new influence map for the new world

So yeah Vela here, back at it again. Grappling with grief during horrible historic Covid times. I am dealing with way more inner turmoil than the average social-isolator, and have been trying to find some magic remedy for helping me calm myself when I am emotional  impossible to reason my way out because I’m swamped with emotions.  Here are some of my thoughts on distracting myself out of bad thinking patterns.

  • I lose myself in music. I go to my favorite playlist and play a song I’ve played near thousands of times. Often in Japanese. Often I sing along! It’s immediate escapism and instantly can send emotions like hope, joy and love. Stories and meaning imbued into music is what reaches out to me.
  • Gardening and tending to plants. I shamefully neglected my garden last year but have made an effort to tend and improve it now. Anytime I see an insect or bird in my yard I am able to focus on the present moment and feel happy again.
  • Writing. Blogging is best because I can revise as much as I want. I don’t like fiction writing at all haha. Refining the topics I write about here already expresses what I want to. The flow of language or knowing what I want to say doesn’t come easily to me first time round, but I still love it.
  • Movement. I find myself pacing, but I also like fitness. Yoga helps but really too much thinking is involved. When I need instant distraction, exercise like hopping on my rowing machine is better. I combine this with music and do my best thinking.
  • Observational drawing. When I (used to) go on public transport, I couldn’t possibly enjoy the long ride without a tiny sketchbook and pen. I realize now this is is a sort of ‘stimming’, a calming repetitive habit. It grounds me in a way that’s hard to explain. Basically focusing on sensory visual information right in front of me and trying to create a accurate sketch really helps clear my mind. I lose myself in observing how people move, outfits, accessories, their stories and all the charming quirks of normal people who aren’t posing. I get stumped drawing completely from imagination and often need a prompt right in front of me to get started. Being stuck inside means I haven’t kept up this habit as much.

Its funny how many of my repetitive habits are good for me, I can’t go a day without exercise or sketching. Intensity means however that I don’t realize when I need to be nicer on myself, or when I get stuck in a loop of rigid thinking. I’d love to volunteer my skills once life is more normal, but a few things I was about to do for self-improvement have been squashed by COVID lol.

Also just for the heck of it I made an honest up-to-date influence map. Clockwise from the top-left is; Zdzisław Beksiński, animation arts, Kawayoo, Manglo/Yukaman, uen0a, Peter Sis and last but not least Kentaro Miura. A few of these artists’ work have been by my side for long time, like Peter Sis’ picture books and Berserk which changed my life in 2015.

I only discovered Zdzisław Beksiński recently but love his dream and nightmare imagery. I have fantastic dreams full of emotions and imagery I cant even name, but never seem to grasp the images again once I wake up, a big part of my artistic frustration comes from this. I would be lying if I didn’t put in some Disney stuff, but specifically ones like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. This darker feature was one of a few major stepping stones for me becoming obsessed with animation. Kawayoo has a lovely fresh ‘chunky’ way of painting and also is known for illustrating Pokemon cards. I put in “The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorous” to represent a large photo of classical paintings I stare at a lot.

‘Manglo/Yukaman’ often depicts miserable heartbroken girls. They aren’t afraid to illustrate excruciating pains of womanhood in a perverse but melancholic way, and I find it hard to take my eyes off the work. It’s erotic and grotesque. Raw and bloody but lathered in icing and sprinkles. Their work inspired me to change how I digitally illustrate because their work appears actually painted, not just layer-mode-monstrosities like 75% of artists. The sooner you break away from layer-dependency the better guys.

‘Uen0a’ (I found them on Pixiv) depicts my favorite Fate/zero characters interacting in a charming way with organic flowing lines. I kept learning Japanese through last year because their comics are a blessing to me. They express palpitating chemistry and tenderness with just a few lines. Minimal lines is a quality storyboard artists and animators aspire to, but usually many just resort to homogenized body types and facial expressions copied from someone else. This artist captures genuine warmth and feeling that no moment is the same as another.

You can improve technically yet still retain childlike joy in art. I see that in Peter Sis’s work. He’s an artist that imbues his unique Czechoslovakian heritage into his work. I had to scan the image below from ‘The Dragons are Singing Tonight‘. He often tells strange stories in the golden margins of his picture books which captured my heart as a child. The majority of his work is calm, reflective, spiritual and full of hope. Upon revisiting ‘The Three Golden Keys‘ I saw a page with a tiny depiction of violence in the margins. Suddenly it flooded back to me the fascination I had with those tiny drawings as a kid. Heheh sums up my development towards darkness that started in childhood. Screw Peppa Pig, I’ll be passing these beauties down if I have children.

god teir

Kentaro Miura is a just a downright storytelling god. It’s impossible for me to find one or two images that sum up Berserks’ immense impact on me, because Miura’s storytelling is in the juxtaposition and contrast, the small and the big panels. The cute and the hideous. Just read the manga! I often can be kept awake at night going over the complexities of Berserk metaphors in my mind. I believe one of Berserks’ morals is that suffering is inflicted without meaning, but in surviving it we find a meaning to live. In the lead up and in the wake of losing my mum to cancer, I turned back to re-reading Berserk. That is how much strength it gives me. Thank you, Kentaro Miura.

legendary

I had to make influence maps back in my school years and it’s validating to see how I’ve narrowed down the sort of work that appeals to me. Only a few years ago I was afraid I couldn’t break into animation. This map doesn’t represent and idealize any one approach, but just represents visuals, techniques and subject matter that have stuck with me, and specifically in recent years. I don’t think the Neopets art I was obsessed with in youth applies to what I aspire for now. Having your own artistic voice takes time and always keeps changing. A voice doesn’t mean not being versatile in what you draw, but means you know what stories, emotions and views on the world you connect with. People think art style is about copying someones cell shading or way they draw eyes, really it’s about knowing who the heck you are deep down.

Also..I would be ignoring my artistic heritage if i didn’t include a classic Neopets picture!

I’m still on break and that’s why I have all this time to blog and play 70 hours of Stardew Valley~ I still have yet to marry Shane in the game sighhh. Over and out for now.

Global Game Jam 2020 // Repair

It was just that merry special time of year, the Global Game Jam time of year. The theme was “repair” and me and my best programmer buddy Andrew made “Mind Repair Solutions’. No idea why the site added the number ‘5’ to the URL since I’m certain we are the only game with that name. The resulting game should show how much fun we had! We made this not by pulling all nighters but instead summoning years of consistent hard work and experience in art and code.

I love getting making every piece of art in a game. Whether it’s logos, icons, character animation or backgrounds; being a solo artist for a game you are able to make all the little elements tie together. To me’World building’ isn’t wasting time writing a 6 page game bible pontificating on things you aren’t actually creating. It’s all about brainstorming visually, making solid decisions and just bloody making it. For the clinic staff we named Clara, I attempted speed cell shading in Tvpaint. Although it’s impossible to do good hand-drawn animation fast, TVpaint 11 has a way of making Color layers respond whatever you draw on lineart layer above so you can edit and fix colorable areas super easy.

TVpaint cell shading process!

I had zero experience using Godot Engine before this jam. My teammate Andrew only had a little bit of practice beforehand. We both value letting ideas flow between us therefore atmosphere, visuals and humor take shape in a natural way. I love Global Gam Jam because I learn so much about managing a production, communicating with teammate(s), realizing where my strengths and weaknesses lie. My artistic spirit, often chained down by storyboarding, goes wild when I get to be the sole artist on anything.

We’re calling this game a perfect blend between Steins;Gate and JumpStart 3rd Grade. You can play the game in your browser here! It even works well if loaded up on a phone, so don’t be shy and test it for us!!~ The page on the Global Game Jam site is here.

Delusion Eater

Happy first new post of the new year! I went on an epic Tokyo trip from mid December 2019 through into New Year 2020 with friends. Instead of writing stuff and sorting through 400+ photos, I just had to summarise the trip by making some comics to express express the weirdest and most memorable things. I printed some limited copies for a local Adelaide ‘Zina Warrior Print Fest‘ which I participated in for the first time. It was a great weekend and I will definitely try to table again. During the trip I only did a handful of travel sketches since I was too preoccupied with loving Japan. Sitting in a Shinjuku cafe having a nice ‘ブレンドコーヒー’ and listening to the bustling sounds of life was the only time I really drew.

To respect the people who bought my zine this weekend (you are the best! thank you for supporting my art) I probably wont ever put it up for free. If you want to read my comics as a PDF maybe follow me on the Gumroad I made.

I also just ‘finished’ an animation that was kicking around before I went on break.I invented this guy from the concept of being an ‘Eater of Delusion’. You can only survive him if you’re learnt to cast aside ego, (or maybe just have a rank hermit stank. either or…) It’s loosely inspired by the yoga psychology and stories I have heard,but I also felt like animating it because Hindu and Buddhist demonic art is rad.

Animation can express the flush of adrenaline when you’re jogging and a fave song kicks in. It can convey all sorts of chemistry between people. It can make clothes clinging to a figure become something precious and sensual. It’s only through the aware experience of mundane transient moments that we can start to channel it into art that feels truthful to life and full of ecstasy. I’m maybe making readers uncomfortable with that, maybe it’s my gender speaking but I have a need to communicate real intimacy with art. That’s why I’d rather see lumpy, impulsive and fleshy art than something clinical and copied. For once it feels like it should be 2020, and I’m excited and trusting myself more now than ever. I surprised myself last year as I have started to learn to stop looking backwards and forwards so much. Ah wait, I have a storyboard deadline tomorrow…

So I splurged on TVpaint 11 pro…

In terms of recent things fresh in my mind (before I completely forget this year); I went to a yoga sutra talk this last weekend and had an amazing friend give my work computer a massive hardware boost. I also caricatured myself a new avatar. Staring at old art is the biggest of all pet peeves of mine. The way other people perceive me is probably varying, but long features, scraggly hair and naturally furrowed eye brows is happily how I will see myself.

I bought TVpaint 11 Professional edition and am transitioning over into using that for my animations. I still have a long way to go to before I feel confident in this program, but I definitely see how it speeds up colouring heaps. I always want to preach about how much bravery it takes for anyone to attempt animation. Especially doing full hand-drawn where every decision for every micro-movement has a consequence as it flows into another.

It’s one thing to be an animation fan, or maybe dabble in copying drawings of characters, but it’s a whole different level of intensity to to put in the hours of trying to create a performance out of nothing. You can put labels on whether something is ‘limited’ or ‘full’ animation, but I always aim to better understand movement, acting, the constraints of a character design… it is absolutely infinite. How can you not get addicted to an art form that has a power to entertain and transmit emotions to whoever is watching?

One of the things I learnt about yoga philosophy is how doing things that ‘create fire’ are the things that are so good for you in order to grow, this means things that aren’t in your comfort zone. This absolutely is animation for me. My philosophy on art has expanded the more Iv’e learnt about Yoga philosophy and apply it in the (gruelling yet enjoyable) classes and in daily life. I am not specifically an intellectual person. Instead art for me is an expression of love, love of spontaneous, subconscious movement, like a change that is part of nature. In short, wanting to communicate some sort of energy; emotional and/or physical, is important to me. You can read any animation book to hear about drawing principles, but feeling the joy of movement is special.

I just want to draw more like me, no matter what.

Attending well past 100 Vinyasa classes since being back in Adelaide a year has had it’s affect on me. I may sound loopy, however I have actually always been like this, only I just found a 2500+ year old philosophy to back up my beliefs. Bye for now!

honest thoughts on improving

Hello again, a few weekends ago I went to Madman Anime fest in Melbourne. The con had a lot of interesting moments hearing from voice actors and anime producers. I think a memorable moment was seeing a pencil animation test from Ufotables’ Demon Slayer. I love getting to see an animation without the final colors, it strips back the layers and you can really focus just on the drawings. I wanted to ramble about some thoughts I’ve had growing as an animation artist. I think the core element is, if you don’t connect with that fiery feeling I just mentioned of how beautiful animation can be, you will probably struggle to improve at all.

You have to critically question the way you are thinking and talking about drawing. Often someone will tell me they feel their ‘proportions’ or ‘anatomy‘ are wrong in comparison to mine.  Instead a bunch of other ways you could talk/think about drawing is; ‘do I really understand the form of this exact part before I put down a line? How does this mass relate to the torso/head/rest of the body as it balances, what sort of balance is going on? Is the silhouette clear? What is the best way to caricature this persons nose? Is that a thumb or a forefinger because I’m having to squint at the model to see it properly? Ah just make it up” My point is…good drawing is never just one element. Having an open, honest critical eye is the only way I’ve been able to grow. Perspective, anatomy, balance, solid form, are all elements of draftsmanship that need to be faced head-first.

I want people to know that many storyboarding jobs have become like 2D animation. I just speak on behalf of my experience making episodic animatics. It involves many drawings yes, but whatever amount you may be envisioning, imagine way more, and heaps of unseen drawings tossed out because they didn’t serve the exact vision your directors had in mind. The concept of heaps of dispensable drawings is something that breaks a lot of artists. Mustering enthusiasm to embrace every new drawing is an attitude you either have or you don’t.

Hina Kagiyama (Touhou Project)

Another thing is understanding good animation isn’t always about fluidity. Animation should be about creating some intensity of motion/emotion with the timing of whatever you are drawing. I wish people reacted to my animations with more than ‘smooth’ but…internet right? You can see whether animation is strong of weak even in bouncing balls. With newbies you’ll often see just a plain simple circle floatily moving up and down. To the viewer, this says nothing. You need to think way harder about the acting, physicality, everything!-before you even start to animate.

In the end however, what matters more than drawing skill is always a love of art. Specifically, I don’t think you can teach a love of characters and their stories. This is where my draftmanship argument falls apart, because I can’t explain to people the wonder I felt discovering Inuyasha on early anime streaming sites. Alright I’m done for now. Thanks for sticking around.

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