Saturday, August 04, 2012

Second Digital Painting Ever

Click to Embiggen

Ok, so this one was a little more ambitious than the last one I did, and I'm going to talk about it in a bit more detail.

So, for this one, I found a random pic of a model on the internet and sketched it traditionally with pencil and paper (I find it really difficult to sketch digitally for some reason). I then scanned the sketch, set it as a layer in art rage and used it as a guide. I also kept the original image to use as reference as I painted.

As I mentioned before, Artrage is difficult to get used to, but its definitely growing on me. I've messed about a bit with acrylics and oils, and Artrage is far closer to traditional painting than it is to photoshop. This means it's a steep learning curve (and requires you to unlearn a lot of things)...but it also means you can create a lot of effects that are much harder to achieve in a program like Photoshop.

Anyway, for the interested, this took me approximately 4 hours from start to finish, using Artrage 3 Pro and a Wacom Bamboo tablet.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

First Digital Painting Ever.

Click for Full Size

So, I'm taking some time off work, so I took the opportunity today to do some drawing/painting.

I recently got a new graphics pad, (a Wacom Bamboo), and it came with a bit of software called 'Artrage 3'. It's a bit of a weird program. It's a pretty full featured art package, but I'd describe it more as a painting 'simulator'.

Unlike photoshop, it's just like painting on canvas. The paint will stay 'wet', the colors will mix on the canvas and it's a hell of a lot like traditional painting.Unfortunately, I suck at traditional painting and the interface was hard to get used to after years of photoshop.

Well, anyway, I played around with it for a couple of hours today and the above is the result.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Warning - Mass Effect 3 spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

There's been a bit of a nerd-storm over the past week or so about the ending to Mass Effect 3.

I have to admit, I was a bit dissapointed myself, but overall, I don't think the ending was all that bad. There are definitely a few geniune concerns, but I think the main complaint comes down to the fact that we're still adjusting to the medium. Basically, things that work in books and movies just don't work that well in games.

First spoiler: The game ends with Shepherd dying.

In any other media, we're okay with the hero dying (as long as they die in a satisfying and suitably heroic way). The Matrix Trilogy ends with Neo dying. Alien 3 ends with Ripley sacrificing herself. Everyone dies at the end of 300...and we're perfectly fine with that. In a game? Not so much.

Here's the thing. By the time Shepherd takes his swan dive from the top of the Citadel to save the universe, I'd just spent close to twenty hours keeping him alive. It's okay for the hero to die in a movie because we're passively watching a story. In Mass Effect we've had an active part to play throughout the whole saga. In the 25 years I've been gaming, I've been conditioned to see the main character dying as a failure state. When Mario falls off a cliff, it's because my reactions weren't quick enough. When Pac Man gets caught by a ghost, it's because I wasn't fast enough. When your character dies and there's nothing you can do about it, you feel cheated.

Of course, games are completely different to the way they were 20 years ago. No one asked why Frogger was so desperate to get across the road. No one wondered about Pac-Man's motivation... but, even though games and their storylines have become exponentially more sophisticated, that same mindset persists. If you die, you've lost

It doesn't matter that Shepherd had just won an unwinnable battle. It doesn't matter that he's choosing to give his life to save the galaxy. In the back of every gamer's mind, there's this little voice telling us that we must have done something wrong or missed some side mission that allows Shepherd to survive.

It's an epic, climactic end to one of the greatest Sci-Fi franchises in history, but in the back of our minds, we're still seeing 'Game Over - Insert Coin'.

However, the one genuine complaint about the ending is that we see that the galaxy gets saved, but there's very little closure about what happens to the crew.

It's sad, because character relationships is what Mass Effect did best. Amazing writing, character design and voice acting ensured you got properlly emotionally invested in these characters... not knowing what became of the vast majority of them just feels wrong.

In the end, characters and their relationships are what make a story worth passing on. Saving an entire galactic civilisation of trillions of people is so big, it's hard to comprehend and has almost no emotional impact. It's why you can read all the history books you like about World War 2, but you only get a sense of what it was actually like when you watch or read something like 'Band of Brothers' which gives a single person's perspective.

Basically, it was nice that Shepherd saved the galaxy. It's nice he becomes a legend and his story gets told for thousands of years... but I just want to know if Tali'Zorah ever built her house on the Quarian homeworld, if Garrus goes through with his retirement...or if Joker and EDI's weird-ass relationship ever works out.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Cyberbullying/sexting in perspective

Parents groups have expressed their concern today over the latest craze gripping teenagers.

The new craze, called 'writing', allows these terrible teens to share messages with each other without having to be face to face. In fact, just a few minutes with a 'pencil' and 'paper' and these angry adolescents can create messages that can be sent anywhere in the world.

Mr Dickcheese, father of four, expressed his anger and fear over this new technology:

"It's terrible. This 'paper' stuff can be bought, with no age controls, at almost any store . Then these kids make these weird shapes by making marks with this weird long, thin plastic thing and the next thing I know, my daughter's giggling away over something she's 'read'. How do I know what those markings mean? It could be anything! She says it's a joke frokm her sister, but it could just as easily be a pedophile trying to groom her!"

However, 'writing' has an even darker side. Earlier this week, a teen from Alabama was killed when a 'writing argument' spilled over into real life. The teens had been swapping mini-messages (or 'notes' as they're known in secret teenage slang), when one teen punched the other in the face over the content of the message.

'Paper bullying' as it's come to be known, is something that responsible parents should be shitting themselves over (and if you're not, you're a terrible parent). One child was sent over forty of these 'notes' in a single say, containing messages such as 'You're a sloppy vagina' and 'Your taste in music is inferior'. As everyone knows, bullying was invented in 2010, because, before the advent of writing technology, it was impossible to bully anyone, ever as children don't have the ability to just say these things

"It's disgusting," said Miriam McArseface, president of Parents Against Scary Things That Are Scary Because We Don't Understand Them So Better to React Than Have A Single Rational Thought Or Research These Things In Any Way Shape or Form. "Children as young as 14 are using these materials to send inappropriate messages to each other. It's time paper manufacturers were held responsible for the things their products are used for. If my kid buys some paper, and uses it to call a neighbor kid a cunt, it's obviously the paper manufacturer's fault. You can't expect the average busy parent to actually learn to read!  If I spend my time actually parenting, I won't have nearly enough time to get angry at people for not sanitizing the world for my child!"

In other news, Steve McInnovator is being taken to court after releasing information on how to create pictures using pen and paper. Initially hailed as an amazing way for the world to share even more detailed information, Steve is not facing a four year jail term after a twelve year old used his freely available technology do draw a big fat cock and balls which he then showed to his teacher.