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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GIMP and Sleep

Oh I’ve amused myself today. In the second book there is a particular outfit the main character wears, and I wanted to see what they looked like. Using my own face, along with a few other celebrities whom have the facial characteristics I wanted I morphed a face into a somewhat accurate resemblance of what I wanted. Using my limited skills with GIMP I put something together. On one hand it looks horrible, on the other it gives me something to look at. What a stupid thing to waste time on, but it was amusing. It really only took a few minutes, but I should not have done it while I was writing. I did eventually get my daily word count in, but I was late. That and I slept in today. Glorious sleep filled with the most unusual things, that of course I cannot recall now. Forcing myself to actually get out of bed was a task, until I realized I had overslept by a few hours. I did get up earlier, but that was for the normal bathroom break, and tucking myself once more into bed I found I was once more able to rest. This is completely unusual as I find sleeping to be something that usually eludes me. Today I took it as a sign that I was exhausted. The previous night I slept very little, and I had even forced myself to go out for a run. I suppose the combination allowed me to find rest again. Perhaps I should exercise more, but I worry that I will hurt myself with continuous labour. At least I got this rest in, now let’s see what today will bring.

 

Please take a look

Please take a look

Link to my book in the Amazon store – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ME0U00Y

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 –  1,000 words written for the third novel today. Sleep was had, and fun was as well. I had Chinese food at a buffet last night to celebrate a friends niece’s birthday, and that was good too.

“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.”
― David Benioff

– Steven Oaks

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Tablet Writing

I’m out in the livingroom right now. Just finished mowing the lawn after a long night listening to people setting off fireworks until nearly 1am. I know I don’t go into work, but I still like to sleep. Currently I’m experimenting writing this post on my tablet. Seems alright, but it is slow. So I’ll keep this brief. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Update – Worked on some pictures in Inkscape and GIMP yesterday. I like what I’ve done. Did some more this morning, I’m getting better. Also pancakes for breakfast.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ― Lewis Carroll

– Steven Oaks

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Eureka!

Eureka! I knew reading through what I had written for the 3rd book would help. I’ve found a resolution that makes sense, and isn’t just an excuse! Whew. I have spent nearly a month thinking about this, and it was sitting right there all along. Had I not been in such an awful mood at the time I would have seen it. Finally I can start making progress again. Unfortunately edits on the first book have not been progressing this week, though they were going very fast and well last week. I’ve been unable to work with the person I have been editing with, and was feeling time press down upon me. Hopefully that will be resolved shortly, but now I have something else to celebrate. You can’t imagine how hard it was to push forward at this point, luckily I had other things I could work on. And now I can get back to the grindstone and make something of this collection of words. Also I like the 3rd book now. It always seems to happen after I read through while editing. I never like what I write while writing, with few exceptions. But now I find I have hope for what is there. Perhaps not the best book ever written, but then again what is? I would say Dan Simmons did a damn fine job with his Hyperion series, so go read that everyone. It made me like poetry, when I was dismissive of it before. Now I’m off to waste some time unwinding after today’s efforts. Maybe I’ll watch the Highlander series, because why not? More wood working? Maybe, or perhaps I will continue to work in GIMP and now Inkscape. Interesting programs that can be had for free. How cool is open source software?

Update – 10 pages edit of the 3rd book, and nearly back to where I left off. Tomorrow, unless fireworks and parades get in the way, I will begin writing again!

“I could see why Archimedes got all excited. There was nothing finer than the feeling that came rushing through you when it clicked and you suddenly understood something that had puzzled you. It made you think it just might be possible to get a handle on this old world after all.” ― Jeannette Walls

– Steven Oaks

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Bachelor Chow

Bachelor Chow Recipe

Step 1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2. Get an oven safe dish.

Step 3. Place two four ounce frozen chicken breasts in dish. Season with liberal amounts of garlic powder and cayenne pepper spice.

Step 4. Place cut up pieces of onion,  green, red, and yellow pepper on top of chicken.

Step 5. Place your chicken pepper mix into the oven for about an hour.

Step 6. Rinse four cups of rice through a wire strainer.

Step 7. Add your now rinsed rice to a large pot, and pour six cups of water over top.

Step 8. Place on stove top on high heat until it begins to boil.

Step 9. While you wait for the rice to boil, do some dishes. No need for a cluttered sink.

Step 10. When you are finished cleaning your dishes, and  after a few minutes you will notice the water in the pot boiling. Stir the rice, put a lid on it,  then reduce the heat to medium.

Step 11. Wait 15 minutes for the rice to finish. Stir rice again, and move off of heat, but keep the lid on top to keep it warm.

Step 12. After waiting about an hour the chicken and pepper mix should be done cooking in the oven. Take the chicken out, and cut it into small pieces, around 1 inch squares.

Step 13. Dump the chicken pepper mixture into the rice, and stir.

Serving recommendations –

Place into a bowl, pour over a handful of cheese, and smother it with hot sauce.

Or pour the mixture on top of some soft tortilla shells, put a handful of cheese on top, use a dollop of greek yogurt to cover the surface, and smother in hot sauce.

Or think of something more inventive. I usually use the first method as it’s cheaper.

This concoction should last you a weeks worth of dinners. It does me, and I grow weary of it. However it is what I can afford, and it  isn’t ramen.

Update – worked with some wood, and drilled some holes to make an e-cigarette stand. Also worked more with GIMP, fun times.

“Humor keeps us alive. Humor and food. Don’t forget food. You can go a week without laughing.” ― Joss Whedon

– Steven Oaks

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Another Owl

Why am I drawing owls? I have no idea. Some of my friends have said they liked the first one, and I felt compelled to draw another. I guess it is simple as that. Also I enjoy working with GIMP. I would not call anything I create art, but I enjoy it. This post will be short, but it will have pictures, enjoy.

The owl I got my inspiration from

The Barn Owl I made in Gimp

The Barn Owl I made in Gimp

Update 10 pages edited for the second novel. Last night I was able to work with my editor on around 14 pages of the first novel. Almost half way through edits on that one.

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

– Steven Oaks

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My Stencil

I drew a stencil to burn into a staff I’m working on. I don’t have a printer which means I couldn’t simply print out an image I found on the Internet. So looking at one an image I liked I decided to try my hand at scrawling one out on a piece of paper. Having completed one half of the image I folded it in half, and rubbed it until the image transferred so I could have symmetry. I darkened both sides with more pencil tracing, and then I was able to transfer it to the wood. I burned using a wood burning tool, and I think it turned out alright. Sadly the tip on the tool is falling apart, and I was unable to be as accurate as I wanted. I’ll post images later when I finish working on it. Yesterday though I decided I would see if I could clean up the hand drawn picture in GIMP. I think it looks decent, so I’m sharing with you now what I have done.

this is my original pencil drawing

this is my original pencil drawing

TheOwl3

The Owl made better in GIMP

 

Update – I read through some more of my first book. I received some edits from another, and I’m thinking how I might incorporate their ideas. Also I had pancakes, mowed the lawn, and did some woodworking today. I was also informed yesterdays post looked like I was begging for an e-cigarette. That is not the case, I was merely outlying items that I was informed were good for those of you interested. The only begging I intend to do is for when I publish my book and am looking for sales, heh.

“It is stupidity rather than courage to refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

– Steven Oaks

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