Monthly Archives: October 2013

Rain, Rain and Scary Stags

So I mentioned in my last art related post (before the boring history one with zero art) that I would be going to Bradgate Park where it would probably rain. Well guess what? It rained didn’t it. But my waterproofs were unstoppable. It was horrifyingly difficult to get sketches of the area, particularly when a stag decided to chase me. To be honest I think when I turned to flee I scared it as much as it scared me- there was a wonderful moment where we both ran parallel to each other, both staring into each other’s wide eyes in pure terror. A beautiful moment, yes.


With this piece the aim was rendering- portraying light and texture accurately, in this case, without the use of colour. I’ve always enjoyed trying to show texture in my art (unfortunately this doesn’t extend to texturing in Max), and unlike the SU project, I really enjoyed drawing this. I love the granite rocks scattered around Bradgate. They stand out beautifully in the rugged and natural environment of the park because of their strong, angular form. The lichen on them is also of great interest to me.


In my final piece I was trying to show the contrast between the textures of the tree, shrubbery, grassland, and granite by using different pencils, directional lines and mark making. This was the first time I’d used a large range of pencils, rather than just a 3B and a 6B. I worked from HB to 6B using the range inbetween, sort of as a substitute for colour, as each pencil gives a different strength and depth of black. I’m quite pleased with the moodiness of the piece that I showed through the sky and the darkness, although I think if anything I made the overall piece a little too dark. It serves well to show just how rotten the weather was that day though. In reality, the surfaces of the rocks that caught the light were very white in comparison to the rest of the scene, which I haven’t shown as well as I would have liked, but I still feel I have shown the direction of the light effectively.

I’m still not 100% confident with all this drawing, but I enjoy it more than any other wishy-washy art project I’ve done in the past for A-Levels etc. I’m hoping to bring my 3D up to scratch and start working on developing my skills beyond what we’re learning in lessons. But it’s all a case of time, which I’m greatly lacking. Trying to balance my job, social life, and more predominantly my uni work is rather tough, and the additional study I want to do is getting very difficult to make time for.

Still though, do not fret! I’m loving every minute of this course that doesn’t involve 3dsMax.

Personal blog;

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1950-1970. Where it all began.

The concept of playing games is not new or unusual. Games span back beyond recorded ancient history, and even the idea of computer games is not remotely new, their creation inhibited only by technology and its slow advances. Despite attempts to create computer powered game for many years, it was not until 1951 that the vision actually came true. Before this, in the late 1940’s, Alan Turing (after who the Turing Award was named) and David Champernowne actually wrote a program sequence for playing chess but at the time there was no computer powerful enough to run it. From here onwards however, computing technology developed swiftly and beyond recognition, and the computer game was born. Slowly computers became more and more consumer orientated.

The search for the history of computer games in this period was a tough one. It’s very much down to personal opinion what counts as the ‘first’ computer game. To some it is determined by the creation of the exclusive game-playing system like the 1972 Odyssey, others believe it goes as far back as 1947 with the Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device which originally had many uses such as military radars and television. In the past I have researched computer history myself in terms of the ‘generations’ of computer game consoles, and that actually only spans as far back at 1972. Looking at the actual conception of video games from the 1950’s is very new to me.

The Cathode Ray Tube amusement device had a game that involved shooting a target, and was controlled using knobs and a button. At such an early stage, graphics couldn’t be designed and so a clear plastic overlay was used to show a visual image of the target being aimed for. One could say this was the conception of the arcade device. Having mentioned playing chess already, which bores the crap out of me, I’m going to jump on to the 1951 NIMROD– the first specifically designed game-playing device;


 Dem graphics. Nim was a mathematical strategy game that had been in existence since ancient times in pocket-size physical form, but for some reason it made sense to program it on a one ton, room-sized machine. At a similar time, Ralph Baer came up with the concept of games being played on a television set.

In 1952, games of noughts and crosses and checkers were developed by different individuals for different computer systems in which you play against the computer. The checkers game was described as running at a ‘reasonable speed’. Doesn’t sound very fast to me.

Until 1958 there were no further major developments in gaming technology, although computing technology continued to improve radically. At this time the game Tennis for Two emerged, using an oscilloscope as a display, meaning it was the first game that went beyond simply using a panel of lights as a display- the ‘ball’ actually moved on the screen and was affected by gravity;

The game was controlled using handheld boxes with a knob and button, acting as the first handheld controllers. The entire console for this single game was a little larger than your average modern PC tower x2.

In ’59 a more advanced version of noughts and crosses was launched, alongside a game called Mouse in a Maze, where the player would create maze walls and place cheese for the mouse to find using a light pen.


The Sixties were a massive hit to the games industry with the launch of Spacewar! in 1962, which really sparked interest in the potential of video games. Spacewar! was programmed on the DEC PDP-1 and had a randomly generated background star graphic. Two players had to control missile-firing ships and destroy eachother, all the while avoiding a hazardous star at the centre of the screen. Spacewar! marks the beginning of development of the consumer-friendly gaming industry that is so popular today.

Ralph Baer, whose previous idea of playing games on a TV had fallen through, resurfaced in 1966 with vigour. He intended on creating the world’s first home video console, known as the ‘Brown Box’. He created a video games idea book with game ideas he thought feasible and started work on the console itself alongside Bill Harrison. The game Corndog was the first game ever to display on a standard TV set. The Brown Box went on in 1971 to be licensed to Magnavox, renamed as the famous first gen 1972 Magnavox Odyssey, where my first computer games research began. I finally know what I’m talking about again. Game on.

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The Pain that is Perspective

Having studied one point perspective our next Visual Design task was to study two points by observing, in this case, the outside of the DMU Student Union building.

It’s a task in itself trying to draw the building at all- it’s been designed in such a way that it’s really rather complex to look at. Trying to accurately illustrate two point perspective as well as this, I found, very difficult. There are overhangs and ledges that don’t follow the perspective lines as I expected, often confusing me. I’ve never actually studied perspective before, but I found this task genuinely enlightened me to the principles of two point, and I really did learn something new which is great. I also saw some silly man fall off his motorbike. Because of course, it’s a great idea to ride your fancy motorbike through the centre of campus at peak time.


Unfortunately I’m really not happy with this piece. It seems I’m pretty competent at drawing organic forms but when it comes to things like glass and smooth brickwork I really struggle, so I’m going to have to get out more and work on that. I also found that although I begun to understand perspective with my thumbnail sketches and actually became quite confident, working on a larger scale was rather off putting and I screwed up. Big time. So yeah I’ll probably go and do this piece again when I find some time in my ridiculously busy life. I found myself losing interest because I wasn’t happy with it throughout, so it would be great if I could get my confidence up again by doing a piece I’m happy with.

Additionally I finished my bin project (hooraaaaay). This means I now have learned how to unwrap and texture my models, and use alpha maps and multi/sub object materials. It was confusing and I definitely need to work more in my spare time playing about with 3D, but so far so good.

Bin Presentation

I was out last night and walked past a wheelie bin with my friend, and turned to him without thinking and exclaimed ‘That bin would be amazing to model!’ Then I realised what I was saying. I’m officially a Game Art Monkey, my life is over.

On Monday I am due to go to the infamous Bradgate Park to work on rendering, something which I have an intense love/hate relationship with. It’s also probably going to rain which will make me sad. I’ve actually gone home this weekend with the intention of grabbing all my waterproof gear (and cuddling my bird). I shall laugh as I watch everyone else suffer.

photo (10)

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Shuffle shuffle

This week’s visual design project, again working on perspective, was to draw a medieval archway situated in the centre of Leicester. Once again the brief was to take 12 (which means 12 million) thumbnail sketches to decide upon composition, and to work on perspective lines. There was one flaw with this plan; the archway was very prettily barricaded off with giant orange barriers as the church spire on the other side is borderline collapsing. Now to get 12+ thumbnail sketches from one side of an arch in a very narrow street involves a kind of shuffling dance. Sketch, shuffle left. Sketch, shuffle back. Sketch, run to other side of road. Sketch, apologise for getting in someone’s way. And of course, because there are so many of us (a phrase I’m beginning to abhor), this dance becomes even more interesting. Indeed, there are only so many angles you can get before all your thumbnails start to blur into one…

Fortunately, I managed to complete my piece without angering too many fellow students. Also before it started raining, which is always nice.


Pretty happy with the outcome here although I began to get bored of drawing in the cobblestones. I’m pleased with my ability to show contrast and produce many shades from light to dark, and use these effectively. What I’m not so happy with is the difficulty I had reproducing believable texture on the stone face of the archway, as because I’m working on such a small scale it’s difficult to use a pencil to render in the shadowed/highlighted areas appropriately. I sort of ended up scribbling a little and hoping that would do it. I also find that the perspective at the base of the arch seems a little off, but I couldn’t correct it to my satisfaction.

I’m also currently in the process of making a bin in 3DS Max. I should make a timelapse video of myself trying to use that damn program, it would be simply hilarious.

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Swans and Daleks

Last week was all very up in the air, and indeed very new. 3DS Max is a 3D modelling program which I am expected to learn inside out- it’s where all the game assets like bins (infact this week’s 3D project- kill me), trees, and buildings are all created and textured (the word ‘texture’ makes me shudder after today’s lessons). As you can see I’m feeling REALLY positive about my progress. In all seriousness though, I love learning new things and Max is actually quite a fun and satisfying program once you get past the fact that it’s 3DS Max and it was designed by a monkey. 

Drawing on the other hand is great fun, and it’s all I do on Mondays in Visual Design. While the sun is shining I am happy with this! Although swans… the swans at the canal are terrifying. And I really like birds normally, have I mentioned that yet? Look, my bird;


Words can’t express how much I love him!

Ok, art and shit…

Last week’s project was model a Dalek. We were taught in-session how to make a church out of like… 30 tris? And then the tutor was like ‘Yeah, so this is your independent work… a Dalek… you have 1500 FREAKING TRIANGLES’. I was rather bemused, but I pulled it off;


Obviously I’ll look at this in about a year and want to cry. I ran out of tris for the.. uh… balls… and so as you can see a lot are missing. I need to work on that, but I learned a lot of techniques such as deleting hidden faces to save tris, and learned about smoothing groups which stumped me a while.

I mentioned running from swans at the canal? Well here’s what it was all for;


Pretty happy with this, although I’d definitely like to improve. I did 12 thumbnail sketches before hand, and then got down the basics of my final at the canal before adding detail from photos and life. Our next project is a historic archway nearby, let’s see if I can improve my perspective (the point of these exercises) and rendering techniques.

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And so it begins.

I’ve been at university for two weeks, and already I’ve established my reputation as ‘the crazy bird lady’. I’m not sure why. I just like birds… a lot. My name is Anya and I’m from Beverley, near Hull. Or ‘ull, as I am expected to say. Unfortunately, no. I do not have the infamous Northern accent, although screaming ‘WINTER IS COMING’ at the top of my lungs is currently one of my favourite things to do.

I’ve come to university on a very science and art-based A-level background, having not had the foggiest what I’ve wanted to do all my life. Medicine was my first obvious choice… y’know, money and reputation and everything. But then I had an epiphany and I thought, ‘Fack it, I’m going to ruin my life and do Fine Art.’ This was obviously a terrible idea and I knew it from the start. I infact spent my entire open day visit to Newcastle Uni’s fine art department researching Game Art Design at DMU on my phone, not really paying attention to the mad-looking art lecturer before me explaining individualism and creativity through sculpture… *shudder* More than a year later here I am, a member of the Game Art Design legion and still just as worryingly over-excited as I was back in the easy days of A-Levels (which nearly killed me).

My reasons for endeavouring so whole-heartedly to join the Game Art Design course are simple and few; I love art. Art is my passion. I don’t even play games that often anymore (but Red Dead is amazing, just saying), and yet the thought of creating the visuals in a game and being a part of that process is amazing to me. Even at my GCSEs I was blindly researching game-related jobs, thinking there was no real window into the industry. I stumbled across the course by chance, and it’s all I want now. ‘It was meant to be’, some moron might say. It’s going to make me want to die, I’m going to end up penniless and living off 15p noodles, and pencils will make me cry, but I don’t care. I’ll meet amazing people, have a kick-ass portfolio, and I’ll have a shot at doing what I love and want more than anything.

So here is my arty blog. Follow my journey, and watch my morale get beaten into the dust by my tutors, it’ll be funny I promise!

Wish me luck!

Personal blog;

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