Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Childermas/Christmas/Solstice?!

Merry christmas, too.

But is it really? In biblical times, there happened a great massacre, where tons of innocent people were killed. This, they called the Massacre of the Innocents. The name kinda makes sense, doesnt it? To commemorate this day, we started celebrating Holy Innocents day on the 28th dec, also know as Childermas.

On childermas, Saint Nicholas was rumored to walk around, dressed up as a goat. This is generally accepted as truth. The goat, as we already know, symbolises the devil. You know, the horns, the snout, the hooves. Its how the devil is depicted in art. For Nicholas, the goat dress symbolised his "control" over the devil. Yeah, he was that naive.

Generally, in our western culture, we dont really regard Christmas as something christian, do we? Its turned into this sort of just cultural tradition. We dont pray, nor do most of us go to church. Actually, christmas has become more of a symbol for western consumerism than anything else.

But yes, It is told Jesus was born... Some time of the year. We just celebrate it on the 24th dec. Whats interesting is, its conspicuously close to the winter solstice. Which is the date of the shortest day, marking the onset of days starting to get longer... Does anyone else sense some funky symbolism here? Rising light, Jesus Christ, erh... Our sun? Ill leave it to you as free spirits to adhere to any religion you want, but as a Christian, I definitely worship the sun. Wait, what?

These dates seem to have kinda merged... Saint Nicholas is now our Santa Claus, thats where we think we got it from. But he wasnt merrily dressed in red and white. He ran around, pranking people, demanding gifts, dressed up as an evil goat.

Left my drawing tablet in Vasa, so I had to improvise. 

Red was always the liturgical colour adorned in connection to Holy Innocents day, and eventually and inevitably the goat turned into a red-clothed straw-man, and finally into the jolly old pervert we all know and love, Santa Claus. In Finnish, Santa Claus is still called "Joulupukki", Pukki meaning some kind of goat. The Yule goat, as it was called, was known and kind of worshipped especially in Scandinavia, and germanic culture. As close as a hundred years ago, there was no such thing as Santa, there was only the Yule Goat.

So thats the story of Christmas. Full of wonderful archetypes and great symbolisism. Have a good one! Im not going to tell you whether or not you should believe in Jesus and all that, but this tradition is born out of historical fact. Saint Nicholas did exist, even if what he believed in may or may not have.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Women and the 21st dec.


Im going to nicely splice this up into 2 parts. Part one is about drawing women. And part 2 is for all you confused souls wondering why the world didnt collapse upon itself yesterday.

Ugh, no, Im not going to write about any woman in particular, if thats what you were expecting. Though I do have one problem with women in general; I cant draw them. Drawing women is like rocket-science, and I dont know why. For most young artists I know, Ive noticed drawing their own sex seems most natural. Girls draw women, boys draw men. 

Why? I guess there are 2 possible reasons. Either we scrutinize and view our own kind more, and know it better. Which I think could be the case, because I can perfectly well imagine a male face in 3 dimensions, as spatially correct as I could possibly muster, while just imagining a generic womans face in 3D is kinda difficult. I guess this is attributable to the fact that every one of us look at ourselves more carefully than we look at other people, making our own gender seem more familiar. Just think of all those hours you spend infront of the mirror!

Either that, or were simply more used to drawing one gender than another. At first, I guess most artists draw themselves, or their own kind. And after that, it just sticks. We notice we have more experience drawing our own sex than the other, and so we just keep doing that, and end up being unused to drawing the opposite gender. I feel this could also be true, because I know myself I suffer this phenomenon. I dont want to draw technically nasty pictures, with proportions all over the place, so I do what I do best, draw men. Its an evil spiral.

Myeah. Anyhow, I need practise in drawing women. One thing in particular that bugs me is that I dont know what the outline of the face should look like. Every time, the jawline ends up looking weird. Or like a dudes. Bad stuff.

So I drew a woman without a jaw. Fucking genius.

Oh, yes, and she has two right eyes. I just felt it looked too boring.

The 21st, right. Well, what really happened yesterday? According to the mayans, we are now in a new baktun. So... What does that mean? Nothing, really. A baktun is like a really fucking gargantuan year. We count our days in years, months, days, right? Well, the mayans count days in K'in. After that, things get more complicated. 20 K'in make one Winal, and 18 winals make a Tun. 20 times 18 equals 360, so thats their closest measurement of time compared to our year.

Anyhow, the mayans measurements of time go further than a year. 20 years, or tun, as they call it, make a K'atun, and that finally brings us to the Baktun, which is compromised of 20 k'atun.

So. Lets make an example, shall we? The 20th of december, 2012. Europeans would write this as 20.12.2012. dd/mm/yy. Similarly, albeit weirdly to me, Americans would write 12.20.2012. mm/dd/yy.

How does that translate to the mayan calendar? Their dates look more like this:
baktun/katun/tun/winal/kin, which means the 20th december would look like this: in the mayan calendar.

To familiarise ourselves further with the system, we can also apply the same way of thinking to our calendar.
Its the 2nd milennium, 0th century, 1st decade, 12th month, 20th day. That would mean today is, in a mayan gregorian calendar, or whatever one would call it.

This seems quite reasonable, doesnt it? So whats all this fuzz about? Well, after, we pass into the next baktun. Well well well, isnt that a great opportunity for making doomsday predictions!? It only occurs once every 394 years, after all! Wait, what? Yes, the earth was similarly scorched to a crisp and pelted by meteors as recently as Tue, Sep 18, 1618!!! WHOAH

I hope you learned something. The world doesnt end because a number on a calendar switches. Its like saying the world ends at new years eve, or at the next milennium (Funnily enough, we kinda did believe that before the year 2000. Look up Y2K, if i tickled your interest.).

Yeah. Once you understand the system, its not all that prophetic anymore. In about 2700 years, were going to pass into the next Piktun, which is 20 baktun. Great stuff, right? Well, just as little will change on that day. What really happened on the 21st, yesterday, was that the mayan date changed to Cool. Who knows, 13 being the unlucky number it is, 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hobbits and hexagons-


Kinda. Glandular fever does linger in your body, and Im not for taking more blood samples (woman sucked me dry, jesus christ), so ill not be knowing exactly when ill be technically all good. No symptoms though, so practically, im fit as a fiddle. Though I do still feel that tardy fatigue that Im sure ive already written about, and thats not expected to vane before a couple months after ive recovered.

Its been too long! The scientosaurus painting is already about a thousand years old, and I felt a longing for more digital art! So I drew a hobbit, of course, in honour of the movie about that hobbit, called... The Hobbit..! Uh.

I havent actually seen it, and its been years since I last watched LOTR... So I cant rightfully claim I depicted the hobbit from the movie. I just kinda drew a short man with no neck and short stubbly arms. Its almost more like a regular short person than an actual hobbit... Not that I actually know the difference.

Yuruhhh.. Fierce, so fierce. Ive grown a fancy for GIFs lately (If you havent noticed, the recently written about Mosaic actually moves.), so I wanted to make a kind of lazy walkthrough thingy. If anyone actually watched my youtube videos, might that I would have made a real video, but alas, youll have to make do with this.

Basic stuff. I kinda neglected the feet. I dont really like drawing feet. Just like with drawing hands, it takes a lot of practice. Quite frankly, its not really my favourite motive anyway.

A friend of mine told me to write about snow... Quite poignant, I guess. Were practically forced to wade through it. I figured the most fascinating thing about snow must be snowflakes.

Why are snowflakes so beautiful? And why are they symmetrical?

Well well well. Theyre beautiful BECAUSE theyre symmetrical. The human eye finds it appealing. So why is it that they form in this way? Why doesnt it always hail, as someone who never saw snow would naturally assume?

There some quite basic particle physics involved here... We know that snow consists of 3 different atoms, 2 Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom, creating a water molecule. Hydrogen atoms in one molecule naturally form hydrogen bonds with oxygen from other molecules. This is why phenomenons like surface tension and viscosity can exist. 

Right, so, because of the way they connect to each other, the natural structure for a crystal will be a ring. More specifically, a hexagonal ring. A large quanity of hexagonal rings together create a hexagonal crystal, and as the molecular rings lie flatly upon each other, it creates a flat hexagon, with 8 facets.

At the edge between every facet, there is a natural affinity for attaching more water, as it forms into crystals in the atmosphere. For crystallization to even occur, it needs a base to happen on, like dust initally, or the snowflake itself.

As the hexagon has 6 edges, it sprouts 6 arms. The six arms will all grow in the same fashion, because they are all formed in virtually the same conditions, as these flakes are so small. Hexagonal structures are again formed, as the flake descends through the atmosphere and meets different layers with different conditions. These new hexagons form at the end of these arms, and the process begins anew, arms shooting out left and right, creating these beautiful formations of 6-way symmetrical ice.

Thats kind of a myth, though. Most snowflakes arent actually all that symmetrical, as conditions arent always perfect. And at the point they have reached the ground, and you, theyve already collided with other snowflakes, bunching up.

Why's snow white? Thats another natural question when it comes to snow in general. Its not white, actually. Its blue, really. Just not by much. Snow does absorb some red light, giving it a blue hue in certain conditions. Its the same with ice. And water, just not to the same extent. Anyhow, it appears white for the same reason a layer of  crushed glass may appear white; Light hitting snow it is mostly reflected. It may be reflected once, twice, thrice, or even four times, without losing much of its energy. Eventually, the light is bound to scatter back up, into someones eyes, making the snow look white. Theres also a refractive component, meaning light will pass through it. That might hit our eyes, making us see white, but reflection is more likely the main element at work here. 

So thats great to know if youre writing an essay on snow... I hope. 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Betterment for battered-! incl. stuff

So yeah. That title almost sounds like a political slogan, but as im sure those of you who have been following the blog the past week, or month, already know, Ive been sick. But ive good news, for I am recuperated, ill no more! I still feel some last vestige of that horrendous pain in the throat, and my lymph nodes are still swollen, but the tonsillitis is almost all better! I can  eat again! And I can go back to school!

I may have been a tad too confident in my vitality, though, earlier today, when chose to go outside ._. Came back from the blistering cold an hour later, and then I slept in fever for about 2 hours... A poignant reminder, I am still sick in glandular fever, even though I am not suffering the symptoms and do feel better. Eating is nice, though. It really is.

Art reminiscent of the past week is what you may view below. I drew it about a week ago, when truly I felt  myself being at the apex of the illness, the very worst point. And yep, after that, albeit slowly, I got better.

Rather fetching, is it not? I like how it looks as if though the lower part of the picture was drawn by a six year old, and the mushroom cloud looks quite well rendered. I do that sometimes, I just fail to focus on .. erh, the bigger picture, rather than the details. Thats why its important that we should strive to always draw iteratively, as ive written more about in an earlier entry. It makes you focus on things like composition, overall flow of the shapes, and qualitative misfits... Like that shirt. If you narrow your scope to just the figurative punchline of the drawing, then its easy to remain constricted to that smaller perspective.

Drawing iteratively is still only one of many ways to ensure that your artwork is consistent and works as a whole. Take painters, for example. Painters ideally work at arms length from their canvas, not hunched over it, scrutinizing every stroke into perfection. They do this because it gives them a better view of the wholeness, which is essentially what makes for a good painting. Another thing that they always should do is take ten steps back from their painting. This really lets you see things that you wouldnt notice up close. Always drawing up close gives you a false impression of what your artwork looks like, which isnt necessarily true to life. Its always beneficial to change your perspective.

Digital artists have tons of ways to do this. Some people like to flip their canvas about, left to right. What looks natural one way may not at all look natural when you flip it horizontally. If you can make it look nice both ways, then the result is guaranteed to look mighty fine. 

Another thing that we digital artists should keep in mind is to always strive to work in the same dimensions as the art is supposed to be viewed. If its A4 size, work in A4. Pixel count is irrelevant to what im talking about here, you need to make sure you make the art the size its supposed to be viewed in. What you dont want to be doing is when youre finished, scroll out a couple thousand percent, because working at a zoomed perspective is baad. What looks nice at 800% zoom might look awful at 100%, and as you cant possibly hope to cover all of it with that sort of detail anyway, it creates these inconsistencies in your art, where one area looks better than the other.

Regular graphite drawings are not suitable for viewing at long range. That just one of the natural drawbacks you get with such a pale and relatively bland medium. While you may get fine lines, you often lack the necessary depth of shades to create sufficient contrasts for far viewing. Unless, of course, you mash that 9b pencil like there was no tomorrow, then im sure you can do it. Im just saying, though, itd be easier with charcoal. 

Which brings me to somewhat of a conclusion; The last and maybe most important thing to keep in mind when ensuring your artwork looks good as an entirety is figuring out what medium is best suited for the job. Graphite pencils dont fit every motive, you cant paint a wall with it. Just as you wouldnt venture out drawing manga with oil-pastels. Sometimes its just better for the art to for a moment let go of your favorite set of tools, and pick up ones that are better suited for the task at hand. 

Same goes for digital. Some work, like design work for example, is best done in applications that work in curves and vectors rather than brushes and strokes. Its always nice to widen your scope.

Well, shoot, thats a nice big block of text. Sorry!

Friday, December 7, 2012

MOSAICS and more illness-


Its quite grotesque, isnt it? As a piece of art, though, I think its quite interesting. Not because it carries any kind of specific meaning or anything, it just has a piquant but yet slightly bizarre appeal. I saw something quite like this a while ago, that some I know had made. It was quite a regular photo of this posing man, zoomed on his face, and especially on his glasses. The glasses themselves were of a quaint round design, but onto the lenses they had glued pieces of another photo, of an eye. Wearing these fake glasses made you look... Weird. But that was the point, the bizarreness of it was also the very appeal it had.

Now, there werent really any deep thoughts, or grand schemes behind this mosaic. Im still sick, still gravely ill in my terrible bout of glandular fever. I still have problems eating, although the pain seems to have transferred from a terrible pain when swallowing into a almost terrible pain that I feel all the time.

And you know how they say, im supposed to sleep when im sick? Well, thats a problem, because every time I lie down in one place for too long, I start sweating. Like a pig. Its sick. The other night, I switched beds 3 times, because every bed would get soaked in sweat, and would be impossible to rest in. And I really mean soaked! The first time it happened, when I had my fevers a couple weeks ago, I woke up thinking I, Victor, soon to be 18, had wet my own bed. Thats the first thing I thought. But no, it turns out, it was all actually sweat. Fucking nasty. And its been like this, more or less, ever since I had those fevers. Its bullcrap, man! Let me sleep, douche-glands!

I have more good news for you guys though. Almost 50% of infants have had or have glandular fever! Either, theyre born with antibodies, or they get it from all that fucking kissing that babies endure! So youre like, half covered! And as we know, you only get mononucleosis once! Babies have it easy, too. Some extra crying on the night, or some shit like that. No seemingly lifelong fatigue, no fevers on steroids, and no throat problems. The younger you are, the more likely you are to not have any symptoms. Bah, I should have kissed more girls when I was a kid, then I wouldnt have to suffer this bullshit!

Oh YEAH! The mosaic is a gif, i hope you noticed. I used Gimps innate GIFfing ability to make it. Its not a very smooth or intuitive setup, but its very straightforward. You simply stack the layers in the order you like, and add a number in milliseconds to the layers name, which corresponds to the lenght of time which that frame will be shown, and save it in GIF format! Easy as pie. As a matter of fact, I am eating pie in this moment. Also, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, FINLAND, 95 YEARSS YOU GO GIRLL--.:!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Merry mono, chaps-

Such a nice Little Christmas were having, arent we? Not I. Because Im badly ill. I have the kissing disease, mononucleosis. Its probably just another phase of what I had 2 weeks ago, when I wrote about the fever, only this time, I have some beautiful tonsillitis to go with that fever. And swollen spleen, muscle tone, lack of appetite and an infected liver. It means I cant exercise, drink alcohol, be hit in the spleen area for risk of rupturing it, for a whole month. More, even if I wish to be extra careful.

If I exercise or work myself up, it is expected to be closely followed by a high fever. If I drink, my liver is expected to explode, or god knows what. Life, at this point, feels extremely bad.

But you know, 90% of adults carry the virus (Oh, and being a virus, antibiotics arent likely to help. At all.), so most of us will get it at some point in our lives. Its a little bit like Finnish conscription for men. Its something that everyone deals with at some point in their lives. For some, its worse, for some, its not even that bad. Some people only have a slightly sore throat, others get high fever and a ruined throat. Some people never knew they had it, and others carry it from birth, and have no symptoms whatsoever.

And for me, its bad. Right now, tonsillitis like a bitch. The swollenness of those things almost fill up the whole throat. I dare barely swallow for the pain. Ive a fever, and im sweating like a pig. My entire face hurts. My ears feel like theyre filled with shit, longing to burst from the pressure. Even opening my mouth hurts. My legs and arms feel heavy, like theyre made out of lead, and I barely sleep at night.

And Im taking penicillin for the throat. It doesnt help against mono, just the tonsillitis. Problem is, I can never swallow those things. Anyone who has ever taken penicillin knows, that it tastes like the devils arse. It is, by far, the nastiest taste ive ever experienced.

Oh, mononucleosis. Period of incubation can be up to 7 weeks, and symptoms may last well over a month if youre unlucky. The fatigue is expected to linger almost half a year. Its hell, im telling you. I dont wish it upon my worst enemy. Good thing for you people is, its not a very contageous virus. You have to be under rigorous exposure to catch it, and it mainly contracts through contact with saliva, hence kissing disease. If i would only feel up to it, I can go back to school and being with people without any risk of anyone catching it, luckily enough. But youre likely to catch it from one of your future girl- or boyfriends, there really is no way of avoiding it. All you can do is hope it wont be so bad for you. Please, do not fret over it. There are worse diseases out there, after all.