This week for my independent learning project, I decided to sit down and find another tutorial to follow. I wanted to try something that I’ve never drawn seriously before. Turns out, finding decent tutorials online is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I tried finding tutorials for drawing realistic hands and found that none of them were helpful in the least in drawing a good product, or they skipped so many steps that they were informative at all. Many tutorials online are also geared toward those who do digital drawings. I own a digital drawing tablet, but don’t have a pen for it at the moment, which is why my project is focusing on physical mediums.
Finally, after a while of searching, I found this tutorial. It’s an extremely simple tutorial, but it doesn’t skip tons of steps; you can see the little things being done in order to find finishing touches. It’s easy enough to where you can tune it and get your own result, which is exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of my own progress in the tutorial and only have my finished product, which is as follows:
I’ve never really tried to sit down and draw a bird before. If fact, I’ve barely had any interest in birds at all, which made this tutorial a nice learning process for me. It took quite a while for me to be satisfied with the placement of the feet. I’m still not really super happy about it, but it’s better than leaving it off completely. My favorite part has to be the little feather tufts I added myself to the head; I think it makes this birdie cute.
Doing tutorials like this makes me realize that I still have a lot to learn, but that I am capable of doing so easily.
Find a photo of Monument Valley and turn it into a surrealistic place.
It’s in the shadows…
All I used here was Adobe Photoshop CC and a photo of Monument Valley licensed for reuse. This is a combination of adjusting the hue/saturation, rendering clouds where the sky was, and using the smudge tool to create text in the shadow.
This week, I followed a drawing philosophy that I’ve always had trouble with over the years: embrace your mistakes. I decided the medium I’d be using is colored pencil, and proceeded to do a quick drawing from there. I decided to draw my cat, Tulo. I haven’t really strayed too far yet from drawing animals at this point, but I’m working on expanding creatively by using a medium I don’t feel confident with at all. Here’s the reference photo of my cat:
He’s a beautiful little black cat. Part of the challenge was to make him stand out effectively using more than just a black colored pencil. As always, I started with the outline:
I proceeded to darken the outline with a black colored pencil and then lightly begin shading in the rest of the cat:
Next came the most creative part of this: using purple in the background of the cat in order to give it some pop. Tulo’s namesake comes from my favorite baseball player: Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. I became a huge fan of his back when he was a Colorado Rockie. I began following him during his rookie season and fell in love the moment he turned an unassisted triple play- one of the rarest plays in the game- and became a baseball fan as a result. Purple is one of the Rockies’ team colors, as is black, so I thought the combination as fur on the cat would be fitting for this project.
Here’s the finished product of what I did this week:
I wanted it to look sketchy and experimental when I started this project, but I’m not satisfied with the overall look of the fur. I used too long of strokes and therefore he looks much fluffier in the drawing than he actually is in real life. But hey, that’s why I’m practicing, right? I’m not good with colored pencils, but doing this drawing gave me some insight on how to draw fur with the medium. It also showed me that I need to be more mindful of my lines even when I’m trying to fill a space with color.My favorite part of the drawing is the way the purple and black look together in the fur itself; it was an interesting idea. Maybe I can revisit drawing my cat at a later date; for now, I’m okay with having practiced an unfamiliar medium that’s unforgiving with mistakes.
Digital mindfulness is a particularly interesting topic for me. After reading what it entailed, my immediate gut reaction- especially when being advised to put away my technology- was that it would be extremely difficult for me to do this when going into the field of Public Relations. How am I supposed to avoid social media when my future job prospects are all about it? I almost wanted to stop reading the articles right there.
But then, I processed the meaning of the articles and the TED talk, as seen below, further. These articles aren’t telling me to completely give up social media, my smartphone, or even the internet. They’re telling me to find a balance between them. They’re telling me to let myself get bored and explore my mind instead of unlocking my phone to browse Reddit as I would normally do. They’re telling me to break out of the comfort zone that is my phone and get more in tune with myself.
That’s something that I need to work on, for sure. Being a sufferer of social anxiety, I have often buried myself in my phone and my computer in order to avoid facing my fears. Even when I found myself in trouble as a child, grounded from technology as a result, I found myself sneaking on as much as I could. I remember a time in my life when I was grounded from my computer and video games for an entire month: nearing the end of the third week, I absolutely had to get to my PS2 to play Guitar Hero 3 in order to ease my addiction.
Then we have Paul Miller, who abstained from the internet for a whole year. I could not do what he did.
Even with some of the benefits he described, I think I would go crazy without the security blanket that is the internet. I have some close friends that I know strictly online, and I would hate to be disconnected from them.
He did, however, make me realize that finding the balance between my true self that can connect with people and myself and using the internet mindfully is what’s important, not completely disconnecting yourself.
The NPR article Bored… And Brilliant? A Challenge to Disconnect, I thought, was the most interesting and relevant reading this week. When I first started reading the article, I thought it would be another one preaching why my generation isn’t as good as others because of how intertwined with the technological world we are- when it was simply an exploration into how our smartphones have dominated our lives. We use our phones as an excuse to not connect with people, when we think that we’re connecting more because of them. In a way, we are: I can talk to somebody in Japan instantly, right now, through the internet on my smartphone, when it would be impossible (or just really expensive) to do so before. Even just walking down the street, we can keep our phone in our pockets and take in the world around us: the sights, the smells, the feelings we get from discovering something new on a route that we haven’t seen before.
We’re truly present when we clear our minds from the distraction of having to be completely connected to the world, and that’s an important skill for all of us to learn.
My progress in my learning project is going well! In fact, I’ve already seen a lot of progress from my first drawings that I posted about last week. I wanted to stick with the pencil drawing techniques that I’ve discussed, but found myself at a loss for what to draw. My inspiration was on a shelf in my room; I collect stuffed foxes, as they are my favorite animal. And then, I realized, I should ask my boyfriend what his favorite animal is and go from there. I sent him a text; turns out, his favorite animal is a lion. Which is perfect, I thought, because I’ve had experience drawing lions before.
The first step to it was getting the basic outline of the face done. I normally draw canines side-view, and decided to try my hand at drawing a feline the same way. Of course, I used a reference for this picture from Google images that I will not be linking here due to copyright reasons. This part of the drawing took maybe ten minutes:
After I was satisfied with the start of the sketch, I added in more details, as seen below:
I shaded in the nose, darkened the spot by the eye, and then added many, many lines to show his mane. I tried to make it as fur like as possible in flow, and also took my own liberties in giving him as much hair as possible without making him look too cartoonish. This is where I started straying more from the reference and trying my own things. The hardest part about adding the hairs here, which took a good 30 minutes before I was happy with it, was remembering that I had to work around his ear that’s peeking out there. Next, I started blending the hair and adding more details in order to make it look less flat:
The hair now looks much softer as opposed to the picture before. I blended it more against the lion’s face in order for it to look more like a part of the animal rather than just random lines. At this point, I’m happy with how the picture is turning out. The blending process took about 30 more minutes.
Here’s the finished product from my process:
I added more dark lines to the mane in order to make it really look like fur, and blended pencil all throughout the lion’s face and the small part of his body that was showing. I added more detail to the eye, nose, and mouth area, as well as blended the outline to make it look more fluid rather than roughly drawn on the paper. I also added more to the ear in order to make it stand out more from the mane. And then, finally, I quickly added the pencil scribble border in order to make the piece more complete. Overall, the piece took about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
And, to top it off, my boyfriend loved it and now has it displayed on his dorm door, which makes me even happier with the results of my piece.
Digital activism is one aspect of digital literacy that applies strongly to my major. If we look at major companies such as Nabisco, with their Oreo brand, using their social media presence to advocate for the legalization of gay marriage, we see how digital activism works at is roots. Millions of people online saw, and repeated, their message through all sorts of media channels, which in turn, made the message reach millions more. This makes this certain module interesting to me because it pertains so strongly to my interests.
Strong social messages also have the potential to go viral, which means that anything that you or I tweet or blog has the potential to reach millions more. This means that digital activism is a huge component of our lives. According to Bill Ferriter on the SmartBlog for Education, kids from ages six to sixteen, and even us college aged students, “don’t have to sit on life’s sidelines waiting until [we] grow up in order to make a difference in the world.” What we say or do on social media can have a profound impact on our immediate surroundings. Something as simple as sharing a GoFundMe page on our Facebook and Twitter can generate awareness and donations for that particular cause.
One of the biggest examples of digital activism that I can think of right now is the raising of funding for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign through Reddit.com. Users on this website have, through small donations, generated millions of dollars for what will be considered the biggest grassroots movement in United States history. These donations are comping from everyone, including teenagers that can’t yet vote, but want to make an impact on their country. These teens are also helping to campaign by phonebanking, sharing campaign materials, and many other things all through social media.
So, while teens are using digital activism to impact political campaigns, they are als o using their activism to help others. One of the Teen Activist Award nominees, by the name of Hope, struck a personal chord with me as I did my research. The teen in question, Jason Harris, has saved 29 lives and helped countless other people through his Twitter account, @bulletproofh0pe, by tweeting motivational messages, talking directly with people affected by depression issues, and raising awareness for bullying, suicide, and self harm. As somebody who has struggled with depression in the past, Harris’ goal made me happy for my own generation’s positive impact in the social world and was a glimmer in a time where we hear all sorts of bad stories about social media. The effectiveness of this activism cannot be understated.
In fact, like Harris, TeenVogue states that two in five young adults engage in social issues online. The article also poses another great point: sometimes, social activism can be dangerous for young adults in countries other than the United States, and even dangers for those in the United States as well. Not all countries have the same freedoms as we do in the first world. Still, teens in Egypt and other countries have used social media to spark revolutions. In the United States, teens posting messages online can receive resistance in the form of “doxxing,” which is acquiring and releasing someone’s personal information online with the intention of others using it for harm. There’s also the issue of cyberbullying that we have to consider. If your message goes against the status quo, we have to be careful of the backlash that it may get.
The only question I have for this module is this: how can we stop stigmatizing the concept of digital activism by equating it with “slacktivism?” How can we encourage teens to continue to use social media as an activism tool without them being criticized for “only” posting a tweet or a status? We need to encourage the voices of our younger generations, because this is the first age in which their voices can truly be heard.