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.