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.

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.

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.

Indoor Walking Exercise Video

I’ve been using one of those fitness trackers in the form of a wrist band for a few weeks now. For the pedometer function, my target number of steps is now 15000.

Yesterday I was so busy that by around 9pm or so I was just too plain exhausted to go out for a quick walk. I needed just less than 3000 steps to hit the target, and in instances like these I normally just put on my running shoes for a quick jog or brisk walk.

Good ole’ Youtube comes to the rescue, as usual. I just thought I’d try my luck Googling ‘indoor walking youtube’, and this nice lady Jessica Smith’s indoor exercise routine above comes up. So cool I now have something to turn to on rainy days as well.

Her routine is so easy and pleasant to follow. I would recommend it to absolute beginners and also those who are too shy to exercise outside. There are options peppered at some parts to jazz it up to make it a bit harder, as well as guidance on how to make it easier on the joints, if that’s what you need instead.

And how adorable is that chill dog in the video. I think her name is Peanut.

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Done for the day! Thank you, Ms. Jessica Smith!

By the way, this is the first time I’m doing a post on my tablet, which is such a slow and difficult pain in the ass especially attaching images, oh my God. So it’s probably the last time.

Heel Pain

I’m starting to freak out now that it has dawned on me that the pain in the heel of my foot is just not going away. In late March (or April, I don’t quite remember) I went out for a jog for an hour, as I normally did about once to thrice a week. But this time I ended up with a very sore left foot the following day. I brushed it off. The pain gradually increased in the following week or so. I still wasn’t worried because it’s not uncommon for me to feel some pain or discomfort after running. I always just took it as my feet reacting to the strain, and it always went away after a few days max.

Now it’s been four months. The pain abates or returns with varying degrees. I didn’t really realise the length of time except for the occasional vague thought, “Shit, when is this pain finally going away? It’s been weeks.” The reason being that I was particularly busy with our projects at work, which required a lot of physical effort and me being on my feet, and walking briskly, so I just put up with the pain the best I could. After about a month of that, we moved house. About two weeks of stress and exhaustion in packing boxes and furniture and other stuff. Moving from one double-storey house to another means a lot of pounding the stairs to get many of those boxes and furniture from one floor to another. And after that it was immediately back to work again.

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I know an injured joint/muscle needs to rest to heal properly, but I just coudn’t give it enough of that, even when I was limping and hobbling on some days. In addition, I’ve always been a fast walker (even when I don’t need to be somewhere quickly). When the pain is unbearable, of course I can’t walk quickly, but even when the pain has mostly subsided for a while, I find it’s such a strain to keep reminding myself to walk slowly so that the foot can properly heal.

It was only around last month when I was thinking of how much I miss jogging, that I was startled into realising that I haven’t jogged for three whole months. Started to be alarmed and wonder why the pain in my foot stubbornly won’t go away. Tried to make myself feel better by thinking, “Okay, I’ll just walk for exercise since that’s all I can do now. Let’s see what happens.” Of course the idiot that I am, I was soon brisk-walking because seeing all the joggers running past me made me jealous and miserable. I brisk-walked for almost an hour, and the next day, the sharp pain in the heel hurt like hell all over again.

I started searching online to learn more. As with other subjects, there is so much info online that one can become overwhelmed or confused, and spend way too much time reading. So I picked and chose randomly what to read/watch as I just don’t have the time to read endless articles.  I learnt the basics that the area that is causing the pain in my foot is called Plantar Fascia, and the condition is called Plantar Fasciitis. It’s an apparently common affliction even among experienced athletes. It was both comforting and depressing at the same time to learn that it is common to suffer for months from this condition, as I have been. What scares me most is that some people end up having it as a chronic ailment for years. I can’t bear the thought of going through it again even once more after I’ve recovered, let alone over and over again for life.

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So no more marathons, even after I (hopefully) recover from this? My last one was back in 2012. I don’t want to be a pussy, but it’s such a massive pain in the ass (or heel, rather) that I would just be scared of getting this Plantar Fasciitis crap all over again. Because, oh my God, the pain when it comes…. and being out for months, without being able to jog, is just so… *sigh* … damn irritating and depressing, to be honest.

I can’t afford to see a podiatrist or whatever specialist, so I turned online to learn some stretches to help myself, including from the following video:

I also like the advice of the following doctor Gary Crowley who not only recommends some stretch exercise, but explains what each is for and how it may impact the treatment. He also reminds the viewer to note which works or doesn’t, as I suppose not all work for all bodies, so we have to learn for ourselves what specifically works for us.

I discovered his excellent website, Do-It-Yourself-Joint-Pain-Relief, some years ago while I was searching online to learn to cope with some lower back pain. I find his advice and instructions sensible and easy to follow. Of course, being me, I also have to mention the bonus that’s he’s goodlooking and pretty hot. Especially when he smiles.

Videos for Step 2 and Step 3 can be found on his Heel Pain Treatment‘ page.

Cat delivers his verdict on Mac & Cheese: ‘Oh yum! Oh my God!’

I must have watched this short clip ten times, cackling away. I first saw it on tastefully offensive. It’s so funny. I have a black cat too and he is quite a character as well. Dog (the cat in the video is called dog) is so adorable.

I’m not crazy or anything (no, just kidding, I am crazy) but I swear I heard:

  1. Ohhh yum!
  2. Ohhh my god!
  3. Ohhhhhhh…….. YUMMM!!!
  4. Ohh my god
  5. Ohh my god
  6. Oh yeah!

And then he turned and gave a verbal hi-five to the kitchen cabinet before swaggering away. Probably ‘hell, yeah!‘, or ‘hell, yum!‘ or something.

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I’m reminded of one of the stray cats who we fed and who came and went as they pleased, a neurotic little thing we called Marco. We wanted to adopt him as he was such a sweet creature, and we felt sorry for him and protective of him as he was such a nervous wreck. One of those restless lone rangers who didn’t quite get along with the other strays (I can relate to that haha).

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Now who couldn’t love that sweet derpy face? Marco at his preferred point of entrance and exit: the kitchen window.

But he just refused to be homed and would wail to be released back outside. I guess the bond just wasn’t there because he was already a grown adult when he came to us, and not as a kitten. I think I read somewhere you have up to 10 weeks for a newborn kitten to know you and get used to you, otherwise they’ll never have a bond with you and be totally comfortable with you. Or something!

Anyway, Marco continued to come and go for a few more months, until he disappeared for good, and that’s when I really wished I had tried harder to keep him. I was worried sick. He seemed like such a fragile thing and I was sure something bad had happened to him, the poor guy.

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Like Dog, Marco was a very ‘appreciative’ eater (read: noisy) which always cracked us up. God I really miss him. It’s been probably close to ten years, but I still remember him well. He left quite the mark in my heart.