Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

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Theme updates

Made some adjustments to my blog theme.



  • search box graphic and placeholder text
  • added jetpack subscriptions module and some css to handle it
  • gave page a max width so it doesn’t look ridiculous on wide screen monitors.
  • sidebar: removed dotted borders added white space, toned down colours – reduced noise
  • Removed grey post-meta-content (categories, tags) boxes. Put all post meta data in TOP, with comments repeated at bottom. (Similar to when I started this theme!)
  • Added hover highlight to gallery images (now consistent with image links not in a gallery). Cleaned up some of the code (to not generate HTML comments) and random fixes here and there.
  • Removed lots of black. Too harsh.

You might have to click refresh. And you might not even notice any changes. 😛

Feel free to leave a comment or use Markup to make suggestions. Markup’s a pretty cool tool.

It’s interesting to compare the progression of my themes. Well, interesting for me, at least. 🙂

I think the next time I decide to work on a theme, I will start from scratch. Clean slate. Make it more consistent with my root page.

On a related note, the latest version of WordPress, 3.3.2, is really nice.

Back to School with Cheesecake

Recently, I’ve been busy for a variety of reasons. The most significant reason? I’ve gone back to school! 😮

Shocking, I know. But it’s probably not what you expect. Since April 11th, I’ve been going to culinary school in downtown Vancouver. It’s an 11 block program (each block consists of 4 weeks, so… 44 weeks) – I should be done in February 2012. In addition, I just completed a 4-month stage (unpaid internship) at a hotel. I would go there after class (or before class, depending on the class) about 3 times a week. Lots of getting up early, and some getting home late. It can be tough work. I’ve been physically exhausted. Heck, I’m exhausted, right now. And you know what? I love it. There is something really satisfying about cooking. You produce something you can be proud of in relatively short period of time… and the kitchen can be an exhilarating place to be. I’ve always liked a bit of adrenaline in my life and I guess I didn’t find that in an office environment.

Anyway, I haven’t been taking photos at school. And I should be. So today I took some photos. I’m currently in block 7: baking and pastry. Here are some cheesecakes I decorated today. My partner and I had finished pretty much everything, so we had lots of time to play around. 🙂

whipped cream rosettes with orange segments and strawberry. Probably should have left the orange bits off the rosettes, but oh well.

rosettes on top of kiwi slices, with strawberry on top of orange segments.

The cheescakes turned out really well. No burning, no cracks (thanks to a sour cream topping), and quite level and smooth. Clean!

Spent way too much time on this, but had a lot of fun doing it. Marzipan pumpkin and chocolate "Booo" leaning on rosettes, Messy spider is 2 strawberries covered in chocolate with marzipan eyes and chocolate disc legs. All on chocolate webbing.

The cheesecakes go for $18. It’s a good deal considering how much cream cheese is in them… each about 750g? But whoever gets that halloween one will have a bunch of chocolate shrapnel when they attempt to cut it. Hah! 🙂

Happy Halloween!

Did this FlipNote animation on the bus, yesterday.

The pumpkins, this year:

unlit jackolanterns

lit up jackolanterns

I did the one on the left (least effort!). ^.^ And it should resemble the pumpkin in the FlipNote animation, above. 🙂

Happy Halloween!

2008 In Review


This year has been pretty big. Naturally following up with lots of events from last year, these are some quick memories. My nephew, Rayden, was born on Feb 12th, six weeks early! This caused the father (my brother) to be indisposed for my dad’s (2nd) marriage on Feb 14th. I got bumped up to best man (but didn’t have to do much) and had a rather empty hotel room to myself in Vegas. I attended the Open Web Vancouver conference. I went to Whistler mountain for the first time in years and plan on going again soon. I went on a fantastic road trip down the west coast of the United States, something I will never forget. I slacked off most of the summer but managed to do quite a bit of rollerblading and outdoor activity hanging out with Kurt (visiting from Brazil). My brother, now a father, married the mother of his child on August 3rd. I was best man at this wedding, as well – with more responsibilities, but they were well received and totally worth it. Our beloved cat, Sky, met an early and terribly unfortunate end. We had our first encounter with bed bugs who are now the sworn enemy of our household. Vancouver, a city that sometimes doesn’t get snow all year, had its whitest Christmas ever with 60cm (2 ft) of snow! Perhaps we should have seen snow in April as a sign….?

That reminds me: Happy Holidays for 2008! Guess I was a little late on that… Here are some pictures of our insane weather in Vancouver.


With my free time, I think I was able to really exercise my geekiness in 2008. I released a couple updates to the Rhythmbox Jump-to-Playing plugin, which led me to submit my first patch to an upstream project! Said patch was accepted and will be in the next version of Rhythmbox! Yay. 🙂 It was just for some XML UI description, but it feels nice to have helped improve (even a tiny bit) a project that will be installed on thousands of computers in the next cycle. I also released a usable proof-of-concept GNOME Panel File List Applet which has stayed on my panel and I find quite useful. And I’ve done a couple little scripts and how-to’s that fall under the “nerd” category quite nicely. Oh yeah, and significant website updates. Next website todo item is to customize the attachment page for my theme, I think…. Also, I joined Twitter. And And LinkedIn….


Not many artsy things done this year. But with the significant improvements of tablet handling in Linux, I did some random doodles and a birthday card. I may not do it very often, but I still enjoy drawing, thank goodness.

Blog Stats for 2008

My Blog is by no means high traffic, but stats are fun! (These stats were obtained using the Stats plugin, and exclude the Feed stats, because I use Feedburner for that… although, I’m thinking I should revert that, now that I mostly use Stats.)

Top 3 Referrers:

  1. (402)
  2. (209)
  3. (126)

Top 3 Posts and Pages:

  1. Pidgin 2.1 UI Ideas (1,053)
  2. 2D Game Art and the Virtual Console (580)
  3. Rhythmbox Plugin: Jump to Playing 0.2 (455)

Top 3 Search Engine Terms:

  1. rhythmbox (327)
  2. bug (174)
  3. pidgin (165)

Top 3 Clicks:

  1. Pidgin UI screenshot attached to a bug (57)
  2. Pidgin UI mockup (50) by Hylke Bons
  3. SF2 HD Ken (42)
  4. The fourth was with 38 clicks, so it’s kinda cool I helped advertise a small project a little. (A project I’ve submitted patches to, no less. 🙂 )


Thank you, everyone, for a wonderful 2008. It’s been interesting, and despite a failing economy, I’m looking positively toward 2009.

Happy New Year! (????????????????) 🙂

A Gloomy Bear’s Life

Yesterday was Shirley‘s birthday. We went out for dinner with a bunch of people and drank. It was fun. I also decided to play with my tablet, yesterday. So a birthday ecard was a natural gift!! I sent this to her a day late.


Similar to my A Bug’s Life post, I’ll give a little overview of the process that went into this picture… I do this because I tend to enjoy reading these types of posts, myself… and… I can’t be the only one! 🙂

First, the idea: I know Shirley likes Gloomy Bear… but I know almost nothing about it! After a little searching to get the idea of Gloomy Bear’s looks. I gave it a first attempt:


I watched an informative and entertaining 3-minute video.Usually with Gloomy is the boy, Pity. Pity loves Gloomy, even though Gloomy’s a bear and attacks Pity, sometimes. I wanted the boy giving Gloomy a cake… then Gloomy reacting. Let’s try for more action….


Well, I was content with the idea… but that still didn’t look like Gloomy, at all! Did a couple sketches of Gloomy and Pity for a little practice:



Alright, these were looking a bit better. The perspective I wanted was a little awkward, but I’d give it a shot. The following resulted from drawing a lot and erasing a lot on the same sketch. That’s why it looks “smudgy.”


Awesome. It was starting to look acceptable. Now I had to make a nice outline. Using the Pen tool in Gimp, I added a new layer above the blue sketches. On this layer, I created paths and then applied strokes to the paths. (This kind of art should really be done with a vector program, like Inkscape, but I was tinkering in Gimp.) When I was done, I had a clean outline sitting on a layer above the blue sketch:


Next step was adding colour. This was really easy because the style for Gloomy Bear doesn’t have any shading – a single solid colour is applied to everything. Alright, then! Just had to hide the messy blue layer and add colours to a couple layers beneath the outline layer (we want the outline to be on top).


Add some text, a few touch-ups here and there, and that’s basically it! 🙂 Yay!

Originally, I did have a more elaborate idea of doing a stylish multi-panel comic:

  1. Pity gives Gloomy a cupcake.
  2. Close-up of cupcake.
  3. Close-up of Gloomy’s face, colours inverted.
  4. Gloomy reacts violently.
  5. Back to original scene, with after-effects.

This was my sketch for the reacting violently panel: 😉

Would have been fun. But I decided to keep things simple. 🙂

All images are under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License. And I would appreciate being told if you use anything. 🙂

Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) and Tablets

I just had to mention this: The latest version of Ubuntu finally supports input hotplugging. What this means is that you can plug in your tablet at any point and start taking advantage of its pressure sensitivity, etc. Previously, it would only work correctly if Ubuntu (the X server part of it) started with the tablet plugged in. Let me just say: OMG, I’ve been waiting for this for years! Seriously. I hadn’t been keeping up with every detail on the release (and I’m surprised I hadn’t seen mention of this yet), but I always plug in my USB tablet and run a quick test with new releases. This time, it actually worked! My test turned into a quick (and random) doodle:

How to Test

Plug in your tablet.

Run GIMP (included with Ubuntu by default).
Applications > Graphics > GIMP Image Editor

Enable Extended Input devices in GIMP.
Edit > Preferences > Input Devices > Configure Extended Input Devices

Find your tablet under the Device dropdown (mine is a Wacom Graphire) and select Screen or Window for the Mode. (It defaults to disabled.)

Create a new image, select the paintbrush tool and start drawing. To play with the features of your tablet, expand the Brush Dynamics section in the paintbrush options window (should be below the toolbox, where you selected the paintbrush). Here you can adjust things that pressure of your pen will control, like size and opacity. Fun stuff!

It’s not perfect (only works with the stylus – eraser doesn’t work without configuring), but it’s a HUGE step!! 😀 And the fact that this also includes the latest version of GIMP (2.6) makes this upgrade an absolute no-brainer for linux graphic-philes. 🙂

I found the new UI in GIMP a little strange at first, because I became so accustomed to the old one, but it is much better.

Upgrade Problems

Related to the upgrade, I lost wireless connectivity with my laptop upon doing it because the hostap_cs driver is used. I forgot about this issue that I had with previous releases and my super-cheap 1000yen wireless card. Blacklisting the hostap_cs driver and forcing the orinoco_cs driver fixed my problem again. The lesson: the upgrade wasn’t perfect and it should never be assumed that they will be – please backup your stuff! But do do the upgrade! 😉

GNOME 3.0 Ideas (Intelligent Desktop)

This is based off of a Summer of Code application I made in 2007, titled “Intelligent Desktop.” Recent discussions have reminded me to at least blog about it. And given my current employment status, I have the time. 🙂

Note: You may also be interested in File List Applet filelistapplet.

Messy Desk

The desktop – this gigantic area of screen real-estate – is a mess. Some people use their desktop to dump random files that they’re working on, or have recently downloaded. Others work tirelessly to keep the pretty background picture visible with minimal icon clutter. Still others find the Desktop useless because it fills up with icons too easily. In the Nautilus Desktop (GNOME’s default), icons can get placed on top of one another either by a bug in placement or simply because there is no space left, which really deters from the usability. Personally, I clump different themed files/folders into the corners of my desktop. When a file is added to the desktop procedurally, there is no obvious place to put it and thus no obvious place to look for it. This is compounded if there is a “hole” in one of my “icon clumps,” in which case the hole may be filled with the new icon making it extremely difficult to locate by both file name and screen location. I recently gave up on having mounted drives displayed on the desktop. Anything dynamic fails miserably as their location changes each time, and sometimes they even end up overlapping other icons. In any case, it seems the desktop requires maintenance to work, when it really shouldn’t.

An Intelligent Desktop would overcome icon clutter automatically and intelligently. It would also be a starting point to looking at potential benefits of a more dynamic desktop view. I’ll explain what I mean by this in a second. This is NOT that silly little notification that your desktop has old/unused icons on it.

Automatically Sorted, Categorized, Updated and Easily Searched

The desktop is a useful place to dump files, but retrieving them is a pain. In fact, browsing the desktop for that particular file (or folder) is a pain without a lot of maintenance. My idea requires an always-visible, on-the-desktop set of UI elements that I will call the Desktop Action Window (DAW). The easiest way to think of the DAW is as a sidebar for the desktop. (Don’t stand up quite yet, sidebar haters.) But rather than the DAW being a collection of meta-information or unrelated widgets, think of it as a controller to the desktop view (formerly just a desktop). Performing actions on the desktop via the DAW simply creates a new view of the desktop. The original/default view that is customized by the user will always be available. If you think in terms of Model-View-Controller, the current desktop is essentially everything. With the DAW, the DAW becomes the controller, the desktop viewing area becomes the view, and the model is partially hidden. The DAW should allow easy management of multiple views of the desktop, some automatic (Images, Movies, Recently Modified), some static (Default, Custom).

And you shouldn’t be concerned about a sizable widget infringing on your carefully chosen background, there are ways around that: the DAW could be hidden when no mouse movement on the desktop occurs (like the controls of a photo slide show), it could be semi transparent until the mouse is over it, it’s location could be customized, etc.

Some quick ideas for different actions in the DAW include:

  • An automatically generated list of types of files on the Desktop. Selecting one of them displays all icons of that type.
  • A text entry for string pattern matching.
  • Ability to easily hide all icons, except ‘always visible icons.’
  • Ability to have custom views displaying only icons that user specifies.
  • Ability to easily open file manager and display all files
  • Some form of icon pager or scrollable desktop view to allow for arbitrary numbers of icons to be displayed per view.
  • Ability to view and manipulate an arbitrary folder, such as Home, in the same way.


This is where I stop the prose and leave you with a couple mockups. The “Overflow” view could probably be replaced with “New” or “Recent” for recently modified files. Anytime new files/folders/launchers have been added, the button could be flashing to grab the user’s attention. Better not to alter the default view at all, I think.

Update 2008/12/04: I’ve started implementing what I was thinking about with the automatic view filter as a GNOME panel applet. Check out File List Applet.


(Had this sitting in my drafts for about a week… time to finish it up and push it out!)

After setting up my Wacom Graphire tablet on my laptop (copy-pasting some xorg.conf stuff) I decided to leave it on my bed. If I leave it on, with the Gimp (graphic application) open and the tablet plugged in, I will often do a little doodle before going to sleep. So these have been done while lying down, usually in (much) less than 5 minutes.

One thing I really like about comics is the expression (often exaggerated) portrayed through the characters’ faces.

This is something I don’t really have much practice with, so I started looking at some online comics that are good at it (and that I read): Penny Arcade, Octopus Pie, Butternutsquash, C&H… (Note: xkcd is excellent but obviously doesn’t even use facial expressions.)

PA Gabe, clearly very happy and excited

And this will be a good test of wordpress’ new gallery functionality combined with my hacky theme: I present, doodle gallery!!

An online comic is something I would love to do, but I would need to develop characters and story and be committed. 😮 Trying to illustrate different expressions is fun. Now accepting ideas. 🙂

Watching and Reading

(Online) Comics I’ve been reading

  • Butternut Squash – Start at the beginning. Polished style. Crude humour. Hilarious. (Thanks for pointing this out, Jon!)
  • Kukuburi – Start at the beginning. Elaborate style. Adventure. Bit of a slow start. Actually the plot’s still unravelling, but the art is pretty and the story is getting interesting. (By the same guy as BNS.)
  • Octopus Pie – Start at the beginning. Well written. Funny. Simple style.
  • Basic Instructions – Start Anywhere. Sterile “instruction manual illustration” style. *gasp!* Kinda wordy, but has its moments.

Some fascinating TED videos I’ve been watching

Some books I’ve been reading

  • Python – Essential Reference by David Beasley: This book is exactly what it says; an essential reference. The first section is an incredibly concise introduction to Python and should be read by everyone. The rest is nice to scan over to see what’s available and keep as a reference. I’d compare it to the K&R C programming book. This book is meant for programmers.
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman: Pretty much considered required reading material for usability folk. Well written, lots of examples, and often entertaining.
  • Character Design for Mobile Devices by NFGMan: I’ve looked at every beautiful, full-colour page. Some great pixel art and history in here. But I’ve read almost nothing. I didn’t really get it to read, I guess. Makes my desk look h-a-w-t.

A Bug’s Life

A while ago (a year?!), I made this cute little bug graphic for Nemiver, a C/C++ debugger for GNOME.

No Bug

Nemiver has since changed icons. More recently, Shirley pointed out to me that my bug had been used on a Mac site! 😮 (Of all things!) Heh. I only posted the graphic on the Nemiver mailing list, so I was really curious how the author of the post on the Mac site, Tanya Palta, managed to find my graphic. I’m guessing it was a Google Images search for “dead bug”. 🙂 I’m actually rather flattered that my graphic was picked for this post, but it’s worth mentioning that the license wasn’t followed – which is par for the course with the Internet. The image and it’s source was (and remains) released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License (It’s a mouthful, but it’s pretty simple).

The bug originally started with this:


I remember Jesse commenting that it looked like a barbeque. Hah… so it did! 🙂 I went through lots of different iterations:

Dead Squished Bug

Bug in crosshair

And ended up with the graphic at the top of this post. I also tried simplifying it and making the eyes bigger to support lower resolutions, but I didn’t really put any effort into fitting it within the Tango guidelines.

black bug

Anyway, that’s this bug’s life story.

All images and SVG source available in zip file ( – 330KB) under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. Images created in Inkscape, an excellent opensource vector art program.