I Finally Made Some Characters

I have a few updates for you! I finished my triptych for my ART333 class. Take a look:

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All three of them together! 

So I completely scrapped the previous idea I had and decided to go for the above instead. I named it, “Dissolve.” I could talk about it all day but I’m going to save that for another blog post. Essentially, after having finished this, I was unhappy with the lack of personality the woman possessed. Sure, there’s some interesting things going on in the image, but that’s it. So, it spurred me onward into finally making up some character profiles for my comic.

I know it took a long while, but I just kept finding things that I had to go back and work on. I finally tried sketching some characters our and working out their basic details like my previous posts had suggested. Take a final look below:

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I know they’re just a bunch of preliminary sketches but I am so pleased that I finally got around to actually drawing some characters rather than doing warm ups endlessly. However, I think the work I did paid off. Character I had drawn previously were a little boxy and not very proportionate, but these characters I find to be more believable. I’m excited to continue working on my ability (or lack thereof) to draw diverse bodies, as this is something that I still need to improve on.

It has been a wonderful semester, and I’m glad that I set out on planning my world, because now it is in motion. I’m about to graduate, and so I’m going to have so much free time on my hands that I know I’ll finally be able to go into my art with full force and really improve my technical skills along the way.

Thanks for checking in on my progress, but don’t leave! I’ll be back and posting again soon!

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Developing my World

Baby steps! I thought I’d swing by and upload a few more pictures of the notes I’ve made, and talk about the research I’ve been doing. I will include some images that have served as inspiration for me as well.

Here is the progress I’ve made the past few days:

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I’ve been building on the religions of the world and trying to establish if it should be for sure a real thing, or if its all speculative. Do they have proof of their higher power, Fate? Does she actually exist, or is it something they’ve conjured up? Do people have visions? I decided that their higher power literally, actually exists, and visits the world in significant times and places. Nobody questions her existence. Therefore, how does each culture worship her? Do they worship her? These are questions I have yet to answer.

Here are some images from a folder that I’ve labelled as “inspiration” for my learning project:

It is hard to explain exactly why these images spur my imagination, but they inspire me to create fantastical worlds in which my characters may interact. Moving forward, I’d like to try and sketch out a few characters and try developing more informational profiles first, and then move on to actual art of the characters. That’s all for now.

Thanks for checking in!

What Am I Really Doing?

I want to make my own comic.

Which is why I chose anatomy and diversity in drawing as my learning project.

I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid. My best friend and I would go to the lake together and spend hours upon hours just dreaming up characters in a fictitious world. We used to create maps and design clothes and houses and stories and we would be endlessly caught up in a world of fantastical creatures that we had made up on our own. Now that we’re both older, we’re trying to create our own separate worlds. In some ways they’re very similar, purely because we’ve grown up together for so long that its quite difficult because we too are quite similar.

If this is my end game, then before I can start actually creating characters, I need to have a world established. If I make my characters before I make my world, they may not suit the environment, nor will they make sense in the story. I can’t make a New York Times publisher walk into a world of vampires and dragons. It just wouldn’t make sense.

What this means is that I’m now working on two different strands of my project. I’m practicing my basic drawing skill and anatomy, but I’m also working on creating an environment/universe in which my characters will interact. I cannot have one without the other.

So far in practicing anatomy, I’ve just been occasionally practicing (all over my class notes, in my sketchbook, and sometimes even in my text books) basic foreshortening. A cylinder is a great shape to use for this practice because it generally makes up half of the body. The arms, legs, neck, and even somewhat the torso are cylinders when the body is broken down into basic shapes. Therefore, I’ve been drawing cylinders everywhere. I won’t bore you with twenty pictures of cylinders, so I included my most recent one below. It really isn’t anything special, but it is important to practice drawing these shapes in different perspectives so that when I try to piece them all together, I’ll be able to make a body out of it.

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In regards to building a world, I’ve been trying to figure out everything that even needs to be considered in order to create a world. I’ve purchased a few books, my favourite being the image below:

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The book is great but there are no visual cues or examples to really go off of, or no recommendations as to exactly how I should organize all of my planning. It recommends everything you need to think of, but makes no recommendations on how to put everything together, which is rather unfortunate I would think. Either way, I jumped face first into my planning.

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I had to take into consideration everything. What types of land masses exist, what times of biomes exist, what different kinds of islands are called, what type of faith(s) exist in the world, how the world came to be, and so on. Then, depending on the land mass, the environment, the weather and so on, it changed the kinds of resources available to the people. Did they have electricity? Do they have magic? How do they organize their communities? Is it a patriarchy? Is it a monarchy? Is it ruled by spirits? There are so many things to consider that I’m finding myself overwhelmed.

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My notes seem a little strange because I don’t really have names for anything yet, but initials and abbreviations will do for now. Obviously I’m just starting this so of course nothing is supposed to be finished and ready to go. This will be a really long process that could potentially take decades, but I’m in it for the long haul.

In this post I had talked abut how making a list of names can benefit the writer because you can establish cultural connections to the names.  See mine below:

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I tried colour-coding based on the different cultures around the world I’m trying to make so that I have a bit of a reference for myself when I start creating characters that are from various places around the world.

This is all I have for now. As usual, thanks for checking in!

 

Making Realistic Characters

In light of my previous post, I’ve done some research on how to make and draw characters that are more believable. The first link that I investigated immediately gave me a lot of insight:

Time to Collect Yo’self and Make Yo’self

For my art class we have a month to complete our final project. As always, I like to tie my art class into my learning project because I have to really push myself to be better and to try new things. Without naming any names, I’ve noticed a few people in my art experience fail as artists because they refuse to draw anything with character, and they refuse to draw anything new. They draw what they “think is cool,” but fail to realize that every decision the artist makes is fully up to them.

Every decision an artist makes must not be without purpose.

I thought I was working away from this; I was trying to make every decision count in every piece. It started with my keys drawing from this post. I was putting so much thought into every little object and colour choice, and although I was not happy with the end result, I feel as though I succeeded in taking control over my art work. I pushed myself until my brain hurt and I wanted to cry, and the result turned out better than I expected.

However, when I started my final project, I was stumped. This is what I first began with:

IMG_7336Done on Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Bamboo Tablet!

I watched multiple YouTube tutorials but I’m posting my favourite below:

CRITIQUE TIME!

I find that watching a YouTube tutorial like the one above is the best method for me to learn how to draw. I am a visual and kinesthetic learner. I’ve noticed over the past few years that the best way to get me to learn something immediately is if the person in charge of teaching me thinks out loud. This way, I understand the process and the mindset and what to look for in order to do whatever it is that I am learning to do. I need mental checklists and guidelines, then I replicate what my tutor has done, do it a few more times, then I know I’ve learned it when I can do it on my own. However, this can be excruciatingly painful for some people to do.

When I was little, I quite piano lessons and asked my dad to teach me how to play songs by ear. I learned, but I had to have my dad sit and show me how to play each song note by individual note, and it would take hours. Granted, my father had the patience of a saint with me, so it was possible, but not everybody wants to set aside three hours to grind out a lesson with me until I get it wholly. The next best possible replacement is to watch a YouTube tutorial that essentially does the same thing.

The difference is this: I can pause, stop, and repeat as many times as I would like, and in doing so I do not feel guilty about asking somebody to dedicate so much time to me. What I’m trying to say is that YouTube tutorials and incredibly detailed books accounting for the thought process is the best way for me to learn. For the rest of my learning project I’m going to try to continue to use the book I bought at the beginning of the semester and watch YouTube tutorials so that I can learn on my own time.

However, that is not all that I have to say!

While working on my triptych I just had the image of the blonde woman (I’ve named her Fate, stay tuned to find out why), but there is hardly anything that sets her apart. There are a few interesting things to take note of, like her bare feet, the rosary, the pose itself, but other than that, her actual physical body is nothing out of the ordinary. She fits into the cookie cutter shape of every character I’ve ever drawn. When I came to realize this it saddened me because the whole point of my learning project was to learn how to draw more dynamic but also diverse characters. This means I have some more research to do. I don’t actually know how to create a diverse character, so I feel like some research into this matter would go a long way.

That’s all for now! Thanks for checking in!

Keys Keys Keys

For my latest art project, I chose to do a symbolic still life drawing as a form of a self portrait. For my objects, I chose 5 keys that come from varying stages in my life. Take a look at them below.

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The first key at the top is from my childhood home. When I see that key, I think of my amazingly large back yard that was filled with plants and bushes and fruit and adventure. I had a playhouse in the middle of what I called, “the woods,” which was an area in my back yard that was sort of “protected” by a wall of trees around all sides. When I ran around in those trees I always imagined myself as Link, the protagonist of the Legend of Zelda game series, battling monsters and always saving the princess. My parents made me a tire swing, a rope to climb, and a pile of stumps to climb around on. It was awesome for a little adventurer like me. The song beside the key is the “Song of Time” from the Ocarina of Time.

The second is from when I grew up in Saskatoon, from grades 5-12. It was the longest I had ever stayed in one place, so I had the opportunity to get very close to my family and friends there. It is home, to me.

The third key is from when I graduated high school and left all of my friends and family behind to move to Regina and start my journey through university. It was a really weird time in my life, because I had never felt so alone. This is when I met my ex-boyfriend.

The next key is from his dad’s house in Saskatoon. It was strange, because he was from Regina and helped me settle into the city. He lived with his mother, but his father and all of his siblings were based in Saskatoon. It reminded me of my home, too, and so I connected with it. The relationship wasn’t a healthy one, so the angry “STOON” scratched into it was included to capture the nature of the relationship.

The final key is most important to me. It was the key to my first place on my own. It was where I learned the most about me as an individual because I was learning to live on my own.

For my still life, I wanted to position and draw these keys in such a way that it would capture the emotion and meaning behind all of these keys and what they’ve meant to me and my life. I thought about this for literally weeks, unable to find a way to portray my keys in the perfect way. Finally, I happened to run into this painting:

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I just found it so serene and beautiful that it inspired me, and so I envisioned my keys as a crown on my head.

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I started asking my friends what keys meant to them for ideas… 

Posing my keys as a crown says to me that I’m owning everything I’ve experienced and wearing it with pride. To me, it meant moving forward. I started asking myself, “What else will I draw with the crown? Flora? Fauna? What about other objects? I can draw other things. Oh, but it has to have even symbolic weight, so it has to seriously imply something about my life.”

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I really wanted to draw flora of some kind, but I needed it to contrast in some way to myself, because I do not view myself as flourishing and I do not currently feel alive in any sort of symbolic way. Rather, I feel as though I’m running out of steam and about to undergo some sort of epic change in my life. So, I made the decision to draw myself as a statue, and my crown would be garnished with live succulents. I then thought, “Hmm, I want to draw antlers around the edge of the crown to protect the succulents, but I also want to keep my ‘alive’ theme up top.” So, I changed it to thorns on branches. The other objects I included were: a bottle of blue fire, a pink fairy, the fairy boomerang, and a daisy in the center.

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The thorns are bright red, presumably from scratching up any hands that come near the succulents in the crown.

I also found out through this experience that I have no idea how to effectively use pencil crayons. I feel like I completely ruined it by trying to colour it. I wanted to use watercolour initially, but when I opened my watercolours I found out that they were somehow rotten. They wouldn’t blend well, and there were solid chunks throughout the tubes. The only other medium I had was pencil crayon. I didn’t think of it when I started the drawing, but I worked on a textured surface, and with thin paper, which completely affected the quality of my finished product. The texture made my colouring look quite poor and grainy, when it would have turned out much smoother if I had worked on a perfectly flat surface. I also realized that even if I wanted to work on a perfectly solid, flat surface, I wouldn’t be able to because I don’t have one. All tables I have are marked up or wooden, thus have a grain to it. I really wish I would have had more time to work on this, because I was really proud of my line art before I started colouring it. Oh well.

However, I’ve never drawn any of these objects before, so I was really proud of myself for being able to draw something so new to me. My goal for this learning project is to really push myself, and granted, I certainly drifted away from what I was initially wanted to practice (drawing comic characters in dynamic positions) but at least I’m still doing something that I can officially say I couldn’t do before.

Go me!

 

 

 

 

Most People Miss the Point of PowerPoint

When I was in elementary school, nobody ever used PowerPoint. What even was it, anyways? All presentations were done with poster boards, cue cards, and shaking hands gripping a piece of paper that had all of your presentation notes on it. When I entered high school, PPT presentations became more popular because teachers got sick of listening to the same report on the same topic when they knew we all copied the same information from the same site. The only saving grace for these teachers was a unique PPT presentation that had visuals for them to sadly stare at as yet another student cites Wikipedia as a source. PowerPoint Slides are not necessary to create a presentation, yet teachers so often expect their students to use this tool (or something similar) when they do. Why?

According to this document, which ironically is a slide-sharing tool as well, it lists some reasons as to why PPTs can be fantastic:

  • It keeps the presenter organized
  • They present the information in a neat and organized manner
  • Slides can be printed out ahead of time

These seem like legitimate reasons to appreciate a PPT, but there is nothing saying that students can’t do those exact same things with a handout that they wrote out themselves. HELLO! Students can scan their notes and print off copies of it, too!

Teachers making their students dependent on PPT is my greatest pet peeve. There is a misconception that if students use PPT their presentations will become magically more organized and interesting, but this is not true. Students often copy and paste text, read the text off of the slides, and everybody watching the presentation will be furiously copying down the information off of the slides because they have nothing better to do. There is no point to a presentation of this style. There is no power. There is no point. You couldn’t even call it a PowerPoint at this point.

The essence of presenting is to display and dish out information in unique and amusing ways. Students will not touch Microsoft PowerPoint and magically know how to present.

 

Teachers, you still have to teach students how to present. PowerPoint will not do it for you.

You have to supplement the PPT with discussion and visuals. In my online class, we did an entire class period using PPT slides, but for every topic there was some form of discussion or train of thought that went with the slide. We would open up a web page to check out the subject, or we would watch a video, and so on. We did more than just sit and painfully absorb mountains of text that were blandly presented in bland ways. This is effective.

There is a reason there is a page full of PowerPoint Presentation memes, and that is because they can suck pretty hard when the presenter doesn’t know how to use it. Such as reading every single word from every single text-filled slide. This is not effective.

Teachers should still create a mini unit or lesson on effective presenting skills. Teach students how to keep their cool. Teach them how to summarize and narrow their topics down into easily consumed bullet points. Teach them how to upload images and gifs to the slides so that they can include some visuals to make the PowerPoint unique. One more thing– PowerPoint (Or prezi or google slides) can be incredibly fun to use. Teachers need to show students that and demonstrate the many effective uses of the tool so that students are not floundering around trying to make a presentation without actually knowing what they are doing.

Here is a Google Slides Presentation I did on one of my favourite artists. It was kooky and interesting, and had shocking photographs/memes in it to grab my classmates’ attention. I got a great mark on that assignment, because I did not read off of the slide. In fact, I hardly even looked at it, because I still knew my presentation and my content off by heart.

My point is that PowerPoint can be an excellent tool, but this does not mean it makes any presentation great. You, as the educator, still need to model, demonstrate and teach how to use the tool. Do not assume that because students are growing up in the digital age that they know how to use the tool perfectly. They may, but most likely they may not. They may know how to navigate YouTube better than you, but this does not mean they have foundational knowledge of presentation skills. Technology is not the teacher; you are.

Vlogging Is Actually Rad

But, just as is suggested in this video, it is awkward at first, too.

I got really excited about this whole vlogging thing so I made another one. I really want to get into this for my learning project because I think it will be a great way to share the literal, physical process that I am going through.

Just taking a picture of the result does not give an accurate portrayal of how long and gruesome art can be. So, recording the actual process is a lot better in demonstrating the time and care that goes into art. Here’s the new video:

 

Thanks, and let me know what you think. Give me advice on how to vlog, do art, or even just random advice to help me live my life. Until next time!

 

SWEET, I did a thing!

I decided to put into practice what I learned about drawing perspective for an art class assignment of mine. In my Art333 course, we had a day of presentations just on different styles and different artists. There was one artist in particular who stood out to me, by the name of Yuko Shimizu. Her art reminds me personally of a combination between Japanese traditional art and American pop art. It’s this sassy, colourful, yet beautiful art that challenges its viewers to question their assumptions about the different genres of art. Let us look at a few examples:

This one is my favourite:

I love this particular piece because it shows a woman who looks like a geisha, but she is being a total bad-ass. Geishas are not DJ’s. Nor do they usually have tattoos. Yet here this woman is, busting the norms wide open and just being herself. For the assignment we were to complete next in Art 333, we had to choose one of these styles that stood out to us and learn it. I chose her style to help influence mine. We did not have to exactly copy their style, but rather let it influence our own.

For my drawing, I knew I wanted to draw a hard-core, battle-ready, rock-star geisha. I knew my subject, but I couldn’t decide on a background or other content for the image, so I had help from my friend and we brainstormed a million ideas for my project. Eventually we decided that she would be in a traditional Japanese woodblock print, fighting Oni. 

(If you want to learn more about woodblock prints, check out this link.)

Here’s the start of my piece:

 

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If you look closely at the background, you can see the perspective lines I’ve drawn. However, if you look really closely, you can see that the vanishing points are not on the page. To make life easy for me, I actually tied string to two objects along an extended horizon line that went beyond my paper and across my entire desk. To draw the different lines, I just pulled the string, taped the end down, then used a ruler to follow the string and draw a line across the page. Somewhat like this, but not nearly as impressive:

I worked on the drawing for nearly 12 hours, just messing around with the perspective until I was finally, somewhat happy with it. This is the final result. Not happy with the colours, but that’s what I get for leaving the assignment until literally the final few hours before it was due. (Don’t judge me)

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The perspective was swell, which is the focus of the drawing, so I can’t complain about it too much. (Cough cough Just know that I would change a lot of things about it and I’m not happy with it. Cough cough.)

However, let me show you a weird random sketch I did before I started practicing perspective, and note the improvement.

 

unnamedIt is totally out of proportion, and the perspective is all wrong. So, with that in mind I can see that going back and working on the basics has affected my work at least a little bit, which pleases me! However, it was really hard, and it took me multiple tries to get the perspective right on my geisha, so I think what I am going to do moving forward is work on just practicing basic perspective drawings of simple objects (boxes and buildings) until horizon lines, vanishing points, and rulers aren’t so intimidating anymore. That’s all for now! I’ll be checking in soon with more art next week!

Thanks for reading!

When I said I was starting from scratch, I meant it

So I decided to go back and relearn some basic drawing skills purely to make sure I know exactly what I’m doing.

Perspective slays me. It ruins my life. It makes me want to sell all of my material belongings and move across the world to live in the bush. It is the absolute worst. Which is exactly why I decided to improve on my perspective drawings.

One-point perspective is easy as pie: 

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Two-point Perspective isn’t so bad either: 

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It’s three-point perspective that kills me:

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This can be found here

So, three-point perspective drawings get a little weird. At least to me. It may have more to do with the fact that I’m convinced that I can’t do it. So, I tried anyways.

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I focused on applying perspective drawing to drawing comics because that is my end goal. In the book, “Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators” by David H. Ross, he lists not only ways to create these perspective drawings, but the different effects that you can achieve in your comics by changing the perspective up a little bit. In my sketchbook I took notes on it, and recorded things like “Low-angle view is created by putting horizon line low, or below the image area. AKA Worm’s-eye view.” With a worm’s eye view (looking up at the character from ground level), it makes the character look big and sometimes more powerful. It denotes a courageous attitude, or a challenging one. This kind of pose at this kind of angle is excellent for courageous main characters who are ready to face any challenge!

High-angle views help us as readers get the sense of being above what is happening in the comic. It almost puts us in the position of God, allowing us to see everything that is happening from above. We are not overwhelmed by the characters courage, we are looking on them from above and merely observing.

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Now, this is my attempt at three-point perspective. It wasn’t the best, but I’m still trying to understand where to place the vanishing points in order to get more organic varieties of perspective. This one isn’t so bad, but depending on how close you put the vanishing points around the image area (because sometimes they are way off the page) changes how realistic the angles look. If the points are too close, the angle becomes a lot more dramatic. If they are further away, they look more natural but are more difficult to draw. Here’s an example of a dramatic angle:

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I was trying to create what Ross calls the “Figure box.” It’s a rectangle that is divided into 7-ish sections to assist in the foreshortening of the human figure. The angles on this box are a lot more dramatic than the other rectangle I drew in 3pt. perspective. It looks so weird, to me as if I did something wrong, but I can’t tell what I did wrong. Anyways, I need to master drawing this simple rectangle, and then master drawing the human form in it so that I can draw humans at any angle in any position. That is the goal.

This is all for now. I’m going to continue to practice basic perspective drawings so that it becomes quick and easy for me, then I will be trying to create an image using what I have learned.