Saturday, November 15, 2014

Head Sketches

I have been discovering the joys of pneumonia.  I usually have very little good to say about being sick.  However, it has given me a lot of time to think and reflect.  Between being in and out of sleep, I have also had time to myself to work in my sketchbook and go through my thoughts and re-evaluate my goals.

I am actually happy with the direction my life is going right now.  I haven't always been able to say that, and I may have times in the future where I won't be able to again.  But for now, I am happy.  I enjoy teaching, I enjoy time with my family, and for the first time in a long time I feel like my art skills are starting to show improvement again.  That is a good feeling.  I am happy to be going back to the basics more and feel that it is a good time for it.

I have been keeping up with my goal to try and sketch everyday, and that is causing most of the improvement.  I am also working on larger drawings again and am finally starting to find some of the line work and draftsmanship that I was looking for when I started this journey into art 16 years ago with my associate degree.

I still have moments of trepidation as an artist.  I start a project and wonder "Can I really do what I am about to try and do again?"  But, slowly, I am gaining more confidence and despite the fear at the start of each project I am getting better about working through it.  I have a feeling that I will be akin to Hokusai.  Everything I do before 70 won't be worth bothering about, but by 100 I might finally be the artist I want to be.

Whether I ever become the artist I want to be, I at least am feeling a sense of improvement.  Keep checking back, and I will do my best to keep posting what progress I make.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

This year's Ohio Game Developer Expo has it's kickoff tomorrow.  I'm very excited for it.  This year we are holding it at COSI in Columbus Ohio, and it is going to be awesome.  Here is the link to the website with all of the information.

I am honored to have the privilege to speak again this year.  For those who can attend, I will be speaking at Noon on Saturday.  If you don't want to come and hear me, I still encourage you to attend.  There are going to be a lot of great speakers and exhibitors.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Life Drawing Studies

As I said in the last post, I am trying to get back to doing more life drawing.  Unfortunately, since moving to Ohio, I haven't had a lot of opportunities.  In Utah, I could find open life drawing sessions all over the place.  I could drop five bucks and have access to three hours of drawing.  I still have not found anywhere in central Ohio to go.  Instead, I have been turning to the internet.

-1 Minute Study
There are actually two youtube channels that I have really appreciated.  The first is the Croquis Cafe playlist from onairvideo.  Here is the link to it  They have live models that do one, two, and five minute poses.

-2 Minute Studies
The second is the Daily Life Drawing Sessions from New Masters Academy.  Here is the link to it.  It is similarly set up with the one, two, and five minute poses.  The difference is that the New Masters Academy uses photos instead of live videos.  They also have two, five minute poses instead of the single five minute pose from the Croquis Cafe videos.  The only problem has been that after the first video the sets are dark, and so you can't clearly see all of the model and lose parts into the shadows.

-5 Minute Study
Here are some examples out of my sketchbook.  I have been doing figure studies for a long time, but I can still see many areas that I still need to get better at.  On the bright side, if I can keep this up regularly, I will continue to see improvement.  I guess, in the long run that is what is important.  In the meantime, I will continue to work on my drawing and post here.

-5 Minute Studies

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sketching Again

Recently I have been working to go back and further develop my core skill set.  I have been focused on so many things for so long, I feel like I haven't been able to make the progress I would like to in a specific area.  I haven't stopped working in other areas, but I am trying to focus on and put more time into drawing, painting, and 3D modeling.  To that end, I am making it a point to find time to sketch every single day.
I have always had difficulty being steady at sketching.  It is an attention issue.  However, because I have been doing so much better at finally getting a daily exercise routine, I thought I would try this again.  After almost a month, I now have formed a habit.  I have trouble going to sleep if I haven't gotten my sketch time in.  So, I am starting to see improvements.  It has been a while since I could say that about my drawing.
A long time ago I started sketching with a ball point pen, and I can't seem to break the habit.  The reasoning was that I would fudge and fiddle with my sketches until they were great messes.  By using a ball point pen, it forces me to make decisions.  My indecision on a line now is usually limited to three or four, where with pencils I would go over it a few dozen times.  It also forces me to move on.  If I am not happy with a sketch, I can't erase it and keep fiddling with it until I am.  Instead, I just have to move on to the next one and start fresh.  It takes away the tendency to be precious with each drawing and enforces repetition and practice.

I still have a long way to go as an artist.  But I am pleased to see some progress again.  My goal is to keep this up so that I have much more solid core skills than I have had in the past.  I will start posting more actual sketches again (which I haven't done in a long, long time).  Right now I am trying to mix these types of doodles, with actual life drawings and anatomical studies.  That way, hopefully, my doodles will start becoming more structural and solid than they have been in the past.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Origin Of Time Out

As a family, we have been working on a sitcom type pilot.  We don't have any plans to sell it or anything, but it is something fun for my family to do together.  It has also been a good chance for me to brush up on, and develop new skills.  This sequence is a small portion of that pilot.  It is a stand alone short for one of the segments.  The whole pilot centers around "Time Out" from a child's perspective, and any gags we can pull off around it.

This was fun, because it allowed me to do a lot of new things.  I was able to pick up a little programming for Adobe After Effects to create an older, slightly deteriorated film effect.  I created the effects from scratch.

It also gave me the opportunity to compose a song in the old rag time style.  I've been wanting to do that for quite some time.  It was fun to take the song and help it sound older.  I recorded scratches, pops, and other noises from my record player and added those in, as well as adding in some more roundness and a secondary slightly bent pitch version to try to recreate the old honky tonk type piano sound.

All in all, I think it worked out pretty well.  I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Alaska Trip

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to go up to Alaska.  Here are a couple of pictures from that trip.  I used to try and protect my pictures on the web by putting big watermarks across them.
Now my approach is going to be to just post them at a much lower resolution.  I apologize for the low resolution.  It really does lose a lot with the reduction.  However, it was either this or go back to the watermark.  Enjoy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ish's Adventure The Post-Mortem

Here is the promised post mortem about Ish.  I am actually accomplishing two goals with this.  First, I am doing the post mortem I had been planning on.  Second, I used it as an excuse to make a documentary style video.  This is my first time trying it.

It was a fun process.  It took an hour and a half to two hours on the evening of July 3rd to record the interview footage (It was me in the basement staring at a spot on a mattress while talking).  I spent a couple of hours on the 4th cutting it together, and lining up the sound and the music.  I spent a few hours on the 5th capturing the additional footage, putting it all together, and doing touchups and transitions.  Finally, I spent every night this week letting it render and checking it in the morning to find some little thing that needed to be tweaked or fixed, and then rendering it again the next night.  I finally got it at a good place this morning though.

It has problems, to be sure, such as the audio being kind of tinny, and the footage a little grainy.  Overall though, I am pretty happy with my first attempt at a documentary.  Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Super Orin Character Concept

Hello again,

 I still am not quite ready to post about Ish yet, but plan on doing it in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I did want to keep up on posting.  Lately I have been working on projects for my kids.  I am focusing mostly on a game for my son Orin right now.  It is called "Super Orin", after his super hero persona.  My children love playing as super heroes and all of them use "Super" in front of their names when they play.

 Anyway, as I discussed game development with my children, it came up that my son wanted a super hero game.  As we discussed it more, it sounded like he wanted a platformer, and so that is what I am making.

I guess I should step back a little and talk briefly about Ish, in order to give a better idea of why I am going the direction I am now.  Ish was never meant to be as large of a game as it has become.  It was going to be a small game that would help set up some pipelines and processes for future games.

 Instead, it grew to become something larger.  I couldn't stand the thought of releasing a game I wasn't proud of.  That was part of the allure of working on my own projects.  So, what started as a six month project turned into an incomplete 3 year project.

It wasn't a total loss or failure though.  For me, it was a way of keeping up my skillset, as well as a way for exploring and developing new skills.  I have learned a lot through the process of developing Ish.  It also allowed me to keep my curriculum up to date at my day job at the college.

 Anyway, after looking at the amount of time it would still take to complete Ish, as well as keep it up to date, it no longer felt good to continue down that path.  As a family, we have been discussing (as we often do) our future, and what our priorities are.  Right now, being a good teacher at the college is important to me.  Spending as much time as I can with my family is also very important to me.  Getting my own game studio off of the ground doesn't seem as important if it means sacrificing the other two.

 So, after talking as a family, I felt like I should pursue smaller, one level, projects.  That way I can see them through to completion.  The trick though, is that I am also doing them with my family.  That way, I still get to do game development, keep developing my skills and knowledge, as well as spending quality time with my family.

I am treating my family as if they are my clients and I need to develop the game for them.  We have meetings (usually around the dinner table), they give me feedback, and then I bring them updates based on their feedback.

 As an example, for Super Orin we started by talking about what the game would be.  After getting some ideas of what it was going to become, we began talking about the main character.  I then hooked my computer up to the t.v. we have in the living room and, with my children surrounding me and shouting out feedback, started sketching.  The first image of this post shows some of the sketches based on their feedback.  They wanted Super Orin to be slightly short and pudgy, but they also wanted him to have big hands, big feet, big ears, and a big nose.  He was supposed to be loosely based on my son Orin though.

 After the base concept was decided on, I went through a series of costumes.  Once again, all based on their feedback while I was drawing.  One with a bike helmet, one with spikes (lot's of spikes to shoot lightning out of), a bug, and etc.  Those are shown in the second image of the post.

I then printed out copies of the different costumes, and at dinner we looked over them and everyone discussed what they liked, didn't like, and still wanted to see.

 That discussion led to the composite character that is in the third image of the post.  I then took that, and some additional feedback and created a series of characters in a paperdoll like fashion, where each of the components could be separated out and combined to explore new directions with the costume.  Those are shown in the fourth and fifth images.

At another dinner, everyone looked them over and gave their suggestions for combinations.  Those selections are what ended up as the sixth image.

 After discussing once more what everyone was leaning towards, we came up with a pretty solid feel for the character.  There was discussion about some of the elements, such as the belt, and those where explored in the seventh image.

We then talked about exploring different costume patterns, as shown in the eighth image.  But, in the end, we decided on staying with the first pattern.  There were many other variations we explored, but rather than post a ton more pictures with slight variations, I just decided to post the final product.  That is the ninth image.

 At the end of the process, once the costume was decided upon, the character looked too much like an old man because of the large nose and ears.  My children still wanted the large feet and hands, but I made the face that of my son Orin, who liked it even better than the big nosed character he originally wanted.

With the character design complete, I then did a shading pass to give the character more dimension.  I was also planning on using it as a foundation for the colors.
 For the colors, I printed out a series of the flat images and then gave them to the family to use as coloring book pages.  Everyone pulled out crayons and colored pencils to explore different costume colors.  I then took their colored images and used them as the foundation for some of the digital color variations on the character.  The eleventh image shows some of those color variations.

 After we had decided on a color pattern that mostly worked, I then explored some additional color changes to the cape, gloves, and boots.  Image twelve shows those.

Once the colors for Super Orin were settled, I then had to work on the shield coloring, as shown in the thirteenth image.  Everyone seemed to lean towards the red shield and cape.
 At the end, I did some tightening of the colors and lines, and the final image shows how it ended up.

I am now working on the prototype for the game and am getting the base functionality in.  I will post that some time soon to show the process I am going through.

I don't know if anyone is actually interested in seeing these progress images, but I wanted to share anyway.  I am trying to be better about blogging.

 With two posts this year, I am already doing better than last year.  I will continue to post more.

Feel free to let me know what your thoughts are, or if there is anything you are interested in seeing.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hello World!

Hello world,

Its been a while.  I have been checked out of blogging for the last year and a half.  In some ways, checked out of more than that.  So, this is my attempt to get back in to social media.  I am going to be trying to show more work, and possibly talk about my processes.  I know that you have all heard me say this before on my blog (metaphorically, because you would have actually read it), but we will try again and see if it works this time.

To start, I am posting a video of a talk I gave last December at the first ever Ohio Game Developer Expo.   It was a great event and I am grateful for the opportunity I had to talk about setting goals.  I applied it to game development, but I think it applies to any kind of goal setting.

After every time I talk, I have a mini conference in my head about what I said right, what I said wrong, where I miss-spoke, what I need to improve for next time.  Basically I go through the talk the way I wish I had done it.  So, in that spirit, I had a miss-speak in this talk that has been driving me nuts.  I will use this post to make a clarification.  At one point in the talk I speak about working for Sensory Sweep in Salt Lake City Utah.  It is about time marker 25:20.  The miss-speak is that I say that "I came from developing platform type games."  What I was saying in my head though, was that I came from developing multi-platform games for various consoles.  I was trying to relate this to my new direction with developing indie games for the mobile market.  It didn't come out that way though.  So, just to clarify, I didn't just work on platformer games for Sensory Sweep.  I worked on a sports title, an rpg, a platformer, a rhythm based game, and etc.

I am sure that wasn't the only mistake in my talk, but despite the mistakes I still think it came across well overall.  Oddly enough, the thing people talked to me the most about after the talk was with trying to balance my bi-polar disorder with game development.  I think that there are a lot of people that are trying to succeed, but have trouble figuring out how to manage mental health issues and keep a productive workload.  Most folks are actually embarrassed to admit that they have any issues.  I would like to hear about any experiences or questions people have on this subject.  I am fairly open about my mental health issues, and am happy to give advice if I can.  I think that the more we talk about these things, the easier it is to manage.  They don't have to be debilitating, and they can sometimes be a great asset.

At the end of the talk, I speak about a game I was working on.  I talked about Ish's Adventure a bit on the last post on this blog.  It is now on an indefinite hold.  I was not successful at my goal to get it finished... yet.  Who knows if I will come back to re-approach the game in the future.  Instead, I have had to re-prioritize my goals to work better for my family.  I will try to do a post-mortem on Ish in the next month or so to share what I have learned, and explain things a little more.  For now, I will sign off.  Take care.