Tag Archives: resources

Browsing Japanese Websites Made Easy

4 Dec

My Japanese is far from fluent, but I vastly enjoying surfing Japanese websites. Perhaps your Japanese isn’t so good or you want to know how to surf Japanese websites without having any knowledge of the language at all. No problem! There’s a lot of tools and tips that will help you to do this. In addition to being really fun, surfing these sites will actually help to improve what lingual knowledge you do have if only because of your constant exposure to foreign writing. Regardless of whether or not that’s your goal, browsing a website in a foreign language is not as daunting as it seems when you have some basic knowledge and some fun web widgets to help you out!

Google JP IME

If you can read or write any Japanese whatsoever, you should have a Japanese IME (Input Method Editor) installed which will allow you to type in Japanese. Basic home editions of your operating system come with a Japanese IME, but it is not installed by default. Please refer to Declan’s Guide to Installing the Japanese IME. Alternatively, you can try out Google’s  Japanese IME Beta, which I am personally coming to enjoy using more than the default one for Windows. I do not intend to write a guide on using the IME in this post, but there are many places on the web which can teach you how to do so. It’s easier than you may think!

Rikaichan in Action

In addition to keeping Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC in my bookmarks bar, I use a really fantastic Firefox plugin called Rikaichan. This addon is essentially a dictionary that, when activated, translates words (in glorious detail) when you mouse over them. I much prefer to use Rikaichan to translate individual words or kanji over putting an entire webpage or paragraph into Babelfish and letting it generate rubbish. Ever since I discovered this addon, I cannot live without it. It is amazing. Download it now. Seriously. (You may also be pleased to know that it comes in other languages!)

Even if you don’t know Japanese, you will begin to learn some simply through clicking through websites over and over again. Artist websites in particular tend to have the same basic bare bones structure in that almost all of them have an “About” page, a “Gallery” page, a blog and a page that references their professional work or doujinshi. I can assure you that after you click on 日記 (read as “nikki”) 100 times on varying websites and are always sent to a blog of some sort, you will eventually forever recognize those kanji as being exactly that – a blog or diary link. Isn’t symbology great? For what it’s worth, here’s a little handful of common words you’ll come across and what they mean. Even if I didn’t tell you what they are, I’m sure you’d eventually come to recognize them due to their heavy, repeated usage across the Japanese web:

プロフィール – Profile

イラスト – Illust. (Short for “Illustration”.)

ギャラリー – Gallery

オリジナル – Original

版権 – Copyright (Often refers to Fan Art.)

ゲーム – Game (Usually video games.)

その他 – Other (Refers to other subjects.)

18歳 – 18 years (of age. If you found this, it means that page probably has porn on it. Good find, bro! ^_^b)

Trust me; you’ll recognize these and many other words in no time. Even so, a great deal of Japanese sites have their navigation in English, so browsing them really should be simple. The reason I strongly suggest you also use a Japanese IME is for search purposes. When you’re at places like Pixiv or Yahoo and you want to search for sites or images of a specific series, subject or character, it’ll make life so much easier to write it in Japanese. Romaji isn’t going to get you very far, and your other option for Japanese input is  to copy and paste (yuck!). ;)

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A Few Fantastic Resources for Artists

30 Nov

I thought I’d take a breather from my current illustration project to share with you some wonderful online resources for artists. The internet is a treasure trove for free educational tools and materials, so let’s take a look at some really fantastic links that will get your creative juices flowing. These are some of my personal favorites!

One of the most important tools for digital illustration is the graphics tablet. With Plastic Shards’  Wacom Beginner How-To, you will learn everything you need to know when it comes to choosing, configuring and drawing with your tablet. I recommend reading through this site even if you’ve had a tablet for awhile and you feel you are adept at using it. You might learn something new! I can’t recommend this guide enough.

One of my favorite “secret weapons” is  Posemaniacs.com. I probably would have never known about this site if I did not discover it through a Japanese artist’s webpage. Posemaniacs is a 3D human model that you can use for your drawing reference. Take note that in addition to full bodies, you can also view specific body parts such as hands in many different positions and rotate those models 360 degrees. This is fabulous if you cannot take a life drawing class or can’t afford to buy books from the VirtualPose collection. If that isn’t cool enough on it’s own, there’s also a FREE Posemaniacs App for iPod Touch and iPhone, which is mega cool for drawing on the go.

It is important to realize that when painting digitally, the result of your work is largely reliant on your technique. Your mileage will vary with the tools you use, whether it be Photoshop, Painter, OpenCanvas, Paint Tool SAI or any other number of programs that are popular for digital coloring. That being said, there’s no “right” way to color, and I’d discourage anyone from ever settling on one specific method of painting until they have tried many different kinds and found what works best for them personally. Armed with that information, you can confidently browse through thousands of online painting tutorials, with the knowledge that none of them are a definitive guide. The best place to get started is most likely DeviantArt’s Drawing/Painting/Airbrushing Tutorial section, where you can choose the software you’re using to paint with and start perusing. Doing a search works just as well, if perhaps you’re looking for something more specific like cel shading or blending.

Any Photoshop guru is familiar with custom brushes and the many sites online that can provide you with them for free download. However, you may not be aware of the variety of special brushes that other artists create that are made specifically for painting. These brushes usually try to replicate natural media or make it easier to apply textures or fill in details such as foliage. For Photoshop, you should definitely check out My Brush Pack by adonihs and Essential Illustration Brushes by fox-orian. If you are looking for Painter brushes, try out what-i-do-is-secret’s Brush Pen or Morgalahan’s Painter Brushes. I can guarantee you’ll enjoy using these more than default brushes for drawing and painting.

Hopefully this humble yet powerful collection of invaluable resources will help you in creating fantastic new works of art. Good luck!

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