Moon Hauls: Tarot of the Divine and Beneath the Moon

This is a mix “review” of two things I got that I couldn’t really separate just for the sake of posting about them.

The first is the deck of Tarot of the Divine. This was made by Yoshi Yoshitani and the focus was to make it diverse, queer and just full or new meaning. Each card is a story, some deeper meaning and I absolutely love the artwork and the connections made, plus the fact that it features stories and lore from all over the world, not just the usuals or just the European fairytales. It goes beyond that and does an amazing job and the meanings of the story/lore matching the meaning of the card they represent in the deck.

As a tie in, there is a book, Beneath the Moon, which collects the artwork and stories that feature in the deck. It doesn’t collect everything, since it’d be a very thick book if it did, but it features the main ones, and it made me really excited to read the stories and feel like this is a perfect fairytale book to keep coming back to. It has the stories, gorgeous colourful art and a lot of diversity in cultures and countries.

As a coherent couple fo things, I am just in awe at the immense work Yoshi put into making this deck and book. Every card has packed so much detail trying to convey the story but at the same time, to make them tie in with their meaning and with the opening of many possible interpretations.

There are stories from every continent, form every type of story, I don’t even have enough words on how exciting this is for me since it is gorgeous and perfect.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse Review

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

This was a gift from the lovely Justine on one of those wishlist shares, and I had heard a lot of good things about the book.

It was tempting me since it has a fox in it, it is ink drawings and just a positive type of book, so it felt like a book to have at hand when sadness hits and when life just feels a bit not great.

I have to say, it is an easy soothing read with heavy pages and a lot of care, so I can see a lot of care in making it. As it says, you can technically read without an order and I didn’t try it this time round but as I read I noticed it does lend to an orderly or disorderly reading.

I think what got me the most was that the art is simple and yet so emotive and there’s a lot of detail and care. I was fascinated by it and the words go along well.

For some reason it reminded me a lot of Winnie the Pooh and old artwork in the books but also that kind of timeless quotes about life and friendships and just everything. It has a poetic way to it and I just found it soothing, a bit short if anything.

If you want a book that is art, coffee table material but also will make you feel good for reading it, then this is the one for you. Plus it has cute animals, particularly a fox…

Happy Holidays!

If you followed the saga of “I just realised it is the 23rd and I urgently need to draw an elaborate holiday cheer thing for the 25th” on Twitter, you know I only finished this after midnight and well…

But I did finish it!

Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, if not, whatever you do celebrate, may it be good and peaceful and bring generosity and comfort to you.

Thanks for reading this blog and being part of it and interacting with me throughout that time. ~I truly appreciate it and I hope I managed to share of my love for books and book boxes with you all.

The Sketchbook of Loish

This review should be of no surprise to anyone, given my love for Loish’s artwork (I was part of the kickstarter for the first book, ended up buying a PS4 and Horizon Zero Dawn because she was part of the concept art team, and now I was also part of the second book Kickstarter).

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The Sketchbook of Loish: Art in progress by Lois van Baarle & 3dTotal

I sadly couldn’t afford a high tier reward, but I was pleased with all the lovely extras it came with. You can see a pack of cards, a bookmark, a colouring book (which is full of gorgeous artwork and the pages are only printed on one side so you don’t ruin the drawing on the opposite side when you choose to colour with something that may transfer to the other side of the page) and some stickers, which I am trying to decide where to stick them and can’t make up my mind.

This is less of a guide book than her first book and more of a collection of her artworks, sketches and how she has worked her way through art. I still loved the details and to see half finished pieces (it feels like you’re getting an insight into the brain of Loish). And I could gush about her artwork for ages, but I will try to be good and not go crazy about it.

If you like artwork, then I highly recommend you check her out and her books too.

 

Meet The Character: Knit Anele

On my previous post about Meet the Character, I introduced you to the Wig Bag Trio. So today I will expand on one of the characters from it.

World, meet Knit Anele (and Mischief).

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The Wig Bag bestowed her with Mischief, and most of her powers are based on dreams and sleep. Anyone want to guess what Mischief does?

No?

Do you maybe wanna count sheep?

Yes indeed! Mischief can “replicate” itself and as soon as Mischief (or any of the replicas) jumps in front of someone that person will fall asleep there and then. This can be toned down, but Mischief isn’t named Mischief because of its innocence. Life isn’t easy with Mischief around.

And to top that off, Knit’s powers mean she can affect the dreams of others. She can choose to give people certain dreams she must craft, maybe to remind them of something, to make them reflect on thigs, etc. And she also is in charge of keeping a record of their adventures.

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This is Child Knit. She is a bit of a paradox. The real past Knit lived in a farm most of her life until she moved to the city to study and get a job. So her childhood involved farm animals, and fresh crops, and other settings. However, Child Knit as pictured above, is the paradox. She isn’t exactly part of the story but gets drawn when there are difficult topics to be dealt with.

In this particular depiction, she is wearing The Captain’s coat, which is odd, as they never meet and she shouldn’t have it at hand. (Enter paradox). She has also been drawn firing a gun towards the viewer. All in all, Child Knit represents the loss of innocence and growing up.

And Knit in general has a lot to work through, between trusting, carrying guilt and trying to become the superhero she is meant ot be, it is interesting to see her move around.

And of course, it doesn’t help that she has Mischief ‘helping’.

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Until next time and the next character!

Meet the Character + Inktober Art

Keeping up with Meet The Character, I know I promised more Wig Bag Trio on my previous post, but I recently drew a “collection” of my characters so I thought it’d be a good quick introduction to them.

This piece shows all the characters that pop up most in my drawings (there are several missing).

First, let me show you a sketch. I drew this in October 2014, after a series of events that meant my first ever “I am unable to draw or create anything” (not artist’s block, but shock and PTSD). This particular sketch alongisde a counterpart where some of the first drawings I did once I could draw again..

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And of course, I deviated from my Inktober prompts (the deviation started with drawing characters from games like Horizon Zero Dawn and Bioshock…) and had to sketch, and ink a fresh take on this.

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This is the finished piece (it may be coloured at some point):

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And now let’s meet the Characters!

The girl in the middle with a bee tattoo and glasses is actually me (so this is also a “meet the artist”). The idea is I am backed by all the characters and stories inside my head.

To the left, you can see Star Fawn kneeling. She is a Fasquee, part of the native species of Deema.

Behind her are Dalv and Naj (recognise them?) from Wig Bag Trio storyline. And then there’s Knit, Mischief (the lamb/sheep) and The Captain. Mischief is very mischievous so it keeps getting in the way, there’s a reason that it has that name.

Conjuring souls in the middle over my head is Cyx Red, The Collector. She featured in 2016’s Halloween-HQ event on DeviantArt (Sadly, you can’t play last year’s adventure but you can do this year’s. She features in several storylines so she is more of an “omniscient” flitting character.

Then you can see Child Knit, she doesn’t really feature in the main WBT storyline but appears in my sketches, usually wearing The Captain’s jacket which is a paradox since she couldn’t have met him as a child.

Then under Child Knit, are the Lestrange triplets. They do not feature as much in my sketches, but are part of the Eveniengate and Deema storylines (Eveniengate occurs within Deema). They are probably the oldest characters in this drawing (they came to life around 2004-2006).

The “archer” is Moire Fox, another Fasquee. She is the second oldest here, as her story came to me around 2007. She is the character that has had the most name changes since her conception. At first she was “Fox Girl”, then Unay, which became She Without A Name, then Ella, and finally Moire Fox.

Underneath Moire is Vixy/Little Fox, this is one of the position I first tried as a logo, but that slowly evolved into my logo. She is also quite old, 2007-2008 I think.

Missing in this picture are most of Eveniengate storyline characters (very few of them have actually been drawn), MD the queen of the dream world, Yves Oswald, Oniria & Insomnio, Kit (Black Cat design for a video game), Rose Vered and Ava from WBT, and Moire’s younger sister Roisin.

So there we go. Which character are you most excited to learn more about?

 

Six Of Crows Review

I had been reluctant to read this book after having read the Grisha trilogy. I did not like that. And I am still confused as to why they are called little Gregory, but that is just me knowing cultural bits of Russia (my little sister dreamed of marrying a Russian and moving there -don’t ask me why, we never really understood why- so she made sure we knew about the culture and the language, and you know, stuff… She does seem to have desisted of this venture, by the way).

Anyway, less family tales and more review, here it is.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px

I gave this book a chance because Nikki suggested I should and she loved it. So I did. I can thankfully say I don’t regret it.

The book is a big jump from the Grisha trilogy and it is better written and the plot is more refreshing, it is more unique and there are less cliches. The characters are quite varied and it is all in all interesting. Of course, I have a soft spot for Inej (the rest are okay).

Story wise, I was a little annoyed that most of the book is them getting ready or looking back and making the journey to the actual heist, which feels like a filler and I wanted more of the actual action. And then we get to the heist and there is so little of it, it feels rushed.

It gets three foxes because I felt for the characters and I found this “world” better than her previous trilogy (I know this is a duology). I did enjoy it but it didn’t leave such a mark on me that I’d give it the extra foxes, so 3 it is.

Moon recommends

To give this book a chance if you, like me, didn’t swoon (or anywhere near that) for the Grisha trilogy. It is not a bad book and that is a good thing. I am not entirely sure which other book to recommend alongside this one. I don’t have many heist books in my repertoire that come to mind and the only books that came to mind as I read this was the previous trilogy. However, now I need to read Crooked Kingdom and maybe then I may suggest something else.

In all fairness, I can think of Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell as an interesting read if you liked Six of Crows, or maybe if you are into grim dark (caution because this is grim and dark), Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (or anything by Mark Lawrence, you may enjoy Red Sister more, as it is a little less dark and grim). This second book is definitely all about anti-heroes, so make sure you know what you are getting into when you decide to read it.

Side Note: I did draw Inej for Inktober this year, so that tells you at least character wise there was a win for this book.

Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.

 

 

 

Moon Draws: Book Box Club Bookmarks Pt. 2

On part 1, I showed the penciled sketches for the bookmarks, which didn’t have the right proportions for bookmark sizing nor did they include a hidden fox MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey.

After some working on them, a few progress shots shared through my Instagram stories, and several late nights and early mornings working on them, they are finally done.

Each one has elements from the book they are based from, and elements based on the theme of the box they were featured in. Each one also has the hidden fox logo in them (in some it is very easy to spot in some it isn’t as easy).

Bookmark Collection 1 LowRes
Pictured above are the first four bookmarks. Enchanted Forest (The Call), Freedom Squad (The Hypnotist), Secrets & Sisterhood (The Stranger Game) and Magic by Night (Bone Gap).

The completion of them also means some news, the opening of my shop! At the moment the only thing available is a preorder of the bookmarks. The preorder closes on the 15th of October. That week, the bookmarks will be shipped to all those that preordered. After that preorder, bookmarks will be made available for individual purchase (so if you only want one bookmark or one of the designs, you can choose that particular one).

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Immortal Stories (Ink), Troublemakers (All About Mia), Time Travel (Waking in Time), and Belles & Beasts (Hunted).

The designs have been digitally inked and done at high resolution (1200dpi) to ensure high quality when printing. They are one sided so that any art supply can be used without feeling guilty about it bleeding to the other side (not that it should since it is cardstock but it may).

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Wizards at War (Spellslinger), Schoolroom Scandals (One of Us is Lying), Spells & Remedies (The Disappearances) and Fearless Females (Things A Bright Girl Can Do).

I enjoyed doing them and have plans for making one per box coming out. There is also the availability of custom colouring designs if you want to promote your book or are just a big fan of certain series.

If you would like to preorder a bookmark set, head out to Moon Kestrel Designs.

 

Moon Draws: Book Box Club Bookmarks Pt. 1

So this month, Book Box Club is celebrating their first anniversary and while commenting on Maja’s instagram, the idea came of making a colouring bookmark for them. Of course, me being me, one colouring bookmark to celebrate the occasion became 12 bookmarks. Why not? This is the moment I have to tell myself that I already add so many details to any design I make, so 12 is not a good idea, but hey ho!

It took a bit of brainstorming with myself to decide what exactly I was going to do. I knew I wanted one bookmark per box and for it to match the theme of the box. But then, that is such a broad idea, so what else?

I dug out all my “theme cards” and suddenly the sparks came. I could not only base it on the theme, but make sure they were a very commemorative exclusive design. Add to the design kudos to items included in the box, or Easter Eggs regarding the book included.

And so, 12 designs were born. (Feel free to guess the book if you didn’t get the box or have fun finding the Easter Eggs if you did).

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You can see Enchanted Forest (September 2016), Freedom Squad (October 2016), Secrets & Sisterhood (November 2016), and Magic by Night (December 2016) above. Followed by Immortal Stories (January 2017), Troublemakers (February 2017), Time Travel (March 2017) and Belles & Beasts (April 2017).

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Finally, we have the last four designs: Wizards at War (May 2017), Schoolroom Scandals (June 2017), Spells & Remedies (July 2017) and Fearless Females (August 2017).

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So what do you think of the designs?

They are in the process of being inked digitally (Part 2 post will show more about how this went) and should be available soon. If you are interested in buying a set please let me know as they are an exclusive design and will only be available for a short period of time.

Meet the Character Series

Hi and welcome to a new series in my blog, Meet the Character.

As you may (or not) know, I am not only a reader, but I am also a creator and artist (and engineer but that one has not much to do here). And I have several characters that pop up in my drawings relatively frequently (some do more than others). If you follow me on Instagram you may already be familiar with some of them.

The idea behind this series is to give you a little of their story, and to let you know more about them.

This means that each Meet the Character post will include several of my sketches and illustrations that portray that particular character. There will also be some trivia information. For example, my character Moire (a Fasquee) was developed during my time at uni and has gone through several redesigns to get to her current name and design.

There may also be a palette included, and the inspiration behind the character. Maybe there will also be an explanation as to the particular times that character gets drawn or what usually prompts me to choose that particular character for a sketch. (Some characters I only draw when I am feeling in a certain way, some are my go to character to draw when I want to sketch, like Knit or Vixy/MoonKestrel logo fox).

To make this post a little less empty, I can make a short introduction to a “character”, my logo.

Meet the Character: The Flying Bean + Little Fox/Vixy

My first official watermark/logo was The Flying Bean. This started as a joke with a friend, where I was arguing that you could add wings to anything and make it look interesting/cool. You can guess what item they suggested… a bean. So I added some wings and flourishes and it became my logo.

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Fun Fact: During the time this was my watermark, by coincidence I would place it on the character’s shoulder and it looked like a tattoo. To commemorate this, I have it as a tattoo on my shoulder.

I never really planned to change The Flying Bean, but one of my doodling sessions I doodled a sleeping fox and really liked it so I kept refining it until I reached the current logo I use a lot here (it is the one I use for my rating system and my banner).

Being associated with a fox is not new, and we would all draw me as a fox in any caricature we did during school (the earliest drawn record I have of me as a “fox” is from 2005-2006). During my time in uni I would draw short caricatures of friends and me and I started drawing Little Fox (that’s what it was called at the time).

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Little Fox evolved to become Vixy (short of Vixen) and appear all over my sketchbooks as a quick way of materialising my feelings or ordering the chaos in my head.

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Then the logo came to life and somehow I knew it was me, and it was the perfect fit. The logo is a curled up sleeping fox that fits the concept of “Full Moon, Crescent Moon”, has a Vixy/Little Fox and my handle “Moon Kestrel”.

I turned it into a logo when I decided to take the plunge and buy an embosser by Ladd Designs (I have not regretted this at all, the embosser is a magical tool, perfect for books, stickers and any other idea that comes to mind). The original logo was all in Black, and there was a lot of changing the thickness of the lines and figuring the right way to make the design work well with the embosser. I now use it in a tone of orange or a light grey.

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So there you have it, an introductory Meet the Character.  Hope you enjoyed it.

The next installment will introduce you to the Wig Bag Trio.

Disclaimer: All of the artwork belongs to me and has been created by myself unless otherwise stated. Ladd Designs have not paid me to promote them and I do not benefit from this in any way (unless you’d like me to design your logo for your embosser/stamp/wax seal).

Moon Draws: Bookish Reflection

Let’s talk art again and in this case, also books, because today I’ll cover how the illustration on the pocket mirror for Book Box Club came to be.

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It all started with a quick description of what they’d like for me to do. The girls explained it was meant to be a pocket mirror and that they wanted a girl/woman reading in a romantic setting with lots of nature and to fit the theme of the box, Spells and Remedies.

There was no hint as to the actual book included.

The description was easy and quite open so I went and did some research in all my reference books and my own knowledge about what I could consider fitting for the theme. I knew I had to include some chamomile, maybe some dandelion and oak and a few other plants because of their healing and also I knew they were used in hedge witchcraft. This led to a search through tumblr and google (and my own books at home) for more on herbs and their uses, and which plants are used in spells most frequently.
After that, I sat down on the couch (there are two ‘desks’ I can use for drawing but I end up doing most of my sketches sitting on the couch, it means company both from bf and puppy) and sketched several options of poses thinking of how they’d fit the pocket mirror and theme.

Which one do you like best?

The girls got back to me on which one they liked most and what they’d like to change, so I took that into account and did a cleaner drawing (all of this done on paper with a mechanical pencil, my favourite drawing tool).

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I had intended to be fancy and lightbox my sketch then scan it, but because I had made the original drawing quite detailed on thick paper, it was very fiddly and the results wasn’t as good as I had hoped for. So smart me scanned both (pencil and ink) and opened both to decide which one would be better. Pencil sketch won and it soon started taking shape in Clip Studio Paint (I use several art programs depending on the effects I want to achieve, CSP is my prefered one for inking a scanned sketch).

Book Box Club - Spells and Remedies WBG
Lots of little details, including my signature as the book cover

The original plan was that the girls would then colour it however they saw fit and that was it, but when they returned their version of it, I wanted to try to colour it myself (I hadn’t realised I already had a coloured version inside my head). So I spent my Friday evening well past midnight colouring in extreme detail the drawing, despite knowing that it wouldn’t show well on the pocket mirror. For example, her eyes are light grey/blue with golden specks and the tree trunk has relief on the bark and the grass also has a lovely effect same as most of the individual leaves drawn that have a gradual colouring or shading effect.

Book Box Club - Spells and Remedies Coloured
Ample non detailed background to account for wrap around and bleed

Still, I completed the colouring and sent it away for the girls to approve, which they did of course. They also kindly informed me that I had done a lot of detail that wouldn’t show on the finished mirror, but I did not care, because I knew that if I had sent anything less I wouldn’t have been happy with myself and would’ve felt as if I had done a bad illustration for a customer.

After that it was just a matter of keeping the secret about the design (which I wanted to share) and waiting for the boxes to start arriving before I could disclose details about it.

If you liked this process of an artwork, there may be more to come, since I am currently working on designing 13 ‘colouring’ bookmarks to celebrate the anniversary of Book Box Club this September. Details on how to get your hands on them are still to come, but if you’re interested let me know.