Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Clara Oswald

Current Doctor's companion Clara has been around for a while now, yet I still feel like I don't really know her. My friend Ginge is always saying that Moffat is rubbish at writing girls and maybe she's right. What I do like about Clara, though, is how she dresses. Her style is typical of a young British woman but it's that normalness that I find quite cute. She wears this outfit in The Rings of Akhaten, which you can find screenshots of here.

Sunday, 29 December 2013


Bloggers I follow have all been doing these outfit review posts for the year, and I got jealous. I've not really looked back on the stuff I wear before, so it's been quite interesting picking my favourite outfits from 2013.

|| January || February || March || April ||
At the beginning of the year we had some snow, which was fun, and I was already getting a lot of wear out of some new purchases, like the £12 boots from Clarks I couldn't walk away from, and the embroidered skinny jeans I bought over the *gasp* internet. I've had these jeans for almost a year and people still compliment me on them.

|| May || June || July || August ||
Through the summer months I was unsurprisingly still wearing boots. I remember in June going to one of my summer exams in my tartan skirt and knee-high socks and wondering to myself why I even bother dressing up for an exam. (But I got 'A's so it's all good.) By August I had DIYed another pair of shorts from jeans, which I'm sure will be a staple for summers to come.

These last few months have been pretty stressful because of uni applications and interviews - and it's not even over yet. To compensate, I've been in a lot of busy prints, wearing the hell out of my floral skirt with the trim I added. I'm scared of going to uni and having to do hard scary stuff and growing up, but at least I can still dress like the kid I am, at least for now.

Friday, 27 December 2013

'Many Happy Returns'

How was your Christmas? Mine was perfectly pleasant, even though Doctor Who was rubbish. I look forward to Capaldi and I really hope M- I mean Clara gets a personality soon.

I've been shopping recently and I got some cool knee-high animal socks from the Next sale (my sister and I have gotten into a tradition of getting up early(ish) for it) and some mustard yellow tights from H&M (so I can cosplay Amy Pond in Let's Kill Hitler which was on TV in the past month or two) and a denim pinafore dress (because I watched Despicable Me 2 again with my sister and now I want to be a minion.) The pinafore has nasty PU straps but it was £5 and it's just for cosplaying. I'm hoping to get some pretty ribbon and make removable covers for the straps, and I will also make some kind of Gru emblem, probably from felt, to pin onto the pocket at the front.
pinafore dress: Primark
We stopped in Costa for cappuccino and in the queue my sister heard someone say, "did you watch the Sherlock preview episode on Christmas day?" Just in case you missed this too, here is the video, called Many Happy Returns. I'm really looking forward to new Sherlock!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Snowflake science: the structure of ice

snowflake photos by Wilson Bentley
 If I've learnt anything from chemistry, it's this: water is amazing. Before, I've talked about it in the cohesion-tension theory in which plants use its polarity to draw it up from the ground, but since it's winter, I'm going to try to explain why snowflakes are six-sided.

A water molecule is made up of two hydrogen atoms attached to one oxygen atom. The hydrogens repel to get as far away as possible from each other, but because of the configuration of the electrons around the oxygen, a water molecule isn't just a straight line.

water molecule from Chemical Forums
The crosses and dots represent electrons. The pairs of electrons are all negative,
so repel to get as far away as possible from each other.
The water molecule is what we call a 'bent' or 'V-shaped' molecule, and the angle between the two hydrogens is a bit less than 109°, the angle inside a tetrahedron.

Water molecules can form hydrogen bonds between themselves, which accounts for many of the characteristics of water. A hydrogen is attracted to the lone pair of electrons on the oxygen of a different molecule. One water molecule can form hydrogen bonds with four other molecules to form that crucial tetrahedral shape. Together, the molecules of water in ice form a tetrahedral structure.

structure of ice from 800 Main Street
Can you see the hexagon in the image above? Because of these hexagons that appear in the atomic scale, resulting snowflakes are six-sided.

To fold a scientifically correct snowflake, once you've folded your circle of paper in half,
instead of folding it in half again, fold it into thirds.
 If you want to know more about water - its lower density in solid form, surface tension, slipperiness - have a look at this gentle introduction.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Pre-Christmas calm

From tomorrow, everything is going to get crazy. My sister's family and their in-laws are spending a few days at our house and it will be Such Fun and somehow I will make it through this. The tree has been up since the beginning of this week, decorated by some new LED flashing lights that my dad unexpectedly bought. I asked him if he was jealous of all the neighbours' flashing displays. He said "not any more."

We've had the same tree and decorations for literally as long as I can remember. They aren't posh but they are familiar. I also cut out some intricate paper snowflakes to decorate my parents' bedroom with. Six-pointed, obviously - I like my snowflakes to be scientifically correct as possible.

This morning I also made some strawberry and blueberry muffins. They're pretty good, though they stick to the paper cases rather a lot, which is annoying. I don't know if oiling the inside of the cases will help with that?? I was adventurous and went with a recipe in a cookbook my friend S gave me so they taste totally different to my normal cake, so that's exciting.

Yesterday I went with a couple of quartet friends to a Christmas market, which was a lovely day out. I didn't really buy anything but I really enjoyed spending time with cool people. So all in all I'm enjoying my weekend of calm. I hope you are too.

Friday, 20 December 2013

"You ain't seen nothing like me yet"

Hat: Collection 18, TK Maxx
Jumper: New Look
Skirt: Uniqlo
Tights: China
Boots: Doc Martens

This is the red hat I was on about a while ago. I really like this outfit because it's easy and simple, without my usual excessive layering. (I love layering but it's liberating wearing just one skirt at a time instead of three.)

I'm off for Christmas now, though I have a lot of work to do - chemistry coursework, English essays, and revision for exams in summer. If we were allowed to do January exams, I would have three exams next month and five exams in the summer. Instead I have all eight at the end of the academic year and it worries me a lot. Though not as much as whether I am going to get an offer, ha!

It's been a cold but sunny day, so to try and cheer myself up I had a surprisingly fruitful wander around town by myself, trawling the market, discount shops and charity shops. I found a lot of things I was looking for, and everything I bought was £2 or less.

Marksman mini round-nosed plier to bend paperclips or any other wire I can find into jewellery like ear cuffs and rings.
Revlon Chroma Chameleon nail polish in Amethyst was from Poundland (but you can cough up £6.49 for it if you really want), and it's a lovely shade of greyish purple, though it photographed terribly. It shines green in the light just a tiny bit in the bottle, but I'll see how it looks on the nails when I try it out some time.
Gregory Maguire - Wicked inspired the musical which I was lucky enough to go down to London to see, and it's never in the library so I bought it.
Frank Herbert - Dune I've heard is excellent, and seeing as I've been going through a sci-fi phase recently, I've been looking round for it. I can only find its sequels in the library so I gasped when I saw it in British Heart Foundation.
Rebecca Skloot - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks I picked up because I thought I had heard the name 'Henrietta Lacks' before. It must have been New Scientist, because Lacks is the source of the immortal cell line, HeLa. There are ethical issues surrounding the use of her cells, but apart from that I know nothing more about it, so this could be an informative read.

So what's worrying you over Christmas, and how are you dealing with it?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Coeurs de Foxes: Katie Frank

For today, I have for you a quick interview with Polish blogger Katie Frank. Perhaps you've seen her around on Lookbook or on her bilingual Polish/English blog, Coeurs de Foxes? She even appropriately has lots of cool fox jewellery and fox bags, though her soulmate is her black and white cat, Marcel. I adore her quirky and creative style so it's lovely to have her here.

Coeurs de Foxes
Hey, Katie! What are three things we should know about you?
I'm a dreamer, I think too much and I'm a tea lover.

How has your style developed into what it is now?
Huh, I guess you shouldn't ask me - I have no idea. I had many random styles but I guess this one I have now is mixed with many styles and it makes it my own.

on Coeurs de Foxes
Which of your looks is your personal favourite at the moment?
I guess this one (pictured above), and this. It's all me!

Who are your fashion icons and inspirations?
Alexa Chung, definitely her. I also love Lana Del Rey, Lorde and Lea Seydoux.

on Lookbook
Where are your favourite places to shop?
Hmm, I have many favourite shops. I love Topshop, Dahlia, The White Papers, Modcloth, Book of Deer and many, many more.

You say you buy a lot of things you don't wear. What happens to them?
I usually give them to my sister or they just hang in my wardrobe and wait for their turn to be worn.

on Coeurs de Foxes
What do you think of the street fashion where you live?
I think it's terrible! People don't know how to wear clothes. Even if they wear something fashionable it's wrongly matched with other pieces of clothes.

What do you love most about your favourite city, Paris?
I do love everything! The fashion, food, views, language, people, music, just everything.

on Lookbook
What do you see yourself doing, and where, in seven years' time?
 I have no idea. I just can't imagine that!

Thank you, Katie!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Otome Kei

If you try to search up what otome kei is, you'll get some quite vague answers. It's apparently all about dressing like a 'young lady', but that hardly means anything at all. Rather than assume no one knows what they're talking about, it's a lot easier to check out Google images instead to see for yourself.

Otome kei's not easy to pin down because it doesn't have such strict rules like lolita. You could say otome kei is basically lolita without the rules, without the Victorian influence, and with less petticoats. It's instead characterised by a cute but modern aesthetic that often uses interesting prints and quirky motifs like rabbits and cake and biscuits. One of my favourite things about this style is the eclectic pattern-clashing, which takes some confidence to pull off, but looks creative and fun. Stripes, polka-dots, chequers and flowers are just everywhere, and I love it.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Restyle.pl violin bag review

Restyle is an alternative fashion web shop based in Poland. The site's language can be toggled between Polish and English. They sell items of a gothic style, including some gothic lolita things. I first came across the site because of this amazing skirt they have.

The website is a pretty standard design, and is easy to use. I especially like how the availability of items is displayed as a green health bar. The English is not perfect but perfectly understandable. Imperfect English can ring alarm bells but some internet searches on Restyle.pl revealed it to be a legit website.

Restyle stocks lots of nice bags, but my favourite is definitely the violin bag. As a follower of lolita fashion I've always known about violin bags, but what tipped me over the edge of self-restraint was a picture of someone with a violin bag that had a shoulder strap on it. (I'm not really into handbags and much prefer across-the-shoulder bags.) I originally was looking for a black violin bag, but the detailing on it is grey which makes it harder to match things with. The brown one has a nicer colour scheme, is more like a real violin, and is just more aesthetically pleasing as an accessory on its own.

The bag itself was £27.61. Because it came from Poland the shipping was pretty steep: £8.76 by priority registered letter. Then there's the 4.5% Paypal Charge, which was £1.71, but it is the most secure way to pay. In total it was £38.08. Quite expensive for a non-leather handbag so you'd have to really like the design to cough up for it.

I placed my order on Friday evening, and the site estimated that I would get my package in 8 days. In fact, it came on Wednesday evening, which was 5 days after I ordered it, which is quite impressive seeing as it's so near Christmas and the postal services must be quite busy at the moment.

It came in a clear plastic bag inside a brown cardboard box. The website gives its dimensions (30x30x8cm) but it was still larger than I expected, because of all the pictures of other violin bags I've been looking at. Inside the bag itself was the shoulder strap, some brown polka-dot stuffing paper, and a packet of silica gel. The bag had a Restyle tag on it, and inside the box was a receipt thingy and a Restyle flyer.

  • The black inside lining of the bag is not attached to the outside of the bag.
  • The metal parts of the bag, like the zip pull and the clasps and things, would have looked nicer if they were a dull gold or bronze colour.
  • Though the bag looks quite big, its volume is not, so you can only store small or flat things in it.
  • There are some loose thread ends on the embroidery.
  • At the sides, the edge embroidery is not always perfectly at the edge.
  • Like all new plastic things it stinks a bit but that should wear off.
As you can see, none of these bad points are particularly bad. The quality is sufficient for all but the closest of inspections so is absolutely satisfactory, since this is what I expected anyway. The bag came in perfect condition and I'm very happy with it.

Shop's website design: ★★★★★
Shop's product choice: ★★★★☆
Shipping speed: ★★★★★
Product quality: ★★★★☆
Product value for money: ★★☆☆☆ (due to expensive shipping)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Violin motif

James May said, in his programme about brains, that there isn't really a 'brain-training' game or method that actually works, except playing an instrument. For many hours over many years. Starting from childhood. As someone who's spent a lot of time on a violin, I was very happy to hear this.

I think the violin is thought of as a feminine instrument, because of its high register and hourglass shape. As well as being the hardest and most painful instrument to master, the violin is also one of the most beautiful. I don't always appreciate my violin's smooth wood, the f-holes, the curves. (The sticky white resin, the bit of yellow duster fluff stuck on the E string's adjuster, the place where my corrosive fingers are dissolving through the varnish...)

It's a reasonably common motif in lolita fashion - there are those violin bags, and many JSKs that are themed upon music and violin - but also pops up in general fashion. Recently a package arrived in the post which I can't wait to share with you - I just need some daylight to get some pictures so I can do a detailed review - so stick around.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Watercolour pencil

I don't like colouring. It's a pain and I'm useless at it. Occasionally I use watercolour, which is messy because it involves water, and it's a bitch to use because mistakes are indelible. I say I'm rubbish at colouring pencils because I don't own any good quality ones, but that's not strictly true. I don't have good colouring pencils that I can bring myself to use.

Melia was subject to my watercolour pencil experiment. I think she looks nice with her hair down, as it's hard to get creative with her normal hairstyle, which doesn't allow me to do billowy waves everywhere like I usually do. The advantage of pencils is that they're fuss-free - no need for water or brushes or toilet roll. I've an A3 drawing of her that I've broken out the posh watercolour pencils for but I have no idea what it'll look like if I wet it, so I may keep testing with this drawing here.

on deviantART

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Lovely Blasphemy: Ai

It's been too long since the last interview I've had here. I wanted to break the dry spell with another person who wears Japanese fashion, so here is Ai, otherwise known as Lovely Blasphemy. I first found her on Lookbook, but she also has masses of pictures on her Facebook. What I love about Ai is how carefully she composes her outfits, like an artist would make a painting. From lolita to cult party kei, Ai can pull off pretty much anything.

Photo by Thomas Good

Hello, Ai! What are three things we should know about you?
The three things people should know about me are: 1. I'm Japanese-born and US-raised. 2. I love frenchies, pugs, and other squish-faced dogs. 3. Art history is where my heart lies.

How has your style developed into what it is now?
My style is influenced by Japanese street fashion, I get a lot of inspiration from street snaps and the runway.
You are so interesting to follow because you are able to pull of so many different Japanese fashion styles.

on Lookbook

What's your favourite fashion style, and why?
It's so hard to choose a favourite fashion style! I love lolita fashion but I'm getting really interested in dolly kei and cult party kei because it allows more creativity and both handmade and vintage finds.
Which of your looks is your personal favourite at the moment?
I think my personal favourite look is a cult party kei look I did using a vintage wedding dress. Although, I still plan to work on the outfit and make it even better. In a way, I could say that my favourite looks are the ones I have planned that haven't been created yet.
 You evidently work very hard in crafting each of your looks, and it shows. My favourite thing you've worn is definitely this knock-out ensemble. I love the colour scheme, bustle, and vertical stripes.

on Lookbook
Who are your fashion icons and inspirations?
Audrey Hepburn is my biggest fashion icon and inspiration. I also like to follow Yuri Nakagawa, Yura, Ayumi Seto, Rinrin Doll, Midori Fukasawa, Akira, Nora Lovely, and plenty of people I forget the names of. 

Are you involved in any local or internet lolita communities?
I'm part of my local lolita community and the EGL community, although I don't participate as much as I would like.

on Lookbook

Where are your favourite places to shop for clothes and wigs?
My favorite places to shop for second-hand lolita are Usagiyouhinten, Alice+Fururun, ClosetChild, Tokyo Alice, and the EGL Sales Community. For wigs I like Cyperous, Prisila, Lockshop, and Gothic Lolita Wigs. For accessories I like to look for vintage finds either locally or on Etsy.

on Lookbook
It's been a pleasure getting to know you and having you here! Thank you, Ai.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Red hat

On the day that Pokemon X/Y came out, I bought a hat. I'm not a hat person, but this was a rather nice red wool hat which goes perfectly with my red wool skirt, and of course, all Pokemon trainers are hat people, so maybe I should learn to be a hat person after all.

Because I've had no experience with hats, I went to the internet for how to wear one. I'm not sure what kind of hat it is. An asymmetrical fedora, or a tryolean maybe? How would you wear it?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Red heels

I don't know about you, but I am utterly useless at wearing heels casually. But maybe this is because I don't own any casual heels? Whether they are platform wedges, dainty brogues or mary janes, I adore heels in a statement colour, and red is my perfect colour to wear, because it goes with everything and flatters my skin tone. Which heels are your favourite?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

"Out of the darkness and into the sun"

Choker: DIY
Jacket: River Island, Asos
Vest: Cameo Rose, New Look
Skirt: Matalan
Underskirt: Next
Tights: Pretty Polly, TK Maxx
Boots: Doc Martens, eBay

I've had a fun lazy weekend of doing nothing useful, because family have been over. I'm telling myself that I'm allowing a short time of relaxation before melting down over my next interview. Just thinking about it makes my guts squirm uncomfortably. Lots of people, I'm sure, are looking forward to Christmas - I'm sure the Oxbridge interviewees are bricking it round about now, too. I'm so glad Oxbridge don't do dentistry, or I'd've felt obliged to apply. I suspect I'm not cut out for those places so it's no loss at all.

Hope you had a good weekend! Here ends this blog's three-hundredth post. Thank you.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Papercraft Espeon

In the two minutes of sunshine I had this morning I managed to get a few photos of my second papercraft, Espeon. (It's raining now.) I've always been used to having a psychic type in my team, so when Cel gave me two Eevees in Diamond, one of them ended up like this.

I didn't look at the instructions before making this so I found the head and ears quite tricky, and didn't do a great job of them as a result. Otherwise, this papercraft went well! Before cutting the parts out, I used an empty fountain pen to score the fold lines, which made the folds a lot easier and more precise.

On my Christmas wishlist now is PVA glue. My crappy glue stick kind of does the job but it is such a pain to apply when you're holding this fiddly delicate 3D thingy in your hands and the tab you want to glue down is in a hard-to-reach place.

I've asked my dad to print off templates for Toon Link (from Zelda) and Baphomet Jr. (from Ragnarok Online) so I'm really looking forward to starting on those!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Links à la Mode: 28th November '13

I can't believe I almost missed an interview invitation. It's been sitting in the university's portal gathering dust for days, but EVERYTHING IS OKAY NOW. I feel like that pot of petunias rushing to the ground, thinking "NOT AGAIN" even though there's a tiny voice als screaming "there there, you'll make it through this, it's a necessary evil and you HAVE TO DO IT JUST DO IT". If I plotted a graph of my stress level against the percentage of caps lock in my writing, it would be an EXPONENTIAL CURVE

In other news, I did an Espeon papercraft this week and it was really fun. Riki has a paper friend now! I'll do a post on it soon.



"Grace" has many meanings. Whether you're saying "grace" at the dinner table today with your friends and family for Thanksgiving, or you're talking about the elegance of "grace", or heck, maybe you're talking about Grace Coddington, no matter what if you love fashion, you'll be thinking about "grace" this holiday season. This week's roundup the IFB Community has put a lot of thought into their posts, with super smart tips and tricks to get you through the season. Going into the science behind autumn colours, the difference between plaid and tartan, how to shop Black Friday, and even how to style your hair for going out or staying in. It's everything you need, so grab the mug of spiced cider read these links! Happy Thanksgiving!

Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup

Instructions for submitting to Links à la Mode:
1. Read the clarified rules and submit your links on this page: Links à la Mode.
2. If your link was selected and you need this week’s code, visit this page: Links à la Mode Code.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Herohom and homies

on deviantART
And this is when I try to doodle neatly.

I always love imagining Dunban in his (relative) youth, in the army with his chums, Dickson and Mumkhar. I wonder how they first met, whether they sparred with each other sometimes, how many times they got wasted together. And then Xenoblade Chronicles happened...

Doctor Who was really good last weekend but infuriating too, because we have to wait for Christmas for another new episode. So instead I'm busying my inner fangirl by obsessing over Xenoblade, again. Last night I had a pot at the level 120 dragon in the mountains. It didn't go so well but I will try harder next time.

Saturday, 23 November 2013


I'm not going to lie. Ask me what first springs to mind when you say "dungarees", and I will reply, "Mario". Maybe someone in the world idolises Italian plumbers as style icons, but it's not me.

Dungarees don't seem like the most flattering thing to wear, but they're not just for cosplaying Minions. For a casual look, wear them over a t-shirt with your trusty Converse, and throw a jacket over the whole thing. If you're brave, however, try them over a lace top with heels for an interesting juxtaposition of throwaway casual and elegant.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Plant pigments: the science of autumn colours

Here in the UK, temperatures have plummeted, so we're having to wrap up warm. The trees went orange quite late this year though, so it still looks like autumn, though it feels like winter. I think autumn is the most beautiful season - though it comes with a sense of melancholy as the days shorten, nothing rivals the breath-taking display of oranges, golds and reds. And of course it means Christmas is around the corner!

But have you ever wondered why trees shed their leaves, or what's responsible for the stunning colours of autumn?

When groundwater freezes it becomes difficult to draw up enough water to replace the water lost by transpiration, so in autumn, deciduous plants shed their leaves to reduce water loss.

One of the first chemicals in the leaves that's broken down is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment that absorbs light to fuel photosynthesis. The plant absorbs the products of breakdown and stores it for spring. When the chlorophyll breaks down, other photosynthetic pigments are revealed.

Carotenoids are 'accessory pigments' that absorb light energy and pass it to chlorophyll, and also protect chloropyll from being damaged by high energy ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. A famous carotenoid is beta-carotene in carrots, which is good for you because it's an antioxidant, and it can be turned into vitamin A.  Fucoxanthin is what makes some seaweed and algae brown. Anthocyanins also protect plant tissues from UV.
Wavelengths of visible light absorbed by chlorophylls and carotenoids
From LED Grow Lights
Whatever colours a pigment doesn't absorb, it reflects, and the reflected colour is what we see. Chlorophylls absorbs red and blue, so appear green. Carotenoids absorb mostly blue, so appear yellow, orange or red.

The most stunning range of autumn colours is produced with sunny days and cool nights. The sunny days promotes the synthesis of yellow pigments, which makes the colours more intense. Cool nights slows down the transport of sugars from the leaves to the roots, so the extra sugars left in the leaves get turned into red anthocyanins.

Monday, 18 November 2013

"Ain't no rest for the wicked"

Jacket: River Island, Asos
Necklace: DIY
Vest: Esprit, China
Dress: New Look
Socks: China
Boots: Doc Martens, eBay

I remember this outfit as the one I wore to my day in Liverpewl with Ginge. I find that days out tend to attach themselves to whatever outfit I'm in that day, so when I wear it again, I'm not just wearing clothes, but memories too.

My mum always complains that I'm overdoing it with the floweriness and she is probably right as usual, but I still really like this look despite the differing floral densities. You will just have to get over it.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Links à la Mode: 14th November '13

There's less than a week until my interview for dental school and I'm frickin' bricking it. My friends have been awesome and given up their time to help me prepare, and I've had several mock interviews with teachers, and I've even talked to myself in a mirror like a Sim levelling up her charisma, but I still feel utterly unprepared. All I need to do is show them who I am.

At least I now have something to wear. I need a sunny morning to photograph it but it makes me look like I mean business.


Primped and Pretty in Pink

This season has everything all mixed up. Pink for autumn? Sweatshirts? After all, breaking rules is what fashion is all about. As we're right in the midst of the holiday season, getting beautified and looking your best is second only to getting in the spirit of giving. This week's round-up has a nice mix of beauty, trend and tips for the holidays, so get your cup of mint cocoa and read through these fabulous links!

Links a la Mode: 14th November '13

Instructions for Submitting to Links à la Mode:
1. Read the clarified rules and submit your links on this page: Links à la Mode.
2. If your link was selected and you need this week’s code, visit this page: Links à la Mode Code.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


on deviantART
 I finally admitted to myself that my old self-portrait is rubbish and I can do better now. I stuck with the greyscale because colouring things in is a pain. The water brush on Paint Tool SAI is my new friend - it helped make the hair look lovely and soft.

Have you ever drawn yourself? I've learnt that the only way to truly know a face is to draw it. You'll notice things that would have otherwise gone undetected, even if it's someone familiar.
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