Looking back on 2019

What a year it has been, both personally and career-wise! Back in January, I was busy adding the final touches to my graduation project. After that I took a short holiday and I started with my freelance career. Time for a review: what have I been doing this year?

Graduation: finally into the wild

I underestimated how hard it would be to find work in the illustration field, and that made me feel quite self-concious at times. On the other hand, I knew it would take years before I would make enough of my illustration business to quit my part time job, and I was trying everything I could to make it happen. I could feel stressed and sad for not doing enough, but I was already putting in all the effort I could.

I also realized that being alone all day working by myself is something that comes naturally to me. Of course I would start feeling lonely if I didn’t speak to another human being for a week – but I really enjoy being just with myself all day.

In the end I’m still proud to do what I always wished for in five months work: creating concept art for video games! Hope to be able to show you something from that soon!

Global Game Jam

A week after graduation I participated in the Global Game Jam, which was a blast! It reminded me how great it is to work in a team, meet new people and learn from each other in such a pressure-cooked environment.

We kept on working on the game that resulted from the jam, until we finally decided to pull the plug in August.

Although we decided not to continue, I look back upon this as a happy learning experience. Looking forward to the next Global Game Jam in two weeks already!

Heroes of the Ages: A Legend of Zelda Anthology Book

This was my very first collaborative illustration project for a so-called zine, and I naturally enjoyed working on it, being a tribute to a game series I absolutely love!

In February the Kickstarter launched and it seemed to go really well, until a few hours before it would end Kickstarter took the campaign down due copyright infringement. I was quite struck by this case of bad luck, my first dive into the zine community it seemed amazingly fruitful… I guess we became to large to go unoticed.

I’d love to have another try at these community projects, though I have to select them on being for profit. After all, art is my job now!

Conventions and Etsy

2019 has also been a year I had more tables at conventions, with varying results, of course. One cannot expect to do everything well at the first try!

Overall the experience is the same: I enjoy doing it, but I feel I neither a) have artwork that fits in the scene so that it serves the masses or b) have artwork that is original and niche so I can thrive while doing by own thing. In other words, I should critically review what I want to get from these conventions.

Opening an Etsy shop however has surely paid back its efforts: right from the start I was already making a few sales! Without any advertising! I still have to learn a lot about best practises and how to optimize my products, but I’m happy so far! Still, my thoughts about convention artwork also haunts my Etsy shop, especially as Etsy doesn’t allow fan art to be sold.

Art Summary 2019

Let’s end with on happy note. On DeviantART it used to be a kind of tradition for many artist to share a ‘art summary’ whenever a year turned over.

Creating these usually left me with a feeling of not creating enough, but now looking at it, I feel excited to start creating! On to a creative 2020!

Digital Painting Workflows

I recently finished this illustration for DeviantART’s Cosmic Corsair Original Character Contest.

Not to talk my own work down, but I believe I could do better if I had planned more time for this. Nevertheless, I am happy with what I produced in the time given. Even more, I liked the workflow I discovered while working on this.

This illustration was the first finished piece that I tried to paint almost solely in Procreate. I bought my Ipad Pro a month ago, but I had only used it for study paintings and sketches so far. In the end I did switch to Photoshop, as I really missed some colour editing tools and layer modes. Switching between the programs was pretty easy though using Airdrop and I’ll definitely will create more illustrations this way!

Loish’s Workshop

I was lucky to attend the Intuitive Digital Workflow workshop by Loish in the beginning of October, as a part of the Playgrounds Festival. Loish showed how she approaches digital painting by creating a rough sketch, adding colour and effects with layer styles and finishes her illustrations by just adding details and corrections on top.

GlitchedPuppet

Loish’ workflow reminded me actually of another illustrator I followed for years: Melanie Herring, also known as GlitchedPuppet (Glip) or formerly PurpleKeckleon. Similarly, Melanie starts with a very rough sketch, and adds a rough colour blockout underneath. They then add colour variety using various layers modes. The full walkthrough can be read on her blog.

Both Glip and Loish work with what they have during the proces, building upon their sketch rather than figuring everything out at the start of the painting.

What does it say when two artists I look up to use similar approaches to digital painting? Something in their way of working resonates with me!

I have been following Glip’s work for more than ten years now and her approach has influenced my early digital works a lot. Learning that Loish works in a similar way makes me realize I should experiment with these techniques again. I never liked doing line-art and my sketches are usually quite rough too, which may be why my Inktober drawings tend to take so much time. I’m not the kind of person to make a detailed drawing before diving into colour, I want to sculpt and carve the painting toward a finished design.

The end result of Loish’ workshop: two portraits in different light conditions.

I hope the mobility of the Ipad helps me experiment more on the road with these techniques!

Thoughts on social media and their ‘lifespan’

I just came back from a three-week holiday to the States – during which I used little to no social media. I used to write an announcement on each of my active social media that I was unavailable during my holidays, but this year I only posted a short notice I was going to Oregon and Washington on Instagram. I didn’t write anything on the site that used to be my main place for sharing my work: DeviantArt.

My artistic journey pretty much started there, as many of my generation. DeviantArt launched in 2000, having the claim onto being the very first social media site – before social media were even a thing. I made my account in May 2009 and it took me over a month before I even dared to upload my first drawing – My 13-year-old self was terrified for the reactions of the public!

This year marks my tenth anniversary on DeviantART, a place where I was exposed to a lot of different art, which let me learn what I want to achieve in my own artwork. I found my artistic heroes on that platform! Artists of whom some have moved away from the work that made me fall in love with them (such as the eponymous PurpleKecleon, who goes now by the name GlitchedPuppet). Others have left the site altogether, such as DoruDrutt and HeartGold, Some are still active and creating, such as Shinerai and Kila Zamana. And others am I happily following on other platforms, such as oomizuao and Allison Theus.

I too have grown quite inactive on the site. I once claimed after creating a Instagram account I would never ‘leave’ the site, but what can one predict about the future anyway?

That brings me to the following: DeviantArt has changed a lot since then, and a lot of veterans claim it is not the community it used to be. The site used to have the edge over other social media in terms of sharing artwork, but when Tumblr came around I saw a lot of artists move over there. It seems there are a lot of places online that do things better now than DeviantArt. And now I’m pursuing a creative career, I’m actually worrying whenever the unprofessional reputation the site has gained will hurt me..?

The devs are trying to update DeviantArt to the new age of social media, but I wonder whenever it will bring back the community spirit that has left the site. On the other hand, I suppose it’s only natural to move on and leave some places behind. Still, it feels like I’m moving out of a place where I grew up artistically, even more so than during my four-year Illustration bachelor.

Still, online communities grow and fade, or in the very least change over the years. Somewhere deep down I know I shouldn’t feel ashamed to leave DeviantArt behind, but as the site was so important to me in my formative years, it feels like breaking with a part of myself?

I did it, I graduated!

I did it, I graduated! I have officially a Bachelor in Design now! 😀

And here it is at last: the final lineup of harpy characters from my graduation project. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to iterate on colours too, perhaps I will still do that later on. 🙂

Looking back on 2018

Happy new year everyone! 😀

In keeping up with the tradition, a list of memorable things happening last year!

  • I did an internship at Abbey Games! One part of my contributions are out, the last DLC of Renowned Explorers released 12 December, so I should be able to share stuff soon. :3
  • 2018 was also the year I started seriously trying to sell prints and merchandise. I did my first two conventions, and both were extremely fun! I already have plans to attend the largest Dutch convention in March, excited how that’ll turn out!
  • Back to living on my own! I became good friends with the girl that lived in the space before me, she goes to the same art school as me and we discovered we have quite some mutual friends. She introduced me to a local draw club and lots of other people too. 🙂
  • Human characters! For a long time I felt very uncomfortable drawing them, but I feel I have reached a point that I can draw a person and think, yeah, that looks like an anatomically correct human being XD Due playing pen & paper RPG’s I also made up human characters, I never really did before.
  • Started working on my graduation project in September, which revolves around the mythological harpy and character design. If everything goes well, I’m done with school by February! :O I’m really excited and a little scared at the same time, as I won’t be able to call myself a student anymore, I’ll be part of the workforce!
  • I joined my first Original Character Tournament! Though, can I really say I joined when it has not started yet? The deadline for auditions has been extended twice and I’m still far from finishing my audition comic. 🙁 I greatly underestimated the time it takes to make a comic, and with graduating and other projects I kept procastinating on it. Though as a spectator, my deadline is not the same as for competitors, so I aim for the end of Round 1 instead of January 13th.
  • Did Inktober every other day, and it was much more relaxed that way. Best way to be part of the challenge without taking too much work on my plate!
  • First year I was able to somewhat keep my Instagram updated – still forgetting to post art every now and then. Last spring I wasn’t online much on DeviantArt too, previously my most active social media account. I really want to change that, though it won’t be easy: most people I follow are less online as they start to work professionally. Still, it’s not impossible, is it? :/

What kind of great things happened to you in 2018? 🙂

About my graduation project

Almost three months in, I am high due telling you guys more about my graduation project, don’t you think? I like sharing my progress, especially my thoughts behind the creative decisions I make. The problem is that writing blogs like these take time, time I rather use to actually work on the project. :/

Luckily, I found a way to deal with this!

Normally fourth year students start on their graduation project in February and finish around the end of June. Then there is a degree show in the first week of July and the school closes for the summer. I decided last year I didn’t want to graduate yet and do an internship instead (best decision ever), and start graduating in September. There are many cons to this: you still have to pay tuition for a full academic year, teachers have less time for you and you have a few weeks less time in general. There is no degree show in February, but you have the opportunity to join in July. Fortunately, there are pros too, and one of them is that you actually have time promoting and preparing your degree show! Instead of stressing until the end of June about making the deadline and putting all ends together, I will have time to plan this thing months ahead!

That is, if I graduate at all! XD

So this is the plan: I am gonna share visual progress, sketches and finished drawings, and photos of the finished project when it’s done. From February onwards, I will write a series of blogposts about the more theoretical part of my project, the why’s and how’s basically.  It’s a bit like the postmortem articles about game design found on Gamasutra: reflecting on the progress of creating something while the project is already round up.

Or perhaps I’m so devastately tired that I just sleep until half March.

On another note, I am slightly ashamed to admit I’m hardly making any progress on the CenturyARkStorm-OCT audition comic. During Autumn Break I made around as much progress as the rest of October and November combined! The deadline being postponed January 12th is nice, though I think it would be best if I tried not to make it. Sounds weird, but as a spectator I can still join in during Round 1, and the final deadline for my graduation project will be around January 21th. So I better not try to get my graduation project in the best shape possible and try to finish these bloody ten pages I have unfinished on my desktop for three months already.  I have said from the beginning that it’s gonna be hard to juggle, but it’s just too much fun to give up, especially when I’m so far into this already!

But, let’s end this blog on a happy note! There’s the new gameplay trailer of Godhood, the game I worked on during my internship! It was published a few days ago already but I’m terrible with keeping up with those things! I’m glad to see my trees are still in the game, as well as the shrine I worked on at 0:16-0:25! I made the leopard statue at 0:48 in the battle too!

And that’s that.

My internship at Abbey Games is over, what a blast it has been! I worked on so many different things: character animations, buildings, trees and shrubs, marketing illustrations, icons and even UI! Still, it’ll take a while before I can show my glorious contribution, the soonest things will be revealed is in the first half of 2019. A little patience, my friends! 

I’m sad it’s over, but I guess it’s time to move on. I’ll be enjoying my summer holidays now and in September I’ll start working on my graduation project. Whatever my graduation project will be: I have no ideas yet. I’ll just see what happens. 

And hopefully, now I have a lot of free time again, I get back on track with drawing and painting again!

About that 3D game project …

I’ll keep you informed on the progress.” That was almost two months ago. Oops. ^^;

Of course I should have written something earlier, but all of my energy went into creating the concept art, illustrations and 3D models for this game, as well as applying for internships, my new job and on top of that the usual December festivities … I didn’t have much energy left for dA. But now I have one thing less to worry about: I secured an internship position at a small game studio, whoo!

Then our game!

Poster by Sarah Bergmann

It’s called Aurora Trail and it’s a puzzle adventure game for pc! It has just recently gotten a Steam page and we’ll release publicly January 8th! Early acces will be earlier, naturally, so if you want to play it earlier I can probably give you a Steam code around Christmas. ^^; We have a Facebook pageInstagram and Twitter, as well as a website, if you want to follow us (and see pictures of us in real life!) 

Portfolio Night!

Yesterday was the day: professionals would be visiting us and looking at our work. The idea behind it was a chance for us to start networking and make contacts for our internship.

As I am planning to go on exchange to Prague instead of doing and internship one would say it wouldn’t be that bad if it wouldn’t go so well. But I was so stressed for it that I actually needed some time for my own after building up. 

… But it went actually pretty well! Two game studios talked to me and gave me their cards! The whole atmosphere was really relaxed and informal, we even talked about the new Zelda game, yay!

I am really happy now and that it is behind me as well. I am actually the only one in my class so interested in games and wanting to design for games. In the Animation class there is more interest in the game industry, but at Illustration there is not for some reason. It made me stand out, which is good, I guess! 😀