Writing

Save Time with Shorthand Writing

My handwriting has always been sloppy. I have also written big and not very quickly. Sometimes, in school, I fell behind in handwriting assignments.

I also have preferred to handwrite my stories at times. Why? Because there are no computer distractions, such as the internet, and I found my handwriting speed to be, ironically, faster in recent years. However, because of the quicker motions, my hands often hurt. So I couldn’t write as much as I wanted, even if I abbreviated things (i.e. u for you).

I discovered shorthand writing when looking up ways to hasten up my handwriting. At first, I was resistant to it because I felt it would’ve involved too much work. But boy, was I wrong. It didn’t take a very long time to learn. In fact, it almost became a default habit.

I started out with writing the alphabet in shorthand. Then I wrote short phrases such as “I love you” and “happy birthday”. After that, I moved onto short songs that don’t repeat phrases and that I knew by heart. Although it was no longer holiday season, I translated the lyrics to “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” into shorthand. Hey—no one was going to see it, anyway. Nor would anybody know what the sentences said. I also translated a couple showtunes into shorthand. Finally, I did entire first pages of books, such as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.

Due to other things happening, I haven’t used shorthand writing in a long time. However, I will come back to it. It’s good to keep up with something that can expedite your handwriting, as long as you don’t have to share the works with other people.

art

Simple Shapes vs. Outlining Drawings

Who has drawn before? Pretty much all of us. We learned it in school. However, only a section of us have developed a passion or talent for them.

Most of us were probably taught to outline our drawings first as children. And that is fine. But if you go into illustration or animation, you’ll have to learn about drawing using simple shape blocks. Why? Well, consistency. The smallest can be greatly noticed by the general public.

While I still outline some drawings, when I want to be serious, I now use simple shapes. The image below shows a drawing I did using simple shapes.

It wasn’t meant to be finished as it was used as a reference template for someone I’ve worked with. Yet, you can see the simple shapes as building blocks for each character or element.

There are times where it’s acceptable to outline or be very simplistic. Like in math, you may have been asked to draw out problems but not use details. The focus was the problem and not the art. But I’m no math expert.

Anyway, if you’re in a hurry, by all means outline everything first, like you were probably taught as a kid. But if you’re a serious artist who wants to hone your illustration or drawing skills, then simple shapes are a must. I was taught this in college.

I don’t have a picture that I clearly outlined. Well, I’ve practiced using other drawings. But I threw them all away due to space issues in my room. Also, they weren’t my ideas.

Yet, I can tell you the technique. I would select a semi-realistic image and decide on the person’s age range and gender. The choices for age range were baby/small child, older child, teen/young adult, middle aged adult, or senior. I would use an image from the face to chest instead of the whole figure. I would tell myself to observe the outlines but not to trace. Pretty much no image came out exact. However, most did turn out similar. And I accepted that.

I would practice at least a couple times a day. Then I would move to the next level of making them look like cartoons of themselves. That was very, very difficult.

Why semi-realistic, you may ask? One, it’s the style I’m most attracted to. Two, it’s neither too realistic or too cartoony. Many people prefer cartoonish style over realistic. But I feel cartoonish is a little too easy for me.

I would like to return to that soon. You could try these techniques too. Good luck.

cooking

Cookie “Dough” Balls and How I Made Them

Have you ever eaten cookie dough? I used to, even though I wasn’t supposed to. Luckily, I never got sick.

But there is a way to make cookie “dough”. And no, I don’t mean the mysterious stuff ice cream parlors use. I mean crushed cookies and cream cheese. That’s right.

You can use store-bought cookies. Or you can bake your own. I’d recommend the latter more. Why? Because homemade is always better, of course.

You could bake the cookies longer than instructed, although they may burn a bit. Or bake them soft and let them harden, which I wouldn’t suggest unless you don’t like soft cookies. There are people who prefer crunchier cookies. You might be one of them.

What I do is bake them soft. If I find them just okay or get tired of them after a while, they end up hardening. So instead of tossing them, I crush them, mix them with cream cheese, and roll them into little balls. Then I refrigerate them. Sometimes, I dip them in chocolate or colored sugars. And guess what? They taste delicious. They taste like cookie dough, except that they’re not raw.

So if you want to make your own cookie “dough” without getting sick or trying to find the strange ingredients ice cream shops use, just crush your hard cookies and mix in cream cheese. You can use a blender. In fact, that’s probably better because it expedite the process.

Your cream cheese and crushed crumbs should measure about the same volume. After you mix the two, roll them into balls, like the size of a gumball. Then refrigerate them for about a half hour or so. Then take them out and enjoy, or dip them in chocolate, sugars, sprinkles, nuts, or anything you’d like. Believe me, you’ll feel like you’re eating cookie dough.

art

Why I Draw with Pencils First, and Then Trace in Pen if Desired

Image from Pixabay

I don’t know about you, but when I was a child, I was taught to draw in pencil first. Then trace it in pen if desired. And you know what? I think it was great advice. In fact, I still do that now these days… sometimes. To be honest, I haven’t been drawing that much recently.

Anyway, you know that pencils come with erasers. If you make a mistake, you erase that. There are also erasable pens. But I haven’t used those since, like, fifth grade.

Yes, if you make an error with a permanent pen, you can’t remove it. But you can put white-out over it. I’ve been doing that a lot these days.

What I like to do is draw the basic shapes with light pencil marks. Next, I draw the main images with normal pencil marks. Then trace over them with pens. I finish by erasing the pencil marks. After all, no one is perfect. So pencil marks will still show unless you erase them.

I have drawn purely without pencils before as a child. That was fine. But those were drawings for personal pleasure. Not for school. Plus, I hadn’t received the full formal training for art, then. I took art classes at school. But they were required for everyone, including those with little to no artistic talent.

Once I got the formal training in high school and college, I don’t think I ever started drawing with pens voluntarily again. Sadly, these days, my hands sometimes shake too much. And because I don’t have an authority forcing me to start with a pen, I probably won’t return to drawing with pens only for a long, long time. I will still trace pencil lines with pens, though.

art

Fun with Figure Drawing

At first, I would consider completely avoiding looking at nude models as I’d found nakedness disturbing. I would even decide that I’d rather fail a college art class than look at a nude model. But that was what I had thought when I was in high school.

In college, figure drawing was required in the art curriculum. At first, I was a bit nervous. Even when the model immediately removed her cover-up, I was a bit uncomfortable and tried not grin (obviously, I wouldn’t have burst out laughing—I was 21). But then I got used to it and discovered something new about myself: figure drawing was fun. I got past the discomfort of seeing nudity.

I learned how to draw poses and how to construct them with lines, shapes, and more. I still use these techniques when drawing for pleasure. It helps a lot.

Now why didn’t I post a picture of one of my drawings, you might wonder? Because I don’t believe it’s appropriate for a blog post. Everyone is welcome to read the articles, including kids. But you can try picturing drawing ideas in your head. This technique is necessary for art majors, especially if you are considering illustration or animation. Figure drawing may be exciting for you too. You never know.

art

Lines & Shapes & References, Oh My… That’s What Illustration is All About

In my final semester of college last year, I took an illustration elective. I discovered some tips and tricks I never knew before.

Reference material was one. Believe it or not, that is super important for illustration. Whether it’s for a pose or an appearance. Yes, if you want to illustrate a house with a yard for an illustration project, you will need a reference. Of course, you’re not going to copy it (not just because of copyright protections, but also because it’s lazy and not your own) but you can refer to it for believable structure and appearances. You still have to change some things, like color, removal of something, etc., or else it become copying.

Another illustration rule I’ve learned was when designing characters, their physical looks matter and should relate to their ages, personalities, and roles to their stories. I started out with just simple smiles and different looks. But I had to change that. So I did.

Below is a drawing of Polydectes from the Greek myth, Perseus and Medusa.
Main Polydectes Scan

Had I not been taught to show the characters’ personalities, he would’ve just smiled and held his arms at his side.

If you’re going to design characters as a career, you’ll most likely have to do turnaround sheets. That is when you show the same characters in different POV’s. It’s less necessary for book illustration, but mandatory for animation, whether it’s for TV, film, or games.

Here’s a sample of an original character I’ve drawn in different POV’s.

20171023_212909 (2)

Okay. So it might be a bit sloppy. But you get the idea. This character is basically in every major POV.

When you grew up, regardless of your artistic talent, you probably drew by outlining first. Then you colored in the image. In illustration, however, you start with simple shapes as the building blocks for an object or character. You would use circles for round sections and rectangles or triangles for angled sections. Then you would finish from there.

In fact, one of our first assignments was to find character images and break them down into simple shapes. This is how you learn to show detail and consistency.

Have you ever watched a cartoon and noticed something off? If so, the cartoonist probably made an error. He or she probably didn’t mean to. However, this is something viewers will notice very easily, even if it’s very faint. It takes a lot of practice, though. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to make this easy. You really just have to gain that hand muscle memory and place everything the right position, such as the eyes.

Of course, you will have to practice on your own as I do not have enough illustration experience to post tutorials here. However, you can find others all over the Internet. If you’re really serious, you can read books or take a class.