Range and taste

Thinking too deeply about OC EDC

I like to believe that I'm a person with a wide range of tastes. Or at least a person who can accept when things aren't necessarily for me, but great for others. Some days, I enjoy a look that's minimal stealth, cozy/patterned/rugged/utilitarian, highly accessorized architectural baggy, or straight up child-like. I like to experiment and not be limited. I'm trying to venture more into super patterned looks, but I'm probably the most timid about that. There's so much to try, but I also admire people who are super consistent with their look. I probably own too much stuff because of my inability to settle down.

I'm interested in fashion, but wouldn't consider myself fashion-forward, but rather, just informed, and appreciative of fashion as another form of self-expression. It's interesting how even a single item can turn a whole outfit from uncoordinated to coordinated, casual to formal, and vice versa!

Been thinking a lot about my own every day carry (EDC). If I'm just going out nearby or a quick trip, I may just bring a credit card and my phone. I switch my bag depending on what I'm going to do outside or what I have to carry. I have a wallet that is very nice and small! Most of my favourite wardrobe items and accessories have earned their fav status because of their acceptable sized pockets.

The current Here We Are mains (Jake, Austin, Sabina) all derived their accessories/fashion sense from me. That's may seem obvious, given I am their creator, and I'm just making up their EDC based on what I know of them, but I also own a lot of their stuff (or variations of).

Photo of an open notebook with drawings of Here We Are characters' everyday carry. This spread includes Jake and Austin.

Jake carries a lot and is quite organized about it even with a compact carry. He's a bag in bag in bag kinda guy. He's ready for a variety of scenarios—like limiting theft attempts. He has a lot of great stationery. Things that seem off-style are usually from his mom.

Austin doesn't carry a bag unless he's going to school. His EDC is more utilitarian, rugged, sporty, and leathery. Not shown here, but he packs differently for field work or camping. Ultralight packing-mode Austin is a different beast.

Photo of an open notebook with drawings of Here We Are characters' everyday carry. This spread includes Sabina and Fake.

Sabina's bag is dual purpose groceries and EDC, so it's more of a big black hole. Things get lost and found in it. Not much internal organization. There are fun found objects, trinkets, tokens, and artefacts in her bag—like a miniature treasure museum.

Fake mainly carries a bag for work. He's has a different look as a professional, which is in contrast with his more laid back/casual look on a regular day. He tends to be running all over the city and eats out a lot, thus, has gotten into carrying his own cutlery and beverage holders.

I've been enjoying Yoseka Stationery's Casually Catching Up videos where they just talk about whatever happenings in their stationery store—it's like stationery free talk. They're so charming! I wonder if I'll be able to visit before I leave for the west.

2023 planners are dropping! I might try Take a Note's Record system next year. It looks so well designed and flexible—RANGE! Also shooting myself in the foot with all these different sized notebooks (A5, A5 slim, A6, B6...etc).

HWA anniversary!

Here We Are (HWA) webcomic 3rd anniversary

For those who celebrate it, happy holidays. I don't celebrate Xmas, but enjoy the quiet weeks when everyone else is winding down for the year.

Instead I'm celebrating Here We Are's anniversary! I started posting it Dec 2018, so that makes it 3 years...but I haven't posted in a whole year already, haha (shhh, I'll get there). I haven't drawn any "serious" colour illustrations for this series, so I set out to do that as a form of celebration/commemoration. I quickly regretted it, but I forced myself to keep going.

I present to you, the fake comic cover anniversary edition of this image. Took me a while to figure out what to do with the negative space. Digital illustration of Austin (reading a book) and Jake (playing a handheld console game) hanging out in a corner of Jake's apartment. They're sitting on pillows and a fluffy carpet. The text on the image says 'here we are' and 'dirchansky'.

Historically I'm very bad at using pose reference, but this time I went and used ALL THE REFERENCE. Enjoy this strange walk-through. One day I will learn how to use those 3d models in CSP, but not this time...instead I used these two creepers. They're posable figures, around 6" tall (1/12 scale).

Photo of 2 miniature posable models/figures, posed in a seated position, leaning their backs against some boxes.

I already had Jake's room built in roomstyler, so that became the starting point for the room/lighting reference.

3d render of a room, with a window on the back wall and a shelf on the right side. The flooring is wood plank laminate.

I drew over the pose photo reference, making adjustments where needed. The models have no softness or slack to their joints, extra weird spacing and sockets, so their poses inherently look stiffer.

Digital sketch of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment.

I took additional photo ref for Austin's hand. It's kind of weird book hold, where the pinky and thumb are holding the book open. I've never formally read this book, but I received training from the author's organization before, haha. It's The Coaching Habit.

I'm not adept at choosing harmonious colours, so I usually select haphazardly (left) and then use a colour layer to adjust (right). In this case I used a light blue layer on top of all the flats at "soft light" layer effect, but other times I've used other layer effects (like multiply) or changed the opacity instead.

Digital screenshot comparison of flat colours. Left shows unaltered selection of colours by artist, right shows modified colours with a blue tint to them.

This results in flats with a bit of a cooler/blue tone to them. The books are Around the Bend, Cook and Cry, and a made up book called Saving Pando, which is on brand for Austin.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment, with flat colours shown.

Since the flats had a cool tone, I assumed I'd want a warmer highlight and a cooler shadow. More recently, I've been painting the light/shading separately so I have flexibility to futz with the colours whenever I want. Generally I have layers for light, shadow, and then reflected light.

I love high contrast (that's why I mainly work in B/W), but when applied to shading, the result is that sometimes the image (if going for, more naturalistic lighting) can become too harsh. This KIND OF happened here, but trust me, I already dialed back how harsh the lighting was...it was...like a bright turquoise before HAHA.

I applying shades in harsh shapes, then use the blend tool in CSP to taper the colour out, where (seemingly) appropriate. My shadow layers, mostly blue, on layers set to 'multiple'.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment, with blue shading/shadows shown.

The lighting and reflected light are mostly orange. Yes, I abused layer effects 'colour dodge' and various others.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment, with blue shading/shadows and warm highlights shown.

When I turn the flats back on it turns into this.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment.

I'm really into DoF and lens blur, so I wanted to apply that to this image. I drew the plants on a separate layer so I could do this. I exported the flat image into Affinity Photo to use their DoF filter and auto-level/colour/contrast. It looks like the colours were changed to be slighty warmer.

I ended up cropping most of the image off (haha) but here's the uncropped version.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment.

Just applied to exhibit one final year IRL at Toronto Comic Arts Festival/TCAF 2022. Applications are open until Feb 7 2022 and there are spots for in-person (Toronto) and/or online. I promised to make some pretty weird comics to make my application more TASTY. Good luck to everyone who applies!

Today's music post: Smokin Out The Window by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic. I'm linking the video because there's a part where Anderson .Paak falls to the ground dramatically (~1:36) and lies there while Bruno Mars takes over, and it is chef's kiss, on top of the cheesy retro fade in/out overlays.

HWA was moved

TFW you get really obsessed redoing/updating a website.

Cover Image

I moved HWA to its own subdomain and HARDCODED most of the website!!! Added captions/alt text for chapter 11 extras and 12. Originally it was hosted under the Kirby CMS, but now it's its own monster.

Please judge me for embedding style code directly in-line HTML because I couldn't figure out how to do things otherwise!

Because of the move, the old RSS link won't work anymore, so you'll have to update it or just follow this blog/me on masto since I will note when I update the comic. It has been over a year HAHA. I also have to update my RSS feed manually. Was any of this a good idea? Probably not? But I do feel free from mysterious too-automated things, like CSS inheritance nightmares, subpar thumbnail generation, etc. Sometimes it's easier for me to manually do things myself to get it closer to my ~vision~.

Now my code definitely doesn't have 3rd party trackers. Fun! I used a responsive HTML template from W3. I had to dig back into the depths of my not-very-good-to-begin-with-PHP knowledge (good ol if/else statements) to make the pagination slightly more automated, but it is not fool proof as one would hope (for now).

Screenshot of possum favicon for Here We Are webcomic site

The most exciting part is that I made a new possum favicon!!! I also added character mini bios, links, and other blatherings.

Screenshot of draft mini bios currently on the Here We Are webcomic site


At some point I want to rejig my main domain hero images too. It's hard to decide what to promote...please look at everything and don't look at everything. So much effort/time has gone into some of these projects...

Other musings:

  • As if it wasn't clear, I'm into the Indieweb movement (without knowing this label existed). Along the same vein, I'm also into indie print, small press, and zines. Smaller communities...
  • There are also cool places like neocities that exist now, to host your website. I heard neocities was also OK with NSFW. I looked at their TOS and it seems like there isn't anything outright banning adult content.
  • A friend of mine noted that friendships are often based on mutual dislike rather than mutual like. True or false?!
  • A wire previously cemented onto my teeth un-cemented itself so now I have to spend more $ (sad).
  • I'm working through some dialogue and had trouble tackling the words through pen/paper. It's a somewhat vulnerable moment for the character, so I pretended I was them and began saying phrases out loud instead of writing them. I ended up crying as I spoke, like unintentionally tapping into my own empathy. Is it a good or bad thing...? It was a surprise...
  • The peertube instance I was on is closing down, so I had to figure out what to do with the HWAnimations. I converted the old animatics to gifs for now. All I can see are the parts that could be improved and smoother, but the thought of cracking these files open again is too scary. I was absolutely bananas to have made this thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please share it and the web comic, if you want!!

Today's music post: Leaf High by Priya Ragu. Also love this live performance of Lockdown on BBC Music.

Collage of three inked pages from Here We Are chapter 13's webcomic. Panels/pages show a young woman exploring a new city.

I put HWA aside to do heads down research and writing work. I did start inking some of the initial pages for ch.13 (above), but there's still a lot of work to be done. I might split the chapter to be shorter to leave it more cliffhanger-y and more feasible for me to finish in December. My 2022 work schedule was nearly a blank slate a week ago, but now more inquiries are coming in?!??

Other musings:

  • I infrequently tout myself out as an illustrator, although the pattern is that my more interesting illo work was/is produced for other people—however, more often than not, it's not widely published (because of confidentiality, ownership transfer, etc.) or under some other name, haha. I really enjoy the magic that happens through bringing another person's idea to life, and being pushed to explore ideas/visuals that are beyond what I'd do on my own accord.
  • My post frequency here is roughly once a week, which seems to be exceeding my post frequency on Masto, which then makes me wonder what platform I should be using...
  • There's an upcoming comic about a yakuza member getting magical girl powers, drawn in 80s style...and I bet it's a going to be amazing. Dream Drunkers - Yakuza to mahou no tsue by Saito Banjo.
  • There's also a comic about a yakuza member who loves kpop boyband idol. Yakuza no Oshigoto by Yatsuda Teki.
  • I am sorry to my upcoming collaborator who will have to do the hard labour of drawing mechanical/technical/crowd scenes, while I simply type "buildling" or "cameras" or "crowd".
  • Genius Aranzi Aronzo Usotsuki and Warumono glove designs...
  • Come For a Drink was added to a bunch of game / visual novel databases by other people. I am impressed that someone went through the trouble of tagging character traits, including ones that I didn't know about, like hosome 細目, which means narrow eyes. Interesting to see how others label what you've created.

Today's music post: Heart of Gold (anniversary version) by Mario Jose.

I started working on HWA comic in earnest again. It doesn't feel like I left it alone for so long in terms of...mind space. I was working on the book, animation, strip comics, research/plotting/writing, thumbnailing, mirroring, etc.—but sometimes it can look like unproductivity, even though most of the work is invisible and behind the scenes.

Panel layouts for ch. 13. At this point I'm looking at flow across a page (and vertical scroll reading for online), across a spread (for print), and across all pages in this chapter. I tend to prioritize function and clarity over everything else.

Screenshot of several zoomed-out comic pages (from Clip Studio Paint) that show panel borders and placeholder text location.

Rough drawing for ch. 13. This is a technically difficult chapter for me to draw because there are a lot of buildings and perspective, but hopefully when I get to refining it all, it won't look too bad...? At this stage I also try to figure out speech bubble placement and where I can trim excess dialogue. There are some points where I'll change the size/bleed of certain drawings/panels as I go along.

Screenshot of the clip studio paint EX interface, showing 24 pages of comic page thumbnails.

I post WIP with #HWAcomic on masto. Maybe at the end of 2022(?) I can put out the next book of HWA, but the stories/characters are living their own plots/lives, so we shall see.

I've been working on a bunch of things—much of which I can't share or am choosing to not share broadly (e.g., drawing training). Always have ideas percolating. Some recent viz dev:

Digital sketch of an original character named Ian, in various poses and expressions

Digital sketch of an original character named Fanta, in various poses and expressions

Digital sketch of various police-inspired outfits

Suits...yes...! I have complex feelings about these very very old (aka created decades ago) characters, primarily because of on-going discussion about abolishing such roles in communities and society. There was/is definitely a lot of harm done by such institutions and people in positions of power. I'm still figuring out how to best release them into the story-world, though it will never be good or perfect (nor is it intended to be).

I suppose you have to be somewhat obsessed with your own characters/stories/comic to have the perseverance to bring them to life. Nicknames I have for HWA characters—you can guess who is who:

  • Crybaby jock
  • Sunshine plantboy
  • Pokerface princess
  • Masked joker
  • Horse girl
  • Quiet giant
  • Unapologetic realness
  • Sad man
  • Cool mom

Other updates:

  • My building finally switched from central AC to central heating this week, so I don't have to have cold hands from drawing.
  • I was going to move away from this city at the end of the year, but decided to stick around for one more year...
  • The roaches are back (barf), right after I signed another yearly lease!
  • I switched to doing 7 min exercise everyday (almost) and having 2 meals a day (intermittent fasting) to see how things would go. My body got used to only eating 2 meals a day pretty quickly. I try to eat lunch around noon, dinner finish before 9pm, so that's ~15h of fasting). For me it's a bit of a time and money saving value-add. One less meal to prepare/worry about!
  • IDK why I have so many exercise-loving characters. Exercise is quite torturous (though I suppose comics are too). After a year of nearly daily MINIMAL EFFORT exercise, I can still say that no part of me loves doing it. It remains a chore, a necessary evil to do the bare minimum to maintain this aging, broken body of mine.
  • I have been quieting updating various parts of my website and character profiles.
  • Easing my way back into participating in some form of online project or community; though not on discord, IG, nor birdsite. I can't...
  • Every time I see an article about N / F / T/ s it makes me want to scream because there are so many better/other ways to either support the artist and/or have something bespoke made for you, that doesn't have all the other impacts of N / F / T / s. There's suggestion for creative artists to put clauses against N / F / T / s in your contracts.
  • The greatest tragedy of not having numpad is not being able to use the shortcut to create an emdash, so I have to copy paste it from somewhere else, every time.
  • I've been listening to music from my youth. Anime OSTs from 90s—Akira Senju x B't X, Taku Iwasaki x Rurouni Kenshin OVA, Yoko Kanno x Escaflowne, etc. Gackt's Mars album. All those Slayers character vocal CDs. Dang, it's all so good.
  • Hope to get Yakuzine out early 2022. I have to do more thinking/studying.
  • It's Life on the Hill's 1st issue's 10th anniversary. Wow, so old! 10 years ago me is very different. I see some of my stories in LOTH and feel some cringe, but it was an accurate representation of me at the time. I'll continue to evolve, hopefully for the better.
  • Maybe in 2023, I'll work on the next bit of HWAnimation and/or this strange new prototype visual novel. Wai told me to make the camel for real, and I probably will. The weird dialogue is written by specific people, and the characters were designed based on what the specific people asked for. It's like...a crowdsourced-ish project (?).

Screenshot of a prototype of a visual novel. This screenshot shows a character named Oliver on the left of the screen, saying \"H-hello camel! Ur lips r so plump it's like a bouncy castle\" to a background photo of a camel (placeholder). Oliver has chin-shoulder length, middle parted blonde hair, blue eyes, and wears an oversized white collared shirt over pleated black pants. He has a shy and young demeanour. Screenshot of a prototype of a visual novel. This screenshot shows a character named Sam on the left of the screen, saying \"If I could dream at all, it would be about you and I'm not ashamed of it. Choose me, Camel.\" to a background photo of a camel (placeholder). Sam is wearing a blue ring-necked henley with contrasting piping underneath a check-line white/gray casual blazer and light blue pants. He has a confident and straightforward demeanour. Screenshot of a prototype of a visual novel. This screenshot shows a character named Bo on the left of the screen, saying \"It's your choice. I won't force you to pick me.\" to a background photo of a camel (placeholder). Bo has a close shaved haircut a scar across his left eyebrow/forehead/scalp, and glasses. He wears a rainbow patterned crewneck sweatshirt with a cat on it over a pink patterened undershirt and black pants. He has a pokerface.

Today's music post: my genius pixitracker-made, possum-inspired song, Sneak and Snack.