I thought I would make a quick post and share the commissions I have ordered at past conventions.
For commissions, I personally enjoy scouring the artist alley extensively to locate a specific artist whose style I like at the time. Then I select a favorite character, put on an alternative outfit I like using a pose and expression that is slightly off character. This was all to have presented an image that is not only a different side of the character, but also for the artist themselves in terms art style and technique. I always want to make sure the end image is not only something I have never seen before, but also unleashing a clear mix of ideas that goes beyond what I have typically seen.
Usually artists can draw characters very well as long as the reference image is accurate. I felt that by specifying a detailed direction, an artist would have a very clear idea. Also, other than the artist’s own unique style, I tend to like to request a specific mark or article of clothing that only said artist has drawn or worn before.
Contrary to the usual preference of an extremely cute 2D girl visual (or in my past case, traps), I actually sought an artist who draws in a more gritty manly style. My aim was generally to apply a strong physique with some accentuation, while avoiding a direction that is too raunchy or something just as extreme.
My first instance of a commission request was when I came across stormtitan whose sketchbook samples were much to my liking. Unfortunately he had absolutely no idea of the character I requested, so I was better off finding a different artist since his art style better suited the science-fiction demographic.
I then came across a booth of FlyingMilkPig, who possessed a similar style I was seeking. She also felt my requested character was outside of her specialty, so she recommended her booth partner Chiyoo who draws more cutesy and appeared more suitable to request from. I tested a simple sketch and didn’t extensively order commissions from her until PMX 2010 came around later in November that year.
Anime Expo 2010 quickly arrived where MangaGamer brought over several visual novel companies as guests. To be able to request a drawing from the original game artists directly was too good to pass on. I forgone requesting commissions to afford buying these at all. In the end I still wanted commissions since the professional game company drawings were not customizable whatsoever. AX 2010 was too hectic and eventful to have much time to deliberate.
I went to PMX to see FlyingMilkPig and Chiyoo once again. The traffic at the convention was lower, so I took the opportunity to go all out with commission requests. My mentality for commissions at the time was to try out the different types of commissions. I went for a traditional pencil, pen, and watercolor commission.
The watercolor image turned out most to my liking. This may be due to having more details on the description, or the watercoloring technique standing out. I figured it was also easier to draw because I intentionally specified relatively simple clothes to use.
With the pencil sketch I was testing “attack moves” such as launching hair spikes, influenced by the character in a fighting game, but soon realized it’s very difficult for an artist to draw a physical motion or action. It was clear that I wasn’t able to match the artist’s strengths with what I was having in mind.
I let the artist have maximum artistic liberty for the pen lining commission, going wild on lolita style which was a huge PMX theme at the time. The drawing itself was very nice and fairly unexpected. With all the traditional services tested, I went all out with ordering a digital commission which could only be done outside of the convention at a later date.
When I ordered the Fanime sketch, I actually did request a male character. Though for commission purposes, the method of describing outfits were essentially female since it was a trap character. As a first drawing it resonates best but I did regret not detailing hard enough to make sure a short skirt was drawn instead of shorts. It wasn’t until PMX that I started to describe itemized clothing to extreme detail, to avoid any dissatisfaction from my failure to be specific enough on a request.
Christmas wasn’t far off and I had wanted to do a commission of Kurata Sayuri in a Santa helper outfit as I was playing much of the doujin game Eternal Fighter Zero at the time. I also wanted to try having her executing a genocide cutter attack from a fighting game character she pays homage to. Since I figured a digital commission would take longer, I would have the patience as long as necessary.
Time passed and I attended Fanime 2011, but didn’t opt to order any commissions from anyone until the digital order was finished. Nonetheless, some of the most eye catching artists such as Hitsukuya and Kurot were unavailable for commissions due to being maxed out, making the opportunity impossible anyways.
AX 2011 rolled around and I retrieved the digital commission which…didn’t exist. I received four traditional color drawings instead. I was fairly upset by the switch and the artist was willing to refund a portion of what I paid. The resulting drawings were still to my liking, so I did not request any money back as I enjoyed the variety of the same character.
Since the digital commission wait was well over a six months, I actually had went ahead and ordered a digital commission with FlyingMilkPig at AX 2011, who was the artist I originally wanted to order from back in Fanime 2010. The result was fascinating and extremely smooth with the back and forth step-by-step progressive emails. It also marked the first time I did not request a commission with the same artist.
I absolutely loved how this digital commission turned out as I really saw the greater level of detail with the tools and shading used, as expected of a concept design artist. Still, I felt I didn’t quite fully utilize the resources available for a digital drawing, nor did I play into FlyingMilkPig’s strengths as my request was not complex to begin with. I decided to stick to more affordable color commissions since the lower complexity of character attire I always tend to request can still be fleshed out.
Fanime 2012 comes around where I haven’t had a commission for six months. I had really wanted an old favorite character with an outfit that had my most desired articles of clothing to see, and accessories all mashed together for the perfect commission. Itemizing every piece of clothing onto a favorite character was my main goal in commissions for the year.
I encounter LavenderIce whose Hetalia Axis Powers drawings instantly caught my eye. To this day I am amused that contrary to my 2D girl requests that show light attire and skin, I actually seem to pick artists who have eye-catching male character prints. I went away from requesting traps because not only are the base character designs as ideal as they come, but there’s no need to tamper with them at all. This is much like how I didn’t bother with requesting popular Touhou characters, where existing doujin and art possessed all the artistic variety I could possibly ask for.
I paid extra to have this digital commission printed and laminated, so I went ahead and picked up this order at Anime Expo 2012. My incentive with LavenderIce was to test drawing styles and completely itemized clothing attire. I exhausted all the ideas I had for commissions as far as clothes go for the previous commission, but had desired a commission that invoke an attack move. I also found in LavenderIce’s DeviantArt scrapbook a particularly different looking drawing that looked well refined. There drawing had shoujo style eyes, which appeared much different than her Hetalia Axis Powers and sugarstars comic prints that was much to my liking, so I made sure to have that eye style in this next commission.
For a traditional color image, this was amazing. I really like the raw lining since the drawing was done by hand, and had a quick turnaround time period of a few hours. Since the Sayuri commission I requested in the past didn’t have genocide cutter drawn at all, I tried again with the Manaka commission. Although the drawing projects no genocide cutter, the high leg kick was perfect. I had also requested some integrated damaged clothing, as well as integrated undergarment flashing. Although I personally dislike blatant fanservice, this indirect level of teasing was perfect. I could not have asked for a better commission as it encompassed everything I wanted on it.
The clothes used in the previous commission were actually seen in real life on a mannekin at the dealer’s hall. The accuracy was extremely high due to discussing with the artist directly on specifics in person. I immediately wanted to order again, going all out. LavenderIce at this point was unfortunately getting swamped with a large pending queue, but still let me request a sketch anyways.
With the sketch request I wanted to push the envelope, so I checked with LavenderIce just how aggressive I could go. The pose was based on an image of a girl character with some tears and both hands over her skirt down on knees. Then I threw on excessive itemizing of the clothing, playing around with light jackets that are tied around the chest. Sadly the request ended up triple the length of the previous ones and got lost in time and space, which required multiple reworks.
Fanime 2013 rolls around and I decide to try out a different artist since LavenderIce wasn’t in attendance. I ran across a local artist under the pen name Kura, saw some of her well-drawn male characters, and ordered a color sketch commission. After some back and forth communication to clarify what was intended be drawn, the image below is what resulted.
This request was a very rare case of me requesting the same character twice (thrice to be exact). I was craving a tennis uniform to keep the attire light and simple, and lots of midsection skin shown by tying up the blouse really high up near the chest. I also had desired a back-facing image as I hadn’t had one in over a year. I learned from the artist that it is difficult and disproportionate to emphasize both the chest and posterior of a character at the same time, since back-facing images tend to convey that given the angle and pose.
Since I was doing an artist interview series at that time surrounding Fanime 2013, I was actively meeting and getting to know artists which was the most fun I ever had at conventions. I met various artists such as Shunao, Larein, and many others and learned more about them. I encountered weee (aka Raemz of Medical Whiskey) who we had interviewed and tested a sketch with her due to her bigger name. Boy was I blown away.
The impact level was so good I had nothing to say, despite it being rather different than the reference I used. I did however, want to request another commission, but the Raemz train caught on and she had business flooding in so fast she sold out of some prints and commission availability earlier than expected.
I ventured the large artist alley and ran into AutomaticGiraffe’s booth, whose art stood out. To me, the style I saw in his art reminded me of the gritty manly style I liked when I first requested commissions. Since Fanime was so full of Idolmaster, I went ahead and requested a character from that series.
I specifically requested Iori’s alternate hairstyle that exists in the vivid bikini DLC and mentioning a cheerleader tone. Allowing the artist complete freedom made this picture project his style and flavor quite well. Although it lacked customization, the impact level was quite good.
Anime Expo 2013 rolls around with many more artists to see. LavenderIce was in attendance but was much too busy and tired to work on anything. I was able to upgrade my sketch to color since I got nostalgic of her masterpiece the previous year. Although I did want a sketch, knowing her busy load, there’s little incentive to work on it, so I opted to pay more.
Given AX 2013’s bigger venue, I did hang around Shunao’s booth a lot since I didn’t get the chance to see her much at Fanime. Her active cosplaying stood out and I particularly liked her Fire Emblem cosplay. I went ahead and requested a Vocaloid Ia sketch. I never would have thought I would request a Vocaloid character given how popular Vocaloid is, but Ia’s existing fanart is astronomically lower than Miku’s.
If you noticed, I requested Miku’s skirt to be implemented. Shunao’s direct accuracy really impressed me, as I didn’t leave any reference pictures with her, her memory was spot on. Naturally all artists are able to do this, but as a non-artist, it still amazes me to see a drawing come to life. For the picture itself, Vocaloid characters have been portrayed in a very large assortment of clothing, from adapted clothing to just about anything stylish. However for Ia, I find her base design and fashion style really appealing, so there was no need to request alternative outfits. Hence, the only specific was to make sure there was a hand on waist, which I felt suitable in reflecting her character image.
I requested another commission from Shunao; wanting to delve into her digital art since that is her main resource. The momentum was good as school was about to be in session, the timing couldn’t have been any better. I requested an Ayesha image since I was actively playing the game while preparing my Atelier Ayesha Alchemy post. Originally I wanted a two character image where a male character was touching Ayesha, but then opted to remove the male character to halve the cost of the commission. Since I wanted a drawing that had hands between legs or touching anyways, this was the end result.
I really liked the quality level on this, especially when it looks different than Shunao’s existing prints. I wanted a grounded image, leg emphasis, another character’s outfit, and Ayesha’s beta design with the beret. Every component I wanted was put on there. The only unusuality was the angle of the image, since I mentally was thinking of a bird’s eye view. Nonetheless, this is merely marginal ecchi so the flashing is okay even though I’m not a fan of flashes. I wasn’t accustomed to certain color schemes or underboob, so I requested an adjustment for full coverage. Too bad there wasn’t a convenient way to cover up the pants without greatly redrawing the picture.
Japan Expo for the first time was ran in the US. Since it was even closer than Fanime, attending was a no brainer. I particularly attended to see Renko of Orange Jam. She situated herself at booth ZZ06 where Kata’s booth was. I had actually encountered Kata’s booth on multiple occasions in the past. She had a San Andreas Touhou hybrid drawing that looked hot, so she gave me that. After seeing her interesting sketchbook that was full of flavor, I opted to test out a sketch with her.
This hyper ecchi image captured exactly I was looking for, except for the thighhighs since I prefer knee socks. I particularly enjoyed the crop top exhibiting perfectly exposed shoulders. The drawing was even better than intended, with the XY! clothes and the clothing allocation matching exactly what I wanted. I subsequently requested four more drawings, each exploring content more risque and aggressive than the last. This experience was very unusual and yet very interesting, as I got to see multiple sketches of imagined fantasy come to fruition. My favorite aspect of Kata’s drawing style are the burgers and the extra expressions.
At Japan Expo I also met a more experienced artist named gnee who gave some excellent artist advice to one of Kata’s younger booth mates. While a lot was said, one particular thing that came to mind was that for an artist to truly improve, said artist also needs to draw series they do not prefer. This would allow the artist to be more flexible and therefore more valuable by being capable of drawing different styles to suit different needs. Naturally, every artist is able to draw styles outside of their norm, and it’s always interesting to see.
I decided to request from Shunao once again to not only support the local artist, but to also attempt to extract her latent abilities. With her pathing for drawing comics and passions in general, a lot of energy and flavor can be noticed. There was something about that energy I particularly liked, so I wanted to see that again in a commission.
Since the Ayesha drawing actually used clothes from a different character, I thought I was able to transpose clothes again with another outfit. The request actually did not work due to limitations imposed, as I wasn’t aware how difficult it is to take an outfit from one image and put it on a character of another, so I had to simplify the request. Thankfully I already liked this character’s base uniform design, so I just made sure to put in some Sasha (from Shingeki no Kyojin) flavor of eating food.
I quickly learned about accessory limitations where only so many knots on clothing can make sense before it gets ridiculous, so even the clothing adjustment to tie the shirt up didn’t go as high as I wanted to. It was nice to receive clear feedback on what works and what does not. It’s difficult for me to grasp these limitations since in essence, my idea on a commission isn’t limited. Not only that, but Japanese 2D drawings are already high on the accessories and zany hairstyles/outfits in the first place so even the reference pictures I use are pretty much cosplay.
With a better understanding of what Shunao is willing to draw, I decide to test the waters with an 18+ drawing that has a lot of physical contact. Still, I prefer clothes on so I specifically mentioned convenient angles to block certain areas. I was most interested in testing out her new Copic markers, tapping into her traditional drawing aspect again, as well as trying out a two character commission. Since I couldn’t figure out what to do with a male character, I requested two female characters. The only major adjustment was to make sure the blouse hiked up high to the chest.
Since the commission would take some time, I ordered from Belindraw in the meantime. I’ve known Belindraw before through a referral, and to my surprise she was available for commission since AX 2013 was her last convention. I attempted the outfit that couldn’t be implemented from the previous commission, and used a pose similar to a previous request that isn’t finished yet. Personally I wanted to order from Belindraw for quite some time, but she got very quickly swamped at actual conventions so the opportunity didn’t come about.
Belindraw did have digital services available, but her pencil sketches stood out the most. Although her drawing style is noticeable, the art she procures certainly varies in all shapes and sizes. This made the commission all the more interesting, since the fundamentals she inputs onto her drawings can be seen. She stated that my specific request would only procure the image this exact way. Since I wanted a much higher midriff exposure, I requested a minor adjustment to crop the jacket further and apply knee high socks. In the end, I always seemed to like having large lower back skin exposure with a spinal chord line drawn in a toned physique.
Naturally I take commissions very seriously, mainly because they have the potential to exhibit an unlimited range of ideas. Commissions are often more expensive, so there is an expectation of higher quality. Being able to delve into further imagination beyond what I was used to seeing was extremely satisfying. Having a favorite character drawn by an artist whose style you like with the character pose and clothes you want is close to perfection as far as a singular drawings go.