Posts Tagged ‘Art’

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I Tried My Hand At A New Hobby Over The Long Weekend…

September 4, 2013

Painting miniatures is something I’ve been drawn to for a while, but I’ve always held back, feeling awkward that I don’t actually play tabletop games. I thought I’d be committing some horrid faux pas by doing that.

Well, after having been assured by several kind folks that this is entirely not the case, I decided to go for it. My area of focus in art has run to working with pencils and graphite in recent years (because it’s a much, much, MUCH cheaper medium) so I figured this would also be a great way to maintain my painting skills, because boy, am I rusty. And though I’ve done traditional art painting in the past on canvas, models, sculptures, woodworking and even rocks, I don’t think I’ve ever confined myself to doing so much fine detail work; while the painting techniques will probably come back to me in time, working consistently on such a small scale will likely be the hardest thing to get used to.

mini

To experiment with painting minis (and to make sure I won’t actually end up hating it), I started off with the Games Workshop starter kit which comes with one generic brush, a paltry selection of paint colors (I actually caved in and just had to go out and buy a yellow…I cannot abide not having at least all my primaries) plus five elf soldiers. These are my first attempts (my first mini! I shall name him Kent!) A few more, and after eventually getting some actual decent frickin’ brushes, maybe I can move on to some undead.

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Art Post: White Knight

December 6, 2012

I mentioned November was a busy time for art commissions, so I just wanted to take a moment and share here one of the projects I had worked on since the recipient also happens to be a fellow gamer/blog buddy of mine.

Rer, whom some of you might know from multiplaying.net, first approached me with an idea of a pencils-on-art-board drawing as a gift for his girlfriend, which I was happy to accommodate. So much of the envisioned concept involved symbolism in this piece, and I must say I had some fun with the challenge of working those ideas in along with everything else requested in the detailed specifications he provided me.

White Knight

White Knight – pre-cleanup

Special thanks to Rer for giving me permission to post this; I don’t often get the go-ahead to pimp my commissioned stuff. And of course, he was also a pleasure to work with.

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Not My Style

July 11, 2012

Note: This post has actually been sitting in my drafts for a while, but then thanks to The Secret World I’ve been waylaid by fighting zombies and solving mysteries for the past couple weeks.

When it comes to MMO characters, I think we can all agree that your avatar’s appearance matters; pretty much every discussion anyone has ever had about games and character customization is a testament to that. But there are also important things that go beyond things like face type, hairdos, and make up — what my character wears. Like, I don’t even want to talk about how much in-game pax I’ve spent on new outfits in TSW.

In a completely different way, another game that really underscored that for me was TERA Online. By the way, this was a game I held off on getting for a long time, but finally caved when it went on sale for 50% off last month. You’d be amazed at how quickly my willpower crumbles when faced with a new game at half-price.

Well, I must say the game itself is very fun. I discovered my affinity for the combat mechanics and controls, which surprised me. Getting used to them was what I initially thought would be the biggest obstacle preventing me from getting into TERA. Alas, it was not.

What really distracted me at the beginning, and continues to do so even now, are the character and costume designs. Don’t get me wrong, I mean I think they’re gorgeous, and just about everything in the game is too. But every time I look at my character, I just think UGGHHHHWEJJSAGAG.

UGGHHHHWEJJSAGAG.

This discussion isn’t just about the hyper-sexualized clothing in the game (though it certainly doesn’t help) as plenty of people have already voiced their complaints about it (and they’d all be right). If only it were just that. No, when it comes down to it, this is about me not wanting to run around the world looking like a fashion crime and not having enough choices.

I’m talking about the general style of the models and gear, which obviously has a huge cultural component. Ironically, I spent most of my life growing up in Asia being bombarded with this highly caricatural art style often featuring a pastel palette, elaborate hairdos and ostentatious outfits on animated characters, but I must say it’s never really rubbed off on me.

Anyway, leaving aside the fact they’re completely impractical for adventuring and monster slaying, the clothes in TERA look ludicrous! I can’t even look at my character or some of the NPCs both male and female and think this is someone I can take seriously, rather than that they belong in some early 80’s glam rock band. By the time I got around to looking like a fool in my third pair of “half-pants”, I’d just about had it; I didn’t think I could look at one more person running in five-inch stiletto heels (a personal pet peeve of mine) or yet another exposed shiny male-elf navel while keeping a straight face.

This is the sort of stuff that falls into the same category as my dislike for the over-large and cumbersome shoulder pieces in World of Warcraft, or the fact I like to hide my helm on my SWTOR Jedi Consular so I don’t look like a BDSM enthusiast or a milkmaid. You might think, “Geez GeeCee, they’re just clothes in a game, as long as you’re wearing some, what’s the problem?”

Well, the problem isn’t as trivial to me as I thought. Maybe, there’s just too much of the old RP’er in me? I tend to like to do things like name my characters in accordance to the game world’s conventions, and likewise customize their appearance to fit the personalities I give them.

I’m sure you can argue that clothing items like half-pants and weird abs-revealing-armored-jackets are considered “normal” in the world of TERA, but still, is it too much to ask for the things I wear to look good but also make sense, i.e. like I actually dressed myself this morning without being under the influence of LSD? Not that other MMOs don’t have their fair share of incongruities like armored thongs or ridiculously over-sized weaponry, but out of all the games I’ve played recently, I think TERA takes the cake. I mean, freakin’ half-pants.

In the case of TERA, I understand the art style is culturally influenced and may come down to a simple matter of taste. And I’m just sorry to say it’s not for me. To a lesser extent, I think I also felt the same way when I played Aion, which could be another explanation as to why that game never stuck.

It’s a shame, because the dynamic, kinetic combat in TERA is the most fun I’ve had in an MMO in ages. I also find the creature designs unique and amazingly detailed, and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is not to be beating down on yet another wolf or common bandit in a fantasy game. Like I said, the graphics are incredible too, and I am awed each time I log in to survey my surroundings.

I never thought something as superficial as art style or the clothes my character is made to don would affect my enjoyment, and in a way that galls me about myself. But then again, people have left MMOs for much less.

I can’t deny that I’m torn. I like the gameplay of TERA very much, am glad I gave it a chance and want to keep playing, but at the same time the art style frequently becomes too distracting. At times, my brain also cannot handle the dissonance created when one moment I’m looking at my boobs practically popping out of my chestpiece and the next I’m staring at something so sickly sweet and cuddly like a Popori or Elin. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve never truly understood the appeal of kawaii.

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Played Lately: Week At A Glance

June 29, 2012

Well, this has certainly been a busy week for gaming, I’m sure my Raptr feed has not seen action like this in months. Here’s what has been occupying my time:

The Secret War

I’d originally planned on going into this “blind” but I caved during last week’s beta 4 weekend. My husband and I played a couple hours just to get a feel for it, and in the words of Mr. GC, “‘Ignite gas cans and draw zombies into the fire?’ God, I love this game!”

Zombie killling-wise, I’d say my sentiments echo his, but I do have my misgivings about the clunky feel of combat. Still, it’s something I can see myself easily getting used to. More importantly, I feel it’s a small price to pay to experience this unique game with its mystery-driven story and incredibly atmospheric setting, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where Funcom has focused most of its efforts. I’ve seen people describe themselves as getting “lost” in TSW, and I have to agree with that feeling wholeheartedly. I look forward to playing in the early access this weekend — Templar on Arcadia.

TERA Online

I’ve been dabbling in this MMO ever since I bought it for half-price earlier this month. I have to say combat in this game is drastically different from all other MMOs and is very engaging. Graphically, it’s also a feast for the eyes.

Still, I’m not feeling the motivation to play it much. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m not making the connection because I don’t think the reason has much to do with the gameplay, which I actually find quite enjoyable. It galls me to admit that it might be due to the art style. Maybe I’m just being shallow, but you’d be surprised how much something that could have an impact on my experience. I’ll probably go into it a bit more in a separate post at a later date, but for now I plan on getting the most out of my free month and we’ll see where I’ll go from there.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

This is still my MMO of choice, and will probably remain so for a while even when newer games this year will come out and vie for my attention. Patch 1.3 was released earlier this week on Tuesday, and I had been looking forward to checking out the updates it offers.

I haven’t really had a chance, though. For the last few weeks, I’ve been playing on the Imperial side almost exclusively, concentrating on leveling up that Bounty Hunter I’ve always wanted, the class I’d dreamed about ever since the game was announced. Coupled with my husband’s Sith Warrior, we’re steadily making progress towards level 50 and I hope we can keep up the pace, as level-capping her is currently one of my MMO goals. Right now we find ourselves on Hoth, on the cusp of wrapping up Chapter 2.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

I swear, I’ve had this game and AC: Revelations sitting on the to-play pile still in their original wrapping since…damn, I think November of last year. In fact, I think I picked them both up during a Black Friday deal, telling myself that I’d better get it now at a good price since I had definite plans to play both at some point anyway. Famous last words. Incidentally, that’s also how I ended up with my unmanageable Steam to-play pile.

Okay, so it was probably a terrible, terrible idea to start this game Monday on the eve of the Skyrim: Dawnguard DLC and Mass Effect 3 extended cut releases, but I had a feeling deep down that if I didn’t open that box like right now it was never going to happen otherwise. And so, I spent the day playing Ezio and getting used to climbing walls and shoving around civilians again. I also discovered something about myself: I am way too impatient and bloodthirsty to make a good, stealthy assassin.

Mass Effect 3

No spoilers. I downloaded the extended cut for the ending first thing Tuesday and fired up my last save point that afternoon in order to see the changes. However, this time around I decided to choose a different ending, opting for red instead of green. Then, I watched the other endings on YouTube.

As you may know, I’d just finished the game earlier last week, with the original ending. I had a friend tell me that I should have waited for the extended cut to arrive before I did, but after seeing the new ending I’m glad I didn’t. Having played the original version so recently made me appreciate the new one all the more. It really emphasized for me my problem with the old one in the first place — not the actual events of the ending itself, but instead just how lazily the entire sequence was executed.

The new ending fleshed out the story, explaining some of the ramifications and the fates of my squadmates and friends. More importantly, it had feeling — which was what I felt was lacking in the original. I was almost brought to tears in the final moments, and that’s when it hit me: the storytelling is what I like most about these games, and the emotions they evoke. It’s not the what but the how, as in this was how the story should have been told, in the BioWare way that I know and love.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard

No spoilers. This week, I made my return to Tamriel in order to play the new DLC (I own the game for the Xbox 360). Thanks to the new content, I get to be a vampire lord! Er, a very nasty and ugly vampire lord, as in no one will be swooning over me anytime soon. Disappointed to say that playing as a vampire lord is a bit of a pain though, and I’ll probably only do as much as it takes to get my vampire perks, then go back to fighting and adventuring in my Nightingale gear.

I also get to ride a new flaming undead horse, which to me was a very timely addition, seeing as how one time these bandits shot and killed my last horse almost the instant I quick traveled and loaded into the zone. I wasn’t even on it! I’m not kidding, that actually kinda pissed me off, damn cowards that would shoot an opponent’s horse…

Uh, back on topic, so far I’m liking Dawnguard. Still, I’m not sure if it will be worth the money for some. As most expansions like these go, there seems to be one main quest line driving the entire thing, spruced up with some goodies like new weapons and locations, etc. on the side, but not much else. It also makes the gameplay feel more linear than I’m used to getting from Skyrim. You do, however, get to go deeper into the lore of the game, which is one of the strongest aspects of the Elder Scrolls series and incidentally something I happen to really enjoy.

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Review: The Art And Making Of Star Wars: The Old Republic

November 10, 2011

Cover

Due to professional interest, but also thanks to my general love for art, I’m always on the lookout for artbooks. They’re good for reference or just ordinary perusal on a rainy day, and I collect just about anything and everything that catches my eye.

Several of my shelves, however, are especially dedicated to the realms of fantasy and sci-fi. Over the years, I’ve amassed artbooks featuring masterpieces by the greats such as Frank Frazetta or Brom, but also gaming-related books containing graphics and concept art from games like Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, etc.

Today, I want to give some love to The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which I was ecstatic to add to my collection this week. Remember, I was initially disappointed that no artbook was included in the retail collector’s edition of the game, but now that I am holding this gem in my hands, I am beginning to understand why. The Art and Making of SWTOR is a masterpiece in and of itself. It’s a hefty hardcover of good quality, filled with full-colored images of digital pictures and concept art, and pages and pages of commentary to go with it.

Topics covered include the things you’d expect: class design, planets and environments, species, creatures, ships, weapons, armor, etc., etc., etc. But since this is technically a “Making Of” book as well, you also get developer insights into the creation of the game, everything from commentary on SWTOR’s evolution from its roots in Knight of the Old Republic, to the multitude of challenges BioWare faced when moving into the MMO space.

There are also other interesting tidbits on the game’s development, random facts about the game I picked up as I read through the pages. One of my favorites is the section at the back, called “Verbal Cubism”. Did you know that beyond the main dialogue, thirty-thousand lines of alien-speak were recorded for SWTOR? The book states: “To put this in perspective, [that’s] more than the entire script for Mass Effect or both KOTOR games combined. Just in aliens.” Pretty neat.

If you 1) have a general interest in game art and concept art, or 2) are a big fan of SWTOR, then this book is definitely worth it. Since both those descriptions apply to me, I must say I am quite pleased. I’ve been flipping through the pages admiring the beautiful pieces in there since I got it. I wish I could showcase them all, but there are just too many. Here are, however, some of the highlights and my favorites:

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Art Post: Rer The Blood Elf Death Knight

November 16, 2010

I don’t normally post artwork that has been commissioned, but this time I had the pleasure of working with Rer of Multiplaying.net, who is such a cool guy and gave me his permission!

Rer the Blood Elf Death Knight

The request came soon after I posted the full version of my old banner, when he asked for a portrait of his World of Warcraft Blood Elf Death Knight done in a similar style. Here are a few excerpts from the awesomely detailed description with which I was provided (again, with special thanks to Rer):

…the motif of the picture is Frost/Ice.  My Death Knight, Rer, should end up with a very stoic posture and demeanor, almost statue-like…

Helmet off, arms crossed, and otherwise standing stoic…if possible I’d rather not have the legs right next to each other…yet not slacking off either.

The great-sword would be implanted in the snow next to me, past the point of where it opens at the end. So only the solid “shaft” if you will of the sword, and then up to the hilt, would show.  Height-wise I would say somewhere to at least Rer’s belt would be preferred…

To add to the effect of being a “Frost” Death Knight…it might be cool to have icicles forming on both the weapon, the armor…

As you can see, I was given ample room to play around with this, but thanks to Rer’s descriptions I was also able to approach this drawing with a very clear and strong sense of what was required. I would have loved to do more, especially with the background, until it dawned on me how impossible it would have been to pull it off without making the entire thing look like a cluttered mess. And that’s why I can always appreciate detailed guidelines!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the drawing as much as I enjoyed working on it! This project was quite an unexpected treat as I hadn’t had the chance to go back to penciling in a while, so it was a wonderful feeling to get to do it again.
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Crafting IRL: Our Beloved Pets

September 5, 2010

Besides indulging myself in games and other things that my mother has always said will rot my brain, I also like turning to my one true passion — art.

Above all, I love working with my hands, getting down and dirty with my fingers stained with graphite, paint, or whatever medium I find myself working with. I’ve played with computers and graphic programs, but for me nothing beats the feeling of putting down actual lines and colors that I can feel onto the very texture of a surface. Guess I’ll always be a traditional at heart.

For the past few years, my focus has been on sci-fi/fantasy subjects and comic art, some of which has been posted here, but it wasn’t always so. From the time I was just a little girl, I’ve always had a love for animals, so even then I was commissioned by people to paint or draw the animals closest and most dear to them — their pets. Lately, I’ve gotten the itch again, and have been building up my store of art supplies. I want to share a few pieces I’ve done, and a couple past ones that I still love. Time to set aside the comic boards and the swords and spaceships, back to cute and fuzzy animals.

A pastel drawing of a client's Siberian Husky, mirthfully named Blizzard.

A client's cat painted on a rock, acrylics.

A quick sketch of a Beagle, pencils.

Another quick study in 6 shades while testing out some new soft color pencils. It's Strider!

Not cute, cuddly or even a pet, but the paleontologist I did this for certainly loved that specimen like it was one.

Hope you enjoyed this break from my usual gaming posts. Have a great rest of the Labor Day weekend!