Two years in San Francisco

Hi all, last time I posted was on my 30th birthday, a whole 2.5 years ago… I never explained where I decided to go to apply my (then) newly acquired software engineering skills. So here we go. =)

After evaluating possibilities in startups, hedge funds and big tech companies I decided on joining Google. The offer wasn’t the highest I had but definitely competitive, their San Francisco office was a charming brick building converted from an old coffee factory overlooking the Bay Bridge, but most importantly it was one of the ‘things I want to do when I grow up‘ since I was 12 years old (I remember reading about the arcade and scooters in offices).

Highlight of the job: view from my desk. Some days at dusk, the bridge directly reflects the sunlight and turns golden, along with the shiny glass windows on Treasure Island in the background:

Sketch from workstation

To fully embrace city life, I rented a tiny (but absurdly expensive) studio apartment in a cool looking high-rise building that’s a few minutes walk from the office. For the very first time, I acquired a few physical items from designers I’ve always admired (Chairs by Charles Eames and Arne Jacobson, Fortuny Pallucco floor lamp, Philippe Starck’s spider lemon squeezer and Zaha Hadid cheese grader).

Anyways, so everything went pretty smoothly for about a year, I joined a team in mobile performance analytics (basically I was selecting a team in SF and made the decision based on conversation with a particularly charismatic skip manager). The job turned out to be quite mundane and neither creative nor very intellectually stimulating. But I found ways to entertain myself elsewhere, such as hanging out with friends, annual ski pass, periodical visits to Disney… Speaking of which, Galaxy’s Edge is absolutely amazing! In my opinion it’s probably the best piece of Imagineering in a few decades!

Then Corona hit in March 2020, I was trapped at home, got depressed, started re-thinking my life again (don’t worry, it’s been amazing how quickly I became totally un-depressed the moment I un-trapped myself and started moving around ^_^).

Anyways, exactly a year later in March 2021, as the world started to open back up, I got out of Google, moved my belongings into a storage unit and went back on the road =)

Yes I finally got a driver’s license… and a tiny car ^_^

Back to the drawing board — Month #1 (and a bit more)

So this is the first post after my blog (and life) transition! Just wish to record some progress in my concept art studies after not drawing and painting for 6 years. Feel so good that sometimes I can’t believe this is going to be what I do full-time! (Why didn’t I start this 1.5 years ago?!)

In any case, the goal of this blog is to have bad paintings and drawings at the beginning and hopefully show improvements over time. My ultimate hope is for this to envolve into a log that shows dreams can be achieved no matter how distant it is from where you are.

Anyways, here are some selected pages of what I’ve been doing over the last month or so =P

First, some animal thumbnails~ (went to the zoo last week, but those are mostly from photo as I’m still not very comfortable drawing while standing in the crowd >.<)

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Gorillas are super fun to draw!
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Bears (and some polar bears)

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African collection

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Birds

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This is me trying to figure out how does animal legs bend…

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Copied animal poses before the zoo, to get a better idea of how to capture the gesture.

Now onto human figure invention~

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Those are given a background and invent a character to put into the scene.

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This was super fun to draw~ I am happy to see that now I can draw figures without finding a photo reference ^^

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Take a pose and change the character posing. (we actually had a model doing in and was asked to change him into ‘superhero’, ‘sexy women’ etc =P)

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I think I really like drawing fat guys…

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Hand expressions, roughly a half of them copied from master animators from Disney, the other half drawn according to my own (left) hand =P

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Designing a ‘space pirate’.

Okay, below are some absolutely uncategorized random stuff I just decided to throw in:
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A little layout. (obviously inspired by Ratatouille)

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Some plants (drawn on spot in Caltech)

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Balls, painted in Photoshop

Okay…onto…oil painting! I have to say that I have never done oil in my life…(and I only ever painted a couple times back in high school >.<) But it’s so exciting to start!!!

I started off by going to those life model sessions where there is a model posing and everyone drops in and paints:

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First-time still life.

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Some thumbnail landscapes from my travel photos.

Anyways, painting is something I am most looking forward to improve! Just started to systematically learning it last week, so stay turned!

A sketch of a piece I really wanted to paint once I get better at it:

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