Thursday, November 29, 2012

OMG RWBY

RWBY - Red White Black Yellow

I've been a fan of Monty Oum's work since I discovered his Dead Fantasy series a few years ago, and was thrilled to hear of his new work with Roosterteeth - RWBY. After watching the trailer, I have to say...

It was like love at first sight. The music caught my breath, the fighting choreo and animation blew me away, and that weapon the main character uses, the Crescent Rose... I fell for it. So hard. If you haven't seen the Red trailer for his new webseries premiering 2013, check that out below before reading further: 




You see that gunscythe? I want to build that gunscythe.

No, wait.

I will build that gunscythe. A full-size model that would pack and unfold as the animation suggests (or as closely as I can replicate it). First, a paper model to visualize the shapes and use the dimensions to scale to a possible CAD model, then a small-scale model to test out any details, then, the final large-scale model.

After brainstorming and sketching out possible ways to make this thing work in real life, I paused to make a static version of the fully-extended head of the gunscythe from computer paper.

Above: The paper Crescent Rose head on a backdrop of my sketchbook.

Read more...

Friday, November 23, 2012

D*CON AND KURONEKO-BOT

Aug 31-Sep 4, 2012 - My very first Dragon*Con, and Robot Battle. Belated as it is, let me share a few of the things I learned about building my first antweight robot.

TL;DR:
Don't use motors encased in plastic for your competition robots.
Don't skimp on good wheels.
Learn to drive.
You can't beat real-time combat experience in improving your robot design skills.

Above: Before leaving for Atlanta, GA.

Above: Final design.

Read more...

Friday, August 31, 2012

DAYS AND DAYS AND DAYS


Yes, this took ages - days and days and days. And more days! I wanted to create something epic, and I was inspired by so many awesome artists at DeviantArt and ConceptArt that I just ....went and tried. :)

...Trying was really hard, haha. What would take a pro or at least a seasoned artist normally a few hours took me a few weeks of on-and-off working (and of trying really hard). But I guess I have to start somewhere, right?

(After days and days and days of working on this, I finally called the 'end', and stopped working on it. To be honest, after seeing this image for so many days, I got quite sick of it, haha... :)

The digital painting was done all in SAI, from conception to detailing. In hindsight, I spent a lot more time on the details than probably necessary, and it took me several several tries to get a desired effect (and not always achieved). Not to mention I had no idea how to make anything remotely sci-fi-y look cool, so I spent ages designing her 'suit' and wings. In the end, everything kind of just blurred together - the viewer might not always see the details, but as the artist, I can say a lot of thought went into every single stroke.

Here's the finished image, one I'm quite proud of:

Above: Cyborg Angel, digitally painted in SAI

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

ARDUINO-TAN

Arduino-tan, the Object-tan of the Arduino Uno microcontroller board! What is Object-tan? It's the name given to an "moe anthropomorphized" object, in this case the Arduino. There have been many Object-tans already created, as its a fairly common occurrence in the otaku culture to make something look cute. There are OS-tans, a Wiki-tan, console-tans, and so much more...
Above: Arduino-tan! Arduino-chan? Arduina-chan?
Arduino Uno-chan? Arduino Una-chan? ..tan?

Pretty much anything can be moe-anthropomorphized. Food, military vehicles, animals, laws, household appliances, buildings  - nothing is safe from the cuteness! D:

Monday, July 30, 2012

OTAKON 2012

Warning: Long post ahead!
TL;DR - The Otakon 2012 trip was overall very successful!

This past weekend I went to Otakon 2012 as Shiina Mayuri (Mayushii) from Stein's Gate, and had a blast! There were definitely a lot more Okabe's (the main male character) than any of the girl characters, but I'm glad we managed to find all but one character from the cast!

Above: Julia (as Christina) and me (as Mayuri) with Okabe #2.

Above: So many Okabe's! This was perhaps less than half of the total
number of Okabe's we encountered over the weekend.

In addition to the Black Rock Shooter canvas, I also submitted 3 chinese-styled wallscrolls and 2 sketches to the Otakon 2012 Art show.

Above: BRS canvas (this has its own post - check it out! ^_^ )

Above: Wall scrolls submitted to Otakon 2012!

Above: Sketch of gender-bender Legend of Korra cast.
(The finished version had some breezy leaves floating throughout the pic as well.)

Above: Working photo of the Mako-Bolin sketch - I don't have a pic
of the finished version unfortunately!

To read more about my trip and submitted art, click below to read more!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

BLACK ROCK SHOOTER PAINTING

For Otakon 2012, I'm going to submit about 5 pieces of artwork into their Art Show, and I'll be documenting their progress here. The first one to be done was the Black Rock Shooter acrylic painting!

Above: BRS in Acrylic!

(Black Rock Shooter is a character from an anime of the same name, for more info: CLICK HERE. :)

I had submitted an acrylic painting to Otakon 2 years ago, and I honestly don't remember how much I priced it and how much it sold for, haha. If anyone has any advice, please let me know!

The cheap-student's setup: Cardboard box table with a newspaper covering, and a flattened cardboard box underneath as a spill/drip precaution. It might be hard to tell in the following GIF, but I'm using those transparent CD covers and some plexiglass found at MITERS as substitute mixing trays. So if you don't have a palette/mixing tray, those are a good substitute.

Above: My workspace becomes subsequently more cluttered.

I am but an amateur artist and only a hobbyist, but here are a few color theory tips I can share:

(1) Brown and blue plus some white make lovelier shades of gray than the store bought colors (or even regular black mixed with white). A brighter blue results in a warmer shade of gray whereas a darker blue result in a colder shade of gray, and etc.

(2) Blue and with a little green mixed with some darker red (or yellow) create some interesting darker blue-green colors that when used with black create a nice backdrop/undertone color. I used this combo to get the color of BRS's hair, bikini top and shorts. The photo doesn't show it much, but the black does have a blue-green undertone, thus making it less of a strictly black and white painting. Careful not to mix until muddy!

(3) White lightens a color, but won't brighten a color. If you want a bright blue, for example, either buy a brighter blue color, or try and selectively 'tone-down' the area around it to create the illusion of a brighter color, as what I tried to do. You're going for a stark contrast, and you can do that by either complementing it, or making everything else much less intense (in the immediate surrounding area). By setting darker colors next to their much lighter companion with a few flecks of straight white on top also helps to create an illusion for a brighter color area.

Above: I used up 2 CD cases (back and front), and 4 rectangular strips of plexiglass.

Above: Example of (3) - tone down the blues in the surrounding areas
to make even regular blue look more intense than usual.

This might be a little light to see, but here's a comparison of the original sketch to the version I drew on the canvas. Looks really messy, right? I also took out 80% of the chains I was initially planning on drawing into the final painting just as an aesthetic choice.

Above: Canvas (right) based off the original sketch (left).

Above: Final version.
Size comparison to my laptop  - the painting's not too big!

More Otakon cosplay and artworks coming up in the next few days - Peace!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

FOOD DAY

This past Monday, I toted back a load of groceries with plans to try out some new recipes. After pretty much spending the rest of the day making stuff - chopping, whisking, kneading, etc - I realized something. And I only realized it after I sat down at the end of the day to take a break, when I noticed my arms were sore and uncontrollably quivering a bit.

Above: A 4koma of my Monday.

Conclusion: My arms are weak and have low endurance. ^o^;

However, I think I managed to make a few interesting dishes. Since the rest of this post is picture heavy, here's just two preview pics of the chocolate Kahlua mousse and dango (Japanese dumpling) dish I made - you can click through the jump break to read more. :)

Above: Chocolate Kahlua Mousse, served with strawberries.

Above: Dango with two varieties of toppings - 
black sesame and sweet soy sauce.

(Click below to read more!)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4TH OF JULY ICE CREAM

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate, I made some banana ice cream decked with blueberries and strawberries, topped with raspberry or blueberry cream upon serving.

Above: There are a few stripes missing.........

To fill a ~6x4x4 inch container, cut up about 6 frozen bananas, and add to it about a cup and a half of heavy cream and a few spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt to taste. Feel free to substitute peanut butter or honey for the vanilla yogurt as well! If you only have access to a small blender, as I have, split the ingredients into proportional rations so they'll fit.

Above: Cutting off the frozen banana peels.

Above: Bananas, cream, and yogurt.

The cream was made from mixing a few spoonfuls of heavy cream, milk, and sugar for a good 3-5 minutes. (I also heated it up for about 15 seconds afterwards, but that's not necessary). Add and crush the raspberries and blueberries in the cream for the topping, and use the rest for drizzling on the ice cream.

Above: Prepping fruit and cream for decoration.

Above: Crushing the fruit to make cream topping.

Above: Voila!

Add some crumbled Nilla wafers and serve however you want!

Above: I'll be eating this watching the fireworks. :)

~~~

There were so many people camped out near the river where the fireworks were to be set off; some apparently have been camping out there for the entire day. Happy Fourth of July, Boston!

Above: The concentration of campers stays pretty constant down the entire length of the river.

Monday, July 2, 2012

OTAKON PREP (2) - MAYUSHI

One of my good friends Julia introduced Stein's Gate to me, in hopes that I would cosplay with her as one of the main girl characters in the anime. And so, after watching a few episodes and becoming a fan, I've agreed to cosplay Mayuri Shiina, or Mayushi for short.

Above: Mayushi pic from Stein's Gate Wiki.

I started on the hat first, but after making two versions, I quickly discovered that I wasn't satisfied with the results so I won't go too into too much detail here.

Above: [LEFT] Hat V.1
[RIGHT] Hat V.2

Hat V.1:
Procedure: Circle top sewed onto a donut-shaped outer ring. White band tied around like a headband
Verdict: Too small, unstable. Doesn't have the desired shape.

Above: Using my pencil as a thread unraveler.

Hat V.2:
Procedure: Divided the hat into 3 parts - the top, the sides of the hat, and the rim. I made sure to give a bit more room to my measurements, used a hat I had as a model, and sewed on rigid paper to help mold the desired hat shape.
Verdict: Too wide at the back, unstable. Closer to the desired shape, but not to my satisfaction.

Above: Sewing the paper onto the insides of the Hat V.2.

Conclusion: For Hat V.3, I'm buying/making a hat mold first, on which I will just cover with fabric.

~~~

For Mayushi's top, I also made two versions, and decided that Top V.2 will be the working version I will shape into the final product.

Top V.1:
Procedure: I used newspapers to pattern out the top design.
Verdict: Waist too wide, sleeves too puffy.

Above: Newspaper patterning.

Above: Sleeves turned out too puffy.

Top V.2:
Procedure: I divided the dress part with the top, and used a smaller t-shirt as a model. I left the sleeves not sewn for now.
Verdict: Somewhat satisfactory. There are a few modifications I'd still like to do, like hem the dress and fix the alignment of the ruffles.

Above: Working more modularly.

Above: Sewing the lace on.

Above: Current product, as of now.

Conclusion: Fairly satisfactory. After sewing the sleeves and making minor adjustments, Top V.2 will be finished.

~~~

So after all this, I ended up using nearly 4x1 yards of light blue fabric and several colors of thread. Since I hand sewed everything, I ran out of thread fairly regularly and substituted all sorts of differently colored thread. I also got really good at tying knots and threading needles, haha. Next Otakon prep update: arts for the Art Show!

Above: Notice the empty spools to the right - time to buy new thread!

Friday, June 22, 2012

OTAKON PREP (1) AND TOTEM

(AKA - One way to make a wall scroll, part 1.)

There are 4 asian-styled wall scrolls I'll be creating for Otakon 2012, and I'll be detailing how everything goes here. Since my ink cartridges arrived in the mail today, I thought I'd test out my transfer paper and spray-on adhesive. So I printed a dummy picture onto a sheet of the Lazertron "Iron on Inkjet Transfer Paper for White or Light coloured [sic] Textiles" and took it to MITERS to iron it onto some fabric.

Above: Transfer sheets, sharp scissors, fabric. Iron not shown.

Above: (Left) Original image on regular computer paper.
(Right) Image ironed onto off-white fabric.

As you could probably tell by the above pics, I did a botch job of ironing. Be sure to (1) have a clean iron, (2) iron the corners of the sheet as well, and (3) wait for the fabric to cool before trying to remove the back of the transfer paper! Note: The colors on the fabric are truer to the colors on my computer screen.

Next, I wanted to test out my two adhesive methods - spray on and fabric tape. Except, don't be like me - read all the instructions before starting. My major mistake? My transfer paper instructions told me, "DO NOT USE STEAM." On the other hand, my fabric tape instructions told me, "DO USE STEAM." But I didn't read that. Until I started wondering why my picture was bubbling and yellowing and the transfer sheen was starting to come off. Hmm.

So then I just applied my spray-on adhesive (after reading the full instructions), and things stuck.

Above: Adhesives and the dummy red fabric backing for testing.

Above: After applying the spray on adhesive.
Not the greatest job in the world, haha, but for a test run, it'll suffice.

Add some round dowels at the top and bottom, and voila - final prototype:

Above: Wrinkled and rough-edged, but still feasible.

So all in all, the effort was educational. I've tweaked my wall scrolls plan a bit and will try again after my final images are completed. If I get it right the next time around, maybe I'll write an Instructable on it.

~~~

In other news, I got to see Totem, the newest show by Cirque Du Soleil, a few days ago. And it was amaziiiiing! :D The stage mechanics, the acrobats and performers, the music, the costumes - they were all awesome. (But if I had to choose, my favorite act involved the duo on a single trapeze...)

Above: The Cirque Du Soleil tent. I came outside during intermission with some friends to try
and figure out where the performers went when they disappeared into the ceiling... MAGIC.

Above: Inside the tent before the show. The giant turtle shell structure actually
blocks the coolest part of the stage, in my opinion.

Check out their official website (CIRQUE DU SOLEIL - TOTEM) for more pics, videos and info! If you get the chance and are interested, do go and see it! :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

MIT CLASS OF 2012

Graduation day - June 8, 2012. Degree - Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. I don't think it's quite hit me yet that I've graduated from MIT.

Above: Procession down Killian Court.

Commencement day started early for graduates, who had to check in to an assigned station and wait for two hours before the administrators finally let us out to walk towards Killian Court, where the ceremony was being held. Salman 'Sal' Kahn, our youngest Commencement speaker and founder of the online Khan Academy, humorously joked about MIT love relationships and likened MIT to Hogwarts, which brought laughs and settled my nerves quite a bit. ("Because sometimes, what we do is considered by the rest of the world to be magic...") And as this was also Susan Hockfield's last Commencement, having her say "...Today I'm graduating with you" nearly shook me to realization that I was really, truly, graduating.

When it was my turn to shake her hand, I gave her a strong shake, a 'Thank you' and a nod, and walked, stunned, down the aisle, past the cameras, past the other graduates, back to my seat. Only when I sat down and took a good look at my diploma did I notice the fluttering of my insides and the shaking of my hands. This was it - this little paper was symbolically everything I had worked for in the past 4 years.

But, through it all, the whole event was really baking hot. Under a smoldering midday sun, we had walked down Memorial Drive to Killian Court, only to sit for a few more hours in our heat-collecting black gowns. Several people even shed their gowns and only put them back on when it was their turn to walk. The event runners were thoughtful enough to provide bottles of water for us graduates, who had to sit in the open field with no tree shade or white awning. Since I sat on the end of a row, I started noticing, amusingly, that the volunteers roaming the aisles passed out bottles of water almost as frequently as names were being called on stage.

Probably the most amusing thing I noticed, and family and friends have also commented on, happened later in the ceremony. Whether it was the heat of the day, the wisps of rain clouds that started hovering near the end of the ceremony, or the impending late projected time of event completion, the announcers started calling out the names much quicker. My department was called early, and I remembered having to wait about 5-6 seconds before my name was called. But sometime close to the end, they were waiting only 1-2 seconds, if any at all. My guess goes to the rain - after a few gray strands passed and no rain fell, the announcers slowed down a bit.

~~

The night before Commencement, I couldn't sleep much, mostly in anticipation. I remember lying in my bed and wondering how I had managed to get through all 4 years. I definitely had doubts in the beginning of whether I'd survive at all. There have been definitely times when I have cried, and times when I strongly doubted myself. However, I was fortunate enough to have had many good memories here that trump much of the bad - good memories that I owe most to the friends I've made in the past 4 years.

It's times like these that I'm truly grateful for inventions like email and Facebook. After meeting and befriending such a diverse group of people on campus, I'm really glad I can instantly stay in touch with all of them. Censorship, firewalls and network connections aside, the fact that our relationship can best borders and oceans really makes me feel that MIT wasn't just in my past, but will also be with me wherever I go.

Above: Under the awning, some of the most powerful wizards of our technological time!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A WEDDING, THOUGHTS, AND A QUICK ANIMATION

On Sunday 5/27/2012, a friend who lived a few doors down from me got married.

Above: Abby and Dave,  pronounced wife and husband.

There were so many things I didn't know about a Christian wedding. Like how I had to sit on the bride's side because I knew her better, or how the bride and groom had to kiss every time someone tapped the side of their wine glass with a knife (during reception). But it was quite fun - we stood up and sang hymns, prayed and blessed the couple quite a few times, danced to swing and classics at the reception after. And it was very sweet, especially when the bride waltzed with the groom.

We had a few tears shed, a couple of baby wails, and a duo (siblings of the couple) who played the violin and piano preceding and following the ceremony. Due to the groom's association, there was also quite a large fraternity gathering, who mobbed the groom after the reception for a fraternity group hug and picture. All in all, I felt incredibly special to have been part of that moment. The bride looked beautiful, the atmosphere was magical, and watching their grandparents dance to the "Cha Cha Slide" definitely made my day.

The realization hit me a little later that I was already at that age, and that I would probably be attending a few more weddings involving my friends in the next couple of years. I respect the decision of couples like Abby and Dave, who have thought long and hard before taking this next step, and I understand marriage is large commitment many men and women shy away from.

There are always quotes and sayings that poke fun at marriages, equating them to business relationships or captivity. Perhaps it really is for some people. But after witnessing my first wedding ceremony, marriage seemed to mean something more than having a wife or husband. It means accepting another person into your life, and having a constant companion with you to help you battle your worst moments, and be there with you when you celebrate your best. It means a man or woman you choose to share your life story with as it unfolds. That, in itself, is such a special position.

The part of the ceremony that really got me came just before the vows. Abby and Dave told each other their faults, like how he may forget her at times, or how she may lose her patience. But despite those faults, they declared their acceptance of the other, their care and love for one another, and the mutual will to talk and work things out together - to face each other and confront their problems as a team, one at a time. Their vows reminded me that it takes two to maintain the relationship - if one person is only giving, or one is only taking, that bond would collapse.

Their maturity and honesty really moved me. For them, it was hurdle they tackled early. And for Abby to find someone who loved and cared for her as much as she did him made me feel so incredibly happy for her. I suppose if such a hurdle ever comes within sight in my own lane, I'll also do my best to decide on this important decision with my significant other.

~~~

In other news, a few days ago, I found this cute little animation program called "Pencil", and drew up with the following quick sequence:

video

Unlike flash programs and other digital animation software, this program mimics traditional animation, like a flip book with see-through layers. The interface looks a lot like paint, with the addition of a timeline and the ability to create frames. They also give you the option to see before and after frames, like a digital version of applying a lightbox. Unfortunately for Windows and Linux users, you can't export your sequence into a movie. But you can export it into a flash file, which you can then convert into mp4, avi, etc, using your own (or free online) methods.

I'm finding Pencil to be a really good tool for learning and practicing animation, though working on sequences with a tablet is still a little awkward. In the future, I think it would be nifty to try and animate a fight sequence...

Above: A sketch made to relieve stress just after my big final.

So here's to you, Yutaka Nakamura, genius fight animator and key animator for so many of my favorite anime. If I ever went and created an animated fight sequence, I'll send it to you as fan mail.

~~~

To leave off, here's a pic of a resistor menorah that I made for my laser harp in my Microcontrollers class:

Above: I only realized its resemblance afterwards...

I think it looks pretty cool - made the board a bit tidier, too. Too bad my class wasn't in the fall, because then this little resistor menorah would have been made around the appropriate holiday. ...Happy [early] holidays? :)