Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Spent the last 10 hours doing another self portrait for visual design. Thought I'd share the process as a series of pictures.

We looked at Lucian Freud and Jenny Saville so i thought I'd have a play and see what i could come up with.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Visual Composition

Right composition is something that every artist should know about. What’s that I hear you yell? “I am good artist, but don’t know what composition is?” Well pipe down and I’ll tell. Composition is the organisation of space…awesome. I was told in school that composition defines the path the eye takes when viewing an image. A focal point is a necessity in composition as it’s the first thing the eye is drawn to and starts the path that the eye takes around the image/scene.

To continue my poor explanation of this important rule I will move onto the rule of thirds with pictures and everything. If you took a canvas and divided it into “thirds” horizontally and vertically, you will end up with a grid that looks like a poor noughts and crosses layout. Don’t be fooled thought, where these magical lines cross it actually the “Golden Mean” or basically where you should stick your focal point to make the image look the best. This idea came from the ancient Greeks who decided one day to look for a reason why things look pleasing and sometimes don’t. So after working hard in the sun drinking wine, they came to conclusion that where these lines intersect on the grid would be now known as “PowerPoint’s” and whatever was placed on these magical points would become the focal point of the image.
Sticking a small army of lines across your canvas won’t guarantee you are going to produce a sweet end result there are a few other things you have to take into account.

Self portrait from last year

Framing – this is the use of objects placed around the side of the composition to help isolate the main focal point, this gives you a more focussed image that draws your eye naturally to the main focal point.
Depth- You’re producing a 2d representation of a 3d space that everything exists in. You can easily achieve a sense of depth by laying out clearly a foreground, mid-ground and background in an image.

Background- The choice of background is strangely important to the overall look of a piece. Too busy and you will subtract from the detail in the image and too bare and your image will look empty.

Symmetry and patterns- can make the most uninteresting objects into an interesting composition. Also by having symmetry in a composition and upsetting it by interjecting an object will give you an automatic focal point.

I consider myself to be pretty sharp and reasonably intellectual, but talking about why something such as composition works I have struggled on. I’m a very visual person and the lack of photo reference when in a word processor and led to me getting confused with myself and even bored. Hopefully I’ve conveyed I have a understanding of composition because I pride myself on my “artistic eye”, it’s what makes me unique along with the other thousands of artists in the world…

Shamefully I was unable to compile this entry completely of my own mind as I was suffering from a mind…. Block, I thought that was funny. Anyway I’d like to give credit to the below links for providing me something to write about.


Elements of game design

So I had a well-known word processor open and thought to myself let’s continue on this rich vein of form carried over from my previous entry. So the creative process is what I will loosely touching on this entry. To keep me on track I’ll talk about a recent visual design project I had, and the process I took to finish it.

So Monday morning means visual design for me. Unfortunately the lifts were broken in the building we work in, leaving me with eight flights of stairs to climb with no breakfast. Depending on the project and what is required of us, dictates the length of the lecture as you can imagine. This project was fairly loose in direction; produce a scene from the city I study in. No style or media restrictions, so obviously I was going to be struggling for ideas. Once we’re allowed to escape, it’s business time. So I wandered into the city centre accompanied by some chums for a general wander and to see it anything catches our eyes.

We spend the day producing quick thumbnails of some scenes and ideas on site to give us some ideas. I wanted to produce something that captured the fine architecture in my city but also told a story. So from my sketches I played around with a few compositional ideas and style ideas. I’ll post a few below of what I’d but I’m not posting the whole project for my course’s sake. We’ve all sat down before and drawn/painted what is right in front of us before and looked back at it and seen the mistakes or improvements we could make. The process of planning a piece hopefully eradicates these mistakes and saves you time as long as you don’t spend five months planning a sketch of a spoon that you could have done from the gun.

By the time I had finished the business end of the planning, all I had to decide on was what media I felt like using and what style I wanted to use. Given the time period I had to complete it I decided against doing an oil painting, and not because I had no oil paints, my brushes, turps or a canvas with me. So I chose to do a digital painting, I’m not the best as I’m essentially a noob after picking it up eleven months ago. So the practise wouldn’t hurt at all. With all final pieces you’re going to encounter problems not matter how much planning you do, most of mine occurred due to me going full tilt into it and not looking after my layers in Photoshop. This happens a lot to me after years of just picking up a paintbrush or pencil and just cracking on. Luckily I was aware that I would at some point be doing this so I was able to finish with minimal rage from Photoshop. I’ll post the finish article somewhere below to give a bit more colour/life to my blog.

The next blog is going to be a doozy, you think I talk a load of rubbish already? You ain’t seen nothing yet!
The Difficult second year blog?

They say good things come to those who wait. Unfortunately the prolonged return of my blog isn’t one of these. So once again I apologise if you’re unlucky enough to be reading my blog for a second year.
Anyway… After a long summer break and a few months back at Uni, I feel I can gauge how the first year went better. When I started the course I had just finished my A levels and only Fine art foundations. I researched the course before I applied so I knew what was in store for me in regard to what I needed to be able to do by the time my three years were up. I didn’t realise until around the end of the second week on the course what I had gotten myself into. Not to be one to turn down challenge or an opportunity to work in an area I love so dearly, I said early on I was going to commit and do whatever it takes.
After months of grafting away I felt i was getting the hang of things, from having no experience on 3ds max or Photoshop to producing the occasional piece of work that my peers liked was a massive landmark. At the close of the first year I had done extra work in all areas to ensure I would be back for the next year, so I returned home and got myself a job working for Jemlar racing simulations at Silverstone circuit, living at home isn’t cheap!
I aimed to get a head start on the second year by learning Zbrush and practising my newly acquired skills. The reality was that I worked 9-5 labouring for the first couple months off the back of the course and was exhausted. When work eased up I managed to get the occasional sketch in, but there are more distractions at home than at Uni in my opinion.
So after working all summer I returned to sunny Leicester to work some more. The first couple of projects I have done have gone a lot better than I could of expected giving me new energy. I think a lot of it is down to just knowing the software better and general experience in modelling. All throughout the first year I was in ore of the third years and what they could manufacture, I never felt I could be at the same level as them ever. However, I now feel that if I can continue to put the amount of effort in I did in the first year I will progress furthermore and hopefully to a level near them.
I have no goals in the second year other than to develop in all areas again. I don’t want to close any doors by aiming for one thing too early and personally I would prefer to be a more rounded artist as a foundation and push on into other areas from there.

So concludes my first blog of the year, i have lots more to do so brace yourself.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Week 24 – course experiences

When looking back over the last couple of months, I find it very hard to believe that I have almost finished my first year in Game art design. Have to say I’ve enjoyed almost every single moment of the course so far. The constant work load keeps me busy and out of trouble most of the time. I like the structure it gives me in my life at the moment and also the new found respect I have for my free time.

Some of the highlights of the year for me have been walking to various spots with everyone and sitting down and drawing. The camaraderie I have found on this course has brought many a smile to my face. Computer games and Art are to aspects of my life that interest me and I enjoy and to experience it with similar minded people has been fun.

The 3d side of the course thoroughly pissed me off at first, it had nothing to do with myself not being capable of understanding 3d forms, and it was all down to learning the program to produce them. After months of using 3d max I’m outstanded with what I now produce using it. I’m not saying I’m the poo or anything just that the level of progression I have made has pleased me greatly. I do still however find more joy in making 3d models from clay and sculpey. I do think the reasons for this are just down to familiarity with the media at hand. Hopefully I can continue to progress and get to high level of 3d modelling.

With my visual design I feel I have improved too. Drawing almost everyday has helped me no end I believe. As we are so often reminded on the course, no one is born with talent, it is learnt through repetition. As with my 3d work I hope to continue to progress and produce better works over the next two years ahead of me.

As for suggestions for the course, I feel it might benefit students to have introduction to using Photoshop for painting. I went to lessons held by a third year to learn the basics, but if it wasn’t for this I feel I might have been further behind on my Photoshop skills than I am at the moment from my ultimate level of achievement. I’m well aware that it’s down to the students to put the time into learning the software and agree with it. But I was taught 3d from scratch on the course so maybe it could include basic digital painting too.

Week 23

Nothing set, so for a change I will actually play a computer. Since learning about game design I have found not only that I have less time to play games, but also find faults in them rather than just enjoying them.

So instead of research I’ll enjoy a good video game.

Week 22 - GDC

Sid Meier- Psychology of designing games

During GDC I watched Sid Meier (of civilisation franchise fame) give a lecture on the psychology of designing games.
He explained that the main reason people play games is to win. The fact that whatever happens in the story, players expect to win at the end. Nobody who plays games plays them to lose.
Designers need to keep in mind that players will play the game again after winning, because of this different ways to win and complete the game must be available in the game.

Another way to keep the player interested in the game is showcase some of the “cool” stuff that you can do later in the game when progress is made. He says this gives the player a taster of the skill and power you can posses in game when you put the hours in. Sid says this period should be no longer than the first 15minutes of a game as to not give the illusion to the player when the skills are taken away that it will take 10x as long to get the skills back.

He argues that more than four difficulty levels add more joy to a game. In civilisation games there are roughly 9 levels of difficulty. The idea of progression from a lower level to a higher level, gives the player a greater sense of reward when completing the game on a greater difficulty than before.

The main clause in keeping the gamer playing the game is to make them feel good about themselves. One way this can be done by giving themselves a sense of achievement from in game A.I reacting to the players actions
When the action is taken out of the players hand, people becoming annoyed and feel the game is out to get them. This is one reason why Civilisation is a turn based game. It makes the player feel like the star of the show and that everything in the world can be affected by their own decisions in game.

The lecture was almost and hour long, but the way Mr Meier explained his ideas through experience and logic was very interesting and made the time fly by. Well worth a watch for anyone who is interested in designing computer games

Monday, 15 March 2010

Week 21

What do I want to do with my life? If I’m totally honest I still really don’t know. I currently enjoy drawing and painting as it’s what I’ve known for a long time. I do want to better myself though; I don’t want to rest on my Loral’s. Before joining the course I had no prior experience with 3d design having come from fine art. The problems I currently have aren’t from shape and form but getting the program to do what I want. The way forward is to obviously to spend more hours on it progress to a better level very much the same as with my visual stuff. I’m not on the course to mess about (even though this is debatable at times) I’m here to learn skills that can help me get employed area that I’m passionate about. A basic understanding of 3d modelling and working at urban tiger doesn’t interest me. I want to produce ideas that people can appreciate and enjoy through 2d or 3d modelling.

I think for me it’s too early to say what I want to do at the end. It seems although I’m pointing towards concept art but I want to more than just a concept artist. Obviously this all depends on my development over the course, and I suppose my career path depends upon it also.

Week 20

Creativity again….

Creativity can’t be defined in one sentence I’m certain of this. The only way even comprehend this human phoneme is to understand all thoughts and explanations for it. It can be summed up as a mental process involving the discovery of new ideas or concepts, relating to existing ideas or concepts conceived through either conscious or unconscious thought. This definition doesn’t explain everything though. It doesn’t just apply to the arts; it can be applied to everyday life. The way people deal with certain situations in life like a road block can be classed as creative.

Creativity can come through reflection of process and life experience. It’s the process in which we as race look to solve problems that affect us. The Neanderthals didn’t sit back whilst they froze and starved to death, they made tools and went hunting. Leonardo Da Vinci saw a problem with travel during his life time so thought how else he could travel so designed the submarine and helicopter. The difference between Da Vinci and the Sci fi writers in the 50’s is that Da Vinci’s ideas where obtainable at the time of there conception. Whereas Isaac Asimov’s ideas of Artificial intelligence are still not attainable to this date in the case of I Robot in particular. This takes nothing away from Asimov’s creativity; his ideas have opened up new pathways for new minds to find creative solutions to his ideas. My point being that creativity can’t be measure in its relativity. If Asimov’s ideas at the time are measured are in relativity on a scale of 1-10 they’d probably be measured 2 or 1. The idea of creating machines with unique traits was very low on people’s agenda at a time when the world was recovering for WWII and the cold war was warming up (poor joke I know). So what is the line between an idea being considered creative or just madness or stupidity?

My dad used to work for a model car company until I was 10 or so. I remember drawing ideas for cars and handing them to him when I was little and asking him to show his boss if he would make it or not… stupidity of a little boy yeah? Madness to show your boss the drawing? Or seeing it as a creative idea? A different take on a problem was seen as a creative idea and put into production.

So how will I show my creativity? I feel I can portray my thoughts and ideas through the mightiest weapon of them all, the pen. So I will continue to portray what is in my head in this manner and be judge purely on what has come before hand in the genre. If I draw something that resembles a chicken walker it won’t be considered creative but maybe my jet hovercraft will be? Yes it’s a combination of existing technology but the concept is new, less friction faster speeds and surface doesn’t matter? Creative? In the eyes of the viewer I think.

Week 19

What the industry wants is a bunch of all round superb artists. If you have a ten people who can do fifty peoples work better and more efficiently, you can pay them more than those fifty people earn and still save money. With companies looking to maximise profit and cut expenses this surely makes perfect sense why they want all singing and dancing artists.

Is it achievable though? I think so, but not on the scale the industry wants. I think as we move into a more technology based society the arts with suffer as people spend more time starring at computer screens. Added to this the governments plans to cut funding to the arts and focus on English, maths and science will mean an increase in less talented artists coming through. On the other hand, you could have someone who is completely computer based learning artistic skills at a late point in time. I think that in the next few years some of the greatest artists the industry will ever see will make and appearance and then there will be a lull in standards there after (Not saying I’m going to be one of the best ever)

If the industry wants all round artists I think they should start investing some money at early education and save the arts before they are pushed out the curriculum completely.

Week 18

Computer games and films have become ever closer with technology in recent years. They have both learnt from each other. On the gaming side of things, one thing they have learnt is the use of music. Music is used to add drama and reinforce the atmosphere of the scene taking stage. Jesper kyd has worked on the Hitman and assassins creed series he explains well the difference between composing for games and films

“When writing music for films, you have to pay close attention to what happens on the screen 100% of the time and so it's difficult to fit lots of crazy ideas into a film score. For games I like to add lots of subconscious elements in order to further develop the game’s atmosphere. My job as a game composer is to immerse the player in the world and enhance the vision of the director and producers.”

Kyd is one of my favourite composers at the moment. I first gained respect for music in games when playing Street fighter 2 with was composed by Capcom’s house band Alph Lyla. The music is so good I can listen to it comfortably now, this is also true with the music of streets of rage II by Yuzo Koshiro (that I’ve mention in earlier blogs). I’m sure these games have sculpted my love for electronica and digital sounds. Good times by Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards is undoubtedly an important piece of music of the 20th century. It can be argued it single handedly saved funky house (disco) from extinction from the mainstream. I don’t think any music can be handed that title due to some great records being produced to name two; travelling without moving – Jamiroquai, Thriller- Michael Jackson.

Week 17

Game engines are something that before joining the course knew existed by didn’t know how or what they did specifically but where essential for games. Very much like alcohol for courtship. Game engines from my understanding are software programs that allow people to create computer game environments. They are different engines to work with different operating systems so the information isn’t corrupted or lost in transfer. Engines allow you to render objects and set in game physics along with sound and animation. Basically there are the foundations that allow games to work.

So a variety of game engines exist in the world for a few reasons. One reason is that some clever fella decided to make one and sell it to people to make games. The second reason is that people making the games thought the engines available where pants so made there own tailored to there needs for their titles. Modern game engines have the task of running a multi used map that can be affected by anyone in it (MMO’s). Thousands of finely tuned calculations are needed to run online games to the standard the public now expects.

Vague I know, but I just like drawings pretty pictures really. I’m learning all the time so maybe in 2 years time I’ll write something that is accurate.

Week 16

Game culture in the last 10 years has come to the fore front of society. I remember at primary school trying to explain mortal kombat to classmate who thought I was part of a silly Fad. Now 16 years on from that, he has an Xbox 360 and plays COD thinking he is MLG pro (major league gaming). Xbox live and PSN have defiantly made a major impact on modern society. I think most important is the effect it has had on the current generation of youngsters. The term internet warrior has been created thanks to the squeaky voiced ragamuffin calling you gay and insulting your mother via his headset via one of these online gaming systems.

I have experienced the same in real life which is worrying. I remember going to secondary school and giving the upmost respect to the people in years above me because they’d beat the crap out of you. And now that respect has been lost, not just in school but in every day occurrences with youths. This obviously can’t all be blamed on the gaming or media in general but it does add to the problem.

You can talk to people via the internet without seeing a 3d image of whom you are speaking to and I think people forget there is a real person behind the other side of the screen. Just my opinion, I don’t sit awake at night thinking what insult I’m going to get next time I log on, as I mute everyone 

Week 15

The game industry has recently been in almost main stream news as of late. This is due to the heads of Infinity Ward (makers of COD modern warfare) realised that they wanted a bigger slice of the pie than what they were getting. And rightly so in my opinion as Infinity Ward are the guys who make the biggest selling game in history MW2. Basically Activision pulled a police state move and just fired the two guys responsible and said FU. But in America the land of dreams, you can put together a pretty tasty law suit.

I have been lucky enough to hear people’s views on the industry via guest lecturers on my Uni course. Both reiterated the amount of the time and patience needed in the industry. You are expected to be unemployed as much if not more than you are actually working throughout your career. Whilst living on peanuts and working ridiculous hours. Will this ever change? I don’t think so. Everyday there are more and more people learning the skills required to work in the industry. This will only lead to more work being done by freelancers working for less than Mr Salary.

I hope I’m wrong and as per usual have no idea what I’m talking about; otherwise I’ll go back to stripping.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Christmas break?

I think creativity can be shown in any form of day to day life and isn’t necessarily artistically or scientifically based. Creativity is defined as the creation on original ideas that have value. I don’t think creativity is hindered by technical constraints. Leonardo Da Vinci designed the hang glider during his lifetime 1452-1519. His drawings were not made into reality as no material light and strong enough existed at the time. But in recent years as we have discovered new materials people have constructed the hang glider and found that it does indeed work. The same applies for his submarine he designed.

Creativity in the computer game industry can be seen in all elements of a games construction. The initial idea for the game requires creativity. Making the ideas come to life on via drawing requires creativity. Creating something that represents the ideas on a computer program requires creativity. Anyway my point is in an industry that requires new ground breaking ideas to make money. It would seem silly to employ people who had no original ideas and no way of portraying them. If this was so this would have left the gaming world with pong to play for the next 5 billion years until the sun burns out.

Creativity in a game I feel is measured in the overall product. A game that has the same story but changes the artwork is still essentially the same game (Dynasty Warriors). You could argue that a game with new game mechanics redefines the game. So moving a game to Wii from Xbox 360 changes the game. However the underlying foundations remain the same and not making it an original idea. I may contradict myself now by saying that Assassins creed 2 is creative response to the first game but I’ll try and explain myself. As a sequel the game can’t share the same story as it would then be classed as a remake (Dynasty warriors). With the change in story comes a new character set in a different time to the original. The appearance of the character is new whilst keeping certain traits. Problems and actions missing from the original have been added to improve the gaming experience making for original ways to act in game. Sorry if it seems I’m working for Ubisoft promoting this game. I just wanted to show that creativity can come from previous ideas and be developed as a separate product.

I see myself as more of and artist at this moment in time as it is what I am most familiar with, I think I haven’t shown much of my creativity as such so far on the course. I’m trying to improve my skills so I can portray my ideas better in a style and manner I consider to be representational of my myself, otherwise I’m just going to be using someone else’s style and ideas that have already been used and won’t be wanted or that have no interest to the gaming world.

So yeah, creativity in a entry hopefully

week 11

Hello, hello. This week I’ll be sharing my views on game play and what it is too me. I had feeling that I had already written something on this subject before but I could find anything to copy from so here I am (smiley face).

My thoughts are that game play is the choice and role the player has within the game. So, game play can almost be classed as the genre of the game in question. If the player is interacting with the game in a first person perspective, then the game is a first person game. If the player acting out a role in a story, then the game is a role playing game (RPG). Now I’m not saying I’m right and I’m most probably wrong. I’m going on the idea that if you can class a game as a genre you can probably assume, what sort of interactions between gamer and game are possible. For example if you where playing a first person shooter. You wouldn’t expect to perform action to replicate the art of clothes ironing? Same for solving puzzles and riddles in a Farm simulator?

Game play is something that is determined in the story of the game and role of the player. Interactions and game mechanics don’t make the game play, they merely set the boundaries at what is relevant to the genre…. I think.

week 10

Going to cut the poop and just jump into this discussion this week. I’ve never been a big reader, I tend to get bored or annoyed at the amount of effort I have to put in. For these reasons I find most of my character and story experiences have come from film and games. One of my favourite films (like many other people) is Forest Gump. I don’t share any of the experiences that the character has experienced in the story but I can relate to the humanity that faces him. The way he is treated by people in his younger years makes you very empathetic to his character. When Forest starts to have some results in life, you as the viewer can’t but feel pleased and relieved for the guy. So creating a successful character is about creating someone that people can have genuine emotions for. If no one cared for Forest Gump the story itself would fail.

The Story in Forest Gump In my opinion is a near perfect story. It is full of twists and turns with some great highs and lows for character and viewer alike. The story intertwines with iconic moments in the mid 20th century. As far fetched as it maybe that a single man could have been involved in so much in his life; the story is believable due to the age and manner of the character. As for games, I think the best story I have come across in a game is Mass Effect or Assassins Creed, both easily capable of being films or books in their own rights. I wouldn’t say I was into Science fiction but there is something about the events in these games that border closely on the lines of being possible. These stories appeal to our (humans) natural curiosity of our world and how we got here.
I don’t know how to articulate further my ideas on what makes a good character and story, all I know is that I know a good Film or game when I see it. Since starting this course I have found it comforting in finding others who can appreciate good Films and games.