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.

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!

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

  • Calamity: Now 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

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.