Play to Make

Fall 2021



So the semester from hell via Covid-19 has finally come to an end, and honestly, I can’t say it tanked my GPA as much as I thought it would. In fact, I think my GPA actually went up. But whatever, that’s besides the point.

There’s a lot of things I’ve learned from this class. Of course, I’ve picked up quite a few technical skills, such as improving my photography and learning how to work with clay, and I even got to get back into animation after retiring seven years ago.

However, if there’s anything I’ve learned from this class, it’s definitely to appreciate the fine details in everything you do. Whether it’s getting a stray shadow out of a photograph, smoothing out the top of your clay tile, or adding in a few extra frames in your flipbook to get the animation looking really smooth, this class was definitely detail oriented, and I really appreciate the fact that it brought these details (no matter how miniscule) to my attention.


Beauty in Popular Culture – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Since I did a TV show last post, I thought it would be cool to take a look at a video game for this post.

I, personally, am not a fan of most Zelda games, specifically because they are so heavily focused on puzzles and I really don’t have a lot of patience. However, Breath of the Wild, which was released in 2017 as one of the final titles for the Nintendo WiiU and a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, really changed my perspective on the games. The game was open world and non-linear (you could start the game going after the final boss if you wanted to, though I wouldn’t recommend it) and its design allowed for encouraging exploration.

For me, the most concentrated display of this design cleverly occurs right at the beginning of the game. You start off as an amnesiac who wakes up within a shrine after a 100 year slumber, and inside that shrine is very isolated and claustrophobic.

It’s literally just you up in here

Once you get out of the shrine, you walk out onto a cliff, and then the camera slowly zooms out to show you this:

When I first saw it for myself, I was stunned. Every single tree, mountain peak, blade of grass, everything, would be there for you to explore. It’s not like these things were just placeholders, they were there. It was daunting, in a sense, especially after learning the mechanics of the game by going through a cave. That juxtaposition made everything seem so much more grand, and like I said before, it feels like the design of the game is urging you to go explore, which I believe really brings home the point of this game.


Beauty in Popular Culture – Avatar: The Last Airbender

If you take a look at my portfolio (specifically the “Tiles” section) you may see this design:

Now, if you haven’t been living under a rock during quarantine, you may recognize these koi fish from the popular 2007 Nickelodeon show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, towards the end of Book One. Their names are Tui and La.

Hopefully, you can tell that they’re derived from a yin and yang symbol. And that’s essentially what they represent in the show as well: balance. However, a typical yin and yang is static, and I think the reason why Tui and La represent so much more than that is because of their movement. In Avatar, the koi are perpetually following each other in the same circular motion, and the moment that cycle is broken, everything essentially goes to chaos. In a show that’s heavily themed around cycles, I think Tui and La represent so much more than what some watchers may see on the surface.


Brown: What does it mean across cultures?

Now, to be even more fair, let’s do a quick review of what my least favorite color means across cultures!

In North America and Europe, brown is very often associated with the earth, but can either represent health (the nutrients in the soil) or emptiness (if it’s only soil, then there’s nothing really there).

In Asian cultures, brown typically represents mourning (or, in less extreme cases, loss). In the Philippines, when there’s a power outage, rather than a blackout, they call it a “brown-out” (since there’s a loss of light).

In Latin America, brown discourages sales, and in some countries, it is considered a disapproving color.


Purple: What does it mean across cultures?

Since I did a blog post on red, my favorite color, I though it would only be fair for me to do one on purple, another one of my favorites! Purple definitely isn’t as popular as red (you can see how much less purple is used in things such as logos as opposed to red), but in terms of symbolism, I personally believe that purple is a bit more complex than red.

In western cultures, purple often represents royalty and fame, because purple dye was historically expensive to produce.

However, this is also true for some eastern countries as well; in Japan, purple was reserved only for rulers and other important figures.

In many predominantly Catholic countries (as well as Thailand), purple is a color of death and mourning.


Red: What does it mean across cultures?

The color red is the second most popular color in the world (right behind blue), and personally shades of red are my favorite colors. But what’s interesting about colors in general is that they represent different things in different cultures. In this post, I’m going to go over what the color red means in different parts of the world.

In western cultures, red has quite a few meanings, most notably passion (on Valentine’s Day, there’s always red hearts everywhere!) and danger (such as in blood, or in a traffic light).

In China, red symbolizes good fortune, luck, and prosperity, and people will traditionally wear red on Chinese New Year (including myself, even though I’m not Chinese!). During Chinese New Year, people will gift each other red envelopes filled with money.

In other East Asian countries, red is also typically used to indicate a rise in the stock market.


The 3 Types of Ceramics


Earthenware clays is fired at the lowest temperature out of the three types of ceramics (between 1000 and 1150 degrees Celsius) and remains quite porous after firing. As such, it is covered with a glaze so it becomes waterproof.


Stoneware is much more durable than earthenware and is fired at temperatures higher than 1200 degrees Celsius. As the name suggests, the end result after firing resembles stone and, since it is waterproof, does not necessarily have to be glazed.


Porcelain must be fired at extremely high temperatures (between 1200 and 1450 degrees Celsius) and is characterized by its shiny, white/translucent appearance.


Flight in Hayao Miyazaki Films

Many filmmakers have (for lack of a better word) a “signature,” or some design features that can be found across all of their films that kind of serves as a distinction of this particular filmmaker. Something you see and say, “yup, I can tell it’s [insert filmmaker here].”

My favorite filmmaker is Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame, who is known for his animated films, especially Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and The Wind Rises. One of his signatures is scenes of flight, which are found in most of his movies.

Hayao Miyazaki’s father worked at an airplane manufacturing company during World War II, which probably sparked his interest in flight. Here’s a quick montage of every single flight scene across his movies.



One Point Perspective

I have a really hard time with perspective. I just think my depth perception is really bad. So here’s a quick little snippet about one point perspective.

One point perspective (or single point perspective) is a “mathematical system for representing three dimensional objects and space on a two dimensional surface by means of intersecting lines that are drawn vertically and horizontally and that radiate from one point on a horizon line” (source). In other words, there is a horizon line with a single point at which all things converge and “vanish”. A few examples:

Notice that the vanishing point does not necessarily have to be central.


3D Modeling

As a former engineering student, I’ve actually done a lot of 3D printing in the past, but it’s honestly been a while since I’ve done so. Specifically in high school, as part of a group project, I made a chess piece of a character from the video game Undertale, and as awesome as it turned out, it was small and fell out of my bag and is unfortunately gone forever. I thought I had the file saved on a flash drive, but it turns out I had actually saved it to my school account’s cloud, which was promptly axed right after I graduated.

Something that I’m interested in is recreating this chess piece, both in the original way I created it (by basically going pixel by pixel making grooves into the model) and by free hand.