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

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

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

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

always with the progress updates

Greetings friends,

hope you all don’t mind but lately I think my blog posts are just going to be continued updates on art and other progress… I write this blog as a sort of record, I would like to make it interesting and helpful for others somehow, though? So not sure what to do. I suppose I’ll share the tutorials and art supply sites I’ve used, as before, and I hope the pictures will make it interesting too… Let’s see… I’m checking my last post to work out what I have done since then. I think I would say the website is mostly all done and waiting for a new series of work before its next update!

Printmaking: As I already said I’m waiting to buy some lino pieces off my art school. Currently the lino pieces I have here are from intaglio printmaker and they are the softcut ones- thin, flexible, creamy coloured. I haven’t really enjoyed using these ones as the lino was a bit slippery, and am hoping to get some mounted lino blocks. I think I’ll be less worried about chopping my fingers off with the more sturdy blocks which will work better with my bench hook.

photo of several pieces of lino carved with two faces and one abstract form which is similar to the gourd vegetablePainting: After ordering myself some paints, paintbrushes and bits and pieces over the last month, I finally coaxed myself into painting yesterday. I tried my hand at painting a portrait of my friend, and I am fairly happy with the result. I often have the issue of the eyes being wonky in a portrait and I’m sad to say it happened for this one but overall I think it was a good first attempt after several years of avoiding painting out of fear of failure. Last night I started on a second canvas, this time without a photo reference, but I have a feeling I may scrap it.

I’m trying to get to grips with the medium and read some tips and so on on the internet, along with that I’m just experimenting with the paints. I get pretty impatient waiting for layers to dry though, which usually ends up in me trying to paint over too soon and ruining it and having to wait and then repaint the section.

Illustrator: Thanks to skillshare offering a month free subscription to people who signed up for a prize draw, I can now start my forays into Adobe Illustrator. For several months I’ve had my eye on a couple of the courses offered and I’m happy to be able to begin them now. I’m currently looking at “Master the Basics of Adobe Illustrator to Create Awesome Illustrations” by Julian Burford and I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Another course I’d like to do is about combining usage of Photoshop and Illustrator and that’s by Lydia Nichols. I thought I’d wait for a while before starting that one so that I could learn the fundamentals of Illustrator beforehand.

mac screenshot of a poster made in adobe illustrator featuring a girl in a space suit against a dark sky

Attempt at adobe illustrator – still in the sketching phase, next stop is the pen tool!

By the way, here is a link to a free month of skillshare if anyone is interested.

Actually, I just saw an advert in the paper today about summer courses at the London art colleges. I’m tempted to take a design based course in order to challenge myself AND improve my job prospects. They are usually several hundred pounds but fortunately I’ve saved a fair amount of money through my part time work.

—-

Anyway, woah okay this blog post is getting a bit long so we’ll leave it at that. As for the game design we’re having a meeting tonight and maybe I’ll make a separate post regarding my progress. I have improved a lot on the game design stuff!

As ever, thanks for reading and take care, feel free to comment and share cool tutorials, links, shout at me or whatever. x

sketch

I do some sketching when possible while at work. I got a new pentel brush pen which I’m learning to use.

 

Dear all,

It’s been a week and a bit since my last post; since then I have been getting back into my old job at the Chinese takeaway, covering a few days for the shop where I used to work, catching up with local friends, etc. so I haven’t had as much time as I would have hoped with my own projects. I have started one of my recent commissions, but I’ve reached a stage where my next sitting probably needs to be during a full day off.

Included in this post are a few little bits of drawing that I’ve managed to do in my free time. I have a bit less confidence in my work right now but hopefully when I have done a bit more sketching. I have some commissions, collaborations and ideas for a few individual projects to pursue.

A drawing of where I work.

A drawing of where I work.

I hope I can get to work on all of these things, but I must also work on my CV and apply to some more jobs. Working in the Chinese takeaway is nice but I’m anxious to make sure that I will have enough money to visit my friends and also take part in things like comic book conventions and so on. I also need to learn to drive. So much to do!

This is my 'help I've just finished university and don't know what to do' digital painting. I need to get back into digital art when I have time.

This is my ‘help I’ve just finished university and don’t know what to do’ digital painting. The face was really fun to draw, I’m happy with that part of the piece. I need to get back into digital art when I have time. 

My friend and I will probably be going to the Leeds Thought Bubble comic convention at the end of November, so I have to get some work ready for that, as well as money for transport and food. Luckily I have some zines and stickers left over from the exhibition which I can sell. I’d like to put my personal comics together and print them out to sell cheaply in a zine/booklet like format too. For my previous exhibition and university work I did create digitally printed books for the comics, but the production cost was too high so no one actually bought any! Perhaps if I create my own hand made ones I can charge a lot less and actually sell or trade some!

Blaaah, after writing this I feel like I have a lot to do right now. I’m trying to take everything slowly and progress at my own pace again… I hope that I can get everything done…

Elysia