Author: Arcturus

Update #2 (October 2017)

Happy October, readers! We’ve finally hit Fall (although the heat in D.C. would make you think otherwise), and it’s time for me to make a general update post for what I’ve been doing and what plans I have for the blog in upcoming posts.

Education

I’m continuing to do well in college, a few weeks ago I had the honor of being included in my University’s Dean’s List! I worked really hard to achieve this, as you can see from my drop in posts since mid summer. Now I’m finally taking a course that is directly relevant to major in IT. The course is called Information Technology and Society and is mainly centered around examining the ethics of Computer Science and the way consumer electronics and online services affect people around the world. This subject is really important because I ascribe to the idea that you need to understand how humans and society as a whole functions in order to produce effective software. After all, If I were to work as a software consultant in my career path, I need to be able to determine what kind of functionality suits my clients needs the best. It’s also crucial to know how ethics applies to the field of Computer Science, so I’m very excited to learn more about that during this course.

During my spare time, I’ve been researching material related to programming so I can build my coding skill set:

So for the month of October, my goal is to increase posting frequency so all of you can enjoy more helpful insight and content about art and programming. This week I’d like to write and release a post explaining how I’m going to handle reviews so I can establish a consistent format. I want to make sure that my reviews are top quality to help you figure out what’s worth your money and what isn’t. After that, I would like to release the 2nd episode of Adventures in Programming now that i’m gaining a better grasp of the basics of Python. After that I hope to cap things of with a review of Sonmez’s book.

So, to finish off this post, I’d like to mention that if you want to get the latest updates on posts, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, or subscribe to the site’s mailing list. I’d also like to announce that I’m active on reddit as u/PaintArcturus so be sure to head on over there and r/Blogging to contact me if you have anything to say. I’m very happy to receive any comments and suggestions on this site or either of the mentioned platforms, so don’t be shy!

That’s it for today.

How I Manage Productivity (Habitica tutorial)

As a college student, I know how tough it can be to get your priorities straight. I know firsthand how stressful it can be when you have a project due and you need to rush to finish it the night before. Not everyone has a natural talent for prioritizing, and that’s okay! If you’re having trouble figuring out how balance the many parts of your life, why not try an app? There are tons of great programs and websites out there that help with productivity. In today’s article, I’d like to introduce one that I swear by, Habitica.

Habitica

Habitica is an online organization app designed to function like a casual Role-Playing game. I got introduced to it about five years ago when I started learning Japanese and wanted a good way to plan out my studies. In Habitica, you can add and edit your own Habits, Dailies, and To-Do lists on your Task page and check them off whenever they’re completed. Completing your tasks earns you experience points for leveling up your avatar, and currency to spend on equipment to strengthen your character. You can also make custom personal rewards to spend money on, like having a cheat day on your diet plan, for example.

 

Where Habitica truly shines however, is its community features, which includes “guilds” where people who share common goals can interact with each other. Alongside Guilds are Party, which you can set up or join with other players to fight special quest bosses together. The more tasks you clear everyday, the more damage your party does to monsters. To aid with this party feature is a class system that unlocks after reaching Level 10 on your account. On Habitica, I play a Wizard who has access to skills centered around increasing the rewards from Tasks, and reducing the penalty from not completing dailies.

Accounts on Habitica are free, so if you want to check it out, just visit the official site here.

Habitica also has an iOS/Android app available.

 

Other Apps I Use

I also like to use Windows 10’s calendar app. It’s simple, but it has an intuitive interface, and is compatible with the mobile Outlook app. I get notifications for any important class meetings and assignment deadlines. So alongside Habitica, I have a great reminder system in place for making sure I’m always on top of my responsibilities.

 


That’s the end of today’s post! I go by the name “Arcturus” on Habitica, so if you want to chat and start a party with me, feel free to ask! This week I’m on break from school, so expect a lot of activity here in the coming days. As always, thanks for reading.

Update #1

Hello readers, It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve spent the last month focusing on getting back in school and working on my job portfolio, so I didn’t have much time to write. Fortunately, I’m back into the swing of things and will now be able to post more frequently in the foreseeable future.

 

Here’s some stuff that happened since mid-June:

  • I turned 25 in early July!
  • I got my hands on a new digital drawing tablet
  • I achieved a 4.00 GPA during my first session at Uni (which I fully intend to maintain, mind you)
  • I’m now looking to join the NBSE

I started my second session of Uni Classes last week. I’m now attending a class that’s relevant to my major called Developing Professional Communications. It mainly focuses on the proper usage of Office programs. Which is obviously going to be important for software engineering, because you need to be able to communicate and network properly with your team and whatever company or institution you work for. My professor for the course is a pretty well accomplished software programmer I feel I’m going to learn a lot from him. I could say I already have, since now my current resume and profile has improved.

 

Now, on to what I’ll be working on for the site:

  • Episode 2 of both Adventures in Art Adventures in Programming will release this week. Expect me to talk about the tools I use for Art and my progress in learning Python
  • Some reviews: The aforementioned tablet I received this month is a an Intuos Art: Pen & Touch and I can’t wait to express my thoughts on it soon. I’m also planning to order John Sonmez’s new book, The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide this week. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to review that since it’s a very long book (nearly 800 pages!), but I’d love to offer my perspective of it as a newbie in the field to help others see if it’s worth it.
  • I’d like to start a sub series in mid to late August covering accomplished artists and programmers

That’s all I have to say for now. Thanks for reading, and be sure to follow @paintotk on Twitter to get updates on new posts as they’re made!

Adventures in Programming – 01

Welcome to the first episode of Adventures in Programming! In today’s article, I’m going to discuss what inspired me to get into software programming and what steps I’ve taken to start learning.

Start of My Ambition

For the longest time, I could never figure out what I wanted to do with my life. When I was a teenager, the last thing I would ever catch myself thinking about seriously was my future. I was one of those guys who would look like a deer caught in the headlights whenever I was asked the classic question: Where do you see yourself in x years?. This had a negative effect on my personal life. I fell behind on my studies in High School. In retrospect I guess I just didn’t see much of a point to try if I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t until after my first attempt at college that I started discover what I wanted to do with myself.

 

As I mentioned in my intro post for the site, I’ve always held an interest in computers. At times I’ve thought of becoming a graphic designer, but those musings never took hold. I’ve also have been a gamer since I was little, so I guess what really gravitated me towards software development was the opportunity to learn how to build videos games of my own. Over time I’ve become more and more curious about what makes computer hardware and software work. So a lifelong hobby ended up being what propelled me to plot out a path for my future.

 

Learning Programming

I started off my journey in learning programming by looking up tutorials for various languages online. One site that I was recommended was Learn C++ . Learn C++ is a completely free site that provides detailed tutorials on learning the programming language C++.

C++ is a rather difficult language for beginners to start with. While I didn’t get too far in Learn C++’s lessons, I did learn some really crucial basics to computer programming that were helpful to me. Like, downloading an operating an Integrated Development Environment to assist with my coding, the concept of language syntax. Later on I was introduced to another tutorial site known as Learning Python the Hard Way. This site covers a completely different programming language known as Python.

 

Python is a much easier language for beginners, although it can be a bit too easy and runs the risk of making more complex languages a bit difficult to get into. What I really like about Python the Hard Way is how the author explains his methodology for teaching material very clear and concise. You follow every lesson example to the letter in order to impart techniques for coding in Python much more effectively. And build good habits for programming in general. Instead of using a development environment like I mentioned before, the site teaches you to code using a combination of a text editor and the Command Line Interface. Luckily, the site includes a helpful tutorial for CLI in case you’ve never used it before.

In Closing

I decided to go through Python the Hard Ways lessons in the meantime while waiting to eventually start the classes directly related to my major in college. It’s good to get my feet wet in the process as soon as I can aim to be in the top of my field.

I’m really excited to learn as much as I can about software programming. More episodes like this will come to chronicle my experiences in learning. As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to check back often!

 

 

Class is in Session!

I just wanted to make a short update to mention that my first class for my first session at my University has started earlier today. I’ve finally taken my first step in achieving my Bachelor’s in software development so I’m pretty pumped up right now. I’ve already done a lot of preliminary work, and I managed to score some free credits by doing an acceleration test for one of my courses. Since I passed, I won’t have to take comp101 or it’s lab material, meaning that I can get to the real meat of my degree even faster.

Of course, preparing for attendance at a new college has been rather time consuming, so updates on my Adventures series has unfortunately been rather slow. While I love working on this blog, classwork takes top priority. Fortunately, I’ve gotten most of my work out of the way early, so tomorrow I’ll have the opportunity to release the first episode of Adventures in Programming, so be sure to look forward to that. In the first episode, I’ll be discussing what inspired me to pursue programming as a skill and what steps I’ve taken to get my feet under the water, including some very helpful resources and tutorials.

Until next time…

 

Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon

Yesterday, a brand new mainline Pokémon title was announced during Nintendo’s Pokémon Direct! The games are called Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon and will be enhanced versions of last year’s Sun & Moon releases with new content and story changes.

Watch Here

I’ve been a pretty big Pokemon fan since the beginning with Pokémon Red & Blue, so you can bet that I’m totally psyched to play it in November. I can’t wait to draw some great fanart for it, too!

Adventures in Art – 01

Welcome to my very first episode of Adventures in Art! Sorry this came a bit later than expected, I had to make sure the preparations for my semester starting next week were in order.

 

Adventures in Art – Episode 1

 How I Got Started

    I’d say a good place to start chronicling my study of drawing is to explain how I started getting into the craft! I started actual self-study of drawing late last year when I was introduced to some nice drawing tutorials. One of which being a tutorial on how to draw faces by the skilled alexds1 on devianart. I’ve tried teaching myself to draw when I was a teenager but I didn’t really look at tutorials and just went by eye. I usually would stop when I realized I had no idea how to draw hands and would give up.

What I’ve Learned so Far

   The critical thing I learned when I started following alexds’s tutorials is that the key to being a good artist is to start by drawing basic shapes to act as a foundation of what you want to draw. Too often, new artists like myself will fall into a trap called “symbol drawing”, in which you try to draw an object from your memory of what it should look like. This causes your art to look very awkward since you don’t know how to render your art in a way that accurately portrays your intended object. In order to start learning to draw effectively, you have to realize a very basic rule of observation: Start seeing every object as being built up of several basic shapes, rather than just the object itself. Hands used to be a very daunting task for me but once I learned how to start drawing from foundation, I became much more comfortable with them.

   This is covered very early on in Andrew Loomis’s Drawing the Head & Hands. The best way to start drawing a human head is to begin with a simple circle! It doesn’t even half to be a perfect one, just suitable to begin the foundation of the skull. Breaking everything you observe down to its basic elements is the key to developing approaches to render on paper. It’s unanimous lesson in all the tutorials I’ve checked out so far.

If you’re a visual learner and want to see how these techniques are applied first hand, you may want to view some video tutorials. I great site I discovered is https://www.ctrlpaint.com . It’s mainly centered around teaching you how to draw digital art, but the early lessons teach you how to draw traditionally (after all, how do you expect to draw well with a computer if you can’t on paper?).

Some of My Early Art

To finish, I’m going to show you how this sources helped influence my start as an artist by posting some sketches I made:

 

They may look rather amateur at this point, but I’m still really proud! As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, so every step forward no matter how small is important.

Until next time…

What I Aim to Do With This Site

As I mentioned in my previous post, my main purpose for Paint on the Keys is to chronicle my growth as an artist and a programmer. I figured that the best way to do that is by setting up the following two series for this blog:

  • Adventures in Art – In which I talk about what I’m learning in Art, what materials and references I use, and my personal thoughts on the learning process.
  • Adventures in Programming – The same as above, but for programming. I’m currently self-studying Python and the Command Line Interface, so expect to see a lot of that when this starts. Since I’ll be attending classes for my major in BSIT, I’m assuming that the Programming series will have more frequent posts in the beginning.

I would like to the above to be the core content for PotK. Hopefully years form now when I become skilled in both fields, everyone can look back in the archives and see step by step how I was able to accomplish my goals.

 

I would also like to post helpful tech-based tutorials. There are a lot of cool things that can be done with computers, and I love to take advantage of the experience I have from using them and teach the readers of this blog about helpful tips and tricks, and even recommend programs that I like.

 

Finally, I will also post about my hobbies like gaming, manga, and tokusatsu. It would be really neat to talk about the things I love to do in my free time, maybe post my background with different series and write up reviews to show what’s worth looking into. I hope you’ll all have as much fun reading this as I do writing!

The first episodes of Adventures in Art/Programming should be coming this week once I get college orientation out of the way. Until then, see ya!

Birth of a New Blog!

Hello there, readers! This is Arcturus, and I’d like to welcome you all to my blog, Paint on the Keys. I made this site to chronicle my journey in learning how to draw art and program software. My username is inspired by the 4th brightest star in the night sky, Arcturus.

A Little About Myself

I’m a college student in his early 20s who is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, specializing in Software Analysis and Development. Ever since I was little, I’ve been enamored with everything tech related, you’ll always find me typing at a computer or playing a fun video game. So of course, as I grew up, I realized that the best kind of career for me to take was something involving computers. At first I wanted to either be a graphic designer or an IT manager, but my experience and influence from video games as a hobby really drew me to software development. I find the field so attractive because I see it as a way to express myself in an environment I’ve been comfortable with my whole life, and I can have the opportunity to have people experience fantastic stories and settings like the ones I play through all the time in video games.

Recently, I’ve decided to take up Art as a hobby. When I was younger, I always loved reading comics and watching cartoons from all over the world and thinking how cool it would be to develop a nice artstyle and start producing great works myself. Well, I’ve finally gotten sick of leaving my dreams as dreams and am now learning how to draw. I’m only a beginner but I believe I have a lot of potential!

It’s gonna be a tough road learning two different broad disciplines like drawing and programming, but if I stick through with it, I think my determination will pay off in dividends! Imagine becoming skilled in both programming and art, I’d be one hell of a triple threat. I’m also really interested in seeing how these two hobbies can overlap. What can I learn about programming from drawing, and what can I learn about drawing from programming?

 

Hobbies

Here’s some stuff I like besides art & programming:

 

  • Video Games – Role-Playing Games, or RPGs being my favorite genre
  • Anime/Manga – I mainly love action based stuff and comedies. But any series that stands out in a special way is definitely something I’m interested in
  • Tokusatsu – A Japanese genre of live action television usually starring superheroes. You know, stuff like Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and Ultraman.
  • Japanese Language – Since 2012 I’ve been studying Japanese on and off with the goal of being able to read native level material
  • Music – Being a video game fan, I do listen to gaming soundtracks very often, but I’m also interested in genres like Prog Rock, Hip Hop, and R&B

Surprise, surprise, the aspiring programmer is a total nerd. Expect me to post about the above stuff in-between all my studies on art and tech.

 

Anyways, that was my brief intro post, keep reading Paint on the Keys to learn more about me and my aspirations!