, we managed to successfully perform brain and heart surgery on Anthony.

A hole was drilled from the base of the head through to the body for wires. The electronics are now ready for integration.

Lightbulbify the Toy

The IKEA tea light was easy enough to disassemble. After figuring out how things work, we extended wires from the little green chip within the tealight to reach the rocker switch I bought. At first I thought of halving the IKEA tea light and capping it over battery holder and the green chip. But then we figured it’s better to just use the whole IKEA tea light to cap off the top. This means that you can easily switch up the battery when the one inside the tea light is depleted. (yayy for more lifeeee~)

After the electronics were in, the surface was a little melty. So I sanded it down gently, masked the tea light and switch and gave it another good coat of primer and a coat of Tamiya Matt White.

Masking Clouds

I never did like masking. It took too long and I’d screw it up anyways. But in this case, it seemed like the only efficient way to get my cloud motif. So I bit the bullet and masked the white area using hobby grade masking tape.(Probably the reason why my toy came out okay.) I also learnt that the way to get rid of the masking tape line is to wet-sand it down with a 1200 grit sandpaper. (Best lesson learnt from customising this toy)

The tea light and the rim of the head were an almost perfect fit. Almost. I decided to sculpt a ring of wool using Ladoll Premier paper clay to wrap around the tea light to create a “cap” and to hide the slight gaps. For the same reason, textured wool was sculpted around the switch as well. Overall, it looked in theme so I wasn’t too bother by the deviation from the sketch.

Tea Light troubles

The problem with the tea light was that I did not want to glue it down permanently. I wanted to allow the collector to open the tea light and be able to switch out the battery if necessary. So I tried placing a magnet. It was made difficult by the solid core wiring that was pushing the tea light cap away. There wasn’t a whole lot of space to place the magnet in a way that does not obstruct battery replacement. I proceeded to try out sticky squares, Elmer’s glue, velcro and even blue tack. However, none held down the tea light well enough, and they weren’t “clean” solutions. I I went back to magnets in the end, but smaller ones this time. When the lip clapped down neatly, my heart sang :) It was neat and prettier than I envisioned.

Bunny Slippers

The Anatoy has quite a few joints. To stay true to my sketch, I sculpted wool around the knee joints. I dripped some zap a gap superglue into the joint area to make the positioning permanent, before covering it with a layer of Bondite.

Once the Bondite layer is dryer, I added the wool texture ( Ladoll Premier paper clay) . I then sculpted little bunny ears and placed it near the feet. The Bunny slippers were my favourite part of the whole customisation!

Metallic Blue Everything

Spraying the Tamiya Deep Metallic Blue was quite the hassle, especially when the blue got to the white parts. Towards the end, I resorted to painting up the any stray blue with Vallejo Arctic White paint. The arms were suppose to have a strip of metallic blue. The first round of masking was a disaster (because I skimped on the masking tape, used a regular one instead of hobby grade), after which I decided to do without the strip.

The hands were easy peasy. The bunny slippers on the other hand was a long process. I allowed the air dry clay 2 days to completely dry before spraying the Deep Metallic Blue. Another full day of drying before I used Vallejo Arctic White to go over the wool area and the insides of the bunny ears. Yet another full day of drying before I did the embellishments of stars with white gel pen. The reason for the wait was because if the paint is not 200% dry, my grubby fingers tend to leave prints on the surface, just by holding the piece.

After all the paint work is done, I proceeded to lay on 2 coats of top coat. Mr Color Gloss is my go-to for a beautiful finish. It brings out the metallic sheen very well in sunlight.

The Sheep and the Shepherd’s cane

The Shepherd is no Shepherd without his sheep! So I sculpted a wooly little companion from scratch. It was so cute that we made a little mold for it so we can make sheeps for days~
The cane was a rather last minute impulse addition. A 2.4mm aluminium rod was a suitable fit. I added a ball of string where the grip would be but didn’t glue it down to the hand so it’s like an add on accessory if you will.

Original Sheep in air dry clay (L) , Resin casted Sheep (R)

Write up / Manual / Wrap up

To share the story behind my custom as well as information for battery replacement, I did up a little folded card. At the back, I came up with a cute little rhyme for the character’s narrative.

Quite happy with how this custom turned out. The best photos of this guy can be taken in the warm sunlight.

Hopefully this boy and his sheep gets to go to a good home :) If you have any questions about my process, feel free to drop me message and I’ll gladly share to the best of my knowledge!

Thanks for reading ~

xoxo,
Trivia

SG Traction City (M.E.G.A.)

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Thanks to a little birdie called Xylvie, I got to know about the Mortal Engine contest hosted by 8 days magazine. The prize ? A trip to London for 2 to catch the premier of the movie. So I got Hanyang from Funbie Studios to take part as well to double our chances of winning. And boy did he step up with his 3d printed city. You can check out his entry here!

Here’s my entry for the contest!

Mega E.R.P. Gantry Alliance. (M.E.G.A.) lol.

For those who followed my ig stories, I know I mentioned coloring up this big guy over ig live. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the time to set up the camera and I was rushing to meet the deadline. Also, I thought that the line art should stand out and so I shaded in a monotone of faded red. I figured it might not be as interesting to watch. I’ll try to find something else to do live next time!

More about this version of traction city. So the idea is that in the distant future, we will be self sufficient in NEWater. However, we need other resources, so we become a tax city of sorts. MBS lasers will seek out passing traction cities and we’ll tax them in the resources we require. In return, we might provide some aid relief in NEWater if necessary.

A closer look at all the untidiness. Can you spot my signature?

The HDB feature.

Definitely bringing HDBs on board because we need a place to house the remaining population and to continue the tradition of hanging our clothes and undies out to dry :) There’s the Art Science museum that contains all the remnants of our past.

This crabby is not happy.

The CBD feature.

For that Work - Life balance, we brought some office spaces for inhabitants to work in. Nothing special about the buildings except they are built on this GIANT MUTATED CRAB! This was just a brain fart, when I thought that we could weaponise our food. The Crab is mechanically engineered to catch passing cities if they were to evade the gantry. Funnily enough, it does seem to be flipping the bird in this pose.

The flower domes are brought in because I want that artificial waterfall in my traction city. Also they happen to fit into the empty space perfectly :D

Derpy Merlion spitting watermelon seeds.

Shop Houses and Derpy Merlion.

With work places and homes settled, we needed a space to play. Then there’s the matter of preserving our heritage. The solution ? Shophouses with hipster bars, restaurants and kopitiams. (Such win!) Derpy Merlion had to be a figure head for the city. Backed by a large canon, it’s been programmed to spit watermelon seeds at smaller scrap cities when we engage in close combat.

Trainer wheels are nothing to be ashamed of!

Banner beautification and Trainer Wheels.

Along with the banners that line the sides, we wrap the city up with flower garlands for the fresh look and smell. Though most cities move on larger wheels, we have underbelly wheelies and trainer wheels that are retractable. In the event we get to sea or a desert terrain, navigation is simpler by controlling the sails and letting the wind do the work.

A BIG thank you to you if you made it to here! This was a good exercise and I wanted to properly share the features I’ve included in this piece. I’m pretty sure my traction city won’t work out irl but it is purely how I imagine it to be. Oh and I used Clip Studio Paint for this piece, as with most of my digital works :) Feel free to shoot me questions about my process or materials. You can email me or leave a comment below. I’m most happy to share!

I really want to see the winner’s entry though, so if you got news, do tell! Thank you in advance~

xoxo,
Trivia

March Monthly Madness

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Back in the March, I wasn't getting as much commissions as I would like. The danger of that is to not produce any art and lose touch with my craft. And so as recommended by artist illustrators that I follow and advised by my diet of podcasts, I embarked on a self initiated project - a monthly challenge like one I did back in 2017 for Inktober. Except this time, I didn't feel the need to stick to a timeline and get 1 out every other day, nor did I feel inclined to complete all 30. It was simply a way of keeping my skills from turning all rusty.

In order to grow you have to accept that you don’t know everything.
— Aaron Atchison, Farm Design Founder

Establishing theme and rules

Since I've been drawing pet portraits and characters, I wanted to try something different and less familiar. Thus, I decided on the theme of "Houses". Then I decided I should establish some rules for myself to make it easier to draw because I don’t have to constantly wonder what to draw next.

My rules were pretty straightforward. One house structure per illustration, minimal background, has to fit snugly into A6. The works are going to be in series of 5 and worked on in batches. Each series had a micro- theme namely TEA/COFFEE POTS, SHELLS and MUSHROOMS.

The Process

Before drawing on the final A6 pieces, I did rough sketches to get a sense of the 5 in a series so that they’d look somewhat cohesive in the end. To do that I had a look through the interwebs for charming reference photos. Mentally, I thinking about who’s living in this house, what is the house built on, how many windows, what props can I add to make the illustration work etc.

Coffee Pot House Watercolour Illustration
Coffee Pot House Watercolour Illustration

So this thought process became easier and free-er after the first series. By the time I was working on the 2nd series (micro-theme : Shells ) I was more decisive on the look and function of the house. I had a sea-urchin house where an astronomer lives with his telescope on the roof, and an egg shelled restaurant, and a spiny seashell operating as a laundry house. The search for reference photos expanded into museums and books where I had a glimpse of a wonderful collection of shells and mushrooms. (I never knew how sea urchin shells looked like until I saw the real thing at Lee Kong Chian Museum!)

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sea-urchin-shell

Technically speaking

Materials used :

  • Kuretake brush pen

  • Van Gogh Watercolour

  • Sakura Pigma Micron pen 03

  • Canson Watercolour paper 300 gsm

I usually sketch in pencil, ink the piece and then add on the watercolours. The inking bit is my favourite part. You can check out some inking time-lapses on my Instagram Highlights.

Key Takeaways

So there you have it. This simple illustration project stopped at 15 pieces but I learnt so so much. While drafting the houses, I tend to think deeper about the story behind each house.  and that provided some sort of guide in the way the houses are presented. I also  (re) learnt to how to draw inspiration from live observations rather than just scrolling through Pinterest / Instagram. It took only an afternoon at a natural history museum to churn out drafts for both the shell and mushroom pieces. It goes to show that there are still ways I can optimise / speedup my workflow just by tweaking the way I get things done.

Eventually, paid work and events got in the way and I had to press pause indefinitely on this little project. Around June/ July period, I had a few events lined up so I decided to turn the Little Odd Houses into prints. You can now get them at my bigcartel! Every little bit from that shop goes to helping me pay rent and allows me to continue doing what I do :)

I do hope you found this post helpful and not too boring a read. Sharing experiences is effective re-learning for me, and whether you are the person sharing or the person on the receiving end of someone else's experience, the benefit is mutual. Should you have any questions on my works or process, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email!

xoxo,
Trivia