art

Fun with Photoshop

Lighting effect 3

Above is a lighting effect I did in Photoshop. That’s right, Photoshop is more than just editing photos, although that is the main purpose of it.

You can draw, paint, shade, and anything you would do with traditional painting. Errors are easier to fix. You don’t have to start over and redraw the thing you made a mistake with. Best of all, there is no mess to clean up. It’s just your digital palette which can be shown as a gradient bar or swatches. You can name your colors, too.

Just be aware that Photoshop is expensive and can be complex or abstract for those just starting out. I’ve used Photoshop for over seven years. It was one of my high school graduation gifts, along with a MacBook Pro.

You should also avoid letting it spoil you. Don’t allow the easy error-fixing shortcuts make you frustrated when you have to do traditional media . That happened to me when I was 19. I was a bit disappointed (although didn’t express it) to have to erase the eye on the portrait I was drawing and had to redraw it instead of transport it to the right spot quickly. That would be magic. And of course, that’ s not possible.

Another approach I’ve done several times was draw something by hand using pencil and then scanning it into Photoshop to color, like in the image below.

Little Girl Scan

Yup, you can color in Photoshop using the paint bucket tool. Photoshop recognizes lines and will color only in between them as long as there are no gaps. Even the tiniest ones can get unwanted elements colored in by accident.

Speaking of which, Photoshop uses pixels. If you draw an image in Photoshop and try to blow it up, it will look blurry. You can raise the dots-per-inch (DPI) to 300 and that’ll make it less blurry. But Illustrator might be better for enlarging a picture. That’s another topic, though.

Blending is also something you can do in Photoshop. Below is a portrait I did where I blended colors to add dimension to the subject.

20150613_195551_resized coloredYou can see the smudges, tints, tones, and highlights. It also looks tangible, especially the lips. I was trying to experiment with realistic textures in digital painting. Few simple digital art programs would offer something this complex.

So if you’re considering using Photoshop, take these into account. Get to know the program. Although I’ve used it for over seven years, there are still some techniques I have yet to learn.

art

Collage Comedy

In college, I took a 2D design course. One of the assignments was to make collages of scenes in different moods. There were a few choices, but the ones I remember, and the ones I chose, were content and melancholy. We has to make them humorous or somehow positive. We also couldn’t use words.

I like to apply humor to many of my creations. In high school, we did slideshows on endangered species and I was assigned some type of wild pig (I can’t remember the species, though) to present on. I had a man lifting a big dumbbell and drew a pig over his head to show the hog’s strength. To reveal its lifespan, I used a picture of Pumbaa from “The Lion King” and drew a beard on him.

Of course, this isn’t a science post. I don’t specialize in science here on my blog. Anyway, let me show you the collages I made and why I used the specific scenes.

collage 1

This was the collage with the content theme. I always admired the idea of non-native species in certain areas of the world. I especially liked the idea of a non-native creature in Italy, such as the lion above in the gondola with a singing-man.

Obviously, lions don’t live in Italy. And no, I didn’t use the ancient Roman animal fights as an inspiration. Honestly, I don’t remember how I came up with using a lion. It’s been a few years.

And onto the next collage:

collage 2

Above is a dingo eating a baby as the assignment for melancholy. This is actually based off a true event. In the late 90’s, a dingo actually ate a baby. That is, of course, really sad.

However, at some point, people used that event as a way to express humor. It was a tragedy turned into a comedy. That was why I used this scene. It was the first thing that came into my mind.

Collages can be used as scrapbooking style, like random information about you. I’m assuming many people had to make them in school when they were kids. I most certainly did. They can also be used artistically to make images. I’ve actually done that in high school in an advanced art class. I don’t have them here on this post. In fact, I don’t know if I have them anymore.

But I found these after searching all over my room. I made them 3 years ago. They are still great to admire now.

art

Mini Art Show: A Simple Banquet Room

Banquet Room Drawing

This is one section of a made-up banquet hall room I illustrated myself. I used a few reference images for design and points-of-view.

The color scheme was done through research on what colors are often used in catering hall rooms. Having a natural eye for color-combos, I was inspired by having vibrant tones (like the purple) go with muted or achromatic gray (neither warm nor cool–just purely black and white mixed together).

Many banquet room carpets have detailed designs or patterns. However, I decided to simplify my catering room’s floor design. I drew this in Photoshop, and although you can make patterns look neat and professional there, for this POV, it ended up looking the opposite. So I chose to use stripes instead.

I am also more fond of modern design than old-fashioned design. It was even easier to create simple bulbs with light rather than chandeliers. The walls also don’t have relief textures or fancy wallpaper.

About the dancefloor? It was added since many catering events have dancing. I elected not to do anything unusual to it so that it would appear believable. Of course, not all dancefloors are created equally. But I saw no reason to do something over-the-top to it.

Below is a continuation of this room.

Banquet room opposite POV w stuff

This here is the opposite side of the picture at the top. I added tables to test layouts for this room. There are doors and an exit sign above it.

Of course, not being an architect, I have no plans to submit these to be designed. This was just to test my illustration skills and see what else I could do.

Writing

Story Too Complex to Tell? Don’t Sweat it—I’ve Got Tips

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Stories come in all forms, sizes, moods, and so forth. No two plots are alike. Some are similar. Some differ drastically. Some are short or long. And some are simple or complex.

Of course, each story will depend on audience, trends, and so on. Here, I am going to discuss tips for handling a complex story.

Obviously, your book will be short and sweet and well as very basic if it’s a picture book. As the audience gets older, the stories will lengthen and become more complex. And that doesn’t only apply to writing and plot, but also subplots.

Subplots are secondary storylines in a book that weave into the main plot and they all are important for the tale. If you’re writing for middle-grade children (about 8-11), you may only need one or two subplots at most. If you’re writing for teens (aka the young adult readers) or adults, you might need more subplots. Depending on your skill-level and storyline, up to four subplots might be enough.

However, if you feel you are getting too overwhelmed with subplots or storyline complexity, or readers aren’t receiving the right message you’re trying to communicate, don’t be afraid to remove content that doesn’t add or is not crucial. That includes subplots. Depending on your readers’ ages and levels, you can simplify your plot. If you feel you can’t remove a subplot or two, however, that’s okay. Sometimes, complex material is too important to be scrapped. If it takes you years, especially if you’re just starting out as a writer, don’t worry. Some authors have taken ten or more years to work on a story. One of my works took nearly three years to complete.

Remember, write from your gut as well as what you are passionate about. That is how you will improve and have fun.

Writing

I See My Many Colors Writing Through

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Yup, I enjoy handwriting in different colors. Of course, that’s only if it’s independent work, not assigned. And the first project I experimented with is my novel-in-progress.

I’ve discovered that writing my novel-in-progress in different colors actually makes a difference. It’s easier to distinguish chapters and the events that occur in them.

I also use pens instead of pencils. It keeps me from stopping to erase, dealing with graphite smudges, and fading. I do use whiteout when I make mistakes, though.

I have a pack of pens in various colors from blue to pink to brown. Some are bold, some sparkle, and some shine like metal. It’s really interesting. And no, the shining and sparkling do not distract me.

The only rule for myself is not to use light colors, such as yellow. Like everyone, I was taught this as a child. It’s hard to read, obviously. Need I say more?

I also have to deal with the running out of ink. Unfortunately, the colored pens I have run out quickly. That doesn’t stop me from keeping the multi-colored handwriting, though.

I discovered some colored pens work better than others. Of course, everybody differs. Some hold certain pens better than others. Some prefer pencils over pens. Many people favor typing over handwriting and all black or blue ink instead of different colors.

I do think writing in different colors, either by typing or by hand, is worth trying. I am glad I discovered this method worked for me. It has helped me a lot.

 

Writing

Hasten Up with Handwriting

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Who says you can only type your work on the computer? Yes, we have programs beyond Word, such as Scrivner. But nothing writes better than the hand if you want to be quicker with your writing process.

When you handwrite, you have no distractions on the Internet or the computer in general. No pop-ups, Facebook notifications, computer crashes, etc. Just you, your notebook or any form of paper, and a pen or pencil.

I actually am writing my current W.I.P with a notebook and pen. I am also using different colors for different chapters. It’s easier to read, believe it or not, as long as you don’t use colors that are too light, like yellow.

I have aimed for 2-3 chapters a day. Some days were less, though, especially if I was busy. Another pitfall is that I wasn’t focused on much else.

So now I am limiting to one or two chapters on the weekend and as much as possible during the week.

I try not to write at home too much. I either go to the library or cafes that are not too noisy and are painted with light colors. Yes, that does make a difference.

The library can be a little better, though. You don’t have to buy anything and it couldn’t be any quieter. With two libraries near my house, you don’t have to be a member to just sit and do work.

After I handwrite the current draft, I am going to type it on the computer.

art

Digital Art: This is What You Should Know

Triangle pattern

A sample digital abstract drawing I did

Do you love creating art? What is your favorite medium? Do you like the traditional approach… or the digital one?

 

Obviously, you should learn both to become a better artist. However, digital art has its ups and a couple downs. The pros first:

 

1: There’s no mess to clean up. It’s all on your computer or tablet. You don’t to wash, dry, or anything. How awesome is that?

 

2: You have a variety of colors to pick. You don’t have to worry about not having a specific color available. The sky is pretty much the limit.

 

3: Errors are easy to fix. You can undo, move with a transport tool, and more.

 

That being said…

 

1: Don’t let digital art spoil you too much. If you do, you might end up frustrated with having to fix a mistake to old-fashioned way in traditional media.

 

2: Certain programs, like Adobe Photoshop, can be expensive. However, you can often get discounts or deals.

 

Nevertheless, digital art can be fun. I enjoy it very much.

Writing

Why You Should Let Inspiration Come Naturally

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We all know what inspiration is and does. A good majority of creative works, whether it’s art, writing, acting, music, or anything else, has some sort of inspiration behind them. Popular sources for inspiration may include life experiences, dreams, other creative works, inventions, and more.

One important thing about inspiration, though, aside from it not being the same as copying, is that it should come to you naturally. That means you should not force something to inspire you for any reason. I’ve tried it so many times, and guess what—it backfired. I got bored with the projects and abandoned them.

Just because you have a goal to complete, whether it was your choice or someone else’s assignment to you, that doesn’t mean you should force something into it that doesn’t feel natural. Unless someone requires you to use something that doesn’t appeal to you, you really should do what works for you, personally.

Not everybody has the same methods of getting inspired, and that is what makes each one of us special and unique. However, just like you wouldn’t force yourself to enjoy something others love, even if it’s incredibly popular by the general public or your friends, you shouldn’t push something to inspire you to complete something. Listen to your (internal) conscience. You will not only complete your projects more quickly, but you will also have more fun than if you push yourself to do something that doesn’t work.

 

Writing

Do I Like These In Fiction? No Way… Too Clichéd!

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If you write prose, you should be aware to avoid clichés, such as “crystal clear” or “a piece of cake”. Readers have seen and heard those phrases so many times they had enough of it. Instead you should change the wording, but still make it clear to your audience. For example instead of saying, “Pearly white,” another cliché, you could say “diamond white”.

Clichés can also be overdone things that happen in any form of fiction, whether written or on screen, like high-pitched singing causing a glass to break.

Here are some clichés I found through fiction, regardless of time of release, genre, or form. And these I have gotten sick of over time.

Before you keep reading, though, here is a disclaimer: All these clichés are my own opinions. You can feel free to disagree with me in the comments. However, please don’t be rude. We all need to respect each other’s opinions. Thanks.

 

1: A cute little girl named Susie

 

I have seen this so many times. At this point, I would consider Susie a default and lazy name for a cute little girl. Maybe an adult woman or teenage girl named Susie wouldn’t bother me as much. Maybe naming a little girl, Susan or Suzanne, would be fine with me, too. But Susie? Why not Michelle? Or Jessica? Or any other girl’s name?

 

2: White Christmases

 

I get that feeling that getting audiences into the Christmas spirit. Christmas falls in the winter in the northern hemisphere. And many people think snow when hearing the word, “winter”.

However, although I’ve lived in a cold climate for most of my life (Long Island, NY), I cannot recall a White Christmas during my life in my home. I don’t think I ever had one. Even before the temperatures changed in recent years, thanks to global warming, it has snowed early December and the following winter months. But never on or around Christmas.

I’m not saying stories set on or around Christmas should follow weather patterns the same as we experience in real life. But can’t there ever be a Christmas tale without snow? There is only one I can think of and that was the Christmas special for “The Wild Thornberries”.

 

3: Surprise Parties

 

Maybe back in the day, people would take little to no part in planning their own parties more often. I could be wrong about that. But today, it is common for people to want to plan their own parties. Of course, Surprise parties still happen a lot. A few of my family members had received surprise parties for anniversaries and birthdays.

However, in fiction, I have seen too many surprise parties, especially in movies and TV shows. In books, I have seen characters who were aware of their parties before they started, even if they didn’t get very involved in the planning. But unless it is absolutely crucial for a character’s party to be a surprise, I would rather they know about their bashes beforehand.

 

4: Fiction Schools Performing “The Wizard of Oz”

 

This is, perhaps, the most annoying cliché for me (no offense to anyone who really likes this). I’m not saying “The Wizard of Oz” is a bad story. It’s a fantastic classic. But too many stories, whether they were written prose, movies, or TV shows, have had their schools perform “The Wizard of Oz”. This has gone from past decades to more recent years.

Like naming a cute little girl, “Susie”, I find having that a fictional school do “The Wizard of Oz” as its play is too overdone. Why not have your fictional school perform a different show, like “Annie”, “The Sound of Music”, “Beauty and the Beast”, etc.? If you’re writing for children, I would understand avoiding schools performing shows that are too mature or inappropriate for kids, like “Anything Goes” (probably fine for Young Adult, though) or “Miss Saigon”. If you’ve already published something where the main character’s school performs “The Wizard of Oz”, that is fine. But for those who haven’t written your dream stories yet, I would suggest picking a different show. But, of course, be mindful of your target audience when selecting a play.

 

Are there any unique clichés in fiction you’ve noticed? Please mention them in the comments below.

Writing

When Child Characters Need to Rely on Adults

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A while back, I have watched a video about developing children’s novel characters. The person in the clip said that the characters have to make their own decisions at all times. She also said that adults should be kept out of the story as much as possible. I’d say, “Yes and no.” It really depends on your story’s setting and plot. If it’s olden times in history, when children were expected to have more independence and it was considered standard and safe during that time, then it make sense to keep adults out. Or if your story is set in another country that has different laws from the US about child safety and restrictions, then being 100% independent can work as well.

However, if your story is set in modern times, and in a country like the US, Canada, UK, etc., depending on your novel plot, it can be harder to keep adults out of the story. Of course, you shouldn’t have your child character ask his or her parents for homework help. But, depending on the kid’s age, they can’t do certain things too independently, otherwise, readers could expect CPS to show up at the character’s home.

Bringing me to the purpose of this post, I am now going to give examples of when a child character needs to rely on an adult.

 

1: Provide family income and shelter

 

This is an obvious one, even if it doesn’t play a role to your story. You cannot have a kid live by him or herself unless your story is set in a very poor place or a very old time, like an ancient civilization. But it’s just not possible.

 

2: Being Driven

 

Unless your character is old enough for a license, he or she is going to need to depend on an adult to drive him or her. That being said, they can still think about their own decisions while in the car or whatever vehicle he or she is in.

 

3: Having certain papers that require parent/guardian signatures

 

From legal documents to school permission slips, a child will need to have an adult sign these types of papers to make the story believable. Unless it’s necessary for your plot to have the kid forge the signature, he or she has to get an adult.

 

4: Being escorted in places forbidding un-accompanied minors

 

With so much security and surveillance today, it would be hard to have a child character go somewhere like what is mentioned above without adult supervision. Of course, this also depends on your setting. But if it’s modern times in a nation like the US, then it would only be believable if the kid is escorted by a grown-up.

 

Other than these exceptions, your child character should make his or her own decisions and be independent. Do you have any examples of when child characters need to depend on adults? Please tell me in the comments below.