Friday, December 30, 2011

Black Swan

Like many families, ours gathered over Christmas to watch some films, eat, drink and be merry. Christmas eve's fare wasn't your standard Lethal Weapon/Die Hard shenanigans, but instead we ended up watching Aranofsky's Black Swan.
I'd been looking forward to seeing it for a while, so it was great to watch with an analytical eye as well as beign able to bounce it off my other family members. Lots of little choices really added to the feel of the film, and it's one I'm gonna go out and buy/deconstruct the crap out of in some point in the future.

But for now, a quick study of a pic from it I found online.

OH, and with that film in mind, anyone recommend any good films of this/Eternal Sunshine/500 days of Summer ilk? I need more good cinema :D

Merry Christmas everyone. No, it's not over. I remember hearing there were 12 days involved ;)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Staying Motivated

When people hear that I'm a freelancer, they usually say one of two things.

1- That's AWESOME. You get to work whenever you want. 


2- That must be HORRIBLE keeping yourself motivated.

I never really had a problem with the motivation part until recently, until last week it clicked with me why, and how I had been self-medicating up to that point. So with that in mind, I'm gonna share some ways I find useful of staying focused.



This is a great way to cut through the crap and distractions and get LOTS done. Essentially, you set a timer and

Work 25 mins
Rest 5 mins

Work 25 mins
Rest 5 mins

Work 25 mins
Rest 5 mins

Work 25 mins
Rest 30 mins

Enough of a break to pee, get a cuppa or whatever. I use a little program called pomadairo to keep track, but there's downsides to this. The downside being the stopping. I generally plug in and work for about 45 mins to an hour before my brain demands distraction, or longer if there's actual problem solving going on. The pomodorro cycle sometimes wrecks my flow. Useful for boring things though.


Music is a great way to keep yourself pumped, and you can use it in multiple ways. I try and shoot for the hour between each break, so I often use albums as milestones. If you're familiar with the album, you subconsciously KNOW how long until the break is coming so you don't keep glancing at the clock and can stay tuned in. It's also a great way to stay in tone for the piece you're working on, with soundtracks being a great choice. Gladiator, Matrix, Lord of the Rings. Battlestar Galactica is one of my favourites for this. 

If you're doing the late night deadline super mega crunch, I'd recommend grooveshark's Ambient station. keeps you mellow and constant. I swear by it.


This is a useful one, albeit tricky to find a balance. You need a show with a strong score and narrative. House is dialogue driven and enough characters to follow like a radio show. MOST of the time it doesn't depend on what's on screen (well directed though it is). Breaking Bad is VERY visual, and is a perfect example of what NOT to have on in the background. It's a great show, and deserves your full attention. Not for working to. Long series are better, as it can keep you hooked in like a long album. I use FullMetal Alchemist, Avatar and Battlestar Galactica (trying Doctor Who) for this all the time. 
Community would be perfect, except the episodes are too short. Which is a shame, I'm loving that show. 


I don't wear my headphones unless I'm working. Now when I put my headphones on it acts as a trigger to drown out everything else and stay involved with what I' m working on. Even if there's nothing playing. Incredibly useful tool. 


I find if I start work after 10am, it's like I'm constantly trying to drag the work out of me. If I begin closer to 8am, not only do I have longer to complete my work but I find I've more energy for it and results are more forthcoming. Better still is when I take the take to visualise what I'm going to do the night before as I go to sleep, that way I can be subconsciously addressing any problems I might have with the job at hand. 


I usually get 7 hours sleep a night, at least. This is non-negotiable, barring deadline days themselves. You don't sleep, you don't think, you don't perform. The same goes with getting out of the house, exercising and all that jazz. Energy begets energy. The more pumped you are, the more you can put into your work. 


I have a whiteboard behind me with a short term to-do list, and a long term one. Crossing off completed tasks is exceptionally rewarding, particularly off the long term one. Writing lists is the BEST thing you can do. It keeps you organised, it keeps you focused, and its a great way of charting progress. 

Hope those help! 


Have you any tips for staying motivated? Feel free to leave a comment

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The only thing that is required for Medieval to succeed is for Sci Fi people to do Nothing

Still trying to get the hang of some of those techniques in the Gnomon vids, as well as thinking more about lenses, focus and exposure in my paintings. I've only noticed this evening my compositions are getting a little stale- will need to work on that a little too.

But yeah, this was interesting to do.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My own worst enemy

Did this from memory really quickly and just glanced at my reflection after finishing...yeah, I need to hit the gym. But anyways, was watching Jeremy Vickery's masterclass and discussing depth of field and thought 'man I NEVER to blurry background stuff' so threw this out.
Yeah, for the next ten minutes, I'm happy with it.

One of the things I've gleaned from the gnomon classes and my watercolour dabblings is not to worry about nailing the hue on the first stroke. Subtle build ups are better than hasty corrections. That, and take a moment to  pick or make the right brush. I find it's making a big difference.

Anyway, back to this video!


Day 1

I started on this Gnomon Masterclass malarky today, and the first lecture I watched took some inkblots and turned them into a finished painting, going through it step by step and explaining the methods and methodology behind it. 

I tried putting it into action earlier, but I was frazzled and ended up sitting down in front of the TV in a huff. I DID do some inkblots to try and do it as close to EXACTLY as Mr Limorick did, and left them to dry.

On my way to bed, I figured I'd scan them, and be ready for a fresh start as a morning warmup. 

Then this happened. 

This isn't finished, not by a long means. Usually at this point I'd struggle with where to go, but I'm confident (with a larrrrrrrrrge stack of notes to back me up) that I can see this one through. But now it's 1.30, and I'm up early for work. 

The first one is my inkblot, and the second is where I'm at so far. Looking at these in TINY I'm gonna set some of that yummy negative space back under the turret. But yeah, its interesting how after such a frustrating attempt earlier, this could even be called 'FUN'

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Seeing Life in Watercolour

Watercolours have always bothered me. Coming from a lighting-first approach the idea of rendering light-to-dark has never sat well with me. Wet media overall have never been a strength of mine- at least not until I took deliberate steps to learn inking/washes through a month of trial-and-error-no-photoshop-for-you.
Now I use inkwashes as my go-to medium.
I was at a con recently, and was asked to draw Rainbow Dash. Which I did, on model, grayscale. I was kicking myself- I had forgotten my brushpen so it was as much setup as having a set of watercolours. So I thought 'enough is enough' and before I start those wonderful Gnomon masterclasses next week I'm gonna get some watercolour work done.

These are early efforts, and much as I dislike them there are a load of things that make me go OH THAT'S HOW YOU DO THAT with each picture. Blacksad was the first one- Panda on the realisation that lines aren't necessarily a good thing and this evening's girl is up top. She's from a stock image on Deviantart.

ANYWAY, this is actually a lot of fun. Why wasn't I doing this years ago?

Eagle Scout

I was thinking 'I'm playing too much Skyrim' and need to focus on getting more painting done in my downtime, but in retrospect there's definitely a strong Dwemer influence here. Ah well, tis just a warmup sketch.
Made by doodling a random shape and clone/warping it a bunch of times and picking out shapes from the garbled mess.