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!

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.

2016 review / 2017 intentions

Hi friends, this is a non-image post! Hope everyone had a great holiday period, celebrating Christmas, another festival, or just enjoying the cold weather and hot drinks… Today I just wanted to note down my thoughts on 2016 and set my main intentions/priorities for the new year. To all who visit my blog, thank you very much and have a Happy New Year!

2016 Review

  1. Improved in art – I think – learned a bunch of stuff about perspective (but need to implement this more within my work), I still have to keep pushing myself. I lost some momentum recently, initially I may have put too much pressure on myself to improve. I started keeping a time sheet since August to note down how much drawing I’ve been doing and what kind of drawing I did. Since August there have been 3 days where I haven’t drawn. I think I need to increase the amount of time I spend drawing, and try and aim towards spending more time working on fundamentals. Ideally, I’d love to have a mentor… I know there are friends and people online that I can ask. I should do that!
  2. Made 2 batches of soap
  3. Made 1 batch of body butter/moisturiser
  4. Learned to knit and made many hats, scarves and shawls, mainly as gifts
  5. Learned 3D modelling in Blender, and then quickly learned 3D modelling (and other bits like skinning and animating) in 3DS Max as it was required by my job
  6. Started to reboot my etsy shop – still a work in progress!
  7. Redid my portfolio – also a work in progress, I need to create some more specific and relevant pieces but it’s a lot better than it was!

2017 Intentions

  1. Art – Continue to draw every day, BUT also try where possible (not when exhausted from work etc.) to study something every time that I have a drawing session – e.g. noses, a type of animal, a material. Share with peers, ask advice, give other people feedback.
  2. Portfolio – work on specific projects to bolster my portfolio
  3. 3D – Learn zbrush and get to a level where I’m more comfortable in using it
  4. Japanese – catch up on my wanikani reviews and keep up
  5. Shop – continue to reboot my shop
  6. Knitting – Continue to progress and do so with a laid back, low pressure attitude.

my 3d journey

Hi friends,

It’s been a while, as always! I have been thinking for the past couple of weeks that it is probably time to check back in again over here…

I’ve always been a 2d artist, and my drawings have also looked very 2d – I avoided using perspective in my work because it was daunting and all very organised, unlike my messy sketches.

But, if I didn’t already mention, I need to get a handle on (of?) 3d art for my new job. I also have been wanting to learn how to make 3d models for a while! So perhaps since a month or more ago, I’ve been doing short tutorials on blender. All of them are free on youtube! Mostly I followed a tutorial series by Jacob Lewis to learn the basics of the UI and then I did lots of little tutorials by Manuel Graphics. If you want to learn and are a bit nervous about it, I really recommend downloading Blender 3D (it’s free) and doing some of these tutorials to get started.

image of a 3d model hot air balloon above the sea with a blue sky

I’ve been putting my 3d stuff on a new tumblr I made – also I’ve been reblogging on to my main tumblr too – to keep track of my progress. If you have any suggestions, or perhaps even any questions, please let me know.

So far I haven’t done that much 3d stuff in my actual job, as I have been mostly doing visual development and game design for upcoming games and then working on environments for another more developed game in Unity (a free game engine – you can build games using it), which I am also learning to use… but, I think as I learn more I will be able to become more useful at my job.

image of a 3d model nintendo ads game console in pink with a grey background

AND, if you want to do art related things in the games industry, I would recommend both learning 3d modelling in Blender (or another program like 3DSMax) and getting acquainted with Unity.

In other news…

Some of my 3d stuff I’m making is for a small indie game project which I will give more information on soon! That is, when I’ve gotten my act together and produced more assets…

I have a giveaway at my tumblr! Please join in by reblogging/following if you would like and are on tumblr… Or, if you are on wordpress and want to join, please leave a comment telling me about a new skill you want to learn – make sure you enter your email or a way for me to contact you when you do comment, though.  I would really appreciate it, otherwise it may end up me just having a prize draw among my real life friends! The prize is an item from my shop, whatever you like.

artist giveaway of 1 item from the shop, ending sept 7th 2015

I will try to do more giveaways in the future.

a week on

Dear friends,

It’s been a week since I started my new job and luckily, since I have regular hours, work days and all that, I’m able to write another blog post to you all! A few updates before we begin; I put my shop back up. For the moment it features older stock because I haven’t had a chance in a long while (being in Japan and all that) but I hope to create some more new work. I will likely put up some of my sketches done while in Japan and I hope to create new stickers and felt brooches. I’m staying away from shrinky dink at the moment because it is pretty unreliable!

Anyway, today I just want to talk to you all about my new job, since I haven’t really elaborated on it very much. While I was in Japan I was very lucky to notice a job advertisement on facebook, for a 2d game artist. If you have been following my blog you might remember a while back I worked on some game dev projects with my friends. One of the people I worked with was part of this company that was advertising on facebook. I thought I’d give it a go. So now I’m here, in Wales, helping to design games for West Coast. It was a lucky break for me and I was fortunate to have already worked on a relevant project, which also gave me a bit of an idea of what to expect.

The company is actually working hard on a kickstarter project right now, to raise money to create a remake of the game D/Generation, originally released in 1991. You can have a look at videos/the demo/etc. here. 🙂

So, that’s what I’m doing. As I’ve said, I’ve been here only a week, so I wouldn’t say that I have much experience at all. But so far, if you’re interested (perhaps you want to do game art related things and are pretty inexperienced like I was/am?) I’ve spent my days doing tons of sketches and notes for an upcoming game here. It’s been pretty challenging for me as it’s involved drawing landscapes – something I always avoided – as well as buildings, other inanimate objects, character design, etc. For me, character design is probably the easiest thing out of those since, as you may know, I spend so much of my time drawing people.

At first I didn’t have a tablet to use so I focused on doing lots of pen drawing – no colour – on regular printer cartridge paper. But the other day I received my tablet, so now I’m working on creating some mockups and presentations of my designs using Photoshop. It feels very luxurious using Adobe CC, something I never thought I’d get to try out given its monthly fee 🙂

This afternoon I think I will finish up the character designs that I drew earlier on Photoshop, and I will try to convert some more of my paper sketches into fully coloured digital paintings/illustrations. It is really nice to take stuff from the sketches and to finally add colour to them…

I’m sorry that currently I don’t have any images to show, this is because I’m working on a new game and thus we are keeping things under wraps for now. Perhaps when things kick off a bit more for this particular game, I will be able to show and talk about the artwork.

If you’re hoping to see some new drawings and sketches still, you can have a look on my tumblr, where I’ve put my personal scribbles and bits.

Spring finally came – and then came summer – and then I came home

Well, I started writing this a long while ago – and now, I’m home – so I’ll share the short bit that I originally wrote, plus my own update.

So, a long while again, as is usual for my blog at this time. Spring has finally come! I was waiting and waiting in March and then at the beginning of April (I think, it’s been a while though, so…) we finally had some hotter days. Now, the temperature is usually above 20c on a good day, so all is well. It’s probably hotter than the UK is right now. Work-wise, things are as usual. I’m busy a lot of the time and there are many projects to work on and often there isn’t enough time. I hope I can make some better progress on them by the end of this month. Today is Wednesday, so I start at 11am and finish at 8.30pm. It would be 8pm but I decided I’d prefer to have an extra 30 mins break in before my last class so that I can be more prepared and energised for it. While it’s nice getting to sleep in until 9am I do prefer starting early and finishing at a regular time, so I can spend time doing other things in the evening, or seeing friends. At least I have the weekend for that, though. I also have some fun news to tell you all soon, but not yet. More on that later.

So what has happened since then? Hmm, well, I can’t really remember Spring all that much. I had a couple of days off during Golden Week and my friends and I went to Aomori prefecture, to Lake Towada. At some point we also went to Akita prefecture, to Kakunodate, but I think that was before. Then, Spring was fast, there was lots to do, and summer came around. It got really hot – one day it was 32c, which was way too hot for me! But, it was an experience I guess.

Summer was busy as I was set to finish on June 16th. So, I spent some of my time preparing for that. When I finished work on June 16th, I then had a few days to close everything up, clean up and so on, which was pretty stressful for me.

I’m pretty tired at the moment so I don’t know what else to say, really!

Before leaving Japan I also spent some time with some good friends, and we had good food (sushi) and a party the night before I left Morioka. I also had some kind friends who escorted me to the station to catch my night bus to Tokyo the next evening.

I’m going to miss Japan and I miss a lot of my students too. But I have somewhere to go for the moment and I will definitely be back to Japan whenever I can visit.

Yesterday, I moved into my new place in Aberystwyth. Well, not new as it is the same home that I stayed in during my masters year. I got a job! I am starting tomorrow. It’s art related. I will elaborate on it soon. It’s a Mon-Fri job which I am happy about – I look forward to having the whole weekend free to meet friends or travel. I’m also hoping to reintroduce my online shop, selling art and crafted things. I will post more when I have more information!

Anyway, thanks for reading this very fragmented post and hope you are all well. More news soon.

daruma san ga koronda

21.10.2014

Hi all, thought I should make an update since it’s probably been a while. As per usual with life here, lately I’ve been extremely busy with my job, and have also doing a reasonable amount of stuff during the weekend too. Right now it’s 8.30am and I’ll be starting work from 9.15am and finishing at 6.15pm. After that I will be going out with my friends to a restaurant… probably will not stay out late because I am very tired every day. Going to bed early has become a treat for me, not a punishment as it used to be. I love getting into my warm bed and reading a book… What have I become?

So, work is very busy, that’s nothing new I suppose. From this weekend the week of Halloween themed party lessons begins, and so over the next three days or so I will be quickly trying to do all of the preparations along with doing my usual lessons and admin work. We (my colleague and I) have been here just over two months, and it feels like we started ages and ages ago, but I still feel like there’s so much more I need to learn.

——–

26.10.2014

I made it through the week, and the first two Halloween parties were successful! What a relief. There are a few more, maybe 4-5 next week. This weekend I hope to rest lots. Today I was a little ill so I stayed in bed until after 11am, a really rare thing for me since lately I’ve been waking up automatically at 6.30am every day.

Written from later in the evening… For the remainder of my day, after finally getting up, I ate some indulgent chocolate corn flakes breakfast with milk (the milk here is really good). I then decided to cycle up the main street where I live to find a pretty river lined with a few super shops and cafes. I was recommended by one of my students to check the area out, and found a shop that I loved. I wanted to buy loads of their stuff, but want to save my money until payday… Unfortunately I didn’t have much time and had to head back home in order to eat lunch and make it to the Halloween event on at the place where I work.

I made pasta with pesto and salad for lunch, a dish that I eat almost any time that I cook (not every day as I often have odd working times), because I am lazy and I still haven’t gotten round to buying that many ingredients. After that, I cycled to work to spend a couple of hours observing, participating in and helping at the event there. It started to get a little cold at around 5pm so I decided to cycle back home, put away some stuff and then head to the train station to wander aimlessly around the shops. At the post office, getting cash out, I ran into two Russian ladies I’d seen before around town (there aren’t many foreigners up here!), so I said hi and chatted to them a bit. We exchanged contact info, and they later added me on facebook. Maybe we can become friends?

Anyway, I headed to the station, taking a quick detour to one of my favourite stationery and homeware shops. I am looking forward to future paydays so that I can buy some of the lovely things from the shop; indoor shoes, letter writing kits, even a few zines – although from a quick look I realised I’d have trouble trying to read the handwritten, tiny Japanese. Worth a shot though, right?

At the station I wandered a little, video called my mum and sister, giving them a tour of the shopping centre. I showed them all the dried squid snacks and curry packs in Muji, along with a couple of my favourite other shops, and then gave them a tour of the underground food section – restaurants and grocery stores. I have to admit now that I went to McDonalds for dinner and had a hamburger… after that I bought a cream puff from Beard Papa’s (strange name, I know) and then decided it would probably be time to head home.

At home I showered and got into my slacker clothes, a pair of black tracksuit bottoms and a men’s jumper I bought super cheap on sale in the UK. I watched the film Fargo with my colleague and now here I am, typing away. I enjoyed Fargo and definitely want to make a point of seeing the TV drama version too. I loved the Minnesotan accents and the snowy bleak landscapes. Steve Buscemi is a cool actor too, although I pretty much disliked all the main characters except for the main police lady and her husband. I felt sorry for the lady who was kidnapped and I felt sorry for the man who pretended his wife had died. I think he needed a good friend, or some talking therapy.

Who would have thought that I could spend so much time writing about a fairly uneventful day? Oh well, no need to worry about whether or not I sound boring, because if I am boring then people simply won’t read this, and I’m fine with that!

I hope to go to bed early tonight, reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, maybe call my boyfriend and my family too, and then wake up nice and early tomorrow. Then, I can take my bike and have a more extensive exploration of the bridge/river area. There’s also a shop I want to check out by the city station, although odds are that I won’t be able to afford any of the products actually there. It’ll be nice to look though. I’ve been avoiding spending money lately, afraid maybe, or simply too self-restrained! I’m trying to loosen up and I would like to do a little bit of shopping tomorrow if I may.