Today’s Art (31st July 2015)

Accusations! Pyromania! Fearsome creatures! What else could it be, but the third page of “Diabolical Sigil” – my ‘so bad that it’s good‘ attempt at re-starting my old “Damania” comics series. Stay tuned for page four tomorrow 🙂

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

"Diabolical Sigil - Page 3" By C. A. Brown

“Diabolical Sigil – Page 3” By C. A. Brown

Top Ten Articles – July 2015

2015 Artwork Top Ten Articles July

Well, it’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for me to give you a list of links to ten of my favourite articles about art and/or writing that I’ve posted here over the past month. As usual, I’ll also include a few honourable mentions too.

Anyway, let’s get started:

Top Ten Articles For July 2015:

-“Four Basic Ways To Add Hidden Depths And Clues To Your Stories Or Comics
– “How Accurate Should Still Life Paintings Be?
– “Three Basic Tips For Arranging A Still Life Painting
– “Too Many Cooks – A Ramble
– “Five Things To Do When Your Art Feels Lifeless
– “Three Basic Ways To Create A Mythos In Your Stories And/Or Comics
– “Three Ways To Add “Fridge Horror” To Your Horror Story
– “One Exercise I Learnt At University That Seriously Improved My Writing
– “Sometimes You Just Need To Change Something Small To Get Inspired Again
– “Three Things To Do If Writer’s Block Strikes In The Middle Of Your Story Or Comic (That I Learnt From Playing Computer Games)

Honourable Mentions:

– “The Joy Of… Notebooks
– “The Joy Of… Inventive Adaptations
– “Re-Visiting An Old Art Instruction Book
– “Creative Inspiration And Emotional Connection

Today’s Art (30th July 2015)

Mysterious noises? Annoying noises? What else could it be but page two of “Diabolical Sigil”, my lazily unimaginative reboot modern re-imagining of my old “Damania” comics from 2012/2013?

It’s interesting that, in this new comic – Harvey and Rox seem to have a slightly more antagonistic relationship than they did in the original comics. Still, it isn’t entirely unprecedented.

Stay tuned for page three tomorrow 🙂

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Diabolical Sigil - Page 2" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Diabolical Sigil – Page 2” By C. A. Brown

Scenes Without Stories – A Ramble

2015 Artwork Scenes Without Stories article sketch

Although it’s been a while since I worked on anything even vaguely approaching a longer creative project, I recently ended up thinking things like “I should make a comic” or “I should write a novel” (or, more likely a novella).

Of course, since I was also feeling fairly uninspired at the time, thinking these things just made me feel like a failure.

But, rather than wallow in self-pity, I thought that I’d dissect some of these thoughts in case they can teach us anything about the creative process.

Usually when I think “I should write a novel” or “I should make a comic“, one random scene from said comic or novel will sometimes randomly appear in my mind. It’ll be tantalisingly vague and I’ll have no real clue about the characters or even what happens before or after this scene.

To give you an example of what I mean – when I briefly thought “I should write a novel“, my first idea was to write a medieval sci-fi story. It would be kind of like “Dune” meets “Babylon 5” meets “Game Of Thrones”.

Naturally, a scene from the very beginning of this story appeared in my mind – it involved a member of the nobility on an alien planet murdering someone in cold blood.

Unfortunately, this never got beyond scribbling the lines: ‘The thing that Lovian didn’t expect was the red blood. Humans have red blood, who’d have thought it?‘ in my sketchbook before realising that I had no clue about the rest of the story. Eventually, I ended up abandoning this idea – even though the scene stuck in my mind.

I don’t know if this is because I tend to think more visually, but it’s often strange how the beginning of an idea for a story or a comic will often consist of one movie-like moment that flashes through my imagination.

In the rare event that I decide to follow up on one of these ideas, I’ve often had to basically just sit around and wait for more of the story to reveal itself to me. Or for more of these disconnected scenes to appear in my mind, until I can find a way to work out useful character or plot information from them.

In fact, before I made my “CRIT” comic series in late 2012/early -mid 2013, I had to make a ridiculous number of “concept art” sketches of the characters and of random scenes that had popped into my mind before I could even learn the character’s names, let alone make the comic. All of my old concept art can be found here – but, here are a few examples:

"Ballistics Testing (Concept Art)" By C. A. Brown [2012]

“Ballistics Testing (Concept Art)” By C. A. Brown [2012]

"Cityscape (Concept Animation)" By C. A. Brown [2012]

“Cityscape (Concept Animation)” By C. A. Brown [2012]

"Hidden Chips (Concept Art)" By C. A. Brown [2012]

“Hidden Chips (Concept Art)” By C. A. Brown [2012]

In a way, trying to think of an idea for a story or a comic can sometimes be like a form of archaeology or treasure hunting. So, it’s ok if you can only think of a small part of your story to begin with – just keep thinking about it and more of it will eventually appear.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to work out a story for a comic or a novel (since everyone has slightly different thought processes and a slightly different imagination). But, it’s perfectly ok if you can only think of a few intriguingly confusing fragments of your story to begin with…


Sorry for the short article, but I hope it was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (29th July 2015)

Now with 300% more cynicism and 256 fewer colours! Yes, what else could it be but the first page of “Diabolical Sigil” – my lazily unimaginative, yet ‘so bad that it’s good‘, modern re-make of my old “Damania” Comics from 2011-2013? Stay tuned for page two tomorrow.

And, yes, the second panel originally featured an extremely cynical political cartoon (likening the UK Independence Party to the dystopic government from “V For Vendetta”), but I kind of wimped out at the last minute and ended up self-censoring. Sorry about this.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE]"Diabolical Sigil - Page 1 (edited version)" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE]”Diabolical Sigil – Page 1 (edited version)” By C. A. Brown

Mini Review: ” The Ghoul’s Forest 3″ (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “GZ Doom”)

And, yes, I was cowardly enough to play it during the day...

And, yes, I was cowardly enough to play it during the day…

As I mentioned yesterday, I haven’t reviewed a “Doom” WAD for ages Seriously, it’s been at least two or three weeks since I last reviewed anything “Doom”-related.

So, since I saw some really intriguing gameplay footage from a WAD called “The Ghoul’s Forest 3” (in this Youtube video that I also linked to yesterday), I though that I’d find the WAD and check it out.

[This review contains SPOILERS and FRIGHTENING IMAGES.]

I should probably also point out that I used the “GZ Doom” source port when playing this WAD. Because “The Ghoul’s Forest III” uses dynamic lighting, you will need to either use this source port or possibly ZDoom.

The download also comes with a low-resolution version of the WAD (which I haven’t played) that may or may not work on other source ports. At the time of writing this review, I was only able to play this WAD for about 20-30 minutes- for reasons that will become apparent later.

Anyway, let’s take a quick look at “The Ghoul’s Forest 3”:

In case you haven't guessed already, this is a horror WAD

In case you haven’t guessed already, this is a horror WAD

“The Ghoul’s Forest III” is a single-level WAD. You begin in the middle of a dark forest that is haunted by four ghouls that you need to kill in order to finish the level. And, in case that sounds too easy – you are only armed with a bow and a quiver of thirty arrows.

Enjoy the campfire, it's pretty much the only source of light in the entire game..... Oh, and it goes out once you leave this clearing

Enjoy the campfire, it’s pretty much the only source of light in the entire game….. Oh, and it goes out once you leave this clearing

One of the first things I will say about this WAD is that it is incredibly atmospheric and creepy. Seriously, the medieval weaponry and settings in this level make it look a bit like something from “Game Of Thrones”. Plus, if there’s one thing creepier than being alone in the dark, it’s not being alone in the dark.

Unlike some other horror games that use this technique, you actually have a vaguely decent level of visibility whilst you’re wandering around the forest and looking for the ghouls. Yes, you can only usually see a couple of trees that are nearby, but it prevents you from getting completely and utterly lost:

Unfortunately, it doesn't really come across very well in this screenshot, but the trees near you are actually visible in the game.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really come across very well in this screenshot, but the trees near you are actually visible in the game.

The gameplay in “The Ghoul’s Forest III” is, as you may expect, quite different to most other “Doom” WADs. It’s slow, suspenseful and occasionally quite frenetic.

Each of the four ghouls you will encounter has slightly different characteristics and combat tactics. Usually, you will hear the ghouls a few seconds before you actually see them – so headphones are an absolute must when playing this WAD.

When the first ghoul appears, you will hear creepy noises and you might see a small light on the ground moving towards you. Unless you shoot at this light three times, then this will happen:

Yay! It's a jumpscare!

Yay! It’s a jumpscare!

One cool thing about this ghoul is the fact that, like all of the other ghouls, he has a really dramatic death animation that will briefly light up the surrounding area – as well as making you feel like a badass for defeating him.

The second ghoul really isn’t that scary. He’s a fast-moving flying skull that bursts into flames when you shoot him a couple of times. The third ghoul is fairly similar, except that he screams loudly, moves even more quickly and is almost invisible.

The fourth ghoul is much scarier than these two though. I only saw it once. It’s a bright, glowing spectral figure of some kind. Of course, I only saw it for a second because I was running at the time and thought that it might be a good idea to keep running. But, no, after a couple of seconds, a loud scream rang through my headphones and a montage of stills from various horror movies quickly flashed across the screen:

 This was one of the less creepy ones. I'm not sure what movie it's from though.

This was one of the less creepy ones. I’m not sure what movie it’s from though.

It was at this point that I was just too frightened to play any more. Yes, this WAD isn’t the scariest “Doom” WAD that I’ve ever played (that honour goes to “Lasting Light“, even though it’s technically a mod rather than a WAD), but “The Ghoul’s Forest 3” still frightened me – despite the fact that I was playing it during the day. I dread to think how much more terrifying this WAD would be if you played it in the dark.

Still, one of the reasons why I don’t consider this WAD to quite be as frightening as “Lasting Light” is because of the bow and arrow. Yes, it’s a fairly weak weapon with a low rate of fire, but it’s still a weapon.

Yes, even having a bow and arrow makes this WAD slightly less scary than it should be.

Yes, even having a bow and arrow makes this WAD slightly less scary than it should be.

If you have a way of fighting back against whatever horrors are lurking in a game, then the game ends up being more about combat and tactics than about horror. As scary as this WAD is, it would have been about ten times scarier if you’d have had to hide from the ghouls rather than kill them.

All in all, “The Ghoul’s Forest” is a really good horror WAD. It’s suspenseful, it’s dramatic and it’s surprisingly creepy. Just make sure that you play it during the day….

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half.

Today’s Art (28th July 2015)

Well, it’s only a year or two late, but I’ve decided to make another “Damania” comic. This will probably be another short comic like the ones I made earlier this year (they can be read here and here) and the rest of the comic will probably be in black and white for time reasons. Still, it’s interesting to return to this old comic series of mine that even I had almost forgotten about..

Anyway, here’s the cover – stay tuned for page one tomorrow at the usual time 🙂

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

"Diabolical Sigil - Cover" By C. A. Brown

“Diabolical Sigil – Cover” By C. A. Brown

Too Many Cooks – A Ramble

2015 Artwork Too Many Cooks Article sketch

Although this is a (slightly rambling) article about writing and comics, I’m going to start by talking about computer games and TV shows for a while. There’s a good reason for this and I’m not just rambling about games and television just for the sake of it.

Anyway, a while back, I ended up watching this Youtube video about “Doom”. If you’ve never heard of “Doom” before, it’s a classic computer game from the early-mid 1990s that is one of the most timeless and well-designed FPS games ever made (and, yes, I know, I haven’t reviewed a “Doom” WAD in ages…).

The Youtube video was about why “Doom” is still better than most modern games in the same genre. One of the interesting things that the guy in the video mentioned was that, unlike modern computer games, the team that created “Doom” was relatively small.

He pointed out that this meant that each member of the team had more of a say in the development of the game – so, the game has more of a “personality” to it than most modern games do.

The same sort of thing is true for television shows too – as much as I love shows from the US, I often like shows from my own country (the UK) slightly more for the simple reason that they often aren’t “written by committee”. Yes, British TV series may be a lot shorter than their American counterparts, but they often tend to have more of a personality because they’re only written by one or two people.

But, before anyone thinks that I’m criticising American TV, if you want a good American example of how only having a small number of writers can improve a TV show – then take a look at a 1990s sci-fi show called “Babylon 5“. Although the show had a few guest writers, most of the episodes were written by J.Michael Straczynski and this gives the show a lot more atmosphere and more of a novelistic story structure.

It’s like the old saying that “too many cooks spoil the broth”. The more people that are involved in a creative project, the less unique and interesting the end result will be.

And this, in many ways, is one of the strengths of the written word. Although novels may sometimes have co-writers, most novels are just the work of one person. What this means is that it’s easier for a novel to be unique and ground-breaking than it is for a computer game or a TV show. A novel is a window into one person’s imagination, rather than a diluted mixture of several people’s imaginations.

Seriously, there’s really no such thing as a “standard” novel. Like their writers, ever novel is a unique thing. Every writer has their own slightly different narrative voice and every writer has their own unique imagination. What this means is that, even if two writers are telling the same story – their two stories are still going to be noticeably different in many ways.

Likewise, I only usually find non-superhero comics (with a few rare exceptions) interesting for the simple reason that the writers have more creative freedom. In major superhero comic franchises, all of the characters are pre-designed by other people and the comic’s story has to fit into a set of pre-defined rules that have been made by other people.

Whereas, with comics that have been created from scratch – one writer (and possibly an illustrator too) has total control over who the characters are, where the story goes and what kind of a “personality” the comic has.

Likewise, with webcomics, comic creators don’t have to get the approval of a publisher before they start publishing – so, comics on the internet can be even more unique and interesting than professionally-published comics, for the simple reason that there are fewer people involved.

Yes, democracy may be the best (or at least the least worst) way to run a country – but, when it comes to doing anything creative – autocracy is almost always the best policy.


Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

ART PREVIEW: “Punk Aberystwyth” Art Series :)

Wow, it’s been ages since I last posted an art preview of any kind on here. So, I thought that I’d give you all a glimpse at a short art series that I’ll be posting here on the 16th -19th November (and possibly earlier on DeviantART). It’s a series of four paintings, inspired by punk music, that are set in Aberystwyth.

This art series was great fun to make and, well, I wanted to share a preview of it as soon as possible. Enjoy 🙂

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Art Preview: Punk Aberystwyth" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Art Preview: Punk Aberystwyth” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (27th July 2015)

Woo hoo! I’m feeling more inspired again! Anyway, today’s drawing is based on an idea for a comic that I had (but ended up abandoning).

The comic would have been titled “The Bureau Of Wordless Novels” (and would have only contained a single word), but I ended up abandoning it after I realised that – although the idea was cool – I couldn’t think of a way to implement it. Still, I made this drawing based on my original idea.

Oh, if anyone hasn’t heard of “Wordless Novels” before, then check out this Wikipedia article about them. They were kind of like the precursor to modern comics.

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

"The Bureau Of Wordless Novels" By C. A. Brown

“The Bureau Of Wordless Novels” By C. A. Brown