Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Inktober Challenge and Daily Drawing Challenge

Recently started getting into the Inktober Challenge and the Daily Drawing Challenge.

I'm trying to do the Inktober (drawing something based on a prompt list) more consistently, and the Daily Drawing Challenge (drawing based on a photo post) whenever I want to.

For Inktober, in the next 30 days, I'm supposed to draw something based on the following prompt:


So here are what I've done so far:

This one is for Day 1 of Inktober: "Swift" as well as Day 1045 of Daily Drawing Challenge.

Inktober Day 2: "Divided"

Inktober Day 3: "Poison"

Inktober Day 4: "Underwater"

Following were drawn for the Daily Drawing Challenge (a group on Facebook):

Overall, this is partly used to gain some drawing discipline for myself by trying to draw everyday.  I generally draw on my sketch diary already, but these will also be part of my sketch diary.

Monday, September 11, 2017

My Movie Review: "It" (2017)

"It" (2017)  Dir: Andy Muschietti

This past weekend, I saw the movie "It" (2017), directed by Andy Muschietti ("Mama"), based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King.  First off, let me say that I enjoyed this movie quite a bit--it was a highly entertaining monster flick with jump scares that surprisingly worked (which usually doesn't in many films).  The movie stars various (mostly unknown) child actors and Bill Skarsgård as an evil entity called Pennywise the Dancing Clown, which terrorizes the town of Derry every 27 years. The main protagonist of this film is the stuttering Bill (Jaesen Lieberher), who wants to avenge his little brother who was killed by Pennywise.  The film focuses mostly on the kids and their relationships, their school bullies, dysfunctional adults, and the sharp-toothed killer clown that moves around in the sewers.

I have the novel in my house, which I never got around to reading.  I did, however, see the miniseries on TV, also called "It" (1990), starring Tim Curry as the titular killer clown.  There were two parts to the miniseries--first half took place in 1960, and the second part in 1990. The first half mainly starred children, while the second half starred adults (the same children now grown up).  The TV show was fairly creepy for TV (particularly the first half), while the second half was on the cheesier side, with monster effects that were not quite on par with theatrical films of that time.  Tim Curry ("Clue") was an effectively creepy clown, given that he often just popped out of nowhere to harass the kids.  The second half wasn't helped by the fact that it starred mostly comedians such as Harry Anderson ("Night Court"), John Masur ("License to Drive") and John Ritter ("Three's Company)--a baffling decision by the producers. Just imagine seeing a horror film starring Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, and Larry the Cable Guy, and you get the idea.

Old Pennywise (Tim Curry) vs. New Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård)

So, this 2017 film fixes a lot of the problems that the miniseries had.  This film only tells the first half of the story (which still works as a standalone story), with only the children as the protagonists.  It also takes place in 1989, taking cues from the nostalgic, retro look and style of Netflix's popular "Stranger Things." (To note, one of the kids from the show is in this movie).  Unlike the miniseries, the creature effects in this film is impressively creepy and artistically done.  And, this movie is rated R (also quite unusual for horror movies of this ilk), which pretty much tells you that they aren't messing around.

Bill Skarsgård is excellent as Pennywise.  He is going full-on creepy-monster-mode here. This is to Tim Curry's Pennywise what Heath Ledger's Joker was to Jack Nicholson's.  This Pennywise isn't interested in dishing out any humor or making puns--he is meant to be terrible and scary.  With that said, Skarsgård's acting has just enough subtlety and the inflections of his voice to be original and interesting. The kids' acting are pretty top-notch. They feel like real kids, and their situation is often quite terrible.  Adults are unlikable here for the most part, and are often one-dimensional. Maybe it's me, but I feel this quite often in Stephen King films (eg. "Carrie") where teens or kids are protagonists--all adults seem like terrible people.

The plot isn't particularly complex--much of the story is about the characters and the horror they face.  Where it lacks in story, it has enough details about the characters  that you care about their well-being (something many horror films fail at). There is plenty of humor in this film which thankfully offsets some of the gloominess of the situation. Much of this humor comes from the 80's references to films and music, and kids' sarcastic, bad-mouthed dialogue.  Having been a child of the 80's myself, I found much to relate here.

As for the horror, as I mentioned, there is, yes, plenty of jump scares.  However, this film isn't focused on the "JUMP" part of the "jump scare" but focuses on the "SCARE" part of the jump scare. Allow me to explain.  Usually, in horror films, right when a "jump scare" comes, it's very quiet at first, then there's a loud noise (which is usually the part that scares you the most) and something "horrific" (or at least not quite as horrific as the loud noise) happens, then ends (usually quickly).  In this movie, the horrific part lingers--you get a good look at what is supposed to scare you.  The result feels earned, and not cheap.  Remember back in the day when seeing a cool, creepy creature was the big payoff?   It was the type of thing that many categorized as a well-done popcorn horror flick.  The special effects are also quite good here, many of them practical. As the miniseries failed with its lackluster special effects, this film succeeds. Without giving away details, they did well with the budget. Director Andy Muschietti has made a solid horror film.

If there are any complaints, I kind of feel that it has more to do with Stephen King's original story. The illusory part of how Pennywise operates in the world never seemed quite clear to me.  This was also how I felt when I saw the miniseries.  Maybe it's better explained in the book--the film is a bit vague on it.  And, the adults, as mentioned, are mostly stereotypes--I'm not saying that's not allowed, but such things can make the world feel less real.

This is an entertaining horror film.  The female audiences at my theater jumped and screamed in horror more than a few times, while laughing afterwards.  If they weren't entertained, at least I was entertained by their reaction.   Many also chuckled at the "New Kids on the Block" jokes--yep, we get it, sirs. Well played, dear fellows. Well played.

My Rating: **** 1/2 out of ***** stars

If you don't like reading, you can also watch a video version of my review below.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Visting the Charles M. Schulz Museum

This past week, I visited the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center up in Santa Rosa for work. I got to meet the current creators of Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, which was super cool.  They were some of the nicest and enthusiastic people I've met.  I've been a longtime Peanuts fan and it was a treat to just immerse myself into the world of Snoopy. So, my bosses and I flew directly to Santa Rosa County Airport from LA International Airport. Here are some photos from the event.

The Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport is a small airport in Santa Rosa.

Sonoma County Airport has Joe Cool greeting you when you land.

Best airport logo ever. As long as you don't encounter the Red Baron, it's pretty safe.

Charles M. Schulz Museum has a Snoopy Topiary

Between the Warm Puppy Cafe / Ice Rink and Museum

Charlie Brown the guardian of the Ice Rink

Warm Puppy Cafe and Ice Rink

Public can use the ice rink. Mr. Schulz was really big into hockey, even up to his later years.

Warm Puppy Cafe, because "Happiness is a Warm Puppy."  Mr. Schulz came here everyday to have his newspaper and breakfast of Tuna sandwich.

I had Mr. Schulz favorite tuna sandwich. Quite good! And, a cup of coffee.

A nice cup of Peppermint Patty Hot Chocolate!

Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop

Love the Lichtenstein-style Snoopy. Wish I had a copy.

Stain glass Snoopy art.

So I got a gift or two.

Charles M. Schulz Museum Entrance

This one is by a Japanese artist. Snoopy is huge in Japan.

Lucy created from the comic strips. Done by a Japanese artist.

Close-up of the Lucy art

Typewriters.. We used to type on these things in the old days.

I got into my groove here.

Actual strips in display. 

A regular office at the Charles M. Schulz studio.

Mr. Schulz's actual studio.

Snoopy Theater inside the museum.  It's hard to see the seats here on this photo.

Think this one is expensive.  

Overall, a wonderful trip! If you're ever up in Sonoma, I recommend checking this place out, especially if you are a Peanuts fan!  Some of my highlights, aside from meeting some of the creators and talking with them, was the whole relaxed atmosphere of this place.  The whole philosophy of Peanuts I feel is about appreciating the little things, the slow moments, look deep into the ideas that come up in your mind, and to not worry so much.  You can be afraid of everything going wrong like Charlie Brown, or not give a hang like Snoopy, or be somewhere in the middle like the philosophical Linus yet with a security blanket.  It is all okay.  I'll end with a classic quote from the comic strip:

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Making Your Own Iron-On T-shirts!

Lately, I've been getting into T-shirt design.  As it usually goes for me, once I get into doing something I really get into it.  This week, I've been creating T-shirt designs, mostly for myself to wear in the office.

Part of the reason that I got into T-shirt design has been the weather.  It's been pretty hot here in California lately. I don't have a whole a lot of T-shirts, aside from the ones I've gotten for free, and it's been too hot to wear my usual, stuffy button-down shirts.  So, few weeks ago, I decided to go buy a nice gray T-shirt at Target.  It costed about $11.  It was a V-neck.  It had nothing on it.  The other shirts, which had designs on them, were about $15 or more.

Then, I thought to myself, I'm a designer. Why can't I make my own T-shirt?  Plus, it'll be cheaper.

Thus, my journey began.  

First, I had to find a place to buy a blank T-shirt.
Then, I had to get an iron-on transfer paper, which I would print on using my computer printer.
Being an illustrator myself, I already have Illustrator and Photoshop for designing my art.

For cheap T-shirts, I looked at several options, but my favorite option, at the moment, has been Michael's.  They have various sizes, men and women, and variety of colors (black, gray, red, white, greeb, blue, lime, etc), with a cost of about $4 each and an iron-on transfer paper for about $10 (for 5 sheets).

There are cheaper places online (around $2) for blank T-shirts, but some of these sites looked a little fishy, or it would take a while for them to arrive, possibly as late as Autumn. Plus, I wanted to feel the shirt in my hands before I bought them.  The ones at Michael's were pretty good. They also had iron-on transfers.

There are two kinds of Iron-on Transfer paper:
1) Iron-on paper for white or light-colored T-shirts
2) Iron-on paper for dark-colored T-shirts.

The difference between White/Light-colored T-shirt transfers is this:

Light Colored T-shirts
1. Whites do not show up on the T-shirt for the White/Light-colored T-shirt transfers.  White areas become transparent. This is because printers usually do not print the color white.
2. The design should be flipped horizontally (printed as a mirror image of your design)
3. You would need a hard, flat surface (cardboard on a hard surface will do) under the T-shirt.  The transfer paper with the design would go on the T-shirt with the design side (mirrored design) facing downward. You would use an already-hot iron to firmly press down on the paper (approximately 3 minutes or longer, depending on the instructions) until all of the the design is transferred.

For Dark-colored T-shirts
1. Whites DO show up on the T-shirt for the dark-colored T-shirt transfers.  All blank areas of the sheet will be white areas of the design.  Thus, you will need to cut around the design with scissors or a knife, especially areas where you do not want whites to show.  Sometimes I put a thick outline in my design in the same color as my T-shirt so I won't have to cut so close to the design.
2. The design should NOT be flipped horizontally unlike the light-colored shirt transfers. What you see is what you will get.
3. You would need a hard, flat surface (cardboard on a hard surface will do) under the T-shirt.  The transfer paper will usually have a thin layer you will need to peel off on the back of the page.  After doing so, place the paper (design face up) on the T-shirt.  Then, place a parchment paper (that usually comes with the package) on top of that design.  You would then use an already-hot iron to firmly press down on the paper (approximately 3 minutes or longer, depending on the instructions) until all of the the design is transferred.

Here are my results!  The Foos is an app I'm working on with a team, so couple of these shirts are a parody of other franchises using the characters from the game. One of these is a fan art of D.Va from the game Overwatch.

That's it for now! Have fun designing and ironing!