Sunday, 27 December 2009

Irrefutable proof that I am a published artist ;p

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Cliché but true

I see this as a motivational image; it can represent anything you want it to.

Take the blue one. Just sit back, relax, enjoy the ride. Ultimately nothing will come from it.
Take the red one. Live for it, work for it, make sacrifices. You'll get somewhere in the end.
You won't change the world but you'll change your own.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

self analysis

I kept that diary for a week; I was probably too specific with my time-keeping but I believe this helps. There's no use being general about the changes you should make; it simply won't happen.
Being completely honest, there's many a time I have thought, 'I should do speedpaints more often', 'I should come back here to draw someday' etc. etc.
It's not very often that I do. I'm trying to find what drives me.

I got up at 7am one day last week, not by my own accord, but I got up nonetheless and walked home for 8. I had in my mind the lecture from thursday. " Get up really early, you can do a couple hours work and by the time its 10, it's still only mid-morning. I did, and it felt great. It was also nice to have a refreshing walk, and then some peace and quiet.
I feel like I've been taught to think that 7 is too early to get up in the morning...why? Whats wrong with that? I mean it's unrealistic to think that I can do it everyday but still... It's our concept of time that dictates when we do what we do; I should get rid of that.

Throw away my watch, go out and draw.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Thursday, 15 October 2009

I've chosen to look at J.M.W.Turner for my studies.
I don't think anyone can deny that attraction of his work but I chose it also because it excels so well in areas where I've always lacked confidence and natural ability.
His paintings are so full of movement, atmosphere, contrast and colour - expression.

I also want to study Rembrandts portraits.
I think it's the texture and painterly brushstrokes along with the captured expressions. It just makes it raw, emotional. The strong lighting and subtle colour variation brings them to life.

Neither of these artists were constrained by the distraction of trying to achieve perfect realism.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Uh oh. It's all truuue. The first year was a walk in the park. Now it's a marathon whilst being chased by a pack of rabid dogs.

I don't know about anyone else but this is definitely not going to be a slump year, if anything I feel overwhelmed by the amount I need to improve, especially with the huge pack of first years snapping at our heels.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

As it turns out, I am slowly losing the will to live T_T
When I'm set a deadline, I have the tendancy to stretch out my work so it fills the whole timescale. I should stop doing that. My project isn't turning out quite the way I wanted it to. And I wanted to do two projects...fat chance.
Maybe I'm destined to be a shelf stacker. Not a good thought.
Hm, It's gonna be a tough year and I need some new music to listen to.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Yay! I have a new desk entirely dedicated to art, away from the distraction of the pc.
Even though it's from Ikea, no one will have the same one....because I bought table legs that don't fit.
On purpose of course. to preserve my individuality. of course.

Who am I kidding, I'm just an idiot. But an idiot with a desk...yeeah.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

So, I'm learning human anatomy, properly in-depth. I learnt the names of the bones fairly easily but who the hell named all the muscles? seriously.

Still, it feels good to learn anatomy because really we spend our whole lives using and abusing our bodies without really knowing anything about it, unless, of course you are in the medical profession.
Actually that applies to most things; transport, animals, electricals, weather, environments. I hunger for knowledge!....nom nom

Monday, 8 June 2009

self-portrait post instruction

Yes it's another portrait to show my progression, sorry to force my ugly mug on you once again, unless no one reads this then it's fine. It's been very useful studying my own face; I doubt anyone else would be comfortable with me staring at them for long periods of time anyway. I'm not so scared of trying to draw a nose anymore. It's just one of those things that will only look right once you've drawn the whole thing, so you have to stick with it. I've also never really attempted 3/4 views before and I think they look a lot more interesting.

I'll have to try different expressions next, I'm getting good at looking moody... I'm nice really!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Hallelujah, I have a new pc. Who needs a holiday anyway.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

*These were both done while my subjects were staring at their laptops, hence the gormless expressions...
I tried using the meaured approach from the book but it just seemed too wooden, like it took the joy out of drawing, besides, I think they turned out pretty well without it. I've come a long way from crudely drawn 'symbols' to taking the time to notice the subtle differences in the features such as the line of the nose and curve of the mouth.
Next I'll be looking at light and shadows.
I might walk to Bradgate park today and get some reference images for the ancient ruins project, and hopefully some textures aswell. I've spent the past week reading texture & environment books & drawing so I need a bit of a change.
Viva la sunshine!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The importance of negative spaces

note: negative spaces...very important

first attempt at a controlled, measured perspective drawing without rushing. Excuse the crosshair guide and chair that vanishes into nothing, apart from that I'd say it's an encouraging start :) next: portraits, if I can find a willing victim

Monday, 25 May 2009

To help with the struggle of translating 3d forms into a 2d drawing, an old method was to frame your composition using a clear pane of glass/plastic. Obviously it wasn't very practical on a large scale but Van Goph did actually do this when he was teaching himself to draw.

  • This task involved balancing the acetate over the hand and drawing directly onto it, every line exactly how you see them. It helps to have one eye closed aswell, to avoid binocular vision which can be confusing.

Then you copy it onto paper in detail and with shading and there you go. I added the bottle to make it more interesting. I think it's a successful result :) It's definitely easier with the plane so I guess to become a true artist is to practise until you can do it naturally without the plane.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Here's some more progress from the book. Most of these exercises we have been through with chris but it can't do any harm to reiterate these tried and tested lessons. I feel like I need constant instruction, which is good in a way but also voluntarily inhibiting and something I should learn not to rely on.

Anyway, first was the face/vase drawing which brings out the conflict of the two sides of the brain. Then I did a couple of upside down drawings which teaches you to focus only on line and space without thinking about what it is you are actually drawing, therefore allowing the shift into an alternate state of consciousness.

Pablo Picasso - Portrait of Igor Stravinsky

German horse & rider -unknown German artist

Although not perfectly accurate, it's obvious how drawing from a viewpoint which renders the image incomprehensible, lets drawing become free from trying to create what we think it's supposed to look like and just draw what you actually see without conflict in the mind.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Learning to see

So I've read a lot about this book called 'Drawing on the right side of the brain' by Betty Edwards and thought I should give it a go in order to improve my drawing ability. I know I don't have a natural artistic eye but I'm hoping this book will teach me to feel comfortable and confident with my style so I have faith in it when I begin a drawing.

The first tasks were to draw a self-portrait using a mirror, then draw someone familiar from memory and finally draw your own hand. So here they are:

^meet joe* (bf) *note: may look slightly different in real life^

Not as bad as I thought they would be :) but as you can see, from just using my memory, the brain reverts back to the 'symbols' I've used since childhood and the shading is less subtle because of my uncertainty. Mostly I struggle with the nose and how to describe the volume and shape with shadow.

Thankfully I'm not totally hopeless and I will continue to post my progress. It's been a really informative book so far and goes into a lot of detail about the research into the two sides of our brain and how they work separately.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


So this is the texture so far for that competition thing; I like not having to worry about making the model aswell ^_^ and you kind of get to design the clothes, yay! I just need to do all the shading and creases now without making it look rubbish.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Garden sketch

Quick environment sketch 'cuz I need to work on my foliage skillz

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Course reflection

Well, to get it out of the way, I have to mention the biggest complaint of the year: no computers for 6 weeks or so; which I believe was a major setback to everyones 3d learning curve. I think that had quite a negative effect on the class because we were always being told how behind we were through no fault of our own. However, there were some people (including myself at the start) who just rejected and resisted using the program because of fear of failure but you just have to let that go and show determination rather that defeat.

Going back to basics with the 2d was definitely a good idea but leaves me wondering whether I progressed or have been started back at square one. I don't think we did that much on colour which leads to the suggestion of an art room or even just an ideas and inspiration room. Somewhere away from the suffocating office style computer lab, with posters, paint, art, words, collage, sculpts...job descriptions stuck on the walls, I don't know, just something exciting and motivating.

I know that traditional work needs to come first but a lot of people enjoy digital painting or trying at least, so maybe some more formal training or tutorials wouldn't go amiss, oh and the speed painting thing should be regular but I guess thats a personal aim.
Sometimes it's hard to do personal study because you just don't know where to start so some sort of structure might help, just for first years maybe, a specific topic to look into each optional R&D, if you don't do it, the only person that loses out is yourself.

I also think it would help if we looked at pieces of art and learnt to deconstruct them. I finally got off my ass and went down to see the London art galleries and it certainly helped seeing works in real life. When art masters are so glorified in the history books, you never think about how they existed in reality, that actually they were just painted by a mere human and maybe we'll never achieve that standard or status but we can learn from them as much as we damn well can.

Anyhoo I'm really looking forward to the summer projects and hopefully some bloody sunshine to go out in. Isn't it funny; I feel like doing more work now I have the stress of assessments out of the way. I just needed some guilt free downtime and I'm ready to go again.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Fire in the sky

While wasting my time flipping channels on the picture box one night, I came across a scene that just kept me watching. I had no idea what film this was or what it was about. The scene is actually a pretty typical sci-fi alien abduction but I thought the imagery and atmosphere was very well done considering.

This is the scene split in two on youtube if you want to see:

I've also got into war films a lot more; I just thought they were all the same but I like watching ones that revolve around significant stories and characters particularly if they're based on true events even though that kind of makes it worse. I know jarhead is not an example of a "real" war film but I loved the scenes in the desert at night with all the oil holes set alight; makes for some great images.

GDC - human play machine

I still keep remembering that lecture, when it was said that one thing that sets us apart as a species is the ability to run scenarios in our minds. It's a fascinating thing because I realise that we do it all the time. When we have a routine, it's just a scenario that we've learnt to trust because it works. let us play with what should be, but isn't. We play with the limitations of what has been created, the rules that have been made for this temporary world where we can do what we want to extents further than real life.
They have learning curves but that is just the time it takes to build scenarios. If I press this button at this time then that will happen etc. To keep our minds at play and interested, more scenarios need to be introduced along the game. Of course the other elements of design play their part and combine to make the experience fulfilling.

I found this article: Why the Probability that You Are Living in a Matrix is Quite High
Amusing title but the content is so plausible yet utterly unbeliveable. What if we are simulations..playing simulations. We may have the power to control sims but what if others are controlling us?
Heh, reminds me of the scenes at the end of the film Men In Black where our entire universe is just part of a game of marbles played by aliens.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The C word

"Educated out of creativity"

This statement rings true to my ears. Everything was fine and dandy in primary school, I had plenty of opportunities to be creative and the teachers actually knew our names. Then I hit high school and it all went down the shi**er. I was just part of a pack and in the reknowned worst class to teach, stuck with all the attention stealing f**k-ups that turned every lesson into a mess and teachers into wrecks. It'll no doubt be worse today, discipline has all but disappeared.
I was only ever content in art class and enjoyed getting praise for good work yet I still had no idea what I wanted to do in life. Looking back, nobody ever told me I could be an artist. They teach it like a hobby, just something to do. Then it was all about the grades and filling up sketchbooks.....and drawing from photos.
I took fine art, film studies and graphics in a desperate bid to nurture my creative side but I still ended up with average grades and an indecisive future.
If I were to live my dream, I would be a musician; guitar, violin, cello, piano, any or all of them, and I'd travel if I had the money.

It's true about people being afraid to make mistakes now, I mean look at us lot on 3ds max... all we really need is perseverance...and some more ram, you can never have too much ram.

We've all had different experiences with education and I hope everyone writes about theirs as it's interesting to see how other people were encouraged or discouraged down the path they've chosen.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The future and such

What do I hope to get out of university?
It's wrong that I've never truly thought about this. Obviously my end goal is to get a job, any job at this rate but I havn't really considered anything on a more specific level.
The task mentioned education about being a two way process and I guess I havn't been doing my part, just kind of being a sponge and soaking up knowledge.

Am I supposed to be specific? I just want to have the ability to create what's in my head; it's so frustrating not being able to draw or paint exactly how I see it. That's why I like reading fiction, the words do all the work, I just have to imagine.

Aren't we all working towards the same thing? Trying to improve these new skills to the highest standard we can in every single aspect.
I also want to be able to appreciate art and art direction a lot more, so looking at films and going to art galleries is something I should consider as a frequent act, not just one-off.

Already, I feel like I've learnt so much about the process of producing a game that I never knew before. While playing, I can see textures that don't tile well, I understand how alphas work and notice where they're used. The more I learn 3d, the more I look at games and think, wow that's completey attainable. I could make that, eventually anyway. I look at concept art and go beyond the aesthetics, seeing the light sources, perspective, composition, colour, brush strokes etc. It gets me psyched.

I want to do that, I want my work to be used and appreciated. I need university to get me there.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Specialist or "well-rounded"?

Admittedly I had no idea what studying liberal arts really was, but after some research I find myself persuaded to study it. I can definitely see why students and parents would wonder how a general education could benefit over a specialized one. However, it seems proven effective in producing people who learn to think and look at the world from many perspectives, hence creativity. Yet you cannot deny the validity of specialized courses as long as they actually teach students to an employable standard.

In the context of the games industry, I'm not sure how liberal arts would play a big part, I mean maybe if you were employing a leader or manager of some sort...liberal arts just seems more intelligent. Kids are so ignorant and lacking self dependance these days. We're just kinda shoved through this education system, forced to pick a subject to study out of fear of working in a supermarket or factory for the rest of our lives, and plunged into the first of many debts that greedily await us.......too dramatic?

Specialized education is marketed to us as a more 'value for money' option that makes a beeline towards your desired career. Apparently this makes us less wholesome and knowledgeable and there are factors that will support this point of view. For one, the teacher to student ratio and interaction is more personal on a liberal arts course and it's like studying the more academic subjects that we artists avoid and showing us how to use them on a day-to-day beneficial basis.

Courses like Game Art teaches us specific skills that we will unquestionably need to even be considered for a job in the how can we combine the two styles of education? Critical studies like this is a start; studying the relevant industry and everything that has, is and may affect it. We don't need to know about absolutely everything for one career, that's why courses started specializing in the first place.
Basically, if you don't know what you're on about, it's gonna show but I don't think employers should judge others based entirely on educational background and I'm sure some don't. It always boils down to quality anyway.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

United 93

So, I watched United 93 at home instead of at uni,; in a way I'm glad I did because I absolutely cried my eyes out.

I've never wanted to watch the real footage because it's just too much to process, and I thought this film was going to be a distasteful re-enactment that shouldn't have been made. However, I've come to realise that a film is the closest thing we'll ever have to understanding what those people went through.

You can't say "it's just a film" and try to forget about it because it's not, it was real, it happened. I don't know what to say. Just to imagine being there, knowing death was imminent, not being with loved ones, it's just too painful.

It was bold filming it right to the very last second, the frantic desperation to live really choked me up; you could feel the fear, the determination, the last minute of hope and courage.

As for the terrorists, I don't even want to waste my time trying to comprehend why they did it. It's horrifying to see what lengths people will go to for their own personal beliefs. It's certainly opened my eyes and I think it should be an event we all remember and use to give us courage in the face of those that do us wrong.

On a lighter note, Collateral was interesting, although I fell asleep on my first attempt to watch it. I liked Tom Cruise' character even if he was a murderer, he had one of those personalities.
At least it included a good song, Shadow on the sun by Audioslave.
Here's a link to one of my favourites of theirs:
It's one of those 'moment' songs that just really grabs you...if you like that kinda music anyway. Turn it up!!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Sound in games

There are a lot of 'don'ts' when it comes to video game music. The most obvious one is repetitiveness. Back when the option of turning the music off didnt exist, I wouldn't have wanted to play a game with no sound what-so-ever, just because the music got on my nerves.
Just like games have progressed visually, so has the audio, and the use of composers is becoming standard now they realise just how much impact it can have.
Simplified, there are two kinds of sound in a game. The underlying theme music and the interactive sounds. Unfortunately, I have overlooked music unless it was quite noticeable or rememberable.
Games like Halo and Gears of War have produced full length musical scores as an undertone to gameplay, with the music used to create feeling within the player at certain places in the game. I feel that Mass Effect had a particularly powerful ending in that respect, as the music was used to heighten tension and create a feeling of urgency.
One game I remember and appreciate for the environmental sounds is Half-life 2. Subtlety is used to their advantage and it completely works. The game is a vast landscape of realistic noises that sound original just because they dare to keep it simple.
Sounds alert us to the world around us and what's going on. This should also apply in game. How do we know an enemy is there? You could have seen them, but you probably heard them first. When enemies have distinct sounds, it telling you how you should react, what weapon to use, whether to fight or flee etc.
Of course sound shouldn't be so loud and contrasting that it's competing for your attention and confusing your reactions. It can be a powerful tool but developers need to know when to create an audio feast and when to tone it down a notch.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Game engines, whatever they are...

Game engines consist of multiple components that combine to form a playable game; such as graphics, physics, sound, lighting etc. Instead of starting from scratch for every game, the other option is to buy and customise ‘middleware’ therefore saving a lot of time. Producing sequels is a clear way of saving time and money by re-using the same engine and just updating and improving from the previous game.

The Unreal engine is popular for next-gen development and has been used successfully to produce memorable games such as Gears of War, Bioshock and Mass Effect. Companies don’t always want to use another engine so if they choose to create their own, it may allow greater flexibility but is obviously more time consuming.

On the other end of the scale are more simple and accessible ‘point and click’ engines. Game Maker is an example that I know of. They are currently using this on the Dmu Games Programming course to teach basic coding, but engines like these are very limiting as to what can be achieved. You can, however, create games quickly and as we all know, sometimes the most simple of games can be the most fun and addicitve.

When it comes to expectations for next-gen engines, there will always have to be compromise to what can be achieved because, as said, players will never accept slower framrate over better quality.
Looking at a feature on a next-gen engine, it seems that the improvements are being implemented through shaders, speculars, normal mapping, motion blur and (body)physics. These improvements are even better complimented with the advancement of technology and the shiny prettyness of HDTV, hoorah.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Diversity or distraction?

Gaming culture is a large part of modern society and can be overlooked by outsiders as a lazy, anti-social hobby. It is far from that. As technology and the internet is more available to us than ever before, we find ourselves plunged into a network of friends and gamers alike. Any other form of entertainment is saturated with media, and gaming is now, no exception.

Adverts, celebrities, bus banners; gaming is a significant part of pop culture today. It has more widespread appeal with innovations that allow you to attempt to get fit, have fun with your family or play handheld during your lunch break. You can also just talk to friends or make new ones.

Of course, the point of anti-social behaviour is one that does exist but I believe it not a responsibilty that gaming culture should carry, it is that of the individual or indeed, the parents.
Cultures have spawned new ways of interacting such as LAN events, machinima teams, clan competitions and so on. What other form of entertainment brings people together in so many ways?

I think gaming culture is like any other, with levels of submersion which range to the extreme. It doesn't occupy too much of my life but it is my main hobby. I watch machinima from time to time and read gaming based online comics. All in all, it's better than watching Eastenders, but then again, what isn't.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Weather to be afraid of

The Mist. This makes two films which have affected me recently. The other one was The Orphanage.
The Mist was beyond what I ever expected from a film named after a weather effect. I'm not even sure what to say, the ending was just completely and utterly heart-wrenchingly tragic. It was the type of ending where you just sit there thinking - and so on for a few days.
As for the creatures, they almost took a back seat compared to the violence of the people. It was about half and half by the time the others took off in the car.
It seems to be a film concentrated on the varying pschology of human beings, our reactions in extreme situations and the influence of others.
The decision whether to put your life in the hands of others or your own in this event came with questionable reasoning. It was shocking and unbelievable at times but that's what makes for a good film when it comes down to it.
I really want to watch it again but, I really don't.

I recommend watching the orphanage aswell unless you have a tendancy of paranoia when it comes to horror films, like myself.
Again, an ending not to be missed, but a disturbing path along the way. I won't go into details because I feel the paranoia coming back lol, just watch it.

The Games Industry in all its terrifying glory

Despite the boom of console sales rocketing in the past couple of years and the alleged invulnerability of the game industry in current economic climates, it is becoming apparent that this is not the case. People who have worked in the industry for even 10 years are finding themselves job hunting without success after whole studios have been closed.
The slightest differences can tip the scales in interviews now, with it being as small as personal interests.

Whilst we feel sorry for the professionals, just think what it means for game related graduates this year and maybe next. Not only do we have to compete with the thousands of other graduates, we may have to compete with much more experienced and trusted professionals.
Then there's outsourcing; from what I have found, it seems there are both advantages and disadvantages from choosing this option. While it may be cheaper, it also takes longer to communicate because of distance and language barriers. This is only from the companies point of view. From our p-o-v, however, doesn't that mean a lower rate of employment for us? Tell me if I'm wrong.

Outsourcing is also more probable in sequels because of the knowledge workers already have of the previous game and even in games from films because the style can be more easily established from the film itself instead of starting from scratch and taking a risk which is the last thing companies want to do at the moment.

Outsourcing will continue to grow in the future and so may the recession, so the only thing we can do is work damn hard!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


When I first found out about courses on game design, I thought 'brilliant, games and art, how good is that?' I was enthusiastic, thought I had finally found what I wanted to do in life.

Don't get me wrong I still do but I have to admit I was the kind of person who just liked the idea of working with games without truly knowing what it involved, forgetting that they have strict deadlines too. I had literally no idea about the 3d side and I should've done more research.

I'm not making excuses for myself, I just feel like I wasn't prepared for this, for the amount of work, for anything. University is anything but fun. I think these three years are going to test me mentally, emotionally and physically! My hands are falling apart from the cold :/

I really do want this though. I still primarily love character design so when I finally get the hang of anatomy, I want to create my own. I like painting in photoshop but I need the confidence to stop using my sketch in the background just to hold my pieces together. 3ds max, well, what a bloody learning curve, but I have just caught up. I must've put at least 15 hours into my medieval building so you can't blame me for lack of trying. Or is that not enough?

I don't think I can bare being told how crap we are again and how little jobs there are for us and how many other people are competing with us and so on. I know it's for our own good though and in some respect I appreciate that. I can't help feeling low. Being proud of work makes you feel good however so maybe I should keep that in mind.

I actually used to want to design clothes despite my lack of interest in fashion, what a joke. I then realised I was afraid of sewing machines... and that was the end of that. I've tried playing drums, guitar, keyboard but virtually given up on everything for lack of effort.
I'm too nonchalant about life and I'm going nowhere with that attitude. I need to relight my passion for being creative and successful and learn to take critisism in my stride.

Anyway, this has been a bit of self reflection and critique, I think it helps to write these things down sometimes.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Creative in writing

"Creative individuals alternate between imagination and fantasy at one end, and a rooted sense of reality at the other".

This sentence is a good starting point. I feel it is the core definition from which to build upon. There are many defining characteristics of creative people yet it lies in all of us; for those who can use their imagination at least.

It is a characteristic that is applied in many ways. Often associated with art & graphics and the likes, yet it is prominent in so much more than that. The 'creative industry' just has a lot more freedom because that is its speciality.

Intelligence and mental health have been connected to 'theories' of creativity, so to speak. It makes sense that the more you know about the hows and whys of the world, the more plausible creations you will produce. As for mental health, manic depression has been present in famous poets, writers and artists. This may have affected their work in a strong emotional or delusional way, I can't be sure.

There are so many ways to look at the term creativity, from originality and level of detail to efficiency and design etc., and these all have different levels of importance depending on what the situation calls for.

Creativity can produce nothing of worth yet this world would be nothing without it. Without the desire to create, how would we progress as a race?

Because creativity is often adressed for its uniqueness, games described in this way are ones that appear to think out of the box, even if marginally. It can show itself through any aspect of producing a game - colour design, characters and how they move, narrative and so on, yet they are rarely all unique in one game alone.
Technical constraints are an issue but not neccessarily a bad one. They force us to find another way to think, another way to solve a problem. Many creative people are acknowledged so because they think differently and in the Game industry it's a sorely needed breath of fresh air.