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
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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!

Updates, Christmas, Artists to look at

Hi friends, as usual it’s been a while. I thought I’d share some updates on my projects, plus some sketches I did today, and a list of artists who were recommended by Audrey Kawasaki on some instagram account (an online art gallery? I can’t remember which) – I wanted to list them to share the awesomeness of these artists, but also I want to make sure I don’t lose their names!

Updates

  • CalamityNow that I have an OK level command of 3D modelling and texturing, I’m starting to go through the old models that I made while learning 3D, and I am remodelling and texturing them. I am also building up a test level as I go. We are hoping to apply to show our game at indie games development conventions so I will let you all know more as time progresses. I’m also updating our game’s redbubble shop with stickers and other bits.
  • Music: I finally picked up my saxophone after a long time (years) of not playing. I am going to attempt to be in a band. We had our first meeting yesterday, so I will need to work out pieces to play for each song, and I must get back up to speed with playing and sounding OK at least. More information about this as it develops!
  • Job: Work’s going well, we’re currently making a rally style racing game which will be released in March 2016!
  • Craft: I’m hoping to start crafting again. I would like to give my little shop a renewal at some point, so that I can get sewing again. I’m feeling really inspired by thebeastpeddler on tumblr, I have bought myself one of their plushies! Please check them out if you like cute, dark plushies.
  • Painting: In my spare time I have been trying to keep up with digital painting. I have been working on more finished pieces, as I usually end up just sketching stuff quickly so that I can post it faster. I must be more patient! You can see my latest painting below!

digitally created painting of a male character with 2 horns and purple skin, with a background of flowers (possibly carnations)

Christmas Sketches

I wasn’t going to send Christmas cards, but then I got a few, so I made these quick cards to give out. I made some spares in case, too 🙂

Artist List

CALAMITY

Hey friends,

As you may have already read, I’ve been wading through blender3D, learning how to make 3D models. I’m still a beginner of course, and if you want you can always follow my progress on tumblr 🙂

I started learning 3D both for my job and also because I wanted to work on an indie game dev project with my friends. Now, it’s underway! So I want to introduce you to Calamity. If I had to describe it shortly I would say something along these lines: Low poly 3d hide and seek multiplayer with monsters. Be the last one standing. It’s set in a boarding school and you play a student. We’re making it using the game engine called Unity, which is also what I use back at work.

Here's a little Calamity-related sketch that I made recently, just while I was thinking of what kind of 2D art I want to put in the game - e.g. for menus, logos, etc.

Here’s a little Calamity-related sketch that I made recently, just while I was thinking of what kind of 2D art I want to put in the game – e.g. for menus, logos, etc. I actually played with making a mini redbubble shop for stickers and fun Calamity related things.

I would say that we’re still in the early stages of development, but I thought I’d like to share with you all a few bits and pieces. I’m working on it with Boomer and Mikey. Boomer’s the programmer, Mikey’s our music man and I’m the artist. I’ll be dealing with all 3D stuff and 2D artwork too.

So far, I’ve made some sketches and a handful of 3D models to put in the game, e.g. a desk, chair, book, etc. which you can see below.

book

For some reason this book took me ages to work out. I just couldn’t think of a smart way to make a simple book object. I thought about it a lot overnight and then I realised how easy it would be after all. 

desk

A school desk for our students. Perhaps we should give the high school a name?

I’ve intentionally kept them simple, since I’m still learning! I’ve started the model for the player character, but of course it’s taking a little longer to do since it is more complex and will need to be animated in the future. I am using this tutorial series on youtube to learn how to do it.

Calamity Player Character Work in Progress

Our student protagonist – well, there will be a number of students to choose from hopefully – a base body, which I will next unwrap and texture. Then, we will have custom heads with different hairstyles, I hope ^_^

Not all of my models and bits have been implemented in the game, but I will still try get some videos and screenshots to share with you on my next Calamity related post!

I feel excited about it all and want to spend tons of time on it, even though I do find it difficult since I am learning so much new stuff… I’m trying to make sure however that I balance my free time well so that I don’t burn out since work’s pretty busy until March or beyond. My plan is to get lots of bits done that I can eventually improve when I know more.

I’ll keep working at it slowly but surely, and I hope to share my progress with you all. If anyone has any questions though feel free to ask!

Annihilation

Hi friends,

I’ve been reading a book called Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. I don’t know how to define it by genre, but it seems to be sort of scifi and ‘spec fic’… I’m really enjoying it and I want to recommend it!

“The book describes a team of four (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor) who set out into an area known as Area X. The area is abandoned and cut off from the rest of civilization. They are the 12th expedition. The other expeditions have been fraught with disappearances, suicides, aggressive cancers, and mental trauma.” – Wikipedia

You might know that I struggle with my art because I have lots of ideas yet end up just drawing my generic figures and portraits. But with this book, I can imagine all kinds of scenes/compositions and I want to draw them! So, I started.

fan art drawing in sketchbook from a book by jeff vandermeer, annihilation. sketch of woman standing in the middle of a campsite

colour fanart of book by jeff vandermeer called annihilation. woman standing in the dark in the rain, in a campsite, looking upwards

Also, I listened to Florence + the Machine’s song Landscape which also reminded me of the scenery and personality of the main character. There’s also a lighthouse featured in the book.

Well, today’s is a short post, hope you like the wip. I want to paint it more. Just wanted to get the composition down this evening. See you soon and if you’re interested please definitely read the book and let me know what you think! Or recommend some books to me 🙂

Elysia

Digital Painting Process – Notes for a friend

Here are some notes on my digital painting process (photoshop), for a friend’s request. I will upload pictures and such later- so for now this post is probably only useful to that 1 friend until then. Just some quick notes. I haven’t been digitally painting long at all, so I am no expert. This is just how I made a painting myself.

Note; this particular piece started out as some sketches of a city environment. Then the scenes were combined to create one big piece. During this piece, since it was my first digital painting in so long, I made tons of mistakes and had to fix them loads.

Sketching/general brush choice: Regular round brush, size up to 15 pixels, 50% opacity
Painting details brush choice: Regular round brush, size 5-15 for details/smaller bits, 20% opacity

  1. I researched different imagery to do with cityscapes – including photos of cities, photos of particular scenes within them (e.g. a Chinatown gate), buildings, and other peoples’ paintings of cityscapes.
  2. I sketched out about 6 or so small thumbnails of scenes within the city.
  3. Opened up PS and made a big canvas. Sketched out the city on a normal type layer above the background. Tried to do the overall shape and placement of main bits and then added more and more detail (too much! Shouldn’t have added so much so soon). Turned this sketch layer to 50% opacity or so.
  4. Sketched over it again in more detail, adding in all my plans for shading, on a separate normal type layer. This also turned out to be a mistake anyway since I should have not gone into detail so soon.
  5. Made normal type layer underneath the 2 sketch layers and added in basic colours, no shading, with a 100% opacity brush.
  6. Checked over the sketch so far and realised I needed to resize things – people, cars – which were too big compared to buildings.
  7. Realised I didn’t have much practice in actually painting in colour so asked my friend for advice and she told me she usually paints the stuff at the back first and then works forward.
  8. Decided to try that so started from the back, making the farthest back stuff less contrasted, less detailed and faded out. This meant that I had to redo the furthest back stuff since in my sketch it was the darkest. So, I slowly painted on top of all of that.
  9. Then, I started painting over everything, moving gradually forward and towards the foreground.
  10. To paint things in my environment, such as buildings… first I added block colours for shading (looked like cel shading), and then with a fine round brush at 20% opacity I would smooth it out and add detail. Once I had done the regular shading I also added in lots of reflected light (since it is a city it had lots of neon and glowy things) to the edges of the building, which made it look a lot more interesting instead of being coloured blocks. For shiny windows I had a new layer, drew the filled in box of the window in a bright colour, then I had another layer underneath and used an airbrush type brush to add more of the same colour around the window. I used gaussian blur to spread it out a bit and if needed I also reduced the opacity.
  11. Did not shade the water much at all, basically just added in a few bits around places where objects/land was touching or near to the water, because there was so much of it and I had already spent days doing the city, and needed to wrap the image up for a deadline.
  12. Added in little details such as the vehicles.
  13. Found a yellow and blue gaussian blur background on google images, put on a layer on top of all, fiddled with layer types until found which looked best (need to check what type ended up with). This was a really important part of my process since my colours usually end up quite muddy, muted and dull, so adding the gaussian blur on top helped to make it a lot more exciting and pulled the picture together. The fading blue part of the blur helped to define the water without me having shaded it loads.

I will add to this when I can! Then it can be useful for everyone.

incoming

Dear friends,

it’s been over a month since my last post as I have been pretty busy with a few things. Hope that’s okay! These things include job applications, driving lessons, work, etc. I might have more news on the job front shortly but for now I’m going to wait and see once things are a bit more certain before I relax a bit and will also make a proper post on it. My driving exam is also tomorrow so I’m more focused on that for the time being. Edit: I passed 🙂

Aside from these commitments, I have managed to do a reasonable amount of art 🙂 I completed a new personal illustration for my portfolio, and a poster for a couple of great friends who are playing a gig in Finland on 4th July! You can see them both below. My friends unfortunately don’t have a website yet but as soon as they do I’ll probably link it. I’d like to keep making stuff for their music as I love their style and also want to keep creating things that could go into my portfolio!

Hmm, so let’s look… Last time I wrote about printmaking, painting and illustrator. Since then I have done some more work on illustrator, trying to get a bit more comfortable with the software. I feel a lot more confident with the programme, but still not great, and at the moment I don’t really have a reason to use it. I’ve come to realise that my work is much more weighted towards illustration than design (probably obvious to everyone else), but I will try to give design more of a go when I get relevant projects.

As for painting and printmaking, I haven’t done much more of those. I was planning to go to my old university for a visit to pick up some more materials, but haven’t got there yet. It is a 6+ hour journey via train and it costs a lot, but it is something I will be doing over the next month and a half. It’ll be good to see some of my friends there.

I’ve also been carrying on slowly but surely with the game design. It has been a challenge as I’ve been doing pixel art, something I’ve not done for years, and also I have had to pixel buildings and backgrounds. I try to make myself do a few hours every few days and am making good progress. I learned quite a bit about colour theory as well from reading a bit about Syosa, a great pixel artist. I recommend reading the short interview if you’re interested in cute illustrations, pixel art, and/or great colour palettes.

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 22.50.48

So… a few other things that I have done (which were waiting on the massive to do list)… my shop is finally done and you can find it here! Recently I’ve been playing with shrink plastic to create little badges. The medium is fun although a considerable amount of attempts have been unsuccessful. It seems pretty temperamental and the surface can get smudged so easily! But I’ll keep going, continue practising and hope that over time my badge casualties become fewer.

Here’s a few examples of the badges, some of them I’ve decided not to put up in my shop as they are not quite high enough standard. I bought some acrylic spray on lacquer to protect the surface of the badges, but actually they just ended up having fluff and dust stuck to them 😦 so I wasn’t happy about that. Some of them are discounted in the store because of that.

I’m thinking of doing a give away too! More details soon.

I think that’s all for now. Right now I’m actually volunteering at the local gallery, I was left to look after front-of-house while the others went to a meeting. And soon, I shall be off as I haven’t yet had any lunch and my stomach is twisting around hungry.

Lots of love

Elysia

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Ooh man there’s so many things to write about. I apologise for this being all over the place, my excuse is this is a personal and non profit making blog, so a lot of this is pretty casual and non structured. So I don’t overburden this already-busy post, I’ll write about these things next time:

  • Organising life class with a friend
  • Planning an artist collective
  • Update on the poetry book project
  • Encouraging a friend to write her story so I can illustrate it 🙂