What To Expect Here In 2020

Happy New Year everyone 🙂 Like with some previous years, I thought that I’d write an article about what you can expect to see here in 2020.

After all, although my pre-made article buffer is a bit shorter than it was this time last year (it’s about eight months or so worth of articles at the time of writing. My art buffer is still about a year long though), I’ve still got a fairly good idea of what this year will look like on here.

Some of the changes are good ones, some of them perhaps less so. Still, I thought that I’d give you a quick preview:

1) Film reviews (for a couple of months): Yes, film reviews will temporarily return to this site in May-July 2020 – mostly because I needed to take a bit of a break from reading and reviewing books. But, you’ll be pleased to know that regular book reviews should return sometime in late July/early August (I can’t be certain of the exact date). Even so, film reviews will start appearing in addition to book reviews in May and then take over completely after the beginning of June.

There were a lot of reasons for this, but the main one was that I just lost enthusiasm for reading books for a couple of months… But eventually ended up regaining it and returning to books a couple of months later after realising that it was a lot easier for me to find good books than it was to find good films – probably because all of the reading I’ve done over the past year or two has changed my tastes.

Even so, although I will be reviewing at least one or two… less good… films, I’ll also be reviewing “Citizen Kane”, the original versions of the first three “Star Wars” films and all sorts of random films from the 1970s-2010s.

Again, regular book reviews should return sometime in late July/early August, but they might be posted every 3-4 days rather than every two days though. I’ve prepared two book reviews so far and am still working out the schedules and details for future book reviews. So, watch this space.

2) Comic hiatus and Art series: Unfortunately, my monthly webcomic will be going on a partial hiatus (with only one comic posted per month) between February and August, and then on full hiatus after that. Although I’ll possibly end up “rebooting” the comic at some point in the future, like I did in 2015/16, I need to take a break from it.

On the plus side, expect to see a few art series appearing on here in 2020 too – such as a series of retro/cyberpunk mini-drawings in around mid-August, a series of autumnal retro-themed paintings in late August/early September, a series of cyberpunk paintings loosely-inspired by my memories of the Tricorn Centre in late November/early December etc… Seriously, I’m surprised at the number of art series I’ve ended up making for 2020 🙂

3) Game reviews: Although I’d originally planned to take a break from preparing game reviews a few months ago (and, unless I edit it, the seventh anniversary article that will appear in April 2020 will mention this), they still ended up being a bit more of a regular thing than I’d expected for 2020.

In addition to the usual monthly “Doom II” WAD reviews (which I’ve still somehow managed to keep up with), I’ll also probably be reviewing the following games: “Dreamfall Chapters”, “Neverending Nightmare”, “Hard Reset Redux”, “Devil Daggers”, “Ion Fury”, “Saints Row: The Third”, “Saints Row 2” and “Saints Row IV”. But I’m not sure if I’ll review any more games in 2020, since – again – I’ll probably be focusing more on book reviews from late July/early August onwards. Again, watch this space.

…Anyway, that’s about it. Thank you all for reading and I hope that you have a great New Year 🙂

It’s A Last-Minute “Alternate Versions” Art Preview :)

Well, since I wasn’t satisfied with the article I’d planned to post today, I needed to post something else. So, here are some alternative versions of paintings that you’ll see appearing here over the next few weeks. Enjoy 🙂

“Video 1985 (Without digital lighting and alternate colours)” By C. A. Brown

“1990s Winter (Without snow effects or digital lighting effects)” By C. A. Brown

“Bonfire Night 2019 [Line Art]” By C. A. Brown

“Sci-fi Station (Version without digital lighting and with different colours)” By C. A. Brown

“Hill Head- Coast (Without digital lighting effects etc..)” By C. A. Brown

“Battlements (Version without digital lighting effects)” By C. A. Brown

How To Find “New” Art Techniques – A Ramble

A few days before I wrote this article, I ended up making a digitally-edited drawing (based on a photo I took last April) that looked significantly more realistic than most of my art does. Here’s a preview of the picture:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size artwork will be posted here on the 5th April.

One of the interesting things about making this picture was that none of the techniques I used to make it were really “new” to me. Yet, they produced a piece of art that was totally different to anything I’d made before.

I already knew how to take interesting-looking photos, I already knew how to draw from photos by sight, I already knew how to directly sample colours using image editing programs, I already knew how to mask off areas by selecting them, I already knew how to use digital airbrush tools etc… Yet, I’d somehow never thought of combining these skills with each other before I made this picture.

Here’s a (slightly simplified) chart to show you what I mean:

(Note: To view full size image, click on it and then select “View Full Size” below the image). This chart doesn’t show every step, but it shows how combining skills you already know can result in new techniques etc..

So, one of the best ways to find “new” art techniques is simply to look at all of the techniques that you already know and to try combining them in different ways.

But, although this is something that can be done consciously and deliberately, the best examples of it just tend to appear when you are reasonably confident with the techniques that you already know. When you instinctively know how and why a particular technique “works”, then finding ways to combine it with other things you know well will seem a lot more natural and intuitive.

For example, I suddenly thought of the mixture of techniques I showed you earlier because I thought it would save time. It didn’t save much time, but it did result in more realistic-looking art. So, yes, these things don’t always happen completely deliberately.

Plus, of course, you can keep adding other techniques to the mix too. For example, here’s a preview of the digitally-edited drawing (based on this photo I took last April) that I made the day after the one I showed you earlier. It uses the same mixture of techniques I’ve already mentioned….

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size artwork will be posted here on the 5th April.

…But, if you look closely at the trees and buildings, you’ll see that there is some very slightly more dramatic lighting. Here’s a close-up to show you what I mean:

Notice how the light seems to be filtering through the trees and buildings in a slightly hazy “lens flare”-like way.

How did I do this? Simple. I just used a technique that I’d used in digitally-edited paintings before (but hadn’t thought to use in the previous picture).

More specifically, once I’d worked out what colour the light was, I used a very large digital airbrush (applied lightly) to create the impression of a lens flare. And this technique was something I originally discovered when trying to find quicker/easier alternatives to using the digital lighting effects in an open source program called “GIMP 2.8. 22” – and I worked it out because I was quite familiar with how the program’s airbrush feature worked.

So, the general lesson here is that if you learn an artistic skill or technique to the point where it almost seems instinctive, then finding new ways to combine it with other techniques will become a lot easier and more intuitive. In other words, skills build more skills.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

What To Expect Here In 2019

Happy New Year everyone 🙂 Since I prepare stuff for this blog quite far in advance, I thought that I’d talk about what you can expect to see here this year. And, yes, there will be some differences – although some of them may not be that much of a surprise if you’ve seen my DeviantART gallery (which is a couple of months ahead of the art posts on here, due to scheduling reasons) or read the comics index page on this site.

So, what can you expect in 2019?

Better lighting, five months of realistic landscapes and shorter comics: Although at least couple of paintings with digital lighting effects (created in this open-source program) have appeared here this year, expect it to not only become a more regular thing next year – but also expect more refined lighting effects too, since I realised that the program’s “airbrush” feature can be also be used to create lighting effects. Here’s a preview of one of the best upcoming paintings to use this technique:

This is a reduced-size preview. The full-size painting will be posted here on the 5th October 2019

On the other hand, from about mid-late January to mid-late June, expect to see pretty much nothing but “realistic” landscape art on here (with monthly comics and a couple of infrequent sci-fi paintings too). Some of these are better than others, but here’s a preview of one of the better ones:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size artwork will be posted here on the 5th April 2019.

This happened for a number of reasons – not only was I experimenting with photography, but thanks to things like preparing some of the short stories I posted here in early-mid 2018, other experiments with writing (at the time of writing, this consists of one and a half failed novels and a failed novella I won’t post here) and getting used to doing all of the reading for the regular book reviews, I didn’t feel that I had the time to make my usual art during these five months. So, photo-based paintings (which are paradoxically quicker to make) were a way to keep making art during these busy months.

Still, after feeling that I was losing what made me interested in art at the first place, I went back to making my more traditional sci-fi/gothic/retro etc.. art from mid-late June onwards, with photo-based paintings becoming an occasional thing that will appear for a couple of days every week or three. However, due to time contstraints, expect quite a few of these “traditional” paintings to be a little more rushed or less detailed.

Likewise, although I’ll still be posting monthly comics for at least the first eleven months of 2019 (still not sure about December), it’s been a bit touch-and-go with the time constraints. So, expect slightly shorter 2-4 comic mini series every month and, in some of them, slightly simpler art and/or bizarre art experiments (like using photos for backgrounds). Sorry about this, but it was pretty much the only way I could keep making monthly comics. Still, there will be the usual narrative Halloween comic in October, albeit at a shorter length of 6-7 pages.

Expect the full 6-7 page comic here in late October 🙂

Writing- based articles: With all of the book reviews appearing here (I’ve prepared a total of about 157, and counting, at the time of writing) and the writing experiments I’ve mentioned earlier, expect the daily articles that appear here in between book reviews to be a lot more focused on writing than on art.

Although I miss writing art-related articles, and there will be a few of them, one of the things with writing regular blog articles is that you often have to work with the source material that you have. In other words, since I’ve been focusing a lot more on reading fiction and writing it, it’s a lot easier to write about writing than it is to write about art (which, whilst I’m still making it, isn’t something I can always devote as much time/effort/imagination to as I did when preparing 2017 and 2018’s art).

Still, given that I’ve neglected writing-based articles a little bit in this year’s articles and, given that they were originally planned to be the main type of article when I started this blog in 2013, it’s kind of like a return to something a bit more traditional I guess.

Game reviews and a modern PC (November onwards): With the exception of the monthly “Doom II” WAD reviews (some traditions are sacred!), all of the reading etc… I’ve been doing has meant that I’ve had a lot less time for gaming. So, for most of the year, there won’t really be any game reviews – except for a review of “Resident Evil 3” in May.

However, about two or three weeks before I prepared this post, I ended up getting a vaguely modern refurbished PC. But, most of the articles for this year were prepared when I was using my trusty old mid-2000s computer, a fact referenced in several of the pre-written articles etc… appearing here from January to November (I’ll try to update them if I get the chance, but if I forget, then this is why).

Of course, I wanted to put this modern refurbished PC it through it’s paces – not to mention that, after abandoning it for quite a few months, I really missed gaming too. So, expect occasional modern game reviews from November onwards.

Yes, these probably won’t be “AAA” games (since I’m still using the computer’s integrated graphics, not to mention that some “AAA” games can only be bought from sites that use always-online DRM – which I’m wary of after Steam’s recent middle finger to users of older PCs, a category I belonged to less than a month ago).

But, so far, I’ve prepared reviews of two “AA” indie games ( a 1990s-themed “walking simulator” game called “Gone Home” and a 3D platformer called “Skylar & Plux: Adventure On Clover Island”). And I may or may not review the 2013 remake of “Shadow Warrior” (although I’ve had problems taking screenshots) and possibly a survival horror game from 2018 called “Remothered: Tormented Fathers” (if I can work up the courage and/or be lucky enough to get past the first segment of the game).

Book reviews will hopefully still appear in between these game reviews, although I’ve had to use a few sneaky tricks – such as focusing more on shorter and/or fast-paced novels and using the vast stack of pre-written articles to take occasional days off from preparing them without affecting the daily posting schedule. Still, I hope to keep reading for as long as possible. Still, expect more game-related stuff from November onwards.

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So, yes, 2019 will be a bit of a different year. Still, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy all of the stuff that will be appearing here 🙂

COMING SOON! Halloween 2018 Stories And Comic :)

Well, Halloween draws closer and this means Halloween stuff 🙂 Like last year, there will be both a comic and some short stories (last year’s Halloween stuff can be seen here and here).

The new comic, which begins on the 21st October, is called “Nocturnal” and if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the characters from my occasional webcomic met some vampires, then you’re in luck 🙂 Here’s a small preview:

This is a preview. The comic will begin on the 21st October 🙂

The daily short stories will probably begin appearing in a few days’ time (and will conclude the day before Halloween, with a compilation post on Halloween itself. Each story will appear at 9:30pm GMT too).

At the moment, I’m not sure how many I’ll write (so far, I’ve prepared seven) but the theme of the collection is “The modern world”. So, expect lots of cynicism and dark comedy too 🙂

Time For Another “Alternate Versions” Art Preview

Well, since I wasn’t quite satisfied with the article I’d originally prepared for today, I thought that I’d show off some alternate versions of paintings that will appear here next June instead.

And, yes, although there will be quite a few realistic landscapes posted here between late January- mid June 2019, I’ve also been trying to move back to my more “traditional” type of art too from mid-June onwards (with my hope being that there will be a better mixture of both types of art from mid-late June 2019 onwards)

Anyway, here’s the artwork 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

“Architecture (II) (Version without lighting effects)” By C. A. Brown

“Dereliction (Version without digital lighting, rain etc..)” By C. A. Brown

“Random Cyberpunk (Version with unfinished sky and no rain or digital lighting)” By C. A. Brown

“Portsmouth – Orange Moon (Version with unfinished sky etc..)” By C. A. Brown

“Broadmarsh – Under The Bridge (Version without lighting effects)” By C. A. Brown

“Broadmarsh – Other Side (Version without lighting effects)” By C. A. Brown

It’s Yet Another Line Art Preview… Again

Well, since I wasn’t quite satisfied with the article I’d originally planned to post today, I thought that I’d show off some of the “work in progress” line art for some of the paintings I’ll be posting here next year instead.

Although most of these will be realistic photo-based landscapes (since I’ve had less time than usual when preparing many of the paintings which will appear here in the first few months of next year), there will be at least one sci-fi picture in this preview 🙂

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

“Titchfield Abbey – Towers (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Tipner Lake – Mirror (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Formation (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Tipner Lake – Mist (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Hilsea – Bridge (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Tipner Lake – Bridge (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown