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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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

projects update

Hi all,

I started to write a blog post on my phone while at work, but I lost all the text! So I’m rewriting this again. I can’t really remember all that I wrote however. Just an update. Usually while I’m at work at the takeaway, it’s quiet. So I end up reading books, studying Japanese and drawing in my sketchbook. It’s a good place to get things done, although not a job I would like to stay in forever. I’ve been applying for other jobs in art and less exciting places (supermarkets), but without too much success. I still need more experience to get a job in the arts… Maybe one day I will be able to just be an artist full time! I’d love for this game designing project that I’m working on to take off…

Anyway, as for my recent projects… I’ve been working more on the poetry book project. After stagnating for several weeks I decided I would get something more substantial done. I got some bigger, nicer paper and started working with an ink dip pen. I’ve done quite a lot of drawings now so I’m looking forward to sharing the images once I can. I’ll check with my poet friend!

My other big project is continuing with the game design work – along with 2 programmers and a sound guy (not sure what the actual term for a sound person would be). I spent several weeks drawing character sketches to try and work out what kind of monsters to include, and we had regular skype sessions as a group. Now we’re at the prototyping stage – I think – and this week I’m trying to make a full character with some animations so that we can test with it. Here’s a little sketch of a monster pet.

petI’m learning how to use adobe Illustrator at the same time as trying to create these characters… which makes me feel doubly out of my depth. I always feel out of my depth while working on these game design projects, but I guess that means that I am constantly learning new things. Regardless, I hope that I can feel a little bit more comfortable doing this stuff at some point.

Aside from those two main projects I am still studying driving theory and Japanese, and yesterday I sold a commissioned drawing – a reproduction of an old piece of art. Turns out the customer would also like to buy the original, so he’ll be buying that too tomorrow. This is all pretty good for me since I have been struggling for money this week.

I’m not sure which of these I prefer. I spent a lot of time on the original one, and spent less time drawing the second, because otherwise I would have had to charge a lot more. I’m glad that he loved both of them, though! I will have to draw another one however to give to my mother.

I’m going to stop writing now, because I am watching Ghost in the Shell anime, first season, and I have work again from 5-11pm. Hope that everyone had a good new year and ate lots of good food.

Elysia