Just some digital pink scribbles to keep my skills from getting too rusty on my Cintiq.
Immersion, jumping in the deep end and forcing yourself to swim. Leave the floaties at home and just go for it. I did that. I went for it. Diving in head first, or maybe more like a cannon ball. Yeah, that’s about the level of finesse I used. Two years ago I told myself I was going to step up my game and put my Japanese learning on hard mode like a boss. Two years working at a Japanese company in Tokyo, every day a battle in the ring, with no possibility of escaping into using English. 四面楚歌。
Language learning is like a boxing match. Native speakers are the heavyweight champions and you’re just the underdog contender. Every word, a jab. Every question, a flurry of punches, a combination fired in your direction, a challenge of your comprehension. Block. You understood. Take a hit to the face. You didn’t understand. Maybe they hit too hard, maybe they punch too fast. For now all you can do is hang in the ring, the conversation, as long as you can bear, blocking and hoping come out the other end with your face still intact.
Eventually you start to see the patterns in the punches, you vocabulary expands. Your comprehension quickens, and you can start to dodge and block with increased confidence. You want to attack, or at least counter, but the words just don’t come out. Your arms are too weak, all you can do is jab. 片言。
But of course they’d be weak; you’ve never had to use them before. The mental acrobatics your brain is doing just to spit out a simple sentence to counter the onslaught of questions coming your way is starting to take effect. Your confidence increases, able comprehensible sentences, and now you’re on the offensive. The words start to flow off your tongue, effortlessly, and you’re a able to return jabs, uppercuts, and flurry of punches of your own. Still rough around the edges, but you can string together complex grammar like a calculated plan, powerful enough to start doing damage. If your words were punches, 四字熟語 would be your combinations. You’ve taken a beating, but now you are a seasoned formidable opponent. Suddenly thing you only dreamed of achieving are now part of your daily routine.
After a few years in the ring my Japanese may still be rough around the edges, but I’ve learned how spar and go toe-to-toe with the heavyweights. Now after two years of all Japanese all day every day in a Tokyo office, I’m moving on another company where English is the default language and I’m hoping my hard earned Japanese skills don’t atrophy and wither away into nothing. Of course, continuing to live and work in Japan I’ll still have plenty of opportunities to hone my language skills, but without the same environment it makes me wonder, can I stay sharp?
Continuing on with more Enchanter illustrations, I thought I’d show the Red Knight process from start to finish. I had already drawn the basic design (at least waist up) , of the Red Knight previously so I found it a lot easier just worrying about the pose without having to think about the character design. Going for a full figure drawing with some action to the pose, after several rough sketches I decided to go with this one. A straightforward pose with the character ready to draw her sword.
Enlarging the rough sketch and cleaning up the lines while adding detail as usual I came up with this. I added some more details as you can see, like the leaves adoring her shoes to tie in with the three on her hairpin. I also though she looked somewhat imbalanced in design with the large should pad armor but nothing below that, so I added the tailcoat-ish things coming from the back of her skirt to balance things out as well as give the character more flow to match her hair.
Finishing up character illustration. I polished up the rough colors and added some details here and there. Of course a plain white background is kind of harsh on the eyes, but I didn’t have any ideas for a background at that point in time, so I settled for a simple grayish background with a pattern to finish things off. You can also check here to see the previous Enchanter concept illustrations.
It’s been about 2 months now since I’ve dived into going pure digital with my workflow, and even though I feel like I’m still getting used to drawing on my Cintiq, I think I’m starting to get a workflow down. The most immediate advantage for me at least, is the speed at which you can go from simple thumbnail to clean, useable line work.
For Enchanter I’ve just been jamming on the theme of different style knight characters, so I started out sketching with that in mind. Here I laid out the basic sketch of what I plan to draw. A simple 3/4 view of the knight with his cape draped over one shoulder. Once I had this draw, at a very small size, I simply enlarged it and dropped the opacity down so I could start roughing in the details.
Creating a new layer, you can see here the lines are a lot thinner since I reduced my brush size while drawing over the previous thumbnail, however I wasn’t feeling the proportions so I tweaked that on the fly. Not too tight, but not too loose either.
Now I have the lines tightened up on my third layer so I can see exactly the shapes I want to use. I had already planned on painting this from the start so I didn’t waste time trying to vary my line weight or complete 100% of the details. There are still some unfinished parts like the legs but I have enough of the overall shape to paint.
Finally I add color to the lines and merge the color/line layers before finishing the details, ending up with what you see below. This is about 80% there.Side by side of an earlier version and the current version.
…Late night doodles
Knight character concept for Enchanter
It’s been decided, 2014 will be the Year of the Game. At least for me it will be. This year my drawing output(and in some ways creative output) took a substantial hit, as I spent most of my free time studying Japanese in order to improve my over level of communication with my colleagues, as well as attempted(and succeeded!) to pass level N2 of the JLPT as a personal achievement. After passing this summer, I decided to put study on the back-burner and I’ve been doing nothing productive ever since. Well, that’s not entirely true but I feel like I need to get back on track, and produce more art.
I love drawing for the sake of drawing, but drawing for the purpose of creating something more is even better, so I decided to team up with a like minded friend @francoispenel (who also blogs) to start producing games. We’re still beginners just getting our feet wet, but with enough practice we hope to make our mark on something.
Zombie for Anagram of the Dead
So far we have two concepts in the works, a zombie word puzzle game tentatively titled Anagram of the Dead(AOTD), and a medieval themed shop sim officially untitled but for the moment referred to as Enchanter. Neither game has a specific release date yet, but hopefully they’ll be out sometime next year.
Anagram of the Dead
Francois has been working hard getting things running and thanks to him you can already play a rough version of our game concept. It’s still in the early stages with static graphics, and basic gameplay implemented but, it’s playable now.
Simple coloring for the first zombie… done!
Some early concept art for a new zombie game project with Nine.
Last weekend I finally got around to going to the 鉄道博物館 Railway Museum located in Omiya. Continue reading