Update for December, year of total chaos 2020

This will be the last update for 2020. We’re almost on the other side! We shouldn’t expect much out of 2021, since the time doesn’t care about our labels. Still, there is a feeling of hope that we’ll be able to, slowly, transition to post pandemic world. How will that world look like? Time will tell.

Last few months have been very productive for me. For better or worse. It’s nice to create and have a lot of fun ideas but… there is only so much time in a day. Self isolation, working from home, etc. help save time but that means I’m working way more than before pandemic. I’ll certainly need some quality vacation soon.

On the technical side I’ve built a prototype of a device, based on ESP32 microcontroller, which allows me to control my Spotify playback in a… unique way. I’m currently waiting for some parts and it’s difficult to explain what this project is without showing how it works. I’m very excited about this project. It also exposed a pretty interesting fact, which I’ll explain a bit later in this post. I’ll brag about this project more in the future.

My PinePhone has arrived! It’s a 100% Linux based phone. I haven’t had time to get into working with it that much. I’ve tried to compile some parts of it’s Gnome interface and that wasn’t easy. Mostly because of the dependencies… Anyway it’s very exciting to just SSH into your phone and reboot it with the typical sudo reboot now or copy files via scp or rsync. I really hope I’ll be able to contribute to making this project better soon.

Truth be told, most of my free time went into my CG. That means navigating between ZBrush and Blender to produce some nice illustrations. I still love doing it and I’m proud of my progress. Considering I’ve started learning CG many years ago (14…?), my output should be… way better. But a lot has happened during those 14 years and I just didn’t prioritize art. The should have, would have, could have games aren’t productive. Learning about art and making it is fun and worth doing just for the sake of it.

Before, I’ve been focusing on sculpting people/anatomy in ZBrush. Since, recently I’m trying to create proper illustrations, I had to learn new things. I’ve finally spent more time with Blender’s shader nodes. I’ve written some shaders before but using Blender’s node system requires some practice. Thanks to that prior experience it quickly became a lot of fun!

Another thing that took a bit of my time was Python scripting in Blender. The most useful thing I’ve made is an eyelashes generating script. Making eyelashes by hand is boring and takes a lot of time. My script generates decent starting point. Some hand tweaking is necessary but it’s nothing compared to the time it took when I did everything by hand. The script isn’t finished and I’d like to make a plugin out of it… hopefully I’ll find the time to make that happen soon. This topic brings me back to the ESP32 project…

The idea for the ESP32 project just popped into my mind. Two weekends later I had a well working prototype. I’m not using the Arduino environment. This project uses the ESP-IDF framework with FreeRTOS. I’ve never worked with FreeRTOS before. I was surprised though that I was able to make this project work so quickly. It required a lot of hardware and software knowledge, but there I was… making progress every day. The same happened with the eyelashes generating script for Blender. It took me 5 hours to write a script which generated eyelashes that I used in my illustration. Mind you, I don’t have much experience writing scripts for Blender (at the point of writing this I have no idea how to add GUI for my script).

This might read like I’m bragging. Hell, maybe I am… it’s just an exhilarating feeling when you can make your idea a reality so quickly. It’s a good feeling when you see your hard work paying off. It’s obvious that my ideas are informed by my skills. That doesn’t change the fact that navigating the spaces, in which I want to create, with more ease and literacy, feels good. The quality of the output increases, new, harder challenges can be tackled.

Process of making things is a difficult one. It’s a constant test of your relation to your ego. It’s not only about what you produce, it’s also about what you learn about yourself in the process.

If you read this I’d like to say: thank you. Hope you’re safe and see you in 2021. Let’s be hopeful and make the best out of it.