Commonplace book + DIY cover

Midori MD A5 grid commonplace book and DIY cardstock notebook cover for the notebook.

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I mentioned previously that I have way too much cardstock leftover from some printer shenanigans from HWA. I started another Midori MD Notebook to make a commonplace book to write down knowledge that I would want to refer back to in the future, e.g., notes from books, courses, articles, etc. Kind of like a school notebook but broader. Since this book mainly sits on my desk, I wondered if it was possible to make a book cover for the notebook out of the cardstock. Luckily letter-sized paper is slightly taller than A5, so the overhang made it possible!

Here is the book cover, made out of 2 pieces of cardstock. The white cardstock was a regular letter-sized one, cut in half, and then glued + folded around the length of the A5 notebook. Also scored down the middle of the brown cardstock piece. I wasn't confident I could glue such a narrow sliver of cardstock for the sleeve/pocket (where you slip in the notebook covers), so I put in some small stitches instead.

Fits!!

After that I felt like it was looking plain for a commonplace book, so I took some leftover Daler-Rowney FW acrylic ink (green) and painted it on in a weird mottled-like texture (dabbing with the brush, but not smoothing it out)

The string tension tore through the now wet paper, so I yanked them out and had to glue the pockets down later on. That actually resulted in a more snug-fit and less "wiggle room" of covers sliding up/down, which was not a bad thing!

Not long after, it still felt plain, so I took a leftover gold STA metallic pen and free-handed the cover.

It was a mindless, 'go with the flow', relaxing art thing to do! Some of the lighting in the photos make it look more teal, while in real life it's more green in the sunlight. Make this book feel fancier than it really is!

Also made an A6-sized one (left) to use up the green paint. On that one I used copper acrylic paint streaks, and also rubbed on candle wax + melted it to the cover for stability/some water resistance (IDK if it'll work, but it was fun to do).

With regards to the notebook itself, it's a Midori MD Notebook A5 with grid ruling. I hand numbered all the pages, and then made an index at the beginning (page 3) + left a few more pages after blank, to allow for the indexlist to increase as I filled the book. I officially started jotting down contents on page 7!

Today's music post: Open My Heart by Jay Diggs. I am a total glutton for this retro-style of music cheese. Is 90s considered retro now? AHHHHHHHHHHHH...

Pilot Kakuno and Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy

Pilot Kakuno and Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy fountain pens.

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Staying indoors means too much time to futz around on the internet and fuel my fountain pen fever. Small pen day with Pilot Kakuno (M) and Sailor HighAce Neo calligraphy clear (2.0mm)!

These two pens had similar packaging, so I took photos of them together.

Pilot Kakuno (m) with green cap and dark gray body

I love the cute face on the nib of my Pilot Kakuno! The packaging is very charming too. I'm weak for anything small and cute (Kakuno is for kids). I'm glad that the barrel was more of a warm dark grey than black like the photos. I was originally hoping to get the cream/yellow one, but they were discontinued, so I (bitterly?) took this colourway instead. Now that I see it in real life, I love it!

The pen wrote super smoothly out of the package! It's short and stubby. Now I look at my Pilot metro and think about how it isn't nearly as cute.

Sailor HighAce Neo clear calligraphy 2.0mm

The heart breather hole and clear feed are lookers on this pen. I find that it writes kind of dry. These days I use it to fill in larger areas of black. I have no calligraphy skills :).

For both pens I have the given black cartridge in there, and I'll syringe fill it later when it's used up. No exciting inks for now!

They're both really small compared to most of my other pens.

The Neo HighAce came with double sided sheet tutorial, one for how to do calligraphy. It's a nice touch/gesture, even though I really don't have the patience and motor skills for calligraphy, so this is just an insane stub pen for me to use to write headers for now. The Kakuno also came with charming wiggly handdrawn-looking instructions. I assume to appeal to kids, which I seem to be at heart. I like these personified talking nib heads a lot, they're just so pleasant!!

I've always wondered why cartridges aren't longer, because there is clearly MORE space left...? Perhaps it has something to do with pressure and vacuum?

Today's music post: The Real Folk Blues by Seatbelts [For these Virtual Days session]. There's also an interesting re-arranged-ish version with a lot of other artists/musicians/voice actors here.

HWA snow scene v2 animatic

Animatic of a scene from Here We Are, created in Clip Studio Paint.

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My goal for September was to make more progress on HWAnimation, which I did, but the scope also grew (my v1, 10 second version turned into...30, haha), so all my timelines need to be rejigged.

I followed Aaron Blaise's Fundamentals of Animation course. He had great voice over about what he was thinking while drawing, which allowed you to make notes and take those considerations into your own work. I watched them each once and then did my own follow-along afterwards. I tried to not be too precious/perfectionist about any of the drawing, since I'm not hoping to become an animation master...just want to know enough to get by, haha.

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Reuben Lara's Clip Studio Paint: Animation Basics videos got into workflow/production/program optimization, which I REALLY appreciated. Now I have all the fancy keyboard and quick-access iconography shortcuts! I even re-programmed the buttons on my tablet (though instinctively, I keep reaching for my keyboard). I love setting things up right ONCE at the beginning, so I can be as efficient as possible afterwards.

Here's the latest animatic pass (v2).

HWA comic

As for HWA arc 2, I've written an outline for it and started drawing chapter 12. Progress has been slower here as I've been mulling over themes and plot lines (and of course, generally being distracted by world news).

Game design

I also worked on some embargoed character designs for skyharborr's game Fox in the Hollylocks. A demo of the game can be found on itch.io, which I played a few years back and enjoyed. I really like Rei's storytelling and visual art style, so I look forward to how it all turns out!

October "dailies"

I'm doing #tamagoctober (drawing 1 tamagotchi a day) and hopefully daily exercises (with fountain pen!!!) from Alphonso Dunn's Pen & Ink Workbook with #dunn31 (it rhymes)!

New blog CMS

I'm back to Bludit for this freetalk blog and very glad to have things like tags/categories auto-generated, as well as the flat-file commenting function! Woo! Sorry to the 0 people who may have subscribed to the old RSS feed...you'll have to resubscribe to the new URL if you did. I like Kirby but the coding required to get it to do what I needed to (without messing up the rest of my website) was too much for my brain to handle.

Physical exercise

The final shocking news is that I've been trying to exercise ~15-30 minutes, 6x a week (I slowly ramped up to this cadence over September). So far it's a mix of yoga, 7-minute workout (I hate and still can't do push-ups), and lifting my cast iron pan (haha). Sometimes I'll do meditation if I really can't bring my body to workout properly. My city is in wave 2 pandemic (to nobody's surprise) so 6+ months of barely walking around outside with the non-mask-wearing folk in crowded downtown, is definitely catching up to me. I think my body now revolts if I don't exercise. What...a conundrum.

Today's music post: Chloe x Halle performing "Do It".

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Been trying to engage with work by BIPOC creators so I didn't end up drawing comics. There's always a guilty productivity tradeoff...but now my brain has more knowledge! Here's what I read/watched in September 2020.

7 Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga (2017)

A book about 7 indigenous teenagers who died in Thunderbay between 2000-2011 (ish). Its tagline is Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City and I think the book is a must-read for any Canadian. I wrote down several 'real talk' quotes from the book in my commonplace book; here's one of them:

We didn't have space for them in our world and didn't make space for them in theirs"An important book to read about our failings to support indigenous youth in our country.

Right after reading this book I went to donate to the Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School.

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san 1 and 2 (2019)

A few weeks ago, Papermaiden sent me a message with a photo that showed an old man in glasses from this comic. She said that the character reminded her of how I draw old men (haha). I had seen photos of this series around and enjoyed the slivers I saw, so I borrowed the first two volumes! It is pretty funny, especially if you like over-the-top emotions and facial reactions and know about fandom subcultures in Japan. I feel like there's something very Japanese about the humour-style, in terms of dramatic shifts in emotions (kind of like what I remember from Gintama). There were some parts that were harder for me to understand from a...visual clarity POV? There's also tons of small text crammed all over the place. Kudos to the translator who must've had a lot of work to do (they also provided lengthy translator notes at the end)...

Becoming by Michelle Obama (2019)

I feel like I would really get along with Michelle Obama. Lots of relatable content and attitudes/orientation to life/growth/development. The book is written very clearly, and she doesn't hold back on writing honest and raw feelings that she had during her life. I hurhur-ed at the portions where she was insulting Barack but then somehow totally falling in love with him.

Like a Dragon (2007)

I'm a huge fan of the Yakuza video game series (though I've only played 0-2 and am cursing the lack of PC console releases). This movie will make no sense unless you've played the games, and they even changed the plot a whole bunch to get it to fit into 1h50min-ish time frame. The redeeming points of the movie were Majima Goro's extremely chaotic portray by Kishitani Goro and the shiba inu dog. I laughed at Nishikiyama's weird CG back tattoo (that was clipping into his hair as he randomly stripped?!), the helicopter that was flying extremely recklessly and blowing off Kiryu's blazer so he could be ready for his bare-top fight scene, etc. I think it's still a worthwhile movie to watch for any Yakuza fan!

Raising Multiracial Children: Tools for Nurturing Identity in a Racialized World by Farzana Nayani (2020)

Even though the book is targeted at parents (which I am not) or teachers/educators (also not), I was interested in learning more about multiracial experience and having productive conversations about race in general, with adults and children. This book has a lot of practical knowledge for that. The me right now would peg myself as monoracial POC but multi-ethnic, so a lot of the experiences outlined in the book still felt very familiar to me.

Didn't finish: The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King (too slow and ambiguous even after 1/3 way through the book).

What's my on October media list?

Hopefully...

Today's music post: DJ Shub - Calling All Dancers.

Austin x Fountain pen

FPR Himalaya v2 GT in saffron orange acrylic.

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Living my best shameless life by combining 2 of my nerdy passions: original characters (OCs) and fountain pens!! The main reason that I'm posting is because it's Austin's birthday (September 24) according to HWA lore! I actually don't really think much about their birthdays, but now that the dates are written in my planner, I see it and feel guilty if I don't do anything, haha.

So here it is, Austin, drawn with fountain pen ink that I have on hand.

The specific pen I paired with Austin is the Fountain Pen Revolution (FPR) Himalaya v2 GT, saffron orange acrylic body, steel EF ultra flex nib. I always associate him with orange plaid/checks, so a orange patterned acrylic body felt suitable. He is also more warm overall, so gold-tone or brassy accents were appropriate. Two-tone steel flex nib, well, he is a flexible kind of guy (in many ways...).

I didn't have any patterned pens in my collection so this was a welcome addition. The pen is more saturated orange IRL, and also has depth, pearlescence, and some opacity. Photos below are more accurate to the IRL colours!

OC-nerdery aside, the pen did take quite a bit of tinkering/reseating the feed and nib/heat setting to get working properly. Seems to be a trend with my ebonite feed pens. I currently have Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake ink sample loaded in it. I'm not great at writing with flex, but the pen also writes wet and a-okay without pressure; it's a fun writer. The FPR ultra-flex is a LOT more responsive to downward pressure (leading to flex/separation of tines) than the Rangapens kanwrite flex nib; closer to the responsiveness of a Nikko G-nib, perhaps? I have a natural tendency to write fast, so my flex writing does tend to railroad because the ink doesn't fully keep up right now (though I don't mind that effect, nor do I plan to always flex write).

My photos don't do justice to the ink colours! All of the inks I used (minus the black) have really nice shading:

Austin is unlikely to use a fountain pen in his EDC. He's more of a Fisher pen, Pokka pens, pencils, and Rite in the Rain guy. Probably used that stuff when he was out in the field for grad school. He needs the all-weather stuff!

Happy birthday Austin! A real gift birthday gift to Austin, would be a Jake, so...

Today's music post: Sly5thAve's The First 8 Minutes [ATCQ "Find a Way" Tribute] feat. The ClubCasa Chamber Orchestra.

Fortune linocut

DIY linocut print of 福, printed in red ink.

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If you ordered a print copy of Here We Are 1, you may have had the experience of a piece of white paper (with red print) tumbling out of the back of your book.

The character itself is 福, which sounds like Fu in Mandarin or Fook in Cantonese. In essence it means something like good fortune or good luck. More history on the character can be found here.

An upside-down 福 is pasted on Jake's front door (it's barely seen in chapter 7). The upside-down version represents good fortune/luck arrives, which is like a blessing upon a place/space when it's pasted up. It's fairly common to see in Chinese spaces, especially during lunar new year. It doesn't really match Jake's home aesthetic, but I imagine it was something his mom gave to him when he moved out, and thus, he obliged.

The print itself was hand carved out of linoleum.

Then printed on layout bond with red block printing ink. I hadn't used my ink in a few years so the paint was separating, thus leading to a few failures. I had to re-mix the paint!

I like the imperfect/faded/aged look of some of the prints, so a wide variety were included in orders.

The reason for its inclusion in the HWA book package is 2-fold:

  1. 2020 is a rough year for many of us and I wanted to wish readers the best. If you have one, you can paste it upside down in your own dwellings!
  2. As I thought about where HWA book 1 ended, I wanted to leave it off with some good vibes for J+A as their lives continue beyond the book.

Thanks to everyone who ordered a copy of the book. Although the process for making all this stuff is labourious, I'm happy to spend the effort to make the reading experience special for the handful of you who are engaged and who value the DIY-ness of it all! The book is made to order (limited to 50 copies) if you don't have your own.

Wishing you all 福 x infinity!

Today's music post: HK 80s disco hit from superstar Roman Tam 羅文's Lasers 激光中. The video is really fabulous in that 80s disco way. I enjoyed reading this article about him. I feel like he is HK's equivalent of David Bowie in terms of influence and versatility (not that Roman or David are really comparable people; this is simply a point of reference for western readers).