Monday, April 30, 2012

Ottawa & painting!

I would love to write a proper post today... but my flight leaves at 7am tomorrow and I've got a lot to do, the primary chore being: look through the list of necessary products to bring for the three-hour-long fat-oil painting seminar I'm taking first thing Wednesday morning.

...and from the quick glance last night, half the items I either don't have, or don't know what they are.

So, uhm, yeah.

Fake it 'till you make it, right?

EDIT: Oh yeah, remember me saying I'll be the youngest person there by about 20-30 years? I just read on the agenda that there's a *fun* contest at the final banquet on Saturday, everyone's supposed to wear fascinators... and there will be judging/prizes/etc.

Between that and the guided-bus-tour to view tulips, it'll be a wild and crazy time, folks.

Oh my goodness, what am I getting myself into?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hint + extras?

Well, since I did a bit of work Wednesday on my new *secret* project, I thought I'd post a couple pictures:

Here are some of my work tools:

(click for full size)

 A clear ruler is a must. Also, the pencil (lowest cylindrical item on the right side -> blue & silver) is awesome. It's an architect's pencil, which is sort of like a mechanical pencil, except they work a little differently and these leads are about 1/8" thick and can be purchased in all different kinds of hardness (from B to B6, but I normally use B 'cause it's harder so you can get clear, sharp lines). You have to buy a special sharpener for them, which you can kind of see the top of (black thing against the water glass). I also work in a sketchbook (that's what's open), but when I want to create a clean image, I use the blade (centre, black handle, small triangular blade) with the ruler to slice pages directly from the book, then put them under a clean piece of animation paper on my light-table and re-draw the image. Those are black Micron pens at the very top. I use .005, .02 & .08 for different line thicknesses. I have calligraphy pens as well (that you dip in a pot of black India ink), but I don't use them for stuff like this. The narrow blue cylinders (there are 2 in this photo) hold the extra lead for my pencil. Oh yeah, and the incredibly dirty eraser on the sketchbook. It's just a normal white eraser, but I also have one that's kind of like sticky-tack. I use it on nearly-final drawings 'cause you just press it onto the lines and it removes the top layer without disturbing the other lines.

I tend to storyboard in my sketchbook instead of on separate paper. The left page of the open sketchbook is actually two storyboard panels. I have a strange habit of working backwards, so the top image is #1, the bottom image is #2, then if you flip the page backwards (or forwards, if you're Japanese), you'd see the next two panels. There's also a simplified breakdown of the scooter on the right page. So far, I've got about eight storyboard panels done, some initial concept art for four characters, but only a true character sheet breakdown for the main character (the hippo). Ah, that means all the details are measured/decided/set, sort of like how I broke down/simplified the scooter with everything labeled.

Essentially, the better you can take it apart, the better you can draw it from all different angles. So it's worth doing the work ahead of time and creating reference images.
(click for full size)

 Here's a top shot of my light-table. Animation paper is a non-standard size, instead of 8 1/2" x 11", it's 10 1/2" x 14 1/2". It also has 3 holes in it, a circular one in the middle and two long ones on either side for the pegs, which are about 1/2" high. This way, you can swivel the light table disc upside-down and the paper will never fall off. This is a shot of 2 layers of paper without the light on. Notice how you really can't see the background.

The light table is pretty big. It sits on a normal table and stands 14" tall at the tallest point and the drawing surface is 24" x 24". The opaque disc is about 19" in diameter.

The scooter is going to be light blue with white flowers. I haven't decided the colours for the character's body/clothes yet. I love her fat little arms, legs and feet. The lines just flowed really nice/naturally, so I feel good about them. Ah, I love her long ears, too. So far my favourite character (not shown here) is an orange tabby cat named Solomon Cat. He's freaking adorable :)
(click for full size)

Same two layers, but with the light on. Notice how you can clearly see the background? Yup, you really can layer up to a dozen sheets of paper and see all the drawings. Oh yeah, I spent like 5 seconds on the background. Simply a matter of deciding on a vanishing point, then using a ruler to draw the road, then I free-handed a sketchy tree and a horizon. Oh, that hole at the bottom is where you stick your finger to rotate the opaque plastic disc. It's about an inch in diameter, maybe a little bigger.

Ah, I really missed this... I just love drawing/animating so much.

I so wish there were classical animation jobs still available in North America... sigh. Nowadays, they're all farmed out to South Korea. Funny thing is, even the Japanese Anime stuff is farmed out to Korea!

I swear, I was born 10 years too late :(

Ah well, as long as I'm having fun, right?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A new project

Since my brain is currently befuddled, I will not be working on any of my stories in the near future...

BUT, that doesn't mean I'm dead to the world.

Today I'm giddy with excitement because I'm setting up my light-table for the first time in ages so I can work on a new project.

Light-table? Yup, it's the thing animators use to draw on.

It's a hinged tabletop where you can adjust the angle. Instead of a flat surface, there is a opaque plastic disc, which can be swivelled, again to get better angles. The second purpose of the disc is because light shines through it. In the table there is a mounted light, and when you turn it on, it shines through the disc and through the drawings.

Essentially, you layer paper one on top on another and you can see up to (around) 10 drawings at the same time. A (traditional/classical) animator can't really work without a light-table.

Light-tables are awesome :)

So what is my new secret project?

Well, here's a hint. I'm doing 1/2 of the work, my technologically-savvy husband is doing the other 1/2.

...not enough of a hint?

Okay, fine :)

Second hint: it involves a hippo with a straw hat ;)

Monday, April 23, 2012

A quick update

Sorry, not officially back yet. I've got wicked insomnia, and that paired with dyslexia kinda sucks for composing (readable) posts. If you've sent me an email and I haven't responded... I will, I'm just rather slow at the moment :)

But here's a brief update of random things:

On May 1st, I'm flying to Ottawa for the Porcelain Artists of Canada convention, but I still haven't looked through the info-pack to see if I have everything. I'm curious if my luggage is going to get searched since it'll be full of powdered paints and small jars of mysterious liquids of varying colours and viscosity. I'm taking a seminar with Sol Brien to learn how to paint with fat oil, as well there are going to be a lot of demonstrations of different techniques/products. I'm hoping some of the artists won't mind if I take videos with my iPhone. I'm really looking forward to this trip :)

My hair got its first knot in it yesterday. Yes, that's a strange thing to report, but it's true. Since I got my hair all cut off again in September to donate, it's grown a full 6 inches, so it's down around my chin again (at the front). I'm glad it doesn't stick up like a hedgehog in the mornings anymore, but it's getting pretty shaggy. I should get it trimmed soon.

The husband and I were in Seattle last weekend for the Mariners opening home-game... unfortunately they lost, but the weekend was still fun and the weather was pretty nice. We walked around downtown a lot and visited a few areas I've never been before, like Capital Hill area and the University (yeah for Blue C Sushi!). I also bought a new/different pair of Vibram Five-Fingers to try out. The tread is for slippery surfaces, so they might be a little better when the weasely-beagle and me climb rocks along the beach. Seems they also have a new kind out that are better for running on hard surfaces, which is nice. I might think about a pair of those soon 'cause all the other Vibrams are more suited for trail running or indoor stuff.

My laptop is officially dead, but last week (before Seattle) the husband kindly set up an older Mac desktop which has been in a box since we moved to the witch's hut, so at least I'm not typing on my phone anymore. He's agreed to lend me his laptop while I'm in Ottawa so I don't go through technology withdrawal.

I had 4 plants die on me while we were in Seattle, and since getting back, the cat has been diligently chewing through 3 more as punishment for leaving him at the kennel for 5 nights. I'm a little sad 'cause two of the plants that died were important ones. One was an unusually coloured hibiscus I've had for about six years (it was a gift) and the other was a mango I sprouted (which is really difficult to do 'cause the pits/seeds are super sensitive to moisture and normally just rot). My lemon tree, avocado tree, pomelo tree (all of which I also sprouted), coffee tree and a peace plant are barely hanging on. It seems some potential buyers came through and someone turned the heat way up. Since we were gone for five days, everything really dried out. Good thing I've got lots of plants :)

Yesterday I counted 15 deer in our yard, either grazing, sleeping, or standing in the shallow end of the pool drinking water. The mated pair of mallard ducks did not particularly like their territory being invaded, which was pretty funny. They successfully chased off a robin who was trying to bathe but the deer just ignored them. I still see both ducks in the pool at the same time, so I'm not sure if the female has laid her eggs yet. They must feel pretty secure 'cause they both sleep out in the open standing side-by-side on the edge of the pool, and they never did that last year.

This morning there were four young does in the front yard meticulously eating all the flowers off of the spring bulbs. Grape hyacinths, yum. Good thing I spotted them before letting the dog out 'cause she loves to chase them, and with that beagle-nose of hers, sometimes she doesn't want to come back :)

The hummingbirds drained both feeders while we were gone and a few days ago I saw a type of hummingbird I've never seen before! I don't know much about hummingbird species, but the usual visitors have an iridescent green head, a white stomach and brown back, but this new one is all different shades of orange with a vibrant reddish-orange throat. Very pretty.

Well, that be all for now. I can't promise when I'll be back to regular posting, but it'll have to be after I start spelling properly again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Head on straight

Okay, I wussed out :)

Thank you so much everyone for your kind words, emails and virtual hugs while I've been gone. You guys are great.

I'll try to be back to normal M-W-F schedule very soon with the occasional bonus post thrown in whenever the mood strikes.

Oh, I also realized that I succeeded in blogging for a solid year, every M-W-F with no days off. My 1 year blog anniversary was April 4th, before I needed to take this little break, and while my laptop was being manhandled*. Surprisingly, I did 2 posts that day, though they were really short 'cause they were both written on my phone.

*the laptop is now officially dead so I will be selling it for parts. Not even Dr. Frankenstein could resurrect that beast... Oh well, now I have a reason to buy a shiny new laptop!

Friday, April 6, 2012

1 straw, 1 grain of rice

1 straw can break a camel's back

1 grain of rice can tip the scale

It sounds silly to admit, but fighting with my laptop for... nearly a month has done me in*.

Since I don't think this blog is an appropriate place to discuss my personal life, very few of you are aware of my circumstances, and I really don't want to get into the details. Let's just say there are 3 major things going on right now that are sucking up every ounce of my focus and I am mentally exhausted**.

And no, selling the witch's hut isn't one of them.

Like the cascading failure on my hard drive, this past year especially has been a real struggle with too much sickness, disease, death and other unhappy things.

Right now I'm all out of fight, which is entirely un-like me. Normally I go down swinging, and when I hit the ground, I start throwing handfuls of dirt and biting ankles.

I'm not a quitter. In fact, I'm probably one of the most stubborn person you'll ever meet, but my energy reserves are completely depleted, which is why I need a couple weeks to re-group, re-set & re-charge.

This isn't about writing. At all.

I'll be back when I'm able to once again see a silver-lining within dark clouds and am eager to search out new stones to turn over***.

So for all you wonderful people, I wish you the best while I'm gone since I know some of you are expecting new family members, starting new jobs/opportunities, preparing for travel, school, exams, tournaments, and all kinds of other good things, including your ongoing writing adventures. I look forward to catching up with you when I get back, and I will still be answering email.

Take care of yourselves, and I'll see you soon :)

* I have my laptop back now, but am treating it as completely unreliable. Thank goodness for Dropbox online storage, and I'm following closely the rumours from Apple about the upcoming Mac ProBook releases. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for solid-state technology...

** This would be a perfect time to make a blonde joke since, y'know, blondes don't have a lot of functioning brain-cells in the first place :p Yes, you can take my energy, but you can't take my sense of humour.

*** Yup, I'm tired to the point of using lines like this... creativity = 0

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How's your spelling?

Someone (who knows I'm dyslexic) sent me this link as a joke, but it was actually a pretty interesting little test.

Can you pick the correct answer for the 27 most commonly misspelled words?

Not today :)

Laptop... still in the hands of untrustworthy folk.

Sorry, just can't type on my phone anymore or I will truly go blind.

See ya Friday and good luck to all those doing the A-Z writing challenge right now.

Monday, April 2, 2012

8 today

This is another short phone-post.

My beloved evil black cat turns 8 today.

Here he is at the beach on his extend-o-leash. He's very good at walking as long as there aren't any dogs around or too many people.

Also, my laptop... back in the shop. It's not booting up again. I swear, this is one reason I dislike living in Victoria. Since it's an island, many services are... slow, incompetent, and unhelpful. After all, it took them a week to diagnose what I told them when I brought the stupid thing in... and another 4 days to replace the hard drive... 'cause they didn't actually have any in stock. Yes, one of only 2 stores which service Macs in the city. No hard drive in stock.

The problem this time is because the cable attaching the hard drive to the rest of the computer... is loose.

Yep. Seriously. It's a complete no-brainer as soon as you turn it on.

And I wonder how many days it's going to take them to figure that out after I put it on their service desk this morning and told them what the freaking problem was.


Maybe I'll see you on Wednesday?

And thank you everyone who has commented on my re-written first chapter! I have read your very helpful comments and look forward to anything else you guys have to say ;)