Photo Mode, Uncharted Edition

Time for more IntPiPoMo pics!  I love the Uncharted series, it’s one of my all-time faves.  I haven’t had much time for the shiny new Nathan Drake Collection for the PS4, but one of the things I was very much looking forward to was the Photo Mode.  It was a feature I really enjoyed in The Last of Us Remastered, I was very excited to see it return.  I never mastered it as well as some creative people, but I had enough fun taking my own cool pictures (we’ll get to some of those soon).  So when I started up Drake’s Fortune, I did some fiddling.  Here’s 17-21 of 50!

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I forgot I was in-combat when I stopped to take this.  I died.
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The U-boat.
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A bit of a drop.
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Same spot, different angle.
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*wobble*

One problem with photo mode is… it’s easy to get sucked into the action and forget about it.  But I definitely appreciate that it’s there.

WildStar (wait for it) Wednesday

I’m going with a pretty predictable theme for my next IntPiPoMo post for this Wednesday… WildStar.  This game is beautiful, I really don’t even need to tweak the screenshots.  Onward to #12-16 of 50, let’s go!

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Welcome to the Wilds.
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Granoks are so very cool.
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Galeras is one of my favorite zones.
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Love those colors.
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Green means mysterious science!

WildStar just went Free-to-Play in September which is great – it’s a lovely game that should absolutely be tried.  I admit I haven’t spent as much time there lately as I should, but it’s a fabulous world to run around and just explore in for a while.  The housing is mind-blowing,  allowing for insane levels of creativity.  My characters live on Entity which has a pretty cool community, and the Black Dagger Society is a friendly bunch of people.  Be sure to check out their server event, Thaydfest 3, coming November 22!

Pandaren Beauty

To celebrate Blizzcon, I’m dedicating today’s IntPiPoMo to one of my visually favorite World of Warcraft expansions, Mists of Panderia.  Here are pictures 7 to 11.

I came into Mists after a long hiatus from WoW, but I think I was able to appreciate the beauty of the expansion more because I wasn’t worried about rushing from one zone to the next to stay “caught up”.  For the first time in a while, I just had fun with the quests and explored  (sometimes with a helping hand and two-seated flyer provided by Sol).  Of course I started Mists with Silmeria, but some of these screenshots I took on Wralley’s adventures.  Oh, and one baby Pandaren monk.

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The Wandering Isle.
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I still miss this.
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Flying mounts are good for pretty picture taking.
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Ground mounts are fine, too.
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I loved the training montage SO MUCH.

I’m looking forward to seeing more lovely zones in Legion!

Screenshot inspiration, part 2.

This is part 2 of a series of posts where I talk about how I used a screenshot as inspiration for a picture that I drew.  This is also my next IntPiPoMo entry, #6 of 50.  Although there are a few pictures in this post, most of them are WIPs and I’m only counting the final art towards my challenge count.  I covered the initial inspiration through to the line art in this post and today covers the rest, so here we go!

With some larger pictures I’ve gotten in the habit of doing separate files for the character and the background elements… I use a lot of layers, so this makes the files a bit less insane for me.

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Just the flats, ma’am.

First I flatted Novaak, which means I broke down all the elements of his line art into solid colors.  This is a quick way for artists who use this art style to quickly grab a specific element to work on one a piece at a time – for example, I start with the skin first by selecting that area of the flats, and move on to the jacket next and so on.  Colors don’t have to be exact at this point – I was fortunate that his outfit is rather simple.  Anything here can be changed later.  If you have a lot of colors of a similar value, the magic wand tool might grab stuff you don’t want, so sometimes you will use different colors for flatting.  I could’ve given him pink pants here if I really, really wanted to and the end result would still be tan pants.

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Figuring out the pieces…
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Starting to make sense!

After deciding that I was going to use Yavin 4 as the background, I took a few more screenshots of the planet for reference and began pushing around some colors that I liked on a new canvas.  I started by putting in a line of trees in the background and filled out the sky.  Meanwhile, I had left myself a messy jumble of lines in the middle ground to figure out and somehow transform into a ruined walker.

I messed around with both the sizing of the walker and the character quite a bit until I found a mix I was happy with.  At this point it was time to go back into Manga Studio so I could draw the walker, or at least enough of it to make the picture work.

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Flatting and rendering the broken walker.

I really didn’t have to worry about being precise here, but having a guide to work with really makes a difference.  This walker isn’t entirely accurate, but spending a little extra time on researching it and drawing it out greatly improves the picture – and made me feel pretty darn good as well, because I’m not very great at mech stuff.   So bonus points for accepting and meeting challenge!

Pretty much covered the next part there.  Rendering is basically a different term for painting – I’m fleshing out the form of the figure, making it appear more dimensional.  I really do love this part, I feel like I’m getting better with every picture as I figure out something new, or something in my brain goes “hey, I understand this now!”.  The feeling of growth is rewarding, and it’s also so awesome to see a picture that I’ve spent several hours on really coming together.

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Putting it all together.

Now it’s time to put the two parts together!  I actually had one of the walker’s feet up front, but I colored that after I had Novaak and the background sorted in together.  Now I could do the fun stuff – add rim lighting, special effects,  his dualsaber blades, etc.  I finished it off with the remaining walker chunk, some more smoke, and another pass at the lighting.  I can be pretty impatient when I finish a picture and I want to post it right away, especially if it’s a “big” picture and I’m afraid I’m going to overwork it or fiddle with it to death if I don’t commit to a finish.  So if it’s my own personal stuff, I’ll put it up and just go with it.  This image got to sit for a short bit as I went off to do some stuff, also showed it to a few friends for feedback, and when I came back to it a little while later I was still pretty happy with it.  I gave it another look-over, sufficiently satisfied that I hadn’t gone overboard with one thing or overlooked something else.  And so, I decided that it was Done.

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Novaak Barsen’thor

So that’s how this picture I drew evolved from a screenshot I took.  Inspiration can have some fun, unexpected, and colorful turns.

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Yeah this pic here!

Screenshot inspiration.

This post is going to be a little bit different.  It’s still part of my IntPiPoMo challenge, and even though there are a few pics here, I’m only counting the screenshot towards the challenge (making it #5 of 50) because the rest are a collection of WIP shots for one image.  This is the first of two posts where I ramble about the process of drawing one of my pictures from start to finish.  Let’s go!

One evening last month I was pulling together sketch ideas for my daily doodle (my personal challenge that I run on my tumblr – drawing and posting art every day).  I was working on a commission at the time, so I try to avoid posting WIPs for those on my artblog… especially when I’m spending a good deal of time on them.  I’d just started playing through Knights of the Fallen Empire in SWTOR with my Jedi Consular, Novaak.  I was really enjoying the story, and also the improvements to the cinematic storytelling.  Flipping through some of the screenshots that I took, I found a cool one that I liked and decided to use it as a base for a doodle.

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Not really spoilery!

I liked the simple-yet-striking pose, and the “coolness” vibe.  So about 40 or so minutes of playing around, I ended up with this:

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Daily doodle, 10-21-2015.

I was pretty happy with the sketch, and kind of kept it in the back of my head.  A few days later I was finishing off the commission, and I found that I was 100% caught up on all art jobs (big sigh of relief).  I hadn’t really drawn a lot of personal art beyond random sketching in a while, so I decided to clean up my Consular’s doodle and turn it into a proper picture.

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First full clean-up pass.

On the first pass… well, I decided I was going to go for a full pose and so had to finish drawing in his body.  I ended up pushing the pose a bit more, injecting more of an energetic comic book-y vibe into the figure while corrected a few odd things and entirely changing his left arm.  Already the picture was looking rather different from the original.

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Ink touch-ups and line balancing. Also many layers.

I was moving pretty slowly on this picture, pretty much enjoying a bit of a mini-vacation and just working at a leisurely pace.  I’d gotten about half-way through the inks when I decided to change the right arm because it just wasn’t working for me.  I streamed on Picarto a few nights, played some terrible music and generally just had fun drawing.  I have a ridiculous amount of love for this outfit, so I wanted to spend time making it look great.

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Inks and scribble bg prep.

I learned quite a lot while working on badges this year – mainly ways to speed up stuff down the line and making certain processes easier on myself through various PS Actions and other tricks.  Something I should’ve been started sooner was doing color fills in Manga Studio (which I use for all of my sketching and “inking”) instead of waiting to do it in Photoshop (which I use for most of my coloring).   It’s such a simple thing, I’m  not sure why I haven’t been using it sooner.  I guess it’s just one of those things that you don’t realize how helpful it is until you’ve started doing things that way.  Regardless, I did the fills and also blocked in some background ideas.

Some pictures start out with a decently clean idea in my head, and others are a bit more jumbled.  The screenshot that this started with was from a murky, dark swamp and not what I wanted for the final picture.  As I was working on the inks, part of my brain was shuffling through scenarios to put Novaak in, since this simple sketch had kind of spiraled out of control into something else entirely.  I love the bright colors of Yavin 4, and I always enjoy busting up the Walkers that stomp around in the ruin filled temple area.  So with that in mind, I wrapped up this phase of the art to prepare it for the next… color and rendering!  Which will be another post, because as of right now the picture isn’t quite finished.

I guess I better get working on that!

Mass Monday

Today I’m  kicking off the first of my IntPiPoMo 2015 posts, beginning with pictures 1-4.

After some consideration, I decided to begin with some screens from Mass Effect – the series that really made me learn to love my screenshot hotkey.  That’s not an exaggeration.  I installed Fraps for the first time ever because of ME2.  During my playthroughs I started taking more and more screenshots, and now I can’t seem to stop.  So it feels right to start with a few simple shots from each game of my first and favorite Shepard, Morgan.  And some Joker.  I like Joker.

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Bonus ME2 cap.
Bonus ME2 cap.  Because of reasons.

The Mass Effect universe has a tremendous cast of awesome characters, and it’s definitely one of my favorite series.  I’ll be coming back with more caps and to talk about to the games (and other Bioware worlds) during the challenge this month!

Getting started (over).

So, after attempting to possibly maybe try and pretend to sort of kind of start this blog, I’ve learned a few things.

Words are daunting.  Actually, I already knew that.

But to be fair, art is, too.

I quickly found out that writing posts of words was even more difficult when I was already drawing every day (including posting something to a daily art blog), and working through a queue of badges and at times, other commissions.

Realizing that I had less time for this than I thought, I considered a few options, like.. basically just making a screenshot blog, because I like talking about pictures and game stories.  Or discussing random thoughts behind some of my pictures because Tumblr isn’t always a great platform for that and my deviantArt account is currently a frustrating mess.  But the weeks drew on, stuff happened, etc etc.  I pushed away the blog, telling myself that I had nothing of interest to say anyway, and my attempt at blogging was shoved into the junk drawer of ideas to stay.  Until a week ago, when this post from Chestnut at Gamer Girl Confessions popped up on my Twitter feed.

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Now we’re talkin’.

Now this, I can do.  This could also help me re-tackle my blog challenge in a different way, and at a better time for me to work on it.  I already take lots of screenshots, and I also enjoy editing some of them into wallpaper for my pc. I’m pretty excited for this challenge and I really have no set plans about what all I’m going to post – and I’m okay with that.  This is a thing that I’m going to do, and I’m going to enjoy seeing what other participants post as well.

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Screenshots? Sure, how many would you like?

Since the introductory post, Chestnut’s also added a faq.  Basically the main challenge is to post 50 pictures (screenshots, photos, whichever) in November.  It’s open to any blogging or micro-blogging platform, and it should be great fun for anyone to join in!  She even has a few prizes for the snagging, but that’s just icing on a pretty, picture-perfect cake.

Time to dig through the screenshot folders!

The One.

Silmeria was not my first Warcraft character that I created.  She was actually my third.  She was my first to 50 before I even understood what “alts” and having a “main” meant.

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Baby photos: first week of Dire Maul edition.

My very first character was actually a warrior, because when I tried the Warcraft beta, I had no clear idea of what was going on or what class did what.  I had only dabbled in Dark Age of Camelot (my very first MMO!) for a few months due to a coworker introducing me to it, and he was moving on to this shiny new MMO.  Warrior was the first character to pop up on my screen and it had a sword so I said yes and continued on to customizing.

I love alts.  Like, a lot.  It’s something I miss in FFXIV, but the job switching almost makes up for it.  I like trying out multiple races and their various animations.  I enjoy running around on different characters, and experiencing a game’s world “through their eyes”.  I do generally play on RP servers, but I’m not necessarily an RPer… it’s more of a mindset thing, or my brain kind of imagining little stories that come and go while I’m travelling from one zone to the next or killing 15 boars for their gallbladders or what have you.

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The Three Sisters.

Going back to my initial taste of WoW… the warrior was fun, and I was highly amused by the ability to turn into a bear with the druid, which was the second class I tried.  But when I first saw someone outside of Stormwind with a goofy little imp I thought it looked kind of awesome, and I wanted one.  I went and made a warlock that I named Silmeria, and at the end of my few days in beta I knew I was going to start out with those three classes to try first.  But even with this early rotating roster, Sil started to pull ahead.

There was something about the class that really just clicked with me.  None of my other friends were playing one back then, so I kind of felt unique.  I did make a few warlock friends along the way, one that even helped me months later complete the classic Felsteed quest.  Other friends helped me learn to be a better player, and how to utilize my class in both larger group situations and soloing.  A few months after launch I hit 50 and I started doing some endgame stuff with her, but eventually I went back to level other characters.  As expansions came out, I realized that I enjoyed starting the new content with Sil – the only exception being Burning Crusade, where I spent equal time leveling my druid as resto for dungeon running and raiding with guildies… until we had more healers and I started taking Sil.  Not only did I simply enjoy playing the warlock class, but she was like an old friend that was always around when you needed them.

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This was a joyous day.

Through the years ‘locks got upgraded, nerfed, adjusted and so on, but that never really phased me for very long.  Silmeria was there for the opening of AQ, she became my Inscription master when that came out, she got max Archaeology first, spent the most time on faction grinds, etc.  Heck, I can’t even change her hairstyle for more than a few days before I have to change it back because it just doesn’t look right.  This has been a lot of gushing about one character but don’t get me wrong, I love the rest of my Warcraft gang, too.  However she’s definitely my “main” and then some.  Basically Silmeria is now synonymous with World of Warcraft to me; the digital embodiment of ten or so years of DoTting, dragon slaying, failing, adventuring,  and other random acts of fun and/or stupid.  I can’t imagine the game without her, and trying to recreate her in other MMOs just seems impossible.  That’s okay though, I’ve got alts for that.

Routine.

When I worked my old full-time job, I had a pretty standard daily routine.  Roll out of bed at a horribly early hour, stumble to my computer, log into (usually) WoW and knock out a few daily quests or manage auctions.  Then I was off to work, and afterwards home in time to unwind by logging in for an hour or two unless there were errands to run.  This was followed shortly by cleaning and dinner, and finally drawing the rest of the night.  Days off followed a mostly similar schedule.  Roll out of bed at a less horrible but still pretty early hour, stumble to the computer and log in, except now I could go on a longer gathering run and take alts out questing.

Not much has changed now that I’m self employed. Wake up. Log in. I limit my time in game and keep productive with my art, mindful of keeping a schedule of sorts. Gaming in the morning and drawing in the day or evening is what I grown used to, and that’s what I generally stick to.  Not that I plan on stopping either of those things or changing up that routine, it’s a system that’s worked out pretty well for me.  But I think I might try to add something more,  expanding on something similar that I already do.

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I made a blog-thing.

Over on my Tumblr, I post daily doodles.  It’s something I’ve done to keep me drawing every day – even back when I was tired and stressed out from my job.  I had a good three+ year streak of posting something every single day, until I finally had to stop for a while due to problems with my hands and other work-related stress.  I began this year by taking up the challenge once again.  Currently with my busier badge art workload I’ve mostly posted random “warm-up” doodles, but it feels good.  It’s like a visual art diary of whatever’s on my mind about whatever game I’ve been playing or comic that I’m reading.  However, I don’t really talk much about.. well, anything.  I’ve felt that I don’t really need to write, I do pictures.

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The two most used tags* on my Tumblr.

I’m not sure if it’s the awesome people I follow on social media, or being in a Free Company that seems to be 90% bloggers, or just all the tweets about the Newbie Blogger Initiative a few months ago or the Blaugust challenge now, but I feel somewhat inspired to give it a go.  I’m not quite ready to join the actual #Blaugust movement and be an active participant, but it seems like a good time to kick things off with an actual Blog of Words.  It could be a nice outlet beyond just pictures, because try as I might there are times I can’t match my art to my thoughts (though to be fair, I have a hard time putting my thoughts into words, so there’s that challenge too).  So I think I’ll start this out slow, maybe around a post a week to toughen myself up.  It’ll mostly be game chat, but I think I’d like to discuss drawing as well.  I guess we’ll find out!

*Tag counts for my Tumblr posts generated on 08/01/15 using this tool.