Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sunday Art-Week Review 5...

Yes, getting slightly better by the week.

Been drawing way too many dwarves, orcs, mages, werewolves, and horsies for Wesnoth. It´s very fun, and I´m learning a lot, but it´s taking too much time away from my comics, so I need to cool down slightly.

Finished dwarf. Took a lot of work doing and redoing the armor. Got a lot of help and learned a lot about painting metal.

Another dwarf. Was very satisfied with the sketch and linework for this one, but trying to paint it I´ve been running into huge problems, and have ended up tossing away the first three attempts prematurely. Bah! But I´ll get it some day...

Nice elderly mage. I like this one.

Elven rider. Supposed to be snotty and rich. I´m not sure about this one. A bit boring? Hmmm...

A wizard that has been trapped in the mountains for a while. Has a DIY Griffin coat, in a little story related joke. I loved the face in my sketch, but somehow he lost "it" in the linework.

A Warg, which is some sort of wolfman race. I like this one a lot.

Sketch for dwarf-lord. Jeez, I do huge hands.

Dwarven warrior sketch. Supposed to be cornered in, but I need to change this to be less boring.

Sketch of the bad guy.... ohhhh....

I´ve learned a whole lot from these, so it´s worth it in that way. But I have comics that are screaming for attention. And I have worked a bit on all of them this week. Drawing on Confusia has been a mess though, and for Bomtur I´ve been working on a single 3-point perspective shot that takes a lot of time.
For Pickmans Model I do have a few frames to show. The last three frames before I jump into the first flashback and show Pickman himself:
Still haven´t confirmed a model for Pickman though. I have some more talking heads that I can draw further on in the story, but untill I get a model I can´t really finish any pages.

And on wednesday I did my usual autobiographical lie:

I´m satisfied with this one. This one is about post-poning stuff.

And finally I finished the birthday-greeting thingie I think mentioned last week. You can check it here.

So... yeah.... getting better. Still not up to 100% efficiency, and I need to manage my time a bit better. But oh well.... I´ll get there....


Sunday, 22 March 2009

Sunday Art-Week Review 4...

Ahh... This week is a bit better than last week. Not quite up to a 100% yet, but I´m definetly breaking the funk.

Still I haven´t got too much to show for it. I´ve tried to do work on Confusia, Bomtur, and Mörkanger this week, but it´s just been slow and full og CTRL-Z, again and again. I did get some good hours in though, but nothing to show yet.

And I did manage to do my weekly autobiographical lie, and even though it went slow and I´m not that pleased with the finished art, people seemed to enjoy it.

It´s just called "Training", and is pretty much self-explanatory.

Then I got invited to write for a new norwegian gaming-blog with some really cool people at, and did a review of the fantastic World of Goo. I really need to write more pure text, and start to get a portfolio of things so I can perhaps get some paid work. Illustration and comics alone seem too hard emotionally. Writing is something I can do that doesn´t drain me quite as much. Yet, at least. Oh, well.

Anyhow... for the review I did a tiny review-score. Mostly as a joke because I don´t like review-scores and because I needed small silly things to draw to get me out of the funk.

I like it.

And also, to get out of the funk and mostly just to be a nice guy, I committed to drawing a birthday invitation for a friends 30th birthday. It´s almost done, but it would be rude to show it here before showing it to her.

And lastly... The biggest and most helpfull thing to get out of the funk(I´ve been sayiing "the funk" too much, sorry)...

... After the World of Goo review was done I was thinking about other games to review. Having just a mac, and not any Windows installed, the options are limitted. I know I´m gonna do Fallout 1 and 2 some time, but after that... What to do?

I´ve become more and more old-school in my game tastes, and have a growing fascination for the indie-scene. So while searching for indie-games playable on the Mac, I rediscovered The Battle for Wesnoth. It´s a pretty marvelous open-source project, trying to create a vast, cohessive, and very modable strategy game in the style of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. So very old-school, utterly playable, and very addictive. In addition to being very strict, minimalistic, and balanced gameplay-wise, it´s got some excellent feautures that most retail games don´t even dream of, including direct downloading of add-ons from in-game menus, the best autosavesystem in a long while, and an excellent level-editor.

Oh... where was I?



Of the week!

So... while browsing the Wesnoth forums I came across a great tutorial for doing portrait art for the game. Being really inspired it, and seeing some photoshop-techniques and tools I simply haven´t used before(I´m slow), I decided to have a go, and did a dwarven portrait.

At first it was a bit... meh.... But with great help from the awesome people at the Wesnoth-forum it quickly turned better.

And now it´s gonna get in the game as an alternative for the Dwarven fighter art, or something. So that´s fantastic! Having art in a game is a dream come true, and open-source games are like commercial games except cooler since your don´t have to suck on Satans cock.

I´m gonna try to continue doing art for Wesnoth, because it´s a fantastic project, and I really, really need to have a side-project that´s purely art, to keep me on my toes. And with Wesnoth the art is very much up my alley, the community seems great at feedback and I can learn a lot, and it´s altogether very much inspirational.

So hopefully next week, in addition to updates om my comics and other work, there will be some more dwarves! Yay!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sunday Art-Week Review 3

Ah... Crappy week. 

Haven´t done much art. Been doing too much, and having too little spare time lately, so I´ve done gone ran myself into a wall, as per usual. But I´ll be back on my feet soon enough. Ah, the glorious adventures of bi-polar disorder type 2. Or whatever the excuse is. Oh well...

BUT... I did actually do this: 

The translation would read something like "Hate.... hate... food... hate...", but with a few to many vowels.  A pretty accurate account of last weeks highlights. 

Having committed myself to doing one of these autobiographical shorts every week, whether a single panel or a longer pager, is probably a good thing, to keep some consistency. As most creators will know, it´s hard when you set your own deadlines. 

Anywho... will be back stronger next week. Mark my words. OR sumthin....

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sunday Art-week Review 2.

First of all, happy womens day!!

I got the bright idea to do this image late last night. But I should have known what I was stepping into. Frank Frazetta is just a god among artists. Now, as Robert Crumb once noted, he´s incredibly boring, but it´s just so technically fascinating. 
And technically, doing this was pure hell. Anyhow... I started with Frazettas fantastic Conan cover. 
Then I traced it quickly and drew in Confusia:
Then I made miniature copy of the original Frazetta image on it´s own layer, and just started doing drawing with the pencil-tool and different opacities, referencing the miniature layer and the trace layer. At first I mostly used the trace layer, but towards the end it became a distraction, so I mostly used the miniature. Then, because I was running out of time, I hastilly finished up by some filters and adjustment layers. 

All in all a very good exercise, teaching me that even though I´ve toyed around with a few digital painting I really don´t know shit yet. The kinds of use of colour and shadow that Frazetta does... I don´t even stand a chance of emulating it on a computer(Or in on canvas, for that matter). My stuff just became blobs of pale flatness. Oh well.

I really want to do more experiments trying to do something Frazetta-like on the computer, but I want to do some original stuff, and do it over a long, long period. A single day is just not enough, by FAAAAAR.

But it still was more then I was hoping to use on this image, which is more a joke than anything. 

Anyhow... Art-week... Yes.... 

I´ve finally broken trough a little wall on the Confusia redesigns, which was the reason I got the idea for the image above. I´m sticking pretty close to the original designs, but darkening it, and making it more practical both to draw and to wear. I´m kind of thinking of it as a 500 BC Batman suit, but made for traveling long distances outdoors. I´m filling it with various pockets and knives and cool stuff. Been checking out concept art for Assassins Creed, and that´s pretty close to what I´m aiming for, but more Ninja-like. 
It´s not done yet though. So the Conanusia-image is the only one I will show today. 

Then, on Thursday I finished up Pickmans Model page 3. 

Not much to say about this really. As chronicled in my Norwegian blog, I´m drawing this on top of photos of myself. It´s just to many talking heads for it to be worth drawing a character again and again. But that means I had to shave off my beard and have a mustache. Well... my beard was finally starting to grow out again, and then I had to shave it off one more time for some extra images. I would have though that 400 were enough but noo.....
And... I have to get a model to use as Pickman... A Pickman model, if you pardon my pun. I know who I want, but I just got to get it cleared, and got to get someone to take pictures of him. I´ve been putting off doing this for a while now, for no good reason, but Pickman gets introduced on the next page(With som slight changes in the storytelling), so I can´t really put it off much longer.  

Then on Wednesday I updated my now Weekly Autobiographical Lie: 

I think it turned out nice. It´s called "A little pause: or why I love cold water". It´s the first one the works in any language, more or less. Basically it´s just my attempt of explaining why I love to dive. In to cold water, preferably. Blabla, yadayade, no explaination needed, really. I didn´t take long to do though, so that´s nice. 

Then finally I did another panel or two for Confusia: Lifs Story(Working title):

So that´s a slooow beginning. I´ll write more about this later. Now I have to wrap this up. The Conanusia-image screwed up my schedule. 

So... Apart from this I´ve actually done some work on another Confusia-tale, and some daily work on Bomtur. But nothing worth showing yet. So it´s been pretty productive. And the weather was even nice for a few short days. 


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Free Review: Sita Sings The Blues

(Free Reviews is going to be my hopefully somewhat regular column for reviewing stuff you can get for free, legally. Now ideally this would only include things that are free of any copyright, but unfortunately that would be a bit difficult, so I will include anything you can watch, read, hear, or otherwise enjoy for free, no matter what type of copyright arrangement the creators put on the work) 

Sita Sings the Blues.
An animated feature by Nina Paley.

Can be downloaded in full HERE, or at any good torrent-site, or viewed through streaming HERE.
The short review: Sita Sings The Blues is a unique animated feature with a fantastical visual range and great music. Very well made, often funny, occasionally hilarious, sometimes emotional, and quite a good lesson in Indian mythology, it ultimately doesn´t live up to it´s potential because of a few minor technical shortcomings, a bit slow pace and a story that doesn´t really add up. Still not a bad way of spending 1 hour 17 minutes. Recommended. 

The long review: What do the Ramayana, 1920´s and 30´s pop singer Annette Hanshaws´s blues, and modern cartoonist Nina Paleys long-distance break-up have in common?

Not awfully much, actually, but that doesn´t stop these elements from being put together in visually breathtaking and often hilarious ways in Nina Paleys animated feature Sita Sings The Blues.

But it´s almost impossible to review this film without mentioning some of the drama around it. The film is written, animated, directed, produced by Paley alone over a period of several years, and is built up around 11 songs performed by Annette Hanshaw. While the performances are no longer copyright-restricted, Paley soon found out that the compositions were. So in a valiant effort to protect the fundamental rights of long dead composers, the music-industry-knights in shining armor have fended off Paleys grievous breach of the holy laws of intellectual property, and justly demanded a modest sum of a few hundred thousand dollars or so for allowing the commercial release of this piece of thievery. 
Luckily for us Paley hasn´t payed, and instead released the film under a creative commons license. So we can all download it. Yay for the music-industry! 

If you want to know more about the story behind the film, check out this interview

Now... back to the film.... 

Let´s start with a quick breakdown of the various elements that make up this film. First of all we have the two stories, one of the legendary Indian hero Rama and his wife Sita, and the other the autobiographical tale of Nina and her husband Dave. 
Then we have narration, which is cleverly animated over the sounds of three Indian people confusedly discussing, in delightfully Indian english, what the Ramayana is about. 
Then we have the songs, which are intercut with the plot of Rama and Sita, kind of like little funny music-videos that pop up with alarming regularity. 

All of these elements are drawn in their own distinct style. The contemporary story is drawn in loose and lively line-art close to Paleys comic-book style mixed with photos. The epic of Rama and Sita is in a painted in a semi-Indian style mixed with Indian art and photos. The narration animated with shadowy silhouettes of traditional Indian idols.  And the music-videos are done in a very cartoony flash-animation style sometimes reminiscent of the best of newer Cartoon Network productions. And these are not the only different types of art and movement in the film, so it is truly a delight for any fan of animation. 

The best part of the film is without a doubt the narration, which brilliantly mixes the confused ramblings of the narrators trying to understand the absurd mythological narrative with great comedic visual interpretations of their discussion. Anyone who has ever tried to get the internal logic of any ancient epic knows that a lot of hilarity will ensue, because quite frankly... People used tell really absurd tales. And these bewildered discussions with strong Indian accent really captures the comedic potential in a delightfully casual way.

Now this contrasts starkly both the contemporary and the epic story. You go from the delicious flow of a real conversation, to the stilted dialogue of people who shouldn´t be voice-actors delivering woody lines. 

In the modern setting Nina Paley fails to voice herself with any degree of conviction, and the lines are simply not very well written. They might be functional for a comic, but when delivered by real voices they fall flat in their simplicity. Adding to the the actor playing her husband Dave is grating to the ear.

In the epic setting the lines are supposed to be pompous and cliché, but are delivered without the passion to fulfill either it´s dramatic or comedic potential, and the Indian accents that were so charming in the narration now just lessen the impact of the epic drama.

Then there´s the music-videos... There´s 10 of them in the main movie, not counting the intro, the credit-roll, and another interesting part in the middle. All of them are the full songs, all of them are animated in the same charmingly minimal flash-style. And while they all are full of creativity from beginning to end, there´s just too many of them, and they go on too long, so no matter how creative and clever and funny they are, at times it´s difficult to keep paying attention. 

This does not, however, keep the best of the music-videos from being the absolute highlights of the movie. My personal favorite was the incredible battle of an army of monkeys against a horde of daemons, set to the sound of "Who´s that knockin´at my door?". Quite brilliant in all it´s cheerfully bloody glory. 

But still, the constant music-videos combined with a bit of general sloppiness in editing down the story to it´s basic elements, and, actually, a bit of sloppiness in the editing of the film as well, makes the whole experience a bit slow, and I was left with a feeling that 1 hour and 17 minutes... might have been half an hour too much. 

But it´s still a pleasing experience for both the eyes and the ears, so it´s in no way a wasted 1 hour and 17 minutes.

These may seem like an awful lot of complaints, but all in all they´re just minor irritations in a fantastic visual telling of an uniquely personal story. 

The real complaint however, which keeps me from all-out praise, is that while the story is uniquely personal, it isn´t all that great.  The Ramayana, Annette Hanshaw, and the divorce might all be connected in Paleys experience, but for me as a viewer it just don´t add up. 

On closer inspection the modern break-up and the epic story of exiled love, do not parallel each other. And the more they start to drift apart, the less they add to each other. And while they both reach their satisfying individual conclusions, Sitas story more so that Ninas, in the end I was left confused and unsatisfied because I was hoping for some sort of thread to truly bind this together into a single film, instead of a series of disparate animated shorts.  

Which is a shame, because it deserves to be so much more than what it ended up being. 

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Sunday Art-week Review 1.

First proper post on this blog! Yes!

So.... What I´m planning is that each sunday, I´ll post a little update on what I´ve been doing the last week. BUT.... since some readers might not know what I´m doing at all,  I´ll dedicate this first one to go through my projects.

Confusia will hopefully be my main project for a long long time. It´s also the only one where I´m writing primarily in English. It started out as a simple excercise for a comic-book course, but developed into something far, far larger. 
Confusia is an action-adventure, historical sci-fi, conspiracy fiction, realistic fantasy yarn, following the lost daughter of Confucius and her interactions with the sec
ret cults that for millennia have tried to control the world. 
The plan is to tell the story through shorter disparate chapters that can be combined into a whole sometime in the future, and to develop and distribute it as an open-source comic. But this takes a lot of work to be able to launch. 
So... I´ve registered both a blog and a google-group for Confusia, but both are empty as of yet. But hopefully I´ll be able to launch both pretty quickly.
This week I haven´t really done much anything on Confusia, but I have thought a lot about a redesign of the main character, which has been a long time coming. Anyhow, you can check out the old works-progress in the links in the sidebar. 

Pickmans Model is another project in English, but mostly because I´m not really "writing" it. It´s a pretty damn´d literal adaption of H.P.Lovecrafts classic story, using as much of the original text as I can fit on 16 comics-pages. Being a huge Lovecraft-fan, I´ve always dreamed of comic proper Lovecraft -comics, but this is my first attempt. 
This week I´ve finished page 1, and done the whole of page 2, and am currently working on both page 3 and 4. 

Bomtur is my biggest project with a publishing deal. It´s a 100+ contemporary action yarn set in Bergen, Norway, with car-chases, hacking, a love-story, and TERROR!(Finally in Norway!).
I´ve been working on this for way to long, but it´s slowly getting somewhere. It is the spiritual successor to Dette Er Et Ran, and I feel I need it to be 10 times better in every way possible. And that takes a lot of perfectionism. 
This week I haven´t done quite as much as I would have liked on it, but I´ve redone some important panels in the beginning, and keep writing my way through it. 
These are todays unfinished reworked images. They may look a bit finished, but actually the black lines your seeing isn´t the final inks. I´m going to use the digital lines in the coloring, and ink the whole shebang with a brush. I´ve done a few experiments with the technique, and it looks lovely. 

Mörkanger is a concept for a comedy-series set in a backward fjord in Norway. Developed by Robin Knutsen and me, it seems that it´s currently on ice. But I keep doing concept art for it, and hopefull we´ll pick it up for full sometime. This week I started one new concept, but it´s to early to show it. 

In addition to all these genre-pieces, I also do non-genre work through my autobiographical stuff. Ranging for the depressingly real, to the psychotically surreal, to the silly funny stuff, it´s my way of dealing with... ummmhh... living, and stuff. 
This week I did one more silly page, which I´m satisfied with. I´m gonna try doing one of these, ranging from a single panel, to a longer page, each week. But I don´t know if I have the time to translate any of them. Oh well.

Anyhow... That´s what I´ve been working on this art-week. Next week I´ll go more into spesifics. 

Enjoy my blog(Or just fuck off).