Tuesday 30 August 2011

Sketchblog: Random Redhead

Just playing in ArtRage - she was part of another picture, but didn't work with the composition. So I carefully edited her out from all the layers and gave her a save file of her very own.

Monday 29 August 2011

I Love My Kindle: A Review

Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6" E Ink Pearl Display
This is my Kindle. Isn't she pretty?
I'm reading Vorkosigan books.
I've been wanting to talk about my awesome Kindle for a while, but I wanted to actually explain what it was like to use, not just regurgitate all the same old 'AMAZING TECHNOLOGY' blurbs. And come up with an angle worth reading.

So, I looked at what I used it for the most. And that was basically, lunch breaks and travel time. So I present to you... The 10 Reasons Kindles Are Best For Commuters

It's still a little messy. But it has lots of pictures of my cat. BECAUSE SHE STOLE MY KINDLE AND WOULDN'T GIVE IT BACK.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Sketchblog: The Oaks Grove Book Cover

I just finished a book cover (well a podcast image - a virtual book cover!) commission for The Oaks Grove, the sequel to The Spiral Tattoo, which I also did the podcast cover for.

The Elanore & Gurt novels are a fantasy murder crime series (it looks set to be a series, anyway, it'll need a name after a couple more books!), it follows two very mismatched characters - the huge, scary, and surprisingly civilised Elanore, a troll who's definitely the brains of the outfit, and the lazy, snarky, charming little pixie (well, he's not a pixie, but he's the local version of it - tiny, pretty, wings, magic), Gurt. They work well together, and most of the story is actually about them, rather than whatever murder they happen to be investigating.

The first book was released for free on Podiobooks, got very good reviews, and has since been picked up by an eBook publisher, and is slated for a paperback release. So it's definitely worth checking out! The second book is due out soon and is following the same process.

Spiral tattoo murder fantasy book cover naked girl magenta hair fairy book cover magic illustration

 library oak trees grove parry murder mystery illustration

It's actually an interesting exercise, drawing a book cover, and I drew on my long, long history of reading everything in sight and my reactions to various book illustrations to guide me. Ha! See, it was research!

See, it has to a) attract readers and b) attract the right kind of reader, so it also has to c) convey the general type of story within. And d) it needs plot elements, preferably from the 'main' plotline and c) it's nice if the cover is relevant for more than one scene (e.g. multiple elements, a recurring character or background) so that readers can refer back to it later, and recognise the moment(s) in the story that the cover is about.

Both my covers have had the murder victim - Gurt snuck onto the first one, but I was constrained by the fact the Podiobooks thumbnail is very small, so it couldn't get too crowded or detailed. So I couldn't add as much as I'd like too; most of the books were crowded out by trees in the second, for example.

All painted in ArtRage, of course.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

A Devilishly Good Lensrank

Was just heading to bed after a nice few hours painting in ArtRage again (after downloading all the updates - I'd been putting them off for ages, and it had jumped from 3.0.2 to 3.5!), and I cast an eye over my Squidoo lensranks (it updates in the middle of the night for me).

If only I'd had four more likes on it! It would have been six sixes in a row :D

Three Amazing Portal Fanvideos

Gary Hudston wanted to propose to his girlfriend in a very special way. How did he do it? He hired two Portal level designers to develop a custom level designed to propose to his special lady. He even got Ellen McLain to do GLaDOS’ voice!

The sound effects near the end are from Pinball!

A stop motion short film about Doug Rattman after the end of Portal as he rescues Chell.

A real life fanfilm of Chell discovering the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device.

Monday 22 August 2011

Two Amazing Videos About the Environment

MUSIC PAINTING - Glocal Sound - Matteo Negrin
An arrestingly beautiful story of birds and flowers and industrialism and the environment. It's drawn around the notes as they play.

Astonish Me - a short film for WWF

(Woohoo - that's the Albert Natural History Museum. I visited it when I was a kid, and again when I went back to the UK a couple of years ago - still one of my favourite places.)
This. THIS is what we need more of. This is one of those vital, desperately needed links in the communication between scientists and everyone else. This is the sort of stuff I'll be doing my Masters on (rates of species discovery). There aren't as many species left to discover as people used to estimate - partly because the actual number of discoveries wasn't known (now being corrected in huge projects like WoRMS). But there are still a heck of a lot of species of all sizes. especially in the deep sea.

For example, the Colossal Squid, the Chan's megastick (the biggest insect in the world), birds, snakes, giant lizards, tiny primates, the beautiful Sudan clouded leopard, a shark that walks on its fins - and the Barreleye, which is my current favourite (it can roll its eyes up and see through its own forehead)
I mean, look at this...

And its face! It's... it's cute. Like a less pouty puffer fish or a squashed in porpoise.

See www.wwf.org.uk/astonishme for more about the video itself.

How To Save Yourself From Children With ArtRage

I went to a primary school today (kidnapped by family) and was forced into close exposure with small children. I'm still traumatised. Luckily, ArtRage has amazingly hypnotic and soothing properties upon the savage child.

Oh, that's pretty much what I was there for. To promote ArtRage to people and show them how to use it (fairly casually and unofficially).

They had the free version (though they're planning to buy a licensed version soon), but the kids didn't care. Well, not yet. It went something like this...

A small group of children are culled from the herd and manoeuvred into my presence. "here", they are told, "this nice person will teach you about ArtRage!" and the supervisor flees, leaving me to be eyeballed by these... these preteens.

I point out where to open ArtRage. They measure the distance to the door and comply. I tell them to choose the paintbrush. They begrudgingly do. I tell them to pick a colour. They eye me with scorn but, having committed this far, do so. I get them to click it on the canvas, and lo! paint appears!

Interest dawns, slightly, but it barely distracts them from their fellow packmembers. I make them pick another colour - they eye me, they've already done this. But why not make a duotone splatter? And then I tell them to paint over the first colour.

And it mixes. And the ArtRapture strikes. And they stare, glassy eyed, trapped, hand moving steadily as they add and mix and stir and play with the colours. So many colours...

Eventually some of them progressed to drawings - one kid drew a volcano and I told him to put a person in, on fire. So he happily did, along with some stick figures running away. When they discovered the ruler stencil, they all ended up rotating it endlessly and laughing. And then they got kicked off, and new kids had a turn.

ArtRage is so awesome.

Here's a list of my ArtRage tutorials and stuff. (some are old, so not so tidy. ArtRage tutorials were some of the first things I tried to write for online).
ArtRage Painting - the real paint of digital art
ArtRage 3 - Digital Painting With Watercolours!
ArtRage versus Photoshop
How to Register ArtRage
ArtRage Tutorials and Resources
ArtRage Studio and Studio Pro Tutorials
ArtRage Stickers
Graphics Tablets and ArtRage
The Best ArtRage Videos

The official ArtRage website is at http://www.artrage.com/ and the artist-run online magazine is ArtRageUs

Thursday 11 August 2011

New Snuff Excerpt With Vetinari!

Just found an excerpt of Terry Pratchett's upcoming book, Snuff - I guess it's recent, but there's no date on the site. Featuring a conversation between Vetinari and Drumknott, a book about goblins, and hints at plot.
An excerpt I transcribed previously, featuring a Quaint Village Holiday, and an encounter between Vimes and Lord Rust.

You can read more about Snuff here and pre-order it (Amazon has been running some sweet pre-order deals) on Amazon.

Sketchblog: The Truth Behind Squidoo Glitches

Lolcats. Or more accurately, wandering little Lolkittens.

They are to blame for everything. Not that you can really blame them - eight waving fishy-smelling tentacles? How could they not chase them? Don't worry, they'll get distracted by a Twitterbird or fall asleep soon enough.