This blog is moving

I’m in the thick of developing a new website to put up at www.emeraldsong.com, so this blog has shifted over here: http://blog.emeraldsong.com. Until this message has gone (because there’ll be a pretty new site that’ll have replaced it) I’m not updating much, as designing the site is higher priority than writing blog posts.

Meanwhile, http://blog.emeraldsong.com has a copy of everything that will be taken down from here soon, and is a lot neater (although of basic, clean appearance for now, until I can pay attention to making it visually well-designed, appealing, and in-theme with what’ll go up here). Any updates’ll go on the new blog from now on.

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Two poster illustrations from May

Back in April and May I was working on these illustrations for posters for very different functions. One was another Surrey Christians in Science event, for which I chose the image of the hand of God from Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel dissolving into strands of DNA. The other was the map for the venue of Game Camp 5, a regular gaming UNconference based in London! For this my inspiration was the board of HeroQuest and schlocky dungeon paraphernalia like my own “Watcher in the Deep” on security!

While I was doing the “Hand of God” image I was thinking about illustration and the communication angle to it. All artists are communicators, but illustration has a certain expectation that it should have conveying a message at its core. I like projects that get me mining my knowledge for inspiration as well as using my eyes and imagination.

The Creation or Evolution – Do We Have To Choose? image uses the following stock images: Texture 003 by pacifist on flickr, Inkwater 5 and Inkwater 14 by AzureFalls on DeviantArt.

Note: The Keyworth Dungeon Map is 1.31MB so that the detail can be seen.

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MinamiCon 18 conbook cover artwork

This is a pair of illustrations, including the conbook cover, which I did for MinamiCon 18 in March 2012. Like with the illustration I did for Hallowe’en, I found that planning out the composition with the text and the imagery together early-on in the process helped lead to a better composition. It’s fun treating text as a visual element and having the flexibility of doing it by hand. I also collected reference photos of sportspeople as preparation for these and the basketball-playing faerie is particularly true to the reference image I used!

These pieces were sketched traditionally then scanned and inked in Manga Studio and coloured in Photoshop. Unusually, I used ZenBrush on my iPhone to create the calligraphic elements and Tweeted the images (Twitter handle @emeraldsong of course!) Then saved screenshots of those images to integrate into the artwork!

If you look at their hairstyles you could make the number “18″ from them!

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Starsword Princess artwork

Some character artwork I’ve had on-the-go for over a year now! I got a bit overly-focused on complicated-to-render fabrics in her bow and top, but am pleased with the results. It’s a pleasure working on colouring inks that provide a solid foundation as with her smile and flowing tresses. I think this was inked in Photoshop tho’ and I’ve since found Manga Studio a lot nicer a tool for inking. During the process of colouring I learned how to use the Pen tool, which is a lot more efficient for blocking out areas for highlighting or shading than the method I used before.

I hope to reveal a lot more of this character over the course of 2012…

Background uses images from www.timsmith7.com and http://gothicbohemianstock.deviantart.com/

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My Influences Map

I’ve seen a lot of my friends’ Influence Maps before from a couple of years ago closer to the start of this meme. The source is here. It’s the start of 2012 and dare I say I’d like to do something daily to level-up my art skills? Doing this exercise was recommended by a user-authored course on ConceptArt.org where I’ve uploaded some figure drawing exercises recently, but the posts they’re in are waiting to be moderated.

My Influence Map is a column wider than standard. It was an exercise justifying who didn’t make the cut, even with the extra space. The names credited in some cases are the artists on the production I regard as most influential on me. In some cases no names are specified as I’m not able to winnow out the precise contributor responsible for the specific kind of awesome I chose to include something for. I’ve tried to give some indication of the aspect of a choice that qualified it for inclusion – storytelling, illustration, mechanical design etc!

Happy New Year everybody!

[EDIT: Respect also to Alexander O. Smith, translator of Vagrant Story for evocative period language appropriate to the setting, bringing out the flavour of the game's world. -120103]

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Christians in Science event poster illustration

I had the opportunity to design a poster for a Christians in Science event coming up on 22nd November. The focus of the event is a talk called Science and Faith – Friends or Foes? and the speaker, Dr. Rodney Holder, is eminently qualified to speak about this as he’s a mathematician, astrophysicist and an ordained priest in the Church of England.

Poster: Science and Faith - Friends or Foes?

I chose to explore a style of illustration using photos and mixing imagery found on the internet such as photos under creative commons licenses. Designs that use photographic imagery can be very striking and have a wider massmarket appeal than cartoon style illustration, but take different techniques to put together than the skills I typically practice. This wasn’t something I’d tried before seriously, but I had a bit of guidance from a tutorial in the Imagine Publishing magazine Illustrate with Photoshop. Since I spent about three hours on the tutorial it justified the cover price and it’ll get better value from here onwards!

The event’s theme gave me a juicy big reason to search for some truly epic imagery to incorporate.

Continue reading

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Hallowe’en illustration

Here’s some artwork I made for Hallowe’en. I recently finished working as a caricature artist at a theme park. The work was fun and it helped me level-up my art skills a lot. You could draw a crowd, especially drawing in pen straight onto paper; that really wow’d some of the kids and teen visitors! Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!

Hallowe'en elf pumpkin-thief illustration

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MakingForGiving August 2011 campaign

Earlier this year I had an idea for a way of raising money for charity which was a twist of existing ideas, combined together and shaken-up. This month I have been hard at work making that happen, going through many ups and downs, challenges, obstacles and breakthroughs. A big breakthrough concluded this morning after long hours of work (with much, extremely gratefully-appreciated help!) last night – we completed a YouTube video promo! I get so edgy about talking on camera but I understand I come across pretty well:

Today I’ll be spending the whole day painting towards MakingForGiving. ^_^

We also have a presences on Facebook and Twitter:

www.facebook.com/MakingForGiving

@MakingForGiving

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Usability Testing Article Over at #AltDevBlogADay

I’ve written (and illustrated) an article relaying experiences from usability testing for #AltDevBlogADay. Read it here: http://altdevblogaday.com/2011/08/02/some-hows-and-whys-of-usability-testing/

Update! Now been picked-up by Gamasutra here: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/36344/Opinion_Some_Hows_And_Whys_Of_Usability_Testing.php

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ConceptArt.org forums

ConceptArt.org forums present a great learning opportunity, one which I’ve started to participate in more. Here are some vehicles I designed as a response to a “Daily Sketch Group” challenge:

Three futuristic vehicles
The challenge was to design three vehicles using a black and white colour scheme

Listing my influences was fun, tho’ they were almost all games and anime from the 90s! :O Another interesting experimental part of how I tackled this was to use Manga Studio for the first time. As I’ve been practising my artwork more I’ve come to realise how at-home I feel using line to render stuff. Manga Studio made it feel pretty natural to be using line digitally.

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#AltDevBlogADay articles I’ve written

In order to help me learn from others in the community and also to put a bit of deadline fear into me, I started posting on #AltDevBlogADay at the start of this month. I have two articles up there, and was pleased to find the first one re-published on Gamasutra.com – a site I’ve probably visited for the last decade! The best thing to come out of this has been the chance to share my ideas with people and get some (phew!) positive responses. This is a diagram I’ve been signing in the air to students to try to explain how there are different kinds of game design work in the games industry:

Creativity space charting different areas of design work

Creativity space charting different areas of design work

 

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#ATWOMIC project

#ATWOMIC was a collaborative experiment run on Twitter which started in May this year.

I participated in the first “arc” although I was a bit confused and believed the 7th panel concluded this story-fragment, not the 6th. So here’s my corner of the #ATWOMIC multiverse as I imagined it:

See @ATWOMIC for more information

Thanks to Stewart Kenneth Moore (@Opipop) for the #ATWOMIC concept

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Flying by the seat of my pants

It’s Develop Conference in Brighton tomorrow so I figured I ought to finally get something up on www.emeraldsong.com before embarrassing myself by apologising for the lack of anything on this website to every stranger I meet. Pleasantly, I’m surprised how much I’m liking this theme and it happens to do the things I was bothered might be hard to do with the site architecture. In the last coupla years I’ve found that things I fear will be very tricky and I put off doing actually turn out to be enjoyable not-so-hard-after-all so I’m gradually training myself to leap into things more and fear failure less. Examples: blogging, public speaking, cutting and arranging poles for hanging kimono from eBay in order to decorate my home…

Flying comic thumbnail

So… Tried flying by the seat of your pants recently? It’s quite a ride!

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