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The Hundred Year Farce
a PLAY in brief

[Open on a bus stop with bench, currently unoccupied.  OLD MAN enters slowly from SR, hobbles to and sits on the far side of the bench.  He takes a sighing breath, then extricates a pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket.  He places one in his mouth, lights it, and smokes contentedly.  There is the sound of a scuffle off SR, and YOUNG MAN is thrown bodily onto the stage, where he staggers to his feet, somewhat drunk.]

YOUNG MAN: Just you wait til I'm sober again! [Nearly falls twice] but until then, I'll give you time to think about it.  [He weaves his way to the near side of the bench and gestures to it] this seat taken?  [OLD MAN shakes his head, and he sits.]

OLD MAN: The fighting any good tonight son?

YOUNG MAN: The best in weeks.  [Peers at OLD MAN] Do I know you?

OLD MAN: Nope.

YOUNG MAN: But I just saw you in the bar.

OLD MAN: You're the only man I know that professes to adequate powers of recollection when drunk.

YOUNG MAN: And YOU'RE the only man I know comes out of that place not smelling of alcohol.  And I'm not drunk.

OLD MAN: Suit yourself.  [Puffs on his cigarette.]

YOUNG MAN: But you were in there.

OLD MAN: I might have been.

YOUNG MAN: But you weren't drinking.

OLD MAN: I might not have been.

YOUNG MAN: So why go into a bar?

OLD MAN: I'm married.  [YOUNG MAN makes a sound of appreciation.]

YOUNG MAN: You got a light?

OLD MAN: I do.

YOUNG MAN: You got a smoke to go with it?

OLD MAN: I do at that.  [Gives YOUNG MAN a cigarette, then holds out the lighter for him.  They both smoke for a few seconds.]

YOUNG MAN: So your wife.

OLD MAN: You're welcome to her.

YOUNG MAN: Nah, I was just curious.  Thanks though.  She a pain?

OLD MAN: Like rheumatoid arthritis.  I like to take these 'walks' every once in a while to clear my head.  Don't you dare let a woman joke about owning cats, because the next thing you know, you'll be up to your neck in them, and all that goes with them.

YOUNG MAN: Women don't want cats nowadays.

OLD MAN: Yeah, that's exactly what she told me too.

YOUNG MAN: So why do you stay with her?

OLD MAN: Even you can't be drunk enough to believe that someone my age can start over again.

YOUNG MAN: That's not so, it's never too late.

OLD MAN: What positive fruitcake frosting.

YOUNG MAN: Ok, maybe not.  But at least you have these nights off; how often does she let you out?

OLD MAN: Once a month.

YOUNG MAN: Hell!

OLD MAN: Where I live.  I tell her that I need to smoke, and that I'll just take a walk around the neighborhood so the smell doesn't linger near the doorstep; she thinks I'm being gentlemanly in my decrepitude.

YOUNG MAN: Ha!

OLD MAN: Not that it would be hard to fool the old bitch.  She shares one brain between her and all those cats.  [Takes a drag on his cigarette.]

YOUNG MAN: You bitter old fogey!  You're nastier than a second grader!

OLD MAN: I work at it.

YOUNG MAN: Not a bit!  I can see it in your eyes, you love every second of it!

OLD MAN: Yeah, a bit.  That's what living with a woman that resembles a bag of cement for a hundred years will do to you.

YOUNG MAN: There's no way you're a sweet old codger when you get home, you're pulling my leg.  She's just as fed up with you as you are with her.

OLD MAN: Not a bit.  Every night I look her in the eyes before I switch off the lamp her damn old mother gave us for a wedding gift, and tell her that she's still the most beautiful sunset I've ever laid my eyes on.  [Stares at the cigarette in his hand] god,  how it grates against the inside of my lips.

YOUNG MAN: [Laughing] You're a sick old coot, you know that.

OLD MAN: I had an inkling.

YOUNG MAN: So are you just waiting it out here before you have to go back?

OLD MAN: No, I encourage her to spend a bit of time outside herself, say the air is good for her.  I meet her here my one night of the month and act all starry-eyed to see her when she comes.  I should've been in pictures.

YOUNG MAN: Well I'll be damned.  [OLD WOMAN enters from SL, heading slowly towards the bus stop, humming quietly as she comes.  OLD MAN takes a last breath of his cigarette and stands, straightening his coat and tipping his hat to YOUNG MAN.]

OLD MAN: It was a pleasure talking to you.

[OLD MAN undergoes a kind of transformation as he turns to face OLD WOMAN.  His sour face crinkles into a warm, loving smile and he leans forward, holding his hands out to take hers.  He pulls her closer and brushes a lock of gray hair out of her face before gently brushing his lips against her cheek.  She smiles back and makes modest sounds of false protest.  He offers her his arm and she takes it.]

OLD MAN: I'm terribly sorry my dear, I had another while I was waiting for you.  I can take another turn around the neighborhood if you can't let me in the house in this state.  [He smiles knowingly, certain of a welcome.]

OLD WOMAN: Oh, it's been so long since I've smelled smoke on you, it can't hurt for one evening.  I love you so much.

OLD MAN: And I love you too.  Come, I'll walk you home and chase away the shadows with a tune.  [They walk off SL, humming together the same tune OLD WOMAN had been humming as she entered.  YOUNG MAN stares after them in utter disbelief.]

YOUNG MAN: [As he gets up and heads off SR] I need a drink.

[Close on the empty bus stop.]
Sometimes you meet a person, just for a moment, who seems inclined to tell you "the truth of the matter," everything that they hide from the people that you love. And then you realize, in the split second that you see them within their circle again, that they really get their kicks teasing random strangers at bus stops.

Enjoy!
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EDIT: This is REALLY LONG, so feel free to search for the question you want answered by hitting Ctrl+F to bring up your browser's search function.  Any and all insults contained herein are for comedic purposes only (except when I'm addressing excessively stupid people, in which case, they started it.  I find ignorance offensive.  Even my own).  If it helps, I get tired of being cruel about a quarter of the way in, and although I'm still quite sarcastic after that, I'm at least informative.  You may have better luck just looking at my tutorials.  More pictures, less sarcasm.

My Drawing FAQ AKA The Long-Winded Philosophy Of Pencil Drawings

Q. Can I ask you a quick question?
A. I guess, but make it snappy. I'm pretty busy.

Q. You're just sitting there... and spinning around in your swivel chair.
A. That is not true! I'm also trying to balance a pencil on my lip. Anyway, what may be perceived as staring slack-jawed into space, or gawking at screencaps, is actually brainstorming. Drawings aren't gonna plan themselves.

Q. This isn't a drawing. Did you really draw this?
A. Nope. It was licked onto the paper by kittens.

Q. You're a really good drawer! I thought it was a picture!
A. Thank you, but I strongly dislike being called a drawer, for two reasons:

draw·er  
/ˈdrô(ə)r/
Noun
1. A boxlike storage compartment without a lid, made to slide horizontally in and out of a desk, chest, or other piece of furniture.
2. Underpants.

Also, while I'm being a raging pedant, a drawing is a picture. Both photographs and drawings are kinds of picture.

Q. How are ALL your drawings so good? Don't you ever make mistakes?
A. I don't often, no.  People mostly gush at me, saying  "You can draw anything!!!!1"  but that's not true.  I'll tell you why my drawings are good.  Many people, they look at a photo, and think  "That looks great.  I'll draw it."  But I actually stop to visualise what it would look like drawn by me.  Just 'cause a photo looks good, doesn't mean a drawing of it in your style will.  So I just don't draw anything I know I won't be able to pull off.  Each reference I choose, I carefully consider if it will highlight my strengths, and minimise my weaknesses.

(But you can never really avoid flaws in your work.  It's human.  At best, you can minimise and disguise flaws, to keep them from being mistakes.  And if you're really lucky, you'll be the only person who notices them.)

Q. So you avoid your weaknesses?  That's no way to improve.  You should challenge yourself.
A. I do challenge myself.  Every drawing is a struggle, and therefore a challenge.  But there's a difference between a challenge I can actually do, and one where I ruin a drawing, throw away some expensive paper, and lose the confidence to draw for several weeks.
I don't avoid my weaknesses.  I avoid references that focus on my weaknesses.  If I feel I suck at shading, I don't draw something with no shading.  I just draw something where the shading doesn't matter so much.  Then if I don't do a perfect job, the drawing can still turn out well, and I still get practice with the stuff I'm not so great at.

Also, do you see me not improving?  Have you looked through my gallery?  I never delete old artwork, so you can see the improvement - which, may I say, is humongous.  I'm at a point where I'm satisfied with my skill level, so people telling me I need to focus on improvement is a little insulting.  I don't want to base my choice of reference around what'll help me improve the fastest.  I have this little thing I like to call patience, so I'd prefer to let it happen naturally.

(I don't really keep old works up just so people can see the improvement.  I'm too lazy to organise my gallery;  I don't know where to draw the line between stuff that's good enough to be there, and stuff that isn't.  Plus, I felt proud enough when I drew it to put it on display.  I want to have the integrity to be fair to my past self and say she still deserves her work to be seen.)

Q. Can you draw, like, not from a photo?
A. Of course I can.  Just get Jensen Ackles to sit in front of me, still as a statue, for forty hours.  No problem.
Or alternatively, go look in my manga gallery folder.  That's what it looks like when I don't draw from photos.
I draw from photos because I love my favourite musicians, my favourite actors, and my favourite fictional characters, as portrayed by my favourite actors. I love the image, and want to learn it by heart by recreating it, generally with my own twist involving high saturation, high contrast, and graphic composition.

Original artwork involves a completely different skill set, that I would have to learn from scratch.  The number of years it'd take to develop those skills isn't remotely worth it, because I don't give a crap about it.  Life's far too short.  I have so many interests, so many "One day I'll learn to _" and so little time to indulge them.  It'd be a waste of a life to learn a skill I don't value.

I physically cannot create artwork I don't care about.  Without passion, it wouldn't be art.  It'd just be an exercise.
In summary, if you love original artwork so much, why don't you marry it.

Q. Are all your answers going to be sarcastic?
A. Dunno lol. Are all your questions gonna be so intellectually stimulating?

Q. Why waste your time on fanart, if you could do real art?
A. You can't always expect to understand different tastes or interests to yours.  If someone likes something you don't like, do you think they're wrong?

Just because certain styles of art don't reach you emotionally, that doesn't mean it's not art.  I'm not crazy about Fauvism, but I'm certainly not arrogant enough to declare to the world that it's factually NOT ART, just because I'm not receptive to it.  I have the self-awareness to realise the problem is with me, not with the artwork.  It wouldn't kill you to do the same.

Fanart is not a new genre.  It's not a fad.  Picasso painted the celebrities of his time.  The renaissance masters painted Biblical figures, and not long before that they painted deities from various pantheons (the myths were the favourite stories of the time, much the same as TV or movies today).  Before the invention of the camera, the masters used camera obscura and camera lucida to project images onto the canvas, and traced them.  Da Vinci dug up dead bodies to make anatomical sketches, and many of his works are based on those sketches.  The most famous artists in history knew that in realism, you should do whatever's necessary to make your work accurate.  If they had photos, they probably would have copied them.

If you think the reason fanart isn't art is because it's shallow, think again.  Everyone I know is very passionate about their fandom(s).  It's sort of our raison d'etre.  I think about mine all day.  In fact, out of every possible subject, it's what I'm most passionate about.  Hence drawing the same people over and over.  I could happily draw Dean Winchester until the cows come home.  Then I could draw the cows.

And if you think fanart (or any realism, for that matter) isn't art if it's copied from an existing image, why?  What about photomanipulation, or collage? Do they still get to be art?  If I own the reference photo, it's all still my work, so is it art NOW?  If I burn the negative after I use it, so the drawing is the only copy of that image in existence, is it art NOW?

And if it's not art because it's copied from a COPYRIGHTED IMAGE?  That's a legal issue, not an art issue.  Copyright was made so that people wouldn't take advantage, but I don't think drawing a copy of something detracts from the original in any way.  Drawings are not mass produced, and when you sell one, you're paid for the time and work that went into it, not the copyrighted image it's based on.  Unfortunately, unless the owner is accessible, you simply can't get permission to use most references.  And yet, we do endeavour to get permission for use.  I actually mailed Misha Collins to ask if I could draw his photos, and he said as long as I send him the drawings (hah.  I sent him one... So far).

Art is art.  Some is good art, some is bad art.  There are no good or bad art genres, movements, mediums, or styles.  There can be good and bad examples WITHIN those styles, but all styles are equally valid.  Feel free to have favourites, that's only natural.  It's also natural for there to be certain styles you hate.  But don't be so arrogant, ignorant and self-important that you actually believe your tastes are the only correct ones.

Q. In some of your drawings, you only use a tiny corner of the paper.  If you wanted to draw something small, why didn't you use a smaller piece of paper?
A.  Because the empty space around the subject is part of the image.  This is part of what's called "composition".  Not every subject looks best taking up the entire page.  Even after you know what you want to draw, there are still lots of options for how to draw it.  Choosing the most effective composition to bring out the subject is part of what makes a good drawing great.

Q. Will you draw something for me?
A. This may surprise you, but spending 40 hours doing a favour for some stranger on the internet is not my main job.  However, although I don't normally do requests, it never hurts to ask, so go ahead and let me know who or what you'd like to see drawn, and I'll see what I can do.

Q. Will you teach me to draw?
A. Also not my main job to tutor people on the internet for free.  I'll spend a few minutes answering questions, but I'm not gonna coach you or anything.  I rarely give critique because I'm not good at expressing myself, and I don't really know anything about art aside from being familiar with my own process.  Aside from making the odd tutorial, I don't think I have much to teach anyone.

Q. How did you get so good?
A. My wicked friends will tell you I sold my soul to a crossroads demon in return for ten long years of artistic talent. This, however, is an evil slanderous joke (or is it?).

I'm self-taught.  In middle school I took a remedial art class - but my teacher didn't teach us anything.  For instance, he neglected to mention that sketching pencils have more than one grade.  Learning from just one teacher can be more of a hindrance than a help.  You may end up making all the same mistakes they make, or just learning of fictitious limits and thus imposing them on yourself and your work.  Plenty of people tell me it's not possible to draw like I draw.

Most people, if they have a teacher who tells them a particular effect isn't possible, they will never try it, and won't make the improvements they would have otherwise.  Personally, if someone tells me "You can't do that", my instinctive response is "OH YEAH? WATCH ME."  I always want to try it anyway just to prove them wrong.  I practice, experiment, and look at a lot of tutorials by a lot of different artists, so that I can take the best advice from each.

Q. Do you have any tips for me?
A. Be more specific.  Otherwise I don't know what kind of tips you're looking for, do I?  When people ask this vague question, I go to their gallery to see if they have any obvious weaknesses, and more often than not, their gallery is EMPTY, or only has a few pieces in it.  It's very hard to advise you without seeing examples of your abilities.
Wait, actually I do have a tip for you:  Don't eat yellow snow.

Q. You're not being very encouraging.
A. Oh, I'm sorry.  *Ahem* BE THE BALL.  Wax on, wax off. What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve!  Go deviant, it's your birthday!  Stake it! Stake it UK!  ...Is that better? What am I, your pep squad? Am I here to hold your little hand and wipe your little tooshie?

To be serious for a sec, though, I think ANYONE can get ANYWHERE in art through hard work and practice.  Some people have more natural talent, but that's just a slightly better jumping off point.  Having talent (or even hard-earned skill) doesn't make it easy by any stretch - I still have to work my tits off like everyone else.  And I still have drawings that turn out like crap (in between the masterpieces, of course.)

I've taken the liberty of devising a handy schedule for artists wanting to improve their skills:
Monday: draw eat
Tuesday: draw sleep
Wednesday: draw draw
Thursday: eat draw
Friday: draw draw
Saturday: eat draw
Sunday: eat draw sleep


Practice makes perfect. It's not just an expression, like "I love you" or "Your cheque is in the mail". This one is factually true. And hard work builds character. I've been practising for years and years, and I have character coming out of my butt.

Seven years ago, I SUCKED.  Now I'm AWESOME.  People WORSHIP me.  And yes, it feels good, and it's been worth it because I love to draw.  Aim high.  You can draw like this.  Eventually.  The only question is: Do you want it bad enough to put in the time and work?

Think:  Do you love to draw, or do you love being praised for a drawing?  If only the latter, then maybe you should keep looking until you find something you love to do.  Get good at it, get praised WHILE doing something that makes you happy.  Just doing something for respect isn't worth it.  Or maybe I just don't give a crap what people think.  If you're attracted to the aesthetic of being an artist, but don't truly enjoy drawing, there are plenty of other ways to be creative.  Keep looking, and keep trying new things.

Q. But I practice all the time, and my drawings aren't getting better.
A.  Are you sure about that?  Some of the time improvement shows in the end result, but for long stretches of time it's only the process that improves.  You may have refined techniques, or you're working slightly faster, or something's slightly easier.  Maybe you know more intuitively what pencils to use, what colours will look good together.  You're training your mind to be artistic and your eyes to be analytical, breaking down everything you see just like you would if you were drawing it.  You're training your hand to cooperate. The pencil is now an extension of your arm.  It is not the spoon that bends.  It is only yourself.

Q. I wreck every drawing I work on.
A. As long as they're not commissions, it doesn't really matter.  Just because a project doesn't turn out the way you intended, doesn't mean it's ruined.  Sometimes art just has a mind of its own, and disagrees with the artist about how it should look.  And if you're REALLY struggling, that just means you're trying to draw things that are beyond your skill level, in which case, the amount you'll learn from the project makes up for the fact that it may end up looking like crap.  Personally, I have to draw a person several times before I feel like it actually LOOKS like them.  It happens.

Q. Tools?
A. A 12-set of cheap graphite sketching pencils - I generally use about half in each drawing.
A 150-set of Prismacolor pencils, imported.
A 120-set of Faber-Castell Polychromos.
A 36-set of Derwent watercolour pencils. For occasional use only - if I only get the pigment damp, not wet, I can use it in tiny areas, for opaque overlay (highlights) instead of using negative space with my Prismas.
A blending stump - Only occasionally, and rarely for skin.  Mostly for soft-focus backgrounds that should be smooth.
A metal sharpener.
Two different eraser pens - which I received as gifts from Cataclysm-X and letseewhatwegothere.  But hardly ever for highlights, unless my highlight turned grey while I worked.  I tend to just use erasers for mistakes.
A clean balm-free tissue</b> to keep between my hand and the drawing - keeps me from smudging it or getting the paper damp from my skin.
Thick paper - I haven't used printer paper in years.  It warps and tears.  I use smooth white bristol board or off-white cartridge paper, depending on what better suits the image.

Bristol board is mostly too smooth for colour pencils. Not much pigment will stick, so the colours can look pale and washed out. It's best for graphite. However, if you're having trouble blending smoothly with coloured pencils, Bristol board may be worth a shot.
Cartridge paper is really rough (in fact, it was originally designed for ammunition casings, not drawing) so it has enough tooth to build up a thick layer of pigment, and the colours will pop... if you can blend smooth enough.

For me, the perfect paper for coloured pencils has enough tooth to build up a generous layer of pigment, and is fluffy enough to mash down with the pencils and blend smoothly.  When shopping for paper, find thick flexible paper, and dent a sheet with your fingernail. The deeper the indentation, the fluffier the paper is.  If you can't make a mark, it's probably too dense for my taste.

When buying expensive paper:  see if it works out cheaper to buy a pad twice as big as you need  (eg. A3 instead of A4)  and then cut each sheet in half.  You'll get twice as many sheets as if you'd bought the smaller pad, but it may only cost a couple more £.

Q. How do you get anatomy and proportion accurate?
A. If it's a portrait of a celebrity, or someone specific, and you need to attain likeness, you pretty much need a reference photo.  No amount of art-class, or anatomy practice, will help you get this right, without a photo (or several) of the person to look at while you draw (unless you're an absolute master).  You must get proportion right.  Think about it:  when most people draw their first ever portrait, they only draw outlines. Just lines. The face, the facial features, the hair, and then they call it done. Because proportion is the most important part.  It's the only thing absolutely necessary for a portrait.  Everything else is optional.

I never use grids, or tracing.  I've seen plenty of artists whose work I respect say they use one or the other, so as far as I'm concerned, do what you like.  Tracing is OBVIOUSLY easier, but a lot of people will tell you it's cheating.  I think it's a grey area, what is or isn't cheating in art.  As long as you let people know your methods, I don't see what the problem is.  Every artist probably has methods they'd feel guilty or uncomfortable about using.  So do what you're comfortable with, but try not to judge others by your own "moral" standards.

I'm good enough at placing everything by now that I use colour pencil for colour drawings (something that won't stand out when the drawing's done, and press LIGHT), but if I think I'll need to keep changing it, I use a sketching pencil with a medium soft lead (e.g. 2B) and make light, barely visible marks where all the important parts are, like outline of the chin, hairline, and facial features.  If it's too complicated to eyeball, I use a pencil or ruler (I may even use a protractor for distance and angles) to measure everything on the reference photo, and copy it.

When I think I'm done, I place the drawing over the reference (assuming they're the same size - the ref needs to be big enough for the details to be visible) and hold it up to the light.  If things are in the right place, I move on to the next step.  If not, I make adjustments.  If you get tired of this step, and move on to do spectacular shading and intricate details...  the drawing will look weird as hell, 'cause you didn't get the subject's proportions right.

Q. How do you shade in graphite?
A. The key to shading in realism is contrast.  I start by desaturating my reference photo, if I'm using graphite.  It usually becomes flat, grey and muddled when it's suddenly in monotone. This is because a colour image has both tone and hue for variation. Now suddenly it only has tone. So I play with the curves in photoshop, and waken the contrast up, but try to be careful the features and shadows showing facial contours still show.  You may notice in my graphite drawings, I focus on using black and white, with just a few grey tones in between.  I love the high-contrast look.

I shade dark to light on white paper - doing this, you immediately set the tonal extremes (pitch black and bright white), making it easier to accurately place every grey tone between.  I always desaturate a ref I'm gonna draw in graphite, 'cause as well as the colour ref shows variation, it's hard to know exactly what tone to translate a hue to.

Many people use a soft leaded pencil for the whole thing and just press lighter in places then blend it all over the place. I never, ever do this, because it can give a rough texture to the shading. I use pencils the exact right hardness, and press down just as hard with each of them.

If you use long pencil strokes, they'll probably be visible in the end product, and people will be able to see it's a drawing a mile off.  So, I use tiny circular motions (google circulism.  And yeah, it takes a while to get used to it, but then it's pretty much automatic) and then in going over and over the same space, the strokes cover eachother up, and they're barely visible.

I try to make my shading as neat as possible, even if I'm planning on using blending tools after.  The neater it looks now, the neater it'll look when I'm done.  Blending tools will only do so much.  YOU HAVE TO DO THE REST YOURSELF.  (And besides, if you start learning to use colour pencils later, you'll soon realise being messy doesn't cut it when you have only the pencils themselves to blend with.)  Like I said, I start with the black, and keep adding lighter tones until everything gradates smoothly as possible.

If it's still a little messy after, I use my hardest pencil and shade over all but the lightest grey and white parts.  It usually evens out slight variations in tone, without taking away the texture like a blending stump would.

I'm very selective with which areas I choose to use a blending tool for.  I think a drawing should have all kinds of textures, like a photo, and the best chance of that is if they're rendered using just the pencils.
So I only blend what should be really smooth, and only after making the pencil strokes there as neat as possible - smooth enough that it could just be left that way, as if I were planning on not blending at all.  Otherwise, even after blending, you can see the messy pencil strokes that were there before.

I also use a blending stump on its own (without using a pencil to shade there first), for smooth, very light grey areas.  I rub a pencil end onto the stump, then draw with the stump.
If the delicate light shades get a little too dark, I dab it with the eraser end of a mechanical pencil.  Don't rub!  Blot, like a stippling motion.

This is important:  Please don't ever use your fingertips to blend.  The oils in your skin will contribute to the paper degrading over time;  and they also stain the paper, and make the shading uneven, grimy, and difficult to erase.  You should really use a tool instead, even if it's just a tissue folded over your fingertip.

Q. How do you get your blacks so black?
A. I use a soft-leaded pencil for the darkest areas, like an 8B. Then I spray the drawing with fixative so more graphite will stick, and then I photoshop after scanning.  My scanner's an Epson Stylus DX4450, and it's usually great, but it always ruins graphite blacks.  They're shiny and reflective.  So I open the file in photoshop, duplicate the Background layer twice, set one to Multiply %30-40, and one to Soft Light %30-40.  Fiddle with those settings, 'cause it'll be different for each drawing.  If there's a warped area, I use the Burn tool to fix it.

Q. Wait, you edit your drawings in photoshop? Isn't that cheating?
A. Yes, dear.  It's cheating to try to make your drawings look good.
Honestly, there's no such thing as cheating, unless you're dishonest about your methods.  Not even tracing is cheating, as long as you tell people that's how you did it.  The only reason I don't do stuff like that, is it cheats you out of developing skill in that area.  I fix up my scans because scanners really aren't designed for fine art.  They wreck it.  I work long and hard on my drawings, and I sure as hell want to present them in the best possible way.
With colour drawings, the only photoshopping I ever do is resize, remove scanner dust (using a tiny brush and the clone tool) and sharpen the details.
Colour drawings usually don't need very much retouching.  But graphite ones invariably do.

Q. How do you use colour?
A. Any way you want.  Beginners tend to stick to flesh colours (PEACH), but the truth is you can use any colours you like, as long as you use them consistently throughout the whole drawing.  Then it'll look like it was intentional, well thought out, and people will be telling you how creative you are.  Pay attention to different colours in the reference;  this sounds so obvious, but colour reflects off objects, and especially skin.  Shadows may be two different colours depending on which side of the face they fall.

I tend to pick colours of differing hues and tones, and use them in order from dark to light, blending the darkest into the edge of the black, the second darkest into that, and so on until I get to the white (just like with graphite).  A palette I often use is black, navy blue, royal blue, red-brown, peach, cream, and white.

Don't get me wrong;  there's nothing wrong with just using regular flesh tones -  but in my opinion, it takes quite a bit of skill to make the result look realistic rather than stylised and cartoony.

Q. How do you make details look real?
A. I print the reference big enough that I can properly examine the details.  I can't copy what I can't see.  I keep my pencils dangerously sharp, so they can handle details the size of their tip.  And I don't use blending tools on details at all.  The sharper I keep it, the more realistic it'll look.  Luckily they're usually small, so I never have to use many different pencils to get a realistic tonal variation.

Q. How do you draw hair?
A. Strand by strand.  I'm not even kidding.  Every single tiny shadow in the reference, I try to add to the drawing.  But the number one tip is: beginners draw hair from root to tip, in long, flowing lines.  It often doesn't look like this in the reference.  The lines are broken up by clumps and strands weaving in and out all over the place.  You rarely see any strand visible from root to tip.

Just like the shading in the rest of the drawing, I start with the darker shadows.  These are usually at the roots, or between larger clumps of hair.  If I'm struggling to add detail like single strands, I start at the hairline and around the face, because that's where they're most noticeable.  (Plus they're technically part of the face here.  And everyone knows drawing the face is the fun part, right? 8D) Also, I don't use erasers for hair.  I use negative space and draw around light strands.

Q. Doesn't that take ages?
A. Do I seriously look like I have a quick way of doing these things?  I submit like twelve drawings per year, if that.  Notice stuff.
So many people ask me why their drawings suck, and then admit they rush them most of the time.  And so many people ask me for advice, then say "Oh.  That'd take ages.  Forget it then."  If you know ways to improve your work, but you think they'd take too much time or effort, you don't need advice.  You don't need tips.  You need to consider how much you care about your work and whether or not you want to improve.

So, yeah. Damn straight, it takes ages. Do you want it done fast, or do you want it done well?  By the time you get to the point where I am, where a normal drawing takes 30-40 hours, you're used to it.  Patience is a skill you learn like any other.  As you gradually build up a habit of using different techniques, you gradually take longer to finish a drawing.

But, if you know you're rushing it, there's no need to jump right in and decide you're gonna spend 40 hours on the next one.  You can say you'll spend an extra 15 minutes on whatever your weak point is, for example.  Or even pull out all the stops and use every skill at your disposal, but on a much smaller drawing so it won't take so long.

Q. How do you erase coloured pencil?
A. NEVER EVER MAKE MISTAKES WITH COLOURED PENCIL.  But if you do, try using blu-tack or kneaded eraser.  StephsDA recommended frisket film to me, but I don't even know what that is, so I can't recommend it (I take advice!  Just haven't gotten around to googling it).  She said you put it over the drawing, and press through it with a pencil, and the pigment should lift right off the paper.

Q. How do you keep those rogue specks of pigment from sticking to your drawings?
A. AureliaACC told me she uses blu-tack to remove the specks! I would trust her judgement.

My own answer: Well, first of all:  remember to wipe the pencil you're using clean, before you put it back down.  Otherwise you'll accidentally draw with a white pencil that has black spots on the tip.
I have a pencil-that's-really-an-eraser, and it has a stiff brush on one end to brush away eraser dust without smudging the drawing.  I only use the brush end.  It's good for pigment dust.  But sometimes it sticks anyway.  So I try to erase it, and then do one of two things:

1) If the colour's not too dark, I draw over it and press friggin' HARD (how hard? The same as I usually colour, hard enough to completely disguise the texture of the paper, so no white spots are left), push the pencil around over it for a while.  The purpose is to blend it, diluting the pigment so it doesn't look so out of place.  Then I erase again (or even scrape it off with my fingernail), and there should be enough pigment now on that area for most of it to erase.  What's left should be a pale version of what you're going to put there later anyway.

2) If it's a dark colour or black, I ignore what's left of it and complete the drawing.  Then, I grab my 36-set of watercolour pencils, pick the one that's closest to the colour of the surrounding area (think concealer), lick the end of the pencil slightly (damp but not wet) and dab it onto the speck to disguise it.

Q. You lick your watercolour pencils?! GROSS!
A. Oh, please.  It's just a bit of paint, and it barely tastes of anything.  If you're that picky about what you're willing to put in your mouth, you'll never have a social life. (OH SNAP.)

Q. Do you draw under natural lighting?
A.  I used to be really anal about that, yes.  I'd never draw after it got dark.  Especially when drawing from life, switching lighting in the middle of a project can make it look odd when you're finished, because you're not seeing the colours the same way.
But now I tend to pick out the pencils I'll use before I get started, so I can't fuck up and use the wrong colour just because the lighting is affecting my colour vision.  So I just draw whenever, and with my angle-poise lamp on at all times, unless it's especially sunny (which it never is, because British weather is so cloudy and rainy that vampires can safely frolic through the streets in the middle of the day).
Recently I got a daylight bulb (google it!), which is about 6000 kelvin. It's very bright white light. It doesn't change the hue of a drawing, so I can work with colour even at night.

Q. Why do you leave it so long between submissions?
A. I'm prone to art-blocks that last for months at a time. I also have various health problems (Crohn's disease, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, and clinical depression, to name but a few) so I'm usually too sick or too tired to draw.  When I can draw, I really take my time.  It takes ages to finish a drawing.  So if I haven't posted anything in a while, it's because I'm working on the next masterpiece.  Not because I'm off having a life somewhere.  I'LL NEVER LEAVE YOU, dA.

Q. Even if you're sick, can't you draw at least a little each day?
A. Have you ever been too tired to do something?  If you can think back to your past experiences, and then use them to understand other people, that's called empathy.  It's an attractive quality in a human.

Q. Are you mad at me?
A. Occasionally.  I love you all dearly, but it can be tiring to be misunderstood.  I really appreciate it when people can't wait to see my next drawing.  It makes me feel like I'm missed when I'm not here.  I want to make something clear:  I've wanted to be an artist since the first time I was asked that question as a little kid.  I never gave any other answer.  I'm never going to stop drawing, and my friends and the community on dA are one main motivation.  So even if you have to wait a while, I will always submit something new.  And I'll try new things...  but only if they really interest me.  Hopefully I'll never bore you with the same stuff over and over.  I promise you, even when I'm too sick to draw, I'm drawing in my head.  To the casual observer it may look like I'm asleep, but it's actually a strict meditative technique.  That noisy breathing you hear isn't snoring, it's actually a mantra.  I'm chanting  "I will finish this drawing and put it on dA,"  over and over, in Wookiee.

Q. What's Wookiee?
A. That is far and away the dumbest fucking question I have ever heard. It doesn't even deserve a response.
Whole entire thing is tl;dr, so feel free to search for keywords (by hitting Ctrl+F).

This is a work-in-progress, constantly updated, that I moved here from my journal.
A lot of this stuff requires a picture tutorial, not just a wall of text. If anything's unclear,
let me know. If my language is too harsh, let me know. I fully intend to continue editing
and improving this thing as time goes on.


IF YOU'RE OFFENDED.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I tried to be civil to everyone except the dumb people and
lazy people. And you're neither, right? Right? So there's no need to get your panties in a
bunch, shweetheart. I was also pretty harsh with people too lazy to practice, and people
too ignorant to have respect for art genres other than their own.


DON'T BE PUT OFF BY MY SARCASM.
It does come naturally to me (possibly because I have social anxiety disorder, so when
asked questions I just want to hide in a hole and never come out. So abrasive language
may be my insurance against people ever wanting to talk to me), and I don't mean to
offend. Mostly. I use a lot of tough love, and a lot of encouragement, but I will not baby
you. If you want to be coddled, and have your skill set handed to you on a plate, you've
come to the wrong person.


ASK ME ANYTHING.

When people ask me questions, I occasionally link them here, but most of the time I
just talk their ears off until they find an excuse to leave. I take it as a compliment
when people want advice, or just want to compare notes on technique.


LEARNING IS HARD.

I shouldn't bitch at people who are trying to learn, but I can't stand it when people think
there must be some faster or easier way to do things. There usually isn't. But we don't
create art because it's quick and easy. If that were the case, photoshop would render
traditional media obsolete, and photography would render realism and portraiture obsolete.


OH THE IRONY.

It really irritates me when people say they hate ignorance, yet when asked questions,
they just insult people instead of giving simple straight answers. Like, if you hate
ignorance so much, why punish people's attempt at learning? It's just hypocritical.

So I'm sorry if it seems like that's what I'm doing here. It's annoying to be asked
questions you know the person could have just googled, but I do my best to inform.
After a fashion.

:bulletpink: my drawing space:

:bulletpink: my coloured pencil tutorial:

:bulletpink: my guide to choosing colour palettes:

:bulletpink: and my other tutorials and WIPs: [link]

:blowkiss:
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I want to pick each rain drop out of the sky
And place them side by side in my pocket
I want to glue every grain of sand on the beach
Into a collage shaped to look like you
I want to strum a guitar with an alien head
To the song we first danced to
I want to tie us together forever
With every emotion I've ever felt for you
I want to do all the impossible
Just so I can prove my love to you
Okay so yesterday my dad and I were having a conversation and you know how out of nowhere you say something really weird that you never thought would show up in a sentence together? Well out of no where I said "I wanna strum a guitar with an alien head" and my dad dared me to try and put that into a poem. So here it is.
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                                         amuto love story

              in a faraway broken down church lays a girl who watched over the events that caused te biggest confusion for one amu hinamori.  The sleeping girl got up from her coffin and smirked as she looked out the window.  her purple hair layed messily on her face. "the humpty lock and dumpty key were made for each other." she wispered "its destiny, but like all things it needed a push." she smirked as her blood red eyes scanned the forest and locked on the couple. "who knew so many things lied in the way, i can only make sure it happened. i'll tell you the amuto love story." she smiled widely just thinking about it. "Uhay.." a gaurdian chara appeared next to the girl. The gaurdian had black hair and had wolf features.  "lets begin." dark roses flew around them, and everything faded to black. and then showed a pink haired girl.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
'Finally, school ended and no gaurdian meeting today' the pink haired girl sighed before she knew it she was in an unfamiliar street. "where are we?" ran asked clinging to amu's face. A strange old man came up  to her with lustful eyes "are you lost?"  he grabbed her arm as she tried to run. "HELP!!!!" she screamed as two dark eyes watched her. "let her go." Amu, miki, suu, and ran looked up to see a dark blue haired teen glaring at the man. in a blink of an eye the teens arm was around her waist and ushering her away. They arrived at her house, "thank you." amu blushed lightly when she saw the teen smirk at her. "no problem, and be more careful." he started walking away, but amu grabbed his sleeve. "whats your name?" She saw pinned against the wall outside her house. he leaned closed to her ear and whispered "im ikuto." she blushed harder and harder "im amu hinamori." he stared her in the eye and closed the distance between their lips. it was a short kiss and ikuto soon vanished into the night. Amu laid down on her bed and sighed. she walked onto her balcony and whispered to the night "thank you, ikuto"

OMG MY FIRST AMUTO STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SQUEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Fuck haters 'cause they're the ones to blame
When gay kids get depressed and take their lives each day.

These haters bag on gay kids and make them feel like shit,
Haters tell gays to give up on life and quit.

Girls liking girls and guys liking guys,
Continuing to tease, leading to suicide.

Fuck haters, they tell the gay kids to go "away."
We'll all band together and make those haters pay.

** Who are they to say what's right and what's "gay?" **

Your anti-gay votes help slit their throats.
They sit around and mope, slip their necks through the rope.

----------------------

STR8 & AGAINST H8!
DON'T BE H8IN ON THE HOMOS!
SOME KIDS ARE GAY, THAT'S OK!
SOME DUDES MARRY DUDES, GET OVER IT!
SOME CHICKS MARRY CHICKS, GET OVER IT!
YES TO PROP8! NOH8! FCKH8!
There are 11 lines total, (above the dashed lines), the 9th & 10th lines are quotes from FCKH8's video.

~*Gasp* A bad word for a good cause? Inspired by FCKH8: [link]
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Our first meeting was inside a closet.
Incidentally, so was our first year together.

Our first meeting was difficult.
We were like two tiny existentialists
Fighting for the most valuable resource of our times.

Space.

The darkness beyond the closeted door
Belonged to her. She had stayed there
Before I arrived and opened the door.
She wouldn’t share her darkness with me.
She fought like a wild animal. Following
The two most important things in the closet –
The animal instinct. And shadows
Darker than the darkness. And hence, glowing.
Her strength and her pace drew me to her.
I fought back.

We fought for many days. Continuously.
And then, like it happens with all fights,
We forgot why we fought.
The reason fell short of perpetuating forever.
And our fight went beyond the boundaries of reason.
Slowly, we came to realize that the fight
Had become something we looked forward to.
An excuse to each other’s company.

We knew each other by the smell of sweat.
And touch. We fought for that touch.
Our expressions of the darkly interact had changed.
I had become more violent.
She was forgiving.
And we had started seeing in the dark.

That’s when we noticed the plant in the closet.
It was a tiny herb. A budding shoot.
But it was a great thing to notice.
It meant there was earth in the closet.
We decided to plow the earth properly
So that there might be more plants.
More lives.

The closet made more space for us.
It grew taller and wider.
Went beyond the walls of the solitary room.
That contained it. Or rather, didn’t contain it any further.
And we lived tending out pet plants.

The closet grew beyond the roof. Up into the skies.
And so, we realized one of our plants was Jack’s beanstalk
And that there were giants above the clouds.
They waited for us to surge upwards.
Raise our fists in glory. Or revolt.

That’s exactly where our closeted lives end.
With all of us. And don’t we know
They feast on our fist up there?
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I remember a time:
Silver rivers, silver sky-
but with broken wings of mine
I was way too weak to fly.


I remember waterponds
with a crystal water stream
but while diving into time
I was too afraid to dream.


I remember  starry skies
when at night the moon shone bright-
but though seeing all that magic
I was never satisfied.


I remember green meadows
When the wind blew through the willows-
but I'd hide in the shadows
and was glad to be alone.


I remember silent nights
the screams of a winter owl
but when sitting in my corner
I couldn't even try to howl.


I remember my old house
and my loving family-
but I didn't get along
and couldn't manage to be free.


I remember lovers face,
his eyes, his kiss, his lovely smile-
but I was afraid to fail
so I took away his life.
Poem I wrote in school.

............
Nothing more to say.
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Did you ever leave
Did know I woke up to your voice
Tears in my eyes
My heart stopped
As I remembered your dead
Till this day I still dream of you

Does that mean you always with me
In my heart
How I wish you could see me
How I wish to see you just this once
Did you know he called just like he does every year in your memory
Since you have past
  
Would you smile
Would you be proud
They tell me you would
But how will I ever know
Your gone after all
All I want is to see you again
Just one last time but that will never be enough
I don't why.I but I swear it as if I feel as if she still alive those mornings when that happens. I find my self just wanting to go back to bed again just so I hear her voice again see her face as it always was be she past.
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Evil is Light and Good is Darkness: Darkness can exist without light, but even the brightest, strongest light casts a shadow.

She died a thousand horrible deaths,
Breathed a thousand painful last breaths
She held tight to her love
the light shining from above.
As the evil light drove away the darkness
No-one could find the goddess
For she hung above the battle like death
and breathed her last breath:
She sacrificed her life;
cut through the light like a knife.

The evil God of Light has fallen,
Her sacrifice destroyed him
As I stood and watched helplessly
my hand outstretched futilely.
My mother, my Goddess,
the root of dark goodness,
disappeared forever;
found eternal rest in the ether.
She watches from the skies
But she doesn't float; she flies
Another story. lol. This is a poem about the Goddess of Darkness' and the God of Lights' final battle where the Goddess must sacrifice herself to destroy him once and for all while Trinity (the main character and heroin) has to stand back and let her do it, watching helplessly.

Hope you like it :D

<3
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Band Days, Band Daze

Oh! To wake up in the morning to
The smell of polished brass,
This is the wake up call for a musician of the Senior Band Class.
We enter the band room organized, which we rehearsed,
It is common knowledge that the flute players go in first.

You might ask...
"Isn't that extra work? Why don't you just go in instead of making it into a big deal?"
And I would answer..
"It is only a big deal if you make it into one."


After we set up the room we take out our books and read,
Waiting, waiting for the moment that
All of us are freed.
The moment that we are allowed to take
Our instruments out to play,
This is only the beginning of a musical day.

You might ask...
"Why read books in band?"
And I would answer...
"You should not limit reading only to books."


Long tones, tuning, scales, more,
But before we start we must close the door,
And turn off the phone to make sure that
It won't ring,
So that we won't be distracted by anything.

You might ask...
"What would you be distracted from?"
And I would answer...
"Everything."


Start again from the beginning,
We didn't play loud
Stand still at attention,
Blinking isn't allowed!
Practice, memorize, listen, and pay
Close attention to what the director will say.

You might ask...
"That sounds boring. Why do you have to stand still?"
And I would answer...
"Why not?"


The music surrounds us,
Our instruments sing,
We are lost in the music, but that's not a bad thing.
For the final song we played together, strong and loud...
And we bowed,
For our
Invisible
Crowd.

You might ask...
"What is the worst part about the music you play in band?"
And I would answer...
"Only the annoying songs get stuck in your head."


After school, we will try again
To play again,
We will take out our music, a pencil, no pen.
For we are the band, we will play until we get it right
We'll try harder than our hardest 'til music joins light.

You might say...
"Band seems hard, so much work, every day. Do you like it? Is it worth the work?
And I would say...
"To answer this question, you must join band yourself.
Then, think of the
Gentle,
Golden,
Musical
Memories that bounce softly into your mind...
Only then, only then, might you ask yourself...

Was it worth it?
There isn't too much band literature out there...

Written for my band director. :D Anyone in a school band will know exactly what I'm talking about.

:heart: Band geeks! :love:

More literature: [link]
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