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White boards, Free graphics, Painting

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White board games

I think that I realized the root of the games I love.

When I was a kid, my dad would always have a bunch of whiteboards in his home office sort of thing in the garage. My brother and I loved to draw on them, and aside from that we loved strategy board games and computer games, like civilization 1, railroad tycoon, and sim city. Naturally we brought this to the white board by making up our own sort of building game by drawing forests and mountains and cities then one or the other of us would "be the computer" and run the game. This is totally exactly what IsoStrat is, right down to the perspective.

I expanded on this idea myself with my friends. For one, I made a magic-rpg sort of 'game', where he played a wizard who explored a landscape I drew and collected mana to cast spells and defeat enemies. Another one I made involved the player being a "space pirate", so on one board I had a starmap they explored, on the other their spaceship and the 'store' where they could purchase weapons and upgrades which I'd draw onto their ship. Lots of fun was had.

And seriously I'd never heard of D&D and wouldn't really until I was a teenager. If I had been exposed to it early on I think that I would have been totally obsessed because I basically made up roleplaying games for myself and my friends without knowing it. This is probably where I get my love of making games.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Free graphics

(And how I hate animation)

Prompted by a fellow named "Noods" posting, I had the thought that making some sets of generic free graphics for use by people making non-commercial games would be a good way to advertise myself. I mean they win because they get some graphics to play with, and I win because I get credit/word-of-mouth exposure .. which hopefully leads to people wanting to pay me to make graphics for them.

I had some spare time to work on whatever, so my first set is going to look something like this:

Here's a sketched animation for the character. I remember again why I hate walking animations so much; It's bloody difficult! I've had far too little experience in animation but this is turning out to be excellent practice.

Digital Painting

Prompted by Swattkid's comment and Boolean's drawing videos, I tried taking a video of my digital painting efforts myself and it turned out pretty poorly. I had set it to capture my entire desktop, which is huge, and at only 1 frame per second. I thought it'd play the 1 frame per second at 24 fps or something (why do I assume such silly things?), but it made a video at like 1920x1200 that played at, in fact, 1 frame per second. No one wants to see such a thing, nor could I post that on YouTube, so I'll have to experiment some more and make due with taking screenshots every so often, as I did when drawing this airship sorta thing (going to be for the Utopian Design Collective):

And here are the images at half painting size (the original is 2000x1600) :
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Looking at it after having slept on it, the perspective of the airship there just horrifies me. The far-side passenger pod and the hints of the far-side props are quite awful! It makes me wish I had a 3d modeling program so that for confusing shapes and compositions I could set up a rough 3d rendered "sketch" to build on to make a picture with accurate perspective (I read that it's what Craig Mullins does sometimes): Good perspective is much harder than it sounds, there were many classical painters who couldn't even keep things in proportion; I think at prof of mine commented on how El Greco could never paint legs and his faces all looked like the same person [probably because there were]; But I just say this to feel better about myself perhaps. The problem with open-source modeling programs is near-vertical learning curves. The problem with commercial ones is that they're so damned expensive; What's an artist to do?

Anyway, about the painting itself:
First, it's not done. But that's just an excuse for myself, again. Moving on.

Second, I really like the colors I used for the landscape behind the airship, it reminds me of driving across Nevada, Utah, and Idaho, there are beautiful landscapes all across the west of North America. The landscape rendering doesn't progress through the series of images because I pretty much did the whole background in one go. The clouds could be a bit more yellow though, and given a bit more definition (but it /is/ a sketch of a background, in any case).

Third: For reflections, I brought the blue of the sky to the top of parts of the airship and the yellow of the ground to the bottom of them. This puts the airship into the background scene and unifies the scene and all because objects are colored by reflected light from their surroundings (anyone whose tried to code a light rendering engine probably knows all about this).

Speaking of color, beware of neutral grey. It kills a painting unless you're using it intentionally. Maybe. Color is fun, it makes things alive, and if you play your colors right you can paint anything almost any color and get away with it because color is relative and dynamic.

I've had a very hard time myself un-learning the naive coloring I was so used to, and I'm still un-learning, but the results of going wild with color (well, not too wild) are a lot of fun. Not that I really did that too much here. Anyway.

Fourth: The hard black lines around objects are basically lazy painting. I won't defend it, and though it has a place in some styles of drawing, it's used as a crutch too often. I'll have to think about what the heck I'm doing with it. I mean granted it's an easy way to define an edge but in real life edges are not defined by thick black lines.

Hmm; Talking about painting is good, it makes me think about what I'm doing. I'll try to do it more.
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