Friday, November 12, 2010

She Had A Bit...Of An Accident

It's National Novel Writing Month! Good thing I'm always fashion-forward and already in the middle of a novel I've been working on for the past year or so. I've just passed page 150, which puts me squarely in the second act, and in the "middleish" for those who like technical terms. The image above that I sketched out has nothing to do with my novel, it was just for fun (because my "fun" consists of drawing the grisly remains of a woman who has apparently fallen from a great height? /sigh). The novel is actually a fantasy epic about werewolves.

Ah, fantasy! The genre best butchered by beginners and amateurs! Here's hoping I don't do the poor darlings any injustice. Because werewolves are pretty concerned with things like justice. And they have a better work ethic than I do when it comes to things like staying physically fit. Basically, any one of them could rip my head off and replace it with a teapot, which might be considered an improvement because hey, at least a teapot knows how to whistle.

Also, in the Warcraft section of my life, I've started a guild with a pretty unusual mission statement. So hopefully that'll do well, and we'll end up raiding into the sunset with pretty purples together (if that was a load of nonsense for you, just insert the shrill sound of a teakettle whistle here).

Happy trails to everyone! Pick up a pen or start picking at a keyboard and contribute to the novel cause - I can't wait to see the results.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Unusual Heroines

I've been drawing quite a few heroine-type characters out lately - just the kind of beings that creep into your brain and let you daydream stories with them. This is my Steampunk girl. Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

An Introspective Moment

I have had all sorts of things happening in my life lately - from getting a brand new car to a heavy installation of influenza - I've been living in interesting times indeed. Since today marks the first time in quite a while that I've woken up without dissolving into a fit of nasty coughs, I decided it would make an excellent blogging day.

This weekend will be filled with all kinds of last-minute Halloween preparations. I've been looking up spooky cocktails and treats, and working on my costume (which is pretty ambitious for someone who hasn't used papier mache since the third grade, so we'll see how it turns out).

Despite my illness (intermingled with obsessive vehicular happiness - I've never, ever owned a brand new car before so this is incredibly exciting for me) I have been drawing, so this post is featuring a self-portrait I composed using a fude ink pen purchased from JList (I can get the particulars of it if anyone's interested).

In other news I did not win Blizzard's writing contest, but am still incredibly proud of myself for actually entering this year. I know what a lot of the flaws in my story were, but enjoyed working on it purely as an exercise in and of itself. Next year I plan to: set aside more time for working on it, keeping it more strictly canonical, and policing myself to keep the story self-contained as it ended rather more like an opening chapter than a short story.

But for now it's back to looking at gummy spiders and mask sketches. I'll post with the bewitching results. Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Writing's on the Wall

My friend Meghan so graciously donated her wall to me a while back. It's a birthday present that was supposed to last a year, but has become a sort of tradition whenever I visit and it hasn't been changed in a while. I come over, she bleaches out the last doodle I put on her wall, and I doodle up a fresh one with washable markers. So here's the latest doodle:

I've been working on a sort of shadowbox sculpture that I believe I'll finally finish this week, so there will be plenty of pictures of that to look forward to.

Also, if the blog looks weird or fails to function, it's because I gave it a complete lobotomy. Let's see what happens now...

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Twitter BG!

So I decided to change up my Twitter background with an image that I drew by hand, scanned, then doctored in Photoshop. The drawing itself is from a few months back, but the coloring and such is all brand new.

In Twitter you can only see part of her face at the moment, and I'm debating about a monster resize or leaving the interesting effect as it is. But you'll only be able to see the image in its full-sized glory here, folks!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Alas, You're "Your"!

There is a disease on the internet. It’s not a virus, but a withering cancer of the English language. I don’t know when it started or who is to blame, but whether it was mommy and daddy demanding t.v. time instead of a bedtime story or the trendy apathy of the nineties bleeding into English class doldrums, it hardly matters. Because our problem is everywhere.

Language is important, and yes, even spelling is important. Correct spelling allows people to read sentences swiftly and without hesitation. Mistakes bog the reader down, forcing them to interpret a sentence instead of actually read it. While the creative centers of the reader’s brain may be lit up like Times Square, that’s not actually a good thing. After all, you want clarity in communication and ease of understanding when you’re telling someone something important, not an interpretive dance starting up in their skull.

So I’m going to tackle the symptom of the disease that’s most prolific: “you’re” versus “your.”

Don’t complain, don’t whine, don’t wiggle in your seat! This is important!

Very simply, many people seem to have problems understanding when to use one or the other. Hogwash. This is easy enough to grasp, and we’re going to go over it together. But first, a diversion.

What is that tiny mark just above? It’s proper name is the apostrophe, which is pronounced ay-poss-trophy.

It’s best to think of the apostrophe as an assassin, a brutal slaughterer of all vowels who goes on bloodthirsty rampages, usually hanging on desperately to the end of a word. Just as “don’t” comes from “do not” (and thus marks the death of the “o” in “not”), or “can’t” is the vicious demise of the “o” in “cannot,” the apostrophe is on the hunt for your vowels, and can’t be stopped!

So why is there a mean old apostrophe in the word “you’re”? Surely it’s not up to it’s old tricks again? Ah, but it is! Because “you’re” means, for our purposes, “you are.” We’re just holding a funeral for the letter “a” with that one.

So let’s use the word “you’re” in a few sentences!

You’re the one responsible for peeing in my cereal.

You’re just going to look at me like that?

You’re a heartless, cereal-peeing soul.

See how easy that was? “You’re” means “YOU ARE,” and you can substitute that in many different circumstances. Go on and try it. I won’t even watch you while you mumble to yourself. I’ll be standing over here looking at this interesting wall hanging instead.

Oh good, you’re back. Excellent.

Now for the second word, “your.” This one is even easier. To wrap it up in a nutshell, it’s possessive. What does that mean? It means that it’s talking about something belonging to the subject “you.”

Examples being:

Your dog ate your kid sister.

I’m kidding, but your sister looks upset.

Oh, your sister’s mad because I peed in her cereal.

You could sit there and list things that belong to someone else all day, but we’d all get bored at that point. So instead, pat yourself on the back and practice. Try writing your own sentences, or texting them to your friends and family. Cull the spread of the dread disease that’s choking communication to an early demise simply by remembering the vicious nature of the little apostrophe assassin. Your colleagues will be grateful for it.

You’ll look a heck of a lot more intelligent, too.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Something From Azeroth

Tonight's blog entry contains a brief excerpt from my entry in Blizzard's short story contest. Expect to see it published in full here if I don't win after their judging is over. Ah, and if you don't know what a "tauren" is, this is taking place in their Warcraft franchise story world. Think "Native American minotaurs" and you've pretty much got it. Enjoy!

The great gray tauren pushed through the snow, his usually stoic features twisted with distress. Behind him other tauren sent by the Elders accompanied him, all bearing heavy packs, lanterns, and ropes. Flurries fell around the small party, at times driving them back in their paces, but these gusts of snow were inconsequential.

For too many months the pass that linked Eyota’s home to the great plains of Mulgore had been blocked, impenetrable by anyone. The snow had fallen that winter like it never had before, storming and raging with a fury that no amount of prayers or practical efforts could alleviate. It was the snow that had isolated the tauren camp from the rest of the world, and what burned Eyota’s thoughts until he could no longer think with reason was that his family had been trapped there all this time without him.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moving Right Along

This week has been surprisingly busy, what with reworking a design for a company (and resizing without using vectors for a bitmap image can be surprisingly bumpy), doing classwork, and rearranging/cleaning all my furniture in a fit of fall pique. But I've still managed to find some private time to myself to play the mmo Atlantica Online which I've been enjoying quite a lot. The image above is a quick sketch of my character Ellekali in her ever-so-adorable sheriff's outfit. Shoot 'em up, cowgirl!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Satoshi Kon

Satoshi Kon has been one of my favourite directors since I was a teenager in high school. I remember slowly being exposed to Japanese animation back then like a dormant flower, opening up to it and responding to the art with increasing excitement and fervor. The first film of his I ever watched was Perfect Blue, and it resonated with me. After watching it I spent my days in a pitched fugue, thinking about all the Hitchcock I'd ever seen, all the film noir and animation, all the books I'd read about dreaming and schizophrenia - from Jonathan Lethem to Shirley Jackson and everything in between and beyond. He opened up a world to me, and it only got better.

There was Tokyo Godfathers. There was the television series Paranoia Agent. And there was Paprika - a film about the dreaming world that predates Inception, but cannot be surpassed for it's vibrancy and creativity. I saw Paprika in a darkened movie theater and left feeling as if I'd entered a new place rich with life. I blinked and stepped into light and flew, and he was the man responsible for that.

He was truly an inspiration. He was an inspiration to me and to so many other people I've known. He told stories that were complex and sophisticated and clearly for adults in a format that tends to be regarded as family fare in the United States. He challenged our concepts of what animation should be by showing us what animation could be. He did it well.

When I heard that he had passed away I was in shock. I literally could not believe he'd left us. He had so many stories left to tell us, he was so young, he was even in the middle of working on another film. Losing him made no sense, and it still doesn't, but death has never been known for making much sense.

I never met him, and I wish I had. I wish I had been able to tell him just once how much his work meant to me, and others like me.

Please go read his final words to us. They're beautiful.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Illustrated Adventures in Illustrator!

This week has been hectic with projects (not all of them creative or very visual, either). This is my first venture into Adobe Illustrator and the exciting rectangle/polygon tools. I actually discovered some nifty shortcuts I wasn't previously aware of - such as holding the ALT key (or option key in a Mac) to draw shapes out from their centers. My favorite new shortcut though is hitting the CRTL (or command key in a Mac) to de- and reactivate the Pen tool.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Two Universal Truths and Page One

So as a preliminary I took about a week off from blogging, and this post is coming a day later than I'd like it to, so an apology for not warning about that beforehand. A rare combination of working hard on other projects, feeling a bit under the weather, and meeting a new mmo (hel-LO sailor!) have combined to make blogging a bit trickier for me.

But I have learned a few universal truths about blogging over my time off, and here they are:

People often take time off from blogging because they are "busy," not necessarily lazy.

Writing a lot makes for a definite lack of cool images to post.

Not profound, but good enough to work with as a starting point. So in sad memorial of the absence of nifty pictures for the past few posts, I've decided to put up an excerpt from the novel I've been tackling. This is subject to change, it's rough, and it's the first page. So hold onto your hats and knickers (firmly gripping both to prevent wind shear) and read away.

The day was just beginning to get hot. The dust seemed to rise and linger a bit too long when the merchants and peasants lumbered by. The early hours kept the sun dulled behind a haze, but this brief mercy was apt to be revoked before long.

Tents and stalls were hastily being set up, small sleepy children squalled at each other from across the square. Hot mugs were passed along from hand to hand filled with bitter tea. Already there was some selling going on - a few sly barters between poultry and beef, herbs and dairy. Each vendor felt like they’d come away with the better deal, and grinned into their tills.

And amidst the slowly percolating commerce she stood there, eyes bright, staring avidly at the chickens.

There was such an intensity in her gaze - so lurid and vaguely inappropriate - that the poultry merchant shifted himself a bit more protectively towards the crates. He assessed her dress through pursed lips; older style, expensive material, worn but not shabby, but not fitting her quite right and somewhat slapdash in the lacings. She might have money, but that money wasn’t in the current coin. Perhaps her family had fallen on harder times and was sending out the daughter or maiden aunt to market for them - she wouldn’t know the value of the goods she was out to buy. Mentally he quoted her price and found it acceptable, even if he failed to find her hungry eyes so.

“Here now, good morrow m’lady.” His voice was gravelled with the hour and ill-use.

The lady in question shifted her eyes to his, and he shrank slightly. She was grinning - a most unladylike grin that exposed all of her teeth with such enthusiasm that he almost half-feared a bite. Her eyes glittered; they were an ugly color like a blue shirt left too long in dirty water, and there was a liquid avarice that moved across them just like water in a pail.

“Good morrow!” She enthused. “I see you have chickens!”

“That’s what I sell,” he returned cautiously.

“They look healthy. Very fat.”

“That’s why my prices are a bit above, you know. If I sold lean chickens they’d be half as much, but my birds are the pride of Hope.” He threw this out casually, leaning back on his stool behind the shelf of his stall.

“And soft! They look wonderfully soft.”

“Aye, no down would be sweeter stuffed in a lady’s pillow or a sweetheart’s favor.”

She laughed - when she laughed it was a spectacle that tossed her head back and made her hair glint and bounce. Hardly a cultured or pampered thing, this was the laugh of a madman or a sailor.

“I hardly think my sweetheart would want some bloody chicken feathers...although perhaps you do have a point there. Such odd customs!”

The merchant laid his finger alongside his nose. He was beginning to wonder if the lady was a bit daft, and could be taken for even more than he’d originally assumed. As he sat there ruminating, she reached for a crate and began to pull off the wooden slats. Immediately the chickens began to scream - not cluck or cry - but scream like fresh widows. The merchant stumbled to his feet, knocking over his stool, and his assistant at the back of the stall came forward to help, tripping over the stool and falling against one of the supporting poles of the stall.

The awning blanketed the trio, guards were coming, and in the middle of it all the strange woman was crowing with delight.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Contested Territory

In the middle of my thesis work (and progression on my novel, and searching for employment) I've taken on a few contests wherein I try to pit my wits and skills against the cursed, cursed monolith of Not Winning. So in addition to the Bruery contest I've entered recently, I'm trying to come up with a feasible and diverting tale for Blizzard's short story contest, as well as try my hand at a few designs for Create My Tattoo and Threadless/Jinx. Yep, if anything I'm persistent. So what are you up to, gentle readers? Crafting projects or wondrous hobbies? Writing the perfectly honed haiku? Whatever you dwell on, may it bring a little solace and sparkle to your hours.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Bruery T-Shirt Contest

So the Bruery had a t-shirt contest and I simply had to enter. Here are my entries, the second one (which I humbly dub the Rugbrod Bandit) galloping to the entry deadline as my last creative brain cell caught fire and exploded. Good job to all the entrants. I'm keeping my fingers crossed until the 23rd!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Out Of Character

At times you can reach a point in your story (whether it be a script, novel, storyboard, personal roleplay, or comic book boards) where you want a particular course of action to take place, but once you write it out it doesn’t quite work. There can be plenty of reasons why this is so. Perhaps the action is too contrived (Are aliens arriving in the midst of the unicorn cabal? Have you set up previously the idea that aliens might like to hang out with unicorns, or are you dumping them on the reader like an unwelcome house guest that has a tendency to pee in the potted palms when no one is looking?). Perhaps the action is arriving too early or too late within the plot and you need some major structural surgery. Or perhaps it can be one of the simplest sins and Character X has just done something that he or she would never do.

Just because you are the god of your own little paper and pencil world does not mean that you can whimsically tear it down whenever you feel like it (and if what we just read on the last page was “it was all just a dream” I’m looking at you...hard).

Action needs to flow naturally from the behavior of your characters, and basically within stories there are two types of action - what I’m going to dub internal forces and external forces. Charming Aside: I’m fairly certain other writers/instructors have tackled this concept, and even given the same or similar names to these forces, but I’m going to take a lazy pass and blame the zeitgeist on this one. That’s right, I’m not even freaking Googling this. In any case internal forces are actions that are motivated from the characters within a story, while external forces are actions that are motivated from the world that the characters inhabit. A hurricane is usually an external force. The hurricane can be a perfectly natural occurrence for a crew of people to experience out by some coastal town. That same hurricane can become an internal force if Character Y is a charming elemental-channeling sorceress bringing down the hurricane to devastate her fellow cohorts - either wittingly or unwittingly. Here’s where the fun comes in.

Is Character Y malevolent because of some past event and she’s out seeking meteorological revenge? Is she a bumbling ditz (beloved by virtually all Japanese animated series) who tried to water her sunflowers and got off to a bad start? Or did you just want her to summon a hurricane because you needed something spicy and wet happening on page seventeen? Normally I’d recommend another diversion if you need some mindless spicy/wet combinations (burritos are excellent you perverts), but if you absolutely need a hurricane there, you’re going to have to do some soul-searching. And by that I mean you’re going to have to search the souls of the characters you’ve created.

It can feel pointless and frustrating to list a bunch of likes and dislikes of a character at times. You don’t really need to know Nancy Drew’s favorite ice cream flavour in most situations if you’re trying to figure out how she’d react to uncovering secret military silos. However, you do need to know what your character would tend to prefer, want, or detest overall. Start big and then narrow it down from there to distill out the information you really need. If you have honestly examined your story and the way your characters are behaving and still find the action coming off badly, then perhaps something else is lurking amongst the lines and symbols, wrecking havoc on your sweet little world. If that is the case gentle readers, then you might need to break out the bigger scalpels.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Make, Then Take

Make, then take.

This is not a new idea. I’ve read its iteration with increasing frequency, from the stern but beneficent guidance of Julia Cameron to the stoic injunctions of adbusters. Here is my interpretation: before you absorb the work of others around you, create.

This is a lot trickier than it sounds. It’s easy to wake up and get caught in a tangled web of news, emails, advertisements, facebook - our modern mythologies are constantly in flux, and acting all around us. Our attentions can be diverted by nearly any little thing. But this is why it’s so important to take the selfish moment first, to divide ourselves from the glowing herd and cultivate our own inner creativity. Whether you write, draw, craft or bake - no matter the incarnation of your creative soul - it should be a priority to dwell on the self before engaging in the created works of others. This isn’t just for artists either, this is a concept for any human being.

People who don’t examine the world around themselves, who stop questioning, are often the ones who grow bored the fastest. You lose the ability to wonder if you flip through life in shorthand - one experience becomes much like another, and everything is indeed similar if you stop delving into the details, stop dragging the toughest questions into the light. Sometimes the hardest questions to ask can still be the simplest: “Why am I doing this? Why am I saying that?”

We’re losing ourselves in the world around us. Sometimes this can be a positive thing. The phrase is “lost in a good book” after all - in someone else’s world we hang, suspended - and being there can inspire a lot of great thought and innovation.

It’s when the feedback dies, when the creativity only goes one way, that we die. Merely absorbing worlds passively, becoming sponges to the television or films or jingles, is the beginning of inertia.

The hardest thing for me to do every day is to remember to innovate before I intake, to not only open my mind but perpetually reopen it at every turn. It is so easy to merely have a feeling or thought without examining it, it’s a lot harder to investigate why something evoked that in the first place.

Because I’ve been thinking about this idea quite a bit, I ended up shortening it into a brief rhyme - it’s how my mind works. And that’s what I’m sharing with you gentle readers. I hope it takes you someplace special.

Make, then take.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Evolution of a Matte Painting

A couple of months ago I was working at an internship where I got the opportunity to help create a digital matte painting for a shot in a live action short film entitled The Hunting of the Snark directed by Michael McNeff. The following images chart the general development of the matte from conception to the final product. I studied a Gnomon workshop DVD about matte paintings before attempting this one, and learned quite a bit along the way!

This was the first preliminary sketch for the matte painting. The mountains are intended to communicate a frightening, almost alien world that certainly does alienate the characters. I indicate lighting in a rough way so that the moonlight gave kind of an eerie feel. At this stage the time of day was determined to be early twilight, combined with some dusk tones, but those were quickly eliminated early on. Note the red safety zones indicating what part of the image would not be seen in the final result.

At this stage I was developing the texture of the mountains using pieces of a photographed source material (mountains that were actually very brown in tones and photographed during the day). Hues were adjusted and a great deal of darkness and light were implied using the dodge and burn tools. Some shadows were also painted in and blended here.

Here's one of the preliminary passes with an earlier time of day implied. The foreground was largely unnecessary as actors would cover up most of that area in the final composition, but was included to cover up any empty areas between actors, and continue the illusion of realistic space. A kind of fog is made predominant as a temporary experiment.

In this version the time of day is obviously later, and the mountain on the right was narrowed in an attempt to make it more jagged and scarier. I was told to imitate shale, and a lot of research on shale followed.

This is the beginning of a series of versions where I was imitating a fellow matte painter who had used a more painterly style to create their images as requested by the director. Here the textures feel quite a bit more artificial. Even though these weren't chosen in the end, they still have a fairly interesting feel, and were fun to experiment with.

Michael was dissatisfied with the painterly way things were going, so we ended up scrapping that progression, and I drew a few more rough sketches and refined them. We ended up choosing this one to work with.

Using a similar process as before, textures were tweaked until this was the final result. Note that the lighting is perhaps a bit lighter in the sky, while the mountains are largely dark, helping to encourage a twilight feel. Although the edges of the mountains are sharp, they will be adjusted in the final composite in After Effects once atmospheric distortion is applied.

Here's an approximation of what the final composition would feel like. Overall the lighting in the background balances nicely with the foreground elements, and while the background gives a feeling of claustrophobia, they're not too interesting to detract from the foreground action. Michael liked the results quite a lot!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Secret Enterprises in the Living Room

While saying "I've been busy" can be a great (and honest) excuse, it's never very satisfying in the long run. All those days spent away from the blog (and my friends) - what was I doing that was so damnably important that I could neglect updating this oddball collection of art and random musings?

A novel, that's what.

Of course it may be yet another novel that will reach the eyes of only one or two close friends before it finds its home wedged behind the couch, but I'm rather enjoying this endeavor regardless. It's amazingly cathartic to materialize all these daydreams I've had for so many years (this is an idea I've been picking at since middle school...ew, I know) into the gorgeous, fat lines of text I've been spewing. And spew, spew I have been! Sweet, delicious...spew.

Perhaps I should rethink my choice of secret passions. Nah.

In addition to the novel I've been working at my internship diligently, and I've started learning the ropes of digital matte painting in addition to picking up SynthEyes. I rather love the matte painting, and my boss lent me a tutorial DVD by the Gnomon workshop to study before I started cracking open the ole Wacom. The DVD was extremely interesting, and I'm now delving into Photoshop's Extract filter, which is a world of confusion and delight all on its own.

I'm also getting used to living alone - cats exempt from this statement of course. You'd be surprised at how fascinating setting up your own schedule can be when you're not used to it. Compound that with the complete liberty of a free space, and quite a lot of shenanigans end up taking place. Think of the spew! Oh that scrumptious spew!

I'm also beginning to go over my thesis concept again - boards, script, research - everything needs to be redone, and it's a weighty occupation I'm enjoying quite a lot, but having difficulty refining to my satisfaction.

And because I haven't posted art in quite a while, the image above is another scribble stolen from my sketchbook. I think I'll have a lot of fun working on different ideas for color when I finally get around to her.

Even though my secrets have been revealed, be sure that there's always another project on the horizon waiting to materialize and possibly devour some wiggly bit of your anatomy!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Education of Miss Lopes

As I engage ever deeper into the realm of internshipland, I find myself learning all sorts of interesting tidbits about the special effects world. If you're unfamiliar with my internship, I'm doing compositing work on a short film narrated by Sir Christopher Lee. Mostly I pull track marks in After Effects, and matte out bad green screen while trying to make the image retain it's inherent beauty. It was shot on a Red, which has a gorgeous silky look to it that's very reminiscent of film.

Collected here are a few hodgepodge things I've learned that I believe retain some element of interest to the most casual of sfx-lovers.

Gareth Edwards created an entire army for BBC's Attila the Hun while working with primarily two-dimensional effects. Quite an amazing feat for one man working alone. The video below will illustrate how he did this.

"Rolling Shutter" occurs when digital camera information comes in at the top of an image faster than at the bottom (at times in milliseconds), creating a skew. The foundry is creating a plugin to correct this distortion. Click here to watch a two minute film describing both the distortion and their plugin.

And if you're going to shoot a 3D camera movement with green screen, always, always, ALWAYS set up a C-stand with a track mark on it near the characters/figures/objects you are shooting that are standing away from the walls. You will be a lot happier you did.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting Sketchy

I've been doing a lot of rough art in my sketchbook lately - some of them are different ideas I've been toying with for stories (some are illustrations for a novel I'm working on, for example), others are pieces I'd like to elaborate on for personal crafts, and still others are for homemade comic books I'm going to take a stab at doing (yet again!). I won't say which sketches are for what here - you can take your best guesses.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Life Like Citrus

I haven't posted for a couple weeks, and I could claim the regular culprits - my life is so busy! Everything is happening at once! I couldn't make time! This would be true, but I should have made the effort to post regardless, because posting gives me some balance in all the chaos.

My life right now in summary: Moving out of my apartment at the end of the month, but I have no new place picked to live in yet. I work at my internship twice a week and do a lot of keying and green screen matting - love my internship. The video game project is coming to its startling conclusion, and our demo presentation is looking fairly grim.

Creatively my ambitions have been reduced to a lot of quick sketches in a notebook, and a couple of pale stabs at writing caught between the business of living. One of my writing sketches is up at Gather. Life should be a lot more bitter than it is; I'm in transition, but mostly I'm a bit numb, a bit happy, a bit all right.

Enjoy this video by Ira Glass - it's the third one in a series about storytelling, and completely made my day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The camera now has batteries - huzzah! This is the watercolor I've been painting with Sumi-E inks on Yupo paper. It's actually extremely textural, which is difficult to see with this photograph, but it was very, very fun to manipulate.

The image comes from a kind of half-dream I had as I was falling asleep and thinking about a story I've tackled off and on for years. In the dream a yellow ribbon was fitted under my chin, pierced the undersides of my lower eyelids, covered my eyes tightly, then was threaded through my upper eyelids to tie on top of a huge rusty cage on my head. The creature in the change kept on changing restlessly, but often settled on being a sort of raven man glaring out between the bars. The idea is actually rich in symbolism and portents, but I'll leave that to your glowing insight to dredge out.


Oh, and I prefer the sideways version, but it started upright - that's why there's two.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

New Post, No Art

Aesthetically-inclined citizens, sorrow! The batteries in my camera are dead and the scanner I have access to is out there, in the windy rainy area I see when I peek out between my blinds. So today's post is art-free, and sad to be this way.

An apology in advance for the lack of posting, but life has been topsy-turvy as of late. I've started an internship at Unthinkable Images working on compositing and green screen replacement. This is fascinating stuff, very detail-oriented, and fun to learn. Even though the company is very, very small, the people and the work are phenomenal. I'm learning quite a lot, and having fun doing it.

I've posted an essay on The Art of Unemployment at Gather, so feel free to check that out and chortle along.

I've also finished a watercolor that this blog posted the underpainting of - but alas I can't share the final results yet (see paragraph one)!

Also, I've joined facebook finally, and Johnnie Grinder is both my facebook cohort, and newest member of my blogroll. Go check his stuff out! It's awesome!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Living Desert...

Everyone has a holy relic - an object symbolic and profound even it its very mundanity. For some it's a place, a memory, a piece of jewelry. My object is a book, battered and much-loved, the corners rounded because everything gets rounder with age.

It's a copy of Walt Disney's Living Desert, a book that attempts to be educational by being anecdotal, but succeeds best with its photography.

For it is a picture book after all, with many color stills taken from Disney's documentary series of the same name. Illustrations in clean black lines alternate with harrowing photos of bobcats and rattlesnakes, threshes and hornets.

Because at its core, it's lurid, beautiful heart, Living Desert is about curiosity and wonder at the simple and wonderful savagery of nature in its raw form.

No matter the anecdotes and the cinematography, my holy relic speaks about man's love for blood, and the constant struggle between admiration and horror within that no one resolved into an appreciative, family-friendly format like Disney could.

And when I flip through it I am comforted, recalling my childhood sorrow and delight as the bobcat escaped the wild boars, and the red-tailed hawk devoured his freshly-slaughtered rattlesnake. Because we are animals too, and in our own lurid hearts will never end our romance with our primal selves. To remove that would be to sterilize our selves, and our very souls.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Underlings Arrive

It occurred to me when I was looking at the Ripper blog post that the art is all very...small. So I decided to post some of the character designs here where they'll be big and friendly and want you to click on them. The quality of the scanner I used at UCLA is simply amazing - I'm going to write down the specs of the machine when I go there tomorrow to see if I can wrangle the tech gods on high to send me one of those bad boys. And of course I'll let my faithful readers know what the specs are too!

The illustrations are painted with Sumi-E watercolors and have a beautiful opacity and density to them - I'm loving working with them. There are two underlings - henchmen of Jack the Ripper - and a sidekick of the protagonist, a little street urchin girl who dresses as a boy.

Enjoy. ^_^

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pulling Aggro 1

So here's my first attempt at a Warcraft-related comic (that I promised a few days ago). The characters are roughly based on my main (Stirfry) and my friend Sinnerchrono. Note that Lawl isn't based on anyone in my guild, but just on the general principle of horrible tanks - i.e., the guy who knows everything about what everyone else is supposed to be doing in a raid but doesn't, quite possibly, seem to know much about tanking. And actually Sinnerchrono has much better armor than I drew here, but my Wacom pen decided that life was too much for it to bear and took the easy way out via the trash can. In the future I think I'd prefer to draw on either a Cintiq, or hand-draw and scan like the villainous scum I am. /sigh

Oh yeah, and if you click on the pic you get a bigger image, you techwizards, you.

Anyway, enjoy! ^_^

Ripper Game and a New Demo Reel

I've put a new post up at the Ripper game site - feel free to check out some of the new character designs and concept art I've uploaded. Also, the video below is a brand new demo reel of my work. This is the first pass at the reel, and will probably get tweaked along the way, but it's got some fun stuff going for it. The song is "Daylight" by the band Matt & Kim - it was great to edit to.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Portfolio Site!

I'm trying out a new portfolio site at Feel free to check it out here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Officially Kicking My Butt

Marrowgar bugged one day which let me take this screenshot of him, and if you have no idea what that is it isn't important, and carry on with your life as usual and so forth.

I'm working on a short comic strip that's Warcraft-related, and coloring it is kicking my butt, much like Marrowgar above. So in a day or two you'll get to see my attempts at being humorous in three panels. Which is far different from savoring my delicious wit via a short story, or a pithy one-liner, or pointing at me and laughing at my haircut.

Because yes, I need a haircut, and I'm too broke to get one. I'm hoping that my standard upswept bun will cleverly hide my passe shabbiness should any employment interviews be forthcoming. You hear that universe? Forth...coming!

So far my clever disguise is working! Hooray!