Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shard Twenty-Two - Evolve/Advance

Let's talk art. (or specifically, talk about it in more detail than I normally do.)

Lately I've been noticing a lot of things about my own art. I don't know what exactly to attribute this to; perhaps it's the deviantART chatroom I've been hanging out in lately, perhaps it's connected to the changes I've been making in my style, or maybe it's just the weird mood I've been in. (which itself may be attributed to the long nights I've been having over the past few days.)

But whatever the reason, I've been having an easier time sitting back and looking at my art; not my artwork, but my art in general. my style.
One thing I've always been striving for is speed, as a matter of fact. My goal has always been to get comfortable enough with my artistic talents to be able to just sit down with an idea in my head, and within the day, have a finished piece of artwork. A result that I was actually happy with.

But looking back, I noticed a trend. Yes, my artistic talents keep getting better and better. More details, less mistakes, better quality in general. (nowhere near perfect, but progressing nicely.)

But I've also been getting slower and slower as a result.


It's brought me to re-think my goals a bit. Why am I getting slower, even though I'm getting better? It's my nature.

I'm learning new techniques time after time, and with every new tip I gather, I turn them into tricks to apply to my work.
And I've built up a pretty good pile of tricks.
Now, sure, I could probably emulate some of my older works even faster than ever. But it's not in my nature to "waste" my skills. So when I work, I apply all my tricks.
Now don't misunderstand me here; I'm quite happy with my style, no matter the speed. A few years back, I wouldn't have guessed I'd be working at this level. I still have even loftier expectations, but it is human nature to constantly want to be just a bit better than you are.
But the end result is, I have more skills. And I use more skills. And I take more time.


So here comes the re-thinking.

It's just not in my nature to learn skills and not put them to use. And for me to realistically just get faster, I'd need to not learn new skills, but simply master the ones I have.
Which is a great option, but not for me.

It isn't my style.

I'm constantly learning new techniques. Evolving my style, morphing it. My latest art project is an image of Myrkr-sefa; I've been working on it off/on for about two months now, and my art style has already changed halfway through the project. (I'll probably end up going back and re-doing some of the earlier sections as a result.)
And I wouldn't trade that advancement for anything. It's why I enjoy art. The feeling of learning something new - that sense of accomplishment when you stumble upon a new technique - it's pretty great. So what if it means your three-layer Photoshop project now has five layers in it, and takes an extra three hours to finish. (on that note, my Myrkr image currently has upwards of five layers, per finger, per hand, and a total of probably fifty-plus so far.)
The results are worth it. When you can put the final touches on a bit of artwork, sit back, and say, "this makes my last project look like crap in comparison."
And sometimes you can't top your last project that easily. But that just makes the next best artwork feel that much more rewarding.

So what are my goals now?

I'm not sure.
It's certainly not speed anymore. Sure, I want to be more comfortable with my style; but in the meantime, I'm perfectly happy with spending a few extra hours - or weeks - on a project to make it that much better.
I guess the one goal I had before, and still keep, is to just keep getting better.

And really, do I need more?



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shard Twenty-one - Getting The Fires Started

The whole storyline process for Fragmented Infinity is starting to feel more like a buildup than a rolling start, but hey, even an illusion of progress is better than nothing at all, right.

More and more details are getting fleshed out, but as before, the story itself is still in the starting gates. Something's bound to burst soon, either the metaphorical gate, or my head. I'm hoping for the former.


As I add more and more to the story, I've been finding the naming process to be especially intricate; while it's easy enough to just start naming everything, if you do it without regard for the setting, you lose so much of the understory.
Especially in Fragmented Infinity, keeping a common theme for each seperate Shard (world) is proving difficult, but surprisingly rewarding. One particular one is quite recent; the world itself is still unnamed (until recently, it's mostly been centered around one of the characters, with the world more of an afterthought). With a new character finding his way into this world, I found a lot of pieces falling into place; suddenly the art direction seemed a little more solid, and the "feel" of the world got a bit more flavor to it.

My naming conventions have always been centered around foreign languages, and generally involve some butchering - the more the better - ranging from my first names, created using "engrish" (Jioruji Derako, Anjiru Deruku), to my Vynaiocc world (this one was based on Greek, "translating" Greek letters to similar-shaped romanizations). As I've added more and more worlds to Fragmented Infinity, I've found myself needing to get more and more creative; for example, the world of Thera is party based on the latin "Terra", and also happens to be an anagram of "Earth" (fitting, for a world that is essentially a parallel version of our Earth).

I suppose I should give this rambling a point; some advice for the aspiring gods and goddesses of their own fantasy worlds.
Don't discount a name for being "too strange"; you'll often find these to be the best of the bunch. Even if you don't use a name like this, it can lay the foundation for a more fitting name.
One thing I've read (a bit of advice for writers) is, don't underestimate your readers. The world today is a smarter and smarter place; give your readers some credit, they probably can wrap their heads around even the most unwieldy names.
Certainly, if it's something nobody can feasibly pronounce, it'll be less memorable; if I could go back and change one part of my storyline, I'd probably work harder on my character names (Jioruji Derako is already a little too well-defined for me to change now, though). But if the name fits, wear it. I mean, keep it.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shard Twenty - Pieces Coming Together

Gasp. I haven't updated my blog in a long time.
Haven't really had a lot to share, actually. I do a lot of smaller updates in my deviantART journal, so I don't leave much left over for here. But with any luck, starting now - or soon, at least - I'd like to keep this blog a little more up-to-date. And perhaps a bit more focused; it is named after my Fragmented Infinity storyline, so why not dedicate the blog to some behind-the-scenes information on that?

To make it sound a little more enticing, let's call it "inside the mind of a budding storywriter" instead of just behind-the-scenes. I've been having an amazing experience thinking up my stories, as well as a rather frustrating one. Seems like an interesting topic to work on.

So to sum it all up. The blog, from here on out, will focus primarily on my experience working on Fragmented Infinity, as well as my occasional personal updates.
I'm working on writing the story, as well as making visual art based on it; digital paintings, 3D models, you name it. And on top of all that, I'm currently redesigning the Fragmented Infinity website.
So all in all, there's a pretty wide scope I'll be able to cover here. Assuming someday this story ends up being a success, I'll be quite happy to have the journey documented. And hey, if it ends up a failure, it'll be a good lesson of what mistakes to avoid.

Hopefully it turns out well!


So, lets jump straight in to the topic, shall we. (No reason why I should wait until the next blog entry to get things started.)

I've been finding inspiration in such strange places lately...

Anyhow, a recent example of strange inspiration is a design for Jeni Senka. I've played around with possible weapons for her for a while now (I don't know how long it has been since I created her), but a katana-style sword is the idea I keep coming back to. (At one point it was a sword with a hinged blade; I appear to have lost the envelope I doodled it on.)

Quick scenario buildup. I've been working on a few visual art projects recently, one of which is an image of Jeni. Outfit design as been a major focus; I've got Jeni's body style roughed up in 3D using DAZ|Studio, and one small accessory I added was a small knife holster on her ankle. The rest of the design will probably see a good number of zippers and military-looking straps and belts.

Jeni's ability, which is currently named "Shadowcall", has also been fresh in my mind lately. When she was created, Jeni had a carbon-copy of Jio's Shadowmeld ability; the ability to "meld" into shadows. (for the purposes of this ability, shadows are more than a simple absence of light, it is a substance all its own.)
But having two characters with the same ability seemed, for the lack of a better term, just redundant. So I set about making her ability different, yet the same; in its final form, where Jio can become incorporeal shadow, Jeni can instead make shadows physical. The reversal makes her style entirely different, while still maintaining a strong connection with Jio's Shadowmeld.

Long story relatively short: after watching an episode of an unrelated anime (To Aru Kagaku no Railgun), I jumped on my bed and pretended to swing dual swords. (totally normal.) After a moment of studying the differences between backwards and forwards sword stances, it somehow all came together into Jeni's final weapon design; two swords, her primary being a mechanical katana (the mechanical part is still in a rough form, but aside from that, it's a normal blade), with her secondary being a mere sword grip and hilt, which she keeps in that knife holster on her ankle. Combined with her Shadowcall ability, the sword grip simply channels her ability to create a shadow blade, in roughly the same katana-style sword as her mechanical sword.

Explained like this, it seems to come together in a roughly logical fashion, but in context - the image has been in the works for a few days, the ability was worked out a few weeks ago, and the final design came together in a five-minute brainflash - to say it was a shock for me would be an understatement.

If I had to give this story a moral, it would be

"When life's got you stuck, jump on the bed."

...wait, that doesn't sound right at all.



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Shard Nineteen - There Will Be Cake

Okay, perhaps a bit of trivial information for you all; Portal is my "favorite game that I've never played". Or it was, at the very least. Just tonight, I bought the game (bought "The Orange Box" actually, which contains Portal, as well as a few other games). Just a few minutes ago, I beat Portal. And I've gotta say, this completely changes my feelings about the game, now that I've played it...

...because now I can't call it my "favorite game that I've never played". Now I have to simply call it my favorite game.

The game is amazing. The puzzles are great and all, but it's the "story" that keeps you playing. Without the dialogue from GLaDOS, it's a great puzzle game, and certainly an addictive one.
But with that dialogue... and especially the ending? It's one of the best, albeit also one of the shortest, games I've ever played. I won't spoil anything here for anyone, but the dry humor in the game is among the most brilliant things I've heard in a long time. massive kudos to Valve for creating the game. The writing is great, and to be honest, the portal gun lets me live out fantasies I've had since I was a little kid.

"The Enrichment Center promises to always provide a safe testing environment. In dangerous testing environments, the Enrichment Center promises to always provide useful advice. For instance, the floor here will kill you. Try to avoid it."

And now it's time for bed. I'm not sure how long it took, but I beat Portal in a single sitting; I think it was about an hour. or two.
Possibly three.


...Oh, and a final aside; if anyone out there has a Steam account, add me. I'll happily join you for some CounterStrike, Team Fortress 2, or Half-Life2: Deathmatch. My username's "jioruji_derako".



Friday, May 22, 2009

Shard Eighteen - Game On

Alright, which topic should I start with? Let's flip a coin.

*flips a coin*

Rock Band it is.


This is a more personal update, here. As in, it's not particularly exciting. It's mainly just for those of you who love hearing about my personal activities.

For those of you who've been living under a rock and don't know what Rock Band is about, it's a music-based video game. You've got a Guitar controller, a Drums controller, and a Microphone. All adds up to a rock band; guitarist, bassist, drummer, and vocalist. (Bassists just use the same guitar controller, since there's not any difference in the gameplay for the controllers, only a difference in the song charts.)

Anyway, I play Rock Band 2 almost non-stop. I'm at Expert level on all of the instruments (the highest difficulty), and out of the hundred-plus songs I've got, I can beat all but three of them on guitar.
One particularly fun play style is if you've got a mic stand; set up the microphone on the stand, and play the guitar or bass at the same time. It's decidedly more complex (tough to watch both charts at the same time), but if you know the song, you can do it very well. It's quite fun.

Just today, I've finished up a fun project, which is the subject of this section; using PVC pipe, I've constructed a boom-style microphone stand. Why? So I can play drums and vocals both at once.
It's decidedly harder then vocals/guitar, but it's a ton of fun. I'm still finding out which songs I'm good enough at to finish on Expert with both vocals and drums, but so far, it's been working out.
I've got a habit of singing at a very low volume, since singing isn't something I'm totally comfortable with. But it's something I've been wanting to get more comfortable at; drums/vocals seems to be fixing that. I'm not sure, but I think I'm singing louder when I'm doing them both. (Mainly because the drum controller is quite loud, and I need to sing a bit louder to hear myself, hah.)

...that's about it, I suppose. Anyone else play Rock Band 2? I'd love to hop on XBox Live and play with you. =D


And now for the tails on the coin flip (yep, I flipped a heads).

The so-called "TRICO" game.

For those of you who haven't heard of ICO (I won't re-use the "under a rock" expression this time, since the game is sadly not extremely well-known), ICO was a very early game for the PS2 system. And might I add, still an amazing game, borderline artwork.
It's gained a cult following more or less, not gaining a ton of widespread fans; not because it wasn't impressive, but because it just wasn't very well-known or advertised.
The game developer, Team ICO (led by the visionary who thought up the concept for ICO, Fumito Ueda), later made a second game, Shadow of the Colossus. Another amazing game, this time slightly more popular, having ICO as a predecessor.

And now, Team ICO is working on "TRICO", which is a working title for their third game. Very little is known about it, other then the fact that it's in production, it'll be for the PS3, and it'll probably be really good.
And recently, a teaser trailer for the game was released. It's still a little tough to tell what the game's story will be like, but it seems to be another adventure/puzzler game, like the previous two. And it looks very impressive, which is why I'm taking all this time to lead up to a simple video.

I'm certainly looking forward to buying this the day it's released. (more info)



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shard Seventeen - Behind-the-Scenes: Fragmented Infinity

Okay, I'll admit it. I completely forgot about my blog. I have no other excuses for my lack of updates. I'll try to make it up.


Alright, since the blog is more or less named after my Fragmented Infinity world, I suppose it's only natural I put a few Fragmented Infinity-related entries in here. There's really nothing to be a fan of yet, but perhaps someday when the Fragmented Infinity story is up and running, it'll have fans. And they might like to dig through old blog entries for some behind-the-scenes peeks.

To those of you reading this in the future, this one's for you.

(and those of you in the present can enjoy it too, especially if you like hearing about all the projects I start and don't finish.)


Lately, I've been focusing a lot on character design. creating characters is a hobby of mine, you could say. It's mainly why the Fragmented Infinity world has so many important ones.
Now, the Fragmented Infinity website (linked above) has a Characters section in there. But due to my lack of updates there, most of the pages are empty. (They're there, just devoid of information.) So for those of you who are interested in characters, let's make this entry a nice little character primer. A bunch of characters are "finished", and only missing bits and pieces of information.

let's just do some main characters for now...

Jioruji Derako (Jio) is my main character. The star of the series, although the spotlight is also shared with Anji. Jio's also based off of me to a certain degree, although he's decidedly more impressive then I am.
Jio's also a very dark-minded character. While I've entertained some rather dark and moody thoughts myself, I'm nowhere near as impassive or silent as Jio is. This is the point where Jio stops being based off me, and takes off on his own path.
Jio starts the story as a very militaristic person, very repressed. A main point of the story is his transition to a more outgoing, open personality; how big of a transition this is will have to remain a secret until some of the story is released.

Anjiru Deruku (Anji) is the second main character in the story. Jio's the first one in the story, but when Anji shows up shortly afterwards, she takes over a good chunk of the spotlight.
Unlike Jio, Anji is quite outgoing and open. She's gone through a lot in her life (much like Jio, again), but she's not dealt with it in the same way; she'd much rather be optimistic, as opposed to becoming withdrawn. And for the most part, optimism works for her.
Anji and Jio make quite a connection early on in the story (although that's a big part of the plot, so I'll not spoil it). Anji ends up having quite an impact on Jio's life thanks to this connection.

Jeni Senka (Jeni) is a third "main" character. She doesn't appear in the story until a good while later, but she's a favorite of mine; very like the Jio we all see in the start of the story, she's quite dark and cold as well. I don't have many other details, unfortunately, but hopefully, I'll be able to get a picture of her drawn soon; like I said, she's a personal favorite.

Alice (Alice) is a final major character, who doesn't show up until a good deal later (after Jeni shows up). I actually haven't figured out what part she'll play in the story, but she will play a part; she's got quite a link with Anji right off the bat, and I hope to play off this as the story progresses.
Alice is the newest of my characters, and she's somehow managed to just straight up into an important spot in the story (Jeni was meant as a side character, and only later gained a bigger role). I'm personally interested to see how this pans out; these sorts of things tend to play themselves out in my head without much intervention on my part, so even I'm not sure how Alice will fit in the story. I feel like she'll mark an important part of it, though.
Alice is also likely going to get a picture done earlier then some of the other characters, but she's also not very developed appearance-wise yet. That'll change, though.


At the risk of lengthening this entry (which might be seen as a good thing), I'd like to cover some of my Fragmented Infinity projects.

...Of course, the story itself is a project. I am trying to work on that one.

One major thing I'm working on, however, is character reference pictures. General profile images; a casual side view, paired with a more dynamic front pose. The images will let me show off the characters (much easier then describing how they look), and it will also double as a reference and designing tool for their outfits.
Right now, I'm already started on Myrkr's image, with Jeni and Alice most likely going to follow. Lysa, Nott, and Lemja (the other three faeries) will probably follow.
...oh, that's right. I forgot to mention Lemja. She's new. I'll have to go into more detail on her some other time.

The other project is one I've mentioned before, and posted in-progress shots of.
That one's still in progress; it's temporarily on hold, while I work out the details of Jio and Anji's outfits. That's pretty much the only thing holding it up, however.
It's gone through a few changes since the last update I showed off, and it's even been colored in a few spots, but I'll save the WIP shots for a little later; I'd mainly like to show off the outfits, once I get some of that part done.
All in all, it'll probably be quite a good picture, once I finally finish it.

And that's about it, I believe.

See you all next time.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Shard Sixteen - Still Alive

Ah, how wonderfully that "let's post at least once a week" deal worked out, eh. Last entry was what, over a month ago?

Apologies. Let's try to get some updates rolling...


Well, in some personal news, I've cleaned my room a bit. "But Geo," you say, "that's not special at all! Lots of people have rooms, and most of them clean them every so often!"
To which I'd have to respond, firstly, that you shouldn't say such things so carelessly; think of all the people who don't have rooms to clean! For shame.
And secondly, this is mildly special, if you've ever seen the state my room is generally in; even now, post-cleaning, I have boxes of random stuff piled around the bed, cards on everything, and dust on everything else.

But yes, aside from that, it's not all that special. I just wanted to mention it. Moving on...


My Fragmented Infinity storyline has actually made some progress recently; almost an entire chapter's worth of writing is saved on my computer now, although unfortunately, it's almost all of the final chapter in the Vynaiocc arc. So it's sort of the end of the start of the story (I'd like to think the story doesn't really start until that point).
Of course, it's a huge spoiler in the storyline, and offers absolutely no insight on the backstory whatsoever, so I can't even preview it for anyone. But it's still a bit of a milestone to actually have that much of the story written down. Even more of a milestone in the fact that I haven't felt an overwhelming urge to completely re-write it yet. Could I have possibly gotten it the way I wanted on the first try? We'll see.

However, this does help cement the story in place a bit; I have the part leading up to the part I just wrote, finally coming into focus; that will introduce three new characters (one of which was originally a main character, then a side character, then cut from the story, and now re-introduced as a side character again). We'll also see some good "action" sequences perhaps. Not sure how well I can write a fight scene in there, but we'll find out.

Horay for writing stories backwards.

But once that is in writing, perhaps I'll have something I can preview for you all, eh. If not, I'll at least be able to get the start of the whole story going; then we might see some actual released story for your reading pleasure. (or displeasure.)


On the subject of artwork, I've got my main Fragmented Infinity character group shot coming along well; the project's sort of on pause currently, as I try to finalize Myrkr's outfit, but the picture is far enough along that it will be finished eventually. (too far in to quit now.)

I've also got a basic style set up for general character pictures; these pictures will eventually be finished for every character's profile page on the Fragmented Infinity website. None of them are done yet, but I've gotten started on them; the nature of the images makes them a little simpler to make, so I'm hoping they won't take too long to get underway. Jayael (a character from farther along in the story) seems to be the closest one to paper so far.

A few non-F.I. artworks still on the back burner as well, in various stages of completion; I might have to get one of those finished up if I get totally stuck on my F.I. artwork.


And a final note on my guitar status, for anyone who's curious. (if I remember correctly, it was the main subject of my last entry.) I still wouldn't say I can actually play the guitar, but I'm certainly closer then I was last month; I can do some simple chords freestyle now, although I haven't gotten the hang of strumming single-strings consistently yet. (fret finger positions are tough to get, and it's hard to strum just one string without hitting the adjacent ones.) But hey, I'm getting a feel for it. I don't expect to become any sort of rock star, but getting some basic rhythms and tunes memorized doesn't seem far off. And chances are, if I get into music creation, I'll be doing a lot of digital work with samples, so that could work out great.


That's it for now. I think this entry came out a little long, but that might at least make up for the month of silence a little bit.
I'll try to stay more active from now on. No promises, but I'll certainly try.

Keep an eye out for some more artist features, by the way. I'll be doing at least one more soon, I hope.



Monday, March 2, 2009

Shard Fifteen - Wah Wahs And Phasers, Oh My!

Congrats to those of you who knew what Wahs and Phasers were when you first saw the title.

For those who didn't know, they're sound distortion effects/filters, generally used on electric guitars, but also used on other instruments as well.

The reason I bring them up is because I've gone and gotten myself a small amplifier and a left-handed electric guitar to plug into it.



Alright, I wasn't quite certain if I would get an electric guitar, or save up for a keyboard, or just buy a solid editing program. But my trial of FL Studio is sitting unused currently (it's an amazing program and I love it, but I just can't get the hang of actually using it to make music), my keyboard synthesizer options are looking more expensive, and the electric guitar looked much more appealing in person then it did online.
For $150, I get a solid Squier left-handed Strat, which feels just awesome. $50 got me a little Crate Profiler 5 amp, which is surprisingly good, considering it's the cheapest amp you can get at Guitar Center. Ten effects/filters, nine Delay settings (echo), ten Reverb settings (reverberation), and eleven amp profiles (low-gain "clean" all the way up to dark, gritty high-gain profiles). And it came with Tracktion, a music recording and editing software I've never heard of, but it also surprisingly good. It's no FL Studio, you can't make your own sounds in it. But you can record about anything (the amp can be plugged into the computer via USB to record), edit or filter the recordings, arrange them, and, well, make music.

I still can't play the guitar, but I can play it; what I mean is, I can't play any songs on the thing, but I can certainly get some very interesting sounds out of it. It's got a tremolo bridge, but no tremolo bar, so I'll be shelling out ten bucks sometime soon for that. (Tremolo = what's often known as the "Whammy Bar", used to "bend" notes.) In the meantime, I have a screwdriver that fits perfectly in the hole, so I can mess around with it a bit. (don't worry, it's safe.)

I'll be spending a good deal of time trying to learn to actually play, I think; YouTube videos and other such things should get me up and rolling to a point where I can self-teach myself anything else.

Looking forward to this.


On a similar note, my younger brother just got a used Pearl 5-piece drum set. I'm actually supposed to be helping him unload it now, so I'll make this short. He's excited to play the drums of course, and he's also excited at the prospect of me playing guitar along with him (he wants me to learn some actual chords for that). It'll be fun.
I don't think I'll be sleeping during the day anymore, though. Oh well, it was fun being nocturnal for a while, but it's not going to be possible anymore...



Monday, February 23, 2009

Shard Fourteen - Featured Artist: tsukijin

Alright everyone, I'd like a little change of pace now. Rather then focusing on me (to my rabid fans, don't worry, that'll still be a priority), I'd like to focus on some fellow artists and general people whom I know, like, or both. (yes, yes, it's normally both.)

Today's feature is a fellow artist I've known for some time on deviantART, and who I've had the pleasure of collaborating with before.
he was also the first person to support my idea of artist features, and as many of you know, agreeing with me is a very quick and easy way to get on my good side. Of course, I'm only featuring him because he's a great artist. =D

Tsukijin-icon ~tsukijin

tsukijin's got a really great drawing style; very detailed generally, with some influences from American comics, especially in the shading. His backgrounds are especially impressive; I remember first really seeing his work in an immensely detailed drawing of a haunted-esque house on a block... I can't seem to dig up the old image, but the detail in the sidewalks and the house itself was quite stunning.

But enough mindless flattery! We have an interview to get into now. I sent tsukijin a small list of questions, which he graciously answered.

Geo: What would you say was it that first got you into art and drawing?
tsukijin: hm... As far as I can remember, the thing that got me into drawing was a show called "knights of the Zodiac" and the posters that were for sale at the local store. Me and my friends would trace the images from those posters onto our notebooks. That was the first instance of me picking up a pencil for something other than writing. Then a few years later when I picked up a Spider-man comic... that sealed the deal, I knew I was going to draw for the rest of my life.

You have a very detailed drawing style. What would you say inspired your drawings to have such a level of detail?
haha, I suppose it all goes back to when I first picked up a history book and saw those old Portrait paintings that looked like they were photographs, there was one that really impressed me the most, It was a painting of King George the 8th, in the book it had so many details, the attention to light was amazing and over all the painting was extremely badass.

Then I got a chance to see it for real in a museum in New York city. And I was severely disappointed... The painting was like 12 feet tall, and all that amazing detail I saw in the book was nothing more than hastily applied smudges on the canvas, the whole thing was an embarrassment. All my life I had been trying to recreate the amazing detail of that painting only to see it be painted out of smudges. so I decided that if I was going to draw or paint, the detail would be cool to look at from up close as well as from far away.

I personally find it hard to spot mistakes in a lot of your work, but the artist generally disagrees with such comments. In your eyes, do you have any weaknesses in your art that you'd like to fix?
of course, there are many things that I would like to fix in my art. The most noticeable in my eyes is the hair, I've been struggling with drawing hair for many years now, and I still don't feel comfortable with the way I draw it, so that area is being currently developed the most.

I guess I also have to work some more on extreme perspectives. A lot of people(including myself) enjoy watching wicked action scenes with crazy cool camera angles so I'm working hard to be able to draw that type of thing with minimal effort.

Alright, that's about everything I can think to ask, now. Any parting thoughts?
Well, I want to thank you for interviewing me. haha I had never really thought about my origins of art and stuff, so it was refreshing having to reflect on that aspect of my life. I tend to let things happen and then forget about them, but it was nice to reminisce I suppose.

Oh, one last question. Geo; great person, or greatest person?

...hmm. I seem to have forgotten to send that last question. I'll mark him down as answering "greatest". bonus points to anyone who can tell me what that's a reference to.

A fun guy to talk with, and a great artist to watch. I don't think I can say much more on the subject, so I'll leave the parting comments to some of his art, which has happily volunteered itself as a final bit of flattery. (click on an image to view it full-size.)

Just Sitting Halloween Mage Roof Ninjas Kishi Style



Friday, February 20, 2009

Shard Thirteen - Getting Stuff Done

Heya everyone.

Alright, no excuses in this post. I'm not keeping up with my goal of an entry a day. But hey. I'm certainly keeping more active then I was before, right?
And I've got some good content upcoming. I plan to start "interviewing" and featuring fellow artists here, along with my normal rambling posts. Those should be fun; for me, at the very least. I've already got one almost finished, that will be Shard Fourteen when it's done. Look forward to it.


Alright, let's cover a fun topic now. That is, my art.

More importantly, my art process.
This is a first for me, but I've promised to post this sort of stuff already, a while ago, I believe. For those of you who don't know, I use a strange process now when I'm creating an image from scratch; I first make a rough of the image in DAZ|Studio, in full 3D. That allows me to adjust and mess about with the pose before I start drawing, and also serves nicely to circumvent my horrible grasp of human anatomy drawing. Don't get me wrong, give me enough time and I can draw a proportionate picture of a person, but I spend so much time erasing and re-doing body parts, it's just not worth it for me. Not yet; the hope is that with enough work like this, I'll get better at drawing.

Anyway, the rendered base image looks a bit like this one (click on the image for a larger view):
Kishi style

...that's quite detailed and good looking on it's own, but it's got very little "personality". (do note that the 3D models do actually have realistic textures, I remove those in favor of blank white textures to make it easier for me to use it as a base.)

And image such as this one gets shipped off to Photoshop once it's rendered and I'm happy with it; in Photoshop, I start the actual drawing process, generally right on top of the base render (seperate layer of course, and often with the opacity on the base image turned up so the lines are easier to see).
The drawing now can be a few different styles, based on what sort of result I want. I generally sketch roughly with my tablet for the image, but I generally come through later with the eraser to clean the lines up. In some cases, I'll use the Pen tool to make vector-based lineart instead, although this is generally time-consuming, and I'm not the most patient artist. (from previous experience, I tend to get bored of the project before it's done if I take too long.)

As you may have noticed, the base image is sans-clothing; there are 3D clothes for these models, but generally not specific enough for me to use, since I'm attempting to design my own outfits for my images. I draw the clothing in later from scratch; once the figure has been drawn, it's not too hard to draw the clothing in over the figure.

Once the lineart is done, I color it using my usual style. I haven't quite got a coloring style set in stone yet, so I can't really explain that part; but perhaps that will be a good topic for another post, yeh?
I'll try to remember and take some "in progress" screenshots of this image in particular, and perhaps make a more detailed blog entry on that when it's finished. I'm sure that'll be a fun one.


Alright, and that's it for now. Look forward to my next entry, which will be my first featured artist; of course, all the artists I plan to feature are artists I like, but this guy in particular is quite deserving of a feature, I'd say.



Saturday, February 14, 2009

Shard Twelve - Of Holidays and Sicknesses

How many of you have missed me. No activity whatsoever for a full week. Surely that's not normal for me.
And it certainly isn't. I've spent the week laid out on the couch, with the flu. No computer at all for that period of time; can't think think straight enough to stand a bright screen, let alone write anything meaningful.

But I'm back now. Still lightheaded and working out a stomachache, but I'm just about done with that six-day long flu. Horay.


And just in time to talk about Valentine's Day. Happy V-Day to all of you, first off.
*accepts a few hugs*
Thanks. Now let's begin to complain, shall we.

It wasn't all that long ago, I remember Valentine's Day being the sort of day you'd get a handful of flowers for your girlfriend/boyfriend, maybe buy/bake some chocolates or cookies... spend the day hanging out.

Now I see commercial after commercial, all with the same message attached to different products... buy these $49.99 flowers, your girlfriend will love it. Buy this $79.99 teddy bear, your girlfriend will love it. Buy these pajamas, your girlfriend will love it. Buy these chocolates, your girlfriend will love it.
Somehow, it's only the boyfriend who needs to buy anything now. In most cases, it's insinuated that failure to buy such gifts will result in trouble. In nearly all the cases, it's insinuated that the girlfriend will be magically compelled to "put out" in return for the gifts. (the pajamas especially.)

I can understand the commercialism a bit, it's to be expected. People want to make money. But it seems like the whole point of the holiday has gotten lost even more so then most other holidays. The whole "love" theme seems to have been boiled down to the "make love" part.

I suppose I'm not much of one to be talking, having been single for all of my life so far. But I guess I'm a little old-fashioned; I'm not really liking this "new" relationship standard.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?



Friday, February 6, 2009

Shard Eleven - Virtually Musical

Alright, no excuses. This post's late. But I apologize for nothing. NOTHING., good news. I'm back on schedule. (if I was going to make an excuse for why this post is late, that would be part of it.) Took a full day of sleep and a fun night and day of being awake to get me back on track, but I am. Up in the morning, off to bed at a reasonable time. Just need to make it last now.


So, what's new. First off, I've gotten around to trying out my demo version of FL Studio (previously known as Fruity Loops)... it's actually much more user-friendly then I had expected. I've yet to make much with it (being a demo version, I can't save project, although I believe I can save music files, providing I can make the whole song in one sitting.

But I'm certainly interested in it now. Every time I start it up I get at least a little something up; generally just a simplistic beat, but it's a start. I'm running into the same problem I have when working on graphic art; that is, I can't get the project up and running fast enough to beat my shifting mood (by the time I'm halfway through getting the layout, I don't feel like doing the artwork anymore). But I believe that's something I can fix with practice; less stumbling around the program, more actual progress. It's the same way with my graphic art, if I can doodle or pose a rough of the image I'm planning to make, then I have enough on paper (or screen) to make the project more feasible for me to finish.

I'm excited to see how this all works out. The demo version I have is of the full "XXL" version of the program, with all the little features; it's the most expensive version, but happily, I can still get it for a fair price, so should I get into that, it'll cost me about the same as the electric guitar I was going to get. (although to be honest, I haven't quite ruled out an electric guitar as an option yet.)
There's a lot of fun stuff in the program; virtual piano, synths, various drumsets, electric and acoustic guitar samples... with enough time and work, I think there's a ton of musical genres that can be squeezed out of it all. It's just that time and work thing I'm still getting the hang of. I haven't even played around with half of the instruments and samples that are in there yet.

I still really want a keyboard as well, but I'm willing to wait a bit on that one; the ones I want the most are fairly expensive, for my budget at the least. The virtual synthesizer options in the program are enough for me for now.

And hey. If I can figure out some actual music, perhaps I'll be showing off some of that here sometime, eh.



Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Shard Ten - Shattered Schedule

Yes, yes. This entry is a day late.

...Or is it.
You see, my schedule is currently quite funked-up. For those of you who don't know me that well, I'm alternately an early bird and a night owl; more often then not, I'm almost completely nocturnal, while still attempting to follow a normal schedule.

Today, I got up at eleven P.M., having been up the entire night working on a bit of fancy wiki-coding (redesigning an infobox template for Bulbapedia, a rather large Pokémon wiki I'm a sysop on).
Technically speaking, if I go by my own awake/asleep cycle, I don't think this entry is late at all.

But enough excuses. I've got topics to cover. Just as soon as I can think them up.

...We'll be right back after this short line break.


Alright, I think I have a topic now.

Ever have so many projects that they all stop you from getting any projects done?
I do. Almost all the time. I'd list the various art and work-related projects I could be doing, but that in itself would be a rather large project. Just know that there's a good number of them.

On a slightly related note, I really dislike winter. Don't get me wrong, I love snow. I just dislike the cold.
If it's all snow-covered outside, then I'll happily bundle up and go sledding or just shovel the walkway. That's enough to warm me up and keep me amused.

But lately - the past three years or so - there's been hardly any snow. Just a good amount of freezing rain and occasional slush/ice. Not at all fun to go out in, so I spend most of the season trapped indoors.
Of course, when you can't do something, you tend to want to do it more. I really want to go outside. Perhaps ride my bicycle. Release some pent-up energy.

I enjoy when it's raining in the summer, that's not so bad. If you don't like the wet, sit inside and work on art until it gets sunny again. but in the winter, it's weeks, months before that sun starts to really shine again. After a while, you get sick of working on art and reading books.

That's why I have projects piling up, in my opinion. That's the reasoning I've come up with, at least. I can't prove myself wrong until spring, anyway.
"Seasonal art block", one might say. I could be working on music (messing about with trial programs), I could be learning more 3D modeling, I could be finishing up on multiple digital drawings and paintings, but my mind's just not in it.

...I don't think I have much of a point to this entry, today. Just something to keep me busy.
Anyone else feel the same way? Maybe you hate the heat, and love the winter? Tell me about it, I'm in the mood to listen to stories.



Sunday, February 1, 2009

Shard Nine - Train of Thought

Yes, I actually don't have much to talk about today, so I'll simply let you all take a look at my latest deviation. It's a self-portrait... or it was going to be when I first took it. I spent the next hour-and-a-half making it look pretty.

...perhaps that was an hour-and-a-half more then it needed, but ah well. It looks pretty, alright. (In my opinion.)




Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shard Eight - How To Try Less

Alright, second post of my new "let's try to write an entry every day" mentality. We'll see how long I can keep this up, eh?


Here's a fun little thing I've learned. Ironically, it's a lesson about learning.

Ever notice how you tend to learn more when you're enjoying the process? As a homeschooler (silly Firefox spellcheck, it is a real word), I've had more experience with this then most people, I believe. I can't rightly say I've learned more then anyone else, but I'd like to think I've enjoyed my lessons more then most others.
I've almost never had a formal lesson in my life. I learn on my own, by my own desire. Sure, I've read some lesson books, but never really enjoyed them, nor did I learn much from them. I've learned the exact same lessons in those books on my own, in much more enjoyable settings.

I learned most of my math from card games. I started playing Yu-Gi-Oh! a long time ago (a good start, but not my favorite card game). I often spent time keeping track of life totals; you need to do a lot of addition and subtraction in that game, with large numbers to boot. Playing the game well takes some quick math skills as well; you need to be able to count ahead before each move, figuring if you'll gain or lose an advantage in the long run if you keep a card in your hand or play it now. what's the most efficient attack step you could go through? How much of a leeway should you allow in some situations?

After a while, I "graduated" up to Magic: the Gathering. Much smaller numbers, but generally speaking, a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards had needless zeros in there, so it wasn't far off.
M:tG introduced me to a bit more depth in the form of variables. I learned basic algebra from that. The "mana" system also made deckbuilding involve a lot of math as well; with five colors of mana, and every card having a mana cost, you need to think about how many land cards to add to your deck (land cards produce mana), as well as how many "business" spells to pack in there (those would be anything with a mana cost). Pack the deck with too many high-costed cards and not enough land, and you rarely draw enough mana to play your spells. "Mana flood" is the opposite, when you draw into too many lands and can't get enough spells to win you the game.
Then when you get into gameplay, with the concept of "card advantage", things get even more complicated. You need to think not only about what options you have right now, but what your opponent might do, what options you'll have later on, and so on. The simplest thing would be combat; if you have two 1/1 creatures and your opponent has one 1/1 creature (the numbers being attack/defense power), you're probably winning. However, if your opponent has the same field, but five cards in his hand, and enough mana to play probably anything in there that he wanted, while you only had two cards, one of which you couldn't afford to play yet... now you need to really think about your position a lot harder. Probably, you're not winning anymore.

But I digress a bit. Something a friend of mine said about nine hours ago sums it up very nicely; if Magic cards contained nothing but numbers and math problems on them instead of text and art, the game would still play exactly the same. It's not quite as simple as that, but he makes a strong point; the game is very much about math.

Here's my point though. If you were just playing for fun, or even competitively, you might not ever notice this. It doesn't seem at all like a math problem. It's just fun.
I have trouble remembering birthdates. But I have thousands of cards memorized, nearly word-for-word. Cards I've only seen at a glance, cards I've never played with, and all of them cards I never planned to memorize.
Because I enjoy it all, it files itself away into my mind with no effort whatsoever on my part.

It's rare, but sometimes I achieve the same results with other things. A particularly interesting article on ball lightning, perhaps. A television show about volcanoes. If I'm not trying to learn it, I learn it.
Lately, I've been studying up on electrons and ions. Not as a science project, like one would study for schoolwork. No, I merely happen to have a few original characters I'm designing who have abilities based off electricity and the like. I really enjoy basing these generic "superhero powers" on real-life physics. And due to this, I've learned plenty already about how ion thrusters work, and about what it takes to make plasma.

Did you know, when lightning strikes, it's not simply a blast of electricity traveling from the sky to the ground. The ground is holding a large charge as well. It's tough to find pictures, but if you can see a shot of lightning just milliseconds before it hits, you'll actually see tiny 'streamers" of electricity jumping from the ground upwards towards the lightning. The two make contact, and bam. closed circuit.

Fun fact.

I suppose the moral (if there is one) would be that the best way to learn is often, not to try so hard. Your mind doesn't enjoy having information pounded in there, and as such, it'll often fight back with equal force. You hear so many stories of people who can't even remember most of their lessons from high school. In my opinion, it's because those memories have been suppressed. You probably didn't enjoy learning the information; why would you enjoy remembering it?

Want to learn about physics? Go hang out and play a game of billiards for a while. Try to make lots of bumper shots. You'll learn tons.
Bounce a tennis ball off a wall for a while for the same effect. Give it spin, hit it off strangely-angled objects.


...That wasn't so hard to write, actually. Didn't plan to take up so much space, but then again, I never do.

See you again tomorrow, probably.



Friday, January 30, 2009

Shard Seven - Getting the Stone Rolling

Alright, I may have mentioned this before, but I really want to get this blog updated fairly often. I think I set my standards too high when it comes to what constitutes "interesting content"; I don't like to post anything that's not big news.
A rolling stone gathers no moss; while I'd be happy to be gathering anything here, I don't think moss will read or leave comments. So let's give this stone a push, shall we.

I'd love to make this blog fairly active and interactive; I don't have to just talk about myself here, people. Got something interesting to share? I'd probably be happy to talk about it. Challenge me to write about new topics, and so on. So go ahead; drop me a line. My e-mail is Geo.deviant -at-, if for some reason you don't feel like leaving a comment.

But while I wait for the fan-mail to start pouring in, I suppose it would be great to have something for people to become fans of, eh. I'm going to attempt a "fresh start" more or less; we'll call the previous Shards just a warm-up, shall we. I really have tons of things I could talk about. I just need to stop, well, not talking about them.


Here's a fun topic; music. Lately, I've become increasingly interested in the whole music-creation aspect of it. I've always entertained the idea of making music, but that's about it; only entertaining the thought, not doing much about it.
Electronic music is my one love here. Certainly, I really enjoy lots of other genres (I started my musical journey with The Beatles, and I've gone through a few other waypoints of various genres since then), but nothing really stirs that creative spark in me like a solid beat and some trippy effects.
I'm listening to "Stress" by Justice as I type this; my foot is tapping, and my fingers want to be (they're currently occupied, obviously).

I just this night downloaded a trial of both FL Studio 8 (previously known as Fruity Loops), which is a quite complicated, but very interesting, music creation studio. I also have a trial of SONAR 8 waiting to be installed, and before that, I tried a trial of REAPER. I've been digging through video demos of various keyboard synthesizers; currently, the Nord Lead 2X is my favorite prospect, but before that, I was looking at the Roland SH-201 and the Korg microKORG (still thinking about the SH-201, and liking the microKORG's vocoder).
And, while not quite the same genre, I've been entertaining the idea of getting an electric guitar; that plan has been slowly losing my interest however, as I see my options in that get more and more limited (I'm a left-handed guitarist, and there's less lefty guitars then there are righty ones).

But I'm getting slowly buried by all this information. Beat and drum machines, synthesizer keyboards with everything from "bright" sounds to "growling" basslines... there's a lot of stuff out there, and it's tough to understand it all, especially when you're only just trying to jump into the art. I know almost exactly what sort of music I'd like to make, but I have little-to-no understanding of what exactly you need to make such music. Is that sound coming from a guitar, a keyboard, or some software? Hard to tell if you've never messed around much with any of the above.

But I hope to have it figured out eventually. I've got an entire band living next door (well, most of a band, I think they still need a vocalist). I've got experience with internet forums, at the very least. And I've got a Guitar Center not too far away, so I can ask questions when I head there.


...This topic actually took up more space then I expected. I don't plan to write this long every day, but hey, if I can manage that, I'll be pretty well-off, I'd say.

Hell, if I can manage to write every day, I think I'll be well-off. We'll try that, perhaps; I'll attempt to sit down and write at least a little bit each night or morning. It'll take a while to get in the habit, but I'd really like to get some more activity here, mainly from myself, but readers would be great as well.