2015…What now?

At the time of my last entry, I was attempting to find a path I hadn’t yet walked. This path included new opportunities for learning and for work. Being unexpectedly unemployed at the start of 2012 gave me the opportunity to feel like I had failed. On paper, I was not ‘at fault’ for the way things played out, but everything that I thought I was doing right in order to be termed a ‘responsible adult’ was gone.

These are the times when you ask out loud “now what?”, but inside you are repeating “oh shit” over and over again.

Now, I consider myself a lucky person. I had been given the opportunity and ability to go to college and earn a degree of my choosing under a program called GI Bill (chapter 30 and 33). Even though there is always this nagging voice that says ‘psst – get a job’, what I most desired at that time was to understand people. I wanted to know who, and why we are. I wanted to know how we relate to one another, how we come to like, dislike, love, hate, etc. What are our beliefs about each other, ourselves, and the world around us. I had a lot of questions about people, and especially, people in work places. To summarize – I came out of college with a bachelor of science in organizational sociology…that’s a mouthful!

So I had a degree, and a great job within days of graduation. Then another challenge came into my life and I accepted it – to move to a new place and thus, a new phase of life. My partner traveled ahead of me to the new homestead while I stayed behind and continued working at a job I loved until I found work. When I accepted the new position, I took a pay cut, but at least it was full time work, and it wasn’t too far off from what I had been doing. Lucky indeed.

December 30th 2011 was my last full day. My contract would not be renewed because the government had not issued the 2012 budget yet. I knew this was a possible scenario, and did end up coming to pass. Cheers to a new year with no direction, in a new place nonetheless. This was not my first rodeo, but it seems that I, too, had become comfortable in my life and had not been looking for a ‘do-over’.

So, I considered myself a resourceful person, even though savings only last so long, and most people judge you as crazy or worse, lazy, the longer it takes you to ‘figure it out’; i.e. get a job. In this new place, I felt paralyzed, and it seems that paralysis by fear and introversion become great excuses for each other. I went to the VA to seek guidance on finding a career track that was right for me, under the guise that in this new place, employers were hesitant to employ someone with a sociology degree, or rather; perhaps I just wasn’t good at selling my education to them as valuable. In my quest to justify the need for continuing education via a master degree, I was denied. My partner is following his dream, so I thought, perhaps business is the path for me…I failed.

When I started this blog, 2012, I was attempting to channel my thoughts and feelings about being unemployed, failures, creative endeavors – old and new, and sharing things that I think (or thought) I knew about, I had a lot of ideas about things I would like to do, and places I’d like to go, but no real passion for anything in particular, because I was still always just thinking about getting a job.

When I compiled that list, I found that most of the dream-like endeavors I wished to pursue had no guarantee of income, and I wrestled with this idea that the only way I am ever going to start checking off the list is if I have permission first. Permission from whom? I knew who I needed it from, but I thought I needed it from everything and every one outside of myself. But, lo and behold, even though I was granted that mental and emotional approval, I still held myself back.

I felt selfish, and lazy, and was running out of time.

It was my partner who encouraged me to look back and think about every time I said “I wanna do this”, and to just pick something and do it. Sounds easy right? I always admire those who just pick a direction and follow it, just as he does to this day. The summer of 2012 was spent watching dogs, reading and writing poetry, doodling, helping my partner with his game development business (doing things I knew very little about, but heck, I tried!). I researched my brains out every day to answer all the questions I have about myself, what I want, and how to make that a career. Anyone who does this, at any age, knows the roller coaster this is.

In the fall of 2012, I had my answer – I’m going to cosmetology school to learn how to ‘do’ hair. Holy crap, I made a decision. I still wasn’t quite sure if this was the right or best thing to do, but it was a start. I jumped in with both feet and went to school full time. This also means that I put a lot of other things away that I had begun to explore – and thus, there are no blog entries from then until now. I casually wrote poetry and scribbled around from time to time, but did not give it much opportunity to study in depth.

Fast forward to Spring 2014 – I acquired both a cosmetology license, and cosmetology educator license in that year and a half. I took a job at a salon, and a job at the school I graduated from as a substitute educator. I learned a lot and had a lot of new and interesting experiences. 6 months into working at the salon I realized something about myself – I love cutting hair, but that’s about it. I didn’t believe in what I was doing, and I had little passion for selling ‘beauty’ and the product of beauty to others. I also discovered that I love teaching. I still do.

For the first time in my working adult life, I quit a job. Really? Everybody quits at some point, you might say; so I will clarify:

I quit for no other reason than I just didn’t believe in it. *Ok well, I have another major reason, but I’ll talk about that in greater detail another time. I had left other jobs before, but I always felt good about having a reason – a next step; the ability to leave on good terms willingly, for reasons that always involved that next thing that was going to catapult me to the top of wherever I thought I was going. You know that feel right?

I quit just before the holiday season of 2014.

It is now 2015. I am “mostly” unemployed again.

I am happy to be on-call to sub, and am excellent at stretching a dollar, but find myself at what feels like square one again. It isn’t, because I will say that I have no regrets – I got to check an item off of my list, and I now know without a doubt that I am not meant to all that is required of a cosmetologist to do…granted, I still love to cut hair, but I do so now because I enjoy it and it is a practical skill I can use on my family and friends, rather than for a job. It’s something I give of myself to say thanks, and express creativity as well.

I now spend my days researching, doodling, writing, and searching for that “thing” that will bring a satisfactory career.

I still worry about money and penny pinch in order to survive this lull while my partner slaves away at his craft trying to make his dreams come true too.

Stocks have become my new hobby these last few years, but they do not replace good old fashioned job security – whatever that means haha! It seems that this path I have chosen is fraught with risk, unclarity, uncertainty, and with financial considerations…but what path isn’t eh?

While I do think I am closer than I was before, the way forward is unclear.

Even now, I am listening to Charles Eugster on TEDx proclaim that there’s “nothing to lose except the chains of convention”. He makes me smile, but like many of you, I still see chains, and those chains are mighty heavy at times. But I hope to let go of those chains – I think I can do it. I believe I will find a way towards a happiness that also involves economic satisfaction, even if it there is no longer a fixed, traditional, career attached to it.

Oh my, 1500 words.

Ending entry for today. Starting the discovery process again tomorrow.

Good luck to those of you in the same position! 🙂

By pepperonymous Posted in Start

How to Cartoonify a Picture Using Inkscape: For People Who Know Nothing About Inkscape: GETTING STARTED

 

 

 

What is Inkscape?

In a nutshell, Inkscape is a FREE, open source software program that you download from the internet that allows you to create using something called vector art. I really don’t know much more than that, and really only care that it is free to users who accept the terms of service.

For people who would like to read more about it before, during, or after trying it out, I found this link helpful:

http://wiki.inkscape.org/wiki/index.php/Frequently_asked_questions

 

What are ‘vector’ graphics?

Wikipedia gives this answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vector_graphics

Since I don’t understand what most of it means, here’s a more simplified answer:

 ‘Vector’ refers to a technique, not really a type of art in itself.

The best way I can explain it based on my own experience is to compare it to something else.  In my mind:

MS Paint is to Inkscape (vector art), as traditional painting is to tangrams

              

If you have ever used a painting program such as MS Paint, Mario Paint, or ever saw or played new games like Draw Something, the concept is similar to painting with real brushes that you dip into paint and use STROKE techniques to make a masterpiece on paper or canvas. Or, like drawing with a pencil and using a combo of erasing and re-drawing until you are happy with what you have created.

Inkscape is a vector-based art program that allows you to create, arrange, and color SHAPES, much like when arranging TANGRAMS into the shapes of houses, cats, people, or other objects (tangrams are the series of paper, wood, or plastic polygons, that teachers usually gave to kids to have them learn how to arrange and recognize basic shapes – not sure if this is US only or not). Instead of having to erase part of an object to ‘fix it’, you can manipulate the shape, angles, curves, etc, of the object, and rearrange the objects as many times as you like until you are happy with the final piece.   *If anyone has a better or more accurate analogy I would love to hear it! 🙂

Object manipulation, rather than drawing/painting, is how we are going to turn a picture into a cartoon.

 

Why use Inkscape?

I found Inkscape easier to learn than other free programs I have tried (i.e. GIMP, GraphicsGale, etc). Not sure if it just appeals to how my brain functions or if I like how it looks, but heck, I’ll take it! 🙂

One thing I found that I love is the ability to re-size objects and images while maintaining the quality of the object/image. What I mean is – no matter how much I zoom in or out, or re-size an image, the integrity of the picture is maintained, and I can then save the image in multiple size dimensions (inkscape saves it as .svg). I can also export an image as a .jpeg or .png for other uses. This has been especially helpful when designing logos for tshirts and making the bubbles, marbles, and backgrounds I made for our android app Bubble Zing.

 

Example:

Image re-sized in MS Paint appears blurry and grainy.

(image from: psd.tu-torial.com)

*There is a very technical explanation for this that I believe has to do with pixels, aliasing, and file type, but I am not confident that I understand enough or can explain it in plain terms here (google ftw?).

Vector image re-sized in Inkscape:

       >

(images made by me with Inkscape)

How do I get Inkscape on my computer?

Visit: http://inkscape.org/

On the upper left side of the screen, click ‘download‘.

To know which Inkscape package to download you need to know if you are running Windows, Mac OSX, or some other operating system.

Hint:

  • If you see any of these images on your monitor’s screen, you are running Windows.
    •    ,     ,  
  • Apple computer users are running Mac OS X (unless you who installed a different operating system on your Apple, or other computer – if not, ignore this statement).
  • Linux, Unix, etc – I’m sorry, I don’t know enough about these to be helpful here.

 

Once you have determined the operating system you are running, click on the appropriate installer and begin the download. Windows users, click ‘installer‘; Mac users click ‘.dmg‘.

Follow the instructions on the installer. I have found it helpful to close other programs before installing the program, and restarting your computer when finished, but that is a personal preference.

 

What Inkscape looks like when you first open it up!

 

My first thought when I saw this: “Holy craptostada! That’s a lot of buttons!”

As I played around more with Inkscape vector graphics, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t really need to worry about using them all. But yeah – how much I thought I would have to learn just to be able to draw a circle was overwhelming, but it isn’t so bad when you get used to it.

I hope you find this to be easier to use than it looks as well! 🙂

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ll end this part here and post the actual tutorial in the next blog (I know! All this pre-tutorial talk getting in the way lol).

Coming up:

How to Cartoonify a Picture using Inkscape for people who know nothing about Inkscape: TUTORIAL!

How to Cartoonify a Picture Using Inkscape – For People Who Know Nothing About Inkscape: BACKSTORY

 

 

 

First Time for Everything!

Ok, so this is my first real how-to blog.

Though it happens to be on a subject I know little about, circumstances have forced me to teach myself how to use a program called Inkscape.

In my own quest to learn, I have searched, read, and watched dozens of tutorials like many people out there – found some good ones, great ones, and not-so-good ones too.

I did not go to school for art, nor did I have much interest in being an artist by trade, but I believe that a bit of courage to ‘try’ and teach yourself something is all you need to produce something that you can be happy with, whether it is useful to you or not.

It took me a very long time to get to this point because I never used to believe that trying was enough – that you had to have that special sauce, the talent, the power, the money, the schooling, the triforce, the permission, and all those other things I used to tell myself to keep me from just ‘trying’ anything.

If you want to do anything in life, you have to and CAN start somewhere right?

 

Why am I writing a tutorial?

My husband and I decided to follow our dreams of creating and publishing computer games and smartphone apps.

The idea was that he would be the techie programmer dude that would be responsible for game design and the overall development process. My role, as I was trained, was to be the jack-of-all-trades admin guru – I would keep us organized, find people, money, and opportunities, and market our company and products to the masses. Two very complex and difficult roles for each of us to fill (although I think programming is probably much more mentally taxing), and you guessed it – a heck of a lot of time and money required to get there.

For years we have been searching for artists to either join our team or to make graphics, sprites, backgrounds, and animations, that we would purchase the rights to for each product.

As I learned more about the process, I came to realize we had a huge dilemma:

If we wanted high quality graphics, it was going to cost as much as $50K per project (average quote given by art studios we contacted based on specs for ONE game app) – money that we simply do not have access to at this time.

If we were going to get art from “starving artists/college kids” with no experience, we could get the work on the cheap or for free, but we could not expect them to understand what we need, deliver it, or be responsive IN GENERAL. In this case, many of the young college students that were excited about becoming graphic designers, 2d spriters, animators, etc, had not thought to develop a portfolio of their work (even if they were only assignments). When asked to do something, they almost never delivered, and sadly, some just didn’t feel confident about what they do, and some (sorry to say it) are just flat out too lazy to do things on their own. That is not to say that they weren’t nice or capable people – I think it just reveals who is ready to put their skills to work and who is not.

*To those of you that did and do deliver – you rock! I respect that kind of will and perseverance with a dash of ‘balls’ to develop your own craft without waiting for a degree or for someone else to say that you are good enough. We all know that talent alone does not guarantee success.

 

What does this have to do with Inkscape and turning a picture into a cartoon?

The list of resources needed to fill our art needs is growing. Hence, I wanted to see if I can teach myself ANYTHING about art that can help us reduce our resource requirement as an indie game studio. Even if the only thing I can do it make text, color pictures, or make sexy circles – these details add to the production value of a product.

Being able to fill these holes ourselves saves us $$$ and, well – makes me feel just that much more darn-tootin’ about what I can contribute to the process!

[my first art attempts used in Bubble Zing]

 

Back to the point:

Personally, I have had some difficulty with tutorials that are labeled for beginners because sometimes the tutorial writer sometimes doesn’t think about the minute details, doesn’t explain how they transitioned from one step to the other, or forgets about removing the language ‘barrier’ between technically trained artists and ‘the rest of us’, so to speak. For these reasons, I have found video tutorials to be the most helpful in my own learning process. However, you should choose the methods that work best for you – as each person can learn to do well regardless of how one learns.

Some of my favorite tutorial videos are by tutor4u on YouTube because the narrator is thorough, speaks clearly, and has a nice pace set throughout the videos – this made it easy to listen, pause the video if needed, repeat steps in case I did it wrong, etc. He is using an older Inkscape version I believe, but it looks the same to me I still find them to be very useful.

The tutorial I will post in the next few days is an attempt to show in as basic, simple, and thorough as possible, how to use Inkscape to turn a picture into a cartoon.

This is for the person with very limited, to zero knowledge of artistic tools, software, and/or terminology (like myself). Whether you want to do this for fun or for some project of your own, the point is you can learn how to do this without a background in art or fancy art programs.

 

You can haz TRIFORCE?

 

 

Yes, indeed!

 

 

Next blog:

How to Cartoonify a Picture using Inkscape: for people who know nothing about Inkscape: GETTING STARTED

 

 

Hello Internetz!!

Guess it’s about time to venture into blog-o-land!

I, like many of you, are about to hop on the unemployment train come 1 January, 2012 – not by choice and not eligible for UEI. I know it’s hard to think positive during such trying times, and typically, I am a worry-wort about such prospects. I have never truly been unemployed since my first taxable job at age 15.

So here I am – starting over in a new place. I am uncomfortable, this place is unfamiliar, and the faces and roads are all new to me…

Sound like anyone else?

[looks around] Thought so! Somehow, it does feel better knowing that others are in this position too. Still, many more people have got a life far more difficult with many more burdens to bear than I – and to all, I wish you much success!

Since my spouse and partner-in-life are both about to travel the unemployment journey together, it seems like the right time to put all of our energies into our small business.

Not sure where this road will lead, but it is sure to be both exciting & frightening at the same time.

Been here too? I hope you will share your stories and experiences also! 

@@@

I haven’t quite decided how I want to organize my scribblings here, but here are topics of interest that I will be talking about soon:

1.  Business/entrepreneurial endeavors – including subtopics such as executive leadership, communication, strategy, and reflections on my experiences being a business owner of a small, independent game company.

2.  SEO, online marketing & advertising, & computer mediated communication.

3.  Game art, music, sound effects, coding.

4.  Culture and gender/sex studies as they relate to online gaming and interaction, and other random thoughts on the subject.

5.  Posts relating to personal interests and hobbies, such as poetry, anime, music, carpentry, and of course – video games! XD

Perhaps not the most exciting thing you’ll ever come across in this internet society, that is OK. For all I know, could attract the most epic trolls in existence,  some ‘passers-by’, spam-bots, ads, and probably a few solicitations for prawns (hehe)… could be fun!

Hooray for digital existence eh!?

Thanks and Happy Holidays around the world!

~Pepperonymous