My new Bamboo Fun is fun

For my advanced birthday gift, Raquel gave me a brand new spiffy Wacom tablet called Bamboo Fun to replace my old Wacom Graphire4 tablet.

The Bamboo Fun model actually replaced the Graphire4 model in Wacom’s line-up of tablets. It is aimed primarily at amateur/hobbyist digital artists who would want to have a decent enough tablet but don’t want to spend a fortune on the high-end models such as the Intuos or the Cintiq which sells from $600 up. The Bamboo Fun model I got is the medium-sized one and sold for about $299.

The new tablet is essentially the same as my old tablet except for the following advantages:
– It also came with a wireless mouse that uses the same tablet technology as the pen stylus.
– The drawing surface is wide which proportionally matches my laptop’s wide screen. Meaning, no wasted tablet space.
– Using the pen on the tablet surface feels like pencil on paper unlike the older one which felt like ballpoint pen on glass.
– It has two more buttons I could assign functions to.
– It’s thinner and therefore more portable. I could place this side-by-side my folded laptop and have both fit in my small laptop case. I could also unplug the cord from the tablet itself. The older one is wider, thicker and you can’t detach the cord so you have to wrap it around the tablet if you decide to take it somewhere.

It should be pretty obvious by now that I love the new tablet. I was first taken aback by the pencil-on-paper surface texture when using it because it meant I have to be more forceful with my strokes. With the older tablet, my strokes just glide off the glassy tablet surface. With the new tablet, my lighter strokes trasnlated to more crooked lines and very light lines. But now that I’m used to the new one, I find it’s no longer a problem.

Actually, I got the gift a few days ago so I was able to use it already to draw some of the stuff I’ve posted on the blog such as the Little Drummer Boy and Tomas and Nilo.

Apart from these two, here are a couple more stuff I drew with the new tablet (click on the thumbnails to enlarge):

The first piece was originally just a sketch I did as part of my daily doodling exercise.The original sketch had incorrect facial proportions on it and I knew it. But, I wanted a sketch I could practice some colouring on so I used it anyway.

After doing a quick colour experiment, I was a little satisfied with the result so I copied the whole thing from Painter to Photoshop and proceeded to distort the image to make the proportions look more or less correct. At the very least, it now looks better than before I altered it.

As for the colouring, I’m trying out something that I can do real quick but remain pleasant to look at in the end. This was more free form and it was a lot quicker to do compared to my other method which involved a lot of cleaning up and precision.

The second piece, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, was something I did for another Christmas-themed art contest at the DeviantArt art community called ‘Tis the Season for Illustration Contest. The rules state that we should draw a Christmas-themed scene from a book or film.

I did this on the day of the deadline so I had to draw something quick and finish it quickly. The only thing I could think of drawing was the Grinch. Since I’m basing it off the movie instead of the book, I sort of used the Jim Carrey Grinch as reference instead of the Dr Seuss book Grinch or the Grinch from the cartoons. It was rushed but I hope I win anyway since all the other submissions weren’t all that flash.

Published in: on December 29, 2007 at 12:05 am  Comments (2)  

Boxing Day rush

This year, Raquel and I didn’t take our annual leave this Christmas week to save it for later. That meant that our days off work during this week and the next only include the weekends, December 25, December 26 and January 1.

As you may well know, December 25 is Christmas Day and January 1 is New Year’s Day. But if you are originally from the Philippines like me, you may not know that December 26 is also a holiday here. It’s a holiday called Boxing Day.

No, it has nothing to do with the sport of Boxing. It has more to do with actual “boxes”, as in the thing you put gifts in. Here is a short introductory excerpt of what Boxing Day is about taken from Wikipedia:

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas, a public holiday in most countries in The Commonwealth. It originated as a day for giving gifts to employees and poor people. It has sporting traditions, especially fox hunting, and is the day when stores launch the most significant sales period in the retail cycle.

It is usually celebrated on 26 December, the day after Christmas Day, but can move to 27 December or 28 December if 26 December is a Saturday or Sunday. The movement of Boxing Day varies between countries.

The public holiday is recognised in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, as well as many other members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Most shops in Australia always have the Boxing Day sale where you can buy their left over Christmas stock for real cheap. We have never gone Boxing Day shopping before because we were either out of the country or just too lazy to bother. However, this year we decided to go.

We have nearly no Christmas decorations at home this year but we plan to change that for next year. Since everything will be cheaper on Boxing Day, specially the Christmas decors, we wanted to buy all the decor we’ll need next year on Boxing Day.

The original plan was to wake up early and get to the mall early to make the most out of the all-day sale. Come December 26 morning, we were too sleepy to get up at our pre-designated wake-up time of 8 AM. We ended up waking up at 10 AM and leaving the house at 11 AM. That was a big mistake.

By the time we got to Highpoint (shopping centre), all of its various car parks were already full. We circled around and tried different parking locations for about half-an-hour be we finally chanced upon a car that was about to leave its parking bay. Finally!

When we got in the mall, the place was packed with people! As in Christmas-shopping-in-Asia packed. I couldn’t believe it. Where did all these people come from? Well, I couldn’t exactly blame them. There were sales of up to 50% off in lots of shops that day.

We had our lunch soon after arriving at the mall, which proved to be another mistake. By the time we got to do our shopping for Christmas decors and a Christmas tree, the shelves for these items were half empty. There weren’t even any decent Christmas trees left! All we found were red-brown trees and black trees. Black trees? Who buys Christmas trees with black pine needles? Well, my officemates suggested that maybe those were Goth Christmas trees or Emo trees.

So, no sale on the trees that day. But we were able to buy some Christmas decorations, at least. We also got other things that were equally on sale like a couple of pots and a monopod for Raquel’s camera. The only thing I was able to buy for myself was a new headphone set with a microphone and that thing wasn’t even on sale that day. Ah, well.

I almost did buy a discounted Gears of War game for the PC but changed my mind about it at the counter. I probably won’t play it as much in the end anyway. I would rather get Call of Duty 4, Bioshock or Titan Quest.

Even though we weren’t able to get a tree and I wasn’t able to buy any discounted goodies for myself, I still thought we got the most out of the Boxing Day sale. We’ll probably go again if we are in the country next year’s Christmas season.

On a side note, we just wanted to rest our heels after all the walking and shopping. We went back to Werribee and met up with a friend to watch a movie: National Treasure (2): Book of Secrets. There were a lot of so-so reviews of the movie so we didn’t expect much from it but I end up really liking it. If you are a fan of Indiana Jones-type adventures and you have some knowledge of American history, I think you’ll like the film, too.

Published in: on December 28, 2007 at 12:08 am  Comments (2)  

Christmas Eve

It’s one day from Christmas Day and I am pleasantly surprised as to how cool (literally) it has been lately. It’s an unbelievable 14 degrees Celsius at this very moment. Those of you not living in Australia may be wondering why this is so unusual. Well, it’s supposed to be Summer right now and my past Christmases here in Oz were mostly warm ones.

I shouldn’t complain. I always wished that my past Christmases were cooler because it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all if it is celebrated at 35 degrees Celsius. That’s one of the reason why we want to spend our Christmas elsewhere (somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere) if we could help it. However, this time, it’s far cooler here than when we were in the Philippines in December last year.

We just got back from the Christmas Eve Mass and now, we’re watching the traditional Carols by Candlelight extravaganza on Channel 9 all the way to midnight (well, nearly). All the while, we are changing channels to also while the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

I’d also like to talk about the Mass earlier though. When we got to church, the half-hour pre-Mass kids’ caroling was still going on. And, sad to say, it was very appalling! I’m not bagging the kids here though. They were pretty good. However, there was this elderly lady singing the microphone who was easily overpowering the kids’ soft little voices with her out-of-tune high-pitch singing (to put it nicely). It was utterly an ear-shattering cringe-worthy performance. I’m not exaggerating. You should’ve seen the kids around us trying desperately to block out the lady’s high-pitch voice by covering their ears with their hands.

Speaking of kids, they were running uncontrollably around the back of the church the entire Mass. Makes me wonder where they get all their energy from. I’m only wondering where the parents of these kids were. Well, I’d rather have them running around than having them screaming or crying.

Regardless of my complaints above, I actually enjoyed the Mass. I just thought it would’ve been better if the microphone was nearer the kids than the lady who was in all probability these kids’ music teacher.

Back in the comfort of our home, watching TV, I’m just waiting for midnight to call up family and relatives in the Philippines to greet them all a Merry Christmas. We also have some leche flan and embotido (which Raquel made herself) in the fridge ready for our Noche Buena dinner.

In the meantime, I’ll probably be drawing something to pass the time. Again, Merry Christmas to all of you!

Published in: on December 24, 2007 at 8:46 pm  Comments (2)  

Christmas in Melbourne

Merry Christmas everybody! It’s Christmas eve as I’m typing this. This is just the second Christmas we’ll be spending in Melbourne. All I can say is that it’s pretty different from what I’m used to in the Philippines.

I still miss how most houses, the roads, the churches and the trees were all decorated with colourful fairy lights (Christmas lights) and parols (local Christmas lanterns). Here, there isn’t a lot of that going on. Well, the fact that the sun sets after 9 pm during the Christmas summer here was probably a major reason why.

Anyway, we went to the city after dark to take some photos of Melbourne at night with its Christmas decors aglow. To those of you who aren’t here and are curious as to what Christmas night is like, here are the photos:

Published in: on December 24, 2007 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Little Drummer Boy

I wanted to join the DeviantArt Christmas Carol Contest. So for my art exercise (I’m dropping the “daily 30 drawing” label, by the way, since it is not daily and it won’t always be a drawing), I drew something that maybe I can use for the contest.

Here is a summary of the rules as taken from the contest’s page:

Think of your absolute favorite Christmas Carol. Now illustrate it in the anime/manga style! All medias are welcome~

The only thing I can come up with in a short amount of time was The Little Drummer Boy. Well, I had been meaning to draw the boy a few weeks back so I already had a little idea on how I wanted to proceed. However, since I only have 30 minutes to finish this (less the planning part), I only had time to draw both baby Jesus and the drummer boy. No time to put in colour and still make it look good.

This is isn’t the final form that I will submit for the contest, but I will use this as basis for the actual submission a bit later though.

EDIT 23/12/07: Here is the coloured version if you are interested.

Published in: on December 21, 2007 at 11:24 pm  Comments (2)  

Tomas and Nilo

As part of my so-called 30-minute daily drawing exercise (which I shorten to Daily 30), I drew this quick sketch of two characters in a story I wrote for a short comic story for a comic book anthology. I was supposed to be the writer while my brother is the artist of the story. However, he is currently very busy with his work that he couldn’t draw much of anything for this project.

So, to sort of help my brother out when he finally gets a chance to draw stuff for our story, I will draw some sketches related to my story myself. At the very least, my drawings might help better communicate the scenes I want in the story to my brother.

As for my Daily 30 exercise, maybe “daily” is a bit too much after all. I’ve already skipped a day since I decided to start doing this because of other more important things I needed to do yesterday evening. Now, instead of daily, it’s down to three times a week. I’ll still be calling it Daily 30 though. Much shorter name.

Published in: on December 20, 2007 at 11:05 pm  Comments (2)  

Christmas greeting cards

In my earlier post [Vintage Christmas art contest], I mentioned that the artwork I made which depicted a Christmasy living room scene was for two things. One is for the contest, which I already mentioned. The second reason, which was actually the main reason for my drawing the artwork was to use it as covers for our home-made greeting cards.

I didn’t want to mention this in the blog earlier because I wanted there to be time for some of the actual greeting cards we sent out to reach the intended recepients first before they learn about it from my blog. Since some of our friends have confirmed that they have already received our cards, it is probably safe to post about it now.

I haven’t made my own greeting card since I was in elementary school when the teachers forced us to make them for our homeroom classes. Raquel and I figured that making one instead of buying one would make our greeting card more personalised and heart-felt. Since, I can draw a thing or two, I decided to give it a go.

Here is a photo of the cards as taken by Raquel:

Click on photo to zoom

Art and printed text was by me. Raquel did the handwritten greetings, the folding, the home-made envelopes (couldn’t find ones that would fit our cards anywhere) and the cut-out snowflakes you see in the photo.

Published in: on December 19, 2007 at 12:14 am  Comments (2)  

Daily 30-minute drawings

I started drawing the Lovarian Adventures webcomics back in 2001 to keep myself from getting bored and lonely. I started drawing three full comic pages per week at the start but eventually slowed down to drawing one page per week by the time I stopped drawing comics altogether.

Still, over the five or so years I’ve been drawing the comics, the best thing I’ve gained from it was that doing it had improved my artwork considerably. It probably stemmed from my being forced to draw on a regular basis to keep up with my self-imposed page update schedule.

However, now that I haven’t been drawing comics in a while, I’m afraid that my skill would just continue to stagnate if I don’t practice. So, I decided to do something about it starting yesterday.

I know I probably don’t have the time nor the will to start doing webcomics again at this point in time so that’s out of the question. I needed to do something that I can stick to. It has to be fairly regular and doesn’t take too long to do.

What I eventually came up with was that I should draw something with the intention to post it on my DeviantArt gallery everyday (except weekends and holidays) that will only take a maximum of 30 minutes to draw. Mainly, it should look more finished that the typical doodles I draw in my drawing books. I should add colour to it if there’s time.

I’m hoping that by doing this daily exercise, I’m giving myself a chance not only to improve but to experiment a little. I’m also hoping that in a few weeks’ time, I’d be drawing faster and better than now.

Lastly, I also hope that I can keep on doing this self-imposed exercise.

Click on the thumbnail above to zoom in on my first drawing in this series of exercises.

Published in: on December 18, 2007 at 11:38 pm  Comments (2)  

First Christmas at home

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve gotten our house and over that span of time, we haven’t had the chance to celebrate Christmas in it. We were always away during the past Christmases (trying to escape the Summer heat). This year though, we’re not going anywhere.

It might be nice to just hole up in the house during Christmas week anyway and just relax and pig out. We’ve been very busy lately with lots of stuff so a little down time will definitely be wonderful.

Although we’ll be spending Christmas at home, we didn’t really take the time to spruce up the place with the usual holiday decorations. We’re just being lazy. The only decor we have is the one wreath which we hung up outside our front door. And so, our home is far from the idealistic Christmasy living room scene I drew recently.

It does feel a little less like Christmas without the decor though. Maybe I’ll get off my lazy bum and devote some time to setting up the decor next year, if we happen to be around to celebrate the season at home.

Since we’ll be spending Christmas at home, that means we’ll have to prepare something for Noche Buena. Maybe a Filipino-style spaghetti, macaroni salad, hot cocoa and leche flan. Traditionally, no Noche Buena dinner is complete without hamon (jamon, Christmas ham) and keso de bola (queso de bola, a big ball of cheese covered by a red wrapping). But since neither Raquel or I enjoy these foods, they won’t be missed in the dinner table.

I’ll probably go rent some Christmas movies to watch over Christmas week to get into the holiday spirit. Yeah, movies like Die Hard and Die Hard 2 would do the trick! Maybe I should seek out Chevy Chase’s old movie, the Funny Farm. There’s this part in the movie that was around Christmas time that I really loved as a kid. Home Alone 1 might also be nice. Any recommendations? In the end, we’ll probably be watching some Christmas carolling show on TV, though. That’s good enough, I guess.

We’ll probably be exploring the neighbourhood for some Christmas-themed events, too. There’s supposed to be some Christmas lighting exhibition somewhere in Werribee but we haven’t the exact details of when and where it would be.

At the end of the day, as long as I get some much needed rest and relaxation, I’ll be happy.

Published in: on December 17, 2007 at 12:11 am  Comments (1)  

For the win… again!

Last October, I announced in this post [For the win] that I won in my company’s Melbourne Artist of the Year 2007 art competition held annually. Got myself a fragile glass trophy, an 80Gb iPod Classic and an iPod-compatible speaker system as a result.

Several days later, as I wrote this post [The drawing that keeps on giving], my department decided to reward me for “spectacular performance” for my achievement in winning the competition. I got awarded a $100 JB Hi-Fi gift card from the powers-that-be of our department.

Later on, I was informed by the organisers of the competition that this will be the first year that our company would launch a national version of the company’s annual artist competition where the winning works of the different branches get pitted against one another.

A few weeks ago, the organisers sent me invited the top three winners of the Melbourne art contest to a morning tea meeting to supposedly discuss the national competition. Today, was that day.

There, it was announced that I actually won the first ever National Artist of the Year competition. The judge who decided the winner was a curator of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Another curator! I was already very happy to have won (again!) but I was even happier that a curator thought that my work deserved to win.

I got another glass trophy and special gift voucher for a fancy Italian restaurant in Melbourne hand-signed by the owner of the establishment (my officemate pointed out that that was apparently such an honour). I couldn’t believe that my one sketch got me this much recognition and prizes. I should definitely join more competitions.

By the way, I was told that I should return the trophy for next year’s competition. Apparently, the trophy is just for rent. The next winner will get the same trophy with his or her name added at the bottom of mine. I guess it’s a good and a bad thing. Bad because I don’t get to keep it. Good because my name will be immortalised, sort of. At least while the trophy remains in one piece.

I’d like to end this post on a story that’s related to this day’s announcement. The email invitation I got didn’t mention anything about me winning the national competition. However, all my officemates got a totally different email.

One day, as I was walking into the office from the outside, an colleague yelled out to me. He said that I won the national competition. He pointed me to an email he got where he was being invited to the meeting where it was going to be officially announced. I started reading the email where it said that I did won and that I’d be getting a trophy.

My friend continued to read the same email where he left off then suddenly started blocking his monitor while saying, “Don’t read anymore!” Apparently, at the bottom of the email was a message in bold red letters saying that they should keep the fact that I won secret from me until the official announcement! Too late. He blew it.

We all had a laugh about it. The warning should have been at the top of the message. I guess if I had come in the office a little bit later, my friend would’ve had the time to completely finish reading the email along with the red bolded message.

So, early today, I had to pretend not to know that I would win when it was announced. It wasn’t difficult though. I was surprised that the national winner was decided by another big-time art gallery curator so I just carried that feeling up to the point where the winner was officially announced. I had to retell the story about the boo-boo to my other officemates though that were also pretending not to know because they thought I didn’t know.

I thank God for the gift of art He gave me. I hope that I’ll be able to win again next year. But I feel like that’s a long shot. Lightning never strikes twice and all that. I’ll still submit something of course because you never know.

Published in: on December 14, 2007 at 7:51 pm  Comments (5)