Helpful Harrie
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Hi there!

I’m currently taking a screenwriting class at college, and one of my textbooks has some extremely helpful passages about plot that I’d like to share, as these tips hold true for any kind of medium of story telling.

Paraphrased from Writing Movies: the Practical Guide to Creating Stellar Screenplays by Gotham Writers’ Workshop.

(Note: the tips here are just that, tips. They are not concrete rules for writing. Not every method of storytelling follows the same patterns. These tips are meant to be a general plot guide for writers. You may use them to completely dictate how you write your story, as a rough guide, etc etc. If you like these tips, I highly recommend this book. It’s very readable and many of the tips translate easily to other methods of writing.)

The plot is probably the toughest part of writing a story- and also the most vital. The plot is literally the sequence of events that occur in your story. When creating a plot, you must be able to summarize it in under three sentences- any longer and you start to overthink it. Plot, however, doesn’t have to be scary. A couple tips for creating plot:

  • Goal. Every protagonist has a goal. It is what drives the entire plot. The goal must be something simple and easily definable, but not too vague. Quote from the book:
  • "The goal should be tangible, meaning something external and specific. It would be too abstract if Indiana Jones were seeking ‘to maintain the balance between good and evil.’… it would be too broad if Indy’s goal were simply ‘to have a good bout of adventure,’ or even ‘to defeat the Nazis.’ These goals aren’t achievable in specific ways. ‘To obtain the Ark of the Covenant’ works much better because it’s something we can easily see Indy acting toward in external, specific, concrete ways."
  • Stories should be a bit more complex than that, though. Beneath the main goal should be a smaller “desire”. This desire is directly connected to the goal. Example: Die Hard. The protagonist’s main goal is to stop the terrorists and rescue the hostages. His desire is to reconnect with his estranged wife, who is among the hostages.
  • You can have as many goals and desires as you please. Just remember to follow through on them. Nobody likes a story with loose ends.
  • Major Dramatic Question. This is what your story should seek to answer. While there are exceptions, 99% of the time the MDQ is a yes-or-no. Going back to the Indiana Jones example, the MDQ would be “Does Indy get the Ark of the Covenant?” Answer: yes. It’s directly tied into the story’s goal and sets the main driving force for the story.
  • Conflict. I feel that it’s important to note here that conflict isn’t necessary by any means. The idea of conflict as a driving force is a strongly Western idea. This post explains it better than I can.
  • Now, if you do choose to have conflict in your story, here are some tips. Conflict can come from multiple sources, but there should typically be one main antagonist. This antagonist is the root cause of every obstacle that the protagonist comes across. The antagonist doesn’t have to be a person- it could be a lion escaped from the zoo, a genetically modified pet hamster, global warming, a tsunami, the planet mars. etc etc.
  • Three-Act Structure. When it comes to actually figuring out how the plot progresses, it helps to organize the story into three acts. These aren’t acts like you see in a play, which are clearly marked on the page. These acts are subconscious. Ever heard of the Rule of Threes? Birth, life, death. Beginning, middle, end. Think about the last movie you watched. Could you clearly distinguish between those three parts? That’s because your brain imprints that way of viewing the world on any story you see. If the writer did their job, you could probably map out the plot from beginning to end.
  • There are, as with all rules of writing, plenty of exceptions to this. You can draw out the beginning or end, insert a “false end”- the viewer believes the story’s over, when suddenly another plot point emerges- you can put the middle before the beginning and then go back to it. The possibilities are limitless.

Okay, I’ve got it. So, how do I actually write the thing?

  • Well, I can’t really tell you that. It’s up to you. Here are a couple tips that I’ve personally found helpful.
  • Plot mapping. Now that you know the basic premise of your story, it would help to draw up a plot map. Don’t plan out the whole thing; just have the beginning of your story in mind (I’ve found that this website helps a ton). Your story will grow from there.
  • Don’t go back and edit. I know the temptation is great, but once you’ve gotten started on the story, leave it be. Just let go and write. Hate the beginning? Wrote it at three in the morning and now it makes no sense to you? Too bad, keep it. You can always go back later and change it if you really need to, but for now, the most important thing is to get started. Don’t worry about how it sounds- when the Muse is with you, you can’t waste time fretting over editing!
  • Set goals. Besides having a general plot idea, it helps to set goals for yourself. If you don’t have a deadline, make one. Decide something like, “Okay, I want to finish this story by spring, so I should write at least 3-5 pages a day.” It may seem like a Herculean task, but just think- if you wrote just one page every day, in a year you’d have a decent-sized novel. Doesn’t seem so scary now, does it?
  • Plan what you can. It helps to set aside specific blocks of time for writing, especially if your story requires some research. Even so, we can’t always predict when the writing spirit will strike. Keep a pencil and paper on your person at all times. If you can’t, find some way to improvise. I’ve written portions of screenplays on the back of receipt paper with a tube of lip gloss. When the Muse appears, you find a way.
  • Don’t share it with anyone. This rule may not hold true for others, but it’s my personal writing mantra. The urge to post it online or tell your friends about it may be strong- you’re writing a book, for cryin’ out loud! It’s a big deal!- but I’ve always found that once a story idea escapes my mouth, my inspiration dries up. Save it on a word processor on your computer (Google Docs is too risky) or a notebook that you keep closed at all times. Avoid ebook websites and social networking. Your brain is a Tupperware container and this story is your precious leftovers. Don’t let even a whiff of it escape.
  • Avoid cliches. This is advice you will hear plenty of times throughout your writing experience, and it is one of the truest I have ever come across. Cliches are boring. When readers see them, their mind goes blank. It’s familiar, it’s easy, it’s been done before. It takes them out of the story, which is exactly the opposite of what you want. I know it’s an easy trap to fall into, but once you get out of the habit, I promise you that your writing will improve. Rejecting cliches forces your brain to delve farther, to find words that more aptly describe the situation. Imagine that your story is a tree house that you’re building, and the cliches are nails. You drove to the nearest Home Depot and snagged the first packet of nails you saw. They’ll get the job done, but they’re certainly not the cleanest or most reliable brand. Now, you go back and look a little harder- maybe even ask a sales associate to check in the back for you- and after a little digging, you leave the store with a spanking new packet of shiny, sturdy original-wording nails. Took some more effort, but now you’ll have the safest and awesomest tree house on the block.

That’s about all I have to share! If anyone needs more advice, wants to know more about the book, or just some general feedback, you can pop right on into my inbox! I also have a writing tag with a ton of cool sources that you can check out for pretty much any issue. Have a great day!

The Relative Color and the Absolute Color


Since the colors are never what they look like, It’s useful to understand the color in two ways : the RELATIVE color and the ABSOLUTE color.

The Relative color is the color as it is seen, according to the perception of the eye and the translation from the brain to the mind.
The Absolute color is the color as it is, in reality.

This is part of the colors relationship, and the contrast of the colors.

To be able to get the right relative color (meaning without any false notes), it’s crucial to know what its absolute color really is.

For example, the absolute color of grey is very often the relative complementary color of its surrounding color.


Depending of the kind of picture and depending of your color’s intentions (that is off special effect or narrative effect),
using an absolute complementary (that is, for the previous e.g, a true blue) in direct contact to its surrounding colors may easily create
a so much strong contrast that the mind will perceive it as a false note, then causing a global unbalance on all other colors in the image.

E.g, here is the page 05 from “Detectives” vol.02 (Hanna/Sure/Lou, ©Delcourt editions)

The “grey” panels 05 and 09 have a cold vibration, almost blue, because they are in a direct relationship within a yellow hot tan.
This two panels, in minority, are also secondary in the narration of the page.

Using a true absolute blue would reverse this narrative order because the color contrast would became so much strong that they would became the primary focal point of the page.

Let us look a little closer at the 3rd strip.
The mind read the left panel as cold, in a subtle blue. The shirts are read as white, and the bottles of champagne as greenish…

…but by isolating the absolute colors, in comparison with a Titanium white, none of this previously mentioned relatives colors exist in this picture.

…And if they were, the balance of the colors would be broken, and the falses notes would be made.
Notice how the eye now read differently the picture, it can’t stop looking at those white shirts and then those bottles.
It almost forget to look at the balloons and the characters. ( i’ll talk about the narration through the contrast of colors later, in another post)

It is the same for the values.
A relative value defines itself compared with its surrounding values.



Let’s look back at our 3rd strip.
Watch the contrast between the shirts, and the light jacket in the front, how they seem to be so much lighter in comparison with the other clothes.

When in reality, if we compare them to each other, the difference became a lot more subtle than it seemed to be.

This is a side effect of the relative color.
The mind analyzes et translates a color based on its database stocked in its memory, trying to identify the color in the most simple and efficient way possible.

The shirt itself is light indeed, and white. But it’s simply its “name”. Its “classification”, its “identity” (see the flat step of my quick step by step).
What we’ll ask in a store.

In reality, this shirt is not white, and not much lighter than the light face of the grey jacket or the blue shirt.
But for our mind, white means light. Lighter than everything.
However, a white shirt in shadow is often darker than a back shirt in the light, whatever the mind is saying.

So, compare, isolate, compare, isolate, compare, always.

You can change your “mind database” with some practice.
By using a paper sheet with holes to isolate outside colors. ( grey paper is best)
Or by opening some pictures in a software and use the color-picker to learn what is going on with the color relationship.
Testing yourself to find out the absolute color of your surrounding whenever you can.

Then, colorisation will become much easier, and like a musician able to reproduce a song he heard a the first try,
you’ll develop the Golden eye.

  Anonymous said:
Err, I was wondering how clothes - specifically shirts - would work on someone with bat wings instead of arms?

Okay well first off, you need to determine where the membrane attaches.

I’m gonna assume it’s not down the length of the legs cause that’d make putting clothes on nigh on impossible, but for flight to actually be possible your character would need a tail to compensate

Now when it comes to designing the clothes, the clothing cannot cross the red line as that’s where the wing attaches

so what you would probably have is a large open back top

and they’d probably wanna wear something loose to hang over the top like a poncho cloak-y thing cause whoops that’s your entire back exposed there

heck if it’s big enough it can just wrap all the way around the wing like a giant sleeve

That said if you take some liberties and have the membrane only attach to the upper back, you can instead go with an open side top

but that would make flying difficult with so little body support.

another concept you might want to explore is them piercing their wings, as small holes don’t prevent them flying

this means things like belts could be passed through piercings in the wings to allow more secure clothing, and it would be especially helpful for underwear. You could also wrap stuff around like a gigantic scarf!

So experiment and see what you can come up with! These are just some really basic ideas.

The fun thing about clothing on nontraditional humanoids is you get to explore all sorts of different ways to wear stuff that we wouldnt consider

  Anonymous said:
The school I want to get into says they want realism, my current teacher wants me to do figures, my friend in art school says I should start using colors. Where's the crossover between copying reality and actually creating a piece

To create things from your imagination you need to first build up a visual library of things from reality. You cannot draw a person if you do not know what a person looks like, so you need to study regularly.

This means you do need to practice drawing figures, so you would want to do gestures and figure drawings, pixelovely is a good ref for this.

But there’s lots of different aspects of art that you will want to study, colour theory is definitely one of them like your friend suggests, and there’s more tags for stuff on the side of my blog.

The crossover as you put it is you applying the knowledge you gain from practising and studying to the pieces you create. Then you will probably still want to use references to double check things as our memories are not perfect.

When schools ask for realism, they want to see that you study from life. This means they want to see figure drawings, gestures, still lifes, etc.

If you create solely by basing things off of other artists, you’re replicating how they interpret reality and not interpreting it yourself. They want to see that you are self reliant as it were and can interpret things on your own.

So go do some studies! Listen to your teacher, they’ve already been through this and can help you build a portfolio with what they’re looking for.




Writing with Color has received several asks on this topic.

Everything from “how do I describe my character’s skin tone without being offensive?” and “what’s the problem with comparing my character to chocolate and coffee?”

I’m hoping to address all these and likewise questions in this guide on describing POC skin color, from light, dark and all that’s in between.

The Food Thing: So what’s the big deal?

So exactly what is the problem with comparing POC skin tone to cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar and other sweets and goods? Well, there’s several potential problems you come across when you pull out the old Hershey’s bar comparison for your dark-skinned character, even if offense is not your intention.

Read More

  Anonymous said:
Your tutorials have been so helpful to me!!!! Thank you so much! I was wondering if you could show how to draw/paint scales digitally.

With small details like scales, less is more!


start off with your sketch, and then paint some simple shading


Then paint in the scales on top by like dabbing on highlights in a scale pattern


and just keep going until it’s shaded to your liking


There’s no point drawing like a million scales everywhere in the shadows and the highlights and individually painting them in full detail - it makes it confusing and not very nice to look at, and leaves you super exhausted!!

Instead, just give the suggestion of scales and your eyes will do the rest.

  Anonymous said:
I love your tutorials! Thank you so much for creating them :) I was wondering if it would be ok to ask you about sketching advice? Often I've found that my sketches are rigid or use too many strokes and I'm not sure how to fix them. I admire your sketches for being simple and flowing and I would love if you could share some advice on how to achieve that sort of feel. Thank you so much and have a good day!!


!! Thanks a bunch, i’m flattered anyone would come to me for advice >_<. I was going to just link to some resources i remembered from back in the day but apparently searching for “furry lines” these days just yields tutorials on drawing furries ah aha ha >_> So lemme just try to do a quick write up with examples!

"Furry lines" as I call them are a VERY common technique beginner-intermediate artists use. It’s something every artist will naturally break through on their own with more and more practice sketching and drawing, but I think you can expedite the process by identifying why you do it and purposefully working away from it!


Here i’m using gardevoir as a “mental image” of what you want. You want those pretty flowing lines of the figure in your minds eye, but you want to get it just right. You lay down one stroke, and see it’s already wrong, so you go ahead and lay down another to correct it. It’s kinda right, but also kinda wrong, so you try again. Over and over till the end. Over all it looks kinda right.. but the brokeness of the lines destroy the fluidity and well, unintentional “furry” look haha. 

The things you will want to remember is that, you will never get it right in one stroke, especially not in a sketch (which by definition ins’t supposed to be perfect!). You will probably never match exactly whats in your minds eye so there’s no point in trying to get it so precise with so many strokes. Instead focus on LONGER strokes that can still be wrongimage

And when you realize you can’t really be “perfect” you have less urgency to do those short furry lines to get it JUST RIGHT. You become more comfortable getting it all wrong, and going over it again in longer strokes. The end result with a lot of retraining is you still don’t get things perfect, but they are they actually wrong? or just not the same as what you wanted in your mind?

You still need to do lots of personal practice, just practice making long strokes with your ELBOWS and SHOULDERS NOT your fingers! Lots of pages of just lines, random doodles and stuff to understand the feeling of fluidity. Doesn’t have to be something in specific, just teaching your body what feels right and what feels wrong. But coupled with understanding WHY the furry lines are wrong and WHY you want to do it i think will help you move faster. 

I hope this helps you, Anon! Good luck master the non furry lines XD


"Andrew Loomis’ books are free online for download, incredibly helpful and kind of a standard (at least, the figure drawing classes I’ve taken refer heavily to him). His books are written for artists of any level but especially for the beginner, beyond just figure drawing into finding motivation and getting started

Submitted by: robozoo

(as a personal addendum) Even though I don’t go to art school and haven’t taken many art classes, the few I have taken also recommended Andrew Loomis’ books, for what it’s worth.

I’ve heard that XSplit limits your stream quality unless you pay for it, so I’ll go over how to set up OBS for livestreaming as there’s no quality restraints on there!

OBS is a completely free and open source program, so no need to worry about paying for stuff.

First off you’ll wanna visit OBSProject so you can download the program. (I’m using OBS Beta)

Once you’ve installed it and you open it up, you should see a window like this


Right click in the Scenes box and hit add scene


then right click in sources and choose window capture


You’ll then see this window:


Select the window you want to stream


then you can then check the sub-region box and choose how much of the window you wish to stream, or you can just hit OK.

That is now all set up. If when you press preview stream it’s off centre or the wrong size, hit CTRL+F and that will centre it.

You now need to add a server!! Sites like Picarto or Twitch are the easiest to set up.

On Picarto, and believe it’s the same on Twitch, if you go to your dashboard and scroll to the bottom you will find the server and your stream key:


(Make sure to keep your stream key secret cause anyone can stream to your channel if they know it!)

go to Settings > Settings, then click Broadcast Settings and you’ll see this window


Paste in the server and streamkey, and you can now stream to the server!! There are some preset servers too if you click on the streaming service drop-down.

You can also change the quality settings on this window, I’d visit OBS’s estimator for an idea on what to set things to. (select low motion)