Senbazuru In the Making

Would you believe this was supposed to be a V-day artwork? :)
Valentine's Day 2013, admittedly, was the first time I awoke on that holiday not as a single lady. Since I was not exactly experienced when it came to giving presents to a significant other, I just decided to play by my strengths and go creative. What I decided on? Senbazuru. One thousand paper cranes to you and me.

Know your enemy. Prepare ammo.
Instead of buying pre-cut square post-its, I opted to just cut the squares myself. Dimensions: slightly smaller than 3x3 in (fitted 12 squares on standard size). Why sacrifice the convenience of using pre-cut paper? Two reasons:
  1. Post-it would cost more than double the price of using non-cut paper
  2. The available post-it colors are in neon shades (I saw pink, yellow, green, orange, and blue variants). I wanted to be in control of the colors I'm using, and honestly, I am not too fond of neon colors -- and neither is my significant other.
Trivia: I based the color scheme on the actual colors of the red-crowned crane, and it was only later that I noticed they were t'nalak colors (sans the blue). I love those textiles, really.

Multiply each by 25
There are lots of online instructions on how to fold a traditional paper crane, so I won't elaborate on it here. Of course, I would end up killing my hands and my sanity (among others) if I attempted to fold 1000 cranes in one day, so I distributed their making into a 50-day period with 20 cranes per day. Stringing them together, give-or-take less than one week.

Skewering them together, 40 cranes per string
Man, this step hurt my fingers and eyes more than the crane folding. I have no callouses to guard against needles, so I had to pad my digits with cloth if the needle became too difficult to pull. And I made the mistake of not using a threader, so I crossed my eyes more than once trying to make the crochet thread go through the tiny needle hole. I love arts and crafts, but needlework is something I still have difficulty doing.

Prior to bunching them together
Close up
If only I got to maintain the straightness of the pattern when I knotted the threads together. Alas, I ended up getting zigzags in the final version. I also wasn't able to take a picture of the threaded cranes hanging, so pardon me. At least I finished them before my scheduled deadline, and they have already changed ownership as of a few hours ago.

Did I wish for anything after completing the project? Yes, I did. But no way am I divulging my wish here. ;)


"Calm Skies" - Some Reflections

A section of the artwork -- links to full version at the end of the post
Simply put, my original plans for this artwork was quite different. With Death's Candles out of the way, I was free to do a new piece. It was very easy to return to my often-used female model (my "Kiya"), but I realized that Kouseikei, the current male lead in my artistic universe, had yet to be given a solo artwork of his own. All my other artworks that feature him are either group pieces, or otherwise show him with Kiya. Now was the time to remedy that situation, I thought.
Meh, I still suck at human anatomies :(
Horrible preliminary sketching/planning aside, the process of its finishing was interesting, to say the least. The time period of its making coincided with some drastic events in my life. For one, the Philippines was being buffeted by the typhoons Saola and Haikui just as I was painting the background of the image.
At that moment, you can say that the artwork was in itself a prayer for calm skies again.
I owe Google images and Wikipedia a lot for jump-starting my muse and finding references, definitely. However, the weather wasn't the only significant influence in the artwork. I won't say it in many words, but as I was fleshing out Kouseikei, I made a decision that significantly altered my day-to-day living.

And made me notice some things I have never seen about him before, with regards to his character.

Admittedly, I am not too fond of using persons I know of as bases for my characters. I am not saying that my real-life interactions have no influence in how I design or conceptualize my characters (quite the opposite). I just don't like my characters ending up as simply being Ms. or Mr. So-and-so in a different name and look in my artistic universe. (Think of how awkward it could get.) Likewise, Kouseikei was "born"  more as a plot necessity and not as a virtual model of a real-life person.

At least, consciously. Because, if some people who know me by my real name also read about Kouseikei's story, they might find some glaring similarities with his personality and that of someone I know of. Don't worry, "he" has no wings, and neither was he scarred on the cheek and back by his cousin. :)

View the full artwork here or here.


Bringing OCs to Life

It's finally 2012. I just pray this year will be a better one than the last, in which I was plagued here and there by spells of hopelessness (a bit of which carried over to the new year, I'll admit). But enough of that. Before I return to college a few days from now, I decided to try bringing my OCs to life. Originally, I intended to include every major OC from Starmaiden, but I just realized I hadn't really paid attention to my characters' physical descriptions (excluding the main protagonist). It was like starting from scratch, so I ended up with just Kouseikei and Ashikase instead.

Well, it's no wonder Kiya and <name withheld to prevent spoilers> fell for you, m'dear
Kouseikei is a favorite of my drawing muse, second only to my gijinka Palkia, who's his eventual mate in my story universe. I guess many can tell that I used Takeshi Kaneshiro as a reference (anyone watched "House of Flying Daggers"?). I mentioned in devART that he's my first major male OC in years, so it's no wonder he receives a lot of attention from my muses.

Ashikase, "drunk" version (hehehe)
Well, after 12 Starmaiden chapters, Ashikase finally gets his looks fleshed out! The de facto antagonist of the story, this guy was a pain in the ass to draw (well, he is a pain in Kouseikei's ass). My muse doesn't like him much either (both writing AND drawing), probably because I hardly consider him to be anything more than a perfect foil to Kouseikei. This is such a shame, because his family past was more delved upon than Kousei's, and was admittedly soppy enough to land a place in a soap opera plot. *snickers*

And since I already spoiled this little detail in DA, might as way say it here: Ashikase and Kouseikei are third cousins, sharing one set of great-great-grandparents (although Ashikase was never aware of it, and Kouseikei only found it out much later on). The father of Kouseikei's paternal grandmother  was the brother of the father of Ashikase's maternal grandfather. Good luck figuring that out.

Similar to what I did for Kousei, I looked at pictures of various famous personalities to somehow jump-start my muse. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone who struck me as "Ashikase" enough, although I did temporarily consider Shin Koyamada, Zo In Sung, and Seiichi Tanabe. I had to completely redo his looks several times before I finally came up with something passable enough. Urk.

Ashikase, "slightly more sane" version
The above pic was just to provide a kind of contrast between Kousei and Ashikase, since the two look decidedly similar with their hair down. As it can be seen, Ashikase favors topknots while Kouseikei prefers low ponytails. I actually had to repeatedly revise his hairstyle, because several times he ended up teetering close to... someone I would rather he not resemble. My muse may not favor Ashikase much, but she's not that evil. *coughs*


Death's Candles Conceptualization

Now that I am no longer fighting my Wacom tablet, I have decided to give my upcoming artwork a thorough revamp. Originally it's entitled "The Incoming Tempest," but now (partly due to Halloween-esque inspiration) it will be "Death's Candles." Now for a preview pic:

Click to fullview -- you know you want to ;p
The change was also to help the artwork be more "Giratina," for lack of better term. In fact, so far this is the closest I have been to the Gira in my mind, physical- and character-wise. Although it's flattering that he has many fangirls in DA (my cousin even point blank said he has more sex appeal than Dialga *coughs*), I am a bit bothered that people may be forgetting that he is first and foremost the Dragon of Shadows, the God of Death. 

And no, his chest doesn't have to be that bare in the final. Still thinking if I am going to give him a necklace or something. :D


Wacom PS CS3 Issues - Fixed (sorta)!

This post was meant to be a follow-up of an earlier one featuring the same problem.

Recap: my old CD-R King tablet broke down (specifically, the pen got damaged by a battery leak *cries*), but as a replacement, I got a Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch. Initial testings ran smooth.

But come a computer reboot:

Wow, Wacom guys, you would seriously allow yourselves to be beaten by CD-R King (a brand that never gave me this problem throughout their tablet's service)? So off to Google and deviantART forums I surfed for possible solutions, and turns out I am not the only one with the problem.

Solution #1: Chances are, your tablet drivers are outdated. Download a newer one on the Wacom Customer Help website and see if it does anything good.

And it did!

But not always.

It turns out then, that Photoshop CS3 has this irritating tendency to muck up drivers or something (at least in Windows -- by the looks of it, Mac people have significantly lesser problems like this). I reboot Photoshop and then the problem resolves itself. But it would be just inefficient if I sit down to work and yet I have to keep on rebooting Photoshop until it fixes the sensitivity issue. Whaddamigonnado?

Solution #2 (for Photoshop [CS3?] users only): Make 'Photoshop CS3 Prefs.psp' read-only.

Wow, such a simple-sounding solution which I read in this forum thread. I was skeptical at first, but after following the instructions, it worked sweet as a nut. Well, for a while. Occasionally it still mucks up if there are other programs running when opening Photoshop, but the age-old restart-PS solution fixes it in a jiffy. Oh, 'Photoshop CS3 Prefs.psp' could be difficult to find, so if you are going to follow this solution, I suggest that you refer to this site if you can't find it (make sure to show all hidden folders first).

The downside of this solution would be that you would have to remove the read-only setting manually if you wish to update your preferences (my case: updating the 'recently opened' file list for easy reference). I have actually decided to just keep the preferences file setting in its original state because it's hindering my working style. Guess I will just settle with the restart-PS solution and be a good girl who does not open any additional programs while PS is in the process of settling down.

Now here are what I have gleaned from this problem:

  • The issue arises when Photoshop CS3 competes with other programs when it is just starting. There's a big chance the pen sensitivity will be lost.
  • On the brighter side, once you are sure that the pen sensitivity is working for a particular Photoshop session, it is quite assured that it will not be lost the whole session. I have played out various scenarios to test this (playing songs in Windows Media Player, typing using a keyboard, using the mouse in between tablet work in and out of Photoshop, surfing the web, etc... all while a particular session is open), and the pen sensitivity remained the entire time.

So does this mean that the problem is perhaps a conflict in starting command calls or something(since the issue pops up only there are other programs conflicting with Photoshop when it's starting)? Woo, at least this is a possible topic for my thesis year.

Despite all these problems (and having to sleep at 1:30 am in the morning), my reaction to my new Wacom tablet is still this:


Wacom Sensitivity Issues in XP

Now, Wacom Bamboo Touch and Pen is a very nice product. Sleek design, very responsive to pen movements, and good touch sensitivity. All compared to my old (now-busted) CD-R King tablet, of course.

But amazingly, CD-R King turned to be the winner when it comes to software reliability, if that's the right term. Wacom Bamboo's touch sensitivity worked perfectly fine during my initial testing...

But after a computer reboot...

It's all blocky again, as though I'm using a good ol' mouse! I never had this problem with my old dilapidated tablet, but does that mean Wacom now has to go back to the store (a damn waste of Php6000)? No way am I giving up without a fight! A few searches on Google -- any troubleshooter's best friend -- narrowed down my problem to this (AND it turns out this is a very common problem especially for Windows users): outdated tablet driver files. A download from the Wacom website's customer care service, and it solved the problem!

Well, almost. (And I've got to be thankful that being a sci-tech major causes me to have a high tolerance of these technical troubleshooting stuff.)

Now I don't know if this is because I have a separate mouse plugged into another USB port while the tablet is on at the same time, but I think that the basic stress-free (or is it?) solution is this:

Nonetheless, despite the occasional Photoshop muck-up (it happens ONLY in Photoshop, to my chagrin), my reaction still is best summed up by this:


Reflecting on Last Semester

Last Semester in a Nutshell by ~Antarel on deviantART

The above cartoon may seem quite lighthearted, but looking back, I was already reduced to "survival mode" by the time finals week came close to arriving. I'll admit that part of my difficulties was due to a personal blunder I made during enlistment, but either way, I think that the year before my thesis will really be the most difficult throughout my college stay. There came a point when I simply cut off all means of communication from the rest of the world because I badly needed sleep. I don't want to abandon my groupmates to their fate, but a person could only take so much. I guess that if not for my part-time job, I would have cracked a long time ago.

Ironically, though, I didn't shed too many tears over academics this semester (and when I did, it was only for one non-major subject) because I am already happy where I am. Recalling how often I cried during my last semester in BS Computer Engineering before I finally had enough and chose to shift, it's really a huge contrast.