Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy Holidays!

I found a completely unused set of coloured pencils at my parents house. They're probably mine. Honestly, I think I can remember getting them last christmas or the year before that. This is an excellent example of my usage of different traditional drawing mediums. I have similar sets of charcoal, watercolour and regular graphite pencils, but I never use anything else than my trusty mechanical 0,5 B pencil. And today I was reminded of the reason I never use colour pencils.

They're just incredibly unwieldy to draw with. They're hard, they scrape and flatten the paper, they're simply nothing alike the graphite medium I'm used to. Someone else might find this to be positively challenging, and go ahead mastering colour pencils. Well, I don't feel that way. To me, they're just a frustrating and flawed medium. But, of course, that's just because I don't have any skill with them. The spirit of artistry is to do and make something with what you're given. This has always been what I found to be true, so obviously, I'm just being bitter. Is it justified? Yes. Is it right? No.

The next time you see me, remind me to draw more, blog more, and blog better! It is both jusitified AND the right thing to do. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2015

wooden knight and creative drive

I have something quite different for you today. I haven't been drawing a lot (I really need to get back on that horse). I've been spending some of my recently begun Christmas break in a woodshop, though. I was quite thrilled to find out that the Architechtural programmes in Aalto university have a woodshop, with all kinds of fun tools. (Even though I once aspired to be an architect, I am not one of the students there. It seems the woodshop is for all students to use, even though its name on campus grounds suggests otherwise.)

I was most excited to hear that they have a lathe. I've always been very fascinated by the lathe, but never really had the chance to try it out for myself. But now I do! And I have! It puts me in an incredibly good mood. The lathe is mesmerising like the fire. It pulls me in, and then it puts a smile on my face.

I don't often get the chance to really work with my hands. I study engineering, but the first year or so is solely focused on theory. Maths and physics, mostly. Labor by hand isn't part of my schedule, and that's a bit of a shame. I guess drawing kind of counts, but it's not quite what I need. I had a bike puncture the other day, on my way to the woodshop after lunch. But I didn't mind at all. I headed inside and turned this chess piece, and when I was done I walked the bike home and happily set about fixing the tyre. It may seem like a chore, but it's such a relaxing thing to just shut off your brain and let your hands do all the work. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.

Almost every time I go to my parents, I go to out and check up on all the bikes in the garage. Well, mostly my brothers bike, because it's always broken in some way when I come home. And I do this because it's satisfying. I like it, I like fixing things. I enjoy building things. And I like to create things. I would almost say I'm driven to.

I guess that's why I write this blog. Partly, no doubt. This isn't some new thing, either. Drawing has always been my main medium of creation, but those who know me well might know I've had some woodworking projects in the past. And when I was 12 or 13 I was really excited about learning and creating computer models and animations in 3D software, which lasted for a year or two. Admittedly, everything I made back then was quite unfocused and just bad mostly, but it was all still the same kind of release for that drive.

This is by no means great work, but I think it's entirely adequate for a first-time lathe project. I find the lathe is just such a wonderful tool for shutting down and simply creating. The top part was done mostly on the bandsaw and a sander, with a bit of filing and sanding by hand. I figured I'd yet give this piece a couple coats of polyurethane finish, and that's why it still has a nub in the bottom with a piece of string attached. It just makes the finishing a lot easier.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The other cheek

I think this ranks as the most awful self-portrait I've ever drawn. 

It's difficult to be positive. It's way harder to see the bright side and the ups than what's bad and foul. And I don't mean in art, I mean in life. It's easy to be bitter. Humans are vindictive creatures. It takes effort to forgive. Everything has to fall in line in order for happiness to happen, and just one thing needs to go wrong in order to potentially ruin your day. After that you're never too far from shouting at babies, throwing obscenities in traffic, and just about giving up on friendship. Revenge.

Being mean can be a means instant gratification, to say something and hurt another can feel like a victory. It can just feel good. Or at least we think it will make us feel better. But negativity is always the easy way out. To give up and give in. Being nice often implies something sacrificed, and the returns are hardly ever felt right away.

But they're there, right? They must be. The rewards lie somewhere in the long run. Being mean is chocolate, diplomacy is a diet and being nice is physical exercise. In a moment of weakness, it's tempting to give in. We've all been there. Said and done things we're not proud of, and maybe, in absolute honesty, it had more to do with ourselves than anyone else. It was not their fault, but your problem. Projection.

So we need to try. We need to make an effort. It will always be easier to break than to build. It takes courage to give happiness a chance, and we can't always be courageous. But we owe it to ourselves to try.

Turn the other cheek, Jesus said. I'm not a religious man, but there is wisdom here. It's not easy, but it's probably worth it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Inherently flawed

This is a digital interpretation of a highschoolers class artwork. Is it my work? Well, I did make it. But I didn't come up with it. I was directly inspired by something. Can I rightly say this is my work? This work is rather a byproduct of a highschoolers work, by way of inspiration. A derivative, maybe. Coming up with the initial idea was the part I couldn't do on my own, and isn't that the most important part?

I would never allow myself to feel too proud about that. Not that I otherwise would, the picture is not all that remarkable anyway.

I saw the original work in a picture sent to my phone. It hung on the wall of a public school in a rural town near Vasa. It was a lot simpler, just the outlines of a skull, with a cutout of marijuana for eyes. Underneath was the text, roughly translated, "it's bad for me, but I want it". Which is either genius or just plain sad, I can't really tell.

Why do we do we want things that we know are no good? We do it all the time. I know rationally that there is no benefit from eating candy, but yet I indulge myself. I mean, I know sugar is bad, and I'm a reasonable person. Sugar is the deadliest poison in western society. Why eat it? Ever? Because it tastes good? Yes, it tastes good. For the fifteen minutes it might take to eat the whole bag. The benefit doesn't go further than that. It doesn't make my life better, and it does in fact have the potential to make it a lot worse.

Humans are flawed like that. We might know, rationally, what's best. But logic is in a failing struggle to overthrow our feelings and cravings. Logic has to keep you away from candy ALL the time, but your craving only needs to win once. It's a losing battle. It's why we get diabetes and heart disease. Because people can't abstain from self-indulgence.

I read that humanity is more depressed than ever. The article said, that depression is rampant because people today lack a sense of community. In the digital age, where we can connect to anyone, anywhere, we're farther away from each other than ever before. And it's not because of mobile phones, it's not because of videogames, it's not because we're materialistic and it's not because there is something wrong with us; It's because of society. In this individualist, capitalist society, there is only me, no we. No them, no us, no people. And it's not how humans were designed. We're social above all else, but not today, in this place. In this world where careers are more important than family, and the me is more important that the us.

And it breaks us. In a dire situation, a short-term solution is often chosen. It doesn't treat the problem of chronic loneliness, the quick fix of self-indulgence only makes us feel better right now. It leads to vanity, greed, obesity, drug-use, death by your chosen method of feeling a bit better right now. Atleast according to the premise of the article.

Monday, November 16, 2015

struggle against evil

I guess there's no way avoiding what happened in Paris. Well, not only in Paris. Friday the thirteenth lived up to it's reputation, not only in homely Europe but in many far corners of the world.

But I'm not sure which I thought was more sad; the hate and xenophobic war drums booming around on social media or the widespread sorrow. While the grief may hurt, the hate sure does more harm. People seem to have trouble separating Islamic extremism from your everyday Muslims, which leads to horrible stigmatization. 

In Finland, we have had freedom of religion for some time. Our country, like most of the modern world, is built upon libertarian ideals. Each to their own. It's a very dear thing, but something we may easily take for granted. It's extremely distressing to read peoples anonymous opinions on various message boards, and even moreso to see how these destructive ideas gain support instead of scorn and disdain. Some of the things I read and saw upvoted on social medium Jodel were downright depressing.

This recent cruelty has nothing to do with Islam. It has to do with human evil. Devilish people will find reasons to be evil, and there's no stopping it. Human immorality is a game of dominos. Vengeance is a concept that is never very far from thought. To fight evil is hopeless, it will always find us, affect us. The only thing we can do is try to keep ourselves from being evil in return. And that, I've noticed, is something we're terrible at.

This is a portrait of a young Tom Selleck. No particular reason behind it, the reference I found by making an image search for "mustache". It's nice to draw from reference, coldly copying. It lets me just shut my brain off and let routine and technique take over for a couple hours. It's not as interesting or difficult as drawing from mind or imagination, but as I've said before, it serves a certain purpose as an exercise and it is rather therapeutic.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Black rainbows

The jumbled mess of confused colours you see above might be my all time favourite drawing. It's titled "Rainbow", and I drew it when I was four. The fact that I have created this fills me with immense pride. This is better than every other drawing I've drawn, because this is utterly and completely unrecreatable. I couldn't come up with anything as wonderfully ironic however I tried. And I could never emulate the scratchy chaotic nature of the pencil strokes. I could never put  my mind in the same place it was when I drew this.

The things I draw now are surely superior in a technical sense, but are they better? Who's to judge? What's important? There is no absolute truth, there are only subjective opinions and fabricated agreements. There is no universal standard and no calculable value for art.

But I didn't know any of this when I drew that rainbow. Maybe I didn't even know what a rainbow looked like, or perhaps I just couldn't find any other colours. Maybe I was fed up with the picture and decided to scrap it halfway. I don't know. But I do know this is unique among my art. All the other things I've done, I can create again, but this I can not.

I drew something and half finished it for this entry, but I decided that it was so much less interesting than "Regnbåge" that it didn't deserve to be in an entry. Finding inspiration is definitely and always the most difficult part in maintaining an art and philosophy (read:philosophical) blog.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Normatively unethical

How will people remember me? How will the people I moved away from remember me? What do people I've lost contact with think of me? Do they? For some reason, it's important for me to know.

It is often said that you should not care about what other people think of you. But I don't think that is true. It's fine and all that you shouldn't base your perception of your own value as a person on the opinions of others. Humans are judgemental, and you need to be able to be proud of yourself without receiving praise or acknowledgement from others. Not everyone knows you, they might be wrong, or simply have a false image of you.

But you should definitely care about what the people who matter to you and those who know you think. Not necessarily about what any one individual will say about you, but the general perception people have of your personality. No one is perfect. If someone has a problem with you, maybe you need to take a step back and think about if, or how, you wronged them. Maybe you didn't, or maybe it's illegitimate critique, but simply considering the possibility can lead to a positive change. Other people will help us improve. People who never hear any legitimate critique, or will not listen to it, will not grow, or develop, as individuals. We will take things to heart, to polish our personalities and become better individuals. The opinions of others are stepping stones, tools we need in order to move forward.

We need to be critical of others, we need to think about the behaviour of others and the ethics behind their actions. And we must take that criticism, and apply it to ourselves. When we do something immoral, it often happens without thought. We might not even realize that what we're doing is wrong. That is why every wrong we see in others we must search for in ourselves. It leads us to both consider what is moral and immoral, and turn an analytical eye upon our own behaviour. Every once in a while, take a moment and think, am I not committing the same mistakes as them? Because we are. We do. We all commit the same mistakes, over and over, and judge each other for the same wrongdoings, over and over. We do it in different ways, but the sins are the same.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

University life

I'm really settling into the rhythm of studying at a university. Things are good! The workload at the moment feels pretty manageable, too. I know I'll have more courses next period, but I do not mind that at all. 

I was afraid I wasn't going to handle this whole "studying on your own"-thing well, because I've always had trouble concentrating when it comes to homework. It's really something I've never been good at. You might say, well, then I'm in the wrong place. Studying at a university takes concentration and above all dedication. But no. It's been just fine. Studying here feels more like my various projects than homework. I've never had any trouble concentrating while drawing, blogging, or playing the Uke, even though these activities fall into the same repetitive sedentary category.

Naturally, concentrating is easy because these are activities I'm interested in. Quite similarly, programming for example isn't so bad, I don't get very distracted. I also know that it's an important skill for an engineer to have. 

Maths here feels dauntingly difficult, in part because I haven't had the slightest bit to do with it for the past year working and conscripted. In part, also, because I realize I've come to a place where everyone is as good, or better, at it than me. Simply feeling intelligent has always been a strong motivator for me, and still is. That pride has definitely taken a hit here at Aalto. But the fact is, you don't get better if you don't challenge yourself. No pain no gain, or whatever.

The situation will even itself out. I've always believed there is a firm baseline for our feelings on the individual level, and the situation I'm in at any time is a temporary swing in the sine-curve of my confidence. I've met people who I legitimately believe will never be happy, whatever happens. I've also met people who seemingly can't be broken. Only something drastic or extreme could change that baseline, and every setback or boost is simply a fluctuation. A mood. It's like the weather. It can vary from one extreme to another, but the climate stays the same.

If you feel struck by this, like you've always been somewhat of a downer, don't let this put you down. There's strong evidence in the case of climate change. 

One thing sure hasn't changed. I still doodle incessantly in my schoolwork. I do all of my coursework on the Surface, and I decided to grab some of those quirky figures off my OneNote pages. My note-taking software doesn't offer too many tools for even the casual artist, but the challenge is naught but refreshing. It also forces you to use no colours, or really strong ones. It makes for interesting drawings!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The importance of artistic confidence

Red and blue ballpoint pens, and a mechanical B pencil.

My style in drawing is very sketchy. I'd take cross-hatching over a smooth gradient any day. I think there is beauty in the natural stroke of pencil on paper. Back before I had found my style, I tried fingers, Q-tips, and even tortillions in order to achieve smoother shading in my very rendered drawings. And sure, there's a place for that, especially in coal and pastel drawings, but I just don't find it especially interesting. Shading isn't supposed to be subtle or discrete, and there is definitely room for artistic boldness.

I tried something different with this drawing. I'm not really diverging from my chosen style, it's more of an experiment. While I don't think it's bad, it's definitely disappointing. First of all, the red lines aren't stylistically consistent. They form round and organic curves around the breast and arm areas, while they become rigid lines on the legs and face. That's one problem.

The biggest problem is that it looks sketchy in a bad way. Sometimes I admire what some people can do with a limited amount of brush strokes. How the pencil just seems to leave a perfect mark all on it's own. Sketching and that sketchy style is really all about achieving as much as possible as simply and easily as possible, and this just isn't doing that. While it's definitely sketchy, it lacks the element of organization that makes it a good kind of sketchy. We're looking for organized chaos, but this is just chaos.

I think a lot of people make a mistake in not allowing their drawings to look chaotic. Many people I know almost seem like they're trying to hide the fact that it takes pencil or ink marks to create a drawing. They draw like they want what they're doing in the painting to be so insignificant, that no one could tell the difference. I advice people not to do that. You don't have to abandon your style, just experiment a bit. Give something stylistically different a proper go. Be bold. You don't have to like your drawings, but be confident when you draw them, because they will be better that way.

Using a tortillion or smoothing over your pencil marks is just like how a beginner artist might draw in what you'd call chicken scratch. Lines that aren't really strokes, just a collection of scratches that together are supposed to represent some form of distinction. Truthfully, a simple, confidently drawn line is so much better. The same principle of confidence can be applied to shading, and gradients. It's nicer to see a confidently drawn but choppier gradient, with the edges of areas of different value visible, than a sheepishly smudged-over smooth gradient.

But these are only the principles behind MY style. You don't have to agree, but don't write off the value of experimenting stylistically. You can learn a lot by putting yourself out of your comfort zone - different styles exercise separate, and perhaps new, artistic subskills that might be bottlenecking your development as an artist.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Praise Venus!

Oh man, figure drawing is so much fun!

I've never had the chance to draw anyone in the nude, which is a shame. But rarely do I draw from reference anyway. Which of course is a mistake, as I've written before. I can only imagine it would be even more fun with a live model.

Is it because I get to stare at a naked person? Probably. I mean, it's naive to claim otherwise. In reality, sex is the sole human motivator, and Venus is our muse. Well, not sex in itself, but rather procreation.

I'll explain. There exists a theory which states that everything an individual does can be linked to the primal urge of reproduction. To make, and raise, babies. It's in everything we do.

Why do we build careers? Why do we develop skills? Why do we hit the gym? Why do we bother organize our days? What is it that makes us want money?

To make ourselves more competitive in the market of partners. To entice a strong mate, to bear or seed strong children. To build a foundation for securing a future for those children. We do these things, because we think some skills are more valuable than others in impressing a partner. Because we think playing the guitar, or ukulele, or being good at drawing, will impress someone. A partner. How? Well. Times change. Hunting isn't how we make our living anymore.

We do good things, because we believe that other's will help us in turn, when we need it. We might even treat goodness itself as a competition. For the final goal, of course, of passing on our genes.

Even our fear of death is, ironically, linked to the creation of new life. Surviving is really only important because it's required. For anything. And everything IS for the sake of fucking. For children. It makes evolutionary sense to be deathly afraid of what comes after.

It's really interesting, and frankly, quite frigthening. It's a terrible thought that humans would be so simple. It's a truth that isn't easy to accept - It implies the falsehood of true passion, goodness. Really, it eliminates everything that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It's not something that you'd want to believe in. But it's definitely in the way humans are wired.

Or, well, that's the theory. It's notoriously difficult to dispute, but I invite anyone and everyone to do so in the comment section!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015



I edited clouds into the background. Because hey, why not?

I like to challenge myself. In a way. It excites me.

I really hate being forced to do something I'm bad at. I mean, we all do. It sucks. You just feel bad because, well, you're bad. This is all completely normal and all, you're supposed to feel good about being great or bad about being bad. That's how humans work. But why?

You do it so that one day, you can be good at something. Because talent is just the sexiest thing. In my last entry I wrote about what it means or doesn't mean to be beautiful, and this is it. Being impressively good at something is massively appealing. It's why the guy with the guitar gets all the ladies.

I've had all sorts of projects, because I like to get better at things.

This blog is a project. It's supposed to make me better at drawing and writing. It has also provided me with a platform on which to grow as a person.

My ukulele project is still a thing. I'm doing it and I'm slowly getting better. It doesn't really matter if I have a talent for it i.e. if progress in music comes easy, as long as I have enough time on my hands to one day get good at it anyway.

I draw. It's an eternal project. What more is there to say?

And I've recently joined a dance group. Because the thought of being good enough at dancing to really impress someone makes me really motivated to do that and get there. Maybe one day someone will admire me the way I've admired some other dancer. That's what it's about.

I won't ever be that guitar guy, but might one day get to be that uke-guy. Maybe people will miss the point, possibly they'll think ukuleles are a joke instrument. But maybe someone will recognize that I put in the work and dedicated myself to learn something new.

Perhaps some day, someone will read this blog, watch what I draw, with the same wonder and awe as I back when I used to watch painting timelapses on youtube.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Who's beautiful?

Don't answer that. Because it's an evil question.

See, having ideals and preferences when it comes to beauty is not a bad thing. You can like this or that, just whatever you think is pretty in a partner or person. It's all okay. Your tastes can be impossibly niché or encompass every last one of us, it doesn't really matter. Humans come in all forms and shapes, and everyone is beautiful to someone. At least that's the theory.

The problem arises when we start discussing beauty. When we work out amongst ourselves, what is physically most desired. I.e. when we start projecting our ideals, and the ideals we've learned from others, into for example the media, or people in our circles. When we idealize so much, collectively, that someone becomes beautiful to everyone. Thus, our societal ideals in beauty are born, and everyone is worse off.

History shows, ideals change, hence they're not absolute. Anyone can be, and therefore is, beautiful.

The question of what, or who, is beautiful is evil because the answer doesn't lead to any sort of positive thinking. It can lead to superficial pride, critical self-consciousness, and jealousy. Obviously, if an answer has to be given, the best one would be "everyone".

This problem of self-consciousness is only exacerbated by the fact that beauty is so idealized in the first place. The fact that we hold physical attractiveness so important. Every day, people feel overwhelmingly bad about how they don't seem to fit into the parameters that the media describes as beautiful. And in the end, it means so little. 

This was today's rant. It was born on a hungry stomach, but it makes a good case. Sure, you were committing no crime when you tweeted about Ruby Rose being the sexiest person alive, just like everyone else on the internet tweeted last June. But you should also keep in mind that every day people loathe, hate, and harm themselves, because not everyone can look like Ruby Rose.

Did I even think that chick from Orange is the new Black was good looking before every other article on the webs told me so? I knew she was beautiful before I had even seen a picture of her. How plastic is a brain, and how malleable are our ideals? It's a valid question, and it's not easily answered.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The conditions for progress

Alright! Here it is! Another entry, at what feels like long last! With art! And I'm going to talk about it! Yes, exclamation mark! Let's dive into it.

The most important aspect of being an artist is the strength of his or her criticism. Towards everything, as art is only truly meaningful in commentary to a real life context, but chiefly towards itself. An artist can only evolve if he or she is critical enough of her own work. In order to improve, the first thing you need to do is identify the problems. This holds true both in the case of a specific piece of art, and in development over time. You can't become content, ever.

It's a harsh reality, that you can't get better if you're content with where you are. They say artists are depressing people, because they can never get good enough. Which is untrue, artists just can't allow themselves to become comfortable. And it's not just us pencileers, the same conditions for further achievement apply to musicians, and really, to anyone, anywhere. Once you start believing that what you're doing is good enough, that's when you stop moving.

I sent a series of pictures of this drawing to my friends while it was still work in progress, along with some commentary on what I thought was going well and what was going poorly. It must have seemed like I wasn't somehow proud enough of what I was doing, listing the faults and flaws in my drawing, but that's not how I saw it. You can be proud, of where you are and where you're going, but you can't think that it's good enough.

If I thought now that I had drawn the best drawing I ever will, then I would never pick up the pen again. You always need to be your own biggest critic. It doesn't matter where you are, what matters is that you're moving forward. And to do that, you need to see what's lacking, and what's bad.

This is a portrait of The Hound from HBO:s Game of Thrones, drawn from reference. But it doesn't look enough like him.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My new home

What's up homies?

It's strange, homies are forever (?), but what's home can change in the blink of an eye. An unfamiliar not-mine can become a homely abode in as little as a few days of cleaning, or in a night of sleep, or in an hour of fiddling together IKEA-furniture, or in the mere minutes it takes to brew some coffee and sit down to write a short entry for the blog.

That is the quick recap of why I haven't been blogging and why I don't really have any art to show you. I've been making myself a new home here, in the Teekkari Village of Otnäs, which will be my base of operations for the next 5 years or so of first-handedly studying the effects of alcohol on the body, and also a bit of Mechanical and Structural engineering.

This is what my new home looks like for now (Excluding the kitchen and bathrooms that I'm sharing with two other engineering students. There isn't a lot to show except what was an exceptional amount of filth when we got here.). Any and all of my so-named homies are welcome to visit me.

My old home (That cheating betrayer of a home...) will soon belong to someone else. Buildings aren't very sentimental, but homes can mean a lot to a person. I try not to compare my new home to my old apartment, even though sometimes, I feel my old dwelling was far superior. You can't think like that. A home is very much like a lover, the same rules apply. Me and me new home, we're going to have adventures together. Not ever the same adventures I had with my old place, but new adventures.

Yesterday, I met an american animator. A very interesting and animated person. My experience of the capital city so far had been mostly hard work in the apartment and driving around in wild traffic, being chased by trams and hurrysome cyclists alike, to whom traffic rules don't seem to apply. But this animator man saw things differently. To him, the trams we're giant timely caterpillars. He didn't see the busy people, he talked about the wonder he saw in the children's eyes, and fitness of the cycling Finns. He saw the world differently, and said we don't know what we have. Maybe this new place is, in fact, better. I just haven't gotten used to it yet. It ties into what I've written about how things that are different are almost always perceived in a negative light.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A turning point in the slalom of life

Four years ago, I made the decision of moving to Vasa instead of staying in my hometown. A lot of beautiful things happened. I drew, I wrote, I grew. It was an obvious decision then, and with the results at hand, it was obviously the right choice. It was, perhaps, the best decision I ever made. There aren't many things I regret-

And that's that, basically. I like this town. But now it's time to move on. I'm moving again. All good things must come to an end. And so we set sail towards new, other good things. 

Life goes on. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The ultimate guide to selfies

So I wrote in the last entry that I would give away all my secrets to taking really good selfi... Portraits. And I will! Truth be told, there aren't that many secrets, but prepare for a long and somewhat technical entry.

I've wrote entries that tangent this portraiture deal before, specifically self-portraiture. (I know, it's super vain of me be taking so many selfies. But it simply feels like too much of a hassle to involve anyone else in my photography.)

Before we begin with the actual editing part, I want to make a reference at these older entries, because they're all about how to set up the lighting and camera, which in truth is a lot more important than editing. Without good source material to work with, you can just forget about it. You can polish a turd, but you know what they say (It's still shit.).

elaborate selfies  Super DIY lighting.

DIY followup and a bit of not-feminism  The importance of a narrow photographic field of view, or "the selfie-stick effect".

DIY camera shutter release  On how you can move away from the camera without being a total pleb using a selfie-stick.

That should be enough reading to keep you occupied maybe forever.

Now that you've taken a picture you like, where you're not making an awkward face, and your smile looks natural, you can go ahead and start up whatever picture editing software you prefer. That'd be Photoshop, for most of you. If you use Lightroom or any other more advanced photography editing suite, then this guide isn't for you anyway. You probably know what you're doing. This is a guide to my lazy way of editing. As I always have, I'll use GIMP, a free, open-source image editing suite that mimics Photoshop in a lot of ways and does everything a little bit worse. I'm just too lazy to make the switch from GIMP to PS.

The tools we're going to need are 1. Curves, 2. Dodge/Burn tool, 3. Unsharp mask, 4. the Clone stamp tool, and 5. the Lasso tool.

Lets begin.

So what's wrong with this photo? The contrast is obviously off. Don't get me wrong, a narrow range of values is actually not a bad place to work ahead from. What follows is a bunch of screencaps from various stages in the editing process. The texts always apply to the image below the text.

I begin by modifying the brightness and contrast via the "Curves" tool. I prefer editing values as curves rather than using "Levels" or simply "Brightness/Contrast", because Curves gives you the greatest amount of control. Learn to use it. It enables you to increase the local contrast in a specific range of values (Midtones, or Brights, as examples.). It's all about reallocating contrasts within the picture. It's not super intuitive at first, but it's the best tool. Playing around with it is how I learned how to use it.

I used the Curves three times in a row. Because of how the tools works, it would be possible to make the same changes in one step, but splitting it into three steps makes it a lot easier.

At this stage, there isn't a whole lot of contrast in the picture. That's desirable at this point; A bright and low contrast range of values looks better in faces. But to even out the image and avoid a washed-out look, we'd ideally want to darken something else. I go ahead and use the Burn tool, set to Burn shadows with a low Exposure setting (Basically, this means the tool will aggressively darken the areas that are already dark, but leave the midtones and brights as they are.). I darkened the hair, eyelashes, and the eyebrows. Also a tad under the chin to visually pull it out and sharpen the jawline. This tool is nice because it doesn't really make a difference if you use a tablet pen or just a simple mouse, it works well anyway.

Next, I set the same tool to Dodge midtones. In English, that'd mean brighten the areas that aren't dark nor bright. I dab a bit of that under the eyes, and I also use it to even out the soft light coming from behind, smoothing the transition specifically on the sides of the forehead. I also switch back to the Burn tool to darken the sides of my neck a bit, because it nicely evened out the composition.

We have now achieved a balance between light and dark in the picture. What's next is I use the Clone tool to cover up a bit of my acne. This is the only invasive editing I do, and I think it's fine to cover up a few pimples. It's basically a lot like digital make-up. What the Clone tool does is it selectively copies a part of an image and moves it to where your brush is. In GIMP, it works by first setting the clone source with Ctrl+LMB, and the brushing away in the area where you want to copy to. To cover a pimple, set the clone source just above or beside the pimple, and then brush over the pimple. I'm sure you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly. I also used it to clean up the unibrow a bit.

Next up: Unsharp Mask. It's a pretty amateurish tool and there might be better alternatives in Photoshop, but as long as you keep it subtle it's fine. Sometimes, I use a high Radius combined with a low Intensity, because it evens out contrasts and brings everything out. It does not, however, sharpen. If you want to only sharpen the image, use a suitably low Radius setting.

To finish up, I Burned the hair a bit more, and applied another round of the Curves tool. The picture was a bit dull, and the Curves step, although subtle, added a lot of needed pop.  I also Lasso'ed the shirt and used curves to make it brighter. The contrast between the shirt and my face was suspiciously high, as we always strive to a result that doesn't appear edited or tinkered with. (Apply a bit of "Feather" to the selection before using Curves. That way, the edge of the selection won't show up as clearly.)

And here we are. From hopelessly washed out to fabulous in a matter of minutes. This is how I edit the vast majority of pictures, and you rarely need more than the Curves and Dodge/Burn tools.

I think I look pretty bliss. If you're editing a photo of someone who's not blinking, you might also want to try Lassoing and Feathering up a selection around the eyes, and using Curves to add some contrast to darken and deepen the eyes. Think digital makeup. Make the eyes pop.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

on being weird and fabulous selfies

This is me. I wrote about what being different might mean a couple entries back, and how it's almost never perceived positively. And since then I had some time to reflect on whether I'm a "different" guy, and if so, what makes me different.

It's entirely normal to be different in some aspect. You can have a certain degree of otherness, in some element, and still be considered very ordinary. It's when you're consistently going against the norms, that's when things get different. In my introspective journeys, I found one significant otherness in my nature.

If we take things back a bit, I was a very shy boy around girls when I was younger. Until I was 15, I really didn't talk to women. I hung out just with dudes. All the time. That might be surprising to hear for those who have gotten to know me only after I moved to Vasa. I'd wager it would be just as big a surprise for my older acquaintances to hear that nowadays, 9/10 times I'm with someone, you'd find me with a group of women.

If we quickly look at some numbers;
1. I went to an arts programme in school where my class was made up of 2 boys and ~15 girls.
2. I work at a cafe that is a part of a collective of several cafes. I'm the only male employee among those 3 cafes.
3. Statistically (Approximately..), fewer than one in five people who enter my apartment is a man.
4. I write a blog. I mean, do you even know any other guy who runs a blog? Blogging is definitely considered a female thing.

Now, I don't pretend to be some kind of new-generation Hefner bringing only women over all the time, that's not at all what I'm saying (My game is pathetic). But my habits and the environment I most often find myself in (and indeed choose to be in) are feminine.

I haven't really ever given it that much thought or worry, I don't mind it, and I don't think it compromises my masculinity or manliness in any way. It turns out femininity and masculinity aren't completely mutually exclusive.

Other people seem to notice it, though, and often I can't help but notice when they do. People definitely think it's weird, not just different. People at the counter buying coffee at the cafe have no restraint in commenting on how they've never seen a man work at a cafe before. Men are a cautious when they hear I'm a blogger. It's even happened a couple times that people have tried to use my talent as an artist as a way to feminize me and reduce my value in some typically manly discussion. It's true, it might be a bit different, but none of those things actually make any sense at all.

People get confused real quick. Really confused. Seeing where this entry has taken us, I can't avoid commenting on how often people seem to think I'm gay. Which is pretty funny. It makes me wonder, what steps do other men take in order not to appear feminine (Male femininity is apparently a stereotypically gay attribute)? I obviously skipped some chapter while reading the guide to manliness.

Many of those who know me have heard this story, but most recently, I was sitting at a table having some beers with two of my oldest friends in Vasa, who are women. There was also a group of (slightly intoxicated) men sitting across the terrace. We were joined by a third woman, and we sat there talking for quite a while. Then, I feel a tap on my shoulder as one of the men had walked over, and he asked me "No offence, but are you gay?".

That's a bombshell to end this entry on, isn't it? What an silly assumption. Apparently, the Finnish male norm can't handle nor understand the notion of a man who has female friends. So I guess I am different in that respect. But as I said before, it's completely normal to be a bit weird. I'm not the least bit sore about people thinking I'm feminine. I'm awesome.

Our societal norms are pretty sad and judgemental, though. I'm constantly reminded that I live in a bubble, and that the rest of Finland isn't quite as liberal and forthgoing as my circle of friends and the people I regularly hang out with. Today, you don't have to go farther than the newspaper to see what backwards attitudes and opinions are accepted here in our country, even though Finland might be considered progressive in a larger perspective.

In my following entry, I plan to write about how I used a bit of subtle digital editing to make that earlier selfie so *FABULOUS*.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

No-good marketing and feminist bias

So I was going to write something yesterday, since it's been a while now since last, but I just wasn't producing. I'm a bit ill, sore throat and whatnot, and I had a day off work yesterday (Not because I was ill, just a free day), and I hadn't really done anything. Played video-games, most of the day. Which is a really bad habit. 

As I get older I realize more and more how I don't want to be a videogame-person. Videogames are not inherently bad, they can be a lot of fun, but playing videogames is a stagnant activity. My mind was slack and dull after all that easy-fun gaming, and I couldn't come up with a single good or even interesting topic to write about. 

So today at work I thought about what I should write today. I work at a cafe in a mall, and the mall has it's own radio-music thing, which can only really be heard before and after shopping hours. They play nicely quaint and retroish music, which makes me feel totally at home, but every once in a while they play advertisements. And there is this one ad that really rubs me the wrong way. 

It goes a bit like this "Are you bothered by tensity or stiffness in your hands? Try *product x*. Come visit us at *y*!"

This is evil. That is an evil way to advertise what is probably a completely useless product. Concentrate on your hands. How do they feel? 

Well, probably a bit stiff after you heard about that magical magnesium-aminohappo-oil which seems to be the cure-all end-all. In reality, stiff fingers is way too vague to conclude anything. It might be a symptom of tense shoulders. It might be because you've drank all coffee and no water in the past three days. It might be because you use your hands all day all the time to do everything. It might be a symptom of nothing at all. What's likely is it has absolutely nothing to do with any sort of magnesium-whatever-deficiency, and that you wouldn't have ever though about it if you hadn't heard that ad. 

But this advertisement does a good job of convincing impressionable people that they need to buy expensive health-products in order to combat vague and non-alarming symptoms by making these people think that they are sick, or that there is something wrong with their bodies.

Just like the beauty industry. Never feeling stiff in your hands is as impossible a goal as attaining that carefully photoshopped hourglass body. Just like a couple humps and bumps and the occasional belly flob while sitting are a part of a healthy and fine body, a bit of ache and vague pain is simply a part of everyday life. But marketing is a large, evil business. And it does evil things to how we feel about our bodies, and our health.

Sometimes, you have to take a closer look and face your biases in order to see problems right under our noses. Also, it's been pretty calm on the artsy side of things lately.

Today, criticism against different sorts of marketing suffers a pretty extreme case of tunnel vision. Because criticizing the beauty-industry handily coincides with a lot of popular feminism, that's the only kind of critique that actually makes a splash in the media. Which is odd, since making people feel bad about their health should be just as bad or even worse than making people feel bad about how they look (in the interest to sell products.). Sadly, I've never heard anyone complaining about this before, even though it's an even more direct approach to making people feel bad than tactics employed by the beauty industry.

Monday, July 6, 2015

conscription in retrospect

Ah. Tomorrow. For many young men, it's a terrible day. For some young men, it's a much awaited one. For all those young men, it's a start of something new. Tomorrow, a new batch of recruits enter Finnish conscription, military service. They'll walk, run, crawl. They'll sweat, freeze, thirst and hunger. For 6, 9 or 12 months, they'll do more than ever before, but achieve nothing. Last year it was our turn, now it's the slightly younger men's turn to toil.

I didn't DO anything in the army. The only win I had during those six months was getting out of there in only six months, and going through a minimal amount of shit during those months. By most and my own account, I was lucky.

While not actually achieving anything, I gained some perspective. I met kinds of people I wouldn't meet otherwise. I realized I've lived in a social bubble all my life, a bubble where everyone thinks like me (Naturally, that's the best way there is to think. If I didn't think so, then I'd be thinking otherwise, wouldn't I? Yeah.).

I don't hang out with anyone who's openly racist. I don't hang out with any homophobes. I don't even know people like that. But in the microcosm representation of Finland that is the army, I met those people, the conservative and anti-liberal. The kinds of people who vote for the wrong kind of political parties. And I lost a lot of faith in, well, Finland, and it's people. Suddenly I understand why the Finnish political machine seemingly isn't making any progress. Why it is backpedaling, even, considering the recent elections. Because the majority of Finns don't think like me.

This is not a political blog. But the military made me see that the backward political state Finland is in right now is a democratic representation of a backward people. The fact that our government is democratically chosen is naturally an obvious statement, but it is also an extremely distressing and sad realization.


Friday, June 26, 2015

The power of love

What constitutes happiness? Is it fun, excitement, stability, money, productivity, friends, family, love maybe? Is it different for everyone? Does anything satisfy everyone? Probably not. Which ones are most important for the largest amount of people?


Fun is important, right? All work, no play, that wouldn't work for me. For someone it might, but that might have something to do with them finding work to be fun. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike my job, but it's obviously not what I think of when I think about having fun. Leisurely activities and relaxation are a cornerstone in both mental and physical health.

But simply having a good time might not be enough. I think a certain degree of discovery, excitement, is vital to one's well-being. Doing new things, switching it up a bit. Breaking out of the mold, reinventing yourself. A stagnating life is oft coupled with depression, but I know not for sure which one brings the other.

On the other hand, moving forward doesn't amount to any sort of happiness if it's not accompanied by control and stability over the situation. Everyone needs stability in life. Security is what it comes down to. Having a secure job, a plan for the future, a sustainable situation in life. These things are paramount to long-term satisfaction in life. Having something or someone you can rely on is a blessing, but often financial security is the key to a sense of stability.

They always say money doesn't make a man happy. But I just might think it does. A little bit. It's nice to have nice things. That's why people work hard. Almost anyone can cut costs, there's always cheaper ways to get by. But we don't want to do that, do we? Instead we work harder.

Which leads me to productivity. For me, creating things brings me joy. I write this blog. I draw. I have my projects. I do productive things not just for money, but also for the sense of accomplishment. It's very important to me that I feel I'm accomplishing something. It applies just as well to individual moments as to life. Although I'm not great at it, I love baking. I like fixing my beat-up bike when it decides to give up on me. I also like that I'm studying, moving forward in life. I feel good that I'm accomplishing something, in that in a few years, I'm sure to be in a different place, in a different situation. Earning more money...?

No, that's not it. In a few years, I'll have new friends. Don't get me wrong, I like my current friends, but I'll have new and different ones in 5 years, with whom I'll experience new things. The thought excites me. Having friends (new or old) is essential to being happy. I need people. I just do. I wrote about it last year, how I got all grouchy and down when I was all alone in a foreign city for almost a whole week doing entrance exams.

And family is important. Knowing that you're not alone, that you've got people backing you up no matter what.

But if you have all these things, does that make you happy? Are these things even enough?

A few days ago, I had this strange dream. I don't really remember it that well, but it wasn't a particularly good dream but neither was it by any means a nightmare. It was just a bit, well, strange. The kind of dream that you'd tell someone about. When I woke up, though, I realized I have no one who I feel likes me enough to want to listen to my boring dreams anyway. And that really shook me. It was worse than the awkward dream. 

Maybe that's what we need to be happy? Someone who will listen to us talking about what we saw in an imaginary place while we were sleeping. That must be some kind of love, right? Love is all those other things. Love is an umbrella, and it under it is all the fun, the excitement, the stability, the riches and the accomplishment, and it shields us from the harsh realities of life. Can you have none of the other things, live a mundane, poor, hopeless life, but be happy by way of love? I think you can. And that's pretty darn beautiful.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Weird differences

Sometimes I hear that I'm a weird person. For different reasons and it's happened many times. But that's not how I view things. I think the world is a strange place, where we do weird, senseless things all the time. It's not just me who's weird, everyone does weird things. I might be different, though. Meaning I do some weird things that other people don't. Just other, different, weird things.

Weird has a negative implication. Weirdness hints at something being awry, not quite right. Different, however, does not. We often misinterpret or mislabel things that are different as weird, just because they're alien to us, and this might scare or shock us. Which of course makes no sense.

If a man of a tribe met a man from the city, both would think the other is weird. But in reality, weirdness doesn't exist, there is only difference. We look at other cultures all the time, non-western cultures specifically, and we think "Wow, that's strange, why do they do that?". A macabre example, in Asia, eating dog meat is quite a normal thing. In other parts of Asia, they believe that cows are holy. So strange, right? Cows. Of all animals. That's weird to us. And dog meat is downright taboo here. Dogs are our best friend, and cows are born, live, and die, just to be eaten.

Meanwhile, they think we're weird. To them, it's perfectly natural that dogs are food, like any other animal (Except cows. Cows are holy.). Everyone's weird. To someone. Does that make no one weird? It's a strange word that doesn't really mean anything. It's just an insulting way to say something is different, and it stems from a simple lack of understanding. And sometimes, a lack of will to understand. Sometimes, you get so ingrained into your own circle of thought, everything that differs from it becomes offensive to you. For no real reason at all.

This hatred for the different is everywhere, and it always makes very little sense. This animosity can be found between individuals, peoples, cities, languages, countries. It can be found between different brands of cars, branches of academics, and between separate yet similar religions. This fear of other has many names. It's racism, homophobia, and sexism all at the same time.

You should be very careful in labeling things "weird". You'd probably save us all a lot of time and trouble by accepting that it is simply different.

Okay. That drawing MIGHT be kinda weird. But just a bit. I like it a lot.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New toy!

I bought a tablet PC, and it can do this! 


It's not exactly a Wacom Cintiq, but it has a 12-inch 2160x1440 display, a pressure sensitive pen, and a complete Windows operating system (No Android riff-raff!). It also has the performance chops to run the same drawing software I use on my big PC. It's light, it's portable, it's a tablet! I can do drawing anywhere now! Halleluja technology.

It is a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I got a good deal on it, and I had always figured I wouldn't be doing my notetaking at the university with actual pen and paper anyway. A study pal is what it's supposed to be for me. But it's capable as a regular laptop, decent but a bit unwieldy as a tablet, and pretty good for drawing. I think I'll be having a lot of fun with this little thing.

I always dreamed of having a Wacom Cintiq. In simple terms, they're similar to the Surface tablet I've got. But they're professional tools, and come with professional features and a very professional price tag. A Cintiq is a large digital drawing tablet, like my old one, but it has a display, so you just put your pen down wherever you want to draw. They're not tablets in the Ipad sense. A Cintiq needs to be plugged into a PC, and doesn't operate on it's own (Except for the newest models. I don't know if they're still called Cintiq:s, but they are tablets in both the digital drawing and Ipad sense.).

A regular digital drawing tablet wouldn't come with a screen, and that's what I've been using so far. It's just a black rectangular pad with a pen, and what you draw in the rectangle appears on your PC monitor. It's a little bit strange, because of the visual disconnect. You can't see your hand. You get used to it, but you still always feel kind of disconnected. A Cintiq, or a MS Surface with a pen, is different, because the pen touching the screen. It doesn't make me forget I'm drawing on a PC, no, it doesn't feel anything like drawing with a pencil on paper. But it's pretty sweet.

I gave the tablet a quick run today using OpenCanvas, my go-to drawing software. At 1500x1500 resolution with default brushes, it did well. It was quick, responsive, and the pen felt quite intuitive. I haven't messed about with any pressure settings yet, but I'm guessing there should be a fair bit of improvement to be seen in terms of sensitivity.

So I know it's good for digital sketching. It's the mid-range model, and it has a relatively beefed up processor, so it should do just fine on a bit higher resolution too. Photoshop has a more demanding brush engine, and I suspect there might be some delay when drawing. But that doesn't really bother me, because, well, I don't use Photoshop. And I don't think this will replace my old drawing tablet for more serious digital art, anyway. Let's not forget that in truth, the pen is just a neat feature on this tablet. This is not a tablet designed for drawing and making artsy stuff happen on, and it's just never going to be as good as the swathe of gadgets made for just that.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What ups in my life

Well, going back to what I wrote a couple entries back, I had great success in improving my matriculation exams this year. So great, in fact, that based on those new grades, I qualified for an education I had applied for at Aalto University in Helsinki, Southern Finland.

If my studies go as planned, in five years I will hold the academic title of Master of Science in Engineering, in Mechanical engineering specifically. Sounds pretty fancy, huh. In Swedish, that would be diplomingenjör inom maskinteknik. (either that, or the same in Structural Engineering, but I probably won't have to choose between the two before my fourth year studying.) 

this is Rupert, by the way

So. Architecture is officially off the table. A new chapter of my life, in a new city, waits for me just around the bend that is this summer. I don't really know what to say. Vasa has been great to me. I think Aalto and Otnäs will be too. It's horribly exciting but a little bit scary at the same time, I guess. What kind of friends will I find there? Where will I live? What happens to my old friends?

Time will tell. But that's still a few months away. I don't have to uproot my entire life just yet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Self-portraiture and time

Over the years, I've drawn four self-portraits. One digital, three traditional. Only one of these three hasn't been on my blog before, and it's this first one. They are all in chronological order by the way.

It's from 2013. It's pretty sketchy, and the outlines are very strong. There really isn't much finesse to be found in it. For some reason, it reminds me of porridge. I drew it looking into the mirror. I like how I nonchalantly I handled drawing the hair. I definitely didn't have that dark a beard back then, but then again the whole drawing seems to have been done in rather heavy strokes.

This one I like and hate at the same time. It's from last summer, drawn with an Instagram picture as reference. You can quite dramatically see how a lighter grip and press on the pencil really worked out for me. The outlines are much lighter and thinner, for example. That makes it look much more serious, less like just a sketch.

The likeness is great, which I'm really proud of. The picture I used for reference wasn't the best quality, and I had to wing it a bit. Where I would've needed some more guidance is around the eyes. Along with the flat-ish nose, they really bother me. The lines are way too harsh and dark, especially the lines that make up my upper eyelids. It's a shame those two areas turned out so sub-par, they stand out so well. They're stabbing me, right in the eyeballs. If not for that, it would be great.

This one is most recent, and was on the blog not long ago. I don't know, really. Technically, it's better than both the others, but the lighting is quite flat and unappealing. The likeness is decent, but the proportions are somewhat off. It's good and bad, like the one from 2014, but for other reasons.

What can we conclude from these drawings? Well, my technique got a lot better, and so did my skin problems.

One self depicting portrait per year. I think that's more than most young artists draw. While I guess someone could think it's a bit egotistical to draw "so many" self-portraits, that's not how I see it. I think I'll be glad to have these when I grow older. One, they're my drawings, two, they're pictures of a younger me. It's like double nostalgia!

Not having to wade through pages of paparazzi-poop on Google Images for good reference pictures of people I don't even know is reason enough to draw these, the pictures I found on my harddrive (and mirror) anyway.

If anyone hasn't gotten bored with looking at my pictures already, the digital portrait can be found in this entry:

portrait, education och facebook

Coincidentally, this is also the entry with which I revealed my blog to everyone I know and the public (facebook.). It's from 2012, and the portrait is arguably the best of the bunch.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The past 4 years + nude woman!!

Three of my past four years have been spent learning things in a building representing what in the Finnish school system is called upper secondary education. This entity of education is supposed to act as an academical bridge to prepare me for tertiary education at a university. Also, this level in my education is supposed test me, and grade me. Based on the results in my final exam, I may or may not proceed to the next level of education. I graduated a year ago, but as I was dissatisfied with my final exam results, I gave one subject another go, and today I got the results.

I was dissatisfied with my original results, because I thought they obviously didn't match my abilities in that subject. I was dissatisfied doubly, because the low marks turned out to be quite the obstacle for me in advancing to the studies I am interested in.

I didn't get any better at the subject in the year that went between the two times I wrote that same exam, yet somehow, the amount of points my second exam was scored was nearly double that of my first try. I didn't read a lot the second time, I didn't concentrate harder. In fact, I'd say my time away from school made me worse at that subject. But luck (Or, maybe bad luck, rather) played a huge part. 

How can it be that luck is the deciding factor in how productive my four last years of education have been? If you get low marks, your entire 3-4 years spent studying at a upper secondary school have been a waste of time. There really is no point in going to a gymnasium, as they're called in Swedish, if your grades don't end up good enough to get you in on whatever studies it may be you want to spend your next 5 years with.

How absurd is it then, that my grade in this subject went from being absolutely mediocre, to top marks, without me improving at all? How can a system that coolly decides where your future lies be this arbitrary, and why is that acceptable? It's completely outrageous. It took me one year to fix the mess that one doctor of literature in Helsinki made on the whim decision that my while my essay exam work was good, it was 'irrelevant'.

It's absolutely stupid. Christ. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil, and I remember how utterly disappointed I was last year. I even got a scholarship with recommendations in that subject at my graduation, I knew I was good at it.

Thankfully, what happened in my case isn't very common in other subjects. But even there, a lot of it has to do with luck. The testing simply isn't rigorous enough to mitigate a spot of plain good luck.

I'm not going to say I'm not happy. I had a victory dance when I got the results this morning. I hadn't dared hope I'd do this good. But the system is so bad and it's such an important part of our education, that it's infuriating. I am really quite bitter about it. But I'm also so super happy now that I had the chance to make it better, and happy it went so well this time. At last, I got that acknowledgement, bekräftelse.

What else? Well, I guess I made a promise when I wrote that entry title.

I'm sure I've been over this before, but it may seem like I only draw pictures of men. And to some extent, it's true, because I find it's a lot easier, thus the results are more satisfying. But I do draw women, too! And when I do, they're, uh, sometimes kinda naked (I mean, give me a break. I'm a man.). So this is the second time I'm uploading a nude drawing on my blog! 

The angle is a bit unflattering, and she doesn't have any eyebrows (or hands, I was apparently focusing on something else), but I like it. The shading is very complex and nuanced. I used reference. The hardest part was figuring out the proportions. I'm used to drawing male proportions, so I thought it looked strange. Translating the color picture into different shades of grey was also a bit tricky. 

Here's another, less graphic. This one I don't think is done from a direct reference, but I probably looked at some portrait material on Google to figure out the mouth and neck (Which I think looks super weird).

I thought about censoring the jiggly parts in the first image, but I didn't do that the last time I uploaded nude drawings and I want to be consistent.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A fancy gif and PASSION

Bland artwork - Hmm, I know, I'll make a gif out of it! 10/10

I think it's quite amazing how I've steadily gotten better at traditional pencil on paper art during the last 2-3 years, but I haven't gotten any better at digital drawing. Actually, it feels like I'm worse at it now than I was before! If you take a peek into the past and the archives, you'll find art that will reinforce that sentiment. 

For example, take a look at this wonderful digital drawing from 2013.

I mean... Christ. It feels like it wasn't even me who did that. That is the absolute top drawing I ever made with a drawing tablet and a PC. It's originally from mid 2012, but the version in that entry is from early 2013 and had been slightly improved. But that's so long ago! What was life like back then? Dinosaurs?

In retrospect, part of what made it so great was, well, I spent many hours on it. I had such good flow that evening, and night. And the morning after, too, when I finished it. I also used a photo of my own face as a reference for the proportions and perspective of the face (Not for the shading, though!). I really haven't done any digital work by reference since, which I'm sure is one reason I'm not making any progress. Drawing from reference and then repeating it without reference is a really efficient way to learn. But, well, I just haven't been doing that. 

In fact, I don't draw enough on my tablet at all. That's the big problem. I don't spend enough time practicing. I don't draw a lot on paper either, but my pencil and paper skills don't deteriorate nearly as quickly as my digital drawing skills do. And they really are two very different skills. You get rusty very fast if you don't consistently draw on the computer.

I guess the fault is in me not being passionate enough. Passion is greedy. Passion always asks you to be more passionate about your passions. It seems you can never have just enough passion for something. Passions are by nature catastrophically unsatisfiable. It's at the core of the artists struggle with never being good enough. Passion is such an ungrateful bitch!