Destination: Europe

I just got back from my three-week trip to Europe a couple of days ago and I wanted to share some pictures and highlights from the journey. My friend and I inter-railed from Italy to Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland before making our way back to Italy again. It was a ton of fun but I’m also happy to be home.

Munich

The charming city of Munich was our first destination. The highlight of our days there was definitely driving to the Alps and going hiking up a huge mountain. I don’t know how high it actually was but it sure was tough going up.

Berlin

I loved Berlin. It’s so full of energy and there are a lot of fun things to do. We went to a lot of museums and saw what’s left of the Berlin wall and its transformation into a piece of artwork.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is an interesting city full of a lot of tourists and pretty houses. We spent a lot of time walking around the streets and relaxing at parks.

Zurich

Zurich is a beautiful city that we only got to stay two days in. It is charming but quite expensive! We visited a church and spent the rest of the time roaming around and exploring the streets on foot.

Milan

Milan was very interesting in its mix of new and older architecture. It was quite modern and not built for tourists, but it was fun walking around and seeing all of the different types of people.

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We took a day trip to Florence as well, which is a beautiful, older city.

Overall, the experience was amazing. I know it’s a trip I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

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Writing Update #1

Word Count: 8,032 (yay!)

So it’s been one week since I started my novel and it’s going pretty well. I’m almost up to writing plot point one. I was off to a great start but fell behind towards the end of the week. I’ve been busy packing and preparing the past few days because…

drumroll

I’m leaving for Europe today! I’ll be gone for the next three weeks train-hopping through Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy with my best friend. I’m super excited! (Which explains why I’m writing this at 1:00 a.m. instead of sleeping.)

I’m bringing along a blank journal, a book, and a notebook for the long rides. I’m hoping to write every day, whether it be journaling or working on my book. I even taped my entire outline into the notebook for convenience. Given it’s a trip and sometimes I just don’t get time to write, I’ll be happy if I get even a little further in the story.

That’s all for now! See you all in three weeks 🙂

 

 

Novel #2 Outlining: Plot

Finally, after months of planning, I have finished the outlining for my novel and I’m ready to start writing!

For the past week I’ve been plotting. First, I compiled my plot notes and created a list of scenes that I thought might go into the book. Some were important scenes while others were completely random.

Then, I wrote every scene on an index card and proceeded to organize them into a coherent order.

I like using the index card method because it’s easy to rearrange scenes and get a bird’s eye view of the storyline. I also like being able to physically move them, rather than just cutting and pasting on the computer.

Now I’ve just printed out all of my notes and outline. All I need to do now is just start! 🙂

I’m so excited!

 

 

Father’s Day Painting

For Father’s Day this year I painted my father and grandpa a mountain scene. I’m starting to realize that the only gift I really give my parents/other relatives is art. XD I don’t know what to say other than that it is convenient.

Here are my process pictures:

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I started with an underpainting like usual.

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My materials

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Then I painted over the underpainting and realized that it may have been too thick because all of the paint was blending. There was no way I could get the whites white enough without mixing it with the other layers, so I had to wait for it to dry first.

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After about a week, I started working on it again, starting with the clouds. Then I moved on to the mountains and trees. Sorry about the weird lighting in these pictures.

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And here is the finished product!

This was so far the biggest painting I have ever done, at 24 x 36”. It definitely took longer than any other.

It was also the first time I’ve let a painting dry before finishing it. Usually I would paint wet-on-wet, but I’m happy with how it turned out.

I’m excited to try some plein air painting for the first time this weekend! Wish me luck. 😀

A Beautiful Day

Yesterday was simply gorgeous. My family and I went out in the boat and I took the opportunity to sketch some of the landscape (and my brother’s portrait) as we drifted around.

The weather was perfect. Not too hot, with a refreshing breeze blowing across the bay. We could see fish underneath the boat, but nobody could catch one.

 

Later we brought my grandfather to the beach with a bunch of chairs. There we sat, enjoying the sun and drinking pepsi. He told some stories. I sketched some more:

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Some days are like little gems among the rest, and I’m learning to cherish them.

Novel #2 Outlining: Creating Characters

So I’m in the middle of creating and fleshing-out characters for my novel. It feels like a totally new process than what I went through before, and that’s exciting. Instead of spending so much time on plot, this time I’m focusing solely on developing realistic, multi-layered characters first.

That said, it’s not necessarily easy. For a while I didn’t know where to begin, and even now that I’ve started I keep asking myself, how do I choose what goes into a character’s backstory? How much detail should I go into? Are my characters realistic enough?

Of course, there are no right answers to those questions, but I’ve been reading Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress to give myself a starting point. It has some fun, character-building exercises at the end of each chapter. I’ve also found a list of 100 questions online to answer about my main characters that’s been extremely helpful. Here’s the link.

I find it very interesting how much backstory affects the way the characters seem to turn out. Just one event can have a big effect on a character’s demeanor and personality. I feel like this is very true to life, in that people’s pasts- and how they deal with them- make up a part of who they are, however big or small. I guess that’s the whole idea behind creating backstories- to emulate how real people develop into who they are today.

Anyway, for now I’m just going to continue adding more detail to my characters’ lives and descriptions. I’m still not sure of when they’ll be fleshed-out enough and when I can move on to the other steps of the outlining process.

One thing I’m working hard to get is a distinctive voice for the main character/narrator. Maybe when that happens I’ll feel ready to move on.

How much character development do you do before starting a story? Do you go into a lot of detail or just dive in?

Have a great week!

Digital Painting: Underwater Exploration

This week I made a digital painting using my computer and bamboo tablet. I’ve been looking to improve lately with that medium so I thought that making some more space-art would be a fun way to do so. This time, however, the crew (Michael and GG) aren’t in space, they’re underwater!

To be more specific, they’re on a planet covered in deep oceans. Michael is scanning a species of seaweed while GG whirls around in the water.

Below are my process pictures and the steps I took to paint the scene. I used the art program Paint Tool Sai.

Step 1: Rough Sketch

Uh Oh process pic 1

First I made a really rough sketch of the general idea and shapes of the drawing.

Step 2: Linework

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After the sketch I created a new layer to draw the lines. I also made the sketch transparent to make it easier to draw on top of.

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Here’s the finished linework.

Step 3: Background

 

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After linework I created the background using a couple of different brush textures. I imagined the environment to be a deep, expansive ocean, and a little mysterious.

Step 4: Coloring the Foreground

 

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I wanted to experiment with the textures a little bit so I chose a brush that looked kind of like pastel or crayon.

Uh Oh process pic 5

 

This is what it looked like after most of the coloring. This was the most time-consuming part of the whole process XD.

I tried very hard to fit the colors to the background/environment and learned a lot, I think. For example, what is brown over a white background looks orange when over a blue background!

Why? My guess is that the way we see color is very much based on the lighting of the environment surrounding it, rather than the true color.

I just realized now that the tanks kind of look like hot dogs. Let’s move on.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

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I made quite a few small changes to finish up the painting: I changed the color of the lineart to match the colors a bit more, colored in the bubbles, added some more rays of light, cleaned up edges, and blurred some of the plants in the background to create depth. And, of course, I put a little signature on the bottom. 🙂

Overall this was very fun to draw/paint and I hope to do more digital art in the future. Thanks for reading!

Novel #2 Outlining: Notes!

As far as my biggest goal of this year is coming along, phase 1 of my second novel’s outlining is underway. And by underway, I mean that I am taking notes, and have been- albeit slowly- for the past six months. They’ve been collecting in various notebooks, scraps of paper, phone apps, and, of course, my head. And now I’ve taken to transcribing them onto my computer.

I’ve realized now how many notes there actually were. (A lot!)

After several days, I have managed to collect them into one massive document of 10,000 words. It’s full of character ideas, random excerpts, notes-to-self, and a lot more.

Now what?

Now I’m going to begin making a character bible, a big document describing the characters in detail, to refer back to at later points. I’m going to have to sift through all of the notes I have so far and pick out what I would actually like to use. Then I’ll build off of what I have with more ideas.

I know already that my secondary characters are going to need a ton of fleshing-out. The only character I have mostly figured out is the main one. XD

My first novel was very plot-driven and all of the characters were two-dimensional. So this time I’m trying to focus on developing characters first, and then plot. To learn more about this I’m reading Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll begin building a more substantial outline. Well, I guess I have to start somewhere. 🙂

The Final Frontier

While waiting for all the snow to melt outside from the blizzard last weekend, I was keeping busy with practicing watercolors. One of my goals this year is to improve my drawing and painting, as well as to develop a unique art style, so I’ve been trying to hold fast to that goal. So far it’s been very fun.

For some reason I’ve been interested in “space” stuff lately, like galaxies, astronauts, and fantasy space-travel. I’ve always loved looking up at the night sky, feeling incredibly small, and wondering what it would be like to actually be in outer space. Becoming an astronaut in reality is not something I’m really cut out for, though, so the next best thing, I think, is creating the dream through art. 🙂

Peaceful Planet

 

So I created these two characters, Michael and GG, who travel through space as explorers, landing on alien planets and discovering new galaxies.

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Linework

Green Planet

Finished Painting

Michael A. Earnhardt is the name of the astronaut, and GG, his little robot-companion who keeps him company during the often-lonely journey through deep space. Together they have all kinds of adventures.

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I think it’s the romantic nature of “exploration” in general that draws me to this particular story. I like imagining the vastness of space and the tininess of this crew, journeying across light-years in a cozy little ship. That’s what I’m trying to convey through these works, so that others can maybe experience the same feelings as I do.

Michael In Space

I’ve been trying to experiment and improve lately in my color choices. I researched “color theory” online a bit, and I’m still not entirely sure what it means, but I’m attempting to think of color in terms of lighting- as in how a light source in affects the whole environment in the same way, changing its colors accordingly. It’s still a struggle to pick colors that go together, but I think practicing is definitely helping a bit.

I’m not really sure where this project is going at the moment. So far it’s just a few random scenes, but I’m thinking about maybe making a few comic pages or experimenting digitally with these two in the future.