Earlier in the month I had some time off work. It was supposed to be a family vacation that vanished into nothingness, but I didn’t feel like cancelling my time off, so I used it to my advantage. A full-blown colour piece. It was initially supposed to be just a quick one-night pin-up. No perfect ink or colour. But after finishing that, I found I wasn’t satisfied. The piece wasn’t strong enough to post or share, but the concept was strong enough to warrant a do-over, and so I did. Roughly 4 hours a day spread out over the 7 days off. And the result I am very happy with. Got it turned into one of my annual posters for the wall rotation too.
Aloy, from Horizon series. Below is the Ink, some details, and the final.
What I’m Reading
In an attempt to improve, I recently got some new art books, focused on composition, and figure drawing. As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, my goals for 2023 are to do more colour and scene pieces, less straight up pin-up left at the outline stage. I want to add more to the inked piece, with shadow and rendering, and then add more background or scene elements, lighting, etc.
Also just finished reading another auto-bio-graphic-novel It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth by Zoe Thorogood. Like Ducks, which I read earlier this year, it’s a journaling of the writer’s life and career over a 6-month period, about her story, her art, her mental health struggles, etc. That’s a disservice of an explanation, but the book is very good, and deals with some heavy material, so not recommended for anyone that might not be in the best head space themselves. But one might find it relatable. I dunno.
Less: A Novel
The Wheel of Time Book 10
What I’m Playing
Finally jumped back into The Witcher III after a brief trip that was Immortals Fenyx Rising. I had started The Witcher first, but it had a slow start and I was craving something a little more action-y. But now that I’m done with Fenyx, back to the Witcher. And happy to report that I’m fully invested again. The story has really picked up, and the combat gameplay, I’m starting to learn, has many strategic layers.
In the co-op space, after finishing Far Cry 6, we’ve moved onto Gotham Knights. A very pretty multiplayer Batman universe game. You can play as Batgirl, Red Hood, Nightwing, or Robin. It’s a very strong presentation, but maybe not quite at the level that the Arkham series left us expecting. It’s very pretty, as I mentioned, but the combat is not as nuanced. There’s also gear scores which are lame. But we’re still early on, so more thoughts on it later.
Recently Completed: AER
What I’m Watching
The Last of Us
The Witcher S2
Ted Lasso S3
Lastly, I haven’t shared these in a while, last posted here was Episode 4 I believe?… but I’m up to Episode 9 of my Halo Minute: Co-op Misadventure Halo Infinite video series:
This year one of my goals is to colour more. I find I do a lot of detailed, inked, pin-ups, but then leave it at that. I always say I’ll go back and colour it but instead I just move on to the next drawing. I suspect this is because I colour infrequently enough, that the idea of it is daunting, so I always put it off. I’ve also lapsed on the Stranger Than Friendship comic for almost a full year now if I don’t get a new one out before April. I just need to sit down and think of some ideas. I did have one ages ago regarding Wordle, but I fear that fad has passed. Maybe I’ll do it just to get it out of my system.
So yeah, back to colouring – I think doing the colour step more regularly will help keep those skills sharpened, and allow me to work more efficiently as I continue to improve. And to make the idea of it less daunting. And less time spent on the actual figure/ink steps, so I don’t burn out.
With that, since this is the first update this year, I’ll share what I’ve done, in order:
What I’m Drawing
I started this year playing Immortals Fenyx Rising (more on that below in the gaming updates) and I really enjoyed the art style, so I kicked off the first drawing of the year with Fenyx herself. This version is her most basic starting gear before I even realized the many, many, different customization options available. I do want to colour this piece, but I may go back to the gear design first (there’s so many more ideas).
Another quick drawing, in Lollipop Chainsaw. And a work-in-progress update of The Gwen Who Laughs. As it had been a while since my last Spider-Gwen variant I figured it was time (my wife would say never again is too soon), and the idea of a Batman Who Laughs version was really intriguing to me. Very fetish, latex look. Corset and belts. Very harlequin type look. Could pass for a Harley Quinn variant instead almost. It was after struggling with this WIP that I decided to take a break and focus on more colour for a bit.
Gender bent Johnny Bravo. Modern day Miss Bravo if you will. There’s actual an episode where Johnny Bravo does get turned into a lady so that he knows what it feels like to be hit on incessantly.
Sasha Banks / Mercedes Mone. Former WWE wrestler who made her debut recently in New Japan.
And Supergirl. Got excited after watching the most recent Flash movie trailer, with Michael Keaton and the reveal of the new Supergirl.
So yeah, colour. A little less focus on the ink outlines. After the sketch is cleaned up, I basically just jumped right into colour. And a simple background. Supergirl probably has the most detail as I did a semi-rough ink version to go with it. The other big change is I am working 100% in Photoshop for these which I don’t typically do. I usually sketch and ink in CLIP and then move over to PS if I need to for colour. But it felt kind of refreshing to stick with the one program and explore some new brushes. Hopefully more to come.
What I’m Playing
Immortals Fenyx Rising: A very solid adventure game, very much like Zelda Breath of the Wild. In art style and gameplay. This is the game that’s kept me the most busy between January – February.
The game is a very vibrant soft coloured game and there are lots of different arena and puzzle style challenge rooms to mix up the standard-type combat. Ability to fly and ride a horse for traversal. And the collectibles usually involve some sort of challenge puzzle as well. Story is decent, and a good length – a humorous take on the Olympus Gods and Titans stories. Basically a big evil has been released and has turned everyone to stone and taken away the godly powers. Zeus and Prometheus are the two narrators of the story. Prometheus is more of the lead storyteller, and Zeus provides his colour commentary. Telling the story of how this mortal, Fenyx, will save the day. Combat is fairly easy to understand once you get used to the light attack and strong attack button mapping.
As I mentioned above, there is a lot of customization options with the gear you unlock throughout. Each gear item has its own perks, etc, but you can always change the look of that gear while it’s equipped to another style, if you wanted to stick to a theme, but needed the perks.
Roughly 40hrs to beat the story, but I didn’t stick around to finish all the various dungeons, or DLC packs.
Returnal: Returnal which was a PS5 launch title exclusive was recently ported to PC and I wanted to give it a try. I’m not a big fan of rogue-like games. But I thought I’d give it a shot.
I understand the appeal of the genre, and this game is gorgeous, and from a die-repeat-die-repeat perspective it’s not actually that bad. It is, however, difficult, and that was a turn-off. I understand that this genre does require a certain level of difficulty to ensure the player improves and advances and unlocks new stuff, but I unfortunately don’t have the time to dedicate to a game like this when I have so many others in my queue. A friend invested over 100 hours into the grind, and still hasn’t “finished” the story. That’s just not my style. So, I am content with the fact that I did “trial” it, but it’s not for me.
Somerville: A quick 4-hour game, like Limbo, or Inside. Same idea, with the puzzle mechanics that allow progression. A cool alien invasion story too. And very cool looking – I really liked the art direction with this one. And its a little bit more 3D level design than those of its kind. Which made it a little bit clunky to play, but still fun.
Far Cry 6: Oh man, finally, finally, knocked this story out in co-op. There’s one thing that can be said about playing in co-op with ILLESTRADER, and that’s when we start a game, we know it’ll take like 6 months to finish. Since we only get a few hours per week, if we’re lucky, and that if we play that game. Sometimes we switch it up, like jumping into Halo Co-op campaign, for example. But it feels good to say we finished the campaign. I think our next outing is Gotham Knights, but we’ll wait for the next sale. In the meantime, we’ll play through some of the DLC in FC6 and some more achievement collecting.