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I got some awesome news several days ago. Unfortunately, this was just as ATG started, so I've been a bit slow to pass it on. Let's fix that, shall we?

A few months ago, :iconlyokoheros: approached me and asked permission to translate one of my earliest popular comics, Spikes Fortune, into Polish.

I'll admit, it's been long enough since I drew it that parts of the art on that comic give me a major cringe fit, but people seem to like it well enough regardless. If a group of translators feel it's worth spending their time to inflict it on their countrymen, I'm certainly not going to tell them "no". :)

It took a little while, but the translation group K-Archiwa-Canterlotu (I'm told the name means "
Royal Canterlot Archives") has finally completed work on the comic. You can find the results of their efforts here: Skarb Spike'a (Spike's Fortune PL) by Lyokoheros

I'm honored these guys felt that my comic was worth their efforts to translate. That said, I don't read Polish so if you, dear reader, can read it and the translation is actually an elaborate ruse to make me link to a comic insulting your dear mother, feel free to give me a heads up. ;)
Some of you undoubtedly took note of the presence of a drafting table in the background of my last ATG Alumni submission and possibly noticed my comment to :iconabronyaccount: that I had just set it up that day. An enquiring mind might wonder upon seeing it- just what does a digital artist need with a fancy-schmancy drafting table, anyway? There's no need to spell it out, I suppose. The answer is obvious. How else was I going to set up the shot for that submission?

Behind the Scenes by HalflingPony

j/k

No. The real reason I bought the table was, for a very long time, I've wanted to branch out into more traditional media. Until now, I've simply not had any good place to do so. Sure, I could always clear a place on my dining table and work there- but it was extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient. As a result, I simply never took the time to do so.

On top of that, I've always found traditional media, with its moderately expensive and consumable materials to be rather intimidating. I've always hated the idea of "wasting" any kind of supplies. Part of the reason I waited so long to really get into art was the fear of using up a ton of paper, ink, and paint on "worthless" results. Digital art, with its infinite supply of colour and canvas was a great psychological stepping stone in that regard. I was able to develop my artistic eye sufficiently that I no longer feared that what I produced would only be worthy of displaying in a garbage pail. But now...

It's time.

This is the year that I finally throw caution to the wind and really get my hands dirty with traditional media. The very first piece of art to be signed by me with the new year is also my very first attempt at traditional watercolour.

Well, maybe "throw caution to the wind" is a little strong. I did read a bunch of articles, watched a ton of YouTube videos and experimented with colour blending on a piece of practice paper before I dove into an actual picture. I decided, rather than do something brand new, I'd take an existing, uncoloured piece and simply practice the mechanics of finishing it traditionally. I settled on this one:
C'mere Sugarcube by HalflingPony
It's fairly recent. The shapes don't make me cringe (much) and there's a fair amount of colour variety represented between the two characters. So, I printed it out, traced it onto watercolour paper, pulled out some cheap brushes and paints (I'll get more expensive stuff once I have a better feeling for what I actually need) and prepped the paper for painting:

Stage 1 by HalflingPony  Stage 2 by HalflingPony

Let me tell you, it's equal parts intimidating and thrilling going from a colour pallet like this:

Digital Pallet by HalflingPony

to one that looks like this:
Watercolour Pallet by HalflingPony

and then trying to manually replicate all the colours you need. I definitely had a few missteps in the beginning.

Stage 3 by HalflingPony

But by the end I think I was really starting to get the hang of it.

Stage 4 by HalflingPony

So here's the finished product. Hopefully, the first of many. I'm definitely not turning my back on digital art. I absolutely love it. But I can't wait to expand more into traditional media as well.
  • Listening to: Canterlot Hill Radio
  • Playing: Frozen Synapse: Prime
I have something I feel I need to get off my chest:

I have never liked Pokémon.

I know some of you will probably need a moment to recover from such blasphemy, but before you pick up your pitchforks and torches, please take a deep breath and hear me out.

All calm? Ok.

So here's the thing. By most objective standards, I'm a fairly young guy. I've yet to hit middle age, I've only recently begun to wear glasses occasionally, and I can still remember quite clearly how much being a kid stunk at times.

But, in terms of the Brony demographic (as reported by herdcensus.com), I'm way over the hill and nearly at the bottom of the other side:

Source: 2014 State of the Herd Report
When the TV show came out I was already in high school and at the awkward age where it was socially unacceptable to be seen liking anything "little kids" liked. In my circle, that included Pokémon.

It wasn't until I was in college I started to genuinely wonder why this stupid little Gameboy game based on a kids show (yes, I know now it was the other way around), had become so popular. So (being the rebellious outlaw I was at the time) I downloaded an emulator and the ROMs for Red and Blue and gave it a spin.

It was booorrrring.

Don't get me wrong, it was a decent enough "JRPG-lite". But I was also playing the newly released Final Fantasy X at the time and, frankly, the comparison was not favourable to Pokémon.

A couple of years ago, I realized how shallow and unfair it was to compare one of Square-Enix's cutting-edge JRPG masterpieces to an extremely outdated version of an all-ages collecting game with simplified RPG elements. I decided I needed to give Pokémon another chance.

So, I picked up HeartGold and played it for about a month, even taking the included pedometer with me to the gym to level up my Pokémon on the treadmill.

It was fun... for the first three or four towns. But, about the time I found myself waiting for more berries to grow on the trees and for my little critters to hurry up and mate with each other, it started feeling tedious. It was still significantly more of a "game" than Farmville, but I couldn't help making the mental comparisons... and I hate Farmville.

So, if I dislike Pokémon so much, why am I drawing fanart  Don't Be a Jerk, Misty by HalflingPony of it? Well, I still couldn't shake the feeling I was missing something. There had to be more than simple nostalgia for the old Gameboy games that had driven its popularity for so long and for so many, especially in the Brony community.

When I was browsing through Netflix's suggestions page last night and saw they had recently added the first season of the Pokémon TV series, I decided I needed to watch it.

I've now seen the first five episodes and I. am. hooked. Like a Magikarp fighting a Pidgy in the forest, I'm helpless to escape the grasping talons of its compelling story, interesting characters, and, at times, genuinely hilarious writing. It almost makes me want to go back and play HeartGold again.

Almost.

  • Reading: The Innocence of Father Brown
  • Watching: Pokémon
  • Playing: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
Hey all, I hope you'll forgive me a moment of cross-promotion, but it occurs to me that some of my followers here on DA may not be aware that I also run a Tumblr blog with additional content.

"HalflingPony's Art and Musings" is where I post quick and silly sketches, links, occasional late night ramblings and "behind the scenes" previews of more involved work.

Currently I'm running a blow-by-blow journal of the next digital painting I'm working on. The series is titled "From Sketch to Finish" and can be read from the beginning here. Think of it as an art Livestream, just without the audio. Or a video stream. Or the "live" bit.

Ok, so it's nothing at all like a Livestream, but it's as close as I can get with my current equipment!

I'm having a lot of fun with this project and would love to have you along for the ride.

Drawing mannequins are a wonderful artist’s tool. Having trouble figuring out what a given pose would look like from an odd angle? No little brother around to tie up into the pose you want? Just break out the mannequin, set it up and take a good long look at it until you’ve got a firm grasp on the position.

The one I have works great for bipeds or even silly ponies acting like bipeds. It’s not quite as helpful with quadrupedal positions. So, when I found myself running into a brick wall trying to visualize the pose of one of the characters in my next drawing, I was seriously tempted to go on Amazon and shell out $50 for a cheap horse mannequin.

Then I had an epiphany.

A while ago I posted about PonyLumen’s 3D Pony Creator web app. At the time I thought it was a fun little time sucker, but not really much more. Now I realized- that “time sucker” could easily serve as a virtual drawing mannequin.

I went on the site and within 15 minutes had worked up a galloping pose I was reasonably satisfied with:

Then I rotated it around and plugged it into the layout of my drawing to act as a reference.

I think that funny little “time sucker” just saved me about four hours of slamming my head against my desk in frustration.

PonyLumen - If you’re ever visiting Maine, give me a holler. I'm pretty sure I owe you a lobster dinner for this.

  • Listening to: The drone of two box fans.
  • Watching: My eyelids slowly close after a long day.
  • Playing: Shovel Knight
Howdy y'all. Just a quick note to assure all you wonderful folks kind enough to watch me that, yes, I am in fact, still alive… I’ve just been very busy on a personal project (unrelated to ponies or art) that I’ve been neglecting for over a year. Fortunately I’m nearly caught up with it, so I’ll be getting back into the swing of posting stuff soon. Thanks for your patience.
  • Listening to: Momentum by Aviators
  • Reading: Pony POV Series: Season 5 (yes, still...)
  • Playing: Mario and Luigi: Dream Team
  • Drinking: Perrier
Another season has come and gone. What a ride it has been. The bearers lost their Elements, Twilight lost her sense of purpose, and Fluttershy lost her bear call.

Ok, maybe that last one isn’t quite so important.

Of course it hasn’t been all losses this season. Rainbow Dash obtained her dream of becoming a Wonderbolt (if only the Reserves), Ponyville got first place in the Equestria Games, and Pinkie Pie got a new rubber chicken named “Boneless”.

That last one helped decide the fate of the world.

It’s been a fun ride and it ended on a bang. I really enjoyed the finale. Since DA doesn't have a good mechanism for hiding spoilers, you can read my whole review here.

  • Listening to: Let the Rainbow Remind You
  • Reading: Pony POV Series: Season 5
  • Eating: Nothing- I should really go get some breakfast....

Thank you! by HalflingPony

(Just kidding!)

In all seriousness, thank you thank you thank you to the Sparity groups on DA as well as the other FiM art groups and Tumblr blogs who so kindly promoted my last humble little comic. Thank you, also, to everyone who Favorited or Liked it either here or on Tumblr. You all rock!

I was absolutely floored when I saw the response. The piece that was previously my most popular has, to date, just barely crested over the 100 views mark and gained 22 favorites. (Not to mention that, in doing so, it also doubled the previous record.)

I draw these silly little ponies for the fun of it, not to get attention, but it still means a lot to me when other people confirm that the thing that seemed like a good idea in my head actually has some value in other people's eyes. It tells me I am not completely insane. Or, if I am, at least there's enough other people in the asylum to keep me company. That's a comforting thought.

Of course if I were doing this for popularity, you'd suddenly see all my art feature nothing but shipped pairs holding cute fillies in a misguided attempt to appeal to the ravenous fans of all things buoyant and kuwaii. Really, though, I have nothing against shipping and I can't rule out the possibility of even drawing explicitly romantic content in the future, but it's not one of my primary interests.

What you can probably expect to see is more comic-formatted content, including the continuation of a certain project I've left dormant for far too long.

Oh... and more fillies. (Because they're adorable... and isn't that enough?)

  • Listening to: d.notive
  • Reading: The Assumption of Applejack -or- Appletheosis
  • Eating: Biryani and Naan
  • Drinking: Woodchuck Cider
Oops by HalflingPony


Okay. So here’s the deal:

A little over two weeks ago I started teasing one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever conceived in my artistic career. I knew this was going to be a big project, I was super excited (and slightly nervous) about it and I knew, despite the amount of work involved, it would be super beneficial to my growth as an artist. I needed to commit to actually doing it. Hence, the tease post.

What I did not anticipate, however was the amount of preparatory work I would need to do to get everything ready for the actual project. Throw in a death in the family followed by preparations for the Thanksgiving holiday and my announcement coming “soon” turned into, well, this.

My most sincere apologies for drawing out the tease as long as I have. I am pleased to say, however, that the train is back on the rails and speeding down the track in an effort to make up for lost time. Almost all the prep work is done and you can expect the actual announcement of what this project is either later today or in the wee hours of tomorrow morning (EST).

Update: The official announcement is now up!

or Why Would a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Fan Love Sea Ponies?


    The Eighties were a great time to be a fun-loving kid growing up in the US. There were cool new whiz-bang toys with motors, blinking lights and sound effects right alongside the more imagination-driven affairs older generations had loved. Computers were no longer the exclusive domain of institutions and wealthy individuals, though it would still be a while before becoming ubiquitous among the middle class. Video games were becoming popular, but climbing rocks and turning trees into fortresses were still preferred forms of entertainment. And once you tired yourself out defending Fort Maple-by-the-Garage from attacks by Indian tribes, you could go inside and crash in front of the boob tube to watch cartoons.

    Ah, the cartoons! There was everything from the blatant (yet still entertaining) half-hour toy commercials like Transformers and He-Man to animated spinoffs of live-action sitcoms like Alf: The Animated Series and It's Punky Brewster. If you could imagine it, it probably existed- if only as an unapproved Pilot episode doomed to obscurity. Numerous studios of every level of technical skill and financial means churned out tons of fresh animation hoping to hit it big with the latest smash hit. Most of them were terrible, but as a kid, if the brightly colored pictures moved and made cool noises, you'd give it a chance- at least until the next commercial. Besides, who wanted to get up, turn the dial on the front of the TV and fiddle with the aluminum foil stuck on the rabbit ears to try and tune in a better program?


Small, fluffy, dimension-hopping dogs? Check.
(Fifty-bazillion bonus points if you recognize this one.)

    Better yet, this was the true heyday of the VCR. If you saw an interesting looking synopsis in this week's TV Guide, you'd set things up to record whatever program interested you and then re-watch it as often as you wanted. All your friends were doing the same and trading copies of tapes back and forth was common. My family had a healthy library of movies and TV shows from various sources both commercially distributed and recorded off-air.

    My favorite cartoons were the ones that were just a little bit dark and scary. I watched tons of Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera cartoons and couldn't tell you a single thing about most of them. Movies with scenes that gave me nightmares, though- those stuck with me. Films like An American Tail, The Secret of NIHM, Rankin/Bass's The Hobbit and most of the Disney feature films lodged permanently in my head with their stellar music and scary imagery. Although, in a few rare cases only the songs and scary scenes have stuck with me and I cannot now recall what film or TV show they belonged to.

    For many years, this was the case for a particularly horrific scene haunting my memories. It consisted mostly of vague impressions- a black castle, a demonic centaur, a group of terrifying dragon-like creatures emerging out of a swirling vortex of black magic. I didn't think of it often, but when I did I wondered where on earth I could have seen such a thing as a child. It didn't seem to fit the style of any of the movies or TV shows I watched most often. I only had a few clues to go on:
  • It was clearly in the dark fantasy genre.
  • The art style was unmistakably Western, but didn't match the Disney, Rankin/Bass or Don Bluth aesthetics.
  • I had to have seen it when I was quite young, probably before the age of seven.
Beyond these few facts, I was at a loss.

    Fast forward to October 2012. I had recently discovered the Know Your Meme channel on YouTube and was watching some of the old episodes. I came across one labeled "Know Your Meme: My Little Pony". At the time, I was dimly aware of the "Brony Phenomenon", but had paid it little attention. The KYM video piqued my curiosity and I started to read up on the topic. At the time, I had never heard of the show's developer, Lauren Faust, and had never seen her work on The Powerpuff Girls or Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Several articles on the subject of Bronies described her as a well-respected personality in the field of animation. They also mentioned she had taken heavy inspiration for the new My Little Pony show from a couple of tonally darker and less girl-exclusive 80s TV specials.

    I reluctantly decided I would dip my toe in the water and see what all the fuss was about, starting with the original 1984 special "Rescue at Midnight Castle". It was easy enough to find on YouTube, so I sat down in front of my TV, fired up my Roku and began watching. It started as innocently as one would expect- a Fantasia-esque scene of flying ponies sliding down a rainbow into a pool. The theme song Hasbro's toy commercials had drilled into the brain of every child of the Eighties began to play. La-la-la, "smiling face", la-la-la, "running and skipping", la-la-la, happy playing ponies, la-la-la, "no sign of trouble in sight", la-la-la, everything is bright and happy and cloyingly sweet- we get it. Ugh- I've never been one of those macho guys who can't stand the least bit of stupid girly cuteness, but even I have my limit and we were fast approaching it. Then, suddenly, the sky went dark. Storm clouds rolled in, lightning flashed and are those evil dragons soaring out of the sky kidnapping ponies? Ok- maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

    As I continued to watch, I started experiencing what I first thought was simple deja vu. Then, about ten minutes in, my jaw dropped as the evil villain, Tirek, stepped out of the shadows and unleashed his "Rainbow of Darkness", turning three of the ponies into monstrous dragon-creatures. My vague, half-remembered nightmare was finally playing in front of me for the first time in decades.


Sweet dreams, kids!

    I continued to watch, fascinated, as memories long dormant started to reassemble themselves. Only a minute or so later, one of the ponies fell off a rickety rope bridge into a river. The human protagonist, Meagan, immediately jumped in after her like an idiot. (Seriously girl, how are you planning to drag a full grown pony out of a swiftly flowing river?) I knew what was about to happen. As the first few notes of the infamous "Call Upon the Sea Ponies" song started to play, I found myself humming along with the tune- and then actually singing some of the lyrics. "Shoop-Be-Doo, Shoop-Shoop-Be-Doo...hmm hmm hmmm simply signal SOS...hmm hmm hmm...call upon the sea ponies, they'll see you to shore..."

    It was pretty clear at this point that not only had I seen this show- I had watched it many times, committing song lyrics and even lines of dialog to memory. I had vaguely remembered, as a teenager, coming across a Betamax cassette labelled "My Little Pony" and wondering why we had such a thing in our family's collection. Now I knew. After finishing Midnight Castle, I looked up the second TV special, Escape from Katrina, and discovered I was able to remember most of it as well. I continued on to My Little Pony: The Movie and, while parts of it seemed familiar, it was clearly nothing I had seen repeatedly. Clearly my forgotten familiarity with My Little Pony went thus far and no further.

    After a little bit of deductive reasoning applied to some sketchy memories, I figured out how I knew these specials so well. One of my best friends as a child had roped me into watching My Little Pony with her- and I had liked it. Nichole and her little sister Jennifer had always liked to play with their pony dolls and, on occasion, convinced their older brother, John, and me to join in with them. Most likely, I had gotten the tape of the first two television specials from them and had proceeded to memorize the darned things. Later, I probably watched the movie with them. Once I started school and had such interests verbally beaten out of me by my peers, I forgot about the shows completely.

    With this new revelation about my past, I started to watch the new series with slightly less reservation. The new art style put me off at first, but the pilot episodes drew me in with their clear inspiration from Midnight Castle. I continued to watch and, after a few more episodes, was convinced I should at least see the rest of the first season. When I came to the episode "Winter Wrap Up", the titular song hit me like a freight train. I have always loved well produced musical numbers in TV and movies. This certainly qualified. It was also stupidly catchy- the thing would lodge in my brain for the following three months. I was completely hooked at this point and even the art style had started to grow on me. I'm now a huge fan of Friendship is Magic, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Rescue at Midnight Castle and the cheesy song my younger self memorized.

And that's how Equestria was made.