Today’s Art (28th April 2017)

Well, I was feeling slightly uninspired when I made today’s digitally-edited painting. This gothic horror painting also required more editing than I expected after I scanned it (eg: cropping it for compositional reasons, raising the colour saturation levels, altering the colour scheme digitally etc..)

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

"The Skeletal Hall" By C. A. Brown

“The Skeletal Hall” By C. A. Brown

Learning To Love The Limitations Of Your Art Style – A Ramble

2017-artwork-when-something-is-incompatible-with-your-art-style

Although none of the paintings that I’ll be talking about will be posted here in full for a month or two, I thought that I’d talk about a time when I tried to make a type of art that was incompatible with my own art style.

Basically, after watching quite a few episodes of the ITV adaptation of “Poirot” on DVD, I wanted to make some art that was set in similar kinds of locations. I wanted to make 1920s/30s-style art, with Art Deco architecture, vintage fashions and a slightly decadent atmosphere.

After all, I knew how to make new types of art inspired by cool things that I’ve seen. But, despite two attempts at this, I failed.

It was only a while later that I realised why, everything about my own art style was the opposite of the type of art that I was trying to make. The type of art that I wanted to make was bright, highly minimalist and almost modern/timeless in style.

However, my own art style and aesthetic preferences include things like giving the impression of lots of detail, gloomy locations , a focus on the more recent past (eg: the 1980s and 1990s) etc…. Although I probably could make the type of “art deco” art that I’d wanted to make, I’d probably feel like it wasn’t really “my” kind of art.

My kind of art looks a bit more like this:

 This is a reduced-size preview of a painting that is slightly more typical of my style, the full painting will be posted here on the 11th June.

This is a reduced-size preview of a digitally-edited painting that is slightly more typical of my style, the full painting will be posted here on the 11th June.

The only way I could even try to make the 1920s/30s style art that I wanted to make was to add a lot of my own style to it, to change the lighting and to change the detail levels to something more in line with the type of art that I usually enjoy making.

Here is a reduced-size preview of the best of the two paintings in this style that I attempted to make. It looks more like something from the 1990s than the 1920s, and it looks considerably gloomier than the things that inspired it:

The full-size painting will be posted here in late May. The other one will be posted here on the 9th June, and doesn't really look as good.

The full-size painting will be posted here in late May. The other one will be posted here on the 9th June, and doesn’t really look as good.

One of the problems with developing a unique art style (eg: how you draw people, buildings etc..) and/or a unique aesthetic (eg: how you use colours, lighting, patterns etc..) is that it’s going to limit what you can and cannot make. For example, if your art style/aesthetic is very bright and whimsical, then you’re probably not going to be great at making gloomy gothic art and vice versa.

But, this isn’t the giant problem that you might think it is. Your limitations can actually improve your art. After all, trying to make another type of art fit into your own “style” will make your art look more unique. It’ll make it stand out from the things that have inspired you.

Plus, finding a type of art that you can’t make because of your art style may possible also be a sign that you’ve actually found your own style. Of course, it could also be a sign that you need more practice but, if you feel like you could technically make the kind of art that has inspired you but would feel like it wouldn’t quite be “right”, then it’s probably a sign that you’ve found your own style.

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Sorry for the rambling article, but I hope it was interesting πŸ™‚

Four Important Things To Remember Before You Start Your First Webcomic

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Webcomics! If you’ve read a few of them, then you might possibly want to start your own one. In fact, you might actually even try making one. This is, of course, how many people who make webcomics get into making webcomics. It’s how I got into making webcomics, even if I only make occasional mini series of 6-17 daily comic updates these days.

Still, there are a few things that are worth bearing in mind before you start your first webcomic. If you’ve read this blog before, then you’ve probably heard all of this advice already, but I thought that it might be useful to put the most important parts of it into one long-winded article.

1) Your first webcomic won’t be great (and that’s alright!): There’s a very good reason why the page I linked to earlier in this article only showcases the webcomics I made from 2015 onwards. The very first time I posted a webcomic online was in 2010 and I won’t even link to that one – even thinking about it makes me cringe at how badly-written and badly-drawn it was.

But, do I regret making that abysmal first webcomic? No! If I hadn’t made that terrible first webcomic to prove to myself that I could make webcomics, I wouldn’t have made the mildly less crappy ones that I made in 2011-2013. I wouldn’t have got back into making webcomics in 2015, after a year-long hiatus where I just made daily paintings instead (caused by making too many webcomics in 2012-13). I wouldn’t be making occasional mini series to this day.

That one terrible early webcomic is responsible for all of the webcomics I’ve made ever since. Without it, the better ones I’ve made would never exist!

When you make your first webcomic, you will probably be inexperienced at both comic writing and/or making art. This is ok! Everyone is inexperienced when they start out.

Even the very first update of the very best webcomic ever made will look awful when compared to the most recent one. The true test of a webcomic creator is if they’re willing to keep practicing even though they know that their earlier comic updates aren’t as good as the ones they’ve seen online.

If you truly love the medium of webcomics, then the fact that your first few hundred comic updates won’t be great will not bother you! The fact that your comic updates might only get a few views on a good day won’t bother you!

After all, not only are you having fun making your comic, but you’re also gaining the practice, experience and skills that you need in order to make better webcomics. Also, you’re actually making webcomics! How cool is that?

2) Make ten or more updates before you post anything online!: This is the most useful thing that you can do if you’re starting your first webcomic. Make at least ten comic updates before you post any of them online. This is useful for two reasons.

Firstly, it allows you to test out your webcomic. It allows you to see if the characters are interesting enough, if the humour is good enough and if you can think of enough good comic ideas for the premise you’re using.

It also allows you to judge how much time it takes you to make a webcomic update, so that you can come up with a realistic update schedule (that you’ll actually stick to).

Secondly, it means that you’ll already have a comic buffer before you post anything online.

If you don’t know what a comic buffer is, it’s the most useful thing any webcomic creator can have. Basically, it’s where you stay several comics ahead of the ones you post online because you’ve already made the next 1-1000 updates in advance. If you’re using a blog to post your webcomic online, then you can often automatically schedule your updates to be posted at any time or date you want.

Having a comic buffer takes a lot of the stress out of making webcomics since, although you still need to make comics regularly to maintain your buffer, if you aren’t able to make a comic update one time then it means that your audience won’t miss out. It means that you won’t constantly be rushing to meet deadlines in the way that you would be if you posted your webcomics immediately after you made them.

3) Let it change!: If you keep making a single webcomic (even occasionally) for a long time, then it’s going to change. This is ok! For example, my current occasional “Damania” webcomic series was originally supposed to be a dramatic “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”-style urban fantasy comic when I started planning it in 2011-12.

Then, it was mostly supposed to be a slightly surreal “newspaper comic” style webcomic in 2012-16. These days, it’s a silly comic about a gang of miscreants (and a detective) who go on all sorts of stupid adventures. It couldn’t be further from the serious “magic, ghosts and vampires” comic that I’d originally set out to make in 2011-12!

Your webcomic will change from the thing that you’re just about to start making, and this is good! Often, a webcomic will change because you find that it’s easier to stay inspired if you do something different (eg: switching from self-contained updates to short story-based comics). It’ll change because you get to know the characters better. It’ll change because the things that inspire you will change. I could go on all day, but it’ll change.

Let this change happen! Not only will this mean that you’ll end up ditching the parts of your comic that don’t work, but it also means that you’ll be able to stay motivated and inspired.

4) A crappy update is better than no update!: It’s probably worth writing that down. When you make webcomics, there will be days when you will be uninspired. There will be days when you don’t feel as motivated as usual. You still need to make webcomics on those days! Even if the things you make are badly-written or badly-drawn, you still need to make them and post them (or add them to your buffer)! But, why?

If you are following any kind of update schedule, then your audience will expect to see something at the appointed times. Give them something! Even if it’s just a quick sketch of one of your characters with a sarcastic caption about writer’s block underneath it, it’s something! It’s something that shows the audience that you’re still making your comic and that they should keep reading it.

No matter how awful, unfunny, clichΓ©d, uninspired or crappy your next webcomic update is, it’s still better than an empty page! Even if people online moan loudly about how terrible your comic update is, that is still better than the ominous silence of people leaving your comic because they don’t think that it’s still being updated.

Likewise, although forcing yourself to make comics when you don’t feel up to it might seem difficult, it gets easier with practice. Plus, it will give you practice too! It’ll also allow you to stay in the “rhythm” of making comics regularly.

If you’re worried that this might give you webcomic burnout (which was something that happened to me in 2014), then make changes to your webcomic. Release it in occasional mini series (like I do now). Reduce your update schedule if you have to. But, whatever you do, if you tell your audience that you’re going to post a webcomic at a particular time, then do all you can to keep that promise – even if it means posting a sub-standard update.

——–

Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Today’s Art (26th April 2017)

Well, today’s digitally-edited painting is based on a dream I had the night before I painted it.

Amongst other things, the dream involved walking around a surreal version of Waterlooville, that was filled with random 1960s-style Brutalist architecture. It was also raining too. It was awesome πŸ™‚

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

"Another Waterlooville (A Dream)" By C. A. Brown

“Another Waterlooville (A Dream)” By C. A. Brown

Review: “New World 2” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “ZDoom”)

2017 Artwork New World 2 WAD review

Last year, someone commented on my old “NeoDoom” WAD review and asked me if I’d checked out another WAD that was made by the creator of “NeoDoom” (and “Final NeoDoom) called ‘New World 2‘.

Since I write these reviews quite far in advance, and because I’d been looking for another “Doom II” WAD at the time, I thought that I’d check it out.

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD, although it will probably work with GZDoom too – not to mention many other modern source ports. However, this WAD probably won’t work with the original unported “Doom II” or “Final Doom”.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “New World 2”:

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“New World 2” is a 16-level WAD (not including at least one secret level I found) that includes new textures, sounds and music.

It’s clearly an earlier WAD from the creator of ‘NeoDoom’ since it doesn’t include any new monsters (the closest thing is one “Wolf 3D” enemy from the original “Doom II” you’ll find in a later level) or new weapons. Still, you can certainly see the beginning of something great in this WAD.

The first few levels of “New World 2” fall somewhere between being “streamlined” and being “linear”. They won’t take you that long to get through and this is likely to lull you into a false sense of security. Especially given that many of the early levels have a similar gothic “Quake” techbase kind of look to them:

If I remember rightly, the second level looks a bit different, but there are a lot of "Quake"-like levels near the beginning.

If I remember rightly, the second level looks a bit different, but there are a lot of “Quake”-like levels near the beginning.

However, like with the original “NeoDoom”, don’t judge this WAD based on it’s early levels. Although this WAD doesn’t contain quite the same giant variety of settings as “NeoDoom” (or it’s sequel ) does, there are still some truly epic moments and clever level designs here.

One of the highlights of this WAD has to be level ten, where you have to fight your way through a giant castle!

Seriously, I’m just annoyed that the TV adaptation of “Game Of Thrones” only came out six years after this WAD was made – since the theme tune for this show would make perfect background music for this level. This level will make you feel like an absolute badass and it’s about as far from the earlier levels in this WAD as you can get.

Yes, this level would be even better with the “Game Of Thrones” theme tune playing in the background – regardless of how anachronistic it may be.

Other settings in this WAD include a demonic castle, a dark forest, a slightly less gloomy forest, a school/shopping centre and – to cap things off – a certain well-known field that people still flock to on solstices for unknown reasons.

*Whistles "Stonehenge" by Spinal Tap*

*Whistles “Stonehenge” by Spinal Tap*

Yes, “New World 2” isn’t quite as varied as either of the “NeoDoom” WADs are, but it manages to keep a consistent aesthetic whilst also including different locations. The level design also improves later in the WAD too, becoming more non-linear but without ever really becoming confusing either.

Likewise, this WAD has a fairly decent difficulty curve too. Although the first few levels are fairly easy, the game gradually becomes more challenging as it goes on.

Although experienced players will find the later levels to be mildly to moderately challenging, beginners are likely to get stuck. One of the highlights has to be an epic battle on level 14 (?) which includes both a cyberdemon and an archvile:

Yes! Now THIS is a "Doom II" level!

Yes! Now THIS is a “Doom II” level!

However, many of these truly epic battles are rendered slightly easier than they should be through the liberal placement of high-level healing items (eg: soulspheres, invulnerability etc..).

Even the most challenging level in the game, the secret level (which is populated entirely by archviles), isn’t that difficult for the simple reason that you’ll rarely run out of ammo for your BFG or healing items.

Yes, this is probably the easiest Archvile-only level I've ever played.

Yes, this is probably the easiest Archvile-only level I’ve ever played.

Plus, even this Cyberdemon battle in one of the non-secret levels is slightly on the easy side due to a nearby invulnerability sphere.

Plus, even this Cyberdemon battle in one of the non-secret levels is slightly on the easy side due to a nearby invulnerability sphere.

One cool feature in this WAD is the fact that they keys have been replaced by gothic ankhs, which look really awesome.

Likewise, the sound design in this WAD is spectacular – with clanking portcullises and creaking lifts aplenty. The new textures are also really cool, and you might even recognise one or two familiar things from “Duke Nukem 3D” too πŸ™‚

Yay! Trees :)

Yay! Trees πŸ™‚

Likewise, the new music is- for the most- part really good. It has a bit of a classic “Doom” kind of sound to it and some of the background tracks have clearly been influenced by heavy metal music πŸ™‚ Even so, a couple of the tracks sound a little bit too understated in my opinion.

All in all, lest you think that I’m being harsh about this WAD, I’m not. It’s a great WAD, which is reallly fun to play. However, it’s impossible not to compare it to the even better WADs that it’s creator made afterwards. But, this WAD is still an enjoyable, fast-paced and atmospherically gothic WAD. Just don’t judge it by the first few levels.

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

Today’s Art (25th April 2017)

Well, after two failed attempts at making a 1980s-style painting, I eventually decided to make a small digitally-edited still life painting of a bottle of nail varnish that happened to be sitting on my desk.

However, I also ended up using a ridiculous amount of artistic licence when making this picture though (mostly since I wanted to create a complimentary colour scheme in the painting – since the actual nail varnish itself was black rather than purple/dark pink. Likewise, for time reasons, I used a much more minimalist background etc…).

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

"Nail Varnish Still Life" By C. A. Brown

“Nail Varnish Still Life” By C. A. Brown