video games

Dark Souls fan art 

This weekend I worked on some Dark Souls fan art! I'm not very good at the series, but I love it's aesthetic. I find the characters and monsters to be beautifully, if sometimes grotesquely, designed. So, when a friend of mine requested something Souls related, I happily obliged!To start, I made a light, rough sketch of their favourite characters - Solaire, Oscar, and Gwyndolin. Normally when I paint with watercolours I do a detailed pencil drawing to paint over, however, with this piece... I'll be honest, I got lazy. When i sat down to do the drawing part, Gwyndolin's crown was so ornate that I drew a light outline and left the details for later.I got to work on Solaire first and applied the watercolours as if they were oils. I wanted deep, rich tones, and I find that's most easily achieved by painting in layers - even if it means painting lights on darks. (Typically with watercolours, you want to paint the lights first, then the darks.) It can be a little tedious and time consuming, but the results are so worth it!Once Solaire was mostly done, I moved on to Dark Sun Gwyndolin. His crown was by far the most difficult part of this piece, due mostly to the fact I couldn't find a clear picture of how it should look. I found many interpretations, but the official art work itself wasn't super clear, so I pretty much winged it from start to finish.  Several times while painting it I had to change the shape, which is how it ended up with the glowing effect coming from. Despite being totally not planned I ended really liking it, so I left it in.I finished off the piece with Oscar of Astoria and a bonfire. I used the fire as a chance to try out some new masking fluid I picked up over the weekend. This masking fluid worked so much better than the one I used in my Primadonna Doodle illustration. It peeled off easily and didn't leave any colour residue. To achieve some soft flames, I used the masking fluid to outline the fire and then painted the inside with a combo of red and orange. I used a lot of water to allow the colours to blend on their own by tipping the paper vertical and letting it run downwards a little. I finished the fire by painting the portion covered by the masking fluid yellow - I thought the stylized look it gave the fire complimented the collage composition.From start to finish, it took me roughly nine hours to complete this watercolour painting on 4x6 inch 140 lb watercolour paper. I thought about adding gold ink accents to it, but decided it looked fine without them. One thing I did add at the end was Solaire's red feather. I had meant to paint it once I had completed Oscar, but forgot. It wasn't until I was getting ready to post it to my Instagram that I realized it was missing. I ended up happy with how this turned out, and thankfully so did the person who commissioned it! I'm no where near as big of a Souls fan as my friend is, but I mega-enjoyed working on this small piece. I even feel inspired to play the first Dark Souls again! Praise the sun! - Sam :]

Convention Diaries! - Con-nichiwa 2014

Today the much anticipated Burial at Sea: Episode 2 came out and I couldn't be more excited for it! Unfortunately, my internet is super slow and the massive DLC is gonna take awhile. In the mean time, I thought this might be the perfect time to update you wonderful readers on my latest convention escapades.

For the past two months now I've been working super hard to prepare for my first convention of 2014, Con-nichiwa. This was my fist time showing at this venue so I didn't want to leave anything to chance. For all my preparation though, things started out a bit dramatic.

Set up didn't go as smooth as I had hoped. Part my fault and part the fault of staff members, I ended up having to set up my table the morning of the first day despite trying to set up twice the day before. Even though I had to make some last minute changes, everything turned out fine in the end and I managed to have my table ready by the time the doors opened.

Day one was the worst of the days but had a diamond of a moment to make it all ok. I was largely ignored by the crowd on the first day, however, I did manage to get a commission from a very interesting kid. The request was super specific and made me nervous. The kid knew exactly what he wanted, so what if my work didn't match what was in his own head? I gave it a shot though, and was rewarded with one of the best reactions ever! I made his day and in turn he made mine! He was so happy with my attempt that he literally stood in front of my table and stared at his illustration at length. He even returned the following day for a second commission and a big thank you.

Days two and three, were vast improvements as far as attention went. Even when nothing is purchased, I still appreciate a nice conversation. I even got to chat with friends I made at previous conventions. Overall the mood was so much lighter than it had been before.

It was also fun to people watch when I wasn't busy working on commissions. Seeing all the fabulous costumes made me want to try dressing up someday. I did get to wear my Lolita outfits, but for me those are normal clothes so it wasn't as special as a character outfit.

Despite the rough start, overall the con was a successful one. I managed to break even by making enough to pay for the table and the prints. Day one was truly a bad day, but I'm glad I didn't give up. Instead, I held on to that moment when that kid got his commission and listened to the kind support of my friends cheering me on and believing in me.

My next showing will be at the Phoenix Comic-Con. I mega-can't wait to experience those shenanigans and seeing as that's only a little more than two months away, I guess I better get to work preparing for that!

Besides, my download still has 40% to go...

Best regards always,
Sam

Hearts to March

RABBIT RABBIT!Another month bites the dust!  Between surviving Valentine's day and meeting deadlines, February was a very busy month indeed.  Already, this month sees no rest in sight for me either!  Currently on my plate are three very different commissions, an acting gig, and seeemingly endless work for my book.  AND, on top of all of this is a my little video gaming addiction fueled by new game releases. ;PI've commented before about how I love the diversity of commissions and that couldn't be more true right now.   Just recently I have had to switch gears in quick sucession from my Valentine's drawing to skull caricature to semi-realistic owl to 100% realistic person.   It's amazing what you can do when you push yourself and stretch the limits of your capabilities.  More than once on my journey to fame I have stepped over the horizon of my abilities with the trepidation of falling into the abyss, only to find more ground to walk on and the dawning of a new horizon.  I don't think I'll ever stop being scared, but as long as I don't let that get in the way, I am ok with that. While I never let fear stop me from drawing, I must admit, I do let video games get in the way sometimes.  It's common for me to spend an entire day gaming away.  (More than once it's been an entire week!)  This month is going to see me having to practice self-discipline like crazy when it comes to setting the sticks down and getting to work.  I've been looking forward to the release of Okamiden since it was a rumor!  On top of that, there's Pokemon White/Black and a few titles recently released like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and (with otaku shame) Hyperdimension Neptunia.   Hopefully the withdrawals wont be too bad (not to mention, even if I had all the time in the world to game, my wallet can't afford it).If ever given the chance, I would love to do character designs for a video game.  The melding of my two favorite things would send me to the stars!  Creating new characters is always fun;  to see them come alive through and game  play as them would send me to another galaxy!!  Dreams like make the whole video game self-discipline thing a bit easier to manage, I think.Well, I do suppose I should be getting back to work.  Cheers to a new month friends!  I leave you with promises for better blog updates this month and last month's Valentine's day illustration by your's truly.  XOXO! :)Edited 03/01/11 at 11:55 for grammer.

The Tri-force of next-gen gaming...is mine!!!!

Thanks to some odd jobs and good-old fashioned saving up, I was able to purchase a PS3 this weekend!  It's sitting happy with my Wii, Xbox 360, and myriad of older Nintendo Systems.   With my system, I picked up the quick time event game Heavy Rain.  (After a two weeks of button mashing action games, I needed something easy for my thumbs.)  While very short in length (I beat it in two and half days) the story more than made up for it.   Comparable to watching a suspense thriller movie, there were many times I was at the edge of my seat about what was going to happen next, and scratching my head at who the "Origami Killer" could be.  It should also be noted that the myriad of choices you make in the game have consequences and with those the game does a great job at placing you in the playable characters shoes.  Admittedly, there were a few times, I wasn't happy with my choices so restarted the whole level just to change them...if only there was a re-do button in real life! lolWith just a few more achievements to attain, I'm left with the itch to play a "real" video game.  There's a handful of great games coming out this holiday season and I'm at a loss of what to get first. (With gaming being a more expensive hobby than doing crack cocaine, I can only afford to get one game at a time.)  A few of the games on my radar include: Epic Mickey, Fallout New Vegas, CoD: Black Ops, DK Returns...and all the other titles that have already come out but I haven't picked up yet!On the bright side, being game-less for the moment is actually a good thing. It keeps me on track with my art work.  This weekend I was able to tear myself away from the PS3 long enough to work on my latest batch of commissions.  With all of them being tattoos, I'm doing my best to make them extra special!  Also on my queue of things to get done is my major project, a book!  Yes, I've decided to begin work on a book of illustrations with the theme of fairytales.  I'm very excited and have already started getting some sketches made.  I've been wanting to do a book for years now, but never truly felt skilled enough to make works I would be happy with or others would find enjoyment in.  Even now, I'm worried I will never be 100% satisfied with my final products, however, if the rest of the world can find them beautiful, I must believe them!

24 Years a Tiger!

I've always held the belief that birthdays are grand days to celebrate!   It's the one day of the year that you are king/queen for the day, it's you're special day!  Because of this, I have the habit of making a terribly big deal out of mine when it comes around.  This year, I took off a whole week from both the day job and working on art commissions and had two dinner parties (mostly due to circumstance, however, the more the merrier, right? hehe...).   This year, I got myself a little gift of two brand new video games while my parents got me a lovely pair of black over the knee boots and a new real tree camo hunting jacket! (Like Christmas cheer, birthdays aren't all about the gift, but it's still fun to get them!) Even thought I do acknowledge how silly it is for an adult to make such a big deal out of a single day, I still encourage all of you to do the same.  Let your next birthday be a grand day of celebration too, because everyone deserves a day to sparkle! :DWith the exception of the dinner parties, I've pretty much spent the rest of my vacation playing Xbox.  On day one of my time off, I finally decided to buy two games I had been eyeing at the store for quite some time now, Nier and Bayonetta.  To my happy surprise I found both games to have priced dropped down to $20 and $30.   Originally, I ment to choose one or the other, but I fail at those kind of decisions...I knew Bayonetta would not disappoint, and it didn't, just like I knew it wouldn't. :]The people behind Baonetta are some of my most favorite in the industry.  A lot of Platinum Games people where once a part of Clover, the ingenious minds behind two of my favorite games Okami and God Hand (and I swear one day, I will play Viewtiful Joe!), and it shows.  The cheeky humor found in God Hand is present and accounted for in Bayonetta.  The banter between characters is classic and full of wit.  Also like God Hand, is the game play.  It's a button masher but full of action and over the top moves you must purchase to unlock.  I can see some gamers finding it a bit repetitive, however, I didn't find it to be so.  Even being a button masher, it plays like a traditional fighter in how you must learn sequences of buttons presses to execute moves and combo chains. While God Hand got reamed for its sparce backgrounds, Bayonetta's is lush and beautiful.  The main character herself, is full of sexy charm and just about everyone in the game oozes cool (except for Enzo, of course). The whole time I was playing it, it gave of the vibe of a really good Quentin Tarantino flick. Chalk full of action, violence, wit, and charm.After marathon-ing that for a few days, I decided it was time I gave Nier a try.  This one was a bit more up in the air in terms of enjoyment.  I had heard lots fo mixed reviews about it.  Luckily though, I can say that it was a worth it purchase in the end.  It definitely has its weak spots in game play, my biggest pet peeve being the lack of auto targeting and screwy camera.  It also starts out rather slow story wise, however, by the time the first half is coming to an end (the game is broken up into two parts) I really came to like and sympathize with the characters.  Even though the story took a couple of hours to get moving (mostly due to the requisite tutorials) its snow balled...and continues to keep going even after you beat it the first time.  Once complete the game gives you the option to play your cleared saved data again from the beginning of the second half with additional narrative.  The first play through had me misty eyed at a few parts, but the second play through had me bawling!  I must say, I do not cry easy, it really takes a mega-lot, and the story is that heart wrenching.  To be honest, without giving away too much, the additional narrative (played out in extra cut scenes and unlocked dialogue) totally changed the feeling of the battles despite them being the same as before.  I've never had a game replay the same but felt so different before. There are a total of four additional endings and I can't wait to play them all (I'm nearing the end of the second one).  Interestingly, there was a section of the game that played out like a text adventure game.  My first impression was, "huh?", but that feeling quickly faded and was replaced with "wow".  I for one enjoy reading, a lot, and this was some very, VERY good prose, so much so, I didn't even mind the action was interrupted by a black screen and white text. Even more amazing than the story is the score.  Nier has some of the best in-game music I've ever heard.  It ranges from soft piano pieces, to exotic guitar strings,  to dramatic, operatic, orchestra scores and each fitting the mood perfectly.  I may even go out of my way to track the OST down, it really is that good.  It is truly a shame Cavia, the developers behind Nier, is no longer in business.  Had they been allowed to fine tune their game play mechanics more, I bet they would have been able to create an amazing game when paired with their story telling ability.I must admit, despite my love for video games (read: addiction), I am getting the itch to get back to the drawing board, literally (can't say the same about the day job, bleh).  I only have a few more days left, so I'll probably take advantage of the time and finish up Bayonetta and Nier before I have to go back to work.  Between the day job and art commissions, I am left with barely enough time to breathe, much less play video games. It's been a wonderful birthday for me this year and I hope my personal new year hold many good things to come. :]