25 June 2012

My grandmother's name is Chiang, Wah-Oi

From an early age, I interacted with my grandmother on a daily basis. Both my parents worked, so I was left in my grandmother's care from Monday to Friday every week. After school or on weekends, there were only more lessons awaiting me. The only time we ever sat down as a family would be during meals, and even then, not a word would be spoken. Needless to say, there wasn't much of a bond. My grandmother spoke only in Chinese, and in a dialect I never understood until my late teens. As a child, I could not understand her random outbursts of anger as she chased me around, whipping me with the feathered bamboo stick. I was sure I was being an obedient granddaughter, and yet, as I quietly sit in front of the television watching anime after I finished my homework, she would scream in that alien language and reach for the bamboo stick once again. When she finally broke the bamboo feather duster on my back, she went out of her way to replace it. Unable to find one, she settled for a plastic-coated metal rod, with synthetic fibers in the colours of the rainbow as her grip. All the while, I watched my brother grow up in luxury.
This treatment, in combination with neglect from my parents, resulted in my holy-shit-fucked-up-decisions-suicide-attempts-death-threats-hallucination-filled way of life, until I was put through psychotherapy. I nearly regretted refusing anti-depression drugs, and several times I felt I would have been better off accepting the suggestion that I go to a foster home. But by the end of my high school career, I was glad I stood my ground.
By my 21st birthday, I had pretty much come to terms with my anger. I began to understand that as the first Canadian-born in the family, my parents and relatives had a hard time figuring out how to raise me. I cannot forgive everything that's been said and done, but I am grateful that everything happened the way it did. If it wasn't for the series of events, I would have not turned out the person I am today. Frankly, I like me today.
On Friday June 8th 2012, my brother informed me that my father and grandmother were both admitted to the hospital. My father's left eye was blind, filled with blood from a broken internal blood vessel. There was a possibility that the retina was torn, or in the worst case scenario, a tumor had formed. Although there is yet a closure on his case, he is steadily recovering.
My grandmother fell ill, was in extreme pain, and could not walk anymore. It was confirmed that she had Degenerative Disc Disease. She was admitted on a Friday, but the specific steroid that she needed was available through a certain pharmacy only on weekdays. She suffered through the weekend, just to realize on the Monday that it takes another 24 hours for the steroid to take effect. It was not until Tuesday that she was relieved of her pain.
I struggled to get through my days of work at Dupuis, and managed to keep a smile on my face through the entire auction on Sunday June 10th. Immediately after my shift on Monday June 11th, I rushed to Scarborough Grace General Hospital to see my grandmother.
My heart was crushed when I walked into the room. For a second, I could not recognize the tiny and frail existence in the gurney that was my grandmother. She looked nothing like what she did when I saw her a month before.
Since my brother was born 20 years ago, my grandmother hadn't held my hand even once. I was taught that I must follow without a sound, else I suffer the consequences. Yet, after 20 years, my grandmother took my hand as she lay in the hospital gurney, and told me that she was proud of me. She told me she no longer had to worry about me, and we both began to cry. My hand being held by a family member, and my grandma no less, was an indescribably overwhelming feeling.
At that time, there were many things I felt I should have said. But I didn't. And I regret it.
She was discharged from the hospital, just to be re-admitted within two days due to irregular heart beating. Heart failure.
I went to visit her, and she could barely see or hear me. She'd stay awake for less than a minute at a time, with a total of about two hours a day. For what little time she kept her eyes open, she would repeat that we were good grandchildren, or that the hospital was doing a terrible job of helping her.
The doctors of Scarborough Grace attempted to forceably discharge her, claiming that there was nothing more they could do for her and that they needed to free up a bed. What A Bunch Of Bullshit.
I walked by plenty of empty beds and rooms down the hall, and the point of her staying in a gurney was so that we had the facilities available to provide her a comfortable death. We only managed to argue for one extra night of stay before we had to take her home.
Friday June 22nd, grandma's mind was becoming confused. She was awake for a total of an hour each day, and was beginning to confuse other people's identity as her own. Earlier on the Friday morning, she had a fever. With each time she opened her eyes, she told me that my mother, aunt, or uncle had a fever. She also believed that my cousins and I were still in school.

Today, Monday June 25th, my grandmother cannot speak anymore. With each time we woke her, she looked at our faces blankly, and fell back asleep within seconds. She hadn't eaten a meal in over 24 hours because she could not stay awake long enough. She chewed her medication, confusing it for a meal.
It won't be long now. Her children are taking time off, and flying to Canada, in order to be with her. I have taken off these two weeks from work, because all I can do is stay by her side.
When my parents, aunts, and uncles bombarded me with their own standards, nearly convincing me that my life was worthless, only my grandmother understood. Perhaps it's because she's been through World War II, and my parents' generation has led privileged lives. The current economic issue is one we've all been facing, imposed on us by the previous generation. In my entire extended family, only my grandmother said to me, "There is no need to rush. These days, just a degree or two can't get you a career. Take it slowly, I know it's hard."
Any day now, she will close her eyes and never open them again.
After all is said and done, I love my grandmother.
I just wish I had told her so on Monday June 11th 2012.

Tuesday June 26th - my grandmother's heart rate improved for one day. She was able to open her eyes more often. At one point during the night, she even spoke. She said she wanted to eat a bite of rice. Because she was choking on any solid food, she's been fed congee and soup for days (which she despises) and so she asked for rice. At this, my mother and aunt told her that they can't give her solid foods. My grandmother then said, "I'm sick of congee. I hate congee. I just want one mouthful of rice, a taste of chinese broccoli, and a taste of fish. Just chop it up into small pieces. I want some rice."
My mother and aunt laughed, and said, "She's funny (being unreasonable), she wants rice!" and they kept laughing about it, even while telling other relatives.
My grandmother was practically begging for her favourite food. She's suffering so much, she looked like she wanted to cry, and I wish I could have snuck in some of that food for her - just one last taste.
I was, and still am, thoroughly disgusted with my family. I couldn't stand to be around them, nor see them treat my grandmother this way. As a grandchild, I had no authority to do anything about it. I returned downtown that night.

Wednesday July 4th - I visited my grandmother in the evening. Her organs were failing her, and she was in extreme pain. The groans and cries came nonstop, and the morphine patches prescribed to her were not taking effect. It was unbearable watching her. Finally, after more than an hour since my arrival, she grew silent for about two minutes. For the entire two minutes, she stared ahead blankly. I was in her line of vision, but her pupils were murky, so I don't know if she even saw me. I called out to her, but she didn't respond, and for a second I thought she was gone. Then a large tear drop emerged from her eye, and I wiped it dry for her. At that moment, I felt like she knew that this was it. And then she returned to writhing and groaning in pain.

Today, Thursday July 5th - I received a phone call from my cousin just minutes to 9:00am. She relayed the message that my grandmother won't last long. Before any of us could get to her side, she passed away peacefully in her sleep. It was a beautiful day for her to be free, and the weather was perfect for her to finally go outside. As we saw her off, my brother and I stood in her backyard, where there was a common area that connected all the houses. Both sides are lined by trees, creating a lightly arched canopy. As I reminded my brother how we spent a lot of time in this area with grandmother, he flew into hysterics. I picked a large orange flower from the cluster of bushes I used to refer to as a forest, and placed it on the barren patch of dirt that used to be my grandmother's favourite gardening spot. Then I stood on a metal sheet that covered a ventilation shaft leading to the underground parking lot, which was my favourite spot as a child 12-20 years ago. Looking up at the blue, cloudless sky, beyond the young leaves of the maple trees, I thanked somebody up there (I don't know who I thanked) for giving my grandmother relief from the pain in her last minutes alive. I thanked them for welcoming my grandmother with blue skies, a cool breeze, and warm sunshine. Silently, while my brother bawled his eyes out, I said my thank-yous and good-byes to grandmother. I don't believe in any higher power, but I don't deny that there could be. It may have simply been my own ego, but I felt something warm in response to my mental messages. I felt it may have been my grandmother, finally happy and at ease, and then joined my brother once again to wail like newborn babies.
Twelve hours later, I'm sitting here typing this, still trying to accept the fact that she's gone, and that she won't open her eyes nor utter a sound one more time. I may be acting childish, clinging onto the feeling that she's still with us. I don't think there exist any words to properly and accurately describe the emotions in situations like these. I was afraid of her, I hated her, I envied her, I pitied her, I respect her, and I love her. Simply put, I really miss her.

Rest in peace, "por-por."

31 March 2012

Bacterial Contamination

"Bacterial Contamination" is a recent favourite Vocaloid video of mine, strictly for visual aspects. Typically when I listen to the electronic voices of the Vocaloid songs, I tend to ignore the lyrics. My Japanese is not very good to begin with, so it becomes much more difficult for me when it's not naturally spoken. Aside from that, it's insanely annoying.

Usually I wait for a Utaite to produce a cover before I even consider watching a video. This was evidently an exception.
From visuals alone, it was easy to understand this piece was about the pain of being bullied. I had my volume turned to a minimum, but even so, all I could hear was "itai, itai, itai, itai..."
Itai = it hurts.
So the word "itai" and the visuals combined struck me pretty hard.

The modelling, lighting, and animation techniques are absolutely beautiful. Unlike many of the existing 3D PVs for Vocaloid, this one felt whole. Despite the nasally electronic voice drilling into my head, I watched this video over, and over, and over again. In fact, until a few minutes ago, I didn't even bother looking for the romanji subs to see what the lyrics actually are.

Music by Mathru and movie by Deino, there were so far two versions produced. I begin by presenting the second version, because visually, I like it far better than the first. However, I prefer the lower voice in the first version, which doesn't give it much credit since it's equally irritating.

In the second version of Bacterial Contamination, the most noticeable visual edit is the usage of blueish hues. I found this made the subject fit into her background naturally, and it was easy to absorb the entire image as a whole rather than separate pieces. Also, because of the cool colours, it felt more lonely. The entire 3 minutes and 54 seconds felt like she was exhaling away everything she had.
I felt it said, "It's so lonely, that it hurts."
"I think I'll just go disappear now."
"All I do will come to nothing."
Version 2
Saikin Osen - Bacterial Contamination

In contrast, the first video gave the vibe that she was taking everything in to herself, burning with anger.
It screams, "I will take it out on someone else."
An atmosphere like that is visually far easier to achieve. The level of emotions itself is much more shallow, and I'm certain the majority of the intelligent percentage would understand that; conceptually if not by experience.
I suppose the cheap blood splatter effects don't help too much, in terms of this video. There is a stark and unflattering contrast between Ca Caine and her environment. Altogether, the video appears compositionally amateur.
Version 1
Saikin Osen - Bacterial Contamination

Environmental and character designs are wonderfully gorgeous in every way. It's simple where it counts, and complex in areas without being obnoxious about it. Although I typically disapprove of plastic-looking 3D animations, I find it suits this particular piece perfectly.
I also like Deino's previous design in Machine Muzik. Although I usually prefer the future-themed designs, I enjoy Bacterial Contamination's version of Ca Caine more.
I cannot emphasize how beautiful this video is; version 2, specifically. Now, time to go watch it again!

20 February 2012

Black Rock Shooter

I now have a list of nail themes that I will be working through, most of which were suggested by Danny.
Until now, I've never realized how many different stars prints I had, like holy BRS!!!

In my previous post, I wrote about the expanding creative community of Vocaloid. It was a pleasantly huge shock to followers that Supercell made their major debut with Sony Music Entertainment Japan and began producing songs for major titles such as Bakemonogatari. Mothy's series, Story Of Evil, now has several doujin manga and animes. The series has now developed into a published novel and a theatre play!

Among these accomplishments of doujin artists, Black Rock Shooter stands out the most. BRS has lead to the productions of two major manga series, video games, an original video animation (OVA), and now a TV series. Although the Story Of Evil productions all follow Mothy's plot, BRS does not. The song, video games, manga, and animations are all set with different circumstances, worlds, story, and even characters. Two main characters are always the kept throughout every scenario: Dead Master and Black Rock Shooter. Their costumes have been slightly redesigned with every new production.

Although I'm not a fan of the original song, I absolutely love the storyline. The animations and illustrations (in the games, manga, and animations) were done exceptionally well. And since I love the visual designs, I figured I could put them on my nails!
Planned layout of BRS design
I had to borrow two plates from Alicia because I realized too late that other than stars, I had no other prints for this design. A huge fail on my part.
The first three photos are the completed design with no top coat.
GOSH "Black Passion" base
Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri "Whirlwind White" checker and large star print
Sally Hansen: Chrome "Sizzlin' Crystal" mini stars print
GOSH "Metallic Blue" gradient, star trail and flame print
Sally Hansen: Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear "Marine Scene" gradient
blue metallic striping tape
aqua blue star rhinestone
GOSH "Black Passion" base
Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri "Whirlwind White" checker and large star print
Sally Hansen: Chrome "Sizzlin' Crystal" mini stars print
GOSH "Metallic Blue" gradient, star trail and flame print
Sally Hansen: Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear "Marine Scene" gradient
blue metallic striping tape
aqua blue star rhinestone
GOSH "Black Passion" base
Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri "Whirlwind White" checker and large star print
Sally Hansen: Chrome "Sizzlin' Crystal" mini stars print
GOSH "Metallic Blue" gradient, star trail and flame print
Sally Hansen: Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear "Marine Scene" gradient
blue metallic striping tape
aqua blue star rhinestone
 The following photos were taken after I added the matte top coat. I wanted to try and make it look like the plastic that my figurines were made out of.
GOSH "Black Passion" base
Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri "Whirlwind White" checker and large star print
Sally Hansen: Chrome "Sizzlin' Crystal" mini stars print
GOSH "Metallic Blue" gradient, star trail and flame print
Sally Hansen: Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear "Marine Scene" gradient
blue metallic striping tape
aqua blue star rhinestone
GOSH "Matt Effect" top coat

GOSH "Black Passion" base
Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri "Whirlwind White" checker and large star print
Sally Hansen: Chrome "Sizzlin' Crystal" mini stars print
GOSH "Metallic Blue" gradient, star trail and flame print
Sally Hansen: Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear "Marine Scene" gradient
blue metallic striping tape
aqua blue star rhinestone
GOSH "Matt Effect" top coat
GOSH "Black Passion" base
Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri "Whirlwind White" checker and large star print
Sally Hansen: Chrome "Sizzlin' Crystal" mini stars print
GOSH "Metallic Blue" gradient, star trail and flame print
Sally Hansen: Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear "Marine Scene" gradient
blue metallic striping tape
aqua blue star rhinestone
GOSH "Matt Effect" top coat
And then I decided gloss top coat still looks the best =.=;; But I had already put away my chibi BRS figurine and was too lazy to go get it again. Next time, maybe I'll try to figure out a design for Strength - she's my favourite~ and I have her full scale figurine too!
GOSH "Black Passion" base
Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri "Whirlwind White" checker and large star print
Sally Hansen: Chrome "Sizzlin' Crystal" mini stars print
GOSH "Metallic Blue" gradient, star trail and flame print
Sally Hansen: Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear "Marine Scene" gradient
blue metallic striping tape
aqua blue star rhinestone
GOSH "Matt Effect" top coat
Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri "Clearly Quick" top coat


The perfect tool for those who just weren't lucky enough. Vocaloid is a singing synthesizer using a massive database of prerecorded voices (which, in itself, is an amazing feat). Character Vocal Series were created, giving a face to the voices.
I discovered news of Vocaloid in high school while snooping around for Touhou Project material. When it was finally released, the only character available was Hatsune Miku, her name playing on the Japanese words for "sound" and "future." The electronic voice was a major pain in the ass, and most of the creations released on the internet were covers of existing songs. The most annoying but the most popular was Levan Polka, the fan-made video consisting of chibi-Miku's marching around with a leek.
One of the first popular original songs was Black Rock Shooter, written by Ryo of Supercell and later animated by Huke. I personally never liked it. I do, however, absolutely love the visuals.
Black Rock Shooter
Vocal: Hatsune Miku
What really interests me about Vocaloid is not the original voices, which some people find more appealing than human voices. I love the Vocaloid community for the creativity it brings out in people. Soon after several original songs have been released, talented vocalists began to create covers. Many were amateurs and sounded terrible, but if you looked hard enough, you would find decent (if not amazing) voices. Black Rock Shooter is one of the first hits from the Vocaloid community, and it is currently still standing on top. Choucho is a fairly recent Utaite, or Nico Nico Douga Singer. The following is her cover of BRS.
Black Rock Shooter
Vocal: Choucho
Vocaloid, to me, is an affordable tool. People who previously did not have the means to display their talent now have the opportunity to do so. As we all know, typical Asian families don't usually approve of these skills. The chance to practice these interests are extremely limited. Coming from an artistic background, I can also say it's really expensive.

Vocaloid brings together song writers, composers, designers, illustrators, animators, editors, curators, and of course, vocalists. It has created many artistic communities and sub-communities. Many pieces by my favourite artists from years ago are now no longer publicly available because they have been bought/hired by companies such as Sony. Vocaloid gave individuals and doujin groups, such as Supercell, a career that they love. Many of the Utaite have already released several albums, strictly consisting of Vocaloid covers.

My first favourite was the song Meltdown, covered by Tourai. He quickly became my preferred vocalist, and he remains so to this day. His voice was not spectacularly outstanding, but he is one of the very few that is able to perform a huge variety of styles. Tourai's specialty is to easily adapt to practically any genre of music.
Vocal: Tourai
Love Is War paved a new road for Vocaloid-based animators. The first hugely successful 3D animation was produced for this song. The video below is covered by Piko; a relatively new Utaite who I'm not too fond of.
Love Is War (Koi Wa Sensou)
Vocal: Piko
My favourite female vocalist is (and likely always will be) Yamai. Again, I love her because of her versatility and consistency of quality through each genre she tries her hand at.
Love Is War (Koi Wa Sensou)
Vocal: Yamai
Although I found my favourite vocalists relatively early, there wasn't a song that especially inspired me. That was until I found Monochroact, covered by Hanatan. Hanatan is one of the less annoying female Utaite. What really did it for me was the lyrics, which was unusual for me. I'm one of those people who tend to disregard the majority of lyrics, mainly because I listen to songs in a lot of different languages that I don't speak.

Vocal: Hanatan
I was following Mothy's Story Of Evil since 2008. Story Of Evil is a fictional scenario, using the characters of the vocal series. It began with only one song titled Daughter Of Evil, followed closely by Servant Of Evil and Regret Message within the first two months. Even now, Mothy and other doujin artists are releasing songs that are prequels, sequels, and side-stories to the first three original songs. Some of Mothy's work has been remade with different genres of music. The story continued to expand, elaborating on each of the Vocaloid characters on the way. Many are Mothy's works, officially contributing to the original story. Many more are doujin pieces, fans materializing their vision of Mothy's plot.

The story is about a tyrant queen, her twin brother who switched places with her before her beheading, the influences of the people, and their relations that carry into the next life. Theatre plays and a novel has been published.

In response to Mothy's work, it became extremely popular to create songs and videos using the Vocaloid characters in unrelated storylines. The following was one of my favourite stories, set in the world where the word "love" cannot be used freely. Kagamine Rin directed this word at two people, Kaito and Gakupo, and then met an untimely death. Her definition of love was platonic, but in this story, there should be no such thing as platonic love. Both men lost their sanity. Rin's twin brother, Len, then posed as his deceased sister to save them. He is unable to return to his own identity.
Imitation Black
Vocals: Dasoku, Clear, Valshe
From the previous video, I discovered Valshe. The song Boss Death is another view of a typical RPG hero's journey; a song about soldiers become twisted through war. 
Boss Death
Vocal: Valshe
You know what was amazing about that cover? The male and female part was sung by one person. Valshe is a girl! To be honest, I've followed a lot of vocalists from different cultures that has that ability accompanied by much higher quality and skill. But, none of them sing Vocaloid songs, so they're unrelated to this post!

I think Valshe sounds much better with a male voice. This next song is one I've been hooked on recently. I really like the melody and beat. Hopefully, Dasoku or Clear will do a cover soon. I've given up on Tourai~ he's too busy making money with his voice to give us free stuff online!
Even Touching Sleeves Is Karma (Sode Fureau mo Tashou no En)
Vocal: Valshe
This last song is Dasoku's cover of Scissorhands. I only like his voice when he's being jazzy >_>
The video starting at 2:40 is completely "d'awwww." LoL
Vocal: Dasoku

25 January 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Disclaimer: I blame my boyfriend for this post.

I've always had a habit of painting my nails. Since the 7th grade, I've used Sally Hansen's Chrome collection and kept my nails metallic year-round. My favourites were always the blues and silvers. I never did much other than a simple layer of solid colour.

Sally Hansen Chrome dried very quickly, and only ever required one layer. It was also much less offensive in odour than most. The downside was that it chipped extremely easily. But because it's very opaque, it's perfect for stamping!

Well, Chrome by Sally Hansen has long been discontinued. Thanks to my coworker Alicia, I've discovered GOSH nail polish. They have the perfect metallics!
GOSH "Ocean" topped with white floral stickers
My childhood friend Debbie introduced to me Konad Stamping Nail Art a few years back. I really like the product concept, as it lets you combine any amount of images in any way you like. It does take a while to get used to the procedure, but once you get the hang of it, it's extremely convenient.
After a little bit of practice, this was my first success:
Sally Hansen: Chrome "Sizzlin' Crystal" base
Sally Hansen: Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear "Gunmetal" plaid print
Sally Hansen: Hard As Nails w/ Nylon "Heartbeat" lace print
Of course, I find Konad to have some flaws as well. First off, the material scratches up like nothing else. The scraper could just as easily be made out of a rigid rubber and work just as well. But of course, material and production cost is an issue, so we just work with what we have for now. Debbie and I soon got into the habit of trading plates so that we can both use a larger variety of designs without purchasing more.

After a few attempts, I decided it was an awesome (and stupid) idea to host a manicure party at work!
We laid out all our nail polish and tools on the staff table in the basement of Crocs and had ourselves a blast, what with the combination of Crocs fumes, nail polish fumes, and booze. The below was the result of that night:
GOSH "Black Passion" base
GOSH "Metallic Blue" print
At this point, it only took me about ten minutes to do a base and print, or half an hour to complete a 2-3 layered design. I did my nails on a regular basis, which was probably very annoying for my roommates since it smelled bad.
GOSH "Purple Heart" base
GOSH "Golden Dragon" net print
GOSH "Metallic Purple" bamboo print
Soon I was confident enough to do my own nails for events. I started taking care of my cuticles too, with constant applications of hand lotion and trimming. I also began to use nail files more rather than clipping the nails. Filing your nails prevents chipping or flaking, and also promotes growth as it stimulates the nail base with vibrations. The below is an image of my nails I prepared for Tian Le's engineering graduation ball. I was very proud of it because it took me an extremely long time to layer about 4 coats of white in order to make it look like pearls. And the worst part was, each layer took about half an hour to fully dry. In case you didn't know, patience is not within my vocabulary.
Sally Hansen: Hard As Nails w/ Nylon "Super Frost Platinum" base
Sally Hansen: Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear "Brick Wall" floral print

Sally Hansen: Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear "Brick Wall" base
Konad "White" floral print
Alicia and I then made a trip to Mary's for another mini nail event. This was actually the first time I let somebody else do my nails! Alicia had a whole bunch of amazingly bright colours that I would have never thought of applying on myself.
Wet N Wild "Inferno" base
American Apparel "Manila" star and pattern prints
I then started using the top of a pen or the back of a paintbrush as a dotting tool. This only worked for so long, since using nail polish remover on those end up eventually ruining my brush/pen. I decided soon after to get an actual dotting tool. They're metal tipped, and double ended for different sizes. The size of the dot really then just depends on how much polish you have, or how much you press onto the nail.
GOSH "Ocean" base

GOSH "Purple Heart" base
GOSH "Metallic Blue" seahorse print and bubbles
It took me almost two years to buy another new plate, since I never really felt the need to. In the end, I only used this plate twice, because Debbie bought me a master plate. The master plate has all the designs from B01 to B36, which is more than I'll ever need. Any other designs I need are acquired through friends who also collect stamping art plates. At this point, there were many other plates that were not necessarily brand name. For the lack of a pleasant term, they were "copies" of Konad plates, and then some custom designed ones began appearing on the market as well. These were much more affordable, but I still purchase from Konad to support the company.
GOSH "Ocean" base
GOSH "Metallic Purple" floral and lace print
One day, Alicia gave me a bottle of nail glitter! I got super excited and decided to do a new design using the sponging method to create a gradient. The next day, I arrived at Crocs for my shift to discover that we have a new sparkly pink bracelet that matched my nails perfectly, right down to the pearl!!!
photography: Danny Kim
Sally Hansen: Hard As Nails w/ Nylon "Super Frost Platinum" base
Sally Hansen: Hard As Nails w/ Nylon "Heartbeat" gradient
GOSH "Nero" floral print
silver nail glitter with metallic chameleon purple butterfly flakes
A few months ago, I read about magnetic nail polish is Asia. I looked for it everywhere here, but with no success. Two months ago, I was extremely excited to find Nails Inc London Magnetic Polish available at Sephora. They only had three colours available, and of course, I bought them all. I was originally looking for Layla Magneffect polishes, which Alicia said had recently appeared in Rexall Pharmacies.

Magnetic nail polish is extremely expensive, so buying several colours already breaks the wallet. Trying to buy more for the sake of more patterns is also a pain. Luckily, I've found that one of my favourite stores sells magnets individually!

I've been a loyal customer to Phoenix Beauty Lounge, so it was a pleasant surprise when they began to sell magnetic polishes. There, I bought a few more patterns at an extremely low rate. I figured this was the best solution, as I pretty much have all the colours I would ever use anyways. The only colour I would like to add to the magnetic collection is a nice deep red, which none of the manufacturers offer just yet.
photography: Danny Kim
Nails Inc London: Magnetic Polish "Trafalgar Square" base

Nails Inc London: Magnetic Polish "Houses Of Parliament" base
Sally Hansen: Chrome "Sizzlin' Crystal" dots
metallic pink butterfly flakes
I recently also began using a lot of fimo, cut outs, and rhinestones. I also have been experimenting with transfers, gradients, and layering effects. I now leave you with a design for Chinese New Year! I especially like the Nails Inch London Special Effects polish because it reminds me of (muscovite) mica, which (I don't care what anyone says!) I perceive as one of the most beautiful minerals. This time, I themed the design around Chinese enamel vases.

This year is special to me, because I am a dragon as well. The dragon's natural element is wood, and is of the yang force. I was born the year 1988, making me an earth dragon. This year, we celebrate the water dragon! Honestly, I've always wished to be born either the water or the metal dragon, but since when do we get to choose our birth, right?
photography: Danny Kim
Nails Inc London: Special Effects "Kensington" base
Nails Inc London: Special Effects "Wyndham" overglaze
Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri "Whirlwind White" dragon print
GOSH "Metallic Blue" ying-yang print
flower fimo, metal gold leaf, and red bead
Happy Chinese Near Year~! I wish everyone another year of health, prosperity, and happiness!

08 July 2011


That is right. This post is about penises. Mary, Alicia, and I were walking home together after work today, and we were theorizing why Chinese men have smaller penises.

Mary thinks that maybe it was due to the mass migration. If you consider the theory that we all came from Africa, then the only route logical for a mass migration to China would be through the Himalayas. The climate and food supply cause them to evolve with smaller ... everything?
Alicia and I thought that it would be because they shrink in the cold.

I pitched forward the idea that perhaps due to diet or climatic changes, the women were smaller. And therefore the men had to evolve to match that. If a woman wants to bear children, they would select the man accordingly. And before you make a comment about size = pleasure; yes, there is such a thing as too big.

Kel agrees with Alicia, in that the men shrunk. They shrunk for the same reason Asians have smaller eyes. Their thicker eye lids allow more blood vessels to protect the eyes and peep through the cold. Presumably, a smaller penis means there is less surface area, therefore less cooling and body temperature drop.
Scott believes that all races are equal, and that height need to be taken into consideration for a ratio.

Statistics do consider height in the studies. And we can all go do our research into this.
But the fun of it is theorizing on our own from rumours, limited knowledge, and experience!

Not a serious theory!

03 July 2011


Click Jin's bloodthirsty eyes to see the full image.
Jin is the first male I've drawn in a very long time that didn't turn out looking like a chick. Sure, I rushed this contest entry (as always) and the airbrushing sucked. But the important thing is: he looks like a dude.

The rough pencil sketch.
This was done before my Wacom Cintiq 21UX. Sketching was faster on paper than on computer, and also much less stressful on my carpel tunnel.
Line-art and base colours.
I admit I got lazy, but I was also short on time. I had less than half a day to complete this, so I cheated on the line-art. I used the pen [P] tool *cries* and didn't even do any dynamic lines. That's right, it was all 1pixel throughout. And I am not proud of it.
Primary shading: brown and black.
I started doing some quick shading using my Wacom Graphire4 4"x5". I went against the rules and started with the darkest colours first, which helped me determine the contrast of the entire image from the get-go. Typically, if I have the time, I wouldn't do it this way because it destroys the chances of me setting a good tone and atmosphere. But I had already decided on the background before I started the sketch, so this was A-O-K lol.
Roughly shade in the rest of him, then start highlights.
I typically set the paintbrush [B] to 16% opacity (and set the dynamics too of course) then put it on a layer set  on Multiply. I would lay the base colour on top of itself, which when multiplied, looks great. Then I would sample [alt on B, or I] that result and brush it over again for darker areas~ and repeat. Eraser [E] is also usually set to 16% with brush dynamics set to my liking.
The skin and the blades are shaded.
I was super cheap here on the blades. In the base colours layers' blending properties, I played around with gradient and pattern overlays. Then I did the quick shading on a Multiply layer. Remember, clipping masks are your best friend~ [right click layer, select option] And a neutral background makes it easier to see your shading or if your base colours were spilling over your line-art.
Resized and added a comic background.
I used the paintbrush [B] on 100% hardness and 100% opacity to spatter dots of random sizes all over the background layer. This sat over a layer with rendered static. Then I merged the dots and static layers, and played around with different distortion effects (such as Motion Blur and Pinch) until I got the above effect~ Use the circle crop [M] tool with a feather to clear out the middle. Values will vary depending on the size of the image, therefore it's useless for me to list what my numbers were.
Speech explosion and the back of the Dark Lord's hat head.
Using the wand [W] I clicked the centre of the background layer and selected all the white area. I had to play with different tolerance levels to achieve the right balance of black and white. Create a new layer after making the selection. Right click on the selected area and fill it with a colour on the new layer. After I did this, I also went into the layer's blending properties to set a radial gradient.
On fire!
I played around with different colours in the gradients to decide on what kind of tone I wanted the image to be. The orange reminds me of Naruto.
Cartoonish cool blue!
The blue looked almost TMNT-like o_O I'm not sure how I feel about that.
The final result.
In the end, I lowered the saturation for the background colour. Overall, I suppose this is the best I could have done in the few hours I had. In addition, I think the Dual Blade class is stupid, which does not help when it's the subject I am drawing. The link to the full size piece is the very first image of this post: click his eyes!!!
Now go eat some markers.