Learning to Draw

Hello all. Steve is back, and he’s ready to attack.

What am I attacking? Um… uh… my free time? I dunno, I just wanted to rhyme something.

So this last week I not only did my usual editing, which is going very well, I continued practicing drawing. Mostly in GIMP still, but I played around with Krita as well. Mostly I’m working on the human form. This means I went about trying to break down the human structure into basic shapes.

Those of you who have been drawing for years know this is just about the first step. This is something I had always neglected, so it’s good practice for me. The co-author offered up several books and resources for me to look to for examples, and it helped immensely. I can’t say I’m good at drawing people… yet, but I’m getting better. I’d post examples, but I’ve not finalized anything. What I’ve made is mostly for myself. Though this last one I’ve been working on has some striking eyes, and the mouth looks real… though it also looks like I cut something out poorly and pasted it on a blank face. I need to work on shading I think, or at least rounding out the sharp lines I use to draw things currently.

The thing that has helped me in drawing people is thinking about bones. Besides the example shapes people have used to illustrate drawing bodies in tutorials, thinking about the skull really helps shape a head. A round top of the skull, and then the jaw bone underneath. Otherwise you might wind up with something too round. As for arms and legs, yes bones, but the muscle on top really brings out their form. Chests and hips are interesting, and having shoulders protrude is something I hadn’t thought of, and the ligaments that angle up to the neck from the shoulder is something to think of, otherwise you’d have a flat line running underneath the head. Bones are good, but hands are hard. Just saying.

I think I’ll try to do some backgrounds soon. I’ve always love landscapes, but I’ve never been able to do anything. While I’ve drawn people before, none of it good, I’ve not done any natural scenes before. So this’ll be a new thing for me. I’ll probably use Krita, though I’m more familiar with GIMP, simply because there are a ton more brushes and styles to utilize that come standard with that program. You can get as many as you want for GIMP, but I don’t feel like searching for them, though I did find a “hair brush” that I think is decent.

I’ve also found that trying to trace things doesn’t help as much as you’d think. At least for me. I’m only using a mouse. Perhaps if I were to use a tablet and pen for such things they’d look better, but really if I personally want to draw something now it tends to look better if I draw it while looking at a picture as opposed to trying to trace it. I don’t know, maybe my hand isn’t steady enough, but things tend to look better if I draw it freehand. That and it’s better practice as I am better able to identify the best shapes to form different parts of a person. The eyes for example looked really bad when traced, so I deleted that and started over. Now I have a pair that look close to real, for me at least.

In the end, I’m enjoying trying to learn this new skill. I also have hopes that this will help me better describe things when I write. Before I usually would focus on dialogue, and let the descriptions of surroundings and people kind of vague, though I tried. But working with the co-author, and seeing how they depict things using words, has spurred me into more action when it comes to that. Now with both them as an example, and this new found hobby, I hope to become even better in the future.

That’s all for now. I hope you have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited, spending hours drawing.

Steven Oaks

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Do What You Love

Hello again. I’m back for another weekly update.

Last week’s post had me complaining about my own incompetence. But since then I was able to edit. The co-author got me a copy of their changes that night, and the following day I was able to catch up. This weekend they edited some more, and I was able to work on it today. All in all, things are going well on that front, even with me not getting to it one day.

Other than that, I’ve been playing around with GIMP again. Oh dear, I’m not good, but oh dear is it fun. I’m doing silly things I’ve never done before. And not to toot my own horn, but I made a couple of things that I think are at least interesting.

Again, I’m no artist, but being able to put together a few things, even if they are simple, is tons of fun. Now back in the day I used to draw now and again. Heck, there was one summer I really went hard. I was drawing everything, anime, friends, vistas. But I never considered it good. Though I think my Berserker skateboard looks neat, even if I used too much paint. But I dropped out of the habit for years at a time.

Those of you who have followed this blog, or those that go back and look at older posts, will see that I’ve played around with GIMP before. My owl phase I call it, though I did work on several other animals. Not that they are great or anything, but I’m proud I was able to do anything close to recognizable.

At one point in time I was really into drawing. I’m talking elementary and middle school, but for whatever reason I didn’t feel like I had the chance to grow this skill. I never had the time, or didn’t feel I did, so I just stopped drawing. Perhaps that’s why I tend to surround myself with artists.

I spent about five hours doodling and playing around this weekend. Listening to random music, I lost track of time completely. By the time I realized how late/early it was I had created a silly book cover. It doesn’t look great, but I did learn (omit) a lot just by playing around. It took me several hours to get to sleep after, as I kept thinking about what other things I could do to improve it. I spent another few hours the next day doing that, but I’m still not happy with it. I guess I’ll have to keep going.

Along with drawing, I like music. The art of creating, and singing. But again, I never had the opportunity, save rare occasions. I recall one time, in Spanish class of all places, a girl from the school’s top choir group started singing one of my favorite songs. I joined in, and as ridiculous as it sounds, received praise from everyone in the class, and was asked why I wasn’t in choir. I suppose singing along in the car maintained that skill, but else-wise I don’t really practice.

I guess what I’m trying to say with these stories is that we should do what we love. Even if others say it’s a waste of time. Even if you have to make the time for them. Even if we aren’t great, or even good at it. I’ll likely never be great at art or music, but it makes me happy. Since I have a bit of time now that I’m in between books, until editing is completed, I’ll play around with my artistic desires. Maybe I’ll even influence the final book cover. Unfortunately the trees I’m making look like nuclear explosions, so maybe I won’t, heh.

Until next time. Do what you love. Life is short, but the years are long. Don’t let the everyday hum-drum keep you from enjoying the little things that make life worth living. Skill comes with practice, but even though none of us will likely become as amazing as whatever idol we strive to be like, we can say we had fun trying. And you never know, maybe you will be amazing in your own right. Have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited, things are going well.

Steven Oaks

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Arg, I’m a fool

Howdy Folks. Here’s a little story. A precautionary tale.

I went to edit the book today. I thought, huh, wouldn’t it be cool to try out a different program to take a look at what we’ve written? Maybe there’ll be features I’ve not utilized out there, or perhaps it’ll give me a different view on things.

So I loaded up a program called Manuskript. Since I’m in Linux, and because I wasn’t looking too closely at how to install, it took me a minute. My fault entirely, but once I figured out my mistake it was easy enough.

It’s an interesting looking program, one I’m not sold on yet, but it opened. I took a couple of minutes to look around, then decided I’d try to import my Libre Office document. Well, it didn’t work. I thought, huh, oh well. And played around with some things, but didn’t save.

I figured I’d work out how to use it later, and opened Libre Office again to get back to editing. Uh-oh, the book isn’t opening. What do I do? Will other documents open? Yes. So it isn’t Office, it’s the book’s file. Darn it, I guess trying out new things messed it up.

Now I’m stuck, and can’t work on the book until the co-author is able to give me their back up copy. They worked on it this weekend, so any changes they made I can’t see until I get that version. Perhaps it’s time for a different method of exchanging the file, but then again any way would be just as susceptible with my current work-flow. I suppose I’ll have to reevaluate the way I do things.

Making a local copy instead of trying to edit the version sent to me directly would be one way I could have avoided this. If I hadn’t tried to open the only file I had on hand, that would have been the smart thing. However, I’m apparently in too much of a hurry, and don’t save locally until I’m finishing editing. Yes, I save as I go along, but it’s only to that original copy.

Frustrated that I couldn’t work on the book, I played around with Manuskript a bit more. Starting a new book, or at least working with the little I had for a book, I input some information. I can’t say it works with how I write. I can’t even see how I can write with such small input area’s. Sure it’s fine enough for making an outline, which I’m interested in doing, but making the transition from it to a finished book doesn’t look appealing. Discouraged with writing, I decided to do something else.

Now I’m no artist. I can doodle a bit, but I’ve not done it in years, and what little I’ve done hasn’t been exactly what I wanted. But I figured, what the heck, I can at least sketch out a template for a cover and have the co-author take a look at it. They’re the real artist here, and we’ve discussed how we want the book’s cover to look. So using the little skill I have in Gimp I began.

I was going to just do a collage, and maybe a little background coloring. I started out fine enough, but cutting out things wasn’t going well. Then I discovered an auto cut feature I hadn’t used before. Basically you outline what you want cut out, and it’ll make a path. You can add more points to help clarify lines, and after failing a few times, I got what I wanted. I pasted it into my new image, and began cleaning it up. That was a mistake.

I’m a perfectionist. There were still bits that the cut tool hadn’t gotten rid of, so I started painting them out. Zooming in so close that I could see every pixel, I took my time. Too much time, and in the end I wasn’t happy. Dang it Steve, this was just supposed to be a rough collage of images to represent the vision I had. Instead I wasted way too much time on it, and in the end I just deleted everything.

Basically my productivity for the day is shot. I did this to myself. I hope I learn from this and just work with the tools I have on hand, and don’t try to do things I know I can’t really do. Sure I could take the time and become better at things, but these sessions I have are supposed to be for writing or editing. Instead I annoyed myself to such extremes I lost my ability to focus on anything.

Hopefully I’ll be in contact with the co-author tonight, and can get a copy of what they worked on. If so I’ll be able to work tomorrow, and that is what I need.

Let this be a lesson. Work with what functions. If you are starting something new there is no problem with finding different tools, but don’t think some new tool is going to just work out for you. Or conversely, make a back up on-site. That way at least you won’t ruin the only version you have. Also don’t bite off more than you can chew. I guess I’ll draw some stick figures now. I can do that at least.

That’s all for now. I hope your week is filled with less frustration.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited a bit, exercised a bit, watched some movies.

Steven Oaks

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Daylight Doesn’t Like Me

Greetings fellow beings. I’ve returned once more for the weekly blog post.

So, as is inherently obvious, another week has passed. And yet for me it feels as though nothing much happened. However, I shall try to compile what I may of my experiences.

An outing of sorts was taken, and a lunch of Chinese was had. Fairly delicious, though perhaps noticeable only to me, the rice given was that of the instant variety. Flavor and texture-wise so similar to what can be purchased and cooked in mere minutes, yet delicious as such things go. If not for the meal being tasty, I would complain more upon the expense. Even if not from my own wallet it was purchased. Twas planned to be from my coffers, yet another insisted upon purchasing.

Of course while out I spun many a stop for Pokemon go, and even had my first raid. Easily won somehow, I even got the guardian Pokemon. One I hadn’t collected before, so that was nice. All together profitable for myself who doesn’t actively play any game other than certain ‘mobile’ ones.

While killing time, a couple of stores were perused. Ones which sell used video games. While I wasn’t tempted by the selection, the co-author spotted a couple they wanted. And while checking on-line pricing found a game they wished. Persona 5. An interesting game, though I found it played more like a light novel. However it looks beautiful, and I enjoyed watching the co-author play. Much like watching an anime, though I suppose I could just watch the adaptation if I wanted to instead.

Speaking of watching things, we watched the latest Power Ranger movie. It had fallen under my radar, and I only became aware of it when Movies with Mikey did a watch party for it. It seemed fun, so I had been wanting to watch it. So when there didn’t seem to be anything else to do late Sunday evening, I did.

Now I was never a huge fan. But back in the day, without cable and little else to kill time watching, I had watched several episodes. Perhaps even several seasons, though I never went out of my way to see everything. I had always found it silly, and perhaps that’s why I felt it was okay, even if it was marketed to a younger audience. But this movie, while silly in its own way, was more grown up. Even if it still took lines directly from the original run, they didn’t seem out of place in a more adult setting. Fans of the show from the 90’s should enjoy, though a new audience may not. Still, I did, and any who grew up with it in their lives won’t be displeased by the re-imagining of the universe.

Now I don’t know if it’s because I don’t venture out into the sun often, or if I was becoming sick, but I wasn’t feeling well Sunday. I had felt fine, in fact I felt pretty good since I had gone to bed early and got plenty of sleep. That combined with the coffee I filled myself with, when I stepped outside to join the day-walkers, I was ready for an amusing outing. However it became clear that I wasn’t going to last long. My speech suffered, as did my endurance, and I was left squinting and desiring a nap.

Perhaps because of my shunning of the day for my job at night my eyes have adapted to the low-light levels of the evening. It was tiring just keeping them open, and everything seemed too bright for me. Maybe I’ll have to invest in some sunglasses if I wish to go out during the day from now on. But I had to take a very long nap afterwards, and even then I didn’t feel totally well. Only now am I feeling better, but that may be due to the coffee I consume when editing and writing.

As to editing, last week the co-author and I had a disagreement on the way a chapter was written. They had updated it, making a few lines into a brand new chapter. I reviewed, and at the time I wasn’t completely sold on the changes. I spent several hours changing things, making it to my eyes readable and reasonable. I offered it back, but instead of reading the changes, the co-author took what I had complained about and made a new chapter. I was able to read it today, and make my own slight changes, and while I liked what was written before, after I edited, the new one flows better. But since it’s new I’ll have to take a look at it a few more times before I’m sure it meets the quality of the chapters that I’ve been editing up to this point.

An interesting thing came from all this. I noticed a change in the way I write, or at least what I’m able to write. Thanks to the co-author’s flair for depictions, I’ve been able to write more descriptive scenes. The new chapter was missing a bit of their usual shine, my fault of course since I had been grumpy about changes so they wrote quickly. But I was able to enhance in a way that I never felt I could before. My knack had always been dialogue, and I think that shows in my earlier books with the vague way I describe a scene, as each paragraph was mostly characters talking. However now I notice their lack, and am able to build a clearer picture using words, instead of just implying a world. This is something I’ve struggled with, and have been working on for years. I think I’m finally starting to show progress. We’ll see if I truly have overcome this weakness when I write my next book.

That’s about it. So until next time, have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update TLDR: Edited a bit, exercised a bit, watched some movies.

Steven Oaks

Follow me on the things below.

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More Descriptions!

There is something to be said about the third person narrative. It allows you to focus on all that is around, and descriptions flow easier than if a single person would be telling the story.

At least the way Michael tells a story. Michael tends to focus on dialogue, and mostly ignores everything else around them when it doesn’t directly affect them. This is why I am going back over my new book, and adding more descriptions today.

I realized I was still writing with Michael’s perspective, though I’ve forgone with the first person perspective. There were more elegant touches with this story already, but I feel it was missing something.

So today I’ve decided to not write more of the story, and focus on cleaning up what I already have. Perhaps this is not the way to do it, but I want to get a feel for the way I want to write this before I continue on.

That being said, I woke up late, as my stomach didn’t allow me to sleep much last night, and have only just started work. So I shall leave you with this, it doesn’t matter how good or bad you feel, keep working on what you are passionate about. Otherwise you’ll make excuses to quit, and never accomplish anything.

 

Deatship - Book 1 of the Outsider Series
Starship - Book 2 of the Outsider Series

Link to my author page on Amazon – hhttp://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

If you want or need to buy anything from Amazon, please use my Amazon Affiliate Link – http://www.amazon.com?_encoding=UTF8&tag=steoakautpag-20

 

Update –  Already a few hundred words to enhance what I’ve written in the new book, but many more to go today.

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
― Patrick Rothfuss

Steven Oaks

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