HWA snow scene v2 animatic

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

Cover Image

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.

Image description

Image description

Image description

Image description

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".

Austin x Fountain pen

FPR Himalaya v2 GT in saffron orange acrylic.

Cover Image

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.

Cover Image

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).

HWA social media

Work-in-progress pencil, inks, and watercolours.

Cover Image

I had a concept in my notebook that was about the different relationships between the characters in Here We Are (HWA), and part of those notes included social media posting and commenting. This idea burned in the back of my mind for a while and one weekend I pulled out watercolour paper and brought it to life!

It was an interesting/fun thought exercise to think about the differences in their posting habits, how they comment/type, as well as what kind of avatar/icon and usernames they'd have. Another way to go about character development! The UI is loosely based off of Pixelfed! All the characters in HWA are in their early 20s (as of now) so my guess is that they're all using social media in some way.

The rest of this post includes WIP.

The original concept in my notebook

Loose pencils and beginning to ink with the Platinum carbon desk pen (first time doing this meaningfully!)

Erase the lines and re-use some old painter tape from a previous painting ...

I never really know what I'm doing with watercolours

I have a tendency to overdo details so I stopped myself before getting in too deep. I really struggled to draw this cursed thing...it's not innate for me. I kept trying to make it look more cursed but it just got stranger...

Each panel is ~2.5" square in real life. I don't have a working scanner anymore so I just made the faux-posts with photos of the paintings.

Today's music post: Augury by Nos. This track is included on their album of original piano songs called Perspectives. I commissioned Nos to make a piano track for HWAnimation earlier this year, so I was delighted to find out that they released an album!

Added note: Alphonso Dunn has recently noted that J@ke P@rker of Inkt0ber fame has plagiarized his work :(. I didn't know about Alphonso's work before, but it looks aces, so please support!

Scarf

I commissioned Pía to draw Jake and Austin from Here We Are.

Cover Image

Earlier this year I commissioned Pía Prado Bley (please check out her store and webcomics, she's awesome and I own her books too) to draw Jake and Austin (from my webcomic Here We Are for me. They're soooooooooooo cute and perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel that Pía really captured the essence of their relationship, haha.

I made a "prologue" comic, inspired by her drawing :). Thanks Pía!!

Austin loves to spoil/pamper Jake.........................

Today's music post: Patience of Mind by Tough Age. Another local band featuring some cool people I kinda know!!!

Cross structure binding "linked"

Photo walkthrough of how I used CSB "linked" to bind my comic.

Cover Image

When prototyping HWA comic printed copy I did a bunch of research on non-adhesive book binding. I happened upon Carmencho Arregui's cross structure binding (CSB) information page and wanted to try it out. I ended up going with CSB "linked".

There were more end-photos online than WIP-photos, so I've documented WIP below in case anyone wants to try it out for their own DIY zine/book/project some day! The flexibility and customization of this book binding approach is super cool!

Printing and folding each signature

I load the paper and print it off of my Brother HL-22700DW b/w laser printer. This part is pretty time consuming because of the waiting and paper stock swapping. I also shake the toner when it starts getting patchy (IDK if this helps or makes it worse) and reset my printer toner sensor a bunch because the printer lies to you about toner levels!

Poking sewing holes into each signature

I lay the signature open and overlay a hole "template" (a regular piece of paper with measured hole spacing) to punch through. I've used my carpet or a thick sweater underneath to do the stabbing.

Scoring and cutting slits into the front cover

I designed my CSB to have 9 slots for the arms to pass through. I don't think there's a set rule for how many to have, though I assume that more "cross linking" you have, the more stability/structure you'll have.

Score where the spine will bend

Scoring and cutting arms on the back cover

For the backcover I score it first where the bend points will be.

After a lot of trial and error, I learned to put 1 more score in the arm part to relieve bending stress later on. Though this has its pros/cons.

The back cover has the "arms" that will link into the front cover. I have 3 arms, which correspond to the "slots" in the front cover.

Linking the front and back cover together

Slot the back cover into the first column of slots (the bottom edge of the book spine)

This is what the cover ends up looking like when flat. CSB is a no-glue bind but I ended up applying glue to the left-side where the back/front cover overlap (for extra stability)

This is what it looks on the inside.

I bend/pull the arms up because I have to sew the signatures to it.

I followed sewing 4 instructions from Carmencho's website. I used lineco's linen book binding thread since I had a bunch from a previous project. I've also used floss before as well (but did manage to tear up some thinner signatures when I used floss).

Lots of kettle stitch videos online for folks to follow. IMO the hardest thing about the sewing is to keeping my thread taunt without the thread tearing the signatures. This became easier with more practice.

After sewing the signatures to the arms, I tuck the arms into the next closest column of slots in the front cover's spine. This is where the arms tend to bend/crack, or slots tend to tear. My rec is to go slow and ease and pull gently.

The arms poke out at the top edge of the spine. Keep gently adjusting and pulling to get the closest/flushest fit between the cover/signatures. I found it easiest to do this with the cover flat on the table, signature perpendicular "in the air."

Finally I pass the arms through the final column of slots on the front cover.

The arms now end on the inside of the cover. I taped these down with washi tape, but you could leave them as.

Now we have a bound book (that still needs to be trimmed)!

Trim the book

I invested in a Durodex 200DX based on Wai's recommendation/research. The cutter also leaves some indents from compression, so stack some extra paper above/below to decrease the indents. My book barely fits in the cutter, so it was hard to see where the laser cutter-line was hitting the book for accurate measuring.

Here's the final bunch! Wabisabi DIY scraggle!!!! It probably takes me ~2h to make each one.

You can get a made-to-order copy at Love Love Hill, read most of it online for free, or get the digital copy.

Reflection

  • The coverstock I chose was extremely unforgiving! If I had the time I would have done more prototyping/testing with different paper stocks.
  • When linking the arms into the slots there was a lot of unintended creasing, tearing, etc. to contend with. Adding an extra score in the arm was a good hack, but sometimes that extra score line would get "caught" in the slots when I was trying to thread it through.
  • This method would be really nice to put a "softcover" wrap on any signature to make it look a bit fancier and more protected. If not for my need to have different coloured signatures, I'd condense signatures together so that there's less sewing to do.
  • Since there is no glue on the spine (it's like... a floating spine?), I found that my spine would get crushed in trimming. C'est la vie!