Three Examples Of How To Take Inspiration Properly

Well, although I’ve already talked about how to take artistic inspiration before, I thought that I’d look at it from a slightly different angle today. This is mostly because taking inspiration properly usually involves creatively “reverse engineering” things that you’ve seen, albeit in a very specific way.

It means seeing something and then breaking it down into it’s generic non-copyrightable elements (although I’m not a copyright lawyer, it is a general princple that “you cannot copyright an idea” [eg: copyright only covers highly-specific details]). Then, after you’ve done this, finding a way to use those generic elements in a new and original way.

But, if you haven’t done this before, then it can be difficult to know what to do. So, I thought that I’d provide a few examples of the process by looking at three images from various films/ games/TV shows, then commenting on and reviewing the generic features of each image and then creating a quick piece of original “inspired by” digital art that includes those generic features.

But, before I go any further, I should point out that you really should HAVE MULTIPLE INSPIRATIONS! I cannot emphasise this enough! Although I’ll only be (mostly) taking inspiration from one thing in each example, the more inspirations you have (and the more different they are), the more original and interesting your work will be.

Example 1: “Ghost In The Shell” (2017)

This is a screenshot from “Ghost In The Shell” (2017 Remake). Let’s break it down into it’s generic elements.

This scene from “Ghost In The Shell” (2017) contains many features common to the cyberpunk genre, such as high-contrast lighting (eg: where the background is darker, so that the lights stand out more) and a dense urban setting. In addition to this, this scene of the film makes expert use of complementary colours – with a slight emphasis on red, green and blue lighting (echoing the colours used in computer monitors/display screens).

Plus, it also makes very clever use of composition and negative space too – by showing the film’s main character silhouetted in the close foreground. Compared to the riot of lights and colours in front of her, her dark silhouette stands out in a very distinctive way.

So, what are the generic elements here? They are a dense futuristic urban setting, high-contrast lighting, red/green/blue lighting and the clever use of silhouettes and negative space.

So, an original inspired painting that used these elements might look a little bit like this quick piece of digital art.

A piece of digital art that uses red/green/blue lighting, silhouettes & negative space and a dense futuristic urban setting. As you can see, it also looks nothing like the screenshot at the beginning of this example. This is also partly because I’ve also added general elements from both the horror genre and other cyberpunk works too. As I said earlier, more inspirations means more originality.

Example 2: “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” (1997)

This is a screenshot from a horror game called “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” (1997). Let’s break it down into it’s generic elements.

This screenshot from “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” (1997) makes excellent use of composition and perspective in order to create an ominous sense of dread. The camera perches above the player, with a candelabra and a stag’s head in the close foreground to emphasise the height of the room. Likewise, the lighting in this room is fairly gloomy and the room itself looks slightly old and run-down. Again, this is done to create an atmosphere of dread.

So, what are the generic elements here? An overhead perspective, objects in the close foreground, gloomy lighting, an atmosphere of dread and old/disused locations.

So, an original inspired painting that used these elements might look a little bit like this quick piece of digital art (which was also inspired by another part of the game [involving a hole in the floor] and a couple of other games too).

A piece of digital art that uses an overhead perspective, includes objects in the close foreground, has gloomy lighting, involves old/disused locations and contains an atmosphere of dread. As you can see, it looks fairly different from the screenshot in this example. Again, I’ve used multiple inspirations – as well as taking inspiration from another part of “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut”, I’ve also taken inspiration from two other games- “Alone In The Dark” (1992) and “Hotline Miami” (2012).

Example 3: “Murder, She Wrote” (1984):

This is a screenshot from season 1, episode 4 of “Murder, She Wrote” (1984). Let’s break it down into it’s generic elements.

Although this scene isn’t really typical of the show, it provides a stunning visual spectacle. Bright neon lights are contrasted against ominous gloom, with the garish neon lights contrasting irreverently with the sombre seriousness of the graveyard. The character in the foreground looks instantly “1980s”, thanks to the show’s costume and make-up department. And the open gates in the close foreground beckon the audience closer.

So, what are the generic elements here? 1980s-style fashions/hairstyles, neon lighting, the theme of death, an intriguing composition and a slight degree of irreverence.

So, an original inspired painting that used these elements might look a little bit like this quick piece of digital art.

A piece of digital art that includes 1980s fashions/hairstyles, neon lighting, the theme of death and a slight degree of irreverence. As you can see, it looks very different to the screenshot in the example. Like with the other pieces of digital art, I’ve also taken inspiration from other things too – such as gothic art, the music videos for a band called “Creeper”, the cyberpunk genre and other 1980s-style things.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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Mini Review: “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” (Playstation One Game)

2015 Artwork Resident Evil director's cut review sketch

Well, it’s been a while since I last reviewed a game, so I thought that I’d take a quick look at an old Playstation One game called “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” today.

Although I only had time to re-play this game for a few hours before writing this review, I also played this game on my PS2 a few years ago (although I didn’t complete it then).

In addition to this, I also played most of the original “Resident Evil” on the PC when I was a teenager. But, despite my familiarity with the game, this will probably be more of a “first impressions” article than a full review.

Likewise, I should probably point out that when re-playing this game for this review, I used the “ePSXe” playstation emulator. This was mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to dust off my PS2 (or search for my old PSone), because it makes taking screenshots about ten times easier and because you can use save states. Yes, I know that “Resident Evil” purists will be horrified by this – but, well, save states are awesome.

I should also warn you that this review will, quite obviously, contain some (fairly unrealistic) gruesome images.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut”:

RESIDENT EVIL!!!!

RESIDENT EVIL!!!!

“Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” was an improved 1997 re-release of Capcom’s 1996 classic “Resident Evil”. From all I’ve been able to learn about this re-release, it was released to placate fans due to delays with producing “Resident Evil 2”. In fact, the game also contains a bonus disc with a demo of “Resident Evil 2” on it.

If you’ve never played “Resident Evil”, the story is fairly simple. You play as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, who are members of one of the Racoon City police department’s “S.T.A.R.S” special forces teams.

When another S.T.A.R.S team goes missing in the local forest after investigating a series of bizarre murders, your team is sent in. Of course, it isn’t long before you are attacked by rabid zombie dogs and – in a fit of heroic cowardice – your helicopter pilot takes off and leaves you all behind.

Fleeing the zombie dogs, your team takes refuge in a nearby mansion. Of course, being a horror game, it isn’t long before you learn that the mansion isn’t much safer than the forest was….

For the most part, the gameplay in “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” is very similar to the gameplay in the original game. You explore the mansion, solve puzzles and defend yourself against the undead. And you look at doors. A lot:

Well, as loading screens go, it's... imaginative... I guess.

Well, as loading screens go, it’s… imaginative… I guess.

Like in the original game, you can only carry a limited number of items and you can’t run and shoot at the same time. The game’s movement system also takes a bit of getting used to too (I absolutely love it, but it’d probably confuse the hell out of most modern gamers). However, one striking change is that this version of the game now includes three different gameplay modes.

Yay! Options!

Yay! Options!

There’s a “training” mode, which seems to be an easier version of the original game. There’s a “standard” mode that allows you to play the original 1996 game and then there’s “advanced” mode, which is the mode I’ll be looking at in this review.

One of the first things you will notice when you start an “advanced” game is that both of the main characters look slightly different:

Jill now wears a vest and has a fairly... unique... hairstyle.

Jill now wears a vest and has a fairly… unique… hairstyle.

Chris, on the other hand, seems to have lost his vest somewhere in the mansion gardens.

Chris, on the other hand, seems to have lost his vest somewhere in the mansion gardens.

Personally, I prefer the outfits in the original game but the new ones are still pretty cool. In addition to this, the basic pistol which Jill starts with (and Chris finds near the beginning of the game) has been improved slightly and each shot now has a random chance of making a zombie’s head explode in a spectacular fashion. Like this:

Splat!

Splat!

Another major gameplay change is that many of the item positions have been changed in “advance mode”. What this means is that you’ll basically have to work out how to solve all of the item puzzles all over again, since you can’t just rely on your memories of the original game.

However, whilst the items themselves have been switched around, many of the moved items are still found in the locations where you’d expect to find other items in the original game. So, this isn’t as challenging as you might think.

Likewise, as the name suggests, “advance mode” is slightly more difficult than the original game was. This is mostly due to slightly larger numbers of enemies and the fact that they usually do a slightly more damage when they attack you:

Yes, the zombies now only need to bite you about twice in order to kill you.

Yes, the zombies now only need to bite you about twice in order to kill you.

One of the most startling differences in the “director’s cut” is probably the famous “Forest Speyer” scene.

In the original game, you find one of the members of the ill-fated S.T.A.R.S team (Forest Speyer) on one of the mansion’s balconies, after he’s been pecked to death by zombie crows. It’s a tragic and shocking moment. Of course, he’s also dead in this game too, but with one crucial difference:

 He's turned into a heavy metal fan who wants to give you a hug!

He’s turned into a heavy metal fan who has returned from the grave to give you a hug!

Apart from this, the only other change I could see was that a few of the camera angles in the game were slightly different to those in the original game:

I don't know why, but I was especially impressed by this new camera angle.

I don’t know why, but I was especially impressed by this new camera angle.

However, the most notable change in the “Director’s Cut” was what wasn’t changed. Apparently, before the game was released, Capcom promised that this game would include the original uncut cutscenes from the Japanese version of the game. However, these weren’t included – so, Kenneth’s severed head doesn’t roll on the floor, the intro movie is still completely devoid of blood (and gory injuries) and Chris Redfield is still a non-smoker.

 Amusingly, this scene is censored with a clip from the uncensored intro movie. And that smoke in the background is gun smoke rather than cigarette smoke because, according to American game companies, guns are obviously FAR less dangerous than cigarettes are

Amusingly, this scene is censored with a clip from the uncensored intro movie. And that smoke in the background is gun smoke rather than cigarette smoke because, according to American game companies, guns are obviously FAR less dangerous than cigarettes are

Although Capcom released the uncut footage online to make up for this (and it can still be seen in Youtube videos like this one ), it’s kind of disappointing that we got a censored version of the game when we were promised an uncensored one.

On the plus side, Wesker looks absolutely badass in black & white. In the uncensored intro, his hair is really badly-dyed.

On the plus side, Wesker looks absolutely badass in black & white. In the uncensored intro, his hair is really badly-dyed.

All in all, this is an interesting version of a classic game. Yes, by current standards, the gameplay changes amount to little more than you’d find in a mod for a PC game, but it’s still – technically- an improved version of the original game.

If you have a choice between buying the original game and buying the “director’s cut” version, go for the “director’s cut” since it also contains the original version too. But, if you already own the original version (like I do), then there isn’t a huge amount of new stuff here.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get three out of five for the new stuff. But, it would also get five out of five for all the old stuff.