It's 2016... already...

Cue the baffled sound I make when I take a look at the date of my last blog post and it says July 7th, 2015. Eep. What was that about writing regular blog posts again?

But nevermind, we shall strive to do better! 

In the period of time between my last post and this point in time, I've been employed, turned 27 and eaten at least my weight's worth in rose flavoured Turkish Delights (I regret nothing). The air is now cold after a very mild Christmas and I am on holiday for a week. 

I'd like to kick off 2016 with a collection of drawings. I don't usually make resolutions but I would like to  (a) learn a new skill, as usual, and (b) keep improving  upon my digital painting and designing. I'm also going to actively date everything I've made so I can cringe at my past work AND know how long ago I made it. Bonus. 

I first attempted to do a painting of Yennefer of 'The Witcher' in a pretty awkward pose.

Didn't work out and I quickly gave up. I then moved on to another gaming franchise and made a portrait of everyone's favourite egg, Solas, from Dragon Age: Inquisition. Also included, a fancy process gif! 

I also painted a pretty nightmarish scenario - the deep sea fascinates and scares me in equal measure. 

And finally, wrapping it up with a study of Hughes Merle's 'Mary Magdalene in The Cave'. Studies are hard to do, and I guess that's why I should do them. I'm definitely going to aim to do more. 

And that's the update from 2016! I'm excited to see what's next. 

Post-Apocalyptic Brain Soup

Another week's gone by and I think it's safe to say that nothing has quite captured my attention the way the release of the brand new Fallout 4 trailer has. 

It's kind of an understatement to say that I love the Fallout series. Fallout New Vegas is the first video game that got me into gaming in a big way, and made me realise all the things that video games were capable of.

Cut to two days ago where I found myself looking at this:

I'm absolutely beside myself with anticipation for this game and it has been a long, long time coming. Hey, I'm stil subscribed to the tumblr Is Fallout 4 Out Yet and now I'm mostly subscribed to see their reaction to actually buying a copy for themselves.

In light of this good news, I thought I would dedicate this blog post to all the things that I love about the Fallout universe.

From the moment that my character, the Courier was shot in the head, I knew that I was in for something that I was going to absolutely be obsessed with. Before Fallout, I already had an affinity with post-apocalyptic media, namely Tank Girl. In fact, one of the major perks at working at a comic book store in my late teens was being able to buy trade paperbacks at a discount and even being to find the damn books in Singapore anyway.

I've tried to inspect exactly what it is about post-apocalyptia that attracts me and I've come to the conclusion that I love a very specific kind. Wacky Wasteland tropes (which coincidentally is a name of a perk in Fallout). I love humanity's weird side and randomly bizarre antics in general and media like Tank Girl, Fallout and Mad Max seem to explore this particular trait. I know that a world post major world war/zombie outbreak/natural disaster of some kind is bleak but I think the beauty in these kinds of fictions can be found in people themselves and the choices that they make. That beauty in life is something people might strive for even when faced with the choice to go completely insane, to just keep surviving or just to end it all in an instance.

One of the main gameplay elements in Fallout that attracted me to it was the fact that it was open world in every respect, especially in the way that you could shape your particular character. Your character in Fallout is faced with various difficult and landscape-changing decisions and based on these decisions, you can be on the spectrum between Nefariously Hand-Rubbing Evil or Glowing Paragon of Good.

In between accomplishing various tasks for the main storyline, I think what blew me away about both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas was the attachment that I could feel for fictional characters who in the long run didn't have that much bearing on the overall story. I still feel strongly that if Lily Bowen was ever real, that I would adopt her as my grandma in an instant. Don't even get me started on the main storyline of F3!! Don't even!

So while there is a lot of weird in the wasteland, there is a lot of heart, and the kind of stories that definitely inspired me to look for better storytelling in the things I consume. See, before putting my paws on the PS3 controller to shakily move my Courier about, I'd only ever seen or played video games like Guitar Hero and much farther before that, owned a yellow Gameboy Colour my dad had bought for me in an airport with Donkey Kong Land.

I don't I'd ever expected to be so immersed into a world so quickly or deeply in FNV. With various conversations with NPC, I felt like I was a real person in a real place and could feel the mood in different locations within the game world. Playing Fallout made me realise the huge difference a great premise and story writing can do for video games. Then came learning how to shoot a gun in a game for the first time... One of the most curious things I've found out about myself is that I am a killer sniper in video games. Russell calls me Headshot Hope.

One of my benchmarks for how good a movie, book or video game is, is whether I can imagine other stories within the fictional world. Case in point, just take a look at how much fan fiction media can inspire. It just says to me that people love the universe so much that they want to extend it and make the experience last that much longer, and to put themselves into the world as well.

I completely feel this way about Fallout (and yes, when I can't sleep sometimes I do peruse Fallout fan fiction).

All this outpouring of love being said however, Russell did say not to hype the new game too much, so I'm going to try my best to forget the entire thing is happening, or at least until the E3 reveal. Hence, the reasons why I'm going to try NOT looking at every single frame of the trailer and speculating what the new game will have in store.

In the meantime, I've been indulging in making some Fallout fanart! It's not the first time I've made a tribute to my favourite game series of all time and definitely not the last.

While I'm here saving up all my bottlecaps, let me end this blog post with my own personal musical tribute...

Two weeks into 2015

Here's a weird thing - I posted a package off to my nieces a few days ago and I'm fairly sure I wrote the date on the registered article receipt as 01/14.

One thing I still get really excited about is buying a new sketchbook. My brand new Daler-Rowney sketchbook (which is way more affordable than a freaking Moleskine) is so fresh and so clean and full of wonderful possibilities. And then I put my pencil to the paper...

After all the hullaballoo that's been happening in my family recently, I finally got some time to buckle down and do some doodling.

And true to my resolution, stuck to my guns and did some digital painting.

These are still works in progress! They're just playful little doodles but I think I might be getting an idea for a longform work. Hopefully. Oh no I've jinxed it. *SIGH

Painting the nerves away

It's been pretty crazy at home with my dad being admitted to hospital, and my grandmother being admitted to hospital for the third time in the last two weeks. I think I have to thank my muse for sticking around in this time and allowing me to get painting and practising. (It's a lot easier to imagine a muse being present so it eases responsibility off myself on the days when I have a complete onset of artist's block. It's been a very useful fiction).

I fully recommend doing a little bit of drawing or painting if you're a bit sad today.

30 mins, from reference. I noticed that all of the figures I draw all look pretty samey so I'm making a conscious effort to try different skin tones and body shapes!

20 mins. From a picture of Cheddar Gorge. Man, nature is really complicated. Really, really complicated. For a first time effort at landscape painting it's actually not as bad as I thought.

And finally a warm down doodle, 20 mins.

Some sketchpoop

If I'm proud of anything this year, it's the fact that I'm finding sketching digitally a lot easier nowadays. Next year, I aim to do more digital painting than ever.

Watercolours, the new frontier

Okay dear reader, have you ever written up this fantastically long rambling blog post at about 3:44 in the morning only to have your computer die? Imagine then you wake up, as you do, and open your computer up only to find your blog post disappear before your eyes because Firefox decides to crash.

Well, this happened to me not one hour ago. So I think I'm finally ready to re-write this blog post after one minute of mourning and some 20 minutes of drinking tea and eating a bowl of very soupy lontong.

Back to the art. If you were to look at my art and time travel backwards, it's pretty clear that my modus operandi used to include a lot of black pens and white paper. That was it. I was obsessed with texture, patterns and lovely clean lines when put together would make striking pieces.

I'm now on the cusp of turning 26 and I realise, hey, I need to be more well rounded. I need to understand more about making art! So I step into the murky waters of watercolour painting. Watercolours are pretty much the antithesis of what i used to do. It's unpredictable, splotchy and colourful. Not to mention all the paraphernalia that's involved like a palette and the crappy cup with water and the brushes, etc. You get the idea.

Damn you chicken thigh!! Curse your delicious crispy covering!

Yesterday I was feeling pretty bummed so I decide to start on something that makes me happy, painting a deconstructed nasi lemak. Easy peasy lemon squeezy right? Actually, no.

Who knew painting fried chicken would be SO HARD? A delicious piece of fried chicken thigh has so much texture I never even thought about in terms of light and colour. How much brown to red do I mix? And where do I put the highlights??

At this point I'm pretty annoyed because I'm like, really? Me? Lover of all chickens fried, unable to paint a single thigh piece?

So I go on to more familiar ground - a nice face!

As I'm plodding along with this painting, I realise I'm making choices that Naj from one year ago wouldn't have made. I'm mixing a little bit of blue and purple into browns for shadows! I'm putting highlights here and there! It probably sounds like a silly thing to be happy about but believe me, it's pretty cool to acknowledge that you are in fact progressing.

All in all, I'm not 100% happy with the stuff I made but hey, they're experiments and I've got to start somewhere! Think I'll do some more painting soon.