Today’s Art (31st May 2015)

Well, I’m still in the mood for making “Blade Runner” parody cartoons, so I thought that I’d make one about the ESPER machine that Deckard uses in this scene.

“Blade Runner” may be my absolute favourite movie of all time, but it got it’s predictions about the level of technology we’ll be using in 2019 hilariously wrong.

Since this is a parody cartoon, it will NOT be released under a Creative Commons licence of any kind.

"Fan Art - Blade Runner - ESPER" By C. A. Brown

“Fan Art – Blade Runner – ESPER” By C. A. Brown

Top Ten Articles – May 2015

2015 Artwork Top Ten Articles May

Well, it’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for my to put together a list of links to my ten favourite articles about writing and/or art that I’ve posted here over the past month (and probably a few honourable mentions too).

Anyway, although there ended up being way more filler posts than I expected this month, at least a few of this month’s articles turned out surprisingly well 🙂

So, in no particular order, let’s take a look at the top ten:

Top Ten Articles For May 2015

– “Three Very Basic Tips For Making Parody Cartoons (With Examples)
– “Three Basic Tips For Creating Religions For Sci-Fi Comics and Stories
– “Writing Sci-Fi Detective Stories
– “Four Ways To Fake It As A Poet
– “Four Reasons Why Poetry Is Like Painting
– “Why Listening To Cradle Of Filth Can Help You Write Better Poetry
– “Three Reasons Why Some Novels Are Faster To Read Than Others
– “One Thing That Writers Can Learn From Old “Point And Click” Adventure Games
– “More Thoughts About “Hidden” Influences On Your Art Style
– “Can Comics And Stories Have Expansions?

Honourable Mentions:

– “What Does “Science Fiction Is Actually About The Present Day” Actually Mean?
– “Random Thoughts About “Style Vs Substance”
– “A Ramble About Word Limits

Today’s Art (30th May 2015)

Well, when it came to making today’s painting, I was in the mood for making a fan art/ parody painting, based on my favourite movie of all time – I am, of course, talking about “Blade Runner“. I’ve got another one of these cartoons prepared for tomorrow, but I don’t know how many I’ll make.

Since this is fan art, today’s painting will NOT be released under a Creative Commons licence of any kind.

"Fan Art - Blade Runner - Rachel" By C. A. Brown

“Fan Art – Blade Runner – Rachel” By C. A. Brown

Three Very Basic Tips For Making Parody Cartoons (With Examples)

2015 Artwork making good parody cartoons article sketch

Well, since there will probably be some parody cartoons (there will be at least two about the movie “Blade Runner”) posted on here over the next couple of days at least, I thought that I’d give you a few basic tips about how to make good parodies of movies, TV shows, games etc..

The main thing to remember with parodies is that, most of the time, they’re aimed at fans of the thing that you’re parodying – for the simple reason that they’re the most likely to get the jokes you’re trying to make. So, parodies don’t have to be cynical or sarcastic if you don’t want them to be.

Yes, you can make sarcastic parodies of things that you don’t particularly like, but even these only really work if people have a reasonable understanding of the thing you’re parodying.

So, yes, even if you’re making an extremely critical parody of something, it will probably only be understood by people who are “in the know” – whether they are fans or detractors.

Anyway, this said, how do you make a good parody? Here are three very basic tips to get you started:

1) Realism: Fiction is obviously larger-than-life most of the time. In order to tell a compelling story or make a compelling movie, you often have to stretch the limits of realism somewhat. There’s actually a term for this and it’s called “dramatic licence“.

In the context of an interesting story, most people will accept these exaggerations, distortions, inaccuracies and embellishments (in other words, “The willing suspension of disbelief” comes into play) because they serve to make the story more interesting and enjoyable.

However, if you want to parody something, then all you have to do is to inject some realism into the thing that you want to parody. To point out that, for example, an old sci-fi movie got it’s predictions about the future wrong, or that a cool piece of technology in a sci-fi movie would be useless in real life, or that a piece of cool-looking armour in a fantasy movie would be hilariously impractical in real combat etc….

Here’s an example of the kind of thing that I’m talking about:

Yes, the Jaffa armour from "Stargate SG-1" may LOOK cool, but I'm sure that things like THIS happen occasionally...

Yes, the Jaffa armour from “Stargate SG-1” may LOOK cool, but I’m sure that things like THIS happen occasionally…

Basically, one of the easiest way to come up with a good parody is just to think about unrealistic things realistically.

2) Characters: Another good way of coming up with a parody fairly quickly is to just take the characters from something and to put them in a very different situation from the one that they were originally in.

For example, Darth Vader might look menacing when he’s commanding the Death Star, but he’d probably be absolutely hilarious if you saw him in a supermarket, trying and failing to operate a self-service checkout (or, more famously, if you saw Darth Vader in a canteen).

(Ok, this is probably inspired by Eddie Izzard's "Death Star Canteen" comedy routine)

(Ok, this is probably inspired by Eddie Izzard’s “Death Star Canteen” comedy routine)

Sometimes just imagining what fictional characters will think about current issues or just showing “serious” fictional characters goofing around can also be great ways to parody things. In other words, just have fun with the characters.

3) Understand your own sense of humour: If you want to make a good parody cartoon then the first person that it has to amuse is you. If you personally don’t find your cartoon to be absolutely hilarious, then who else will?

So, it’s a good idea to understand your own sense of humour before you start making parodies, because you’ll be best at writing the kind of jokes that you personally find funny.

In other words, if you’ve got a sarcastic sense of humour, then make your parodies sarcastic. If you’ve got a “shock value” sense of humour, then make your parodies shocking etc…. I’m sure you get the idea.

———–

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

A Ramble About Optical Illusion Drawings

Ha! You must be joking!

Ha! You must be joking!

Well, since I can’t seem to think of an idea for a proper article for today, I thought that I’d ramble about a really cool art-related thing that I saw online a few months ago. I am, of course, talking about anamorphic “3D” optical illusion drawing videos on Youtube (like this one).

Bascially, these are the kinds of drawings which appear to be actual 3D objects when viewed from a particular angle. They’re like those famous pieces of “3D” pavement art that get sent around in chain e-mails occasionally.

But, of course, anamorphic 3D drawings often tend to do this kind of thing on a much smaller scale. So, after seeing a few videos of people making this kind of art, I started to wonder “how do they do this?

Thanks to having about three years of regular art practice, I was in a slightly better position to work out how it was done than I might have been a few years ago. After all, even the most basic types of “realistic” drawings and paintings require you to be able to draw things that look like three-dimensional objects. Like this:

"Random Still Life" By C. A. Brown

“Random Still Life” By C. A. Brown

But, even though I could figure out the basic principles of how these kinds of optical illusion drawings work, my own attempts at even just copying the ones I saw on Youtube ended in miserable failure. And I think that I know why.

I still don’t understand enough about perspective and lighting.

You see, one of the things about making optical illusion drawings is that the perspective and the lighting have to be absolutely perfect. They have to be absolutely identical to what a 3D object might look like when viewed at a particular angle. They have to be close enough to the real thing to fool your brain into thinking that you’re actually looking at the real thing.

In other words, you have to know exactly where the light will fall on different parts of the object that you’re drawing. In addition to this, you not only have to know what something looks like from a particular angle (which is something that most artists can work out just by looking at it carefully), but you also have to know how to represent this view from a totally different angle too.

In other words, you need to be able to draw a bird’s eye view of the side view of something, so that it’ll look realistic when the paper is held at a particular angle. If this sounds confusing, that is because it is.

Ultimately, this kind of thing is still years ahead of my current artistic abilities. But, at the very least, I now know why artists make these kinds of drawings – not only do they look really cool, but they are also the ultimate way to show off your artistic knowledge and talents. And, as types of showing off go, I can’t think of one that’s cooler than this.

—————–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

My Thoughts On The “Lost” Sherlock Holmes Story

2015 Artwork Lost Sherlock Holmes story review sketch

If you were following the news about three months ago, you might have read about a “lost” Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle being discovered in an old book of short stories from 1904 (called “The Book ‘O The Brig”), originally published to raise money for the construction of a bridge in Scotland.

Interestingly, you can actually read the story online and it is titled: “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar“.Anyway, I thought that I’d give my thoughts about the story and about ‘lost’ stories in general. This won’t really be a proper review of the story, but I’ll be taking a look at it nonetheless.

This story is one of a couple of shorter Holmes stories that Conan Doyle wrote to promote various things. The other stories of this nature that I’ve read (albeit about a decade ago) were collected in a book that accompanied a collection of the complete Sherlock Holmes.

Since I can’t seem to find my copy of this collection at the time of writing, I can’t remember the titles of these other stories – but “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar” is fairly similar to them.

In other words, this story consists of little more than a random conversation between Holmes and Watson, where Holmes deduces something about Watson that is relevant to the thing that Conan Doyle is trying to promote. In this case, Holmes deduces that Watson plans to travel to Selkirk to attend the fundraising bazaar for the bridge.

But, the most interesting thing about “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar” is the fact that it’s narrated by an unnamed journalist, rather than by Watson.

There are only a few other Holmes stories by Conan Doyle where Watson isn’t the narrator (“The Lion’s Mane” is narrated by Holmes, “The Reigate Squires” (?) is mostly narrated by Holmes and both “The Mazarin Stone” and “His Last Bow” use third-person narration). So, it’s strange to see that Conan Doyle has done this here too.

Anyway, the narrator is introduced in a slightly long-winded way at the beginning of the story. But, Conan Doyle still somehow managed to sneak in a timelessly cynical point about journalism into this introduction: “And are you not aware that all journalists are supposed to be qualified members of the Institute of Fiction, and to be qualified to make use of the Faculty of Imagination? By the use of the latter men have been interviewed, who were hundreds of miles away; some have been “interviewed” without either knowledge or consent. See that you have a topical article ready for the press for Saturday. Good day’.”

But, thankfully, the bulk of the story is taken up with a conversation between Holmes and Watson that the narrator happens to witness. One of the first things I will say about this conversation is that some of it really hasn’t aged that well though.

In other words, Holmes and Watson sometimes talk about topical issues of the day which, unless you’ve studied early 20th century British politics, will probably leave you completely baffled: “Sherlock Holmes, as has lately been shown by a prominent journal, is a pronounced Free Trader. Dr Watson is a mild Protectionist, who would take his gruelling behind a Martello tower, as Lord Goschen wittily put it, but not ‘lying down!’ The twain had just finished a stiff argument on Fiscal policy.

Still, saying this, Conan Doyle still manages to add a few tantalising references to other cases that Holmes and Watson are working on (eg: “The inquiry into the “Mysteries of the Secret Cabinet” will be continued in Edinburgh on Saturday”). This is one of the things that I absolutely love about Sherlock Holmes and it’s great to see that Conan Doyle has done this here too.

However, Holmes’ deductions in this story are a little bit more convoluted than usual and, again, some of his deductions are taken up by confusing descriptions of early 20th century politics.

But his deductions also contain an absolutely hilarious line about Waston, which is well worth quoting here: “ I was still further confirmed in this idea by hearing you in several absent moments crooning a weird song of the Norwegian God Thor.” Personally, I like to imagine that it went something like this:

Complete with a historically inaccurate 19th century horned viking helmet, no less!

Complete with a historically inaccurate 19th century horned viking helmet, no less!

So, this isn’t a perfect “Sherlock Holmes” story by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still absolutely great to read what is effectively a “new” story by a long-dead author. And, well, this is one of the things that I really love about the idea of ‘lost’ stories – they are often a way for fans of a particular author to feel the thrill of seeing something new many years after new stories have stopped being written.

Plus, in a way, “lost” stories often give us a really interesting look ‘behind the scenes’ at either our favourite characters (seriously, I wish Conan Doyle had published a book of these random conversations between Holmes and Watson), at the imaginations of our favourite authors or at the things that led them to create their most famous works.

I mean, when Conan Doyle wrote “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar“, he had probably only just got back into writing Holmes stories again after a long hiatus (that was only broken by the publication of “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” in 1901), so it’s interesting to see Conan Doyle get re-acquanited with his most famous character again.

In addition to this, it’s a much more “experimental” Holmes story than usual. Not only does Conan Doyle use a completely different narrative style to any of his other stories, but Holmes talks a lot more about current events than he does in most of his stories. So, it’s really interesting to think about what kinds of new directions Conan Doyle was planning to take his stories at the time. Either that, or he was just goofing around.

Nonetheless, despite it’s flaws, “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar” is certainly worth reading if you’re a Holmes fan.

—————————-

Anyway, I hope this was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (27th May 2015)

Today’s painting is based on a house I saw briefly on a car journey near Portsmouth. Bascially, one of the windows had a red curtain over one of the windows and it kind of stood out in a really interesting way. Although I painted this from memory, it probably isn’t really that accurate to the scene that I originally saw.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Red Curtains" By C. A. Brown

“Red Curtains” By C. A. Brown

Never Seen Before! Failed Paintings And Sketchbook Doodles

2015 Artwork May sketchbooks article 2 sketch

Well, although I’d planned to write a proper article for today, I unfortunately ended up being in a rather terrible mood beforehand. So, as you may have guessed, I couldn’t quite work up the enthusiasm to write a proper article.

So, instead, here are a couple of “never seen before” watercolour paintings that I thought weren’t quite good enough to post here in one of my daily art posts. Plus, there’s a random badly-drawn fan art drawing of one of the cultists from an old computer game called “Blood” and an attempt at graphite painting too.

Sorry about this and hopefully I’ll write a proper article and/or review for tomorrow.

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

This was a fairly crappy landscape painting I made when I felt extremely uninspired. It was originally going to be posted in one of my daily art posts, but thankfully I made a better painting instead.

This was a fairly crappy landscape painting I made when I felt extremely uninspired. It was originally going to be posted in one of my daily art posts, but thankfully I made a better painting instead.

This was a still life painting of some of the random old stuff on one of my desk shelves. It was originally going to be featured in one of my daily art posts, but I wasn't really satisfied with it and ended up making another painting instead.

This was a still life painting of some of the random old stuff on one of my desk shelves. It was originally going to be featured in one of my daily art posts, but I wasn’t really satisfied with it and ended up making another painting instead.

This was some badly-drawn fan art of one of the cultists from an old computer game called "Blood" that I drew when I was feeling bored one day.

This was some badly-drawn fan art of one of the cultists from an old computer game called “Blood” that I drew when I was feeling bored one day.

This was a random experiment to see if I could use 6B pencils in a similar way to the way I use watercolour pencils.

This was a random experiment to see if I could use 6B pencils in a similar way to the way I use watercolour pencils.

———

Hopefully, I’ll write a proper article (or even a review) for tomorrow. But, I hope that this was interesting 🙂