Bronne found some doodles of mine the other day.  They were from when he took me with him to a teaching conference in Montana last year.  I sat in some lectures and doodled on the resort’s complimentary stationary as I listened. I’ve totally forgotten I did them but was pretty excited that he had unearthed them.

When I was in school, I had two kinds of teachers: one disapproved of doodling in class, the other didn’t mind.  The first type of teacher thinks that if you’re busy with your hands then you aren’t being attentive, especially during a lecture.  They probably believe that the mind can only process one thing at a time, and, if you’re doodling, you’re not really digesting the lesson.  The second type of teacher thinks that doodling isn’t a bad thing and being busy with your hands don’t make you any less attentive.  In fact, it relaxes you and allows your brain to take in and digest information.

I was a doodler as a student and, when I became a teacher, didn’t stop my doodler-students from keeping their hands busy whenever I gave a lecture.  Only a doodler would understand what another doodler’s mind goes through so I knew there was no harm in it.

Some people are able to multi-task more than others.  When I was in Music Conducting class, we had to go through several exercises that isolated one hand’s action from the other.  These exercises helped conductors with their coordination like maintaining the beat with one hand while giving cues for dynamics or instruments’ entrances with the other.  Some people in my class did the exercises without difficulty, and, much to the amusement of the whole class, others did pretty badly.   The explanation for this has something to do with the corpus callosum, that part of our brain that connects and facilitates the interaction between our right and left brain hemispheres.  Some people have a wider corpus callosum.   In fact, there was even a study before that suggested women had a wider corpus callosum which explains their ability to multi-task more than men.  It also explained for what we often hear as “women’s intuition”.

Have a bit of fun and try these exercises:

1.  Make a square with your right hand while, on paper, you draw a big circle with your left.

2.  Do a 4-beat pattern with your right while the left does a 3-beat pattern.

3.  Write a sentence with the right hand (or left, if left-handed) and do an air-circle with the left.


How-to: My First Official (Uber) Short Animation Film


Typing that title was a real laugh-out-loud moment.  The short film is sooo short it didn’t even hit the 1-minute mark.  The main character is someone that you might have met in my blog before: Joyful, my green dog.  He is my band’s, He Sang She Sang‘s, mascot and “dogager”.  In the film, we define what DOGAGER means.  Watch it to find out.

Would it surprise you to know that this 53-second film took me 3 weeks to make?  It was a laborious project and, it being my first real foray into animation WITH music, I experimented a lot and wasted many hours of work on drawings and slides that I didn’t need in the end.  I also spent some time getting to know the Windows Movie Maker.  Fortunately, Bronne knew how to edit music and had the software to do it, so that was one less thing for me to worry about.

I didn’t read up on how to make animation and, as in the many things I do, learned by doing.  The missteps and mistakes were essential in learning.  And despite the tired eyes and hands, headaches and sleepless nights, I enjoyed every minute of it.

Just in case you are thinking of creating your own short animation film, here are the steps I chose to take (I’m sure the folks at Pixar would have a better way of doing things, though):

  1. Brainstorm on a story line with the characters, plot, music, etc.  I guess the trained folks would have a story board and if my story were longer, I would have made one, too.
  2. Edit your chosen music/sound effect to your desired length.  The amount of work you do will depend upon this.
  3. Draw your characters.  In this case, I consider the dancing flowers, sun, and clouds as supporting characters to Joyful.  I drew them and their different poses and facial expressions using a combination of MS Paint and Photoshop on white background to make cutting and pasting easier.
  4. Draw your background. Mine was the sky and the green hilly ground.
  5. Create your ‘slides’ or ‘panels’ by cutting-and-pasting your characters onto the background. Each slide would feature 1 pose or facial expression.
  6. Color.
  7. Enhance your slides with artistic effects on Photoshop or Corel Draw.  Some people skip this because they like the raw look.  I just enhanced the color and put some effects to make the slides look more “story-book” seamless.
  8. Upload your slides and music to your animation/film software.  I chose the Windows Movie Maker because it’s FREE!!!  Plus, artist, Josh Latta, told me that was a good software for beginner animators.  Windows Movie Maker is pretty easy to use.  You’ll have fun experimenting with its different effects.
  9. Edit.  Take care in coordinating the music with your slides.
  10. Save.
  11. Upload on YouTube.
Hopefully, all the things I learned from doing this uber short film will aid me when we start our next project: making a video for one of our original songs.  The song is definitely more than 1 minute.  In fact, it’s one of our longest songs.   So, if all goes well, that one will probably be unveiled in about … oh, maybe 3 years!  Hahaha!

How to Add an Image to your Facebook Like Badge

I opened Facebook last week and read a cry of help from comic book artist, Josh Latta, who is also making a name for himself for creating custom made avatars, or cartoon representations. I’ve yet to find out why he calls them avatards but you can ask him or find samples of his works here. Josh needed help with, among other things, his Facebook Page and Like Badge, and promised an avatard for your trouble.

I decided to help him. First off, I’ve always wanted a Josh Latta custom-made avatard for my band, He Sang She Sang. Second, Josh, whose FB status updates are funny one-liners aimed to skewer or shock, uncharacteristically sounded serious. The dude needed help and I wanted an avatard. I told him I’d help. His Facebook Badge problems were:

He wanted to have the status on his Facebook Page Badge removed. The badge status doesn’t update. Weeks before, he posted this:

ATTENTION HOT CHICKS: Send me a picture of you with my comics and I will put you on my website for free!

And more strangely, it’s not complete. Josh’s badge just said: “ATTENTION HOT CHICKS: Send me a picture of you…” which made him sound like a perv. Him possibly being one is not the point. Why include the page status if the thought isn’t complete? (Also, I was kidding about Josh possibly being a perv — hahaha!)  He didn’t know how to add his pic on the FB Like Badge. It has that default male/female silhouette. Example: The Powerpuff Girls’ Like badge:

The problem is, I don’t know anything about HTML codes.

So, unbeknownst to Josh, I did a little research and played around with the codes. It was a hit or miss process that involved a lot of hunting for words and copy-pasting. I used my own badge and posted them first on my dead blogs to see if they worked. Painstaking, yes, but a worthwhile endeavor because I succeeded!

First Problem: Removing the FB Page Badge status update didn’t require any HTML manipulations. Just in case you want to know, these are the steps:

  1. Go to Facebook Badges.
  2. Choose Page Badge.
  3. Click on “Edit this Badge”.
  4. Un-check ‘status’.
  5. Save.
  6. Then ‘Choose where to add the badge’ to get the HTML code.
  7. Do the dance of joy.

Second Problem: Replacing the default silhouette on the FB like badge with your own picture.

  1. After you’ve done “selecting a page” you like on FB Like Badge, copy the HTML Code.
  2. Now for tedious but exciting (for fastidious geeks like me) part!
  • Paste the code on notepad or word. (I chose notepad)
  • HTML codes can look daunting but treat this whole process like a game. HUNT for the name of the page you selected to like. In this example, I selected to like the band “He Sang She Sang”.  Now look for “He Sang She Sang”.

Getting Addicted to Making Animation

I know I’m no animator.  First off, I can draw passably enough, but drawing using the touch pad of my laptop is a challenge.  I’m all hit or miss here and I’ve completed drawings at a snail’s pace.

But — voila! — here is my second attempt at making animation.  It’s about a strange venue owner we met months ago.  It would make more sense if you read about it on my HE SANG SHE SANG blog.  It’s ripe with juicy tidbits and intrigue!!! (Well, just a bit… hehehe).  Also, you’ll see a BIGGER VERSION of the cartoon.  For some reason, the animation doesn’t work on WordPress.  Perhaps because it’s a big file.

I did everything.  So if it sucks, blame me.  I was very conscious of Bronne, who is the visual artist of the family, looking over my shoulder, laughing inwardly at my feeble attempts to draw.  Actually, he wasn’t, but I was very very self-conscious about the whole process.

I did have fun making the cartoon, though!  I think I spent 6 hours to draw, color, Photoshop, revise and animate this short clip but I loved every minute of it.  I just used a gif animator for this one and I’m currently looking for a FREE simple animation software online so I can make more sophisticated cartoons in the future.  I’m not after creating “Finding Nemo 2”, but I do want to step things up a bit.

Do you know of a FREE simple animation software I can download online?  I’ve read about Pencil and Pivot Stickfigure animator but I’m trying to find out more.

So help me if you can! 🙂