Writing Update

I was going through my blog and I realized I never gave a dedicated update about my novel. In the general update I posted a while back, I passingly mentioned that I finished my novel in February and it was now up on BetaBooks.

Ah, yeah, it’s up on BetaBooks, guys! Complete with a better summary and all. You can follow that link and sign up to read it. Mind you, this is a beta, and I’m just looking for feedback for my next draft. This is by no means anywhere near finished.

In hindsight, I feel like I did myself a disservice there. It’s an accomplishment to have finished a story, considering that it took me 3 years to write a draft that I felt comfortable sharing. Then I just bury the news in a post that was about four other things. I mean, to be fair, I did post a lot about it on Tumblr, where I am more active and have more followers. I think there was just a point after finishing the novel where I just didn’t want to write any more, including things like self-congratulatory blog posts, haha. I was so tired. Also, I guess for me and more introverted writers, trying to hype up your book to get readers interested in it doesn’t come so naturally, and hence, requires a lot of energy that I just didn’t have at that time.

Read More »
Advertisements

General Update

Hey guys! It’s been a little more than a month since my last post. Sorry about that, but lately, I’ve been trying to re-examine this blog’s purpose. I’m a little less into writing book reviews, and since posting my latest draft up on BetaBooks I don’t really have anything to say about writing. I mostly post my artwork on Tumblr or DeviantArt, and I suppose I can post them here as well, but I don’t know if WordPress is really the best medium for art. I know it supports “portfolio” style posts, but I don’t know if it’s going to help me much.

Reading

So, what have I been up to lately? Well, February was a great month for my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I finished 5 books!!

I finished the entire Percy Jackson series (read the first one some years back). I also read the newest from one of my favourite authors of all time, Frances Hardinge. I tend to write short snippets of my thoughts on Goodreads now, because I can control the privacy settings there. Don’t get me wrong, I try to be open and honest about my opinions, but like I said in my previous post, I’m trying to tone things down a bit. Trying to write my own story has given me a bit of perspective on the difficult, tooth-pulling process, and I don’t think I can write book reviews with as much hyperbolic expression as I used to do.

And I mean, like, you guys already know what I tend to rant about most anyway. Love triangles. And I’ve gotten better over the years in avoiding that, so there’s really not much passionate teeth-grinding to do. (Teeth-grinding that happened while I read the last 2 books of Percy Jackson, but like I said, I promise to tone things down, so let’s not get into it…) I also have less time for books I don’t like or get into, so I just move on to something I like.

Writing

I am currently on hiatus. I have posted the entire draft of my story on BetaBooks. A few people have signed up and are reading it. Once I get some more feedback on the entire story as a whole, I will rewrite again, and then hopefully will be able to send to a professional editor.

My goal is to get this released in some way, shape or form by the fall of this year. I think I’m in a good place to say that’s a reasonable goal. The only thing that’s holding me back is marketing. Like, it’s easy to post this on a personal website, or on Wattpad, but how I’m going to get people to read it, I don’t know yet.

Art

I breezed through Victoria Ying’s Visual Development course in Schoolism. I signed up as soon as the class was available. I never knew that the kind of artwork I really enjoy seeing on Tumblr and DA, and the kind I strive for in my usual posts, fall under the category of “visual development.” For some reason I always thought that term referred to something else. I’ll be doing a couple of the assignments from my favourite lectures. I wish I had time to just focus on art and really get better at it, but between work, real life, reading, and writing, my attention is quite split.

While I’m on writing hiatus though, I’m focusing on just churning out more artwork. I’m currently active in the Lockwood and Co. fandom, so expect some fanarts from there.

A hip hop AU hehe

Some of these are from a few months back.

I’m also trying to make more original artwork, because most of the art I had done for my story is now outdated, sadly. Also, I want to get a site up and running and I need some graphics for that.

A sketchdump of Sano, the main character

I discovered a problem with my new laptop screen while working on these. It emits a blue hue that makes all my drawings look garrishly yellow/bright on other, normally tinted computers. I’ve tried a lot of things, but I think this is just a result of me getting a cheaper laptop with an otherwise top-notch CPU/GPU specs.

Anyway, this is getting quite long, but I’ll leave with some colour practice I was doing this weekend. Each one of these is a 10-min render of a landscape image from Google.

Blanking Out on Titles

sanino_comp

Hey guys! I know I haven’t updated very often lately, but it doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking off! On the contrary, I’ve signed up for the next round of Camp NaNoWriMo next month, and during the last couple of weeks I’ve been preparing extensively for it.

First of all, do you guys like the new artwork? =P As I mentioned in my last blog post, I decided not to do my Schoolism assignments one by one, but rather, take note of each lesson and apply it to whatever I’m working on. I haven’t drawn Anina and Sano in so long, and I was in need of some new official art. I really tried to apply the things I learned about pictorial composition here. (On that note, does anyone know how to properly assign resolution to web images? I heard 1200px is the best, but my images still turn out oddly low-res.)

Anyway, I’ve spent the last few weeks restructuring my story. When I finished draft 2, I was convinced that it needed further leaning down and I was prepared to take it apart and put it back together in an entirely new way. As things turned out, the outline I have now is actually not that far from the previous version, which is great because it means I get to use some of the material from draft 2. Even though I tried to approach the story in an entirely different way, I still ended up coming with the same general flow — I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing though. It could mean that I’ve already nailed down the things that make the most sense for my characters, or it could mean I’ve gotten stuck into a single frame of mind. =/

One big change though is the names. I was never truly satisfied with the names of the places I’ve been using, so before I begin this new draft, I chose better-fitting names. One downside (or possibly upside) to this is that while I was browsing my Tagalog-English dictionary, I discovered that the word “aplaya” was actually derived from Spanish. I had intended to name the setting of the story “Alaya” from “aplaya,” fashioning it after the pattern of naming Filipino provinces after places near water. “Aplaya,” or the Spanish original, “playa” means beach. See, this is what I get for using Google Translate! Good thing I bought the dictionary. Needless to say, as this story is inspired by precolonial Tagalog culture, I can no longer use “Alaya.”

And because I’ve been using “Tales of Alaya” as the title for my work, I can no longer use that title either. I’m wary now of including names in my title just in case I make another goof-up, and end up changing names later. So now, I’m in desperate need for a title. Any suggestions? If you’re a writer, how do you usually come up with names for your works?

February 2018 Art

In my last update about my Schoolism subscription, I mentioned that I switched momentarily from the Pictorial Composition course to take a lighting course. I’ve been watching Sam Nielson’s Fundamentals of Lighting, because I think I lack even the most basic grasp of light and colour. That said, I still proceeded with the 2nd assignment for Pictorial Composition, just so I don’t lag too much behind. Here’s some of my compositions:Read More »

Balancing Impatience With Procrastination

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update about my original work, so this post will have some of that as well as some musing about a behaviour I’ve noticed myself exhibiting for a while now (which, as you can tell by the title, has something to do with time management.)

Story

But first up, what have I been up to? I swear, I’ve actually been hard at work. In the middle of January, I decided to use the last half of the month to try and finish off the second draft of my original story. I managed to get through a week or so of something like a self-imposed NaNoWriMo, writing 1,667 words each day. I got to a certain point, where I just thought: “Man, if I keep going with the way I planned this story, I’m going to end up with something really messy. Still.” I say “still,” because if you’ve been following my blog you know that I’ve done nothing in the past year but revise outlines and drafts to pluck out elements and streamline my story. The last time I wrote about my original project, I talked about eliminating one of the main characters and his arc entirely. And as I tried to move forward with that in mind, I still found myself stumbling over multiple other elements.Read More »

2017 Art Review + Schoolism Gesture Drawing

2017 Summary of Art

In the beginning of last year, one of my new year’s resolution was to make at least one coloured art piece a month. Well, that totally didn’t happen. At first it was just because I didn’t have time, but as the year progressed it was because of an increasing dissatisfaction with my artwork. Even at the sketching stage, I felt increasingly frustrated with my art that I just didn’t bother to colour them in.

In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo so I didn’t have time for art at all. And in December, I finally decided to take some online art lessons to improve. I chose schoolism.com because after shopping around for online courses, this was the only one I found that is a good match for the skill level I’m currently at and want to get to, without passing my budget. I opted for the 1-year subscription instead of the critiqued classes, so I can go at my own pace.

Throughout December, I worked my way through the gesture drawing course taught by Alex Woo. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I think the best part about the structure of the course is that you can see the critiques for the students who took the critique sessions, so you get to see how other people are doing and have a better idea of how to improve your own skills.

Here are a few samples of my work from the course. Mind you, these are not polished up. The course is typically 7-week long and I breezed through it in December (often forgoing that cafe drawings) for personal reasons. If I had taken the critique sessions, I would definitely polish my drafts up a bit more. So if you think, “Oh these are not that good,” definitely attribute it to my rush and not to the quality of the course. There are student submissions that were awesome. As a matter of fact, I was really surprised to see some amazing works that seemed to be getting only 3-stars from the instructor, so based on that, I’m pretty sure these drafts would be like 1 to 2 stars only.

Lecture 1: Line of Action

The line of action is about distilling a pose into a single line to capture the main idea or the main movement of the body. This sample is probably not gonna make much sense without the actual poses as reference, heh.

lecture1_all

Lecture 2: Shape

Like the line of action, shape tries to distill a pose into a single entity that captures its main feeling. It’s great for composition because you know what space your figure is taking up.

lecture2_all

Lecture 3: Silhouette

This is probably one of the most important things I learned in the course. Silhouette is about capturing the action of your figure even without details. In good gesture drawing, the action of your figure must still be recognizable even if the figure is completely blacked out. I think one of the problems I had before was that a lot of the poses I put my characters in had terrible silhouettes. I had a lot of fun doing the exercise for this lecture.

lecture3_all

Lecture 4: Space

I didn’t do the homework for this lecture, because I was so excited about the upcoming lectures. I know, I’m terrible. But this lecture is about establishing a sense of 3-dimensionality in your figure. So things like… putting your figure’s feet in different altitudes.

Lecture 5: Exaggeration

This was one of my favourite lectures. I probably failed it but it was so informative. Exaggeration is about taking the idea of a pose and exaggerating the figure so that the idea becomes more pronounced. In order for us to do this, we had to assign a story to the poses so that we know how to exaggerate it. Some of these worked out better than others. I wonder if we were supposed to really stick to the 2-minute time frame. I spent about 5 to 10 minutes on the better ones here, but even they don’t look as good as the ones that the other students handed in.

lecture5_all

Lecture 6: Extrapolation

Extrapolation is about using the main idea of the model’s pose and applying it to another thing, like an animal. For this lecture we were asked to study the anatomy of an animal and to do all the exercises using this animal. To my everlasting regret, I chose the Philippine tarsier, because it’s an animal that appears in my story and I thought, might as well have a bit of practice. But this ended up being such a poor choice. The tarsier is curled up in itself most of the time; it can’t really stretch its arms, and it rarely stretches its legs (only to jump). So I had a LOT of difficulty applying the stretched out poses. I tried to have the head and eyes capture the main idea, but there’s only so much variability I can do. Either that or I’m just not terribly creative.

lecture6_all

Lecture 7: Story

Story is about using a pose in a larger context of a story. For this lecture we were assigned to come up with a story using a series of poses. In the sketch below, you’ll see the poses in the upper left corner. I ended up modifying most of them to fit my story.

lecture7_all

And that’s it! What a ride! I learned so much from this course, and even if I rushed it, I will certainly keep the lessons in mind and apply them to my upcoming artwork.

August Artwork

always_these_two_by_mander_lee-dbl63t3the_king_of_attolia_by_mander_lee-dbjq1di

After writing every day during Camp NaNoWriMo in July, I really took the time to focus on art in August. Considering that it usually takes me 2 weeks to make a complete artwork, I think having finished four is good turnout for me. It’s a mix of fanart for The Queen’s Thief series as well as my original project.

Writing Woes: Somebody’s Getting Axed

half_the_cast_by_mander_lee-db90i4b

Well, I think I’m realizing more and more how isolating an endeavour writing can be. Considering how many times I’ve fallen into writing angst in the past several months, I think it’s safe to say that I’m far from the image of the highly energetic, happy-go-lucky writer that I imagined myself to be while working on a fun, light-hearted adventure story. Clearly, I’m not have as much fun as my characters, that’s for sure.

And it seems as if several of them won’t be having fun any longer either.

Read More »