Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How much talent makes an artist?

I'm not trying to be sarcastic with that title. I'm serious; when do people get titled as an "artist" instead of just billed as a hobbyist?
If it's based on the about of time spent working at said art, then I'm a hobbyist, since I only get to it rarely these days.
If it's based on the amount of said art pumped out, then I'm surely below even hobbyist levels.
If it's based on quality over quantity, then who's judging the quality? The internet?? Almost all "artists" seem to be very critical of their own work (and I know I surely am), but since art is usually turned out for some sort of commercial appeal (I.E. so you don't starve), then how can that label even be justly given out?
If it's based on the level of thought behind said art, the amount of imagination before the physical representation exists, then I hope I'm at the "artist" level of this... because I'd hate to think that I'm just crazy.

I have all these ideas in my head, my imagination spills over with colors and visuals, things I can decorate in my mind that will never be able to see paper, because who else could make them but me, but I don't have the talent to bring them to life. I've tried though. I've tried to explain them in endless details,
but words can't paint a full picture. I've tried to draw them, to doodle them, but all I get are stick figures and abstract shapes; hard lines when soft curves are required. I've even imagined new tunes without words, but because I can only play an instrument with one hand (no I'm not missing a hand, I just can't coordinate with both at the same time like that), anything I play is very monotonous and bland, childlike. I wouldn't even call it childlike, since I've heard little children play better music than I could ever manage. I love to sing, but my voice is such crap (bronchitis, asthma, and no vocal coaching whatsoever) that people who hear me tend to wince. I only sing nicely when I sing too soft to hear above a whisper.

So what can I do when creativity strikes up a wildfire inside of me? I can't draw well, I can't play well, and I can't sing well. I've tried (VERY) amateur painting before, and while it's fun it's not what I tried to do or be. When I draw/paint anything, I keep trying to make things look realistic (Realism), but what comes out is never even close, so you get
Surrealism instead. That's a terrible way to describe surrealist art, as a realist who sucked at drawing, but that's one of the few things I seem to do right.

So, without further ado, here is July Cornfield

The clips on the side were part of my sophisticated home-made (read: cheap) hanging system to keep the fabric taunt and straight. It consisted of 6 medium binder clips, plastic straws, craft wire, and whatever thin rope I had around at the time, to make the red cotton/denim fabric stay straight while the acrylic paint dried.

And yes, that is a sun AND moon in the same sky. If you never seen that happen then you haven't looked up enough. I chose the red denim for two reasons. 1, it reminded me of sunset, and 2, it was the largest fabric piece I had around and I initially was just doodling with cheap paint.

Now, before I fall asleep at my keyboard, here's a quick setting. It's dusk in the middle of July. The corn is knee high and you decide to take a break from playing within it, and sit back in the dirt. Looking up between the rows of stalks, you can see the sun setting and the moon starting to rise. The stratus clouds over head are scattered in a slight breeze, and the sky itself has just started to take on the colors of dusk. If it were darker out, the corn stalks would look like giant green hands trying to grab you, but it's still much to bright out to be afraid of them, and they're still much too small once you stand up. Once the sun goes down, you're going to chase fireflies...

Also, I hope my Moto Droid took a good enough picture (although I had to edit for size) for you to make out the details.

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Art for Aion, now with 75% less whine! (Sacramentum legion emblem)

EDIT: Dammit, no. You can't take my image without permission. No, you can't use it for your guild, I made it for my own. Have some decency. I appreciate that you like it but please, I spent all my free time on this for my Legion. I'd be willing to share my source material for you to make your own, but this beauty is my own, my current pride and joy.

Well, I toiled all week long, but at last I made something finished for my Aion legion. The shield was taken out from earlier versions, because at the lower image sizes seen actually in-game the details (that looked bitchin' at high resolution) were a blur. Blur is bad. Blurring is very bad. Simplicity is the winner. So I simplified. Swords over shields. Took out some of the little frills that were originally in the image. Fixed all the little blotches of error. Simplified the colors and made a prominent focal point (the silver sword).

Just imagine this on a dark/black background. It sticks out even more then. Want a little help?
Now imagine it smaller...

That's about how it'll look in game at a glance. Does it catch your eye? Creative or Constructive Criticism is welcomed.

Please do NOT steal my artwork.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Art for Aion

Well, I promise my artwork would be showcased here, so here it starts. And it starts with an art project for Aion, where once a Legion advances high enough in rank, the legion (guild) emblem can be customized. I.E., not a pick from the given choices. An image you make/take, and upload. So without further ado...

This was my first "finale", but the road to it was tough. I started with the Elf "wings" icon/wallpaper from Warhammer Online, altered the colors until I could clearly extract the wings from the background, remove the object sandwiched between the wings, then use The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) 2.6.2 to essentially light-box over the wings to get a good trace. I then added extra lines to "complete" the wings as close to whole as possible, but only worked on one half of the set. The other half was a simple copy & flip away. They remind me of a sparrow's wings in a way, with no clear boundary between primaries and secondaries...

Anyway, the wings outlined and the reference image thrown away, coloration was done with a gradient tool and a lot of toying around with the options. Gradients in GIMP aren't too flexible. Eventually I got what you see in the background here, but with white outlines. I painted over them later to ease them into the image better. Things were going to get "loud" enough as it stood.

The shield came next, and I started with the icon for the Aion character class of Templar, which is the penultimate tank class. The image came to me as a black & white PNG. Fuzzy select and gradient fill once again came to my rescue, but not easily. The golden/raised areas and the firey/depressed areas would not be filled with gradient in the same image without leaving lines between the two area types. I had to do each of the areas as separate images, then copy the top one over with transparent gaps, on top of the lower/red gradient. The finished shield didn't come out as well as I wanted, but since the image was to be scaled down anyway, I figured it was good.

But I wasn't done yet. I wanted more added on to this monster.
Came then the Ranger class icon, which consists of a dagger/sword plus bow. I thought it would go nice with the shield and wings. But look at how 'loud' and busy the image is now! I was originally also going to put something in reminiscent of spell casters or priests, but there's no room! That's okay, I thought, the Legion is named "Sacramentum" which means "Oath (of soldiers)". Swords and shields and bows were more mindful of that, right? The ranger icon came to me differently than the Templar icon. It was also in black & white, but the quality was much poorer. I had to manually sharpen the image bit by bit, then go in with the path tool to even out the lines and gaps, and erase parts that would be too tiny to see at the ultimate resolution. The dagger/sword part came out okay with the special gradient used there, maybe it could have used more or less "frivolous-ness". The bow, however, came out for the worse. I played with the gradient, determined to have another color on that image that didn't blend with the rest, but green just came out too dark!

I'll have to work on another one, one where the green bow portion is perhaps moved around a bit? Or removed completely. Or perhaps just colored like the sword/dagger. It's that or I use the "Gladiator icon" for more effect. We'll see, but this has been enough work for one night.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What happened to Warhammer? (Answering Agga)

Well, since I can't comment on my own damned blog (*glares at Blogger*), here's an answer to the only comment I've ever received.

Warhammer Online just died a slow painful death for me. Everything has degenerated since the last patch in particular, and everything is all "QQ!" and "RVR!". No one plays PVE anymore except to flip zones. Phoenix Throne server (order side) has been a ghost town. Tier 4 is too much work for a game, and that won't work for me. (Pun not intended).

Mythic just killed the game and any of the high hopes I had for it. Which is a shame, because I loved the mythos and environment there. But it's still an incomplete game, and more work than it's worth. I'm sad to say it, but I think I may be done with it. I loved playing with the whole gang there, but way too damn much QQ and work and "hurry up and wait!" to enjoy the end game. And the end game is what would keep me onboard in the long haul. The same reason is why I hardly play City of Heroes anymore. Too much work for a casual gamer. Work I'm paying to do. That shit won't fly.

I'm currently addicted to Aion, and so far it's living up to its "New Shiny!"-high in my eyes. It's new, it's different, and most importantly it's fun! I haven't officially quit WAR yet, but I'm probably going to go inactive enough that I might as well have.

So Agga, I hope you stick around with the old gang still. Whether or not you get into Aion or something else. The Vent's still open, I've been keeping up with posting all that info on the guildlaunch forum, although they recently changed the URL to it and I don't know if you got the PM there.

So, let this also be an open invitation. If you play Aion and play Elyos on Israphel (US/Eastern) server, Sacramentum is recruiting. Forum application and Ventrilo are both encouraged and required for legion membership. Agga, even if you never pick up the game you're definately invited to join with us anyway.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Secondary Shiny - Guild Wars

So I've been caught up in yet another MMORPG, only this one has the extra benefit of NO subscription fees! That's right, a well done MMO that only costs you one flat fee for the game itself. No wonder it meets and/or beats Warcraft's standards of business success.

It's your standard MMORPG, skill-based (the more levels you get the more points to spend on skills), only more "minimized", but not really in a bad way at all. How it works is like this: All the towns and outposts and cities, etc., are where teh actual players congregate in. There are different districts for each community center to save on lag when they're full up. You can't fight enemies or have duels or be attacked or attack at all in these posts. You're there to meet up, gather, talk to NPC's, get quests, etc. It's when you go out into the exporable areas that things get different. You have your own little instance of the exporable area. It exists as long as you are out there and not in a town. All the enemies you've taken down while out there, basically reset once you go into a town/outpost/etc. You can take along party members, but first you need to get with them in a town, make up the party there, with friends or fill in members with NPC allies that will fight alongside you (big bonus for you loners, because the NPC's actually have competent AI, and a party of 4 with you and 3 NPCs can still take down a powerful target). Your standard choices are usually a tank, healer, and DPS classes. You can choose which NPCs you recruit into your party for the explorable areas, so if you play a healer, you can pick all other classes. Or pick the other healer and just be lazy. Etc. This mixing up makes the game very interesting. Makes playing solo a possibility, for most things.

There is a PvP element, and it's handled in the games many arenas. You can either go up against other parties with your friends vs. their friends, go up against an enemy with parties full of NPC's, or go up against a rival with a party of heroes. Heroes are special NPC Henchmen, like the NPC allies mentioned earlier, only you can pick-&-choose what skills their merits lay in.
You can also compete guild against guild, with the same types of battles. Your parties, whatever they consist of, can be in capture the flag games, obliteration (kill count) games, capture the flag stand (which is a variation of inverted capture the flag - you put your flag in a defensive stand and try to keep it there while the other party tries to do the same). Etc. It's not free-form PvP, it's not Realm-vs-Realm like in Warhammer Online (they copyrighted that term, by the way. So, trademark, registered, copyright, etc, Mythic/EA games).

Combine it all together, and you get a nice (not great but not horrible) MMO that has no continued cost. I purchased the Trilogy pack myself, that was $50 USD. The Individual games alone run $20-30 USD, which isn't bad, and I recommend Nightfall if you're only interested in one.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Shiny - Aion (MMORPG)

I just found my new, pretty, precious, shiny thing.. And it's Aion. In case you live in a cave like I do most of the year, Aion is predicted to be the next BIG MMO to hit the game-o-sphere. It features a 50 level usual MMO practice, BUT with a "new" thing to the field - the chain system combat abilities. Also, a flight system that all characters get upon reaching level 10 (easy to do, no grinding there).

Now, when I first heard that NCsoft was making another MMO that focused on PVP, I as skeptical. NCsoft has City of Heroes (and City of Villains), and the PVP in that/those games just sucks. It's not even "pew pew pew I WIN" it's basically dominated by just a couple of classtypes, with little reward for actually succeeding in PVP. For a heroes vs. villains comic-book-y game, I was ashamed. The PVE was fine and all, I loved to pretend to be a hero and go rescueing and defeating bad guys, or be a villain and tear shit up... Until I felt like I was grinding at a snail's pace through the levels. Then my zealousness toned down quite a bit.

Needless to re-say, when Aion was first announced, I was very, VERY skeptical. PVP in most MMO's usually turned into 3 second battles, or zerg-fests. (Zerg-fests can be fun if they fluctuate from side to side, such as the Realm-vs-Realm battles in WARhammer Online could be like; however, Zerg-fests turn into moral-crunching menaces when there's no fluctuation. There's no fun in always winning, in always losing. It turns into stagnation.)

Anyway, I was very surprised when I stumbled into PVP in Aion. It started with a requested duel against another of my race (Elyos in this example), and I soon discovered something. Certain classes definately had an advantage, but these were not 3 second fights! These were battles that took some skill, as certain chain attacks worked better depending on the situation. It wasn't just about who struck first, who could jam the keys fast enough to defeat the other before they could even register an attack. It was about prediction, and a little preparation. Certain chain combos worked better against certain class types, worse against others. It's a dynamically new combat system in the world of MMORPG's.

As if that wasn't enough to draw me in, the art is BEAUTIFUL! The CryEngine is able to render the graphics at such a lower CPU cost that most other MMO engines could hope to achieve for the same quality. It's so lovely, the graphics alone could make me want to pay for this game..

I'm gushing over this game, and it hasn't even gone live yet! It's got an anime-ish look and feel to it, but with Christian religion-mythology-like undertones in the basic plotline; these are 2 things that are normally turn-off's for me, but for once I'm able to look past that and onto the high quality/low cost graphics, and the inventive combat system that makes fighting, PVE or PVP, feel epic. I almost want to say it's like having a Mortal Kombat MMO, with all the moves you can chain together for certain effects, but saying just that would give a horribly wrong impression.

If my words are not enough to draw you in, I ask you to wait until the game goes live (scheduled September 22, 2009), and try out a trial account once they're available. I know that trials will be available eventually, probably soon after release. Even if you have to be sent a trial ticket from a registered member, contact me when the time comes and I promise that I can try to help you. I'm very sure that I will be playing this game when it goes live, and even before then (prepurchases FTW!), and knowing NCsoft, trial accounts are a given - they bring in the business.

Until then, happy gaming!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Attempts At Humor - Weeaboo's

Let me start this off by saying, anime and manga (and their adult counterpart "hentai") can be fun, entertaining forms of media. For Americans in the U.S. like me, it's an imported culture, still relatively fresh on the scene, and somewhat misunderstood at times. This makes the anime & manga culture a popular attractant to young people. The parents don't understand what it is, or why it's so appealing (exception here for the usually high amounts of nudity and sex and violence in many hentai's). -And for the most part, I'm pretty cool with this. Like most things I have something to gripe or laugh about, it's more about the people who go nuts over it, than the thing itself.

Thus I am brought to the issue of "weeaboo." A weeaboo (or childish-Japanophile-done-to-death) is basically someone who has gone head-over-heels over Japanese culture, when they otherwise have no attachments, relations, or etc. with it. These are the people that irk me; I twitch just listening to them talk and reading their words. All I hear is "blah-blah-blah-something-horribly-unknown-but-definitely-sounds-asian-blah-blah." I could go on and on about all the things that irk me, but that's not the point of this post. I want to give everyone a way to indicate the earmarks of a weeaboo.
  1. Constant throwbacks in a conversation to some well known or relatively unknown anime and/or manga series. "Dude, did you see that crane they got parked at the construction site? That thing could squish a Gundam!"
  2. Throwing every last instant of free time into watching anime and reading manga. Nothing else. Nothing. "I really gotta go pee, but Bleach is on in 30 seconds!"
  3. Getting emotionally attached to an anime. I'm not talking about the tears that come after a sorrowful scene, or rolling around on the floor at something watched. I mean people who get so attached to characters or plot lines that they go psycho when they are wronged with them somehow. This can also extend beyond the scope of Japan culture. ("Snape kills Dumbledor!") "GRAAA YOU BITCH! YOU BIIIITCH!!"
  4. How about some non-anime signs? If you were born and raised in the U.S.A., still live there, have never left, and have no family attachments to Japan, yet you will still go a good amount out of your way just to pick up a dozen boxes of Pocky every weekend; you're a weeaboo.
  5. If all your food is sushi or otherwise fish related (there is fish candy, yuck), you might be a weeaboo.
  6. ALL of your porno, every last movie, movie clip, image, porn site link, everything, if all of it is hentai, you're probably a weeaboo.
  7. You learn Japanese in your spare time (not easy for native English speakers), just to better understand your choices of media. You use this acquired talent for nothing else. Then you're a weeaboo.
  8. You dye your hair bizarre colors, A la Anime & Manga characters. Not to be confused with punk and goth (and, ugh, emo movements - later entry on this, I promise).
  9. Your idea of a kinky outfit for women is an undersized japanese school girl uniform.
  10. You actually went to see the Dragon Ball movie.
That's all that I can come up with for the moment. I'm sure there's many more signs of "super annoying japanophilia" (compared to ordinary japanophilia with has only 15% Annoying), but at the moment I seem to be burnt out from just imagining those ten.

You know any more? Leave it in the comments! I can always update this!

A Late Intro(duck)tion.

Recently this blog has found a focus. I finally know what to do with it, and as such I've ruthlessly edited out my whiny diary-type entries, as well as posts where I just rambled on and on and on aimlessly.

What I can promise you now are irregular updates, mild and/or grim attempts at humor*, and whatever crappy art or writing I feel like sharing at the time.

So, while this introduction appears to be only 2 posts late, it's really more like 6, and that's sad. Fortunately I have yet no readers, or at least no one who cares to comment on my past crap, so just pretend I waved my hands like an ancient interstellar buddhist and performed a mental foolery on you.

(* reader will take note that only an attempt is guaranteed and actual humor may not be obtained.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tweet Food

Just discovered Twitterfeed...

I would have thought that a service that updates your Twitter account every time you post a new blog would have been available from the start, but all I found before were third-party vendors that I didn't trust with my Twitter account.

As a second bonus, now you can be thoroughly confused by the Twitter feed off to the side of my blog page, under the music widget. That feed will update about my twitter update about my blog update, next to my blog update.

Now all I need is a Blog service or Twitter service that will post a tweet to this blog as a blog post. Then the cycle can NEVER END! -as long as I make the settings right.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

For Your Enjoyment - Grooveshark

Well, several days ago I discovered Grooveshark, and boy have I been won over.

Not only can you stream any full song from the massive lists there (and believe me, there's a lot), you can build little widgets to post to your blog, website, whatever, with any playlist you can put together. No limit on what kind of songs you can throw in there, as long as it's on Grooveshark, it's available.

Now the "bonus" part. If you have a song (mp3, etc.) that you want to be on that widget, or your personal playlist (for things like... streaming at work?), but what if it's not on the site? Don't fret! You can upload any number of songs from your computer, and in about 24 hours it will be on Grooveshark. However, I did notice some latency between that song's availablility for listening, and its availability to be tossed into playlists and/or put on a widget. This could have just been me, but I also don't know how long that latency was - I tried to get it to work before work and it wouldn't; I tried after work and it went right away. I guess you can chalk this up to demand on the website.

If I was rating Grooveshark, I would still give it 4 stars (out of 5) based on the size of the library, time to upload (24 hours isn't that bad, really, not on a huge site), and "relative ease" in making widgets and getting song information. It was a little "clunky" at first, because I was not used to the layout, but all the little icons give pop-up names telling you what they are, so I may have just been impatient at the time.

Please, enjoy the widget I've plugged into the right side of this blog, and if you don't like the music, go make your own playlist! You don't have to have a user name there to use it, you can make a widget for individual songs (I will be using this part very much), and if you want to save playlists for easy recalling, signing up is free and easy.