Friday, 30 April 2010


It finally dawned on me this morning, after I handed in my work and heckled Nick Clegg, that I no longer had work to be doing... Its a strange feeling, I don't like it. I still almost feel stressed about the work, driven to get it done, but there's nothing for me to do. Needless to say I'll be getting on with personal work, but I just kind of miss it. I almost don't want the summer break. I could quite happily get on with Third year now, start my final major perhaps, create something amazing in Unreal, another group project maybe.

But what about fitness? I suppose all this time off will give me a great opportunity to get my fitness schedule finished... Not that its stopped me yet, I've not missed a day for months now. I suppose TA will feel more relaxed, I don't need to think about the work thats not getting done. Maybe I'll go to the park and have a bbq.

Oh goodness I don't know - don't even know if I'm in the third year yet, well nothing I can do now, just a waiting game I suppose. What if I'm not? Shit boxes and hand bags, I'd be off to Sandhurst, that's a scary thought, I was much more comfortable with the idea of it being after uni, if my degree works out I'd probably just stay in the TA, maybe spend my free-time humping a Bergen over the Brecons, preparing for the big one.

Yes, that's something I can do over the summer break, when I get home I'll frequent the brecons. Our TA summer camp is in Sennybridge too, I wonder if I can get the lads up the fan, better not invite the fatties, they'd slow us down.

Whats this on TV? Another fucking Lib-dem broadcast, jesus christ, it really does worry me that Clegg is converting the idiots, why are there so many easily lead idiots in this country? None have the nous to read the lib-dem policies, a few good ones I'll agree, but it just doesn't add up, their financial plans are flawed and rely on too many of the 'rich' people being stupid enough not to find a loop-hole. They say they want to 'finish the war and support the troops 100%' but they would scrap the Hawker Typhoon program, who's going to provide air support in 10 years time? the Typhoon will be a flying antique by then.

Jesus I'm pissed off, I'm angry at the idiots, I'm going for a run.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Team on three 1, 2, 3, Shock! Horror!

Well, the team project has finally come to a close, along with the second year, and I must admit, I'm almost.. stunned perhaps? I feel like the cartoon image of a man standing in the wake of a formula-1 car in the desert. Everything is roaring, noisy, messy, fast paced, and then suddenly, without preperation, I'm left alone in a desert with nothing but the settling dust to keep me company. Sounds depressing doesn't it?

And well yes, I kind of miss that group project, and definitely enjoyed it. As a team we bonded strongly. Colleagues at the beginning, friends at the end. I've taken a lot of positive experiences from it, learned a lot about unreal, and also about myself.

In the first year, I'd looked forward to being a team leader in the second year, running a group project. I was assured of myself, relaxed that my experience would sail me to the front, and have people looking forward to being in MY group. But when the group projects rolled around, I learned a strong lesson, a harsh lesson, but one I'm grateful of to no end.

I wasn't picked as a group leader, in fact I was almost seen as a 'liability' within the group, as people had noticed my relaxed attitude towards working hard, and had noticed my poor attendance. When I put myself forwards as a group leader, I received an almost laughing response "But you'd never turn up!" - bastards! This was my first year dream they're ruining, of course I'd fucking turn up, this would be my baby! - But they were right... What other image had I presented? What other examples of working hard had I given? What had I given to them that would lead them to believe that I was capable of doing a bloody good job? Nothing...

Every member of the class learned about unreal, learned about naming conventions, and I'm sure anyone reading these blogs would be bored stupid about people trying to sound interesting when writing a doppelgänger blog about what the group project taught them, would be bored stupid, and I won't bore you with it.

But I learned more than just that, I learned about myself. I learned that people perceive you skills based on what you practice in front of them. People think you're lazy if you don't turn up. And these people will one day be the ones deciding your fate in the games industry.

I learned that people perceive me as being lazy, cocky and lacking in self-discipline. Regardless of what I KNOW about myself. I learned the hard way that this affects my ability to chase my dreams. And I learned that I'm going to fucking change this image.

Good night, and thanks for a blast team: 'Shock! Horror!' We were fucking awesome.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Debrief - Learn - Plan ahead

The year isn't over yet, and I've still got work to do, but I feel in a reflective mood today, and think its time to look back over the past two semesters, and evaluate the pro's and the cons, after all, the first step to fixing a problem is recognising its there.

Its easy to dwell on the shortcomings, especially for someone as critical, and at times 'pessimistic', as myself. But lets not forget the progressions I've made as a game artist this year. My learning has by no means plateau'd and I feel progression as well as see it.

Both 3d work and 2d work has progressed, and I feel much more confident as a 3d artist. in the 1st year, and before, I was 'afraid' of Specular, Normal etc. maps. But this second year has pushed my boundaries further. Now, not only am I confident in my ability to use more complicated maps, but I'm also doing so on a frequent basis as part of our group project.
My 2d knowledge and skill has expanded, not as noticeably, and by no means on a level par with my 3d work, but its still improving, and while I'll never admit that I'm a 'good' 2d artist, I'm starting to feel like I'm getting the gist of it.

However, its not all been a bed of roses, and there are certain aspects that could, and should have been handled with a lot more care and seriousness. a.k.a there were some 'Borks'.
But, I shouldn't shy away from these facts, and try to pretend they didn't happen, then did, and I CAN change them with the right mental attitude, and so it starts, here and now.

Ok so the biggie was 'Attendance', I cant lie, it was pretty fucking shocking. I got far too comfortable with waking up late and going to bed later, I will make a small excuse and say this was not an easy habit to get out of. but that by no means justifies the error. This sadly had a knock on effect with missing work, having to play catch up rather than putting in extra hours, and basically caused a whole backlash which has left my with my tail between my legs for the second semester.

So WHY was attendance so bad? As mentioned, late nights and late mornings. Late nights are acceptable if one is able to force themselves to wake up early in the morning. I was evidentially not as good at this as I gave myself credit for.
So why was I going to bed so late? This one isn't as predictable as one might think. It really wasn't all partying, in fact towards the the second semester I was dangerously low on cash and spent my nights 'in', most often playing video games on-line, late into the night. As I recall, I just wouldn't feel tired till 3- 4am, sometimes, out of pure habbit, I just wouldn't go to bed until these times, almost not allowing myself to, and THIS was the cause of the attendance problem.

So, now that I recognise the cause to that problem, what measures do I put in place to make sure it doesn't happen again? - Well, its really a case of self-discipline, only I can tell myself to go to bed, but thankfully I can impose a few new rules on myself that will help put an end to this:

1: Do not start playing a game after 12:30AM. - (To stop me getting 'hooked' and stop feeling tired)
2: Only 'go out' on a night that does not fall on a lecture the following day. - (Fairly simple idea really)
3: Must wake up, and stay up before 10am on weekdays, regardless of lectures. - (this will keep me in a good sleeping habbit)

So, these measures have been put in place to increase productivity, and to ensure a good sleeping pattern which will enable me to counter the effects of the Attendance problem.
Its a shame these 'realisations' have come so late, but better now then never at all.

Another problem I've noticed this year, is that I've been almost 'shying' away from 2d work, almost as if I'm 'afraid' of it for some preposterous reason. However, this has meant I've often been late or rushing when it comes to doing the work. This default reaction to 2d work MUST stop as its really holding me back.

Whats causing this problem? Humans always seek out what we enjoy, when we don't enjoy something we always put it to the back of our brain, or try to avoid it. These symptoms are the same as that which I experience with 2d work, and so to fix this problem, it seems I must engineer a way for me to 'enjoy' painting.

What measures must I put in place in order to 'enjoy' painting? Well, this one's a toughy, and there isn't much one can do to force someone to like something. However, a lot fo the time, if we don't enjoy something, its because we aren't good at it. After a search on the google-a-tron I read a great idea, that in order to find enjoyment in something, we should 'figure out what we can learn from it'. So, I came up with this:

1: When attempting a piece of work, combine it with a relevant tutorial - (this way, I'm not only getting work done, but I'm also able to feel the buzz of learning while I do it)
2: Evaluate all work with current work to remind on self of the learning progress - (Not all work beats what you did previously, this is especially prominent with 2d work, and this should be taken into account, however, when it does its great to see it.)
3: De-stress the work, by getting it done ahead of schedule. - (A bit late for this, but this is something I'm going to be focussing on in the third and final year).

So, these measures should hopefully help alleviate the negative reaction I have towards 2d work, and as I get better, this issue should be easier and easier to bypass.

There aren't a whole load of things wrong with this second year, but those that did go wrong, went wrong, with an effect on almost everything. However, I am confident that lessons learned from that, are valuable, and should be taken into account. I can't magic back the lecture time I've missed, but I can learn valuable lessons from mistakes made.

So, onwards to the future, what have I got in store?

Well, I'm not giving up, by any fucking means, this course is a major investment, and I'll be fucked if I'm letting it go to waste. I've got plans for the summer, and plans for next year.

Inspired by 'Cameron' I purchased, as said in a previous blog post, a brilliant tutorial DVD about next gen character creation utilising zBrush, and also inspired by the work of other on the course, I'm going to spend my free time during summer burred deep in zBrush learning it. My plans for the summer are as follows:

Create a next gen sculpted character using lessons from the DVD.
Create a small game environment based on my house in UnrealEd.
Fill a Sketchbook with drawings from life.
Summer project.

These three objectives are to be completed by the start of next year,I'll go into a bit more detail:

Character design: I love character design, while I'm realistic enough to realise that I'm more likely to get into the games industry as an environment artist, I still want to build up a knowledge of character design, that I can then expand once I'm working in the industry.

Environment: I've decided environments are to be my bread and butter, thankfully I also really enjoy working within the Unreal Editor and would quite happily do it as a job. I plan on making part, or all of my house in Unreal, this would form as a prep piece for my FMP, which I am planning on making an environment piece. I want to include, if I have time, an external part of the house, as 'exteriors' seem pretty difficult to me.

Sketchbook: I've missed too much 2d work this year, and rather than say 'oh well' I'm going to hit the sketchbook hard in preparation for next year. After next year, I need to go out and get a job, a scary prospect, and this summer is the most 'free' time I'm going to have before that massive undertaking, I'd better make up for that which I lost this year.

So, to conclude, this year has had ups and downs. I've been debilitated by my own laziness, and held back by late mornings. But I'm not giving up. I've learned valuable lessons about myself during the whole experience, and all I can say is:

Don't give up on me now, I'm so god-damn close. I've had a shit year, but by god I'll show you what I'm capable of in the third year...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


Summer isn't far off, and after drawing NEW character Ortho and final for an interesting character project, I've been longing to model the character in 3d, this kind of extra work is great for not only my portfolio, but to demonstrate to lecturers that I'm working on skills, however, ironically I don't have time to get cracking while the iron is hot due to other deadlines, doh!

This surge of motivation came as after a combination of finished orthos and a purchase of a new tutorial DVD from Gnomon workshop. Yes, you read correctly, I actually paid for software.

I've been thinking about buying the DVD 'Character Modelling for next gen games' for quite some time, since I first saw it at the beginning of the first year in fact. however, I've long been told that zBrush is Satans penis or that I should 'watch other DVD's first'. But No, I know ME better, and I'm doing it, and so I took the plunge!

And what a DVD, I learned so much! I'm really itching to get cracking with a new character, and with new Orthos too, I can't wait! Roll on this summer.

Monday, 12 April 2010

God-damn, if only I had more time!

Work, you spend months fighting for inspiration, scared that you're losing your ability to function artistically. Then all of a sudden, like a change in the wind, you realise that the reason you've been struggling all this time, is merely a bad approach towards the subject at hand.

This may all sound unrelated, but let me go on. All this time I've been put off doing work, worried it will look 'shit' and refusing to be anything other than original, I've had it drilled into me that I must be this magic Original artist. Of course, for an inexperienced artist, being original isn't easy. but recently its dawned upon me, that EVERYTHING is copied, nothing is original, original is impossible, it doesn't even exist. Today on the internet I read "Its not where you took it from that matters, its where you take it too" and suddenly like a switch it makes so much sense, we can't be original, the human race has existed for too long, everything has been done at least once. So why not just do what looks good? Its art after all.

This realisation has brought good emotions around me, and made it easier to work, but sadly hasn't 'magic'd' me more time (I still end up doing everything three times too!). But its taken a very stressful process and made it much easier to approach. Thank you 'Stumble Upon'!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Rule Of Thirds

The 'Rule Of Thirds' is a compositional tool used to maximise the interest of a painting, photograph, render, or just about any kind of 2d image.

I feel almost guilty that I've not taken it upon myself to learn this important composition rule, but, as of late, I've started to build confidence in my 2D painting and drawing abilities, and have decided its time I learned how to not only draw accurately, but to be able to create compositions well.

So, basically, the rule of thirds states that pictures should be broken up into 9 squares (by dividing an image into thirds on both the x and y axis). These lines serve as a placement guide on the image and the point is that you place interesting items of the scene on these lines. Better still, place interesting things at the points where the lines meet.

For example:
Image taken from Wikipedia

Such a simple set of rules, but makes perfect sense, and breaks up the monotony of having front on composition all the time. I shall be applying this technique to many further 2d works!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

A Personal Milestone

Not work related, but life related.

For various reasons, I decided at Christmas, that as of boxing day, I was getting fit... Just like the other 10,000 people that panic after seeing themselves in a mirror after the season of eating.

However, I've still not 'biffed out', and with help from my trusty book 'Fighting fit' by Adrian Weale I've been hammering out the runs.

Now, no goal is achievable unless it is SMART (oh god someone actually listened in those lessons). For those who didn't this acronym means that a goal must be S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Attainable, R-Realistic, T-Time bound.
So, after boxing day I took a good look at myself, and decided that my fitness goal would be to be able to run 10 miles in under 60 minutes before I'm 23. When I started I was 20, so this gives me a good length of time to achieve this goal. Its wholly measurable and very realistic.

So, when I started I was weary, I'd never really run more than a mile before, and setting myself the quick goal of being able to run 3 miles seemed like a monumental challenge. I won't lie, I thought it'd take ages. But, after a few weeks of pain and commitment, I finished a 3 mile run without any walking breaks, I was ecstatic, a happy man indeed.

To compliment my runs, I decided (the book decided) I'd swim twice a week, on 'rest days'. Swimming? I fucking suck at it, but once again, I set a small scale goal, to be able to swim for 30 minutes continuously (front crawl) and, after teaching myself to swim (you laugh, I looked like a drowning retard when I started), I slowly increased from 15, to 25 to 30 minutes! Wham, I now knock two of these out per week.

the runs were the important part, and I was still stuck on 3 miles, I'd run these for about two weeks, and was still finding them a strain, but I needed to press on in order to reach my goal. I upped the mileage from 3 to 4.5, and then ran 6.5 on sundays... 6.5! once again, the feeling of improving hid the pain, I'd just ran 6.5 miles without stopping at 2am in the morning, and no one was taking it away from me. I broke my strict diet and bought an early Easter egg to celebrate.

But what of this Milestone?

Now I'm back home, I've increased the 4.5 mile run to 5, as the new route is 100% flat. 5 miles, 4 times a week, that's half of ten, my final goal! By this point I'd given up on timing myself, it was laborious and generally didn't yield many results worth getting exited over, but as I left the house today I glanced almost subconsciously at the clock, a quarter past 1PM. I set out for my run, naturally run quite fast, and slow down for the long mileage runs, but bugger that, this time I'm going to keep tempo and push, I feel like punishing myself. After what feels like an age, I finally pop the keys in the lock to the front door and begin making my way to my Bergan in the hallway (off for a weighted walk across the fields). I notice the clock, think nothing of it... Wait, its exactly a quarter to two... That means I was out for almost bang on 30 minutes... 5 miles? 30 minutes? that's 6 minute miles! I'M HALF WAY!

I've given myself till I'm 23 to be able to run 10 miles in under 60 minutes, and today, under four months into my fitness routine and I'm statistically half way. I smiled hard, slung my Bergan and boots on, and headed for the fields.