Wednesday, 9 September 2009

New Divide

Hey there, folks.

I just wanted to let you guys know that my robotic slaves have just completed a new website for me. It is at

'So, Sam, why have you done that when you already have an excellant weblog, won't you be spreading your considerable talents too thinly?'

That's an excellant question that I'm sure you would be dying to ask me were you here with me.

First of all, I have long needed a decent website to showcase some of my Illustration/Design work, most of which gets inevitably lost deep within the blog's (and flickr's) archives and is difficult to find and show off to people.

Secondly, the weblog is feeding directly onto the new site's front page so I don't need to worry about someone missing my important opinions regarding the latest piece of crap rpg that I've played.

Thirdly, I think the new banner looks rad.


Edit: It appears that this post doesnt show on the front page of the new site, I think that the import only shows previous posts and none made after the merge/import/whatever. I may need to only update there from now on.

Edit 2: All new posts will be at the new site as I can't feed new posts from here to there, but all my old stuff is archived there still, and this blog shall also remain for posterity.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Illustration Friday: Magnify

I seem to have missed last week's IF topic. But here's this week's.

I had actually no idea what to do. I wanted to subvert it someway. It's too easy to just draw a magnifying glass that makes a bug or something bigger, so I decided to have the typically tiny figure hold the magnifying glass. Something got a bit lost along the way and I made a gigantic freakish dog.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Illustration Friday: Wrapped

This week's Illustration Friday topic is 'Wrapped'.

I wasn't sure what to do, and this morning I realised I only really had today to do it. So I thought about what wrapped meant to me. I settled on wrapping up warmly to brave the elements.
First thing that came to mind was camping, and in particular my experiences at music festivals. It's cold, sometimes raining. But even when it's not, it's pretty miserable at night.

I decided against colour so I could experiment with colour values, learning to get that perfect mix of shades. The grey also makes it feel cold which is what I was aiming for.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Player Vs Comic

I've started up another blog exclusively for a webcomic that I'm going to try working on in my (considerable) spare time. It can be found at

I didn't want the comic to get mixed in too much with the stuff I post here and I'm not too clever at setting up webcomic sites and I just wanted to chuck it out there.

If you haven't played WoW lately it'll probably zoom over your head.

Knowing my luck though, it'll probably zoom over your head even if you have, but whatever...

Monday, 10 August 2009

Illustration Friday: Impatience

I haven't done one of these in a while so I thought I'd flex my creative muscles as it were and illustrate this weeks IF; Impatience.

I'm a very impatient person, so a lot of things that involve waiting infuriate me no end. Waiting for people at the pub, waiting for food, waiting in queues etc.

But my computer lets me down on a daily basis by making me wait for the most mundane things. Openning web browsers, installing tiny games, opening and running said tiny games. Ergo, my computer's endless defiance of my self proclaimed role as master made it perfect material for this topic.

I used my Wacom tablet, which as you can probably see I'm still not all that comfortable with using. I still can't get straight lines all that easily and I find it less precise than using pen and paper. That said it increases my workflow and productivity by an awful lot. In the space of about 2 hours I concepted, drew and coloured this. It probably shows, but I think that's amazing. With pen and paper I would be there for hours, correcting mistakes, fiddling with my scanner and then with the brightness and contrast to eliminate the pencil.

Also, quick shoutout to my brother Loz who got linked by the other day for a post he made about Emblem of Conquest farming. He got a ton of visitors and somehow his site managed to stay up. Which is good.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Saint's Row 2 Review

Carlos was the guy who got me out of jail. He knew me by reputation and I think he expected a black guy. Or at least an American. He certainly hadn't expected me to be 250 pounds, purple mohawk, clad in black and busting out Krunch FM in my newly acquired Vortex with the previous owner (or what's left of him) still spread across the bonnet, whilst i waved my Shotgun at the cops. And he almost certainly hadn't expected my not quite convincing cockney accent.

On paper Saint's Row 2 is a crap game.

It's GTA light. It doesn't have the same rich tapestry and history of Grand Theft Auto. Saint's Row doesn't even make any attempts to actually feel all that much different from it.

You steal cars, you shoot passersby, you build up wanted levels, you buy houses, you can store vehicles at said houses, you have a cell phone where you engage in inane conversations as you spin the camera around waiting for the main character to stop moving so slowly, you can do a variety of missions at once, some activated by acquiring a specific vehicle. All the same.

Even the interface is the same. The menus are the same. Hell, the minimap is the same, with missions appearing as circular icons that spin around it, and just like GTA 4 you can set a GPS route to your destination sparing you from that fun experience of driving into dead ends or rivers as you followed the arrow.

A lot of the stuff in SR2 that isn't blatantly plagarised from GTA 4 they took from other games in the series. There's the character customisation, gang recruiting and territory game of San Andreas and the store buying from Vice City.

I pulled up to the gun shop, pleased to find Carlos guarding my property. I whistled to him. and he piled into my car. I spun the car around and zoomed off waiting for a perfect target. I saw it. I leant out of the window and sprayed my mp5s at the crowd and Carlos followed suit.

To him, it was all a game.

But SR2 is a game.
And it's not afraid to admit it.

Unlike other open world titles that attempt a semblance of realism, there is no small arbitary limit on the amount of vehicles you can store in your garage. I have about 30 cars in my garage and I can just pick one of them up from and of my houses, regardless of how mangled I left it after my last joy ride.

Getting Wanted stars isn't a punishment for deciding to drive on the pavement, instead they're an excuse to engage in more combat, and maybe to nick one of the decent cop cars with the gun on top.

I originally dismissed SR2 (and poured scorn on my cousin for buying it) as a shallow rip off, one that actually seriously was about 'drugs and hos'. In fact I pretty much imagined it as an interactive version of Channel U.

And that's true to an extent. Superficially all the main characters do drugs, the single important female character is pretty slutty, and they take this gang war business pretty seriously. But that would be ignoring what makes this game so fun.

It's like Halo.

Bungie have said that Halo's about the 'thirty seconds of fun'. With Halo you really are just playing the same thirty seconds over and over. It may be on different maps and with different weapons, but to be honest, it's the same thirty seconds on a loop. But it's the most enjoyable thirty seconds.

SR2 is exactly the same. They managed through some sort of alchemical process distill whatever it was that made GTA fun, eliminating the bs and handing it to you for dinner.

It's not without it's flaws though. The GPS system gets lost and confused fairly often. More than once has it told me to go left, then after making the turn it tells me I should have gone right, then when i turn around it's going left again. On some missions, especially ones involving other helicoptors, you can get unfairly destroyed in a single hit requiring you to redo vast parts of the mission. In addition the checkpoint system in missions is horrendously inconsistent. Sometimes there'll be a checkpoint everytime you go up a flight of stairs in an enemy stronghold, and sometimes the mission will require you to do several vehicle changes (car drive to jet ski to boat) or fight several waves of enemies and not checkpoint it once.

The story itself is pretty mundane until the very last act featuring the Ultor Corporation where the plot begins to morph from petty gangland squabbles to focus on corporate greed and the machiavellian motivations of 'the good guys in power'.

I never got a chance to play the online co-op though which is a shame, I'd have loved to have been flying a helicoptor while a mate chainguns people, but whatever.

However SR2 is a fundementally entertaining game. I strongly recommend it to anyone who played through GTA 4 and wished they could at least change Nico's hair.

The Brotherhood picked up Carlos. They wanted to send me a message. I found him chained to the back of their truck.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Saint's Row 2

I've been playing Saint's Row 2 on and off recently. It's not the best example of it's genre, and not the greatest shooter or driving game, but there's something fun about it.

Being able to create my own character with his own personality and quirks helps to make it accessible. This is a drawing of my guy, and honestly, I can't even imagine it with any other character. Same as when I see people playing KoToR and they haven't picked the asian dude with the goatee.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Wacom Practice

I've been trying to work on some backgrounds for my next animation, but my skill with the Wacom tablet I have is still a bit weak. Sometimes I can't get my hand to work with my eye. It's not the same as drawing on paper, that's for sure.

So as an effort to improve I've been just straight up tracing. I've always advocated tracing and copying of images as a way to teach your hand how to draw how you want it too. You also can 'absorb' elements of another artist's style, for good or for ill.

For this attempt I tried tracing a screenshot from Warcraft. There are a lot of little details to pick up, and I always feel guilty if it's an actual piece of artwork I'm stealing from.

This is a work in progress as you can see, but I find it's already becoming a little more natural to me.