Quick and dirty hat drawing tutorial

One of my biggest pet peeves is artists (including many comics professionals) who do not draw hats properly.  Since most of the characters I draw wear them, I get a lot of practice. I thought I’d share the basics with you.

Basic Hat Structure- a hat is made up of a crown (the part that covers your head) and the brim (the part that shades your eyes). The crown should be bigger than the head you draw. Always draw the head shape first and work the hat around that. The brim of a hat is NEVER flat. Hats are meant to keep the head warm and the sun off of your eyes. The front of the brim will fold down to give the eyes as much shade as possible. A band or ribbon runs around the bottom of the crown with a faux bow on the left side, mostly for aesthetic purposes.

Top Hats- These are favored by rich ducks everywhere. A proper top hat is made of silk. A lot of top hat-styled hats that are made of wool or felt are more of a coachman’s hat. Fine for cosplay but rather gauche when you’re drawing the Penguin. The traditional top hat will not have a large band and will have a ribbon around the brim. Some top hats have a crown that will collapse flat.

Bowler Hat or Derby- A short brimmed hat. A ribbon also covers the brim. The crown is rounded and made of hard material.

The Fedora- Not the short brimmed, straw trilbys you see hipsters wearing on the back of their heads. A traditional fedora is made of fur felt and has a large crown with a pinch in the front. A larger brim dips in front and traditionally is worn up in back.

Next lesson- we learn about the Homburg!

Focusing on the Middle of Your Novel

Many writers worry about developing the middle of their novel or they simply lose motivation when they start thinking about what to write about. Even if you know the beginning and end of your novel, it can be difficult to connect the two and build an exciting plot inbetween. The best way to begin tackling this issue is to understand pacing and how your novel should be structured.

The basic structure is as follows:


This includes the introduction, the description of the everyday life of your main character, and an explanation of your world. During this time you can focus on showing your audience what your world is like and how your characters interact with it on a daily basis. You can start to set things up.

Inciting Incident

This is your protagonist’s call-to-action. What forces your character to change their usual behavior? This is when your character decides to get in the action OR they are forced to get in on the action. I’ve written a longer post about this here.

The Quest

There’s something your protagonist needs to do or there’s a journey they must embark on. This doesn’t always mean an actual physical journey; it can be an emotional one depending on your story. The point is that they must set out to learn something as a result of the inciting incident. There’s some knowledge, item, etc. they must acquire.


There should be obstacles, problems, trouble, conflict, etc. for your protagonist. This will make up most of the middle of your novel. What stands in your character’s way? What is preventing them from finishing their quest and returning to normal?

Critical Choice

What your character has learned or how they have developed over the course of your novel is often revealed during the critical choice. They should have to choose between two paths and their choices should reveal something about them. These choices will change the course of the novel.


This is the highest point of tension in your story, when your character has to deal with the critical choice they have made. Your story generally builds up to this point.


The reversal is a result of the critical choice and the climax. The story is lead in a new direction because of these things. The events leading up to the climax begin to cool down and something happens that helps lead to the resolution. This is usually when your protagonist reverses the situation and finds a way out of the problem (or doesn’t).


The resolution should lead into a new stasis for your characters. This doesn’t mean that everything ends up good for your characters; it just means that things have come full circle in a way. The story arc for his particular story is closed and lessons have been learned.

Once you begin to understand the structure of a story, you can begin focusing on the middle chunks of your novel, specifically the inciting incident-reversal stages. 

Here are a few tips to prevent your novel from failing in the middle:

Keep reading

Science and Witchcraft are not enemies
  • A scientist will tell you that our cells are powered by combustion reactions. Combustion is just another word for the reactions involved in Fire.
  • A scientist will explain that your blood is the same salinity as the oceans were 3.6 billion years ago, when living creatures first incorporated circulated Water into their basic structure - the precursors of blood.
  • A scientist might teach you about the millions of tiny chambers in our lungs called alveolar sacs that inflate and deflate every time we breathe, allowing our blood to mix with Air to feed our cells.
  • A scientist could tell you about the many minerals and metals that make up our bodies, from the metal in our bones to the phosphorus in our DNA, constructing our bodies out of Earth.

Our bodies are made of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit - the Elements of Magick

They’re also made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, sulphur, iron, chlorine, potassium, sodium, and a million other elements and compounds - the Elements of Science

The Elements of Science and the Elements of Magick are not mutually exclusive. 

Science and Witchcraft are not mutually exclusive.

You can be a scientifically-minded Witch, or a Witchcraft-practicing scientist, or anything in between. Your magick does not have to conflict with your science, and your Elements of Magick can be the same as your Elements of Science. 

Illuminate the worlds of science and Witchery with your knowledge and your light. Let yourself shine, a beacon of bright knowledge and wisdom in the night of ignorance and fear.

– Juniper WildWalk

“The Basics”

The basic structure of the sortinghatchats system is that you aren’t just sorted into one House, but into two tiers of Houses: Primary and Secondary. Your Primary House defines WHY you do things. Your Secondary defines HOW. To build this system, we’ve drawn on the Sorting Hat’s songs, general HP canon, extracanonical data (ex. interviews with JKR)… and then extrapolated.

People are complex– for joy or for utility, due to social pressure or careless recreation, people often use the reasoning or methods of Houses that aren’t their Primary or Secondary. We call this “modelling” or “performing” a house and we will explain it in greater detail later. These additional layers help us capture some complexities in characters that we couldn’t get using Primary and Secondary alone. People can vary hugely in how they embody their Houses; in this system, Aang, the heroic pacifist protagonist from Avatar the Last Airbender, shares most of his Houses with HP’s Lord Voldemort.

The way you decide which Houses are yours is not necessarily by looking at what you do, but at what would make you proudest and most content if you were strong enough to do it. Your sorting is what you want to be and what you believe you should do, whether or not you actually live up to it. That’s how people like Peter Pettigrew can end up in Gryffindor.


Your Primary is your why. It’s your motivations, your values, and the way you frame the world around you. It’s how and what you prioritize, and what you weigh most heavily when making your decisions. People often also assume that others share those priorities. A common response to our system is “but you must oversort into Gryffindor/Slytherin/Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff–everyone has that type of morality, deep down!”

Gryffindor Primaries trust their moral intuitions and have a need and a drive to live by them. They feel what’s right in their gut, and that matters and guides them. If they don’t listen to and act on that, it feels immoral.

We call Gryffindor morality “felt” but that doesn’t mean they’re all impetuous, emotional hellions. Gryffindors can still be intelligent, deliberate creatures who weigh their decisions and moralities carefully. Reasoning, intellectualizing and debate can be support for a Gryffindor’s felt morality– but those things can never make a fully satisfying morality in themselves. Some things are just wrong, no matter what pretty words you use to explain them.

Ravenclaw Primaries have a constructed system that they test their decisions against before they feel comfortable calling something right. This system might be constructed by them, or it might have been taught to them as children, or it might have been discovered by them some point later in life. But it gives them a way to frame the world and a confidence in their ability to interact with it morally.

Ravenclaws do not lack an intuitive sense of morality or gut feeling about things, but they distrust those instincts and have a need to ignore or to dig down deep and dissect those internal moral impulses. Living within their built moral system is as important to a Ravenclaw as to a Gryffindor; it’s the source of the morality that differs between them–what they trust.

Hufflepuff Primaries value people–all people. They value community, they bond to groups (rather than solely individuals), and they make their decisions off of who is in the most need and who is the most vulnerable and who they can help. They value fairness because every person is a person and feel best when they give everyone that fair chance. Even directly wronged, a Hufflepuff will often give someone a second (or fifth) chance.

This doesn’t mean all Hufflepuffs are inherently tolerant human beings, any more than all Gryffindors are inherently good, moral creatures. Hufflepuffs tend to believe that all people deserve some type of kindness, decency, or consideration from them–but they can define “person” however they want, excluding individuals or even whole groups.

Slytherin Primaries are fiercely loyal to the people they care for most. Slytherin is the place where “you’ll make your real friends”– they prioritize individual loyalties and find their moral core in protecting and caring for the people they are closest to.

Slytherin’s reputation for ambition comes from the visibility of this promotion of the self and their important people– ambition is something you can find in all four Houses; Slytherin’s is just the one that looks most obviously selfish.

Because their morality system of “me and mine first” is fairly narrow in scope, Slytherins often construct a secondary morality system to deal with situations that are not addressed by their loyalty system.


Your Secondary is your how. It’s how you approach the world as a person interacting with it, and how you make your way. It’s how you problem-solve. It’s not necessarily what you’re best at, or even what’s the most useful to you, but about what skills and methods you value as being intrinsic to you. Do you improvise, do you plan? Do you work on something a little bit every day? Do you charge into the fray and tell people exactly what’s on your mind? What do you do? How would you describe the way you meet the world?

Note: the term “Secondary” is not meant to imply that how you do things is any less important than why (the Primary House). It’s simply the way our terminology fell out and we’re too lazy to change it. The importance of motivations v. methods is a personal sliding scale– it’s perfectly valid for a person to identify with their Secondary House over their Primary. (When drawing from canonical sources, we assumed each character likely was in a House that matched to either their Primary or their Secondary. For instance, Harry is in Gryffindor for his heroic Gryffindor Primary, but Ginny Weasley is there for her brash and bold Gryffindor Secondary.)

Gryffindor Secondaries charge. They meet the world head-on and challenge it to do its worst. Gryffindor Secondaries are honest, brash, and bold in pursuit of things they care about. Known for their bravery, it is almost a moral matter to stay true to themselves in any situation that they’re in.

Ravenclaw Secondaries plan. They collect information, they strategize. They have tools. They run hypotheticals and try to plan ahead for things that might come up. They build things (of varying degrees of practicality and actual usefulness) that they can use later– whether that’s an emergency supply pack, a vast knowledge of Renaissance artistic techniques and supplies, or a series of lists and contingency plans. They feel less at home in improvisation and more comfortable planning ahead and taking the time to be prepared.

Hufflepuff Secondaries toil. Their strength comes from their consistency and the integrity of their method. They’re our hard workers. They build habits and systems for themselves and accomplish things by keeping at them. They have a steadiness that can make them the lynchpin (though not usually the leader) of a community. While stereotyped as liking people and being kind (and this version is perhaps a common reality), a Hufflepuff secondary can also easily be a caustic, introverted misanthrope who runs on hard work alone.

Slytherin Secondaries improvise. They are the most adaptive secondary, finding their strength in responding quickly to whatever a situation throws at them. They improvise differently than the Gryffindor Secondary, far more likely to try coming at situations from different angles than to try strong-arming them. They might describe themselves as having different “faces” for different people and different situations, dropping them and being just themselves only when they’re relaxing or feel safe.

But the Journey Continues…

These four basic Primary and Secondary houses are summarized starting places that we use as a basis for further discussion. What are some ways this gets complicated?

Keep reading
The Top 42 Writing Posts of 2013

These were the posts you wanted to see in 2013. Your favourite posts were divided them into three categories: writing advice, reference and resources for writers, and general posts. 

The Top 21 Writing Advice Posts

  1. Creating Characters - Five Mistakes Beginner Writers Make
  2. 123 Ideas for Character Flaws
  3. Search and Destroy
  4. 10 Essential Tips for Writing Antagonists
  5. Six things alcohol taught me about writing
  6. Why your story needs a theme
  7. Improve your writing skills by reading different genres
  8. Five instances when you need to tell (and not show)
  9. The Top Five Useless Phrases in Emails
  10. Heroes and Anti-Heroes - What’s the difference?
  11. 10 Things Aspiring Novelists Should Know
  12. The Top 10 Reasons to Write Short Stories
  13. Rewriting – A Checklist for Authors
  14. What are the rules of Write Club?
  15. The Top 10 Tips for Plotting and Finishing a Book
  16. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers
  17. Basic Plot Structure - The Five Plotting Moments That Matter
  18. Talk Show — How to let your characters tell their story
  19. Plotting - 10 Basic Dos and Don’ts
  20. Five things to do before NaNoWriMo starts
  21. How to write great dialogue

The Top 12 Writing Resources

  1. Body Language Reference Sheet
  2. Personality Disorders
  3. 209 Words To Describe Touch
  4. 50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected
  5. 10 Famous Authors Who Used Pen Names
  6. Nine Writing Jobs
  7. 17 Authors Being Honest
  8. The Writing Habits of 31 Famous Authors
  9. 51 Grammatical Terms Explained
  10. Writers of Substance (Abuse)
  11. The 12 Common Character Archetypes
  12. Synonyms for 95 Commonly Used Words

The Top Nine Miscellaneous Writing Posts

  1. The Top 10 Literary Quotes About Coffee
  2. How to survive a relationship with a writer
  3. November is NaNoWriMo
  4. Banned Books Week - The 10 most challenged titles of 2012
  5. What if Emily Dickinson attended a writing workshop?
  6. The Top 20 Literary Quotes About Short Stories
  7. Writers Write Reviewers Choose Their Top Books of 2013
  8. Short Story Competitions
  9. November is When Your Novel Happens

From Writers Write


sorry I had to make a photoset because for some reason I can’t upload more than one image to a text post any more? hm

Watch on

so like if you consider this song as 100% about breaking up with your boyfriend for your girlfriend


this video only re-confirms this because breaking up with your boyfriend means you get transported to a world of sparkly lights and queer haircuts and strong jawlines

“What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow has less to do with the basic structure of our society than with the language we use to justify it. In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. So we don’t. Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color “criminals” and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it… [M]ass incarceration in the United States [is a] stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow.”

Michelle Alexander | The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

my friend's assessment of That Capitalism Post

or as she so eloquently titled it, Ramblings from Someone who May or May Not Understand Econ (and citing Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan):

“The argument that capitalism requires people to be poor so as to fill up the "distasteful” jobs of modern society is very appealing, but fundamentally wrong from an economic perspective.

It comes down to the idea of opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the foregone benefits of alternative choices. For example, you have to decide whether or not to stay home and study or go and watch a movie. If you study, the opportunity cost is watching the movie, and vice versa.

In the real world, salary is a reflection of opportunity cost. The opportunity cost of working at one job is the potential earnings of another job. So, in order to attract people to work for you, you must offer them a salary that is greater than their potential salary in another job.

Currently, there is a lot of inequality in education, which could be broadly categorized as human capital. Those with low human capital work jobs that require less of it, such as janitors and so forth. These janitors and people who do other “dirty” work are not paid very much because their opportunity cost is low. They do not command skills that would get them paid more in another job, and their current salary reflects that. But the question comes when everyone is a millionaire or everyone has high human capital (e.g. everyone has a PhD), then who will clean our toilets?!

The answer is actually really simple. You pay the toilet cleaner relative to his or her opportunity cost. If he or she can easily command a high paying job with his/her skill set, then just pay him/her a higher salary (to make up for the opportunity cost and maybe a little extra to get over his/her reservation about cleaning toilets) and he/she will clean the toilet (assuming this person is a completely rational actor that only cares about maximizing budget). In this world where everyone is a millionaire, the toilet cleaner might be the one commanding the highest wage!

This sounds ridiculous, but a lot of jobs work this way. Plumbers and other people who have dirty jobs command a higher salary than you imagine. This is because plumbing requires skill, but also because not a lot of people wish to be plumbers and thus the salary needs to be high to attract people to the profession. This goes into another concept of reservation wage, which we will not cover today.

In short, capitalism does not need a “lower class” of people to do the “distasteful” jobs. If wage is flexible, it will adjust itself so that all demands of the market are met. There will always be people willing to work if the price is right, and these people do not need to be the lower class.“

(this is in response to this post)

How to Read From a Textbook

Hi guys! So I’ve noticed that a lot of people, including myself, struggle with reading directly from a textbook and actually retaining all of the information. 

Well my friends I am here to change that [queue the victory music]. Recently I discovered a reading strategy known as the SQ3R technique. It stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. I’ve found this technique to be extremely helpful when it comes to reading through textbooks, and so now I’m passing this information onto my dear followers.

1. Survey

The first step in this process is to get a basic idea of what you’re going to be reading. Most textbooks have chapter outlines or a brief summary at the beginning of each chapter. Take about five minutes to skim through these. By doing this, you’ll have the basic structure of what you’ll be learning in your head. 

2. Question

This step will be repeated multiple times throughout your reading, so pay attention! Within each chapter, there are section titles that give you a vague idea of what the next few paragraphs will be about. This step asks that you turn the section title into a question. For example, we’ll say that our section title is “The Changing Role of the States.” You can turn this into questions such as “how did the role of the states change” and “which states changed and how.” When you turn the titles into questions, you end up looking for the answers while you’re reading rather than simply reading. This stops you from reading the same line over and over again.

3. Read

This one’s the obvious one. Read your textbook. Take notes while you’re reading. Write down all the important definitions, concepts, names, dates, etc. But remember to take breaks! Taking a three minute break for every twenty minutes of reading allows information to settle in your brain. It also helps with memory retention.

4. Recite

I’ll admit I’m still a bit uncomfortable with this step but it’s helped me a lot with remembering what I’ve read. Basically, this step asks you to summarize what you’ve just read out loud. I do this after each section, and then I summarize the whole chapter once I’ve finished the chapter. (Pro Tip: If you’re uncomfortable with talking to yourself, try talking to a recording device or summarize to a nearby friend.)

5. Review

Review, review, review. I cannot stress this enough. Read over your notes the day after, then the week after. Studies show that you remember 60% more of the material you learned when you review it the next day. Don’t forget you can review with more than just your notes! Make flashcards or foldables with the most important information in the chapter and quiz yourself! So many textbooks have quizzes online for each chapter, so use them!!!! I find mind maps to be super helpful in studying too. Reviewing is a super important step, so don’t think that you can forget about studying just because you’ve read through a chapter!

I might include that, as of recent, many professors have been saying that there is a fourth ‘R’ to this process: Relate. With this step you simply relate the information you’ve just read back to something important in your life. When you make connections with your reading, it becomes easier to remember the material. 

Well that’s all I’ve got for you guys for now. I hope this helps at least a few of you. Keep on studying guys, and good luck on finals!  ╚(•⌂•)╝


10 basic Chinese grammar points for beginners

Chinese Grammar Guide

How to use the particles 吗 (ma) and 呢 (ne) in Chinese grammar

Key Chinese grammar structure: modifier + de + noun (的)

The sentence particles 吧 (ba) and 吗 (ma) in Chinese grammar

Chinese grammar 把 structure: a basic introduction


Past events in Mandarin Chinese grammar (there’s no past tense!)

The Aztec calendar is the calendar system that was used by the Aztecs as well as other Pre-Columbian peoples of central Mexico. It is one of the Mesoamerican calendars, sharing the basic structure of calendars from throughout ancient Mesoamerica.

The calendar consisted of a 365-day calendar cycle called xiuhpohualli (year count) and a 260-day ritual cycle called tonalpohualli (day count). These two cycles together formed a 52-year “century,” sometimes called the “calendar round”. The xiuhpohualli is considered to be the agricultural calendar, since it is based on the sun, and the tonalpohualli is considered to be the sacred calendar.

The calendric year may have begun at some point in the distant past with the first appearance of the Pleiades (Tianquiztli) asterism in the east immediately before the dawn light. But due to the precession of the Earth’s axis, it fell out of favor to a more constant reference point such as a solstice or equinox. Early Spanish chroniclers recorded it being celebrated in proximity with the Spring equinox.

Developing the Inciting Incident of your Novel

The inciting incident is the event that happens in your novel that changes everything for your main character. It forces them to act, even if they don’t want to. Basically, your inciting incident needs to be something big enough to change their daily norms—whether it’s simply meeting someone new who changes their perspective on things OR dealing with the end of the world.

It’s important to remember that your inciting incident does not have to be anything crazy. For fantasy and science fiction, or novels with a lot of action, it will probably be a big event that your main character will have to deal with immediately. For more lighthearted stories, like romance novels, it can be the introduction of a new mysterious character. The inciting incident directly leads into the rising action before the climax in the basic plot structure. That means this event will set off a change of events that will change your main character’s life in some way.

Here are a few ways to develop a strong inciting incident in your novel:

Think about what will get your main character motivated. The inciting incident needs to be something that will force your main character to act in some way. Why does this event in particular make them rethink their daily norms? Do they have a choice in the matter? Focus on a character flaw that has prevented them from acting in the future. You really need to develop your characters before you can think about the inciting incident, so make sure you’re super clear on who they are.

Make sure your inciting incident leads into something bigger.

This event needs to lead directly into the rising action of your novel. The novel does not “calm down” after the inciting incident; things just usually get crazier until the climax. The inciting incident needs to get the ball rolling and put the plot in motion. After this event, your protagonist attempts to find the solution. Your antagonist attempts to prevent the solution.

The inciting incident must also lead to goals.

If your characters didn’t have much motivation to act before, now they do. The inciting incident leads to your protagonist making goals of their own. They become more focused on what they want and how they’re going to get it. The inciting incident is why the story is taking place, so you need to take it further. Why is your character pressing forward? How will they get there? Let them develop their own goals after this incident.

-Kris Noel