Author Archives: Brotacon

Thought Bubbles

It’s been a while since I updated, but I think I summarised it best to someone I met at Leeds this weekend: “I only want to update when I have something to say”.

The second issue of my comic is done, and made it’s debut at Thoughtbubble to some very positive comments and even a decent number of sales. Thanks to anyone who bought it or took a card with the promise to check it out. These words shame you if you don’t, however, as you would have had to type in the address off the card to see them… you’re alright.

You can read it here

From now towards the end of the year I’ll be writing the third issue so that I may start working on it in the new year when it’s really cold outside and I’ll have no distractions. Art wise I’ll probably be doing some more fun drawings as I feel like I want to try something different.

 

Leeds Thought Bubble

Since I’ll be giving out the address to this site at Leeds Thought Bubble I thought it’d be a good idea to actually update!

The last five or so months have been interesting. I’m currently working in a London publishing company which is great so far and has taught me a lot about the process and standard expected from a publication, skills I’m planning to take forward with my personal work!

I proof read and updated my comic’s first chapter. I’m starting to get a buzz about doing it again and I printed off fifty to take to Thought Bubble in Leeds this weekend. Barring a few oversights (I mercifully managed to work around) I’m pretty confident in it. Seeing it in my hands and printed makes it feel much more special.

http://tapastic.com/episode/38902

Starting next week, I’m going to push on with the mini chapter whilst furthering work on Chapter 2. Assuming this week goes well and I garner a few followers I’ll feel obligated to get the chapters out at a much faster rate and with less long standing mistakes.

Because there were, and probably still are, a few mistakes that I just didn’t see. I think there’s a certain allowance in a first time indie comic though. I’ll be signing and numbering the 50 I’m taking to Thought Bubble, warts and all.

Updated reel

I’m forever updating my reel, here it is in its latest incarnation:

The idea here is show off more lighting and VFX orientated stuff. The only real new shot is the dark church and the previously shown UE3/2 stuff. My next project is to create an animation reel, but I might just download some pre-made characters to do that with since rigging is not my strong point and I might get caught up in the modelling and texture work. I’m just the sort of person that likes everything on the reel to be my own work. Then again, I didn’t build Oxford Cicus or the London Underground… not that field the ship lands in.

Messing with Unreal Engine

Unreal 3 Lighting

So I heard they’re making a new Unreal Tournament (4) and the news prompted me to download the (free) Unreal Development Kit and play around with it. This is the old Unreal Engine which was release in 2006 or so and which so many games are based off. I was playing around with the lighting so I made a quick internal scene to try and make something pretty. Since I don’t have Unreal Tournament 3 installed, I was very limited when it came to the art assets available. I do however own Chivalry which runs on the Unreal Engine, so I’m busy making a pretty medieval map on that which will be released some day once I’ve got the KISMET working flawlessly (right now the points awarding is a bit sporadic). I’d like to play with UE4 but it’s $19/mo, great value if you’re a serious developer but not so much for someone like me who just wants to mess around.

Also for fun I made a similar sized scene in Unreal Engine 2 (which is now 12 years old!). You can still get some really pretty lighting in it though:

unreal2klightng

The end goal for all this is that I’m creating a lighting reel (since people said I had a knack for it) and since Unreal Engine is used in so many games and it was something new to challenge myself with learning (since I’d only previously toyed with the UT2004 editor). I also learnt a bit of the gameplay flow system (Kismet) but that’s just gameplay flowcharts and stuff so it’s not too interesting to show on what is essentially an art blog.

Issue 1 is Available to Read!

Until I find a good home for it, it’s free to read here:

http://tapastic.com/series/Templars

And if you want to help me buy food and clothing, you can get a Kindle Version here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00K4WO5NW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

If you like the comic, whether you read it online for free or bought it, I’d be super happy if you gave it an honest review on Amazon!

I’m also most likely going to be at Thought Bubble in Leeds in November, where I’ll be selling future issues as hard copies. More info as it develops.

Chapter 2 Art Style

2-2Chapter 2 begins somewhat with a bit of backstory. I really want each period of history in my comic to have a distinct look (if only to help add a visual cue as to when we’re jumping back and forth) so here is something to that end.

 

New Painting

I draw this guy a lot. Considering he's not even the main character.

I draw this guy a lot. Considering he’s not even the main character.

I started something and then I finished it. There’s maybe some touches I’m going to do to it, possibly making the background a little more defined and maybe adding some details to the sword hilt. I mostly just did this as proof to myself that I can paint!

Bi-Monthly

17

So I’m going to try and update this more often, if nothing else I’m sure it will provide good evidence of my content writing ability. Anyway…

CREATIVITY AND THE SEARCH FOR MONEY FOR DOING IT

I sometimes feel some degrees will only prepare you for the very specific job of teaching said degree to the next lot. Creating a sort of Machiavellian level of plotting and backstabbing amidst the students to see who will become the Lecturer once the current one gets enough traction on their Comment is Free articles to pursue a real career in journalism. I imagine the end of term resembles the final scene in Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming”, with the most manipulative alumni perched atop the throne.

Anyway, I am no longer “unemployed”, I am a “qualified hobbyist”. Which means I sit in my room doing creative stuff in between bouts of frantic application sending and states of heavy existential crisis. I think it sounds good and the lovely people I met at a recent creative gathering agreed. Though most of them had jobs so I think there was an air of humour in their agreement.

But, the comic is nearly done! A mere three pages and I’ll have finally completed my first issue. I don’t know why it’s taken so long but I’m excited to get it out there into the world. I think it’s going to be a strong indicator of my desire to be a creative sort that I can show to potential employers at Wetherspoons.

See, what that was was a bit of comedic satire mixed in with some truth. I don’t believe any degree is inherently worthless since the discipline learned through the pursuit of knowledge moulds people into something interesting. Too many people these days don’t care for learning what is important and we’re swamped by an inordinate amount of noise and junk information it’s hard to tell what is worth archiving in our tiny minds and what is worth putting in the “stuff to forget should I need space for skydiving instructions” drawer.

So… with that in mind. Here’s…

MORE MEDIA I HAVE CONSUMED

I’ve been doing more and more of the consumption that drives our lives, though I have not yet managed to see a West End show. The jury is still out on whether this is a good or a bad thing. Here’s some of the things I’ve been into lately and what I think:

TOP 10

In an effort to enjoy more of Alan Moore’s lesser known work, largely done with Avatar and ABC (America’s Best Comics). I’ve been tracking down trade paperbacks of some of the more obscure (though still fairly known among comic fans) titles. Tom Strong Book 2 eludes me, but I saw Top 10 Volume 1 for £6 at the London Super Comic Con (thanks Orbital Comics!), so I had to get it.

The premise is a seemingly obvious one and I’m shocked that it’s a concept that hasn’t been explored before: Neopolis is a city where everyone has super powers. From the office worker to the sex worker, everyone has a unique and distinctive power. It’s largely played for laughs but there’s a pretty fun and interesting set of stories to be found here about the cases of the Neopolis police. It has the clever layouts and believable characters people have come to expect from Moore, though people looking for a deeply affecting and philosophical tale might want to look elsewhere. Alan Moore has made no secret of his disdain for the juvenile super hero character, so it’s interesting that in Top 10 (as well as Tom Strong) he creates a series of characters that almost seem to be re-constructive of the more light hearted and campy super hero fare, yet injected with a certain self awareness and cleverness largely absent from the funny books of yore (and even today). Still, regardless of the more simple stories and tongue in cheek attitude, Moore is a damn good writer and it’s this that shines through in pretty much everything he’s written. I’ll be picking up more of these titles as and when I can. I always recommend Promethea to those looking for a Moore series that carries as bit more weight and explores some extremely surreal and metaphysical ideas. Except no-one ever asks me for comic recommendations because they know I’ll usually just give them a reading list consisting of 80% Vertigo titles from the 90’s.

FARSCAPE

I don’t know if I’d have watched this show had it not cropped up on Netflix and curiosity had gotten the better of me. I don’t sit very comfortably with science fiction shows involving rubbery aliens and slapstick comedy, which Farscape has in abundance; however thanks in part to the work of the Jim Henson company and the Australian humour (which grows on you) I’ve been enjoying Farscape a lot. Wisely, it opts to go for a more mystical and strange version of the universe as opposed to hard science fiction; to such a degree that it’s certainly more space fantasy than science fiction. The story is fairly simple, John Crichton is a US astronaut who, on a test flight, is sucked into a wormhole and taken to a distant part of the universe. There he becomes involved in a prison ship (which is alive), the prisoners who’ve overtaken it, and their escape from a despotic military commander into the uncharted regions of space.

It took a while for me to get into the groove of the show, having previously experienced both more hard science fiction (Stargate Universe) and more comforting fare (Firefly) but rarely something that sits in between the two. Tonally the show explodes with a sort of creative glee and despite how great this sounds it can be slightly tiring trying to keep up with all the madness the show throws at you. However around the start point of Season 2, something clicked in the show for me; largely thanks to the addition of Scorpius as a major antagonist.

It’s common knowledge that every great adventure story needs a great villain, and Scorpius fits that bill completely. Taking over “being-a-dick” duties from the major antagonist of season one, Commander Crais, Scorpius is immediately a cruel, formidable and yet strangely compelling and charismatic villain. Talking in a eloquent and reasonable manner, he is the perfect counter to Crichton (who by the middle of the second series has pretty much gone a bit loopy) and the almost cartoonish game of cat and mouse they play makes the show instantly compelling. There’s a whole range of reasons to like Farscape, from it’s diverse characters, imaginative creature and set design, and quirky humour; to it’s deftly handled moments of emotion and suspense.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

I went to see this around two weeks ago and it was a sheer delight from start to finish. I’ll probably need to watch it again before I can fully write up what I thought about it but rest assured it would be nothing but praise. I don’t have the film or critical chops to tackle a film as lovingly crafted and effortlessly paced as The Grand Budapest Hotel but I can honestly say it’s been a while since I left a film feeling so refreshed and happy.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

I really enjoyed the book, short as it was. Neil Gaiman has a habit of using similar elements across his fiction, almost to a point where one could argue they’re all set in the same fictional world (as he hinted in American Gods at least). The Ocean at the End of the Lane is no exception to this. However the book is approached from a more child like and innocent angle than the knowing cynicism of American Gods or the rompy irreverence of Stardust or Anansi Boys. As such it manages to play very successfully on the childlike sense of wonder, fear, and injustice. The triumverate of magical ladies makes an appearance as they have done in almost everything of Gaiman’s I’ve read. In this aspect they are three gentle and kind women living on a farm and guarding the world against things from beyond using lovely knitting techniques and asking nicely for the universe to do as they say. The whimsy of Gaiman’s stories is often used to create a brilliant contrast when things get dark and scary and it’s this fairytale aspect that is a core reason I keep coming back to him. The book is great, and it reminded me of what it was like to be a kid and filled with imagination.

 

 

Big Steps

I finally made it down to London, where I shall be living for a definite three months on a trial basis. I’ll be looking for work whilst focusing on improving my portfolio and C.V and I hope very much that I can stay here.

In terms of updates, I only have this big one. The pages for my comic are slowly trickling out and, with my new location being fairly tranquil and free of distraction, I’m hoping that the production will speed up a little bit.

I guess now I should also start showing this site to people.14s