A Few Thoughts

And a Few Thoughts…….

We writers write but the words do not always come easy. I am not talking about that lament, writers block. I am discussing the process of writing words that have meaning and convey the essence of their intent. In order to do this, most writers practice.

When I think back to learning to write in school, I frequently felt like a fish out of water, to use a cliche. There were all these rules. How to begin and end sentences. What kind of sentences to use. How to link sentences together. Then, oh my gosh, heaven help you if you put enough sentences together for a paragraph. Then one paragraph had to lead to another with the first introducing the rest and finally a concluding paragraph. Whew!

At first, I resisted this dogma. I just wanted to tell my stories. I guess I had enough of a natural flow that my work was acceptable. I used a pretty well developed vocabulary for a poor neighborhood school, i.e. those high influential words that teachers like. Then something happened along the way. I learned how to diagram sentences. This was fun. Seeing all the relationships of the words and the different meanings added whole new dimensions to the words. These relationships gave the words power. Not to mention I liked to draw all the lines and shapes to put the words into the diagrams.Well, if the relationships of the words to each other was a so important than maybe I needed to pay attention to some of the other dogma. What was I missing?

I opened myself up to the instruction and the power of the words and the intent of their use. It is amazing to me that that the use and definitions are as varied as the people using them not to mention the people receiving them. No matter how carefully you craft your words; the readers decide what they mean to them. This goes for simple instructions, advertising, sayings, jokes, novels to nonfiction works. So, we practice writing just like any other field, art, science or craft. We hone our words to convey our meanings, set a tone, describe a setting, have a character feel, draw you into a story or even get you mad at it, so many reasons to practice.

Now to practice, after all we are back to that grade school mechanic of the sentence starter and my resistance sets in again. There are books and books and articles and other media loaded with these things. I have this problem. When the sentence is started for me, I go blank. Back to chucking the tried and true for me. For me, I just need to let my thoughts loose! Set them free and snag one that seems interesting. Using my senses to the area around me often stimulates the next thought for description. And so a few thoughts can be the next book, game, article or just a damn good writing practice.

The Three Little Pigs: exercise in font creation

As part of an upcoming project, a graphic novel loosely based on the Three Little Pigs, I’ve been developing several fonts.  The two fonts I’ve completed so far are comic book speech bubble fonts.  As an exercise and to try out my new fonts I’ve rewritten the original Three Little Pigs fairy tale using my pig and wolf speech fonts for their respective parts in the story.

Three Little Pigs

 

When creating these fonts I began with research, I found the advice in The DC Comics Guide To Coloring and Lettering Comics by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein to be very useful.  Even though I’ve made a computer font, I wanted the font to have a hand lettered feel.  To this end I created a single case font where the upper and lower case versions would be slight variations of the same glyph. I also sought the advice of my friends and designers who had more experience creating fonts than myself. They directed me to create several design goals, the look and feel, that I wanted the font to convey.  The pig’s Font I wanted to be structured and grounded, to reflect the buildings they make and their stern vows.  The wolf’s font I wanted to be sharp and fierce, to reflect the killer instinct and sinister intent.

 

How Do You Figure: Episode 2, building shortcuts

#timelapse #figure #drawing at the Jean Henry School of Art hosted by @mikeritch

A video posted by @joshings on

Figure drawing for illustration can be broken up into roughly 3 basic topics. Structure, Line and form. All three are intertwined, but each can be practiced independently. Today we’ll talk about the first two topics. In all of these things, generally you can start with a circle.

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Professional artists can be deceptive in their work. When Eric Goldberg seems to wave his pencil like a magic wand and reveals perfectly placed lines almost every time, it can feel like that’s the way to start drawing characters. But the secret is that under the disturbingly perfect lines is a measured structural drawing he’s already worked out in his head. Goldberg has such a refined sense of proportion and motor control that he can jump straight to the lockdown line, especially on a character he’s spend multiple years drawing animation drawings of. But when he teaches you how to draw in his book Character Animation Crash Course! he starts with a circle

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Seriously, just go buy the book, its amazing.

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Andrew Loomis gives a solid formula for constructing a generic white guy human head in his series of illustration books including Figure Drawing for All its Worth, and Drawing the Head and Hands. It should come as no surprise that he starts with a circle. The next 2 lines unlock the secret though. The center line of the face, and the brow line. These two lines provide the structure that you can build the rest of the face and head on and the head is the best way to measure out the rest of the body easily.

The shortcut to drawing freehand is to be able to visualize the underlying structure before you put pen to paper. The downside is there is no shortcut to internalizing that structure, you have to practice. So draw people, but only draw the construction lines, circle, center, brow. Draw from life, draw from movies, draw from the mirror, get the proportions into your hands and head till it takes no effort.
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movie credits: Her, Hunger Games, Django Unchained

And note, drawing final lines freehand shouldn’t even be your goal necessarily. Its a fun party trick, it can come in handy if you’re doing reportage, but many artists continue creating construction drawings before locking down the final line through their entire career. Case in point: Glen Keane, who seems to carve the shape from the paper, stroke by stroke, laying down construction lines whenever necessary before locking down.

Web Inspector for iOS Development

If you have done any web related development you are probably aware of the Web Inspector that is available in Safari on your desktop system.  If not, here is how to enable this feature.

First you need to enable development mode in Safari.  To do this go to Preferences and select the Advanced Tab.  At the bottom of the Advanced page will be a checkbox to Enable the Develop Menu.

Enable Safari Develop menu

After enabling this option you will be able to bring up the web inspector for any web page shown in Safari.  The inspector provides many tools prototyping, optimizing, and debugging web content.  Take a look at Apples Safari Web Inspector Guide for details on this tool.

Web Inspector

But, did you also realize you can use the web inspector with your mobile device.  To enable this on Mobile open the settings app and go to the Safari Settings and select the Advanced Option. There you will see an option to enable the Web Inspector

Enable Inspector on Mobile

As the note in the preference screen says, connect your iOS device to your computer bring up safari on both the mobile device and desktop.  Then on the desktop, under the Develop menu, in the second section you will see the different devices for which you can launch the web inspector.  This will work for both tethered mobile devices as well as the iOS simulator.

Launch Web Inspector for Mobile

If you are developing an app that uses a web view you can also use the Web Inspector with that app.

Speed Painting Update

Of late I’ve found myself to be very busy and have very little time. With that in mind I’ve been working on improving my speed painting. I’m approaching this process in three steps. Step one is doing single character speed painting with a focus on keeping each step of the process as tight as possible.

This is a speed painting I did a couple weeks ago that took me about two hours from concept to completion. I like the idea but I didn’t get a chance to refine it as much as I wanted to.

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Given the same time period, here is a speed painting finished last night.

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I was able to get a much more finished looking piece by making some slight edits to my process. The first step was to spend more time concentrating on the silhouette. Even though I’m still sketching the character out in a construction style I’m blurring my eyes and looking at the over all shape. I’ve been doing quick silhouette studies through out the week to practice looking for shape of the positive and negative space.

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And secondly, I’m forcing my self to use a larger brush then I want to! I let myself make larger shapes and concentrate on getting the tone relationships in and then moving to a smaller brush as I get into the detail areas.

The next step in this series of studies is to apply the silhouette study style I’ve been working on to designing an entire composition and not just a character. And the final step is to bring togeather the first two steps to increase the efficiency of speed painting full scenes at higher quality and in turn allowing me to increase the speed and quality of the paintings I spend more time on.

Cintiq Companion Hybrid, Part One

Recently I moved from using an Intuitions to a Cintiq companion hybrid. There was a brief transitional period where I had to get used to having my hand back between me and the surface I’m working on, but thanks to working on the I-pad I was already pretty used to that. Over all it’s absolutely fantastic to work with, and my process is quite a bit faster, drawing especially feels more natural. So far my favorite thing about it though is the ability to take it with me when I travel and continue to work on projects. Here are a few of my personal sketches I’ve worked on in Android tablet mode using the app Art Flow.

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Art flow works pretty well as a mobile work platform, the resolution isn’t quite high enough for my digital paintings to feel refined enough, but it forces me to work on keeping my brush strokes purposeful and I can then take it through the final refinement stage in Photoshop, but we’ll look at that in part two.

Sketch:

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Under painting:

artflow_201502011014Artflow painting:

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There is always going to be a part of me who wants the biggest cintiq out there, but with the added mobility of the Hybrid I think this is the best possible cintiq I could have for my work flow and day to day tasks.

Painting in progress:

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The Many Faces of Fillip

Fillip is our most complicated Sprite in Fillip’s Feast.  Makes sense since he is the playable character and protagonist of the swamp.  In total Fillip is made from 76 different Sprites.  His Body which transitions form varying degrees of girth consists of 17 different sprites with a separate sprite for his Legs.  However His head, which flicks his sticky deadly tongue, has the most sprites and animations in the Game.

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Fillip’s head can strike in 360 degrees around him.  The Individual animation sequences are made of 8 sprites each covering a 180 degree arc at 45 degree intervals.  Those animations are mirrored and reused when striking on the opposite side.

That’s 40 sprite images just for his tongue Strike.  In Addition to the strike animations, Fillip also has a pre-strike anticipation state.  A squinty eye death stare that happens when a finger touches down on the screen.

strikeAnticipation

 

Fillip also has a few emotional states he enters depending on the immediate circumstances of the game.  The default, a neutral state, that he starts in and transitions to and from if nothing much is happening.  The worst, a sad state that causes him to frown whenever he’s bitten by a mosquito or swallows a poisonous bug (i.e. a Lady Bug or Fire Fly).

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Ultimately the state that the player most wants to see Fillip in is his Happy state.  A large and beaming smile that lets the player know they’re taking care of Fillip just right by eating all those flies and mosquitos.

Happy

 

To see all these sprites in action, download Fillip’s Feasts from the Apple App store. Lets us know in the comments below if you’d like to see a tutorial on how we set up the different animations as well handling the transition from each of the different states using Apple’s SpriteKit.

 

Fillip’s Feast Released

I’m ecstatic to announce that Infinite Cortex Creations first game, Fillip’s Feast is available for download from the apple App store! Now anytime someone’s bored for the holidays, needs a break from their family, or is waiting for their layover in the airport they can join Fillip in his swamp and feast on a buffet of bugs.

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What can only be a Solstice miracle that on the shortest day on of the year our game makes it through apple’s review process in unbelievable speed.  Developers often lament about apple’s review process taking over 2 weeks, but our game took just over 2 days.  Part of the design goal of Fillip was to keep it simple, that and using apple’s sprite kit as our game engine I’m sure contributed to the speed at which they were able to test and approve our product.  Stay tuned to our blog as we post about our process and techniques we used throughout our production.  As well look for the next version of Fillip to be release as we make improvements and plan to expand the content.

Get Fillip’s Feast!

 

 

Fillip’s Feast submitted to Apple

In the wee hours of this day Infinite Cortex Creations Submitted its first App to the Apple App Store.  The review process can take 1 to 2 weeks so it’s unlikely our game, Fillip’s Feast will be available until after the new year.  Still we felt confident that our first product was ready for launch and it was important to us to get Fillip submitted before Apple cuts off submissions for the year on the 22nd of December.

Submitting Fillip’s Feast is a small mile stone for our company but a moment of extreme pride for me personally.  The initial concept for Fillip came to me several years ago as a simple and fun game; primarily to use as an opportunity to teach myself mobile game development and design. The final product could not have been achieved with out the hard work and dedication of all the partners here at Infinite Cortex Creations.  It would be arrogant for Fillip to think he is solely responsible for our company’s existence, but he was the spark that set us on this journey. Below are the original concept sketches I made for the game and the central frog character, who would eventually become known as Fillip.  appSketch fillipSketch

 

We’ll let you know when Fillip’s Feast is approved and available for download, we know you all are eager to get in that swamp and chow down some bugs.

Working Outside Your Style

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As your moving towards working as a professional artist you are often told how important it is to develop your own style. It’s very important for getting noticed and having your work stand out from the artists around you. Developing your style is very important and should not be overlooked by any aspiring artist, but there are many career paths in the art world where it is just as important to be able to work with in the style of the project you’ve been hired to develop.

This could be as simple as the armor in the world your working on having exaggerated shoulders and specific decorations, or as complicated as the finishing has to match the body of work as exactly as possible following very specific guidelines and models. Whether the style is that of matching a known artist like Norman Rockwell, working with-in a game style, like Magic the Gathering, or working in the style of an animation like the Simpsons, you need to approach the project in a similar way.

First and foremost, spend time studying the franchise and how it’s developed over time. when other people have worked in that style what are the key elements included that makes it stand out. The broad strokes are important, matching colors, brush strokes, and/or line weight, but it all comes down to the details. The angle of a jaw line, the direction of a hair part or the thickness of a lip can be the difference between nailing a character or having an audience know somethings wrong, even if they can’t place what it is.

I find a good exercise is to take the base style you need to work in and your personal style and mash them together in order to let yourself find ways to use your own methods to express the style you need to.  Below are some studies I did for working on projects for American Dad! I worked with similar colors, character design and shading, but my own base features for eyes, noses, mouths and ears as well as exaggerated the line weights and I was a little more expressive with body shapes.

 

Doc Girl Hare Convict