That very first step!

Well, being a guest blogger for the club, hmmm, damn I was hoping I could dodge the responsibility, but ah well, as the most brainless yet insane yet random guy in the club I will do it!

Alrighty then, some history.

The memories I have of my childhood that were pretty vivid are more on the drawings aspect, my mother encouraged my arty farty juices since young, I recall painting dinosaurs with simple eyes and shapes and a huge brush.

On to Primary school, the ‘in’ thing among the kids were exercise book games, sort of like a portable Playstation in an exercise book. I made tons of them of different types and boy was I glad I actually attempted and practiced my drawings in them.

In my secondary school days, my drawing skills simply stagnated, it wasn’t until the later part of my secondary school year two that I realized how awesome drawing could really be. With one bold move, I signed up for a manga art class, taught by Jessica sensei, aka, alexius-sana on deviantart. Mandachan was also one of my senseis but she didn’t really chip in much, she just taught me how to draw awesome feet, which I have completely forgot already, I’m so sorry sensei!

I’ve never stopped drawing nor looked back, I really regretted the two years I wasted to stagnate my drawing skills. And thank god really that I actually was bold enough to sign up for that art class.

After that, I decided, I’m going to join cosplay, and with that decision I’ve met many friends whom have arty farty juices much more potent than mine which really drove me to improve myself.

So I guess, the journey of art is a long winding road, full of traps and adversities and detours, but you still always manage to stay on the road, no matter how lost you are, cause you know, in the end, the one making all the decisions is you yourself.

So come on and join me on the road, just because it’s a journey doesn’t mean I have to be alone. Take that bold first step and always remember to enjoy yourself while doing your art, I mean, if you’re not going to enjoy it, why do it?


There’s always so much more to learn and experiment…

Hola! I’m the guest blogger for today – a seventeen year old design freshman. Here’s a disclaimer: you won’t learn any tips and techniques from me. You’d be better off heading towards James Gurney’s blog or itchstudios’ tutorial for that. Neither am I going to write a ten-page autobiography of my artistic journey (I’m not experienced enough, or successful enough, for that).

Well, I lied… a little. It’s still going to be a semi-autobiography, but make that one page.

The earliest memory I had of drawing was during an art class in my kindergarten years. I was drawing a seal, following step-by-step instructions by the art teacher. It was fun, but I wasn’t fixated with art then, like all of those pencil-pushing art geniuses who always seem to be able to draw since they were two.

In my high school years, I devised a way to keep myself awake – doodling in blue-lined exercise books. I affectionately named my “sketchbooks” s[crap]books, and it became a medium for passing notes, doing flipbook animations and of course, doodling.

I didn’t become serious in drawing until around three years ago, fuelled by too much anime and manga. I was one of those artn00bs who enthusiastically posted each and every sketch I did, expecting high praises but often receiving none. I still haven’t kicked that habit yet.

Somehow I’ve landed myself in a design course in Temasek Polytechnic, naively believing that I’ll make a future (and a living) out of my creative endeavors. Along the way I’ve make some friends who are in the creative industry and got a little more exposed to the art scene in Singapore. Improved my craft a little. Met some friends who gently nudge each other along.

And the more I know, the more I realize how much more I don’t know.

That’s what keeps me going. There’s always so much more to learn and experiment. I’m definitely not that good yet, so I’ll become better. Someone once said that you have to do a thousand bad paintings before you can paint a good one. Right now I’m in the process of doing those bad paintings.

During the mock interview that I had to attend for a module in school, I learnt an important principle: anyone can claim that they are passionate about their work, but do you have action to back your words? It was a wake-up call for me. Imagine going for an interview for a position at Imaginary Friends or Ubisoft and telling them, “I know I’m not really good now, but I have PASSION!” Not gonna work, nuh-uh.

A lousy portfolio is still a lousy portfolio, no matter how you try to disguise it. All the nicely textured papers and expensive leather folders wouldn’t save it. With that said, I ought to be practicing now. Goodbye!


Reaching out to touch someone

I’m sure many people would have their treasured memories of this. What I’d like to share with you guys today, is what drawing Manga means to me.

Candy Candy was the very first Manga that I got my fat grubby fingers on. Way back when I had just graduated from toddler-hood and I could barely read, the frilly, dream-like world of Japanese Manga, with its beautifully drawn characters, overwhelming presence of decorative flowers and bubbles, and its ever romantic nature, grabbed me instantly. I marveled at how a story unfolded within the beautiful drawings. I think I was already bored to death with snow-whites and sleeping beauties and all the princesses and princes and wicked witches. Candy Candy appealed to me in a way fairy tales didn’t – it was real and it was tangible, and yet it held an intriguing story of friendship and romance, deceit and honor, and of a faraway country with beautiful gowns and horses. Most importantly, the drawings were so beautifully done that I would spend hours attempting to recreate the frills and gigantic eyes it contained within.

From there on, my obsession with Manga took on a slow but steady progress. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, (or maybe because I was just a kid) Manga wasn’t as readily accessible. Those that were commonplace were Dragonball (an older cousin donated his entire Dragonball collection but mother threw them out T_T) Doraemon, and some Taiwanese and Hong Kong comics.

Then, the Manga era boomed to life with a vibrant but strangely silent roar in the mid 90’s beginning with the Sailormoon and Ranma1/2 anime that were being aired on TV. Manga shops sprang up all over the place and I soaked in the Manga atmosphere greedily. I would spend 3/4 of my daily allowance on a book or two each day faithfully, accumulating to shelves and shelves of Manga – Inuyasha, Fushigi Yuugi, City Hunter, Tokyo Juliet, Eiji, BOY etc. .

It was during that period that I began drawing Manga. I would churn out 2 pages a day of not-so-bad looking Manga (at least, not-so-bad to me, when I was 14). I drew Manga in class, I drew Manga while watching TV, I drew Manga during my exams. My stories were mostly cliched (my very first male protagonist was a tall, blond stud with waist length hair, who tended a dessert shop), and the faces I drew were probably more than a little skewed. There were many starts, but middles and ends were never to be seen. Despite all the flaws though, I remember feeling very happy, and contented, and most importantly, something was beginning to fill in the empty gap inside me, something that made me feel like I was truly ME.

Somewhere in the middle though, I went slightly off track when I discovered CG – or Computer Graphics illustration. I was happy then too, but looking back, my love for Manga was and still is, the most longstanding of them all.

It wasn’t several years after I’d graduated from DMD (NYP) and began working as a CG artist/graphics designer, did I rediscover my love for drawing Manga – the rush of adrenalin when an idea, a story, or even a scene hit me, and how I wanted so badly to share stories that swam in my head, the fullness in my soul that made me cancel a date or two with friends just to stay home to draw, the little author’s notes that I pictured myself so proudly penning at the start or end of my Manga, thanking my readers and people who encouraged me.

I remember once, I was visiting someone at a hospital when a strange scene outside the hospital lawn caused me to stare very openly and rudely – a young, roguish-looking man in hospital garb swathed in bandages, with a drip still attached to his hand and the the drip stand propped carelessly beside him. What struck me was that he was sitting on the grass, cross-legged under a tree, and puffing lazily on a cigarette and gazing up at the sky. That scene left a strong imprint in my mind, and I was dying to recreate it on paper.

Then there would be times when I would be taking the MRT train home, and strange, beautiful people would catch my eye – a frail, petite girl with porcelain skin and jumbled hair, dressed in layers and layers of colorful clothing, and mismatched socks, and the tall, stoic, immaculately dressed boyfriend beside her, in a dark shirt and pants and shiny leather shoes, clutching firmly at her hand. Or two old Eurasian ladies with flaming, red-white hair, one slightly younger than the other, both tall and statuesque and clearly fiery beauties in their youths, with a bible in one hand and a string of rosary beads in another.

The idea of sharing ideas, appeal greatly to me. Strange little scenes that most would simply discard (or maybe post on STOMP?), attach themselves firmly to me and refuse to be removed until they are put on paper. The itch in my hand to just draw until my fingers cramp, is a force to be reckoned with.

So here I am now, with my Manga drawing pencil – or rather a wacom tablet and photoshop – in my hands, and a passion for my beloved Manga. And to make my dream somewhat easier to achieve, is the world wide web, a valuable tool to those of us striving to be Mangaka =)

I want to create, I need to create, and hopefully in the process of my creation, I am able to reach out to touch someone, just like the author and artist of Candy Candy had reached out, so many years ago, to touch me.

annhell (kujo)

From draft to book on the shelf

Alright, so I really meant a book on the library shelf but hey, at least it’s a book on the shelf, right?=3

This comes from my own experience of getting a book onto the library shelf. Of course, the books haven’t exactly reached the shelf yet but they’re about 3/4 there. =)

So how does one go about doing this? First, write the book. You can’t have a book on the shelf without first writing it, right?

Next, make sure everything’s a-okay before signing up on Lulu to have your book self-published. The thing is, Lulu only prints the book when someone orders it so make sure you market it frequently! It’s a little shameless but marketing oneself is always about being shameless. =x

Before you confirm everything on Lulu however, especially when you want your book on a library shelf or be sold in Amazon, etc, for that matter, get that ISBN number.

Now, what’s an ISBN number? It’s that 13-digit code at the back of every single book that’s out in the market. It’s essential if you want to sell the book in bookstores like Popular for instance so make sure you register for it. More details can be read here. You can apply for it here FOR FREE.

After you get the ISBN number, attach it to your book on Lulu before you click confirm. Once everything has been confirmed by Lulu, your book is ready for sale! Only thing is, you got to order 2 books yourself so you can deposit the books with the National Library Board.

It’s a have-to-do thing if you want a FREE ISBN number but it’s a small price to pay for a sense of achievement, right? =3

Hope the above guide helps!


So how do I go about getting a portfolio?

Some people have asked me. Or rather indicated their loss at creating their portfolio when I ask them for one. You see, it’s essential for one to have a portfolio when one is telling the world that one is an aspiring writer or mangaka. Coz if you don’t have a portfolio, how on earth are you going to show people your stuff?

If you’re lazy like me, you can rely on free blogs like wordpress or blogger for easy insertion of content. But if you’re tech savvy and know what’s html from your javascript, then any of the free hosts online like freewebs will do just fine. =3

Deviantart has proven to be a good platform for artists and writers too. You can even covert your artpiece into a T-shirt design, etc! How cool can that get? Not only that, you get people who’ll check out your profile and perhaps even commission you for work!

It’s really very easy these days. =3

For writers, you can set up a portfolio and put up your profile at where employers often check out to get potential writers for their companies. You could get lucky if your work is of good quality. Although writing is not as visual as art but there is a market out there just waiting to be tapped. Don’t get so easily discouraged by the limits of the Singapore art/writing scene. Like the Vera Wang gown, you shape yourself to suit the market, not the market shaping itself to suit you.

Tough but true. =x

But, your ship will definitely come in one day! =3


Constantly aspiring much?

Well, it’s no secret. I procrastinate. A lot. It is therefore of little wonder why I produce an artwork every two months or so, write a bit here and there, with no serious goal in sight. Yet I always say that I want to be a mangaka and publish something. And where’s my story and work? In progress.

That’s highly normal for many people, to be just like that. To give a nicer ring to it, we are constantly aspiring. But is that enough? Hopes and dreams can only go so far on empty promises.

Everyone dreams one day of having a bestseller, with just a few taps on the keyboard and a little inspiration at the right time, with stories that just come out naturally, and perfect the first time.

But look at the many stories behind these bestsellers, the little stories that most don’t notice. The stories of plain hard work, research, and rewrites. Inspiration can only go so far…and most of the time it fizzles out in the middle, leaving you with a half-written story and saying ‘so what’s next?’. Leaving you with many half-written stories…stories that wait to be told to an audience.

Sometimes you need to sacrifice something in order to fulfill a dream and aspiration. I know I need to. So do you.

So watch out. I will complete what I’ve set out to do, and hopefully you will too.


Plans and whatnots…

As with any other things you do, whether you’re working out or making out, you need to do a little warm up to smoothen the process and make it a pleasurable one unless it’s a chore. Other than work (school work, house work or simply work), nothing else should be treated as one. Not especially when you’re writing or drawing.

If it’s so difficult to write or draw, why do we persist in torturing ourselves in doing something we can’t? Self torment doesn’t have to be painful, it can be enjoyable too, masochist.

After wading through the walls of text from various sources Moontique dug out, I realise a lot of people (especially those who don’t draw or write frequently), are doing it wrong. For us seasoned ones we can simply wave our magic wands (pens and pencils) to write or draw something ‘magically’ but have you wondered ‘was that really magic?’ We have had our blocking bad times too; so where did the magic go then?

Thinking can be either a fruitful process or a killing one. Try recalling the times when you were blocked — have you sat in the chair for so long nothing comes out? Well, that’s because you plan too much. The solution may not be applicable to all situations, but it does apply to a lot, if not most. Sometimes, we grind too much of our brain juice we forgot the purpose behind our works.

Instead of asking ‘what to draw’, try musing on ‘why’? Maybe you’re just practicing or training but ‘why?’ Why do you want to draw or write in the first place? What do you wish to achieve in the first place?

I can still vividly recall one of the methods prescribed by some author is to have your own ritual to get into the mood. It is a very practical advice I’ve come to rely on for months. Of course, repeating the same ritual everyday will wear out eventually. Thus I went one step deeper into hurting myself.

A popular magician said, “Don’t think, feel.” His advice comes in handy even we’re not enjoying his illusional feats. Before you begin thinking what you have to draw, gather your emotions and feel what is it you wish to convey to your audience. Is it a pinch of regret? A startling revelation? Or simply a moment of joy?

Let these emotions wash you away into the ocean of imagination and let your fingers wield the wand in freedom. Though it may not be ideal all the time it is one way of starting and getting into the mood.

Happy tormenting yourself!


When traditional publishing is just one of your choices…

In the past before self-publishing became the norm, people used to wait anxiously for letters from publishers they had sent their manuscripts to. The waiting time could stretch up to a few weeks and even a few months. Sometimes the wait ends in disappointment because the story ‘isn’t what we’re looking for’.

With the dawn of self-publishing however, writers (and of course mangakas) have the freedom to determine their writing future by turning to self-publishing sites such as Lulu and BookSurge (part of Amazon).

I use Lulu myself and I must say it’s been really convenient for me because I have the flexibility to change the contents or cover anytime I want.

I can use my own custom covers and choose the kind of book binding I prefer. They even offer you a storefront where you can advertise your own books.

Cool, isn’t it?

Of course before you go out to print, ensure your work is fit for publishing. You can always get an editor to look through your work. =)

If you wish to apply for an ISBN (the 13 digit barcode behind all printed books), you can check out the website here. NLB currently issues them for free but you need to send your online application first.

Good luck then!


We’ll see you at Cosfest 08!

Cosfest will be happening on the 5th and 6th of July 2008. I’ll be cosplaying and our group (AMW) will be holding a pen-and-nib session for all mangakas (or writers who want to just hang out). Here is what szelin have to say about the attendance so far…

Guess who is who? XDD

Guess who is who? XDD