Before and After

•June 23, 2010 • 1 Comment

In ninth grade, my last class for the day was Art. When the clock was approaching 3:00, everyone would start lining up, waiting for the bell to ring and rush on out to go home. Everyday, I would pass by the Mac Lab, look at everyone still working, and laugh in my head. I would turn to my good friend Bassam, and say things such as, “I will NEVER be in that class, haha.”

Tenth grade rolled around, and as I would be waiting to get picked up after school, I would run into Bassam every now and then. He would tell me how he owed time for the Mac Lab, and this made no sense at the time. All I knew was he had to come in outside of class for a bunch of hours in the early morning so he could pass the class. I told him that class was a stupid.

Hah. It feels good being a hypocrite.

I used to believe that being a hypocrite is frowned upon, thinking that contradicting yourself would make you seem like you’re an ‘idiot’ so to say. If this was true, I’d rather be an idiot than ignorant. I have to say, aside from a handful of teachers that in my opinion are the best, the Mac Lab made High School an enjoyable experience. I’m glad to have ended my senior year pushing myself in this class.

Anyways, today marked the graduation for the Class of 2010. This is a very special class for me, as there are some absolutely AMAZING artists that Valhalla will be letting go of. I’m privileged to be able to know people like Ben Dulay, Taylor Long, Zack Tatar, etc. It might just be me, but there’s a very special connection that I had with these people. There was that level of respect that we all had amongst each other, because we all shared the expression of ourselves in art. Whether I was stunned at Taylor’s paintings (This guy is unbelievable for those who’s never seen his work at all), to being oddly intrigued at how Chris Flemming was inspired to make the most random-yet-cool illustrationgs next to me, we all appreciated each other’s work.

So to top it all off, I look forward to the new talent coming into the Mac Lab (As well as the returning veterans). Hopefully they will be able to share the same connection I was able to have.


Literal Light Painting

•June 9, 2010 • 2 Comments

I believe it was last week while hanging around class during nutrition break, I saw someone using the mixer brush in Photoshop to make something really cool. I saw the similar things before CS5 was released, so I knew I would eventually have to get at this.

Yesterday, I went ahead and tried it myself. There was an interesting picture I took a while back, and I thought it would be perfect to use.

Basically I used the Mixer Brush + the new brushes and painted over the picture. It’s actually really fun to use.

Gradient Mesh:Third times a charm

•June 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So a while back, I was asked by one of my cousins for a picture quite some time ago. I snapped a quick picture, and took a seat thinking of what I could do. Since this is intended for print to be sold to her, I wanted to do something out of the ordinary compared to the other portraits I’ve done. I pen tooled the picture for a while, but really hated how it was looking. So in frustration, I stopped for about a week or two. It wasn’t until later on that I hated where I was going with it, and just said “forget this, I’m doing gradient mesh.” So I chugged through slowly and this is what I got.

Final Result:


I incorporated a lot of new approaches with the Mesh tool this time, while keeping some things that I learned. I stuck with the foundations of using the shapes (Rectangle + Ellipse tools) in Illustrator, but this time, I went ahead and went ahead and made better use of the eye-dropper tool by actually changing the settings. I also went ahead and made good use of the transparency/opacity settings to blend parts in with each other.

There are two notable parts of the picture that people nitpick about. The first is usually, “Look at those teeth.”
The teeth are quite white for a few reasons. First being, the original picture was quite blurry making the sampling of colors already off. Next, the lighting was already off. I did as much as I could in Camera Raw (Which wasn’t much to be honest). So if I grabbed colors off the picture, it would make her teeth look rotten.
Another unfortunate part of the picture would be the hair. I had a hard time and gradient meshing the hair wasn’t an option. So I ended up pen tooling it and blurring/smudging it.

Overall, I wish I could do better on the two aforementioned parts, but I’m happy with the rest of it. And she likes it too which is what matters the most.

It’s a Relief that I can AME for the sky. Speakr-ing of China…

•May 18, 2010 • 27 Comments

Because Mario took notice, and because Chris called me out on it, it’s time I make an update to catch up.

Starting off, I’ve got new equipment since my last update for those who don’t already know. I’ve been enjoying the luxuries of the newest Macbook Pro model (15″ intel core i7 :D), a birthday gift from my parents. Now being a digital artist, it would be absolutely silly to have such a computer without any Adobe programs, so in addition I also got CS5 the Master Collection. A beautiful collection indeed, only problem is I don’t know how to use half the programs. Which brings me to the next topic.

After I registered CS5, I got a “complimentary-benefit-gift.” Four options available, only two mattered to me. A $170 font package from Adobe, or a 30 day trial to Lynda with the ability to access their complete library of video tutorials. Normally I would have got the fonts, but 30 days to pretty much learn all the programs I have available in a nutshell? Yes please. I can’t even consider how much my work will improve.

Now, the biggest part that matters is what new work have I finished since my last update.

First, I’ve grabbed and completed a few jobs on the jobs page. Starting off-

– – – – –
Disaster Relief Benefit Concert

I was hanging around after school in the Mac Lab trying to kill time, when a group of ladies came in. They were in need of tickets for their benefit concert that they were working on, and it turns out it’s rather expensive to order tickets online. Skocko put the job up for grabs on the spot, and I took it.

Fadi said he would work on it too, so after a day I gave up and basically gave it to him. But it turns out he didn’t want to do it anymore, so I was sort of obligated to finish the job right there. Thus, I got to work and came up with an initial design.

I let Skocko take a look at it, and after he quickly played around in Camera Raw with it, the results more a huge improvement over the original.


But life is never that simple, as the title for the ticket was supposed to be “Disaster Benefit Relief Concert” as opposed to “A Benefit Relief Concert.” Not cool. So I had to go back to change it, and of course I ran into another problem. I didn’t do the Camera Raw work, Skocko did. So I basically went back and forth trying to achieve results similar to how Skocko had it since it looked fantastic the first time. But I couldn’t get it, until Chris dropped by and mentioned the adjustment brush. Everything clicked in my head, and I nailed it pretty close. Excellent. I got a killer design to incorporate into my portfolio, the organizers had a unique, and better ticket design than the ones on Ticketmaster, and I got a poster size print (Poster size prints were also thrown up around school for advertisement).

– – – – –
AME Brochure design

My design was picked, and it was a matter of filling the text. Or so I thought. Turns out it was more than that. I had to find some way to make the text flow with the design without looking bad. I eventually had it nailed down and thought I was done. Until I made the absolutely silly mistake of having huge pictures on the Illustrator file. I literally dragged pictures from Camera Raw into Illustrator, and combining that with the drop shadow effects I used, the document ended up being almost 500 MB, which is huge for an Illustrator file. After fixing everything, Skocko made a print and showed admin. Of course admin loved it… except for the dark grey I had. They wanted school colors (Orange, White, and Blue). Way to go, this design will be used next year for all the kids to see and I have to use a blue background instead of a dark grey.

This was the one that Skocko tried to push for, but admin didn’t like it.

This is the edited one with “school colors.”

Part of working with clients is listening to what they want. Reminds me of what Michael Werner told me,being “I [Michael Werner] learned common sense was not very common and that the fundamentals of design are not something everyone has.” Oh admin, you silly geese.

– – – – –

Livespeakr Video

Steven Moyer was commissioned to make a video by the same people who had him work on Livespeakr/China Wokery pictures.

I originally intended on be a part of the actual recording and work on post-production, but I had family business I had to attend to on the day of the video recording. So unfortunately all that was left was audio work. I went to Steven’s house and basically looked for audio, put audio in, and got a better look at understanding how making a video worked. It was actually pretty interesting. No need to restate everything, the full story is at his blog.

– – – – –

China Wokery pictures (Mark II)

Finally, Steven was also commissioned to take more pictures at China Wokery on Mother’s Day weekend. I was going to come along to take pictures, and Steven wanted someone who wasn’t a senior (Last time, Zack and I both went). Originally Nikki was supposed to come since she was picked by Skocko, but she was busy, so I had to find someone. If I wasn’t able to find someone, by default the spot would have went to Chris or Kyle since they weren’t seniors and haven’t got in on the action yet. While hanging around the Mac Lab during nutrition break, I overheard someone talking with Skocko about pictures they took. After asking, it turns out he (Dean) was both interested and wasn’t a senior! He just needed to check to see if it was fine, so I had to wait a day for confirmation. (Wednesday)

Well, turns out the next day (Thursday) Dean couldn’t come. How unfortunate, as Chris was handed the spot. The following day (Friday), it turns out Dean was able to come. It was too bad that Steven could only bring two students, which was supposed to be Chris and I at that point. I was supposed to break the news. Well lucky for Dean, right at the end of the day I was informed that Chris couldn’t come. Dean both lost, and got back his spot for photographer without even knowing.

Saturday we went to San Marcos to take pictures, this time grabbing some reflectors that recently came in with all the other cool and nifty video equipment. Basically tested out the new equipment, and it worked like a charm. This time also, I made sure I wasn’t going to go through the same post-production pain by trying to clean up as much as I could before the shoot (Wiping off the table every now and then, and trying to wipe off crumbs/sauces on the plate beforehand.) Afterwards came the post production. We reversed the process compared to last time, basically cleaning up and then color correcting when the pictures were patched up. Instead of doing all the post production clean up by myself, I had five other people who wanted in. I distributed out a few pictures amongst Chris, Kyle, Philip, Zack and Fadi. We finished all fairly quickly, and Steven then had his fun color adjusting. They look good and tasted good.

– – – – –

So that was a bit of what I’ve done. Now, I’m working on my own personal projects because time is quickly running out for me in the Mac Lab unfortunately.

I’ve started my papercraft tiki-thingy-ma-bobby project a while back, but it got buried with other things I’ve had to do. I’ve made considerable progress compared to before. I wanted to have it done by Monday but I realized I needed a lot more time with it. Something so simple is so frustrating and it’s driving me crazy.

So far, I’m actually satisfied with the overall mask portion. I thought the hair would look awkward, but when I did a test print at home it looked fine with me. My biggest issues lie with grabbing a physical balance with it. Glue sticks don’t provide enough adhesive, and there are parts that are rather difficult to put together because of the dimensions of everything. Tape makes it all look bad. I’m considering changing the overall shape, while keeping the design as much as possible. Sounds like a solid game plan to me.

In addition, I was also asked by a few family members to make portraits of them. They claimed they were more than willing to pay for it, which is terrific for me. I need to just finish it all in one sitting because putting everything off is starting to bug me. Might I point out there’s only a little over a month left! Three-Four portraits + other things to do. Yikes.

As far as future projects go, I would be strongly disappointed if I don’t end the school year strong. I’m skeptical on getting the stop motion video finished before school ends. It may be something for the summer to do, but at this moment I don’t even know. I also got hit with a flurry of ideas and colors in my head during class today. If I pull it off, nothing short of brilliant and elegant should be coming from me in the near future.

Word Count: 1584

Ball’s in your court now Chris. Enjoy beating it.

Bad News, Good News, Good News

•April 13, 2010 • 5 Comments

So this morning, I handed videos off to Danny for him to include in the Dance Crew video. Harry (Who’s in ASB) looked over and asked what video we were doing. When we told him it was for Dance Crew, we basically were told that ASB might not end up doing/needing it.


We had to wait for confirmation to see if Harry was right, and alas, it was in fact true. ASB changed their minds, so Dance Crew is ‘officially’ off the list. But with this, more positives came up as opposed to negatives.

First of all, the biggest negative would be we wasted (a lot) of our time doing something that we didn’t need to do. Not to mention, needless stress and annoyance between flaking dancers and limited time.

However, there are the positives.
1) Since ASB doesn’t need a video, there is no deadline to finish it. (Notice how I said deadline as opposed to ‘need’)
2) Danny mentioned this would be a great opportunity for Philip/others to learn the program as far as making videos.
3) Philip and I have learned that you cannot trust people to make it to a video shoot.  Lesson learned.
4) Philip and I have learned a lot of the planning involved building up to the actual filming.
5) Because our dancing was impromptu, it was… not so great. So at the least, this isn’t something that the entire school will see.  Thank goodness for me. :)

But still, not much I can say about it.
Oh, and if the idea for the light painting stop motion video does turn out fine, it’s going to be epic. I shared the idea with Danny just to get his thoughts, and I could tell that it was great by his reaction to it. But enough about that…

Dance Crew – Saturday School Nightmare

•April 10, 2010 • 23 Comments

I haven’t posted in a while… so here’s a lengthy post to compensate.
Today, we filmed dance crew. There is much to talk about, so I’ll take it from the very beginning.

Danny presented that a video for dance crew would be made a long time ago (Maybe a month or a few weeks ago). Now I’m a lover of hip hop, so I definitely wanted to participate whether it be big or small. As time went on however, Danny has been flooded with video projects, so this task was thrown on Philip and I. Now this was definitely not bad, as I had the opportunity to play a bigger role in something that I love.

Starting off, our initial idea was shut down, but for good reasons. So after modifications, we eventually got something down and usable. Now Skocko only got the one sentence pitch, but he had faith in us that we can get it to work. Danny and Kyle seemed fine with the idea (Even helping out on storyboards), so we all seemed to have a general agreement that this should turn out well.
After having our storyboards set in stone, we needed dancers and location. We actually found the spot a few days ago, as we ended up using Mr. Anderson’s class (With his permission of course) as our set, so big thanks to him. However, our biggest issue lied in out dancers as the jobs page implies.

Now I have cousins who dance in well known groups around San Diego (One is in a dance group for her high school, and I’ve been told they’re pretty good, while another is in a dance group which has won first place in numerous competitions), and I myself do a bit of dancing. But I felt uncomfortable putting myself in the video, so I made it clear that I’d be a back up in case we had people who would flake on us (I’m foreshadowing by the way…). I felt it was unfair to seek help from them when we should be able to find talent around school. I knew Philip would be able to find people, and he did. Within time, Philip eventually rounded up three dancers for our video, two boys and one girl, which I was informed have great talent. Unfortunately, days later I was told two bailed out on us. Great. We’re stuck with one guy, so we still needed at least two more. After a bit of stressing, we decided to attend the Haiti auditions (Four days before our planned shooting) which should have dancers and groups there. There were a sizable amount of people when we went after school, so I knew we had to find someone that was pretty good. After a person’s audition, we met up with him as he was leaving to see if he could help out. That day, we recruited him and a friend, and I was happy because they seemed to be pretty good. Nothing could possibly go wrong, we have our dancers, and we’re all set.
Wrong. Danny’s words of “People WILL flake on you” came true, as we got ignored when we tried contacting our talent for two days straight. By the time we found them (Philip and Kyle had to physically find them around school), it was the day BEFORE the planned shoot. We got the bad news that they couldn’t make it. This wouldn’t have been so bad if they would’ve been honest and told us between the two days of trying to reach them. A dancer we had in mind who wanted to do it beforehand also ended up not being able to make it.
We lost a total of five potential dancers the day before the actual shoot. So I had to improvise, and asked a family member for help yesterday. He was a bit skeptical because he hasn’t practiced in ages, but thankfully he said yes. This was good, because we had a great dancer on campus who told us he would make it despite it being pretty early (He found 8 AM to be early. I didn’t realize this was early because I’ve been waking up around 5 AM or earlier daily. Oh well.), as well as my cousin and I to fill in those missing spots. Which means we were good to go.
Wrong. Saturday started off bad. My cousin and I were working off 4 hours of sleep, and didn’t have much practice to work with. We spent Saturday morning (about 6:30 AM – 8 AM) getting a bit practice in so we aren’t completely bad. At about 8:30 when our other guy was supposed to arrive, Philip gave me the bad news. Our dancer couldn’t make it. He had no transportation, and his parents wouldn’t let him. With our deadline in about a week, this was bad because it was the only day to shoot. We had two dancers for a video meant for three. We told Skocko, and he said to work around it. But I’m stubborn so a few phone calls later, my other cousin came to the rescue. I interrupted her much needed sleep, asking for help because I was desperate with the lack of time. She said yes, and we were good to go. Unfortunately, she lives fairly far, so it would take half an hour (ended up being about 45-50 minutes since she got lost on the way). But in any case, we had three dancers, and had to rush it fast. The shooting started at about 9:45 AM, and we ended up finishing (As in getting all our gear and being out the door) by about 12:30 PM.

That was pretty much my Saturday School. I tried my best, and couldn’t do better than that with such short notice. My dancing skills may not be the greatest, but I hope it will inspire those people who do dance to put themselves out there to make the future dance crew video even better, or inspire others to be apart of dance themselves when this video is done.

Quick little sample shot from today:

– – – – –

Tomorrow, I’ll be joining up with Steven hopefully to finish the darned Hillsdale video which has been delayed so much. Which means, opportunity to work on a big project with the time remaining. Light painting stop motion anyone? :)

Also, I have some other pictures to post, so expect that in the future from me. That’s all folks!

Typography and naming conventions

•March 12, 2010 • 12 Comments

I wasn’t a happy camper making logos during semester one.  I could never seem to find the right groove.

Last night, as I was browsing through the jobs page, I noticed that there was a job regarding creating a brochure for next year.  I knew this was something I wanted to try out, and I spent the night sketching out ideas to try out.  I had no clue what the specifics were at that time, but I kept playing with ideas.  Well after working on a few things, this is what I’ve got for the cover for now.

White | White with stripes | Orange | Orange with stripes

Without going too crazy with things, I think this was a great start.

– – – – –

As far as the second part of this post’s title goes, check out this comment that I found yesterday morning on here.  Makes you reconsider naming your files ‘Untitled’, doesn’t it?  Thank you Google!  I was never able to find out who that guy was in the picture until yesterday.