14th-18th August – LonCon3 (the 72nd World Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention)
Phew! That’s quite a lot! I’ve been busy volunteering at these events. All of these were good times. Opportunity to meet smart, friendly, and creative people, lots to learn, and the additional good feels of helping out and participating beyond the often dizzying array of interactive sessions available. My most visible contribution to the above was being on three WorldCon panels: Manga Evolutions on Friday, Vox Populi: The new voice of comic book criticism? on Sunday, and How digital art techniques have changed comics on Monday (which was my first ever experience being panel Moderator).
Yet… I wonder if the value of a traditional conference format is harshly overshadowed in an age of free internet streaming video (or audio) of debates, lectures and interviews? Continue reading →
A couple of weeks ago I enjoyed an afternoon of meeting new and familiar faces and engaging with some (optional) drawing challenges in a friendly central London pub. I’d heard of the event via Twitter, eventually sourcing the chatter down to the @Art_Blitz Twitter account, through whom I registered (as there were limited spaces!)
Response to a challenge to reinvent an established comics character.
I was explaining what Takehiko Itou’s figure drawing style is like.
Inspired by a tomboyish Arya rendering on dA that I can’t find again…
Storm’s classic costume.
I found it refreshing to draw in the fun, social atmosphere, and it reminded me of the benefits and unwinding that forgetting your worries and simply doodling can do for an artist.
Art as play. Creative oxygen.
The Witchblade image has been coloured just today, using Manga Studio 5. I used a mix of the default tools, and some additional brushes by FRENDEN. Pleased to get nice results with tools I’m just getting acquainted with! Besides colours on that image, I’ve used a new Gillott 170 dip pen nib, the familiar stainless Japanese G-pen, and aquarelle pencils for colours on the ginger-haired boy.
Many thanks to Dean and Dave for organising the event. :)
On Thursday night I went to an event called #QuickDraw hosted by pre-launch arts organisation House of Illustration and established, free anthology comic Off Life. The latter have a good write-up of the event here, along with some choice drawings.
The format invited artists to respond to quirky, whimsical, or serious themes such as “My Daily Nemesis” or “A Message to the Government” with images created in 15 minute sprints. Combining imagery, skilful and popular guests, and hashtagging ensured a prominent social media footprint that I’m sure a lot of non-profits looking to market on a budget would envy.
Fifteen-minute challenge drawings. The MC shouts the topic, the artists get their pencils blazing in response at #QuickDraw !
Being in the thick of redesigning this very website, I didn’t stay until the end, but the above are my responses to the “What I Think About When I’m Drawing” and “My Daily Nemesis” prompts. (I banged my head into an Artist’s Block on the “Love in the 22nd Century” challenge, but sadly it didn’t contain a 1-Up.)
I also, happily, encountered a few friends, mentors, and inspirations:
Last year I announced that this blog is moving, due to my ambitions to have a WordPress over at a subdomain, and a main site, here. I had built much of the main site over the course of a couple of weeks, but lost momentum and things seemed to get in the way. Until just over a week ago where the blog on the subdomain… simply vanished.
After a lite investigation, I started over, and have found the Twenty Fourteen theme that’s been released in the interim probably suitable for all my needs in one site, anyway. So a seeming-disaster has perhaps worked out as a happy taser-like jolt into sorting things out. :)
Here’s the new logo that’s accompanying the web overhaul:
An anthology of London-based comics creators’ stories
For much of this year I’ve collaborated on organising events and workshops with the WIP Comics meetup group with some other plucky volunteers. September marked the achievement of a real milestone: Publishing our group’s anthology, Ye Olde Axe. I had felt that participating in the organisation of workshops and feedback sessions through March to August was plenty, yet while I declined to have a direct hand in the process that it’s taken for printed books to materialise, I’m really proud of the group’s accomplishments and applaud intrepid editor Matthew Duncan for steering it through.
The unusual unifying factor across the diverse contributions is a building in Shoreditch, the anthlogy’s namesake Axe. I get a little creep of a horror vibe from many of the stories, though genres span comedy, parody, action, fantasy, gag strips, slice-of-life and more. There are some real gems inside, my favourite is best described as Cthulhu meets Monty Python!
You can be reading Elena Jessup and Emmeline Pui Ling Dobson’s beautifully illustrated meditative 4-pager one moment only to find yourself engrossed in the wonderfully self-indulgent ludicrousness of John Riordan’s potato-themed recasting of Buddha in ‘Meditato’s Guide to Spuddhism’ just a few pages later.
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.
[Poster illustration from GameCamp 5 removed because the GameCamp 6 map, which you can see in the Gallery, is much nicer. ~24/4/2014]
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!
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…
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]
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.
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.
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!
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. ^_^
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:
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.
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:
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 [I was using the Sliding Door theme at the time ~22/4/2014] 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. [I'm still on this journey...] Examples: blogging, public speaking, cutting and arranging poles for hanging kimono from eBay in order to decorate my home…
So… Tried flying by the seat of your pants recently? It’s quite a ride!