A Long Overdue Daily Doodle 23 day update (June 2016)

It has been ages since I uploaded me daily doodles. Rest assured I have been doodling daily, it just seemed such a hassle to scan them all in, but finally I have managed it, at least for June. I’m still enjoying the use of my tanned scrapbook, and the new Posca pens. In fact I treated myself to set so I now have more than just black and white.

Enjoy this set of doodles whilst you can, because July brings with it  bit of an uninspired spell. But before we get there, appreciate the bright, vivid colours of this lot, because I have. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but it would have to be either the pig, the chicken or the jaguar.

Oil Pastels & Posca Pens, A Daily Doodle Update- 19 Day Update (May – June 2016)

19 more daily doodles lie ahead. A great highlight of this bunch is some new art materials. I got my hands on a 36 pack of Faber-Castel oil pastels second hand (hardly used) for 3 Euro! I used to love working in oil pastels, they give such bold colours, and there is a childish, hands-on feel to them that makes me smile; they’re kind of like a more sophisticated version of wax crayons.

I also splashed on on 2 Posca paint pens. I’d heard such great things about their versatility and thickness of pigment I thought I’d give them a go. I bought a white one about 2 mm thick and a black about 1 mm thick. The black is great, though my scratchy toned scrap book I’ve been using is a bit hard on the nib, but the white is a little disappointing. The pigment is a bit weak and Doesn’t really paint over dark colours as well as I’d hoped. One of my greatest missions in life is to find the perfect white pen/pencil for art highlights, as yet I haven’t found it.

I’m trying to cut down on animations based doodles, but there’s still a few; they’re a comfortable fall back when I don’t know what to do. They’re also relatively easy, look clean and tidy with little effort and I am inherently lazy; they are the easy option. There’s a couple more architectural type doodles,  these are a newly discovered favorite of mine. I have only really started to draw buildings this year so I have the daily doodle challenge to thank for this discovery.

So without further ado, here are 19 doodles, judge for yourself whether the new art supplies were worth my excitement.

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge – April and May 2016

Here are 2 months of illustration challenge entries. They are still losing out to my daily doodles for time and effort but some of them turn out well. In fact once more I have been one of the picks of the week! All but one of the entries over the last 2 months I have drawn from imagination, which I consider to be progress. Only the magpie was based on a photo, and even that got suitably altered.

The prompts were as follows: week 14 – camping, week 15- ocean, week 16- mirror, week 17 – collector, week 18- grandmother, week 19 – adventure, week 20 – still life and week 21 – ink.

Week 21 – ink is the week for which my image was selected as a pick of the week. You can check out the 52 week illustration challenge blog here to see the other chosen images for that week and all the other weeks.

Daily Doodle – 19 Day Update (May 2016)

A bit of a mixed bag the last few weeks. There’s been a few practice days and a few sketches that I spent a long time on. I’m still drawing a lot of movie and T.V. based pictures, but I’ve branched out and started trying to use toned paper; it’s amazing, why didn’t I use it before! You may have to take my word for it though as it doesn’t photograph very well.

I have created my very first sketchbook tour video on youtube, so if you want to hear what i have to say about my first sketchbook of daily doodles then click sketchbook tour video.

I have also done my first time-lapse video of a full sketch, in this case it is the peregrine falcon from 07/05/16. You can find this at Falcon time-lapse video.

Check out the videos, like, comment and share if you feel so inclined.

 

What If? By Randall Munroe – A Book Review

Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions.

What If? is a book I had seen around and wanted for quite a long time, the times I’d seen it I was usually on a self-imposed book buying ban for one reason or another. Eventually I gave in and bought and I’m so glad I did. It comes from the creator of XKCD, a humorous science focused comic (there are some sketches below). It markets itself as answering absurd hypothetical question in a serious scientific way and it really does, the science seems sound and the questions are, as promised, ridiculous. But the best thing about this book is its sense of humour. It’s so easy for a science based book to be dry, particularly when it’s full of theory, but not this one. The captions, notes, measurements, images all raise a smile one way or another.

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If you’re not a scientist and are worried it will be over your head, I think you’ll cope. It’s written in a very accessible manner, explained in a way that anyone with a sense of logic, or passing familiarity with school level science will understand where the solutions are coming from. It’s not filled with numbers and formulas, but more with concepts, ideas and expansion of everyday occurrences, usually the explanations link to experiences the average reader will likely be familiar with. That being said, there were still occasional moments where I would read a sentence and need to read several times before any of the words made sense; ‘If a bullet with the density of a neutron star were fired from a handgun (ignoring the how) at the Earth’s surface, would the Earth be destroyed?’

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So what sort of questions are covered by What If? I won’t tell you everything that’s in the book, I’d hate to take away the element of surprise, but I’ll tell you a few of the questions answered:

·  How many humans would a rampaging T-Rex need to eat each day? The sort of question we all want to know the answer to

·  How much force power can Yoda output? Quantifying Sci-Fi for the sci-fi fans out there.

·  If you call a random phone number and say “God Bless you,” what are the chances that the person who answered just sneezed? I love statistics and the maths of randomness so this really appealed to me, and frankly the idea just made me laugh.

·   When (if ever) did the sun finally set on the British Empire? I definitely learnt something here, as a Brit myself this was highly interesting.

Some of the questions do have relevance, though you may struggle to believe me looking at the list above. Some relate to Facebook, data transfer, and computing capacity of humans verses computers. Over all it’s a fascinating collection of questions with equally intriguing answers. Such a wide range of ideas are covered that I frequently learnt new things, some may even come in useful one day, who knows.

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The arrangement of the book in to well defined questions and answers means you can just read the one’s that interest you – though frankly even the ones you wouldn’t naturally be interested in are still fascinating. It also means it’s easy to pick up and put down, it’s not really a binge read type book, I wouldn’t recommend trying to read it all straight, you can’t help but stop and ponder some of the ideas, you’d probably miss out if you didn’t take your time. I read it across a few weeks simultaneously with a fictional book and it worked well or me.

I mentioned the humour in the book, I don’t know why I was surprised by this as I have come across the XKCD comics before and so really should have expected a similar lightness to ‘What If?’ A piece of advice when reading this book, read the notes, read the captions, read every single word on every page as there is likely to be a nugget hiding, even the disclaimer at the start made me smile. Not all of the jokes are hidden, sometimes it’s open silliness. At one point Randall shows his working and final answer using distance measurements in units of giraffes just because he can. The cartoons throughout are also worth taking a proper look at, they have the classic XKCD style to them.

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Throughout the book, on most pages, are little numbered superscripts that direct you to a note at the bottom of the page, as any good scientific document would; If you read these you may find a relevant more heavily scientific piece of information, or instead some nonsense or ramblings from the author. For example on one page the text is as follows: ‘Nobody has ever lost all of the DNA,2’ If you check the note at the bottom of the page you would find the extremely useful information as follows: ‘2 I don’t have a citation for this, but I feel we would have heard about it.’

In between the questions answered are occasional pages of ‘Weird (and Worrying) Questions from the What If? Inbox.’ All the questions answered had been submitted by the public, but amongst the ones chosen to be answered were many that were not chosen to be answered, looking at these little collections you can probably see why. Again it helps to keep the book light and manageable.

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So in Summary this book is great, I thoroughly recommend it. It is the most enjoyable science based non-fiction book I have ever read. If you like Randall Munroe, XKCD, science in any way, or just a touch of daftness then I reckon you’d like this book too.

If you want to check out some science based comics from XKCD, the website is http://xkcd.com/

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Daily Doodle – 21 Day Update (most of April 2016)

I have spent the last several weeks in Spain and consequently I have been working with very limited supplies. I’ve particularly been focusing on line work, and cross hatching which I think suited the available materials better and I think I’m getting the hang of it. You may notice that there are quite a few uninspired pictures in this collection, I just haven’t been feeling it, never mind. There are a few I like, generally those based on animations, but also my attempt at Bellatrix Lestrange.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – A Book Review.

The Name of the wind is the first in a traditional fantasy trilogy called ‘The Kingkiller Chronicle’, it has been on my ‘to read’ pile for a while knowing I’ll love it but not quite ready for the commitment. It’s so intimidatingly large that I just couldn’t bring myself to start it; I have a habit of becoming very antisocial when reading fantasy books and it never seemed quite the right time. To give you some idea of its size, it is approximately 250,000 words long; for context the first book in David Eddings’ Belgariad series (The Pawn of Prophecy) has 104,000, and it’s a similar size to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The second one isn’t much smaller, I bought both the first two when I saw them at a charity shop after hearing good reviews of the series.

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I’m so relieved to find a new traditional fantasy series to lose myself in. If you are at all familiar with the genre then you will feel instantly at home. Horse and carts, bards and lutes, taverns and gods, it has all the pieces for a full fantasy world. I like urban fantasy well enough, J. K. Rowling, Patricia Briggs and Shanna Swendson, to name a few, have managed to bring the fantasy into our own worlds in I way I really enjoy, but often the genre has a angsty or sleek and sexy vibe to it which is very different from the homely, rustic feel of the old fashioned fantasy genre. The novel is suitable for most age groups, there’s no bad language (or so little I’ve forgotten it) no raunchy sex scenes, any violence is implied rather than explicit and the book doesn’t lose anything for it.

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A lot of the story is told as a story with very occasional, intermittent chapters of present time. Qvothe, the protagonist, is retelling his life story to Chronicler, a man who collects stories. There is clearly a plot to the current time events, but very little progress is made in that area, instead most of the action occurs is Qvothe’s recollections. The book is packed with events that keep the book moving along nicely, there are stories within the story which have their own set of characters and resolutions. The writing is beautifully done, and the characters are vivid and colourful. There are multiple, unofficial sections to the book that make convenient brake points and the chapters are thankfully small, as I said before the book is huge. There are times of humour and time of sadness; moments of cleverness and moments of foolishness; flashes of profound greatness and instances of weakness. Overall it is a great, long winding tale with highs and lows and no dull moments.

Despite its size, the book doesn’t really standalone well. There is no overarching plot to the book as a solo book. As I said there are many minor resolutions within the novel, but nothing that wraps the book up with any satisfaction, if fact quite the opposite, it leaves off on a bit of a cliff hanger, or more of a tease really. I’m not sure I like a book to end so openly however I can forgive it as I knew beforehand that it is part of a trilogy; a trilogy I shall most certainly continue to read. The slightly troublesome thing is that the third book is yet to be released, Rothfuss seems to be taking his time with it. However rumour has it that a Movie, TV series and videogame are in the works so at least I’ll be able to immerse myself in the world a bit more. (Kingkiller Chronicle movie news).

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Here’s a couple of excerpts from the book that show a little of the writing style and world created.

‘Dax set himself alight while attempting a spectacular bit of fire breathing and had to be doused. All he suffered was a bit of singed beard and a slightly bruised pride. He recovered quickly under Ben’s tender ministrations, a mug of mead, and a reminder that not everyone was cut out to have eyebrows.’

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‘”I’m giving you the opportunity to say something,” Kvothe said. “Something along the lines of, “That can’t be!”, or “There’s no such thing as dragons…””

Chronicler wiped the nib of his pen clean, “it’s not really my place to comment on the story.” he said placidly. “If you say you saw a dragon…” He shrugged.

Kvothe gave him a profoundly disappointed look. “This from the author of The Mating Habits of the Common Dracus? This from Devan Lochees, the great debunker?”

“This from Devan Lochees who agreed not to interrupt or change a single word of the story he is recording.” Chronicler lay his pen down and massaged his hand. “Because those were the only conditions under which he could get access to a story he very much desired.”

Kvothe gave him a level look. “Have you ever heard the expression white mutiny?”

“I have,” Chronicler said with a thin smile.

“I could say it, Reshi,” Bast said brightly, “I haven’t agreed to anything.”

Kvothe looked back and forth between them, then sighed. “There are few things as nauseating as pure obedience,” he said. “both of you would do well to remember that.”’

 

Daily Doodle – 14 day update (March/April)

I am still out in Spain with limited art supplies; it’s a hard life. Despite this I really like almost all these drawings. I think the word doodle might be a bit misleading or insulting as some these had quite a bit of time and focus spent on them so don’t imagine I can doodle these in 10 minutes flat.

I’ve had a bit more of a focus on architectural drawings, and particularly focusing on keeping things clean and neat, which is not my usual style. There’s also a few drawings based on animated movies which are always nice and easy to draw. My drawing materials this week were mostly my standard gel pens, felt tip pens and pencils probably costing in all about £4. but for the fist time in a long time I used some soft pastel pencils on a picture. I love soft pastels, they’re very forgiving and malleable, this particular set I’d had for many years and just forgotten I had them. I tried to look this set up but it seems they don’t exist any more, anyhow, I wouldn’t have recommended them, they’re a bit scratchy, but that could just be their age.

Without further ado, here are the last 15 days of doodles:

 

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – A Book Review

My intention of reading and reviewing a book a week has fallen by the wayside. I am still reading though in a less forced manner and am consequently enjoying it more. I have just finished reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood which was first published in 2003. This is the first in her MaddAddam series, a post apocalyptic series set after humanity has screwed up the world through using science to play God. Atwood herself describes the book as speculative fiction and adventure romance rather than sci-fi as all the science described already exists to a certain degree.

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I had heard of Margaret Atwood before, and always in a positive manner. I firmly believed she was a good writer even though I had never read any of her work, such is the effect of reviews. Having now read Oryx and Crake, I still believe this to be true, though that doesn’t necessarily mean I was completely satisfied by the novel.

The novel focuses on Jimmy, a.k.a. Snowman. You follow his life as he struggles to exist in this new destroyed world and learn of the cause of the current state through his musings on his past. Even the earliest point of Jimmy’s memory is set in our future, science has developed to the stage of creating new creatures, growing organs, and generally playing God. The elite are those that are scientifically intelligent, all other skills are no longer valued. Those who are of use in the fast evolving world of microbiology and genetic engineering live in little cocoons of apparent safety and normality called Compounds and Modules (I imagine it a bit like the Truman Show), while the unwashed masses live outside the walls, in the Pleeblands, where disease and crime run free.I would explain the plot but there isn’t really one as such, or if there is it’s a bit like Columbo, where your shown the ending at the start and then spend the rest of your time trying to figure out how you got there.

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I am still convince Margaret Atwood is a brilliant writer, however her book was not what I expected; true to my usual rule, I refused to find out anything about the book before reading and reviewing which leaves me quite vulnerable to this particular fate. The author throws you straight in to the middle of everything with little to know information, in much the same way you can learn a language through immersion I think Atwood tries to get you to understand her world through immersion also. Words and names like OrganInc and Pigoons, Wolvogs and Rakunks are thrown at you with no explanation, echoes of spoken words come from the past without a known speaker and rules without obvious reasons are stated; gradually as memories are shared and the story evolves most ideas come into focus and a clearer picture forms. Over all I think I quite liked the approach, it was hard at first but the more you read the more it makes sense. I imagine it is a book that will have even more to it reading a second time.

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Another unexpected side to this book was the language and some of the topics. I don’t know whether to call it coarse, crude, base or gritty, but it certainly isn’t family friendly. It rarely if ever seems to be thrown in pointlessly but over all it had a much coarser feel to it than I had imagined. Sex, porn, snuff, human trafficking and others are mentioned, not in a sexy, explicit sort of way, but in a ‘this is how far humanity has sunk’ kind of way. It’s all written in quite a blunt manner, never glorifying or reveling in any of it, simply as part of the narrative.

The main characters themselves are all very flawed and damaged, when you have gone through and apocalypse that is understandable, but even the early times, when they are children there are may characteristics and manners that are hard to find acceptable. Again I think that maybe Atwood commenting on the state of man at that point. Going back to Atwood’s description of the novel as ‘speculative fiction and adventure romance’, ‘speculative fiction’ is a good name for it. It is quite clearly a vivid picture of how Atwood can see the world getting lost in humanities self importance. ‘Adventure romance’ however I struggle to see. If there is any relationship that could be considered romantic then it is a deeply unhealthy one. The word adventure also seems miss-applied, adventure has such a positive spin to it, there is little if anything positive about the lives revealed in Oryx and Crake.

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So overall I would say that Oryx and Crake is well written. It is gripping, it is clever, it is well researched and developed. The world is fully created, the history well incorporated into the novel and the language is descriptive and emotive. As negatives I must say there seems very little plot, and the ending wasn’t everything I’d hoped it would be, however there are two other books so it may be redeemed yet. The fact that I fully intend to read the other two books may be all you need to know about this one. I will also hunt out the TV series that is being developed when that is available as well.

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge – March 2016

This month I managed my greatest illustration achievement to date, and that was to be one of the editors picks for the week for the Illustration challenge. I was truly chuffed, you can see my picture amongst the other picks for week 9 – watercolour of the illustration challenge blog.

Below are my 5 entries for March, as usual with me some of these I think are good, others were rushed token efforts. But I am still on time and have not missed a week and I am duly impressed with myself. The prompts were as follows: Week 9 – Watercolour, Week 10 – Animal, Week 11 – Mother, Week 12 – Non-dominant hand and Week 13 – Movement. I am without a scanner at present to the images aren’t the best.