Adventures in Gouache: Week 1

I obviously like portraits.

Painting with real paint isn’t really my strong suit. Ever since I got my hands on a pen tablet, I’ve worked with practically every digital painting program I could find, settling on Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop as my weapons of choice.

I always lamented the fact that I never really learned how to paint with traditional media, though. I grew up wanting to draw comics, and the styles of the comics I had access to back when I was a kid didn’t have a lot of variety in art styles (inks + flat colors/gradients), so my early years of art education concentrated on comic book illustration. I had a few classes that involved painting assignments back in college, but they were never substantial enough to give me an appreciation of the various mediums.

Some time this year, I tried playing around with watercolors. I’m a bit of a cheapskate so I bought the cheapest set (Reeves) I could find. I had a very old set of watercolors (Sakura) as well, but most of the tubes were already dry. I tried both sets of colors and realized that I liked the colors from the Sakura set a lot better (the colors were brighter and more vibrant). I didn’t really have a goal in mind when I set out to paint with watercolor, so my interest waned pretty quickly.

A few months later, I decided to pick up a set of gouache paints, because I read online somewhere that it’s a good medium to try if you’re coming from a digital background. Gouache is particularly hard to find in this country, for some reason, and most of the brands I found in bookstores looked pretty cheap and dubious (I didn’t want a repeat of my experience with watercolors).

Luckily, I found a local art shop called Art Whale ( that sells quality paints and art supplies. I decided to pick up a set of Nicker Gouache, supposedly the brand used by Studio Ghibli. This time, I set a goal for myself: try to paint and post my work on Instagram at least once a day.

You can see the results of this week’s experiment in the photo at the top of this post.

Day One:


Day Two:


Day Three:

Today, I focused on trying to get a better water to gouache ratio and practiced blending. #gouache #painting

A photo posted by Caroline Dy (@vitamindy) on


Day Four:


Day Five:


Day Six:


Day Seven:


Day Eight:


What I’ve learned so far from this experience:

  • Gouache is an amazing medium. I can’t say whether it is, indeed, the best medium to try if you’re coming from a digital background, but I like how the paint’s ability to reactivate lets you work over mistakes – like having an undo button in real life.
  • I find that painting with traditional media is quite relaxing, and I can paint for longer hours without getting distracted/bored.
  • Daily practice really works wonders.

I’m not quite sure whether I’d be able to keep up painting everyday next week, since I have some digital projects I need to work on, but I will definitely try. Maybe one day I’ll be good enough to sell my paintings, and have the confidence to teach how to use the medium. For now, though, the goal is to learn as much as I can and to just have fun.🙂


Level 31

Level 31 was tough. The landscape changed so much, and I was in a mad rush to adapt and overcome all the challenges I had to face.

A little background: before I got to this level, I was fresh out of a job. I had another one lined up and waiting, but that didn’t change the fact that I was depressed, restless, and suffering from anxiety for a good long while. I’d been working with my previous company for about 6 years, and deciding to quit wasn’t an easy choice. I’d grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and switching jobs meant I had to make several changes – some big, some small – and change was something I feared would be tough to handle.

I was right.

Here’s a summary of all the changes – the good along with the bad – from level 31:

  • New job – Things were rocky at first but things got smoother as I got settled into the projects and processes of the new company.
  • New laptop for work – Something I had to pay for in installments, so I saved up virtually… nothing from the past year. Essentially, I felt poor for most of the year.
  • New friends – Lots of friends!
  • Joining Atomic Friday – I did their biweekly art challenges, which helped me get back into the groove of making personal art.
  • Draw Write Play – I revived my old URL and made a new slice-of-life webcomic.
  • Tequila Tea Party – I formed an art group with my gal pals at work, who “popped my convention cherry” as an exhibitor. Our first set of postcards were sold out during the convention, so that was a very happy moment.
  • Dimsum and Dumpling – Shortly before Komikon (where TTP sold the postcards), we adopted two new baby kittens that we found on the street near the gate of our house. I had to play cat mommy: bottle feeding, litter training, cleaning up all things. The experience drained a lot of my energy, and I felt tired all the time, but the kitties are all grown up now and they are absolute darlings.
  • Getting even poorer – One downside to adopting new kittens meant it basically doubled my expenses for food and litter, not to mention vet fees.
  • Leaving Atomic Friday – I realized that I wanted to focus on TTP and my new comic during my free time, so I eventually decided to stop participating in the Atomic Friday art jams.
  • Boss Fight: Depression, Part I – Some personal issues led to some really bad depressive episodes. I won’t go into detail, but it kinda derailed a bunch of things; the biggest thing was that I couldn’t write and make comics. It’s hard to write light and funny stuff when you’re feeling like shit 24/7.
  • The Valley of OK But Not Great – After that last boss fight, I basically coasted along “okay” for the next few months. I focused mostly on work, home, and the cats. Some happy moments, some bad, and a lot of ‘meh.’
  • Mini Boss Fight: Cat Flea Infestation – This also took place in the Valley of OK But Not Great, and I was finally able to defeat the bastards by way of inexpensive spot-on treatments I bought directly from the vet.
  • Boss Fight: Depression, Part II – Issues left unresolved from the previous wave crept back up very recently, and for a while, I felt like I was never getting out of The Valley of OK But Not Great.
  • Adventures in Gouache – My fellow Tita from Tequila Tea Party recommended I try traditional painting as a way to cope with my depression. I’m happy to report it’s been working so far. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to write out this post.

As I look back at all the things that happened in Level 31, I realize that if my life were an actual video game, I’d be screaming at the designer right about now.

I don’t know what’s in store for me in Level 32, but I’m ready to move on to the next level.

Fuck To-Do Lists

My brain is a chaotic place. At any given point in time, I have several thought processes running simultaneously. It’s a wonder how I manage to focus and get any shit done at all.

Every now and then I’d try to manage this chaos by using to-do apps (usually when I’ve just bought a new phone/tablet, or when I’m feeling particularly lost in my own head). I’ve gone through several:, Wunderlist, Todoist, and even gamified types like HabitRPG. None of them really stick, though. I’d usually poke around each app for a bit, find it useful for about a day, then start to get annoyed when my set recurring tasks start to nag me to get shit done. I’ve also tried traditional pen and paper to-dos.

At first I thought that maybe I’m just using the wrong tools. The only productivity app/technique I’ve managed to really make use of on the regular is Trello, and that’s partially because we use it at work. So I’ve tried using Trello as a GTD tool, which would also work for a short while, but end up being completely ignored after a few days.

Then one fine day it finally dawned on me: fuck to-do lists.


Here’s the thing: it’s not like I’m a completely disorganized failure of an adult. When it comes to my work as a game artist, I’m organized as fuck. I keep track of tasks easily and run like a well-oiled machine (well, maybe 80-90% of the time, at least). Somehow, with work, I don’t have to dwell so much on task management and just do what needs to be done. There is order. There is peace.

For everything else: personal projects, fitness goals, efforts for self improvement and study: chaos seems to be my norm.  The more I try to control the chaos in an effort to “do more,” the less I actually get done. I flutter from interest to interest at an alarmingly fast rate, and though I may not be progressing or learning as quickly as I could if I just focused on one thing at a time, I end up happier and less stressed: important for maintaining order where it’s needed more.

So, what’s my point with all this rhetoric? There’s a very delicate balance of order and chaos in my head, and instead of trying to control it with an iron fist, I need to simply “let it go.”

It’s also my long-winded excuse for why I don’t update my webcomic on a regular basis.

Welcome to Draw Write Play – the Blog!

Hey, everyone!

As is custom for every new blog, this is your obligatory introductory post. I’ll cut right to the chase and say that this blog is likely going to be updated sporadically, just like the webcomic it’s supposed to support. If you’re not sure which webcomic I’m talking about, head on over to Tapastic and maybe give it a read first. You might like it! Or not. Either way, it’s cool with me.

If you are here because you’ve read the comic, then you probably already have a vague idea of what you’re getting into. Which, quite honestly, is a whole lot of randomness.

I set this blog up for a couple of reasons: 1.) I like writing, and sometimes the things I want to write about don’t necessarily fit into 3 or 4 panels. 2.) I already paid for the domain name and I’d feel like an ass if I didn’t make use of it somehow.

So there. Welcome to Draw Write Play – the Blog, where I will likely write about games, cats, and artsy stuff.