Thursday, 16 October 2008

Bradgate Park painting, paper scissors


This killed me. I really need help with environments, it looks totally bland to me. I'd appreciate some crit if anyone's in the right mood, just lay into me if you want! I need to improve these things.


It's hard to photograph something 2d decently. I really hope my 3d modelling skills won't be as terrible as my RL modelling skills. I have...A rather bad feeling I'm going to have zero talent for 3d, argh! It seems oh so daunting.

Sharing an old anatomy book PDF, might be useful.

I don't know about you guys, but my anatomy knowledge/drawing is barely passable. I found this Andrew Loomis book on human anatomy which is out of print now, but here it's available to download in .pdf.

Right click
figure drawing for all it's worth and save file as to download the whole thing. I think it's worth a look...

Quotation found within the first minute of flicking through: '
Five feet eight inches (in heels) is considered an ideal height for a girl.'

Oh man, I love old books. When taken out of context, there's at least 3 things wrong with that sentence. Political correctness, who needs it~?
If you take a look tell me what you think of it. I can't wait to do life drawing!!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A History of Computer Games, part iii.

Here we are at the third part. I think my factual discussion last time was a little lacking due to the nostalgia bomb that happens whenever I think about old games, so I’ll try harder this time.
So, in the recent past/current times, games really have to reach certain standards now to meet the demands of the players. Compared to the 80’s, 90’s, and before, most games seem to have to subscribe to some kind of narrative, whereas in the past this element wasn’t really held with much consideration. Something which makes me happy is the amount of games that have interesting or complex plots and endearing characters which add to a distinctive ambience, which really engages your emotions and makes the game more memorable, even if the gameplay wasn’t fantastic. I guess this part is of varying importance to different people, but for me, narrative elements and interesting stylisation is what I tend to go for. I’ve played a lot of RPGs, and I suppose those things are more important to people who enjoy roleplaying and enjoy characters that’re actually compelling – RPGs tend to focus on this a lot, but I’m not saying all RPGs have interesting characters, more and more are suffering from classic anime sameface syndrome but continue to be popular with a certain niche; other genres are actually doing this better now and have been for a while. Immersion has become a more important thing, and I think narrative and visual style contributes far more than photorealistic graphics.

The first game I played with a strong narrative element was Final Fantasy VII, as I’m sure it was for most people. As a 10 or 11 year old kid, I’d never heard of roleplaying before, so I was fascinated with the series for a good few years. Being immature and impressionable, I hadn’t seen much Japanese artwork before either, and I know everyone hates Nomura now for his ‘beltsanzippers’ character designs, but back then all the designs were unique from each other, whereas they stick so closely to one theme now it starts to look generic instead of just cohesive.

Years later I discovered Metal Gear series and branched out from JRPGs, though Yoji Shinkawa artwork made me pick it up. The whole cinematic feel really kept me playing, even though I’m rather poor at the actual gameplay, but there are so many characters in the series to love or hate or have some response to.

With fighting games, I think I probably go about them the entirely wrong way. I choose the characters based on the ones I like rather than who I play well as. I’m terrible playing Jin Kazama and Kazuya, but since I’ve always liked them so much I’ll still play them even if I don’t improve. Tekken is a good example of this genre where there are so many characters, they all have to be appealing and obviously they can’t all be DEEP, but their designs are always rather blunt and immediately recognisable. I like how fighting games can get away with not being subtle at all in this respect, the Guilty Gear series is probably the best example. For this series, the characters and plot are fleshed out more in side-materials like drama cds and light novels, but those are pretty foreign concepts for us. GG also has the ‘choose your own’ storylines which are popular in Japanese games, Western games don’t really seem to pursue that. Also, Daisuke Ishiwatari’s concept art for this series is amazing. [Sorry, no insert pictures, just google it or buy the artbook!]

So, I’ve missed out many many things I wanted to talk about. I wonder if I've written about the right things. Whoops, I only mentioned really popular games!

A History of Computer Games, part ii.

So, the 80’s and 90’s. I guess I should talk about the Slump here. I think, some of the reasons for that was the fact that the market was so saturated with titles, and so many of them were just poorly-made advertisements for a franchise that flooded the market. There was a lack of innovation, and the prices of games were forced to be lowered to stay competitive.

1985 was the NES/Famicom. [I never had a Nintendo myself, but I went back and played some of the classics with emulators, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros, Metroid etc] Consoles started to use CDs and put things like real video and animation into games when they couldn’t before. There was also the era of handhelds, which further contributed to the decline of the video arcade, and have continued to hold a significant segment of the market

In '96 my parents bought me my own playstation, and obviously I ran home from school and had a strange kind of fit Nintendo64 kid-style. At this point I was already completely obsessed with Sony playstation [and Pokémon blue on GBC], I used to buy gaming magazines that I now wish I kept. I don't read them anymore because there's so many now, and they all seem pretty biased and overpriced. I was really into Oddworld around that time, because that game just stood out from everything even in the demo version. I think it was a pretty popular game, so most likely you'll know what I'm saying about how genuinely macabre it is, which makes it special because it isn't even supposed to be a horror game or spooky at all, its actually kind of humorous, but Sligs are just the scariest thing in the world, aren't they? That mechanical noise when they walk, you hear one coming closer and you know he's going to gun you down on site and laugh in your face. Or force some poor slave into a meat grinder. Also, remember those scrolling marquees with the ‘motivational messages’ in the meat factory? So so disturbing.

I said before I went back and discovered Tomb Raider on PSX. TRII was my favourite because it had the better action, [exploding Lara] but TRIII had those cool cinematics. Or they seemed so great at the time. They got a bit silly after Toby Gard left, but I still played the games. I don't even care if Lara was designed to pull in the male audience, as someone who generally dislikes the way females are represented in any form of mainstream media, I love Lara because she uses her strength and intelligence to get to places in this really dignified way, and at that time weren't most female game characters either innocent weaklings or super-violent dominatrixes? It disturbs me that we still see these lame things today. Also, she had a butler and a quad biking track, what's not to like.

Though saying that, I'm really unimpressed with the default costume for Underworld, it brings back bad memories of AoD.

A History of Computer Games, part i.

From what I've found out, it seems that Universities, labs, and military bases provided the backdrop for the video games industry. Many overworked students and researches turned to developing their computers into games machines, as a relief from their usual tasks of mathematical calculations, which kind of goes to show our constant need to derive entertainment from things primarily used for other purposes. It's pretty interesting how as soon as the capability was there, computers were used for fun.

One half of the games industry begun in 1951 when a manager at a military base, Marty Bromley, launched SEGA [SErvice GAmes], which would eventually grow into the coin-operated arcade industry which boomed in the 70s. The other half began with the creation of the first interactive computer game on a mainframe computer, Spacewar! in 1961. It was developed by student Steve Russell, and was later adapted into Computer Space, the first coin-op video arcade game by Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari.

Tennis for Two was showcased in 1958 by Willy Higinbotham on an analogue computer. About a decade later, Ralph Baer patented the idea of an interactive table tennis television game for his invention, the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home gaming console [he also invented the first light gun game].Pong was released in the same year by Atari as a coin-op, and Magnavox sued Atari claiming that Bushnell had stolen the idea. Apparently it was settled out of court...!

Now, personal history! The first game I ever played, I was too young to really remember much of it, but it must have been the very early nineties on my Granddad's old Macintosh computer. I guess it was something aimed at young kids, involving this turret made of about 10 pixels used to shoot a robot which danced around the screen. Its a shame I don't remember more about it. Also, in reception class we played this really trippy game on those old Apple computers again where you had to join together walking clouds with eyes in pairs based on colour. [Hnn, that sounds...Familiar.]

I didn't own my own console ‘til 1995, but one of the earliest video games I played was Sonic the Hedgehog on the Megadrive, as well as a load of film-based games on the Saturn at other people's places. It was like a super rare exciting thing, because my friends always hogged them and I hardly ever got a turn.

When they first game out, my best friend's brother got a Playstation and we started playing colourful games like Croc and this really weird one called Bubsy 3d. I wish I still had that, it was awesome, in a really bad way. For some reason, said friend also had the PC version of Tomb Raider, but we used to share the keyboard with one of us on directions and one on actions, so we never got past the first obstacle. I re-discovered it a few years later.

So, since this entry is already reaching tl;dr, I'll continue in the next post.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

First post, hello, canal painting, etc

Hello, dear readers. I hope you enjoy your stay.
To make this a useful first post I'm going to put some drawings in here instead of blathering on, so, here's some screencaps of the stuff I've been working on this week. Just click on them to full view for the time being, until I figure out how to edit the template html properly.


First digital paint of a landscape I've done, it's really hard. I sat under a bridge for an hour or so in the rain, on my own with people walking past, but it was the best one I managed to draw. Goddamn this rain. Well I scanned it into PS and just painted over the top, took a few photographs of the scene for colour reference but they came out really...whited-out and dull, so I ended up painting from memory mostly.


So here's how it turned out. Looking at the reference photos now, the angle of the far riverside is completely wrong, so is the direction of the water. I just liked the idea of having a big dirty dark bridge in the foreground. I need serious practise at this.

Bradgate Park was fun. It made me want to sing Kate Bush songs.

Lol hair.