Sushi Tomodachi

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Link will go live Sept 1st at 1pm PST, but feel free to bookmark it!

What does Sushi Tomodachi mean?

Sushi is a Japanese dish of prepared vinegared rice (鮨飯, sushi-meshi), usually with some sugar and salt, accompanying a variety of ingredients.

Tomodachi (友達; ともだち; or トモダチ) is a Japanese word meaning “friend(s)”.

So what is Sushi Tomodachi then?

Sushi Tomodachi is an art collection I have been dreaming to expand upon for a few years now, and the fact that you’re here reading this campaign means I am so close to realizing this dream. 

Sushi Tomodachi is a project I’ve been working on to celebrate friendship. I’m taking bonding over a meal to a whole new level. Each Sushi Tomodachi is an individual character with it’s own recipe and unique flavors.

A well curated collection of flavors can provide us the most delicious and filling meals for our bellies, which helps us to grow and be nourished. Sushi Tomodachi do not fill your stomach, but your soul. The individual ingredients that make our friends and those around us are important to create the experience that is our lives, and each element plays a different part in helping us to grow, or for us to curate our own flavor of life.

Deeper meaning? These are food animals…

My aim with these characters is to celebrate the crossroad of two important nutrients necessary for a good life – friends and food. Each Tomodachi has their own, unique ingredients that make them. I believe food is a great analogy to represent how people are like that as well. The collection of ingredients in each Tomodachi are meant to symbolize a recognition that various thoughts, ideas, experiences and other ingredients that make humans the individuals that they are, and the ‘flavors’ they add to our lives.

Take, for example, the Dragon Roll.

Sure, he’s cute and crunchy.

He is also curious. He is also ready for any adventure. He is there to help you embrace new things.

These are the ingredients that make him.

To give a Dragon Roll to a friend would be a symbol to you and your friend: The Dragon Roll will tell your friend your encouragements from anywhere, whenever they need them. A helper to assist them to learn the things they need to learn or have the courage to try their next adventure.

To have your own Dragon Roll should be a reminder to yourself: He is encouraging you, reminding you that there could be good things on the other side if you have the courage to go outside your comfort zone.

Anywhere the Dragon Roll is, he is speaking to you. Encouraging you whenever you need that extra bit of help.

That is how a Dragon Roll tastes.

Each Sushi Tomodachi is a character who is meant to encourage, in the various different ways that people need to be.

The Tiger Roll may seem grumpy or strict, but he really just wants to remind you that he cares, so please be careful in what you do.

The Rainbow Roll is positive, and stubbornly so, which makes them the perfect ally to help you push through any hard time. They like to point out the silver lining, and help find solutions to problems.

Wasabi and Gari seem like polar opposites, but they both are good friends. They have a strong focus on accepting each other and recognizing that though they are different, they can both appreciate that the other has strengths that are helpful.

Kitsune Roll loves to play and pretend, and is here to remind you to take time to play. They wear that Kabuki mask for a reason – They love to act out plays to entertain you!

The Monster Roll seems scary, but he is there to remind you that someone is looking out for you, and will protect you.

These are the meanings behind each roll.

They’re also just fun to draw and really cute, and I hope you think so too!

The future is coming and I’d like these guys to make a positive impact on the world. My long term plan is to create a variety of items, which will each act as the reminders to people when they need them.

I’m planning to the collection with Enamel Pins, Pinback Buttons and Stickers! I’m going to start small, but stretch goals will unlock more items so stay tuned to find out more about those!

I’ll be launching the Sushi Tomodachi Kickstarter September 1st so sign up for updates and notification for when it goes live!

I am continually posting updates of new artwork for this project on Instagram and Twitter, with special VIP updates on Patreon!

YCH Cuties Tutorial

This tutorial covers the YCH Cuties series of files I’ve released.

You can download them shortly, watch this space! Make sure you follow at one of the social media pages below to find out when it becomes available!

3… 2… 1… GO

wave1Hi! I’m Zhivago and I’m going to show you how to navigate and recolor one of my YCH templates.

Check out my YouTube channel for this tutorial and more in video form: Zhivago on YouTube

If you enjoy the file, you can get new ones delivered directly to you regularly by subscribing on Patreon!

@ArtByZhivago on TwitterInstagram or Facebook -or- Adopt a CatBird on Telegram


This tutorial will cover the Cuties YCH series files.

Variations include: Canines, Felines & Critters


Adobe-Photoshop-CC-01First thing you need is the appropriate software.

These files are made to use in Adobe Photoshop CC.

There is a 30 day free trial or you can subscribe to it for as little as $10/mo. These instructions are made for photoshop so I highly recommend you CHECK IT OUT.

NOTE: If you don’t have Adobe Photoshop, that’s okay, but I don’t know how to edit these files in anything else so you’ll need to reference tutorials for your particular software and figure out how to use these files via trial by fire.


I offer two types of files. It says in the file name which type you have.

The default option is the Regular file. This is a smaller file with less options and it is for personal use only.

The Deluxe file has more options, more use rights and includes markings. Patreon subscribers receive these files as part of their pledge and they are released to the public for purchase after 90 days.


  • Lineart
  • Brush File, if applicable
  • Shading, if applicable
  • Personal Use Rights
  • Instructions (PDF and online)


  • Lineart
  • Brush File, if applicable
  • Shading, if applicable
  • One-Click Markings and Recolor
  • Color Map
  • Personal and Resale Use Rights
  • Instructions (PDF and online)
  • Individual Personalized Support


Unzip your file in a safe location.

Save yourself a backup so you don’t overwrite the original.


This layer gives you information about the file and what you’re allowed to do with it.

Click the Eye icon to hide it and get started.


Deluxe Files have a variety of preset markings ready for you to edit with one click. This makes editing quick and easy. Deluxe files also include a Color Map to see all marking options.

Regular files do not have these layers and require manual coloring.

  1. Browse the list of layer folders.
  1. BASE COLOR at the bottom of the list is a good place to start.
  1. Either review the color map to locate your desired marking or try various styles by turning layers on and off using the eye icon.
  2. Double click any COLORED SQUARE to edit the color.
  3. Play with the Layer Options in order to get the desired effect. Be aware that some Layer Options may be transparent and may need alteration to look right.


Regular files do not include the additional color layers. They can be colored by hand.

  1. Open the Colors Layer
  2. Double click the white square labeled BASE COLOR to set a main color, if desired
  3. Paint over directly on the layer above BASE COLOR.
  4. Add layers here as desired.colors_exampleofreglayer




  1. Open the Brush Presets Panel 
  2. Top Menu > Window > Brush Presets 
  3. Navigate to the location you unzipped the files to. 
  4. Select the ABR file included with the kit
    For this file it is ‘YCH-CUTIES.ABR’ 
  5. The brush will be added to the end of your list of brushes. 
  6. You may now draw additions over the base.



DIY Telegram Stickers (Canines)


Visit on Patreon




Adobe Photoshop CC
30 Day Free Trial or as low as $9.99/mo


Each Zip file includes:

  • Base Lineart including Multiple Hair Styles, Easy to Edit Color Markings & Shading
  • Photoshop Brush File for consistent lineart editing
  • Original Artist Credit Image (Add your name!)
  • ReadMe.txt


Cute Canine – Hi! (Individual License)

INDIVIDUAL LICENSE –  This download includes the right for one person to use this file for themselves and their own personal characters only. Your file will be e-mailed to you at the e-mail address provided.


Cute Canine – Hi! (Multiple Use License)

MULTI-USE – Includes 1. the right to re-sell and gift stickers. 2. Future upgrades to this file.  3. One-on-one support provided for Photoshop users. You may resell this sticker as long as you include a credit to Zhivago in the sticker pack. *MSRP: $9* Your file will be e-mailed to you at the e-mail address provided.


Cute Canine – Hi! (Completed by Zhivago)

This artwork will be customized to your character by Zhivago with no additional effort on your part. Final images will be delivered via Telegram or e-mail.



Dia De Los Lobos


This piece started out as a random, 15 minute sketch during one of my Tuesday Sketch Streams. I really liked it and had been talking about a hankering for creating a Dia De Los Muertos themed piece for a while. I had created one just for funsies during a previous stream, as requested by TL.


I wanted to revisit the idea in my own time. During one of the following streams, I doodled this up and decided this would be my base piece.

I also decided to make this an excersize in speedpainting, however after a certain point I got so caught up in it that the time didn’t matter to me so much. Some people may also recognize this as the piece I used for my Automatic WIP Script/Action tutorial for Photoshop.

I researched some Dia De Los Muertos themed cultural artwork and photos from festivals (i.e. googled it) and the diversity was both mesmerizing and intimidating. I was having trouble pin pointing the specifics design-wise, but I knew I’d get the hang of it if I pushed through so that’s just what I did.

I created each flower individually. I prepared 4 different designs and made various colorings on each. Each flower had 4 versions which I individually placed and scattered across the background.

I like playing with color so this piece was a really fun one to whip out for fun! TL even decided it would be a commission once I was done. ^^ I will be creating an Amaterasu-themed version of this later on and it will be added to this post when it is complete.

I offer this design on apparel over at so be sure to take a peek!










Thanks for reading!

Misc. Updates

I’m moving next week so things are a bit messy now. I have a hard time focusing in mess, ugh! Just ugh! It’s been good though because due to the move, it’s forced me to really re-evaluate my priorities for myself and I’m finding myself getting rid of A LOT of stuff. How did I ever accumulate so much junk!? I blame capitalism. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Due to this transitioning period, I’m putting the brakes on my stream for a short period while I handle everything I need to take care of. I’d like to set up so that I can stream on the go and I hope to be back to streaming again in November.

Later potaters!

Amaterasu Aurora

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Completed 9/29/17


All Digital


Wacom Intus 3 and Adobe Photoshop CC


Approx. 8-9 hours.



TL challenged me with a concept ~ Ammy wearing the Northern Lights as a dress. At first, I was a little perplexed, because his Ammy collection already had a number of pieces featuring that concept, which initially made it a tad difficult to find a way to present her without inadvertently copying any of the other pieces. TL assured me just to give it my take and to have fun with it, so I did!


I always start a piece by drawing out the characters figure, regardless of what might be covered up by clothing. This is a generally safe strategy for me when I am having trouble thinking of attire, because it forces me to break the process down and focus on the immediate phase. Clothes can’t be placed in midair so it’s better for me to flesh out the form first. After I fleshed out the form, I realized I was still struggling on how I wanted to design her clothing.


I casually mentioned to a friend that I was having trouble with the piece. I was initially going for a look similar to a toga, but since Amaterasu is a god from Japanese mythology, I thought that a kimono might be a better way to go. My friend and I bounced a few ideas back and forth and then she  surprised me by showing me her kimono collection! I had known her for a while and never realized she collected them! She gave me a little crash course in kimonos and together we came up with the idea of the kimono being part of the night itself.


I realized that the idea needed to be kept simple in order to execute it well, so I avoided added excessive markings to the kimono.

Near the end of the piece, I realized I had forgotten a major detail: The Solar Disk.

At first I was frustrated because I had no idea how to approach the idea of a Solar, flaming sun object in the night. Then I remembered about my friend Kurtt, who told me about his adventures in trying to see the northern lights. He had told me briefly about how they work off of solar flares… and I realized that it was perfect after all! The piece had seemed finished but missing something, but the addition of the solar disk really pulled it together in the end.



TLD is a good friend of mine. He has been supportive of my work throughout the years and over that time, he has become more than just a familiar name on my screen.

One thing TLD loves, without a doubt, is the wolf goddess Amaterasu from the game Okami. I once thought he was obsessed (which may still be the case) and after years, I asked him about it. I’d never played the game myself, and I’ve enjoyed games in the past as well, but seemingly not to the same extent as TL.

“I guess because of how darn positive the game is, for the most part. I mean, flowers and green grass literally spring up everywhere you go, and the game is about making the world a better place. You know?

Adding onto that is the painting, it makes me sort of adopt her as a muse of painting, too.

God knows I’ve often wished I could clean up the world or my friends’ problems with just a few strokes of a paintbrush.”

It’s easy to find people who love their favorite game for the humor or the characters or the gameplay. I’m surrounded by people like that. Nothing is wrong with enjoying those things, but it has been a very long time indeed since I last heard an explanation founded that deeply.

TL’s positive attitude makes him a great person to have around and I’m happy to call him my friend. ^^

~ Your friendly neighborhood cat-bird,