What is a drawing?
What is drawing?
What do I know about drawing?
The short answer is in my drawings.
The longer than short answer is I try to think about everything I do, I naturally overthink things to begin with, and drawing is something I have done for some time. “How long have you drawn” has a few different answering paradigms, some people make the number bigger for one reason, some smaller for another. In context of this post the relevant numbers are December 2014, when I found measuring and art became a knowable skill, and October 2019, after which I’ve reliably drawn something every day. Between those two dates was a slow ramp-up from once every week or two weeks and peaking at maybe five days a week, but only some hours a day, never really liked doing it, and never really made anything. October 2019 I participated in a spinoff of a niche version of Inktober, the art event where you draw one thing every day according to the public script. I did FGOctober’s Jacktober on a whim and decided I’d make a full color piece every day. At the start I had no idea how color worked. I’d used colors a total of 3 times before, all of them colorpicked from their original picture. This or floundering would be how the first half of Jacktober’s colors were picked. By the second half, I had some idea of what was going on and tried playing around. Some of them didn’t work out, but a good number of them did. At the end of those 31 days, I had 31 pieces completed. In the previous 5 years, I had 10. More importantly, I had a better idea of what a drawing was. Or perhaps I didn’t have the idea to ask that question before that.
The long answer is this post.
The main body of this post is a list of items in two categories. The order of the categories is in descending order of importance, the order of the items is semi-random. This list has changed over time, adding and removing items, occasionally changing orders because I can’t remember anything and things going together means it’s more likely I will remember them. The list can change every time I change note files, at which point I copy the list from the previous file and review it. The list is at the top of every note file. Every time I draw I take notes, usually in review, though recently they’ve been more things I’m currently thinking while I’m drawing them. Things which are recurring important themes that I remember to elevate get elevated to the list.
This is a technical point: I use Notepad++ for text. Being able to say “” and be able to refer to the thing I said on line 89, rather than typing all that out again on the current or a different file, makes a lot of things easier. Autotabbing makes it visually clear what idea is a set of what. If you know nothing about coding, learn about “nesting”, it’ll be worth your time. Some things are better faster, or in certain ways. This is a theme.
Also technical: I’ve worked with pencil and paper, and digitally with a Wacom Intuos Pro Med in SAI and CSP. I had a Wacom Bamboo at some distant point. Beyond these my knowledge of mediums in drawing is what I saw in art classes for kids and what I see on Youtube or Twitch from time to time. This pathing has had benefits and costs. This is a theme.
After the list’s items are some things I think are worth opining publicly on that I’ve heard here or there. They are placed at the end not because they’re less important than the list, if anything they’re way more important because if you have paid any attention ever in online art discussions some of this stuff has probably been drilled into you and thus fixing them is paramount. They’re at the end because a) it’s easier for me to say my ideas first, which even if you don’t agree with them becomes easier to see alternatives to standard discourse, b) presenting the other guy first means exactly the opposite of the benefit of a) happens, and c) I don’t like repeating myself. Some things are better repeated less. This is a theme. Also I’m wordy enough as it is.
The following is what appears at the top of my notes file for the week of 20_07_03, lines 1-53. WordPress or HTML have inserted differences of space before/after the two categories and a space between the last item and the linebreak. Otherwise it is identical.
STUDY LIST (review every file!)
what constitutes a drawing?
things i want
intimacy/love / friends/lord
light of god
life as worth living: effort leads to results
production is prereq/servant for research
color theory – esp. skin. giant color shifts also interest.
shape-details – level of abstractions
there is no such thing as a provisional drawing.
Q: “i dont know how to do this”/”this is a problem”, A:”today is the day”
how can i understand what i am doing more clearly to reproduce it more reliably/quickly?
try new things and play with it. imagine a different way things could be done.
improvement is four parts: desire, search (chance), implementation (ideologos), speed (pathing).
heaviest carries usually cost the least. ideal is maximizing followthrough
the important thing is not the line you just drew, but the next line that is now possible
question properly formed gives the right answer: look for different questions, not different answers.
you can’t have all possible choices in the same picture
if you constantly block yourself, then that’s what you will recognize as “good” and “real”.
do things in the order that feels best, not in the order that makes sense.
pulling from ahead is different from pushing from behind
“draw a cool thing” constitutes of “draw”, “cool”, and “thing”. “draw” is one of these things.
details are not extensions, they are existant things.
hierarchy to detail, beauty, and thus also care
if you respect the details, the details will respect you.
studying requires being ready for the thing in question, and looking for it at that time.
stoppage is generally a constraints problem: either excess of irrelevants, or lack of necessities.
what you want is what you will tend to get. so want nice things.
if you ask the big questions, you will tend to get the big answers.
flow = mobility = attention = a river in the jungle
getting to flow: have an idea strong enough that everything is followthrough
staying in flow: keep the idea in mind, find a path to it through what turns out to exist.
flow is probably “every action is important”.
expectations without judgement: most important thing is to keep desire intact
execution is a subset of search: start with what you know
picture relies on you, not you on it.
internal search (what feels right) and external search (what looks right)
emotion, vision, tempo, technicals
shape-details separate from color, emotion-pose-proportions separate from composition
understanding < ability < reach
— — —
The below are my comments and extensions for a slightly broader audience than just me at time of writing.
At some point in the indeterminate future I plan to find and organize and write the true patterns and principles behind them and call it “The Art of Flow” or some such name, but that may be some years away, as it was between the time “The World Beyond Words” was named and the time it was written (and then corrected/extended as “A Mountain In The Jungle”). Or it may not happen at all since crystallizing is itself a big effort and if I actually completely succeed at it, I will probably not write the solution but look to solving the next thing instead. I am writing currently because for the past some days the gods or spirits or some such things have been bothering me to write something about it now. This is what I have, extending it is what I can do now, and so this messy list with some repeats is what I shall do.
— Having finished now, this is as long as AMITJ. Although the below items are not in any particular order, the commentary was written sequentially. It is possible that it makes more sense in an order I didn’t write it, or makes sense just fine jumping around from one list item to the another, but this has really eaten up a lot of my time and I don’t intend to give it significantly more budget so I am not checking those cases.
 STUDY LIST (review every file!)
It was originally called “study list” because it was a list of things to study. “rendering styles”, “composition”, “clothing folds”, other technical things.
Studying is important: learning is fundamentally copying. There is nothing new under the sun.
Technicals largely do not appear anywhere in my notes anymore because they largely cannot be named. Put a different way, naming them largely does not help me do the thing I would want it to do. In the first study list one item was “clothing folds”. This is not helpful. What is helpful is another line in the same list: “pidjun stream, “lets draw arknights continued”, 01_18, ~2:08:00, sleeve rendering”. That’s also clothing folds, but it’s actually usable. It is the difference between goods in hand and typing a $ sign.
In the first study list there were also 3 categories: “things to study”, “things to study 2”, and “things to keep in mind at all times”. The first has changed. The second was to be specific places to study things like the stream vod time above, but became too numerous to bother keeping. If I want to learn something now, I just pick some picture that looks alright, seems within my reach, and start looking at it. Seeing a picture for 0.5 seconds is different from 5 seconds, is different from 1 minute, is different from 5 minutes. It is in a very real sense a different picture in each of those durations. The third category is the same, just renamed.
I don’t change the name “study list” because I don’t have a better name and don’t care to look around for one. It serves its purpose fine.
 what constitutes a drawing?
This is the question to answer.
It is my understanding that the answer is the skeleton key; the garden of eden.
It’s probably better as “what constitutes drawing”, but this is nitpicking. They are the same thing. Get out what you put in, reap what you sow, etc. It would be very odd if you could do one thing and actually get something else. The world is complicated, but it is not that complicated. It is knowable.
Sometimes I forget it’s there.
 things i want
 intimacy/love / friends/lord
 light of god
 life as worth living: effort leads to results
You need to know what you want.
I tried being cute and tricky here at some point, but like technicals they’ve been progressively removed because they do not actually point to or do the things I have them around for. “Everyone wants sex” does not mean they can admit it to themselves. What can you admit to yourself? Honesty aside for a moment, your mind has limited space. What occupies that space is of utmost importance. Drawing between 2014_12 and 2019_10 was spent almost entirely on grinding body parts because what I wanted was to do “something”. “Something” is exactly what I got. If I had wanted “sex”, I would’ve gotten something different. I would’ve at least noticed how much I actually wanted sex, and from that initial query, consider maybe a few other things I want more or less.
These days it is a trope of villains to openly ask the hero what he wants. This is wrong. It is nobles that ask directly what is wanted. It is peasants (villain’s etymology is medieval latin, “villanus”, for “farmhand”) that beat around the bush and play stupid little games. Play stupid little games, win stupid little prizes. There is one audience that’s always there to hear what you have to say, and that audience is you. You are there for everything you do. This is a theme. (All instances of “you” are in fact “me” first and “you” maybe; this applies to everything I or anyone says. You should do this, you should do that – what do I know about you? Who are you? But I know a lot about me. Things that “need to be said” are needed most by the speaker’s two ears.)
It is possible that “What do you want?” is the central question bar none, drawing or not (this is a theme). Perhaps it is more illustrative to model it as “Which god do you serve?”. If more than one god, in what order is your pantheon?
I think beautiful sexy ladies is important, but I’ve tried a few times, and it turns out I don’t actually care too much about seeing them being fucked, or showing off for the same ends. Seeing them do those things is nice, but having to make them do that reveals a different story. I started drawing with women because that was the obvious thing I liked visually. That is what I have now to work with. But the more I’ve done, especially with color, the more I find I care about other things. This is why “sex” is the fifth out of the five verbalized items.
 production is prereq/servant for research
I have a tendency of trying to separate improvement and production.
The idea that things can be figured out cleanly and completely before the first step of implementing is wrong. This is true even if you have a complete picture in front of you and are just copying it directly. You cannot do a thing before you do it, any more than you can not do a thing and also be doing it. This means that various technologies, understandings, methods are always incomplete and slightly incongruent with all the other pieces: you know how to do one part well but not the next. Yes. That’s how it is. You will never have a master-planned city, not if you want it to work or be beautiful.
“Research” thus means both making the final result better on some axis (e.g. color, anatomy, etc.), which is the fanciful and somewhat abstract aim, as well as making the various different ideas that come together somehow to make that final result come together more smoothly, which is the more visceral and true aim.
How is this research done? By producing things. There is no way to figure out how to feel better at doing the real thing except by doing the real thing. This applies to technologies too. I recently found out that what constitutes a good hairstyle also includes taking into account the nose, jawline, and ears. I had thought of hair as something plopped on after the head was complete, but that day I was copying a certain character from a certain artist over and over and that on top of vague memories of others told me that it wasn’t possible. I was getting the hair right, everything “hair” was accurate. But something was still wrong. So there had to be a different way. This is a theme.
I thought I liked sexy women and pinups. I like other things more, like dramatic shots. Dramatic shots have something to do with composition.
Visualizing as composition is primarily opposed to visualizing as objects. If you want to have a shot of a person with the lips at the top and upper chest at the bottom, you shouldn’t need to draw the whole torso or the whole head. For a person this doesn’t matter much either way; the cost of a 2~3 rough shapes and then cropping out the rest is negligible for the benefits it conveys. For an environment it seems too costly. It can’t possibly be that the entire space was drawn in 3D first and then cropped or simplified down, it’s too expensive. No one actually draws horizon line first, vanishing points, focal etc. etc., I don’t care what they say, I refuse to believe it. There has to be another way.
Current main idea is they build off the frame of the picture. However vast an environment or dramatic a shot, as a picture it is still a rectangle. If I try moving the rectangle here or there, the feeling changes. Therefore, the first known is the orientation of things relating to the rectangle is important. This thing on the ground here may be the top of a large circle. Can I start by putting a vaguely curved flat line a quarter of the way from the bottom? I can. Is this easier than starting with the horizon line and the cone of vision? It is.
 color theory – esp. skin. giant color shifts also interest.
I understand enough of what I’m looking for that I can say “color theory” to myself and remember what it is.
This is not color theory as anyone I’ve heard talk about it except by distant relation. There might be a word or so for what I’m looking for, but a) I doubt it, and b) I’m certainly not finding it by google. Gurney is a good help but his tome isn’t everything. To cover the scope of reality would have a tome for every line in Gurney’s tome, and another tome for every line in that tome. I’m looking for something to do with color and I know what sort of general form it will take. YouTube artist tutorial X can help me at the same chances that I’ll win the lottery: it’s not zero, but I wouldn’t find it because I was looking for it. An older example: for a long time trying to start using colors and even grayscale gave me a huge problem, but everything I found was on “rendering” and “lighting”. I didn’t give a fuck about those. I wanted to know what the fundamental differences and uses of “blobs” were as opposed to “lines”. I’d only ever drawn in lines with pencils and then digitally; what do I do with these “blobs” that can come in different opacities and different sizes? How do I make these “blobs” do what I want? But no one talks about this.
I am so tired of hearing about things to do “if you’re a beginner” / “just starting out”. But we’ll get to that at the end.
 shape-details – level of abstractions
“Shape-details” is my personal jargon. If there’s a word out there for it, I’ve never heard about it.
The basic explanation for lighting is one you’ve probably seen; a ball that’s half lit half in shadow and with a number of words and pointers on it. Light, shadow, midtone, terminator, highlight, useless, bureaucracy, checklist. It is my impression that a significant proportion of people come away from this not understanding how to light things because a common indicator of amateur digital art is a very large airbrush over the general region that’s in shadow, esp. if the color of the shadow is just set to black. Shadows don’t look like this, yes. But clearly that’s what people got from the ball explanation because it’s not like they like this result either.
“Shape-details” is my current understanding of lighting. That light things are light and dark things are dark no one needs to be told, that highlights are some angle of incident math physics something something I don’t think anyone actually gives a damn but isn’t actually too big a deal at the moment, and colors are big enough a problem that it’s easier handling semi-independently, so: if we start off with just one level of light and one level of dark, what do we know? I know in anime I like things are commonly two tones, light and dark. What else does anime do about it? Well, looks like they come in hard shapes. Things that don’t “have” hard edges have hard shapes anyways, like triangles in hair or other shapes in clothing folds. It’s difficult to draw lines around fuzzy blobs, but it’s pretty easy to draw lines around shapes. “Shape-details” are all the shapes that aren’t forms or outlines that will be filled in because they are highlights or shadows. They don’t particularly adhere to any rule other than cool, though at the beginning for general guidance and at the end for checking, the general form that is being lit will be considered.
I am probably just retarded and to many people it is obvious this is how you’d approach lighting as babby’s literal first step. I’ve been told I do things pointlessly laboriously, like ‘trimming lawns with scissors’. It’s true. But I also keep track of which stones I’ve turned, and once they’re all turned, the fool has persisted in his folly, and becomes wise. “There has to be another way”.
Or so I’d like to believe, but I actually found it because I’d noticed over the course of some pieces that trying to figure out the final form and final color/value in the same step felt really mushy and time-consuming so I’d try out separating them, with the final form coming first. I liked it. There are some things I don’t like about it, but it’s currently as a base to improve rather than as a foreign opponent.
It’s probably cheaper to notice that even with real life things things are pretty flat and simple most of the time. If you look at a person and think about what you see, they don’t have a billion hairs on their head, they have hair. Their belt or pants around their waist makes an approximately flat line, so you curve a flat line rather than trying to flatten a cylinder ‘because waists are cylindrical’. A lot of shadows on their body are basically hard shapes, clothing folds generally don’t matter. This requires having achieved final victory over the realism demon or having never encountered it. If you don’t have this, but lighting makes sense cheaply some other way, then it’s probably because I’m retarded, or at least retarded on this topic. Or it’s my tendency to trim lawns with scissors. “Or” means both. This is a theme.
“Level of abstraction” is older personal jargon. It refers to levels of simplification (from realism) where all components make an acceptable result, e.g. realistic hair works okay with anime faces, but the other way around basically doesn’t. Shape-details are inside that structure. Three other obvious levels of abstraction to using shape-details for lighting are are: lighting only major forms, broad airbrush, and simply single tone for everything and not bothering with shadows.
 structure reminders
“Training deals not with an object but with the human spirit and human emotions.”
The Tao of Jeet Kune Do
 there is no such thing as a provisional drawing.
Everything is always for real and everything has always been for real.
It is better to think of all drawings as for real than to think you can hide certain things by not showing it publicly, or not drawing it, or not [something]. All drawings are for real. There is always at least one audience that sees everything and from that audience you cannot hide.
Provisionalism, or as is more hip to say these days, “Simulation”ism, is how learning stops. I’ve known for a long time that copying is the path of improvement, but I’ve copied many things and didn’t get much from them because when things didn’t turn out well, or worse, when they did turn out well, at the time I was doing it I said to myself “it’s just a copy”. “It’s just practice”. Same with the years spent grinding various body parts. I should be a master at least at those parts, but I’m not. Part of this is because memory fades, but a lot of it was because I didn’t take it seriously.
The idea was, when I want to make something, I will be able to put all these parts together perfectly. Note this is not a true premise in itself, integration is itself a skill (an “art”), but for entertainment we can grant it. That was still 5 years spent making a total of 10 pieces. Are there only 10 things I would’ve wanted to do in that time? Every day I spent getting good at “anatomy” was a day I spent not making a full woman I wanted to see. What is the desired ratio between seeing more beautiful women drawn, and making any particular one or any particular part more beautiful? This is a question. The clock is ticking. The clock will always be ticking, and every tick you are standing on your answer.
Take yourself seriously.
“To think that a man has but 50 years to live under heaven. Surely this world is nothing but a vain dream.”
A Chef of Nobunaga
“Normally, those people would never wake up from their fantasy worlds.
They live meaningless lives.
They waste their precious days over nothing.
No matter how old they get, they’ll continue to say,
“My real life hasn’t started yet. The real me is still asleep, so that’s why my life is such garbage.”
They continue to tell themselves that.
And they age.
And on their deathbeds, they will finally realize: the life they lived was the real thing.
People don’t live provisional lives, nor do they die provisional deaths. That’s a simple fact! The problem… is whether they realize that simple fact.”
Kaiji: Gambling Apocalypse
 Q: “i dont know how to do this”/”this is a problem”, A:”today is the day”
The day before Jacktober I decided I would make one drawing every day, even if it was a stick figure. The first day of jacktober I wanted to remake a meme, which was in color. The end of the first day I decided every day would be in color. Obviously it would not be a stick figure, I can do that in under a minute. The time allotted is a day, or more than a day, if I work ahead. There is more I can do. What can I do? Well, one of those things is now color. How do I color? I don’t know. Why don’t we find out?
“Today” was traditionally an adverb.
 how can i understand what i am doing more clearly to reproduce it more reliably/quickly?
The simpler and more elegant understand is better because it saves time. There is a realm of useful ideas that lives and dies long before standard ideas can run out their results. This pattern is fractal: the puresr and more effective thoughts are, the less they can be verbalized, even in our own minds. They are ever more fleeting. They can only be observed, and at some point, the only hope is the hope to be able to observe.
If one attempts to verbalize them, it comes out as an unending mess. Like this post.
“The next point is when we try to guess a new law, whether we should use the seat-of-the-pants feeling and philosophical principles. “I don’t like the minimum principle”, or “I do like the minimum principle”. Or “I don’t like action at a distance” or “I do like action at a distance”. The question is to what extent do models help. And it’s a very interesting thing. Very often models help, and most physics teachers try to teach how to use these models and get a “good physical feel” as to how things are gonna work out.
But the greatest discoveries, it always turns out, abstract away from the model, it never did any good. Maxwell’s discovery of electrodynamics was first made with a lot of imaginary wheels and idlers and everything else in space. If you got rid of all the “idlers and everything else in space”, the thing was okay. Dirac discovered the correct laws of quantum mechanics simply by guessing the equation. And the method of simply guessing the equation seems to be a pretty effective way of guessing new laws. This shows again that mathematics is a deep way of expressing nature, and attempts to express nature in philosophical principles or in seat-of-the-pants mechanical feeling is not an efficient way.
I must say it’s possible, and I’ve often made the hypothesis, that physics will ultimately not require a mathematical statement. That the machinery will ultimately be revealed, just like one of these other prejudices.
It always bothers me, that in spite of all this “local” business, what goes on in no matter how tiny a region of space and no matter how tiny a region of time, according to the laws as we understand them today, takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out. Now, how could all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky little bit of space-time is going to do?”
The Character of Physical Law
“The priest Tannen used to say, “People come to no understanding because priests teach only the doctrine of ‘No Mind.’ What is called ‘No Mind’ is a mind that is pure and lacks complication.” This is interesting.
Lord Sanenori said, “In the midst of a single breath, where perversity cannot be held, is the Way.” If so, then the Way is one.
But there is no one who can understand this clarity at first. Purity is something that cannot be attained except by piling effort upon effort.”
 try new things and play with it. imagine a different way things could be done.
 improvement is four parts: desire, search (chance), implementation (ideologos), speed (pathing).
I don’t remember how I came to this. I have the notes and I have something that can search files but I’m not going to look for it. It’d take forever if I did that for every one of these because I literally have all the records.
The primary thing this counters is that improvement comes via determination or time. I’m all for having the right telos but the standard narrative here is dickwaving and chest-pounding. Improvement itself has a structure, and that structure was not taught at school no matter how much people like to say they teach you “how to learn to learn”. No, you didn’t.
Determination is “desire”.
Time is one of two parts in “Search”. There are some things you just won’t find, the chance is too low, it was not ordained for you, etc. You are going to make do with what you can find in the time you spent looking, or you won’t do anything at all.
“Ideologos” is the logic between ideas. That is the short version and probably sufficient for most purposes. The many different things you believe have to work together, and making them work together is itself a skill. The slightly longer than short version is in bits and pieces throughout this post. The long version is “A Mountain In the Jungle”.
“Pathing” is how it’s done at the time it’s being done. I believe the popular word these days for this concept is “tacit knowledge”, but this glorifies “knowledge” and thus I don’t like it. This stuff is not “knowledge, except it can’t be said”. You might as well say “fire, except not hot”. Just say something else. I think “pathing” is a good word. Where things are for me is to a large extent known by my feet.
Oh I remember the thing that preceded this now.
“all things that can be done are easy. there is no specific value in toil and suffering, the value is in purpose. things that are done are done by people who find it the easiest to do that rather than anything else.
have you ever seen anything that inspired you? has anything that inspired you, been remembered, even 10 years later?
that was done.
therefore that can be done.
find the path.”
 heaviest carries usually cost the least. ideal is maximizing followthrough
If you are thinking about something a lot, it is probably not going to be the most valuable piece.
 the important thing is not the line you just drew, but the next line that is now possible
There’s a number of things condensed in here, I don’t remember them all.
– Certain lines cannot be found before other lines are in place.
– All drawings are for real, there is no point in rejecting the past.
– Emotions are information. Bad emotions are not failure, they show the way by their opposition.
– Look ahead not behind.
 question properly formed gives the right answer: look for different questions, not different answers.
One time I was trying to figure out how to make clean lines without spending so much time. The archetype reached was the shape of “T”. Two lines are intersecting, one stops at the other, question: How to make the one that stops, stop at the right point, rather than overshooting or undershooting? Overshooting means erasing, which means hitting up against the other line; undershooting means obvious gap. The people I asked said I was overthinking it. I didn’t think so, since that’s what my lines were doing. I believe it was suggested to make lines thicker, which would be a solution but I didn’t like it, or to not worry about it, it’s not like perfectly clean lines are actually real, which I understand the concept of, but that’s not what I was seeing as my results, or feeling as I was drawing it.
The solution came offhand when talking with an art streamer and he mentioned how he doesn’t use stabilizers. Stabilizers are digital corrections for wobbly lines, the feeling of which is that the line becomes very heavy: they are hard to turn and hard to stop. I had forgotten I turned stabilizers on and turned them up; at the time it was the obvious solution for making plastic on plastic feel more like pencil on paper. After a short time trying it out as a solution, this largely solved the real problem. Starting and stopping became a lot more precise, precise enough that it didn’t matter. There were some other tweaks that also helped this that are not important to discuss, but they were also “unrelated” technicals.
The essence of search is imagination, not logic.
 you can’t have all possible choices in the same picture
One picture shows one thing in one way.
If you want something different, you will have to draw another picture.
I should note just in case it helps: the length of comment I have for any particular line isn’t proportional to how important it is. Generally if I have a lot to say about something it’s because it’s missing some component. If it is perfect and important, usually I say nothing (unless I happen to have a story). All of this is “structure reminders”: stuff for which I don’t need to remind myself of, or which I can’t find a verbalization for, have no entries.
 if you constantly block yourself, then that’s what you will recognize as “good” and “real”.
It is said that artists of any field tend to be moody people.
This is me imploring you to do that. You need to think of yourself as moody.
Just as whatever you intend to draw will appear on the page, so will your emotions. More importantly, certain emotions make certain things possible. Put another way, there will be times you can’t do something you were able to do some other time, and a good number of those times is going to be because you felt a certain way. You have feelings about how this or that works. You have feelings about the day or your place in the world. All of this matters to what comes out on the page. If you cannot recognize emotions as a higher power or as a deeper compass, you will run around cargo culting unrelated solutions to the real and usually simple problem. “All the low hanging fruit has been picked” is cope. This year I discovered off a miso soup bag a new way to open plastic bags. I didn’t believe it until I followed the instructions on the bag. And yet there it was. The brand is Marukome. There is always some other simple improvement to do.
It is worded this way because the most common problem for me is self-blockage. It may be a different problem for you. Almost all the time the reason why I do something I don’t want to do is because some other part of me is stopping it, saying “but” and then some large number of reasons – that I don’t actually care about. It’s usually “but what will other people think”.
A popular example I’m aware of would be skinny women with large titties: “But where are her organs?”. The correct answer is “I uh don’t give a damn”. The best answer is to draw more skinny women with large titties. If you are in this general area, the titties are large and the waists are small because that makes the pp the big pp and what makes the pp big is what is king. Things like organ placement may be vaguely important to you, but that’s a decision you make, not others (note: “question” and “decision” are synonyms). If you feel the waist could use some width, add some width. If not, don’t.
This principle extends. The example here is crude ‘because’ it’s popular, there’s already standard terminology for it. The closer you get to real problems the less words you are going to have for them. Big titties and missing organs are at the level of shapes: broadly, boobs versus ribcage. But it’s not actually only those two. Just as nose jawline ears inform hair, so too do other parts of the body inform boob size. The ones important to me are head size and arm width. There is nowhere this principle ends. You should strive to find out how each stroke feels to the next. Putting down the instrument at the start and pulling up at the end feels different physically, why shouldn’t it feel different emotionally too? This is something you can’t rely on others for.
Anything that has standard terminology is dead fish.
“I don’t like Facebook Trending’s way of talking about popular things on the internet as “surfacing”. It feels like a wrong and misleading way to talk about it. Not just the internet, but any information network in general.
The “web” visualization makes a lot of sense, and a “sea” is fine too, as long as the idea is that you’re a fish and not a surfer. “Surfacing” in a “web” is nonsensical; “surfacing” as a fish basically means you’ve been dead for a while. Which is actually correct some of the time, especially when they’re talking about normalfags catching onto memes, but in general it’s not the right word to use, especially not for information that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongues.
“Viral” is overused, but fairly accurate. The operative concept is that an idea has enough penetration to go through multiple number and types of networks at an abnormal speed. Other words that work are “hot” and “electric”; heat and electricity are understood to go through just about everything.
Then again, Trending is trying to become news, and news is about dead fish, so I guess they’re accurate.”
“I’ll go ahead and download it.”
“Why don’t you buy paper books? E-books lack character.”
“Is that right?”
“Books are not something that you just read words in. They’re also a tool to adjust your senses.
“When I’m not feeling well, there are times that I can’t take in what I read. When that happens, I try to think about what could be hindering my reading. There are also books that I can take in smoothly even when I’m not feeling well. I try to think why.
It might be something like mental tuning.
What’s important when you tune is the feeling of the paper you’re touching with your fingers, and the momentary stimulation your brain receives when you turn the page.”
“I feel kinda discouraged. When I talk to you, I feel like I’ve been missing out on something all my life.”
“You’re reading into it too much.”
Choe Guseong, Makishima Shougo
“Ted Holman, a Team Leader in the body shop, argued this way:
“I don’t think IEs are dumb. They’re just ignorant. Anyone can watch someone else doing a job and come up with improvement suggestions that sound good. But they don’t usually take into account all the little things that explain why, from the worker’s point of view, they couldn’t work. And it’s even easier to come up with the ideal procedure if you don’t even bother to watch the worker at work, but just do it from your office, on paper. Almost anything can look good that way. Even when we do our own analysis in our teams, some of the silliest ideas can slip through before we try it out.
There’s a lot of things that enter into a good job design. Little things can make a big difference, like how high or low the stock is placed or how the tools are organized or where the hoses are. The person actually doing the job is the only one who can see all those factors. And in the U.S., engineers have never had to work on the floor – not like in Japan. So they don’t know what they don’t know.
In the typical U.S. plant, you never even saw the IE – they stayed in their cozy offices upstairs. They never talked to workers about how to improve their jobs.
Today, we drive the process, and if we need their help, the engineer is there the next day to work on it with us.”
Smith put this contrast in a broader perspective:
“In most plants, management assumes the “divine right” to design jobs as they see fit. And in the U.S. auto industry, workers have historically agreed to that in exchange for higher wages. Management was willing to pay a ton of money to the workers to preserve its prerogative.
But in practice, the old way of setting standards was just ridiculous. An Industrial Engineer would shut himself away in an isolated office and consider how long it took for somebody to twist their wrist and move their arm in such and such a way, and calculate from some manual and try that way to come up with a task design. The IE would take this “properly” designed job to the foreman. The foreman would not his head, but then said “screw you” to the IE’s back and redesigned the task to his own liking. Then he’d take his task design to the worker and said “Do it this way or you’re out.” The worker would not but would pull the same trick on the foreman. In the end, the job got done however the worker could. When the boss walked by, the worker might pretend to do the job the way the foreman had told him. Everybody involved knew this was going on but no one cared to do anything about it.
Multiply that game by the number of shifts and the number of different people involved and you’ve got a process you can’t control. You can’t build a quality car like that. You can’t even go back and improve the process, because the IE lives in dream world, doesn’t have a clue how the job is actually done, and doesn’t have any impact. The foreman’s impact is also zip. Nobody talks to the worker even though he’s the one guy who can do something about the problem. Nobody wants to listen to him. That’s basically how most of the auto industry operates even today.
So you can see why standardized work is so revolutionary.
And why most IEs are pretty uncomfortable with it!””
The ‘Learning Bureaucracy’
Paul S. Adler
 do things in the order that feels best, not in the order that makes sense.
“Makes sense” usually means closer to a verbalized system.
In event of conflict, the default winner should not be the verbalized system.
 pulling from ahead is different from pushing from behind
Carrot and stick are not interchangeable. Each has their use.
You will notice how you treat yourself eventually.
 “draw a cool thing” constitutes of “draw”, “cool”, and “thing”. “draw” is one of these things.
There is something I tend to forget and this is one way to remind myself of that thing.
A common way of thinking about drawing and imagination is that there is some fully formed idea ‘on the other side’ and the only problem is “I’m not in the mood” (coincidentally they don’t take emotions seriously) or “I don’t know how to do it”. The latter means something like if their brain was hooked up to a computer it would just exist. This is a nonsense model. Computers aren’t magic, not matter how black box they may appear to you. If something like hooking up a brain existed, someone would’ve had to design that hardware, someone else would’ve had to design that software. You would still hadveto interface with it. The difficulty would not be zero, it would be lowered. How much lower? Nowhere near as much as you think. I’m sure people in the past thought the same of computers too. Working with paints on canvas has so many more difficulties than tablet on computer, the most obvious one being it’s financially more difficult. How many more artists now exist? A lot. Infinitely more? No. I’m here writing this aren’t I?
As much as I am trying to make this technically- and field- independent, these are all results of my technical knowledge and background. All things are results of technical implementation, and we should be careful to remember it exists. There are things we have and have not done, and they allow us certain ideas.
Example: Recently I drew some clouds. Before that, I couldn’t imagine how they would be done. When I think of clouds, I think of the clouds I see in Ace Combat. How could I make something like those videogame clouds on a canvas? I couldn’t. Not with the tools I had. Or so I thought, but then I decided to google “how to paint clouds” or something like that, and saw some old woman with paint brushes and a canvas mix up a few opaque colors and then just do it. Clouds aren’t opaque? I mean, I guess. But there were things that looked like clouds on her canvas, I could do what she did on my digital canvas, this is better than whatever I had before, what more can I ask? This isn’t to say I can’t ask for more, but the question is always “compared to what”, and a lot of things can’t be compared to until you try them out, and they usually don’t follow any logic expected beforehand.
Example: My experience with color has largely been with 100% opacity round brushes digitally. In other words, most colors on my pictures are picked directly. How I get details is via the aforementioned “shape-details”: I decide on what little triangles I’m going to make shadows beforehand. Problem: This doesn’t work for things like clouds or trees or anything with “organic” forms or “realistic” texture. It can’t do texture at all unless I really want to draw out every little detail. Counterexample: I saw a guy post his watercolor process for coloring trees and bushes. He said he used a sponge. He colored the thing with a sponge, something with texture itself, via watercolor, which naturally varies in amount of color somehow, rather than using a round brush with opaque paint. It probably wasn’t colored in one action, but however many actions it took him, it’s definitely under the 50~1000 it’d take me. It’s a lot less direct control, but how much direct control do we actually want? “But sponge brushes are available digitally too” Yes. And I have not used them.
“Cool” is a ‘language’. “Thing” is a ‘language’ (). “Drawing” is a ‘language’. If you word it a different way, you may see a drawing as a combination of a different set of things.
I word it this way because this line is for remembering a certain thing.
“For thousands of years, people have scoured the earth looking for brightly colored materials to make into paint. Most intense colors in plants and animals fade immediately. An ideal pigment must be permanent, plentiful, and nonpoisonous.
[…] Since art’s beginnings, a few reliable color ingredients have been readily available to artists. Blacks, reds, and yellows were easy to find; that’s why they appear in all “primitive” art. Black paint made from charcoal or burnt bones dates back to prehistoric times. The brownish reds and oranges of iron oxides have been dug out of natural open pits. Siena, Italy, gave its name of ore-based pigments that were used burnt or raw.
Reliably violets, magentas, and blues were rare. The togas of Roman emperors used a pigment known as Tyrian purple, made from a color-producing cyst made from a whelk. It took 12,000 mollusks to make 1.4 grams of pure dye. The rarity of purple made it the color of royalty. The crimson used in the red coats of the British military, Catholic cardinals’ robes, and many modern lipsticks originates from a fluid in tiny insects that live as parasites on catcus plants. Those bugs were worth more than their weight in gold to the Spanish, and the processes were kept absolutely secret.
The most expensive pigment of all was a fine blue made from lapis lazuli, a mineral mined in Afghanistan. Getting a supply required a long voyage “ultramarinus”, or “beyond the sea.” For this reason, the old masters reserved ultramarine for the Madonna’s robes.”
Color & Light – A Guide for the Realist Painter
“One of my favorite stories about my wife and myself, when we were in New Jersey, our breakfast table was right next to some windows looking on the garden. We’re having breakfast prior to me going to work. And she says, “Dick, it’s raining.” I look at her and think “What’s wrong with her? She must know that I can see it’s raining”. Then I say to myself, what did she really say?
What she said was: “I’ve had my second cup of coffee and I’m fit to talk to.”
I spent much of that day at Bell Labs watching how much of what we say is not what it appears to be. And it is amazing. The enormous amount of how much of what we say is literally not correct. No way. So the language has a great deal of thing of things more than what you think; our natural language has a great deal of features, which in a language to a computer would not have to have.
Well we have not studied the problem. When I heard the Japanese were planning to write fifth generation computers, the speed was alright, but when they were going to do AI to do things, I thought they would not succeed. And they didn’t. Because they were not profoundly studying the nature of language. And until we do, we will get language like ADA, which are logically alright, but they don’t fit the human analogue to do the kinds of things that a human animal does with language.
Now I point out there are two languages: there is you to the machine, and the machine back to you. They need not be the same language. You want a terse one in, and you’re willing to put up with a rather verbose one coming out. Frequently what comes out is so terse you can’t figure out what it means, and you’re willing to settle with a lot more printout – but not too much. It’s a problem of designing language to communicate ideas to machines.
But unfortunately we don’t know what ideas are, so we don’t know how to do it.”
Learning to Learn
 details are not extensions, they are existant things.
 hierarchy to detail, beauty, and thus also care
 if you respect the details, the details will respect you.
There is an idea popular these days that all art has the same “fundamentals”: anatomy, perspective, color theory, etc. Pareto principle: 20 carries 80, fundamentals are that 20, if you learn fundamentals well your art will be 80% of the way there. Get the simple things right, they will pay off, the other stuff doesn’t matter or will follow through naturally on their own.
This idea, or this form of idea, is very attractive to me. This idea is wrong. 20/80 and efficiency concepts in general should be used carefully, especially because the current culture has efficiency as god you can overdo it without noticing it. The two broad problems with 20/80 is a) it’s not actually useful in the ways it’s generally thought of as useful and b) it’s recursive into oblivion.
A face takes up at max 1/2 the head, the head is 1/5~1/8 the height of the body depending on what you prefer, by area it’s let’s say (and this is generous) 1/20. The face is thus 1/40 of the body, or ~3%. Eyes take up some small percentage of the face. Of the body, eyes are therefore somewhere in the 0.1%~0.01% range. And yet, the eyes they carry most of the soul. Does this mean making the eyes larger means more soul? A bit. But you’re going to be doing it at the cost of other things. If you make the eyes a significant proportion of the body, like it is with chibis, you must shrink the fingers and hands. Fingers are a large part of emotion. There are certain things you can’t express with just a face. Chibis can’t use fingers, nor can they use the back, and they don’t have a center of gravity. Chibis have no boobs, so you “can’t” have “soul” and “sexy”. 20/80 is true on any given axis. But the other four 20’s in that 80 carry their own 80 on other axes. 20/80 is a pretty good thing to keep in mind for solving problems because usually even great problems have simple and small solutions, but it’s usually invoked for efficiency and cutting away “waste”.
The less remembered second half of the 20/80 story is the ant colony story. In any colony, 20% of the ants do most of the work, 30% carry their weight, and 50% are slackers. What happens when you remove the 50% that are slackers? 50% of the remaining colony automatically become slackers. Why? It doesn’t matter. What matters is this is the way the world is.
If you don’t respect the details, the details won’t respect you.
If you do respect the details, they will reward you according to the respect you give.
“Listen, Kousei. You mustn’t play so violently.
The piano is you.
If you touch it gently, it will smile. If you pound it with force, it will become enraged. Touch it like you’re caressing a baby’s head.
Alright, one more time.”
Your Lie in April
 studying requires being ready for the thing in question, and looking for it at that time.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
 stoppage is generally a constraints problem: either excess of irrelevants, or lack of necessities.
Version of “question properly formed gives the right answer” more specialized for flow.
 what you want is what you will tend to get. so want nice things.
 if you ask the big questions, you will tend to get the big answers.
The canvas is a mirror.
It’s said that the more people age, the more everyone gets the face they deserve.
Teleology is real.
 flow = mobility = attention = a river in the jungle
 getting to flow: have an idea strong enough that everything is followthrough
 staying in flow: keep the idea in mind, find a path to it through what turns out to exist.
 flow is probably “every action is important”.
There are drawings where no matter what I do or how long I spend, it still won’t be good. There are other drawings where I get to a certain point and don’t see anything else to do. Then, there are drawings where after a certain point, I could continue on it forever, and no matter what I do – and everything I’d do would be play – it will only get better. This is the highest state of flow: if in a drawing I get to and can stabilize flow, I know I have won.
Flow is the current crown prince to throne of “What constitutes a drawing”. More succintly:
“Flow” is the name of the king.
There are any number and types of things that are required for flow. I’m not sure what the first or most important step is, but I can say that something that came up repeatedly before flow was the idea that all of my problems had something to do with mental state. This is to say they weren’t technical problems in essence. Technical solutions are necessary but not sufficient. You are probably not happy if you are hungry, but being full will not make you happy.
The most important component of flow is probably teleology.
You have to want the right thing. There are actually right and wrong things to want. Maybe not in the “objective morality” sense, but there are patterns to things, and the more I pay attention the more the old religious texts sound correct, or at least have the correct forms that a correct answer would take (which suggests their answers are also more correct). There are things you want, “independent” of mood. You the conscious you are a mouse riding an elephant. The elephant is the unconscious you, there is something you live for, and the more you do what that is, the better you will be / at the thing. Finding out and putting a name on what that is is very helpful but not necessary, nor sufficient.
Opposing is the current popular “technology”, the idea that you can and should be able to do things without wanting to do them. I believe this is called “mechanistic philosophy”, or at least I heard that term in college taking a Renaissance to Enlightenment history class (note: I hate college. There’s like three ideas I learned there, and this was one of them). Once robots were compared to men, now men are to robots. As long as all the right objects have the right forces applied to them, the same results should be achieved. This is wrong. Technos is subservient to telos. It should be obvious enough that paychecks on time are insufficient just from looking at retail employee turnover rates. People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses: if the leader doesn’t care or thinks poorly of his subordinates, they will know, and they will respond accordingly. People who work in politics or pornography look like demons. Why? Coincidence? Is life a series of unrelated events? That’s what technology says, and it’s clearly not true. Lest it be said that all this stuff I’m talking about is people and not technology (as if inb4 was a complete rebuttal- well, we can entrain it:), Africans have been buying Soviet military jets and tanks for decades, but no one one ever fears African militaries. Why? They can’t use them. They can’t do everything else in a military to get to a point that a jet or a tank would be useful. Similarly, Americans can’t use Japanese factories. And you probably can’t use most of the ideas I’ve talked about here. The technology rebuttal would be that Africans or Americans or you are just lacking some “prerequisite” technology. Africans are just lacking military doctrine or maintenance discipline. Yes, I agree. Those would solve their problems. Question: Assuming you get paid for it either way, is military doctrine and maintenance discipline something that can be given to them with a book, or a consulting gig? No, right? You can’t make the horse drink. How are these and other things obtained, then? Teleology: wanting the thing. I used to think it was ludicrous artists when asked for advice would say “just draw things you like” rather than anatomy or perspective tips or whatever. Now, I see they were right. Without specific knowledge of who they’re talking to, that is actually the best thing to say. Teleology is real.
The second most important is ideologos, which we’ve mentioned before. You need a logic to traverse your different ideas so you can recall the one you need the way you need it at the time you need it. I suspect it’s probably possible to do without an ideologos and I need it only because I am both ‘autistic’ and can’t remember anything. If you can hold a bunch of disparate ideas and use them all well without them tripping over yourself, you’re fine; that’s the purpose of having one anyways.
Beyond this there’s the idea of paying attention to how you feel, which has been a theme.
Each of items these is at least one dimension, and the number of dimensions that need to align to reach flow is higher than anyone can consciously conceive. In this space there is a territory, and the task is to find the path between the current position and the desired position that is enjoyable.
I don’t have that map. I can only tell a story or three and hope that I’ve done my part.
The map provided by psychology on the dimensions of “challenge” and “skill” I can explain a bit though. I don’t think all eight are important, the quadrants suffice. The solution – read: path to flow – to boredom is to decide to look more into the most interesting thing of the bunch, or peruse other people’s works and pick out whatever strikes you first. The solution to relaxation is adding more things to the picture and trying to keep the same feeling/balance. The solution to anxiety is exactly or thereabouts , , and .
The solution to flow is continuing to believe in yourself.
“A good player tries to read out such tactical problems in his head before he puts the stones on the board. He looks before he leaps. Frequently he does not leap at all; many of the sequences his reading uncovers are stored away for future reference, and in the end never carried out. This is especially true in a professional game, where the two hundred or so moves played are only the visible part of an iceberg of implied threats and possibilities, most of which stays submerged. You may try to approach the game at that level, or you may, like most of us, think your way from one move to the next as you play along, but in either case it is your reading ability more than anything else that determines your rank.”
“There are two types of societies. This isn’t a theory of evolution, or about which is better than which.
There are societies that respect their relationship with nature, and others that do not. This is about how societies view change.
The native people of Canada tried not to break the bones of salmon they ate, and returned the bones to the rivers. Native people from eastern and western parts of Russia decorated the skulls of the seals they captured and dismantled, and returned them to the master of the sea along with their poetries. They thought fur and meat were gifts from the animals as a proof of their friendship, and they returned those gifts by adding spiritual values to the bones. They showed their respect towards nature through their meals. This is because they thought the true form of animals were gods who wore the skins of animals. Because they wanted the gods to visit them again, they served by giving back to them respectfully. There are similar beliefs in Northern Eurasian and North American cultures, and many myths remain.
But in modern day Japan, there probably aren’t that many people who still believe that animals are able to talk and that gods live inside of them. They’re looking down on nature. They see animals as something they can naturally steal from, and if they feel like they took a little too much from it – they can just start protecting them. That’s how they see it.
When did that kind of arrogant society form…?
The key factor is the appearance of technology.
Specifically, weapons made of iron.
After obtaining these excellent weapons, man’s respect towards animals faded. In the tales told around Sakhalin, there is a verse that says, “Swords that cut extraordinarily well were passed on from Japan, and after that, bears were killed easily”. A certain individual born in a heretical land one day realized: this is a weapon that god gave, but it is a weapon able to kill god.
The origin of the word technology is the Greek word “Techne”.
“Techne” means “to artificially draw out the blessings that an object is hiding”.
A good example is heating up a rock and taking the iron out of it.
The sword and technology stolen from god gave man power that even gods will fear. For them to visit again, giving back to them respectfully… there’s no need for such things anymore.
Now, we can simply take everything.”
Ch. 148 – “Human Society – The Grave of Bears”
“You know, they never prohibited us from walking through the plant, understanding, even asking questions of some of their key people. I’ve often puzzled over that– why they did that. And I think they recognized, we were asking all the wrong questions. We didn’t understand this bigger picture thing.
All of our questions were focused on the floor, the assembly plant, what’s happening on the line. That’s not the real issue.
The issue is, how do you support that system with all the other functions that have to take place in the organization?”
This American Life #561: NUMMI 2015
“You build 3-dimensional things. The design space [however] is n-dimensional. You design in n-dimensional space, one dimension for every parameter you can adjust. Therefore it is not 3-dimensional space that matters in design, it is n-dimensional space.
And n-dimensional space is vast. Very, very large.
To convince you of this, I will start by your own experience. You think you know 3-dimensional space, but you really don’t. You are really familiar with 2 dimensions. In 2 dimensions, a random walk will come back to the same place: if you meet a person, there’s a good chance you’ll meet them again.
In 3 dimensions, that is not true. In 3 dimensions, say the ocean where the fish live, what do they do? They go around on the bottom, they go around on the surface, they go around in schools, they assemble at the mouth of a river. They cannot wander the open ocean and hope to find a mate. That’s how vast 3 dimensions is. You can wander around 2 dimensions and sure enough, you can get a mate. Probably. In 3 dimensions, not a very good chance.
In higher ones, forget it.
But that is the space of design. You’re out there in that tremendously vast space.”
Learning to Learn
 expectations without judgement: most important thing is to keep desire intact
Solution to anxiety.
 execution is a subset of search: start with what you know
Convergent evolution to ‘production vs research’ and ‘no such thing as provisional’.
Over time the idea that execution and search are different things has gone from obvious, to suspect, to ludicrous. There are things you simply cannot know before you do them. They are unknowable.
People think that “unknowable” or this sort of area means that it could never be figured out by anyone, but this is a very naive, useless, and probably dickstroking way of conceiving it. A knowable thing has to be knowable at the time it needs to be known. It’s fucking useless to literally everyone except anklebiting bootlickers to say that, at some point in the far future, it can be deciphered that this other path was actually a better solution. “Far future” doesn’t have to be 100 years, it can be 100 hours, or 100 seconds. If in the course of drawing, which itself is a matter of dancing through a number of dimensions you cannot hope to ever fully consciously conceive, you see a glimpse something, but the cost you have to pay to reach it is 100 minutes, guess what? You aren’t reaching it. Not this time. You will forget how to find it, and if you try to look for it again, you will ruin the whole drawing. What is the point in calling such a thing knowable? “Unknowable” requires only that sufficient analysis cannot be completed by the relevant actor in time to create the desired advantage from its results.
Many things can only be seen after you get to the step immediately before. As with most true things, this is fractal.
The question then is whether execution is a subset of search or if search is a subset of execution. I’m not a clean thinker so these sound about the same to me; I picked off of feeling. For production and research it was empirical: separate got me stuck, “production serves research” gives me something that makes some sense, and “research serves production” doesn’t (yet) make sense so I can’t do it.
It’d probably be better if I was a clean thinker, but this is what I have to work with. I’ve heard of some ways to clean up but it feels like it’s pretty costly and also mostly an error-fixing thing. It doesn’t offer new ideas. Throwing words together that ‘shouldn’t’ fit and getting ideas with the cost of tripping over myself in big ways now and again still sounds like the better deal right now, thanks.
 picture relies on you, not you on it.
If you are feeling bad about what you’ve done, you are the one that can fix it. It can’t fix itself. Drawings are your children. Accept them. They rely on you. You can take pride in them and love them more if they achieve something, but their mistakes are yours. If it can’t be fixed, then it can’t be fixed. That means that it’s something telling you how to make the next one better. It’s never something there for you to hate.
 internal search (what feels right) and external search (what looks right)
If there is one piece of advice I’d give to anyone, it is “copy more”.
“There are things you simply cannot know before you do them”: Other people have done things. They have taken paths. You may not understand or agree with all the steps and decisions they made, but their result is something that exists. My dad has a saying: “If I tell you, it’s simple. If I don’t, you can go your whole life not knowing it exists.” Other people show you what else is possible. If you copy these people, that is to say, attempt to replicate under your own logic those same results, you will find out just how vastly different and unknown the world is. This is true even if you copy someone under your skill level. This is true even if you trace. I believe the religious way to say this is “you will learn to fear God”.
People who denigrate tracing, or copying in general, are idiots. Do you really think that someone with no idea of lineweighting, who’s never thought about how they hold a pencil, can trace something and have it come out the same? If you do, you have no taste, no humility, you have given up on being better; stop having opinions. Sometimes I wonder if people were better at this before the prevalence of digital technology, but no, it’s ancient. Western civilization has the Ship of Theseus, one of the worst concepts bar none, and it is a question: Theseus has a Ship, and parts of it get replaced over time, when is it no longer the Ship of Theseus? Supposed to be like some deep philosophical trick question or some shit, but here is the Answer: It’s Ship of Theseus as long as we continue to try to keep maintaining it as the Ship of Theseus. Yeah at some point it’s no longer the same wood. So what? What’s the number of days it takes for your body to completely replace all cells? Don’t tell me, I don’t care. You shouldn’t care either. It matters only that that number is smaller than your life up to this point, which it is.
The reminder here is the proper domains of both. A drawing is a production, “not” an object. Internal search is “drawing from imagination”, external search is “drawing from reference”. A reference will tell you what looks right, but it won’t tell you how to get there in a nice way. Drawing from imagination will naturally be constrained by your habits and experience: you will find things that fit those, and not find things that don’t. Ideally something looks right after it’s made and feels right while it’s being made. In my experience this is not possible to any appreciable degree without doing both internal and external search each time.
“So it isn’t the original building?” I had asked my Japanese guide.
“But yes, of course it is,” he insisted, rather surprised at my question.
“But it’s burnt down?”
“Of course. It is an important and historic building.”
“With completely new materials.”
“But of course. It was burnt down.”
“So how can it be the same building?”
“It is always the same building.”
Last Chance to See
 emotion, vision, tempo, technicals
This is the path that flow seems to require.
This is second in line to the throne.
This is also the current primary prototype. Verbalizing carelessly will damage it.
 shape-details separate from color, emotion-pose-proportions separate from composition
The first half I’ve talked about. The second half I don’t know how to talk about. I know what it is but for the purpose of explaining to outsiders rather than as part of executing a piece thinking around it is difficult. I think it’s one of the current understandings on how to approach a certain composition problem? Composition really is different from object-oriented thinking. Maybe it’s trying to export the shape-detail derivation to composition. That seems sensible.
 understanding < ability < reach
It is commonly understood that whatever your understanding is, your ability is less than that, and what you can do at any particular moment is within your ability. This is exactly backwards. Your reach is always beyond your understanding. In physical space this is counterintuitive since your ears see beyond your eyes and your eyes see beyond your hands. This is not true in thought space or drawing space.
If you try it out, you will find this to be self-evident.
— — — — — —
Things that probably belong here but didn’t fit above, and comments on things others have said and asked.
— — —
Things that probably belong here but didn’t fit the above:
Measuring is the reason the relevant start date is 2014_12. At the time I had decided I’d had enough of competitive online games, wanted to do “something” with my life that was better than an abstract number in some game no one’s going to care about in a few years, and looked around for things to do. One of those things was drawing, and the most important thing I found of drawing was the concept of measuring.
The concept of measuring is that everything is made of lines and all lines have a length, an angle, and some distance and angle in relation to some other point or line. The stereotypical artist pose of holding a pencil up vertically at arm’s length between the eye and the subject is measuring.
Measuring is the point at which I started seeing art as a knowable skill. I’d always been told art was about “expressing yourself” or “feelings” or a number of these other mushy words. What the heck are those? Anatomy, perspective, contrast, composition, these and others were better, but felt impossible. Perfect, unbroken walls. How am I going to get all of that right? Measuring though, measuring is just lines at certain angles. I can do that. Bad result? Well, all the lines were right when I made them. This line’s length should be this proportion to that line alright. And so is that one. Hm. What if the problem is I connected them using the wrong idea? What if they’re in the wrong order? I mean, I don’t think measuring them in a different order should change anything, and yet it does. So maybe the eyes should be in relation to nose, and the nose should come first? What if the hair is in relation to the face rather than the head? What if, what if?
Hey, this is actually pretty fun and interesting. Always something new to find out, and there’s usually something nice at the end.
Tempo Dreaming / Doodling
I somehow happened across the idea and the below mentioned videos and they introduced me to the concept of “tempo”. The idea as I have it is that speed, timing, and order of things appearing in the drawing is important, down to the second. If you try doing the same thing at the speed of, not “don’t lift your pencil from the page”, but “don’t stop moving”, you will make something different. You are not a machine, you don’t have a fast-forward button, doing things faster in the most real sense literally changes things. My intuition says faster means worse because there’s less control. This is true and irrelevant. One, you can maintain the things you wanted to control to perfectly comfortable levels while being a lot faster than you think you’d be comfy at. Two, the ideal isn’t full control, the ideal is beauty, and beauty is not a pure subset of control. The guy with the watercolor sponge didn’t make beautiful trees by planning out the placement of every shadow. Yet the painting still exists, and he is still the one who made it. I have difficulty accepting this when I’m going about details, and yet that is undeniably the case.
This is the third component in the study list’s second-in-line.
I’ve never been able to “doodle”. I think this is related to doodling. I can doodle a bit now.
Something I’ve been doing recently is starting off the day with this “tempo” drawing. First thing in the morning, before water but after stretches, draw. A long time ago I noticed reading the news made me feel not comfy. At some point I noticed the entire day was nicer if I simply didn’t open the world at the start of the day. This is an extension of that. I do this kind of drawing at the start of the day. It’s not productive in the old sense: I’m not learning or practicing or improving anything I can identify. I’m not working on any pieces. But it makes me feel nice and comfy. It feels like peace. Usually something pulls me down from there, but it’s an elevated starting point. I regularly hit flow inside it, so it seems plausible that it will be more likely to hit it any time the rest of the day. I think a common way of phrasing this feeling is “Everything will be alright”. I have not found another way to buy this feeling, not at anywhere near this price. “Setting the tone for the day” is real.
I think “Tempo” is the right name for it. I call it also “Dreaming” because that’s what it feels like. I don’t think it’s right to call it a “Technique” or an “Exercise”. I don’t think of it as a muscle or a tool. I think of it as making myself more worthy to receive gifts from the gods.
The videos are:
Sinix Design, “Tempo: The Overlooked Key to Improving at Art”
Proko, “Meditation for Artists – The Automatic Drawing Technique”
— — —
Comments on things others have said and asked:
A long time ago I asked an artist of some import on a server of not so much import that we were both on if he could introduce me to any art servers or communities. He said he doesn’t hang around art groups. The server we shared was themed for FGO, a gacha mobile game. I now understand the wisdom in this.
I spend time around other artists, but I don’t spend any time in art groups or art communities. There are several reasons for this, a few of which have been mentioned above and will be mentioned below. The problem isn’t inherently “artists shouldn’t talk with each other” as it is a lot of things that have happened to be true about the current ruling party. Is there some large conspiracy where everyone is on the same payroll? It feels that way. They all say the same things, and it’s definitely dead fish most of the time. Definitely a general recommendation against groups themed as ‘getting better at art’. Avoid those places. Same for watching videos. The above two are rare exceptions.
As such, some of this may be outdated. It’s probably not as outdated as either of us think though.
“If you’re just starting out” / “This is for beginners”
Stop saying these. Stop listening to these. These are bad. Stop these words from entering your mind. If you don’t have the power to stop reading a sentence after starting it, now is the time to get it. I don’t know the logic but the pattern behind every instance of these words when it comes to art is has been associated with narcissism (streamers, youtubers, other leaders) or cope (fishing for empathy). I don’t know what “infantilization” is but it sure looks like the right word here. You will not get better around these words, you will only get worse.
Why is it bad? It makes everything provisional. And we know why provisionalism is bad .
The inherent concept, of masters as eternal beginners, of endless learning, is good. What’s not good is the fetishization of symbols, which includes words. There is so, so much god damn fucking “advice” out there for “beginners” that is nonsense. Could we have something uh not for beginners? Like for journeymen or something? Or maybe just offer it as an idea within some context rather than some kind of objective skill level. Everything has to be for “beginners”, or their opposite (which reinforces the dichotomy), “professionals”. There’s so many idea that are so, so good but so many of them are prefaced with “I’m not a professional, I’m just self taught, so” Why? What is the purpose of uttering these words? Does a real professional, whatever that is, saying “I’m a professional and” make his opinion better? What about a master saying “I’m just a beginner”? Who and what gains from such words?
Hint: It’s not your next drawing.
And what are we trying to do when we’re looking for new ideas?
The funny part of this is everyone these kinds of people point to are of an obviously different type. The common recommendation for anatomy is Andrew Loomis’s “Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth”. What does Loomis say? Loomis says the most important thing is courage to face the unknown and the rest of his methods on anatomy aren’t actually that important. A slightly less common recommendation is on gesture, to watch Glenn Vilppu. Gesture is line of action, ‘every drawing should start with life’, the first and most important thing. What does Vilppu actually say? He says if you don’t have a basic grasp of anatomy and perspective, go do those first, otherwise you’re just going to confuse yourself and get frustrated. Vilppu’s line I don’t remember which video, but the search was “vilppu gesture” and I heard the line in under 2 hours. Loomis’s line is from the introduction to the book in question, you can read it for free, its PDF is currently the first result on Google for “Loomis Figure Drawing”. Am I just lucky? Am I the only one who’s actually paying attention? Hm.
The broader version of this is “This is just my opinion, but” and yes, I have this same problem with the culture at large too. Stop uptalking. Stop asking questions that aren’t questions. Stop saying “sure”, start saying “yes”. It’s just my opinion? Of course it’s my opinion, it came out of my mouth.
Why should you trust me?
The correct answer is: You don’t have to.
The real answer is: Why are you asking other people who you should trust?
I think realism is bad, but it occurs to me the more real reason why people use it.
I don’t think realism is king. I think beauty is king. This is something that realists will admit in detail but not broadly. They will admit that even if the 3D model or photo says something, if it looks “bad” (but not “unrealistic”) you should change it so that it’s better. The obvious example here are still frames of sports people while in motion. More broadly the concept of a “flattering angle”. Realists will treat hairs as locks rather than as a billion strands, will use hard edges where things are round, will use lines even though “lines don’t exist in real life”. In the end realism is a fake king that’s only around to usurp the throne.
I think the real reason why people use realism though is because it’s the only ideologos available to them. I spend my time around anime artists, and so many reasonings behind things are pointed to realism, even though clearly they don’t actually care about it. At the very least they don’t use it anywhere near as much as they talk about it. Clothing folds are understood by thinking of gravity? All 30~50 of these shadow shapes on this jacket were from simulating gravity in your head? Do I believe that answer? I think the better explanation is this is just what they say when they’re asked, and they say it because that’s what they know how to say, in a way that fits together with everything else. [Art in the drawing] is a language that’s not the same language as [Art in public discussion] as a language, and it so happens that in our time and place, most art is said to be good or bad whether or not it’s “realistic”. In other words it’s a religion. An ideology.
They probably understand just fine what they’re saying and don’t have these problems I’m talking about. In the end all implorements are relative to some implicit premise. I haven’t said you should “draw every day” as advice because I already draw every day and have forgotten it’s something some people need to hear. I think “draw what you like” is important because I get stuck on technicals. I think “copy more” is important because I keep getting amazing ideas when I do it. People who keep referring back to realism even though they do little around it probably do so because they benefit from such a thing.
The thing realism says it’s opposed to is “symbol drawing”. Symbol drawing is a stick figure, or circles/lemons for eyes, triangle for nose, things like that. Coincidentally I don’t see a problem with symbol drawing. I think improvement is just getting better symbols. Everyone knows that eyes should be equidistant from the nose, and the nose and mouth should be in the center of the face. Only difference from there to me is I consider a number of other things. It’s a fairly large number, one I can’t consciously keep track of, but it’s not a difference in type. A circle doesn’t become not-a-symbol simply because it’s now a ball.
And besides, lots of symbol drawings are charming. Would you prefer something charming or something realistic?
What is the extent of power of the fundamentals?
Fundamentals are anatomy, perspective, color theory, some list of things you could google. Every major artist and school talks about this, it’s the curriculum. I don’t think these are the real fundamentals. “Fundament” means “bottom”, as in your butt, where you sit, so “fundamentals” by etymology is “the place where all ideas sit”. I believe the fundamentals of art are intent, vision, emotion, the things I’ve talked about here. For clarity of discussion I’ll give the word to the other party.
I believe fundamentals are best understood as the set of things which have happened to be found as independent of any particular artist’s “style”. It is accurate to call this post indicative of my thinking “style”. If every artist wrote out all that, no one would read anything. Fundamentals are a common language first. Second, they are concepts to understand visual reality. Artists lighting is not the same as physics lighting, artists anatomy is not the same as medical anatomy, and so on. They aren’t about “understanding the world”, but they are about “understanding the world as it can appear on the canvas”, which is what artists are after.
Said again: the artist’s fundamentals are first a language to communicate with other artists, and second a set of starting points to understand the craft’s commonly available tools. It is the lingua franca and the textbook. It is a question of taste as to whether these are actually the 20 that carry the 80. I am pretty sure it is just for sales.
“No matter who you are and what you want to do in the future we will tell you the things that will become most important to you!”
Hm. Press X to Doubt.
My list and interests are more like a map to the spirit. I don’t think of myself as spiritual. I had problems I wanted to solve, problems I refused to accept or give up on, and this was the solution I came across. Is it the only solution? Maybe not. But once you’ve found something, that’ll be the last place you look. At least, until it breaks. It has broken some times. It has not broken more often or caused more serious problems etc. than the previous holder, which is the real question. It has also opened a lot of things everywhere I never conceived possible.
The question is always “compared to what”.
The primary conflict here is what constitutes a drawing. I believe fundamentals conceive of the essence of a drawing as a bunch of technical components. I do not believe this. I believe it is flow and telos.
What is the purpose of a reference?
The primary conflict here is what constitutes creativity, or originality.
I don’t think creativity exists. Not on the broadest scale people are thinking about. It could be I’m a dumdum with no original thoughts, but that is my working premise. Creativity in drawing is largely exploring things you don’t understand and happening to find something that works, and misremembering things you understood at some point – that is to say, creativity is like dreaming.
Creativity is often thought interchangeably with drawing from “Imagination”. The etymology of “imagine” is Latin “imaginari”, “to form a mental picture”, which in turn has the stem of “imitari”, “to copy, imitate”. Imitation precedes imagination, or is imagination. This matches my personal experience, as well as both praise and criticism of other artist’s creations. If it is good, it is usually “inspired by” or “an homage” to something else, usually a lot older, that was in essence the same thing. In other words, copied.
Copying is a skill. “Mindless copying” is… what’s the word. It’s propaganda, but that’s not the word. It’s something made by the Creativity party to prop itself up. If people can’t properly appreciate, i.e. can’t tell, how extremely difficult high-fidelity copying is, every effect is beneficial for those who currently have the power. Denigrating copying means denigrating learning. Denigrating learning means both that people think less of themselves and others if they attempt to do it, and that if they try doing it it turns out significantly more difficult than expected, which applied again means they can’t accept the situation as it is and thus give up and do something else. If someone is labelled as a copier, all of those feelings are then projected onto him: he must be a lazy loser with no ideas of his own. A good copy takes a lot of skill, and a lot of humility. Most people don’t copy not because it’s against their morals, but because it’s hard, and doing it would reveal both that they’ve been following a lie and that their skill is not where they thought it would be. If copying were easy, things would be made in Africa by now. They’re not. They’re still made in China.
I do not understand why people want to think of themselves as original or creators of things so I cannot comment too much in that direction. I have tried and failed to fathom its internal logic. Its external logic though is obvious and boring: it’s dickwaving. “I made this thing all by myself”. Oh did you now. What did you create? A new color? It never gets to this step, the direction of play is always “no u”, but if it were played out it would reveal the concept as nonsensical. Apparently it’s copying if you copy other peoples work but remake it, but it’s not copying if you go to school, copy a bunch of exercises on anatomy (read: other peoples’ heads, torsos) or perspective (read: other peoples’ boxes), and then set out a composition, at which point you copy the 3D environment off of Sketchup and copy the poses off of some 3D program or took a picture of your own or someone else’s hand. Hm. Hmm hmm hmm. Or you could just admit copying is good and save all that energy for something fun.
The reason people don’t admit copying is good is politics.
I’ve written this up before on bibliographies and see no reason to recreate it so I shall copy it.
I have a taste for bibliographies.
I think saying the purpose of bibliographies is “to prevent plagiarism” is absolutely insulting.
A trick that can only be played on children. No, that insults children, I should be more specific: people with no understanding of the world. It’s the same trick with intellectual property. “If someone has done it before you need to give them credit”. Question: How am I going to know that? How are you going to know that? I’m going to search the whole library to see if someone did it before me? What if the library’s incomplete? What if the Library of Congress is incomplete? And it is incomplete. Even the Library of Alexandria was incomplete. Even 10,000 pages of Google is incomplete, and you’re not going to look past the first 10. Everything is a mountain in the jungle, and the jungle is infinite. Trying to find out if something has been done before you, ever, anywhere, is trying to search the entire jungle. You can’t do it. You are being sent on an impossible task. To make it exceedingly clear: You are being fucked with.
Plagiarism is really about who’s going to come after you for not giving them credit. That is to say: it’s about “who”. It’s power. If you’re small and they’re big, they can take whatever they want and claim it’s theirs. They can even claim they did it first and you stole from them (search: art plagiarism). If you’re really small though, you can take whatever you want, because no one cares about you. No one even sees you. In academia, we see the end goal of this anti-plagiarism device meets perfect information: citations absolutely everywhere. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone is looking for a slice. Names and titles and dates everywhere, every sentence, clogging up the flow of the actual stuff. It’s ugly.
I’m a nobody so it doesn’t matter. I do what I want.
I largely can’t be bothered because citations eat up my time: any time and energy I spend looking into who said what is time I’m not spending doing and finding out new things. All thinking, plus or minus, cites all the way back to the Buddha or Socrates. Guess who the Buddha and Socrates cited? And we want to be like those two guys, right? Not the academics?
It doesn’t matter if someone else found it before me (especially not if I don’t know who did it), I didn’t do it so I don’t get it, and when I do it it’s new to me. The most common thing is people say things that are too vague, the less common but still frequent case is they say things that are obscure; anything that is useful to me I’ve basically had to do myself anyways. So either I spend energy figuring out what people are talking about, and then do it myself, or, I just do it myself. It’s usually not a very hard choice.
But I like bibliographies.
Bibliographies help me remember things.
Other than being spatially gifted/verbally impaired, I have a really terrible memory. The primary reason why I wrote all this and do any thinking is because I can’t remember jack squat. Normal people with good memories, I imagine, are just fine with a bunch of disparate pieces of information. That’s presumably why they enjoy that trivia stuff so much. But I can’t do that. I can hold only a few things. So I need to hold the best few things. As it turns out, there are different types of things, and this type is better than the rest, because it is a single thing yet also multiple things. It requires thinking to produce, and is usually called a “principle”.
“Ideology” is what I’ve called a principle of principles. It’s usually called “epistemology”, but I don’t like that word too much. I like the sound of the word “ideology”. And I can see what it is: idea, logic. Logic of ideas. What the heck is an “epistem”? But back to book-graphing.
Good ideas are not randomly distributed. Someone who’s had a good idea before is likely to have a good idea again; someone who’s had multiple good ideas before is more likely to have good ideas in the future. The world is really big and there’s a lot of ways to see about and think around it. You can only see and do so much yourself. It’s nice to have people who you can use to do additional thinking for you and run into real problems “beforehand”. There’s still the minimum reverse-engineering and implementation costs stated earlier, and it is pretty hard to find someone who’s not just being deliberately obscure (for dickwaving purposes) – but that’s why bibliographies are great! Once you’ve found one good thinker, if he has a bibliography, it significantly increases your chances of finding more good thinkers.
As for the creation side of it, naming sources helps me remember the lineage of ideas.
Lineages are something that turns the dots of ideas into lines: it’s another type of principle.
Some lineages are very important. You need to know who said it and what it was used with etc. to figure something out. Other lineages basically don’t matter and external factors could be rederived offhand. I think it’s rather good practice to keep at least a couple of notes on lineage of each thing around. It tells you where the minimum domains on the things are: “at least according to this guy”.
The general purpose of (copying) references is to give you a window into what is possible. It is external search. The specific purpose of (copying) references is that it does the parts you don’t care to look into.
As much I’ve talked on about telos and flow, a drawing is indeed also a bunch of parts. An assembly. When you are drawing, you are assembling parts. You are largely not actually making those parts “from scratch”. I am not relearning how to draw a face every time I draw a face on a woman (that is not on the page yet), I am following my memory on what the technology/component of “drawing a face” is, which at time of writing had its last major revision on 05_01. Every face since 05_01 has been “the same” face, even if the final drawing doesn’t look like the same face, usually because I forget to do some thing, am sloppy, am feeling a certain way, thought of things in one order when it only really works in another, or because like all ideas/techs they’re incomplete. This applies to everything. Hair tech has one of the newest updates as mentioned a few times, color is constantly updating, legs are really really old and I should poke around it again sometime. I dilike programmer philosophy but they work with “information technology” so naturally their stuff that works tends to be useful as structures for ideas.
References are for assembling parts you don’t care to look into. If I don’t care about interior or environment design but want an environment, I will pull up a picture of some place and copy what I see. This extends also to problems with existing parts, caused for whatever reason, that you don’t care to look into to fix. I have some vague idea of how hands work. For some simple idea and angles I can make them just fine, or at least fine to my standards. However I don’t like constraining the composition stage to “only have hands I can draw”, so often they give me hands I can’t draw from imagination: I can’t copy from memory because it takes too much effort to figure out the sizes and angles of fingers and things. So I look at my own hands. And if I can’t get what I need from looking at my own hands, I open up 3D. “Handy Art Reference Tool” for android is what I use. In the past and for some other things I use Honey Select, which is ostensibly a porn game, but is really a skinned easier to use Unity engine. What does the body look like when posed this way from this angle, hmm, if we want we can find out. Some people simply trace these hands and bodies too, I don’t, because I prefer the feeling of copying by eye to copying by hand; I’m willing to pay for the drop in accuracy/quality. I’m aware other people use 3D or references for perspective/sizing, or lighting of scenes. There’s probably other ways too, but this is the principle. “There is a problem here but I would like to work over there”: references help “here”.
The notion that one might have to name all used references in a public court of opinion is what pushes many away from using references, and is exactly the same feeling as having to write up a bibliography in school. I can’t think up of the- oh right I remember now. The term used is “credit”. “Give credit” to the “original artist”, or “original model”, or whatever. I have a problem with this, not because I don’t like the idea of giving credit to people who have helped me, but because without a proper understanding that everything is copied and there is nothing new under the sun, the concept of “credit” and “reference” runs into the ground, and here there is no ground, it’s turtles all the way down.
Courts of public opinion are courts of villains. Recently I saw someone ask how he should comment/post a drawing of his, saying it was some scene from some anime, except he changed the character or the color or something I don’t remember. The response was that he should credit the anime, probably post the screencap he was working of, because otherwise people might think he was claiming it as his own original creation. These people are plagued by some phantom mob that has developed in the past 10 years or so. I remember a time when anime wallpapers were plentiful and made by people who made vector art tracing over screencaps. Literally no one cared, literally no one thought some guy on the internet was claiming his wallpaper of Senjougahara from Bakemonogatari meant that he was stealing or claiming it was an official Senjougahara from Bakemonogatari wallpaper from studio SHAFT. Apparently though that’s not the standard these days? We’re all in Disney Nintendo Blizzard land now? I refuse. Not in my domain.
Every person was born and raised by some family, that family had some income from some employer or customer, who got it from someone else, and so on and so in, all within a system of linguistic, social, cultural, legal and other laws, back and back in an unbroken chain of civilization to before the dawn of time. No man is an island. No drawing is an island either. Every drawing you do builds upon the last drawing you did, and the first drawing you did was built upon your life up to that point. There are always more references.
Only credit the most direct references? Who determines what is the most direct reference?
The concept of “credit” as it is common today is a brain virus. If these people had their way with the world, the living would forever serve the economy of the dead, forever paying 99.8% royalties because some minute thing today was found to be related in some way by some faceless unpaid bureacrat to something minute thing by someone else who came long before. The butterfly effect means the butterfly should be crowned king. Nevermind the butterfly’s butterfly, or the dead’s dead. Just pay up your “fair share”.
Of course, these politics people don’t actually think all this. They just make threats to get their slice of the pie, make up whatever casus belli sounds hip at the time (“protecting copyright”), and leave the mess for other people, usually the next generation or three, to figure it out. Unfortunately, I happen to be on the side that figures things out.
Fortunately, I also happened to figure this one out.
If you copy, you get to stand on the shoulders of giants. Coincidentally, you’re gonna need some humility. Watch your step or you’ll fall off.
“Centralization leads to complexity, complexity leads to crisis, attempts to fix the crisis have, because of complexity, unintended consequences, which escalate into further crisis, leading to further centralization, Hence Soviet Russia, Hitler’s Germany, Venezuela, and now America.
This is the crisis of socialism, explained in “I pencil”, which makes the point that no one actually knows how to make a pencil, hence socialist production of pencils will fail.
In order to manage complexity, you need walls, so that one man can make decisions without having his decisions mucked up by another man’s decisions. Hence, private property and local authority, the authority of the father, the authority the business owner, the authority of the CEO. And, not so long ago, the authority of the local aristocrat, who tended to be a high officer in the local militia, a major employer and landowner, and related by blood or marriage to most of the other high officers in the local militia.
Ideally all the consequences of a decision should be contained within those walls. Of course they never are, but if you try to manage all the externalities, things very quickly slide of control. Every attempt to manage the externalities has unexpected consequences, and attempts to deal with the unexpected consequences have additional unexpected consequences, because trying to control matters that have externalities connects everything to everything else, resulting in a tangle beyond human comprehension.”
Throne, Altar, and Freehold
“Hmm? It is a staple of theater, though I am not so fond of it. I prefer an ending where the many plots are resolved, yes.
But without a god’s intervention, human animosity and love cannot easily be erased. The playwright must have reached the end of his rope. Most writers know the tangled web of human emotions cannot be undone by humans themselves. So, the deus ex machina is an expression of hope.
A last hope, to be sure, a mirage created by those on the verge of ruin, wishing for a savior.”
— — —
A Mountain in the Jungle
Magnum opus. Hub world. The fastest way to travel between any of my ideas is through here. It’s also 30,000 words, the second 15,000 of which are quotes composed to tell about the same story as the first. Up until this post, the most I’d written while remaining semi-coherent.
All of the links in here are to other things I’ve written. If you want pointers from my writing to things other people have written, it’s probably in AMITJ.
Something I wrote offhand once that keeps coming back.
Perhaps the most direct predecessor here.
The Lineage of Thought
It feels relevant.
Japan’s Karaage and Anime Industrial Policy
This is from commentary on the pictures I uploaded after my trip to Japan. After having written the main post, the pictures’ comments ended up being longer than the main post, primarily because of thoughts on industrial policy and intellectual property. I had the seeds of all the comments I made at the time and place the pictures were taken, the length is only by extension. Seeing really is believing.
The Education Mythos
Reactions to looking into the manufacture of smokeless powder.
Happened to remember this while writing. Have not remembered it for some time. In retrospect, this was one of the big disillusionments with “knowledge”. Education is claimed to be many things, only the least important of which is you “learn how to learn”. Education is none of them. Education is one of the great lies.
World of Tanks, Rigging, and Its Defenders
The things people will say to defend the state.
[Notes] NieR: Automata
Automata is an example of perfect art.
— — —
“I am considering writing something on drawing philosophy/psychology/thingy. Technical- and piece-independent. If I wrote this, do you have anything you would like me to talk about?”
“the part of drawing that isn’t about drawing
how it changes how you relate to the world / by virtue of doing it, practicing, seeing with “its” eyes, etc”
“Yes, that is the general direction of everything. Anything specific?
Like did you want something like a worked example/chain of how drawing has changed how I look at politics?”
that would be amazing”
How can I do this without writing another 15,000 words? Hm..
What would worldy politics people find interesting that I don’t find uninteresting… I guess that’s the answer. Politics and worldly things are uninteresting to me. Even writing this is uninteresting to me, because I already knew what was in the original  lines, writing out 15,000 words helps me a bit but “compared to what” compared to drawing it fucking sucks.
That’s the big principle. I started drawing because I wanted to have something to show for my time at the end of the day. There isn’t time for this, and that, and drawing, no what I have each day is time, and the gold standard is if I am not drawing this minute I better be able to explain why that is better than drawing this minute. I started writing this because it kept popping its head up while drawing and I decided to feed it, but it is clearly a bottomless pit, and between seeing a poor little verbalization demon starve to death and getting back to drawing nice things, I am going to starve the demon. Maybe after it’s dead I can get some nice meat but as a live thing it has eaten up way too much of my time. Next time I am just going to kill it.
The activity that was most of my time immediately before drawing (before 2014_12) was a competitive online game called World of Tanks. Immediately before WOT was school. WOT was preferable to school because even as 1 player in a rigged 15 vs 15 game (which means 1 vs 29), I had more power than I did in school. I was interested in politics at some point but it waned over time. It’s not something I can do anything about. Having more interesting ideas on politics means being able to talk to more interesting people… about politics, which is still something I can’t do anything about. Something that’s helped a lot push this way is finding interesting people who have absolutely nothing to say on politics. These people you are not going to find by talking about politics. You have to have something to offer them. No matter how fringe or anti-establishment or whatever the words are, if you are talking about politics, the primary thing you are offering is ability as a propagandist for the state. That you are a propagandist for a foreign state or a future/past/imaginary state is a minor not major attribute. Just so it’s obvious, the ideas in this post have to do with making pretty things. These are ideas I use, and ideas you could use. The ideas of politics are for the usage of lords. I’m not a lord. You are probably not a lord. If you aren’t, you’re thinking for someone else. I hope you’re getting paid. I wasn’t, and it wasn’t fun, and once I got something better I stopped.
School/politics to videogames to drawing to ever more of drawing and ever less of things not drawing (more broadly: things I can’t do) was step by step. The question is always “compared to what”. If you really lay two options out in front of you and continually pick the one that is less bad (on the axis being desired) every time, you will eventually get to something good. This is not a trivial task. You are picking between which god to serve. The scales will tip one way, and you will think, because after accounting for NAXALT or Equality or Hardship Builds Character or any number of things that aren’t actually the thing in front of you that you wanted to find the result of when you started, the scales “actually” tip the other way. Some of these failures will be costly. They are harsher than Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy.
If you are interested in politics, you are interested in other peoples’ business. You have no idea how much better life can be the more you mind your own business. Don’t bother with time management “apps” etc, these will save you hours but not minutes, and minutes add up while hours don’t. If you want to do something, you will find a way to do it. You need to want to mind your own business, and the best way is to show yourself how beautiful things can be by minding your own business. It may take some time. Trees take time to grow. Your soil might be better or worse than mine. But there’s not ever gonna be a tree if you don’t plant it.
Teleology is real. What you really want is always being revealed. Anything you see someone doing is the tamest version of what actually goes on in their head, which in turn is usually a tame version of whatever goes on in their “unconscious”. Recently I read an anon say MTSP, artist/author of one of the quintessential NTR (cuckoldry) doujins, has not made anything good in the 6-7 years since that doujin. ‘Making it has clearly broken him’. I believe it. I believe other stories like this. People who make grotesque things are/will become grotesque people, or will be broken because that is not who they are. There are no unrelated “random” “quirks”. Everything is connected to everything else.
This implies snap judgments are also real. There are ways to snap harder, faster, broader, and be even more right. By obverse, anything to do with evidence or peer review or analysis or reputation is too slow and thus fake. Inherently fake? Maybe not. But the slower it is the more time nonsense has to take over, and any time I spend filtering out nonsense is time I’m not spending actually making sense of things. I thought about filling this post in casually over time, but after I noticed it was a demon I decided to finish it as soon as possible.
This also means interest in divination and the occult. The point of knowing things is to reach a decision before the things occur. As said above there are limits to how much useful stuff you can actually know before it actually occurs, but the scope that divination can reach is also greater than expected. This is because what is allowed to be known is controlled by the state. Accurate geographical maps were once state secrets; it follows obviously that accurate spiritual maps would also be state secrets.
“But occult is kooky” It matters not if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice. Who’s testing hypotheses and who’s not? Astrology as compared to what? Astrology talks about personalities, so as compared to MBTI. Does astrology read better than MBTI? Grant Lewi does. Is astrology mostly crap, sure, but why should I excuse science’s failures while not excusing astrology’s? Because the state is the patron of science. Everyone’s seen the ridiculous kinds of research that gets big government grants, the only difference is those are “funny” and “accidents” while teleology is recognized only when it’s time to point it at the enemy. How do the planets’ positions affect personality? The cat is black. Fundamentally occult and the bureaucracy are similar. Thus it is not so surprising some warnings against learning magic are because they will attract intelligence spooks. But there are other spooks too. Like the one that got to MTSP when he was making that NTR doujin. Or the one that’s on me right now writing this stuff out.
I call them gods and demons because object oriented thinking has uses. There’s not some fantasy-horror looking creature that I’m hallucinating on my shoulder. These are terms borrowed that originate from the religious and occult, just like “technology” or “updates” or other things are borrowed from scifi and programming. When ancient mathematicians or whoever said their idea came to them via an “angel”, I believe it was an illustrative way of saying “it occurred to me” or “I noticed”. These days you’re allowed to say you saw it in a dream, or noticed something when watching TV, or in a class, or etc. etc. The way simply no longer exists for spiritual visualizations. But to me it matters not if the cat is black or white.
No, that’s not entirely accurate. It does matter. I call them gods and demons they invoke certain things for me, and the associated visual imagery while not important does fit. I would refuse to use some neutered cuckold bureaucrat’s wording scheme, especially if they’re just a “reboot” of the real deal. This is why I don’t like programmer philosophy, everything they say feels this way. Every time I hear about “Roko’s Basilisk” I throw up a little. They should call it Roko’s Infinite Recursion or some programming thing and not go fucking around aesthetics that don’t belong to them / they don’t properly respect.
Finally, I’ve taken dreams vaguely more seriously. Drawing at its best, in flow, feels like a dream. I’ve always liked dreams and the stories they tell me. I don’t care if it’s random neurons firing or whatever, there are better and worse dreams, not in the sense that they are good or bad stories, but in the sense that there are books in good and bad condition; the librarian doesn’t really care what’s in the books, I don’t really care about what’s in the dreams. The biggest known problem for dreams is when I play puzzle or “real time tactics” or strategy games, the dreams are just playing imaginary scenarios of those games. I do not like this. It’s way too rigid. So I try these days to not play such games as much. The other thing is I think less of people who make an effort to lucid dream. Every night you are being shown a new story, and you want to step all over it? What’s wrong with you? I’d tried it before but I did not like it for this reason; yes I now have telekenesis, but the cost is the dream is now pointless. This judgment now extends to others. People who don’t know their place are not to be trusted.
“I’m curious when you are creating to have the image and idea for it mapped out beforehand, what you want it to be, does it sort of come to you and come together as you’re doing it, is it both, and I guess what inspires you?”
I don’t create anything.
I have no ideas. I copy, and do what makes sense at the time. Sometimes I lose sight of the essence I’m trying to copy, and copy only the forms. If the essence is not there at the end, I feel terrible; if it is there at the end, I feel I did my part. So far my stuff is mostly a copy of an existing picture, if not the picture then really close to the concept of the existing picture.
I think it’s interesting other people can make fanart of fantasy characters in casual modern clothing doing mundane things, or posing in bikinis, but I feel unwell when I do these. The essence of a picture to me is something like an emotion, a character, and an enviroment or situation. If my understanding is missing these, then it is worse. I imagine it’s possible to internalize this more, to imagine all that other stuff while only drawing a character, and then put them in a bikini, and be fine with it. But at the moment I can’t do it. It just feels so much better if I have a story, rather than drawing body parts with clothes in A-poses. To be more than just a technician I need essence. At least so far, the only essence I can carry to the end of a drawing is one I’ve copied. I have some of “my own” ideas, for whatever that means when there is nothing new under the sun, but they don’t survive the drawing yet. They don’t survive the other parts of me.
It is not possible to map everything out beforehand. There are things you can’t see until the immediately preceding step. Drawings for me are largely a lot of little steps like these, though I’m getting a better idea of what steps are going to appear it’s always more like a go game to humans and less like a math equation to computers.
As said most of my stuff is copies of existing pictures, but within and outside of these most of the steps are still the same, when “it comes to me” are still usually at the same stages. The stages I can think of are composition, shape-details, and highlights.
Composition is at the start, figuring out the major shapes/lighting and how much space / where they should be in relation to everything else. Copying means only that there’s an initial thing available to check. Generally, especially if it was done by a big name artist or is part of a big name story, there’s good reasons for what they did, and copying means I get to find out what those reasons are. Not copying… well, you’re always copying something, can’t cook without ingredients, can’t build without materials. But “not copying” means you are to find a combination of shapes with a less than existing known-to-be-correct guidance. Painting copying from a painting is the easiest. Painting copying from a movie or videogame is slightly more difficult: what the original did in motion and multiple frames, you have to figure out what the conversion is for that emotion/scene and capture in one. I shouldn’t say figure. This stuff isn’t found by thinking. You have to find the path.
Shape-details again are the shapes of shadows on things. Loose kimono arms or tight pants on legs both have possible attractive shadow shapes that aren’t going to be found by simulating gravity wrapping fabric around cylinders. When I am doing comps or shape-details it’s very different from drawing the face, or checking/fixing body part shapes/sizes, or anything else. In everything else the overarching feeling is I’m filling out a form, or a test. These three though it feels like play. Like what a non-artist imagines an artist’s imagination looks like. I would like all of drawing’s steps to be this way. I have a doubt it is actually true that “you have to put in the hours” of suffering to get e.g. an accurately pretty body, and then you can do whatever you want with it. There are things that simply happen. But maybe pretty bodies are just not one of those things for me. Different things do have different prices. Hopefully if there is a deal someday, I will be ready for it.
Highlights bring things to life. Shadow-details do too, but highlights are special. For the other two I usually don’t know where I’m going to put them before I do them, for highlights I know exactly where I’m going to put them, but still it is different before and after they’re there. In anime a common way of making a character depressed is to take the lights and highlights out of the eyes. I’d always thought this was a crude and simple way of doing things, like there should be a more refined and tasteful method. And perhaps there is, but lights and highlights are real. One should expect bright lights and saturated colors to have the effects they do as much as one should expect 1 + 1 to equal 2. I see things after I put in the highlights. Some highlights I keep on separate layers so I can toggle them on and off from time to time to see if I’ll notice anything else.
I would like to portray “the light of god”.
I’m not religious, but this is the obvious name for what I see. A2, Kaori, and maybe Haruka are examples of successes. Yuki and Kazusa are examples of failures. Coincidentally these all have strong directional lighting, but this is probably to be expected. It is definitely a “light”; I had no care at all for drawing this when I was working with only lines. I’ve always liked certain sorts of dramatic scenes in stories. In the past I had thought I liked “beautiful death sequences”. That’s certainly where the “light of god” appears commonly, but after copying some and inspecting a lot, I don’t think that’s the most common theme anymore. It has something to do with light.
I would like to do this all the time but it is exhausting just thinking about it. These feel like building a monument. Which I like, but I need some kind of counterweight. I know my limits, I can’t do it all the time. I need some teleological equivalent of a restful slumber.
I don’t know what that is yet.
But I have a few ideas.