Patterns with Inkscape, Pt.2: Geometric

The next stop in my journey of learning how to create patterns: geometric ones. And my usual go-to guy on YouTube for Inkscape tutorials, Logos by Nick, has just the video:

Well, purple being my favourite colour, and light blue goes ever so well with it, I decided to go with those two. To make the trio, a dark grey on one of the panels like the selection in the video.

I love the result! Although the purple is a bit too dark. And the dark grey could be lighter too to be more interesting.

After doing the second tutorial (detailed below) where the panels are given a linear gradient, I decided to return to this design to give it a gradient too. I love it even more now.

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The second tutorial, by Draw Simple Things, features practically the same design of polygon shape, except that they feature outlines of two different thickness, plus a subtle linear gradient on two of the three panels of the design.

As with the first tutorial, I enjoyed creating the design with the polygon shapes. However, turning it into a repeatable pattern involves duplicating the shapes themselves ‘manually’, as the following images show:

I prefer the method of the first tutorial, so I went back to the polygon shape to duplicate it to a cluster-of-7 thing, to turn into a rectangular template which I can clone faster and much more easily. So I applied that here:

which gave me this glorious repeated pattern:

Of course I just had to try it in purple:

Somehow I did my polygon ‘wrong’ in size or shape or both, so that when duplicated there is space (the white negative space) in between the shapes. That’s perfectly fine to me, though, I think it looks lovely that way too. More of a basket weave look. It has also given me an idea to incorporate my own design of vines of leaves and flowers, to be intertwined among them.

I’m loving this and can’t wait to try more! I have already chosen the next tutorial to try.

Patterns with Inkscape

I love patterns. On anything: shirts, upholstery, curtains, wallpaper, gift wrap paper. I like patterns that lean towards a retro vibe. I like geometric ones especially with a dash of Art Deco. Or designs featuring nature elements like flowers and leaves. I like simple, elegant ones, I like loud ones. Even ultra minimal designs like polka dots or stripes can be pretty and interesting too, as the variations one can play with them in colour, size and background are endless.

Recently I came across some YouTube tutorials on how to create patterns on Inkscape and decided to give them a go. They seemed easy but I was fumbling and had to keep repeating the steps. However I will do more of them to better get the hang of it. I like trying different types of digital drawing to see which ‘clicks’ with me, when I have the time. Drawing patterns is definitely something I’d like to explore further as a hobby.

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This is the tutorial I tried first, by Logos by Nick. The video is 11 and half minutes long. The first part deals with creating the crown design and the second part shows how to tile it via a clone tool.

After first creating the crown as designed by Logos by Nick, this is how parts of the crown is arranged on the original tile, ready to be cloned into a repeated pattern:

The resulting pattern reminded me so much of a sofa I once had, in navy blue :-) that I decided to have fun trying it in different colours:

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The second tutorial, by Paul Friedl, was more difficult for me to follow. The tile on which the design is based on is created first, and when you start drawing on it, it is replicated on the other cloned tiles. But I kept losing the link to the other tiles for example when I drew with anything other than the bezier (pen) tool, and I had to keep going back to re-link it. Just a matter of practice, I guess. Otherwise it is a pleasant video to follow.

After many tries I settled on this as the design on the original tile. In the process I learned two things: 1. I am utterly shit in drawing arcs and other curvy lines freehand, haha. 2. I had the idea to circumvent this by using the spiral tool to create arcs, by reducing the turn of the spiral to just 1 or 1.5, for example. And that suddenly led to spirals being the theme of the design hahaha.

The original tile design. Not pretty like the one in the tutorial video, but it’ll do. I’ve been watching episodes from the British crime drama series Endeavour, set in the 1960s, and wanted a somewhat retro feel :-) hence this blue.

Cloning the tile shows what it looks like as a repeated pattern:

Click to enlarge

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I certainly had fun with these two tutorials, and there’re a couple more I’m really keen to try out too next time.

Forza, Italia! I love you. Stay strong.

I have a special affinity with Italy, thanks to having met my Italian partner who I have been together with for just over 25 years now. Like millions of people before me, I fell in love with the country almost immediately upon my first visit, and fell helplessly in love with the culture, especially the language and of course the food. Their music, their movies, their art and design. I have been to Italy many times over the years to visit his family, around 20 times, and while I have not been to every single town and city in Italy, every single one I have been to is incredibly, stunningly beautiful and steeped in fascinating history, filled with people famous for their passion and zest for life.

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Bergamo, which I am privileged to have visited many years ago, is the city hardest hit by Covid-19 in Italy, one of the hardest hit countries in the world. Singer Roby Facchinetti was born there and still lives there. He co-wrote and sang this beautiful song as a tribute to Bergamo, but now it has become an anthem for all of Italy, and for many throughout the world who have been affected by the pandemic.

Rinascerò, Rinascerai” means “I will be reborn. You will be reborn.”. If you don’t see the English translation subtitles when playing the video, please click the ‘cc’ button at the bottom of the screen to activate the subtitles.

In an interview with Billboard published a few days ago, I learnt that many of the people featured in the video are doctors and nurses from the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, where Roby’s wife Giovanna is a volunteer. The video also features images from the city, as well as players and coaches from the city’s major league football club, Atalanta.

In that same Billboard interview, Roby spoke of how the song came to be:

It began when I saw the footage on the news of army trucks taking away coffins. This was just 50 meters from where I live here in the center of Bergamo, and so it was even tougher to watch. Two days earlier, two of my relatives had died. It was very painful, and so I sat down at my piano. This is because my whole life has been in music and it has always been the best medicine in the most difficult moments. I simply wanted to play the piano in order to take my mind off things, and the melody and harmony just came. I immediately rang Stefano D’Orazio. I told him about the tune and that I had these two words in mind — “Rinascerò, Rinascerai” — and I asked him, “Could you write the lyrics?” 

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I love you, Italy. Ti amo per sempre. I will always have you in my heart and thoughts. Keep on fighting. Take care. You will come out of this stronger than ever.

To everyone, please stay safe. Love and best wishes from me.

Landscape with a rope bridge

This took me hours on Inkscape to slowly do, but it was fun and I’m starting to get the hang of the software.

Thanks to the following YouTube tutorial that taught me how, by a channel called grafikwork:

I’m thinking that maybe for next time, I should try to create something I designed myself, whether a landscape or something else! I’ll have to see whether I can do it. I’m excited to try!

Painting with GIMP

I enjoyed the experience of creating an illustration with Inkscape so much last week that I decided to also finally give GIMP a proper try yesterday.

GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. As the name suggests, it is like Photoshop, the photo editing software. Like Photoshop, you can also use GIMP to create your own artwork. GIMP is free, and is actually considered the best free alternative to Photoshop.

I learnt how to ‘paint’ the landscape above using GIMP thanks to the following tutorial video from an artist and illustrator named Ronnie Tucker on YouTube.

The video is just under 30 minutes, but I took hours because, just like with Inkscape last week, it was my first time trying GIMP to paint so I was struggling a bit. Also, I think some of the paintbrushes used were not available on my version of GIMP. I didn’t want to install plug-ins (additional features) just yet, I just wanted to explore further the basic tools, in this case the paintbrush, so I just ploughed through, following along to it step by step, making many mistakes and adjustments along the way. The effort was worth it as I had a lot of fun! It was fascinating to learn the basic idea of which elements go on first when it comes to constructing a landscape.

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Related:

  • gimp.org
    • To learn more about GIMP and to download it.
  • 40+ Best Free GIMP Tutorials for Beginners (Drawing and Painting)
    • An excellent resource. This is also where I found the Ronnie Tucker tutorial featured in this post.
  • The following video from Chris’ Tutorials makes a great introduction to GIMP, and also demonstrates using a few tools to edit a photograph or image.

Inkscape

I’ve been meaning to learn how to draw and paint for the longest time. The thing with living in a small flat is that there is simply no space for a hobby that will accumulate paraphernalia like paints, brushes, notebooks for sketches and especially canvases, among other things probably. As it is I have already given away so many books over the years, keeping only a few shelves of the most loved novels, the ones which for various reasons hold the most sentimental value. These days I borrow e-books from the National Library.

I’m actually fine with this. I like living in a small space because there are less housekeeping and maintenance. Having to think twice (or thrice or more) before I buy and add anything, including clothes, is something that actually makes me happy. It’s a big blessing in disguise because I believe the best thing we can do for our planet is to buy less, consume less, so we end up creating less trash.

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I discovered Inkscape, the free (free!) graphics software a year or two ago, but never got around to exploring it until recently.

I really enjoyed making the illustration below and I hope it will be a regular activity, a new hobby.

I learnt how to do it thanks to the following video from a YouTube channel called Draw Simple Things.

The tutorial is done in real-time but there is no voice over. The audio is just music and you learn the steps by looking at where the mouse cursor goes. Apparently this is common for tutorials in YouTube because it cuts down the duration of the video. I tend to do 3 things when I watch such videos:

  • The music tends to annoy or distract me, or both, so I set the audio to mute and listen to my own music from another source (haha).
  • Slow down the speed so I can catch the steps better. When you play the video, there is a ‘Settings‘ button at the bottom right corner of the video window, where you can access the ‘Playback Speed‘. I usually bring it down to 0.75 or 0.5.
  • Rewind it often anyway because I’m still too slow and keep missing the steps. Something very useful I just discovered for viewing YouTube videos:
    • To rewind 10 seconds, press J on your keyboard
    • To rewind 5 seconds, press the left arrow key
    • To pause or play the video, press K

The following tutorial by the channel Davies Media Design seems to be similar to the one above, but with its host Michael Davies guiding the viewer step by step. I haven’t tried this one yet.

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Related links:

‘Narcissus’ (2019) by Róisín Murphy and ‘Sing it back’ (1998) by Moloko

I came across again after such a long time, the song ‘Sing It Back’ from Moloko, on YouTube. It was first released more than two decades ago in 1998. I was in my 20s then. Listening to it again now, I thought to myself, “Wow, I remember this song, it still sounds fantastic after all these years.” Not everything in pop culture like songs and movies age well.

So that quickly led to a jaunt down memory lane, which can be dangerous on YouTube because it can suck up hours on end, so I had to be careful to snap out of it after around half an hour or so. But it was fun idling there, tickled pink by some of the other songs I liked so long ago.

Among the other videos I watched is ‘The Time is Now’, also by Moloko, enjoying the song all over again.

While I was listening to the song I read some of the comments, and one said:

Moloko still never got as much attention as they deserved. She is a wonderful singer.

I didn’t notice the ‘they‘ and was thinking, “Totally agree with that. Well, you can not let that happen to the current crop of talented but under-rated singers, by giving them more attention.

Start with this girl Róisín Murphy I saw a couple of times on YouTube. She’s amazing, and hmmm, incidentally she reminds me a lot of Moloko, come to think of it.”

In fact, I quickly realized that in the video for ‘Narcissus’ above, she sounds, and looks, a lot like Moloko in the ‘Sing it Back’ video. And both the songs and both the videos have a great sense of fun and humour.

The more I watched and listened to both, the more I’m intrigued by the similarity, until finally I Googled “Róisín Murphy Moloko” to see if anyone else noticed it. And of course that’s when I found out they’re actually the same person, haha. *light facepalm*

Or rather, the lady is the same. Róisín Murphy is her name. Moloko however is the name of a musical duo, made up of Róisín and her former partner Mark Brydon, that was active between 1994 and 2004.

I was really surprised they were not two different people because it meant she hardly aged, to look really similar to her younger self of 1998, even after two decades. Maybe she’s a vampire or something, I don’t know, (a disco-dancing booty-shaking one) but the face and the body are practically identical.

I also find it so incredibly cool that she’s still singing, and with the same vibe and spirit. Obviously I can’t call myself a fan as I didn’t even know she’s the same person as the singer in Moloko, but I think it’s so great she’s still going strong, doing her thing, putting out entertaining songs still and such fun and humorous videos.

Like this one called ‘Overpowered’, for example. Her outfit immediately made me think of Lady Gaga’s crazy outfits, but this was from 2007, before Lady Gaga’s first single was released the following year.

I really should start listening and enjoying Róisín’s discography and check out her past albums.

One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston – 30th Anniversary

I was listening to her greatest hits album just now, just enthralled all over again for the thousandth time by her voice. And sad at the same time that she had gone way too soon.

Whitney_Houston-_Greatest_Hits_Cover

Oh Whitney. What a loss.

When I got to One Moment in Time on Disc 2 of the album above, I realised it’s now been three whole decades since that beautiful song was released. And talking of how crazy-fast time flies, it has now been six years since she left us in 2012.

It was recorded for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Every time I heard the song I would always think it was for the Los Angeles Olympics of 1988, but checking it for this post, I realise I had been mistaken all this time. L.A. hosted the previous Games in 1984, not in 1988.

Thirty years on it is still THE Olympic Games Song, hands down. No other song from the Games, Winter or Summer, or any other song from other sporting events like the songs from the FIFA World Cup for example, comes close. Written by Albert Hammond and John Bettis, and produced by Narada Michael Walden, One Moment in Time is just so inspirational and just so perfect for the world’s premier sporting event. You can feel the raw grit, the sweat, tears and blood, the crazy hard work, the prayers and determination of the athletes who the song salutes and empathises with. The song is just so breathlessly beautiful, brought to life and imbued with fierce spirit and soul by Whitney’s voice and flawless delivery.

Oh Whitney. *hand on heart*

Here’s a video of a live performance in 1989, thanks to a Youtube user called MJChristina.

 

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How to examine your balls

A friend sent me this video via WhatsApp. I love it. Cute, informative, and a very important public service announcement. Nadia Heng, a TV host and Miss Malaysia beauty queen no less, gamely teaches how to examine testicles. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do on and off for the longest time, and FINALLY there’s a proper tutorial. Now that I have finally come across material that so helpfully shows me how to actually carry out the examination, I feel some confidence to do it.

I have never done it before, to be honest. That’s probably crazy and highly irresponsible. Especially when I already know, like so many other guys do I’m sure, that it’s something we guys are supposed to do regularly, like women should with their breasts examination. I have put it off because frankly, I already squirm and feel pain at the mere thought of squeezing my boys. (I came across women who refer to their boobs as their girls. So yeah I’m calling my balls my boys.)

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But now I feel like I’ve been quite a neglectful father, now that I think about it. I suddenly realise I’ve never really thought of them much, have I? I’ve never really touched them (I mean affectionately, not incestuously, eeww.) I’ve never really appreciated them. Never patted them for a job well done in doing their part keeping my body running well. I’m not sure I would have hugged them even if I could and was limber enough. I was so selfish. And to think they were right there by the organ with the crowning glory, the star of the family! Just a step back, just shyly hanging around in the shadow of the one who got all the attention. I’ve been such a shitty father to my boys.

Well, no more. From tonight onwards I’m going to visit and say hi. No more just absentmindedly acknowledging them with a scratch when they itch, but actually engage them with the attention they deserve. I will pay closer attention, and affection, to them with monthly chats (If I don’t feel weird talking to my cats, I don’t see why I should feel shy around them). It won’t be all roses at first. It will be awkward, because oh God to be honest I’m still squirmish at the thought of fondling them, but I know I’m just chicken at the thought of pain. But I must be brave. My boys deserve the relationship and affection they have starved for for decades! I must make amends and be responsible for the sake of all our health. Better late than never. I guess I have a New Year resolution after all.

Baby steps. A gentle handshake to start with, so as not to make them nervous and shrink back from my touch. There’s no need to suffocate them with dramatic tight bear hugs either, God knows they must already resent me with the huggy boxer-briefs of stretchy synthetic material I like to wear. I will be gentle with them.

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Much thanks to Nadia and Creative Walk, the production team behind the video.

Please pass it on. If nothing else, it’s a fun and funny video that will put a smile on the face of the person (man or woman) you pass it to. But of course it’s much more than that, and that’s what makes this video so valuable and well done: it’s an important and useful message (with clear instructions) cutely wrapped in a little presentation that’s entertaining to watch.

Dorky dancing at its finest

I was watching Drake’s video for Hotline Bling yet again, an excellent and addictive song, and was reminded of how he was teased in the media about his dancing. It made me laugh like crazy too when I first saw it months ago, but I have to say at the same time I find it adorable.

Thinking of that, I’m reminded of the next 3 examples of unique dancing that I guess I find fascinating and endearing as well, because they have stayed in my memory all this time. Of course it helps that I love the catchy-as-hell songs as well.

If you’re watching just to see them dance, I’ve stated below the point in time in the videos where they start dancing, but the videos are in their entirety here because as I said, I love these songs.

Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat. Dance starts at 1:15

Robyn’s Call Your Girlfriend. Dance starts at 0.25

Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters. Dance starts at 0:55