Spring Review

Instead of doing year long resolutions, I decided that I want to just keep reviewing my progress and setting new goals every few months. So, here’s a spring review! I wanted to do quarterly reviews, but I was abroad, so it’s late, and I don’t know the equivalent word for every ‘third’ of the year… (later: the word is tertiary!) Anyway, I’m still working on a lot of the things I posted in my most recent blog entry, so this shouldn’t be a super long post.

Side note which most of you probably know already: my blog is generally just me rambling, psyching myself up for art and giving myself to do lists, which is probably not of interest to many, but if anyone does enjoy it, I am glad 🙂

Since the end of last year I had been finding it a bit difficult to feel okay about painting/working on art skills, possibly because I put too much pressure on myself to do so, perhaps that caused my brain to associate it all with negative feelings?

Originally I had been using a spreadsheet to note down how long I spent on drawing/learning 3d etc. to get an idea of how much time I was dedicating to art. After about three months it began to feel a bit too much like a chore – this could have been due to work/life situation rather than the actual task itself – so I switched to a simple ‘did you draw today? Y/N’ spreadsheet. I made sure to keep drawing every day even when I felt really bad about it… but I decided to transition off of using the spreadsheet for the time being. Maybe the spreadsheet will make a comeback in future.

I think through continuing to draw every day and allowing myself to sometimes just noodle and explore, without any worry of what the finished image will look like, has helped me to overcome the weird anxiety I felt earlier in the year about art.

In August I took up learning to knit, which I think was because I felt bad about art. I used to knit more than I drew (ashamedly – not because knitting is bad, but because I should focus on art). Fortunately I have managed to shift the balance so that I can become much more engrossed in art and reluctant to stop painting.

I’m not sure if this experience constitutes art block, what do you think? Has anyone else had trouble with this? I hope I don’t struggle like this again although I’m sure it will happen again during my art life! In order to try make this blog post not totally self serving and navel-gazing, what are some solutions that you’ve come across?

I think the solutions I’ll be employing (should it happen again) are:

  • Putting less pressure on yourself
  • Experimenting with new media
  • Drawing things you’ve not tried before and not worrying about the results
  • Listening to gently motivating art (and non art) speakers on youtube (e.g. Bobby Chiu, Chris Oatley and Anthony Jones)
  • Just start drawing – even if it’s just one line, and seeing where you go from there
  • Even if you’re feeling like you are not doing well drawing, or don’t want to, during non-drawing life, observe the world around you and consider how light hits things, how different shapes/forms interact, how certain materials work with light differently, etc. and consider how this could be incorporated into your art
  • Learn about how other artists approach problems – e.g. through gumroad tutorials and free art stream videos on youtube – robot pencil have a bunch of videos on there offering loads of tips, also Sara Tepes shares a lot of info

Well, “art block”/art anxieties aside, things have been improving, and so let’s get on with the review of Jan-Apr 2017!

  • I started working part time and painting (and resting/organising/crafting) part time
  • I took on a new commission which is in the field of work I want to do and will hopefully work nicely for my portfolio
  • I decided that I do actually want to be a concept artist and that I should focus and stay determined no matter what (although to be fair I spend about 50% of my time having crises of faith – I will still keep drawing and pushing forward centimetre by centimetre)
  • I worked on some ambitious pieces which I feel pushed my skills further – still a long way to go, but progress has been made and I have learned from most if not all longer pieces that I’ve been working on
  • My friends at dirty casuals and I worked on the Odyssey Jam, a game jam based on Homer’s Odyssey. We made a 2D visual novel style game using the free engine Renpy, and I spent most of the time frantically sketching out backgrounds and messy looking characters. I had to leave the jam early due to my trip abroad but I feel like I learned a good deal and got to do stuff I don’t normally do (read: environments)
  • I went to Japan for two weeks which was inspiring art-wise, I drew almost every day (some days were a bit difficult – I’ll try keep up the every day thing though!) although a lot of my sketchbook bits were a real mess! Just playing around scribbling really
  • A couple of friends and I are thinking of going to the Industry Workshops in London this year – in September. My friend went last year and said it was amazing so I would really like to go and see what I can learn from it, and I’m sure it will motivate me further. If you’re going too, let us know!

I know this is a pretty wordy blog post and for an artist there are suspiciously NO images here – haha. If you’re interested you can actually see what I’ve been getting on with through my tumblr, which is the most up to date social media of mine. I’ve been meaning to update my Instagram and keep that up to date too, so that’ll come soon I hope! I also have my artstation portfolio, which admittedly has an assortment of generalist stuff on it since that was what my previous job entailed, but through the projects mentioned here and in the previous blog post, I’m working to update and replace a lot of the bits on there.

Well! I’m going to go after writing this mammoth post. I hope there was something of interest or use to you all at least somewhere peppered in this text! If not, well, it was a good exercise for me to write. I have work 4-6pm and then the cinema; I’m happy to say that part of me is sad I won’t be drawing during the time I’m at the cinema, but I am also looking forward to seeing my friends; and the film might be inspiring!

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SS17 Project List

Well, I have a bunch of projects I’m working on, plus some upcoming ones, plus some dreams of future challenges and portfolio developments. So, I’m going to make a little list for myself and anyone else who happens to be interested! I’ll divide them up into sections; since my desired project list is pretty long!

My motivation from last summer, which kept at a low simmer throughout autumn and winter (thanks to burn out, I think?), has reignited somewhat; so I want to take advantage of that and push myself more once again to learn and improve on my artwork.

Before the new year I had lower levels of motivation. I made sure to draw pretty much every day and tried to work on some projects, so that was good; but now I’m back to normal I want to make better use of my free time and put in more hours – hopefully consistently from now on.

In progress list updated 26th May 2017 – progressing well!

In Progress

  1. Character Design – Portfolio work – designing an elf bard healer. So far the general costume is done. To do; some hair/facial sketches, expressions, prop design, additional details added to further customise her character and of course some notes and development of her story which should affect all aforementioned bits.
  2. Character Design – Practice/Portfolio – Design creature body (blue skin) – finish shade and highlight, create some variants on hold while I work on more pressing projects
  3. Character Illustration – Practice/Portfolio – finishing off a painting adapted from a character sketch. Background needs finishing. Potentially can develop character from this illustration on hold, potentially to repaint!
  4. Logo Project – working for a logo for a friend, non-portfolio – short term task finished!
  5. Character design commission – turnaround style design – commission for a friend, currently over halfway complete, highest priority finished!
  6. Sketch cleanup – I started painting an alien for fun, it turned out to go well since I was enjoying myself, I’m gonna clean him up a bit and put him in my portfolio 🙂 finished!

 

2D Art – Priority – Character work

  1. Expressions Challenge
  2. Pose Challenge – 50 sketches
  3. Foreshortened/Action Pose Challenge – 50 sketches
  4. Couple/Group Pose Challenge – 25 sketches
  5. 14 Animals in 14 Days Challenge
  6. Design characters for the dusty library project – Started, but probably want to go back and do more iterative sketches of the characters as I did not do that enough.
  7. Draw a box – Started working on it again! Finally completed the exercise that scared me, and felt like I made progress! Doing a little bit each day.
  8. Art Improvement Hell Challenge – I got to #7 or #8!
  9. Design characters from a book – perhaps Annihilation (Jeff Vandermeer)?

Game Dev

  1. Odyssey Jam – March ish, 2D story game jam with my friends at Dirty Casuals. As it’s a jam, and a fairly short period of time, I’ll unlikely come up with super polished pieces, but it will be a good exercise in sharpening my skills, experimenting and probably painting a ton of things I wouldn’t normally paint! Done! Find it here.
  2. Zbrush Lessons – I want to make a point of making a concerted effort to learn Zbrush within 2017. I will do this! And it will be fun! – Started working little by little in Zbrush and feel a bit more comfortable using the controls and understanding how sculpting works!

 


I was going to have a section on craft, but I’ve decided now that I want to keep this art focused – as that’s where I want to direct most of my learning energy. I will use crafting (knitting etc.) when I need to take breaks from artwork. I’m also trying to work on taking my sketchbook out with me (rather than my knitting) and using that during my free time instead.

100 faces challenge

Recently I decided to try and draw 100 faces within a week. I got the idea from watching videos by artist Nadia Enis, she suggested doing this challenge and other similar ones in order to get motivated, enjoy and experiment with art. I really recommend checking her work and her video series out!

I managed to do all 100 faces, and I’m looking forward to taking on another art challenge soon – perhaps 14 different animals in 14 days (studying 1 animal, multiple sketches, per day) or 50 poses in x amount of time, 1 environment drawing per day, x amount of compositional thumbnails per day, etc.

But first! I’ve decided that I am going to alternate between taking on challenges and working on portfolio projects. So – next up – I think I’m going to be doing some more character concept work. If you have been following my work, you may know that I have already been enjoying the world of character concepts and world building with my project Wander (a wizard dating simulator!), but for the next portfolio piece I think I’m going to create a standalone character. Wander has a particular visual style to it and it might be nice for me to explore other different ways of creation. It’s likely the concept will be of a similar vein, since it’s by me, but for this one I don’t want to put that limitation on it! I will keep you all updated, anyway.

For now, please enjoy these 100 faces.

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

10 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

All the business

Hey friends, it’s time for my quarterly (perhaps?) blog post, and here we go with all of my updates on all the things that have happened since my last post:

  1. I learned to knit, after I saw Vera’s post on her blog linking to a great knitting tutorial. I have knitted a handful of scarves, hats, and one cardigan. I’ve started a sock, but it was too advanced for me! So I will do a few more projects before I move on to the sock. I hope to make a sweater next, along with some Christmas presents. Right now I’m finishing off a chunky snood which I hope to complete within the next hour or so, so I can wear it in the increasingly cold outdoors of Wales! I’m excited to make some more colourful and complex projects in the future when I have a bit more experience and confidence.
  2. While knitting and drawing, I’ve been listening to a lot of HP Lovecraft audiobooks on youtube, along with other writers of a similar style and/or time period. They’re really inspiring and I’m trying to write bits and pieces for our game dev projects (such as the Wander universe) inspired by the stories. I am also interested in re opening my etsy store at some point and would love to make it semi-themed upon Lovecraft styled things.
  3. My colleagues and I worked really hard this past month on a VR demo which I hope I can share with you all at some point! I worked mainly on environment assets and putting the scenes together in Unity. I also tweaked character textures.
  4. This week I finally got a chance to try out Zbrush! I had already watched a little guide tutorial on it but had not yet entered the program. Once I eventually got round to it, the UI was initially confusing, with controls being very different to anything I’d experienced before, but it was fun and I hope to spend some more time on it, and bit by bit I hope I can build my skills. I set up my own Zbrush challenge to work on, once inktober is out of the way.
  5. I’m working on a couple smaller game dev projects with Dirty Casuals so I will aim to create a blog post about them once we have some more bits to show – I need to create some more art assets for those. One of the projects needs to be completely open source, so I will be sharpening up my Blender3D skills again to get the models done for that one!
  6. Artwise – I feel like I definitely made some big improvements in my work during the first half of 2016. In the past 2 months or so, perhaps due to having to crunch at work and being tired after all that, I feel like I have plateaued for a while. I was feeling demotivated and anxious about drawing. I forced myself to get into inktober more and try out different things while working on inktober pieces, and then somehow I found myself enjoying it again. I feel like through my inktober pieces, while I notice a lot of mistakes, I have improved again. I can identify where I went wrong in these short, casual drawings, and then I feel like if I want to make these into more polished pieces, I know what actions I would need to take in order to improve them. It feels great to not feel bad about my art again and I will push myself to keep drawing and experimenting. I will also try to continue with Draw A Box lessons, I recently completed the 250 Cylinder challenge so I need to press on with my next exercise, drawing a variety of shapes in perspective, intersecting one another. It’s a little daunting but I’ll try and break it down into smaller and more simple tasks until I’ve become accustomed to it.

Well, those are my super quick updates, I’ll get back to you all soon as I continue trying to do lots of art!

Elysia

Wander

It’s a misty quiet Sunday and I have spent a good portion of time working on bits and pieces; chores, cooking, Calamity (our game), artwork, Japanese…

Calamity is being wrapped up at the moment – for the moment – we are hoping to get it to a playable demo state, we will release it and then see… if there is any interest in it or if we feel some more rush of motivation for it, we will build on it. There isn’t too much art to be done on it, except for tweaking here and there. I wanted to have different characters with different hairstyles and face textures running around, but that may be quite a bit of work for the coders, and it will turn out to be quite a lot of work for me too, so for now we will leave that. I have started working on the different hair styles however. I’ll post on here when Calamity is done, anyway!

Recently I set for myself the project of finishing up a few bits for my updated portfolio. I don’t have any aims for sending it out anywhere, but I did notice that it was quite outdated and I wanted it to reflect my more recent game-focused work. So that’s done; I definitely want to improve it, though, so I am working towards that from now onwards.

Another project of mine has been to do some visual development for a possible future project with the Dirty Casuals, our game group. I am doing game design and concept art for Wander, which is essentially a wizard dating simulator. I will reveal more about it when it has been developed a bit more! I just want to get all the basic art style, characters, story, etc. solidified before I actually write about the game full on. But, I can share these pictures I have been working on!

1 point 5

Initial sketches for Wander. During June there was a game jam called ilujam on itch.io, which was for romance themed games. So I worked on Wander designs for ilujam. I didn’t get as much as I wanted done and will continue working on it! These are some of the characters. They are awaiting further development!

2

Here’s some more work on one of the characters. Having listened to some concept artists talking about their work, and reading articles on the way items, characters, worlds, etc. are designed, I think I can keep pushing these characters further. For example, this is only an initial impression of Bruna. Some questions that have just surfaced in my mind – how does her belt work? At the moment it’s just a band of leather. And how does her chain fit around her waist and stay there? How does her hair work – does she shave the rest of her scalp apart from a small amount that she puts into pigtails? Or does her hair just not grow in certain places, because she is undead? Perhaps she actually just attaches some hair onto her head for aesthetic purposes.

Depending on the level of detail I want our game to be, perhaps these things will need to be further developed, or perhaps simply the original impression of Bruna will be enough for a relatively small game. If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know!

3

Here’s another character who I have been thinking about. In the top left corner is the original scribble in which I tried to identify the character. Bottom left corner is the second bit of work I did for him. But after having completed that sketch I realised that again I was kind of taking shortcuts like with Bruna’s design. So I tried to force myself to think about other avenues I could take the character, from what his horn shape would be like and his hairstyle. I also got feedback from my team mates about which bits they preferred. I have started working on his outfits in a separate photoshop file, and will test out a few different costumes for him. I also want to define how his face looks as well since in the iterative sketches, the base face I’ve used is a bit more youthful, I think, than the original sketch. Once those bits are cleared up I will start sketching for his character portrait. Since it’s a 2D visual novel, and quite a small game, I will probably just have 1 or 2 full paintings of him in game.

wands

Taking a little side step, here, to mix things up for myself I decided to think about what each wizard’s wand would look like. It was a nice and productive diversion to working on Billy (the character above). These are again just initial sketches. I will colour them in again and then probably work on each one’s design a little more extensively – again, it depends on the level of detail the game will take as to whether I should spend a load of time on these bits or not.

Where am I going next with this? Well, I’m going to continue to develop the characters, their props and the school to. I have also started to write some of the dialogue. If you’re interested in following the project, you can do so through my tagged posts on my tumblr or through the dirty casuals twitter feed.

This was a pretty useful post for me as I felt like I needed to write down some of my process and the questions arising from the character designs (especially Bruna). I hope that it can be of some interest to others. I am trying to push myself to thinking more about the DESIGN of things more as well as trying to improve my fundamentals, 3D work and so on. There’s a long way to go.

Anyway, thanks for reading xx

self manifesto

It’s been a year since I started working in the games industry, and during this time I’ve started to look at my work more critically. I want to improve my fundamental drawing skills and I hope that in a few more years I can specialise in visual development/concept art. So, a month ago or so I started to think about creating a little manifesto for myself – after talking with a coworker who wanted to clone himself for productivity and make a manifesto for his clones.

I’m generally wary of things like new year’s resolutions and drastic measures so my manifesto is a little gentler and pretty flexible. I’m still working on it as I know I need to factor in my job and also time to ‘relax’ (ha ha ha).

At present I already make a point of drawing almost every day (usually every day unless there’s some giant social commitments like weddings to attend… actually I drew at the last wedding I went to) and have managed to keep up with some Japanese. If I have a weekend free I will spend at least a day working on digital art related things (illustrations, masters study, photo study, artwork for our games) and I feel like I learn a lot during these days. Still, there’s a colossal amount more to learn and there always will be!

Things I want to do:

  • draw every day
  • try to work on 3DS Max tutorials a little each week
  • work on video game projects with the dirty casuals every weekend during which I’m not travelling around the UK
  • keep up with Japanese revision
  • Japanese grammar study either in class or at home when I have no class

Things to play around with sometime:

  • mech
  • male characters
  • architecture
  • material studies (feather, honey, skin, etc.)
  • facial features studies
  • knitting
  • find the motivation to do drawabox.com in its entirety (cannot put this in the above list yet because I do not yet trust myself to fight on with this project!)
  • zbrush
  • water in landscapes
  • interiors – 3d space – perspective

enter title here

This post has been a long time coming. Well, four months later here we are… I have a lot of stuff to update you all on so as is custom it’ll be another bunch of headers with writing about things that may interest approximately two people (parents).

Calamity

Our indie game dev project went on hold for a little while because my programmer teammate Boomer was working on a separate project (one which I did some commissioned work for anyhow!), but luckily last weekend we were able to spend the whole time game jamming. Our group of 3 also grew to 4 when we successfully coerced my landlord/coworker programmer into joining the project. We made quite a lot of progress during the weekend and you can see it in the youtube video below… we plan to game jam again soon too!

Regarding all the art assets for the game, I’m slowly trawling through them; there is a ton of work so I need to reassess the situation and work out all my priorities. The main things that really should be done are the player and monster models, with animation. I have been putting it off for a while though, since for a long time my modelling skills weren’t up to the task. Now I think I could probably pull it off, but have been postponing beginning since it’s such a daunting task. Tonight I’ll probably stick to some little jobs for Cala.

Work

Since starting at my work place I have learned a whole load of new things… and recently I’ve become a lot more confident with 3D modelling. I feel able to model and texture regular assets for our game when needed, and I also started helping out with character modelling. I’m still learning how to be more efficient in my working methods – but I’m enjoying the process of making things. Today I finally learned about cloth simulations in Blender3D and it was a bunch of fun.

Soap

Since my last post I have made two batches of soap – one peppermint and one strange concoction in which I ended up not following a recipe… it ended up smelling like cake? I used honey, vanilla and chamomile. My friends have been testing out the soap and it’s gone well! The 2nd batch is just about ready for testing. Once I’ve used up more of it I’ll start on a 3rd batch!

Band

I’m in a band with my friend Stu. I’m super rusty at saxophone and I have no keyboard at home so I can’t practice the keys so much… I will hopefully be able to buy a keyboard soon so I can be better!

 

That’s all for now – just a quick update on my projects! Hope you are all well!