Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Music in videos

All of my favorite video's involve the use of music to reinforce the visuals. I thought I'd post a few of my favorites for everyone to enjoy :)

Eve Never Fades

Assassins Creed 2 UK tv advert

Gears of War Madworld trailer

Gran Turismo 1 intro movie

And one last one that I paticularly enjoy - WARNING: Some people may find this offensive (Sweary music and other stuff)

Eve Online - GoonSwarm

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Influence Map

1 – Masamune Shirow/Appleseed
A comic I discovered as a teenager, I think this has had a massive impact on not just my art style, but also how I judge comics and other works. It's plot raises many questions: what makes us human, rather than organic machines? Is freedom a right, or a privilege?
As well as all this, the artwork is amazing – featuring fantastically detailed cityscapes and awesome robot designs (I likes my robots)

2 – 2000AD
Another of my favourite comics from my childhood. The main draw for me was always the brilliant variation of art within any single issue, from some of Britain's best artists. I also loved the “Future Shock” series of mini comics, each with its own little twist ending. Judge Death is also awesome.

3 – Calvin and Hobbes
About the only comic strip I’ve read which could actually make me laugh out loud. The image is from my favourite strip, in which Calvin imagines the coolest thing ever – Tyrannosaurs in F-14's! Although the art style wasn't really my normal preference, I can't deny how fantastic it still is. Every couple of years I start re-reading and discover new things.

4 – 2001: A Space Odyssey
I have a deep fascination with space in general and I think most of it stems from watching this film in my early teens. Of course, I didn't understand a thing about it! The visuals have always been this films strongest suit – especially the Jupiter alignment scene at the end – and drove me into the genre of sci-fi in general, as well as the wonder of space. For the record, it took years for me to understand it fully – I had to read the book!

5 – Halo: Combat Evolved
Although many videogames have influenced me, I think of this as the first that really astounded me. The original game's plot may have been ripped from Iain Banks' culture novels, but their execution was unbelievable. The first time I set foot on the titular Halo ring, I couldn't stop staring into the horizon – I was absolutely jaw dropped by the way the ring extended up and over the player. I still remember inviting friends around just to show them this, and the amazing textures. Personal favourite quote while playing it “Look at the grass!” (I think every one I showed it to said this)

6 – Iron Maiden Album Covers
I am of course a massive fan of their music, but I was first drawn to them by the astounding artwork on almost every album. Most of them were produced by the illustrator Derek Riggs. I remember sitting listening to the music while staring intently at the cover. I even buy the albums on their original vinyl format – simply to have the larger album artwork!

7 – Blade Runner
It took me long time to finally sit down and watch this film, and I wasn’t disappointed when I finally did. Although the plot is fantastic (and far deeper and involving than the obtuse 2001, which almost challenges you to understand it.) the visuals are always the films biggest draw for me. Although the fantastic cityscapes are still (to me) better than any modern film's effects, my mind has always been captured by the iconic early shot of Deckard's eye, with the city reflected on it. Still essential viewing!

8 – Roger Dean/The Shadow of the Beast
When I owned the early 8 and 16-bit computers, they always seemed to have the same drawback. I have chosen this game, but there are many more that I feel share it's problem; artwork which amazes and promises a fantastic world with adventures in a surreal reality of the viewers imagination – and the game is about running right while jumping. Shadow of the Beast may have been technically excellent for its time, but for me it could never live up to the promise of it's astounding front cover.

9 – Warhammer 40K
I was a big fan of the game, and I still have my army for the occasional battle with friends. The artwork was something I discovered after getting into the game (I didn’t own any of the rulebooks, I simply used my friends copies) that simply dragged me in further. The picture I chose for this is by Mark Gibbons – but there are many fantastic examples throughout the books, as well as brilliant short stories.

10 – Abandoned Structures/Chernobyl
A recent discovery while working on a project a few years ago. While looking at pictures of Chernobyl reactor 4 I found a treasure trove of fantastic images of abandoned structures. Something about them just speaks to me – a building without it's purpose, with no reason left to exist. There aren't many examples available locally (although there is an amazing abandoned factory that I see from my train every day, outside of Inverkeithing) most are from within the former U.S.S.R., where the sudden collapse of government left people with no reason to stay within their current areas – many were simply put there by the government for surveillance or military purposes. These people simply got up and left for home, leaving entire cities behind that still haven't been demolished or re-used.

11 – Space images
My huge interest in space and science fiction drives my fascination with images like this one (of the Horsehead Nebula) produced by NASA telescopes. Each one is available in its high resolution original from, and contains a wealth of detail. The pictures from the Martian rovers are also stunning.

12 – Ian Miller
An illustrator I remember from my childhood, who works with inks to create exceptionally detailed organic looking images. This image is from the Frank Herbert graphic novel “The City” .A quick bit of research while creating this revealed that Ian Miller has produced illustrations for 2000AD and Warhammer 40K. This graphic novel was the original reason I started liking his work (I read it when I was far too young to – It is quite violent to say the least) and started reading 2000AD (for his Nemesis the Warlock strips) as well as Warhammer 40k (He produced more than a few illustrations for the original “Rogue Trader” rulebook)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Mathias Verhasselt

A fantastic artist on, I love his large scale scenery pics.

I think these are created in photoshop, although I can't create anything at this level! There is a fantastic sence of scale in the picture and an incredible level of detail. I think I enjoy it especially because of my love of detail in images like this. 

Saturday, 23 October 2010


I'm currently trying to talk my dad through removing JAVA from his machines registery. Not the easiest task, as you can probably imagine.

While doing this, it led me to think about my word "communication" for my visual literacy class. Even when using the simplest terms I could think of I might as well have been speaking Chinese.

A similar event occurred when my brother (a joiner and carpenter) tried to intruct me in laying flooring, even though I understood every word he said I could not understand a thing he was trying to say.

Even when comminicating perfectly in English, we are completely obfuscating the issue!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Also: Chaos further

My further ideas regarding the Chaos theme

Use of Weapons

Using my knowledge from repeated re-readings of this book, I think I've worked out my favourite scenes to use. This will probably seem like gibberish to anyone who hasn't read it, so I'll put a brief piece of text from the novel up to explain a bit more (plus my own explanations)

Zakalwe being saved by the Culture
Zakalwe arriving on the GSV (Very big spaceship)
The battle of the Staberinde
The big twist ending

My first idea is of the scene where the story's protagonist Zakalwe is saved from freezing to death by an agent from a super advanced civilization known as the Culture. The Culture is a peaceful, utopian civilisation that directly opposes war and cruelty in all forms and from all other civilisations. It uses it's incredible powers and technology to interfere with lower civilisations, with the idea of preserving life. The Culture obviously produces poor warriors to help with this cause, so they hire mercenaries doomed to die in lower civilisations to use in their plans. The agent sent to recruit Zakalwe is a kind agent, even by culture standards, who believes she is saving a simple soldier betrayed by his own side. The computerised 'Minds' of the Culture, who make these plans and discover these mercenaries, know far more than her about him. Zakalwe is a tortured soul, a man who was never truly accepted within his family who has commited many horrific war crimes in the past and who will never let himself forget this (To him, forgetting would equal forgiveness) The agent, called Sma or Diziet, is not saving him from death - she is offering him the chance to continue killing and being tortured by his own memories. At the moment he was saved, Zakalwe was fully accepting of his death - even feeling that he deserved it.

My idea is mainly showing a representation of Sma (or Diziet) half as an angel of life, half as death herself - or maybe more like "She, life in death" from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner - She drags behind her evidence of Zakalwe's crimes, which he will have to continue to carry for his long life. Behind her, the battleship he commanded to destroy his own home city (The Staberinde) silhouettes against her, an inescapable fact of his past. Sma is displayed nude to display her naivete regarding Zakalwe, who she becomes a close friend with throughout the novel (but not a lover)

And thats my first idea! More tomorrow probably!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Now I'm starting on probably my favorite project so far: designing a character and scenario from text.

As soon as I saw this within the coursework document I started thinking of ideas. I am a huge fan of Iain M. Banks Culture novels and I am planning on creating something from them, or one of his other sci-fi works. My shortlist of books I'd like to create visuals for are:

Use of Weapons (Probably my favorite book of his)
Against a Dark Background (Fantastic visual ideas, like the logjam - a floating city made of scavanged ships)
The Algebraist (Again, visually inspiring - especially the gas giant that the book centres around)

I'm going to start sketching ideas to see what comes out best - and I'll post them onto this blog when I'm done :)

Sunday, 17 October 2010


For my Visual Literacy classes we have been given words to work with. So far I've heard three of the four that I'm to work with, but one has interested me greatly: chaos!

For me this word brings a flood of ideas, from the obvious simple opposite of order to the complete breakdown of rules - or ignoring rules.

The main visual idea I have taken comes from my own personal lack of direction in new places. I have gotten lost in Dundee. A lot. To me cities are confusing places, with some roads signposted, some not (for no reson that I can discern) and as I get later and later for my appointment/lecture/class my thoughts turn ever more chaotic! So I got an image similar to the opening images from Fritz Lang's Metropolis. I think I'll try to continue along this theme :)

Boris Bilinsky, City Art work for Metropolis c.1926-7
©ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2004

 And a rubbish sketch I threw together in 3dsmax :P

Boris Bilinsky worked primarily in collage to create the confusing jumble of buildings in the concept artwork for Metropolis, my thinking is to try and imitate with the buildings I have created.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Castle Crashers

Working on a project for uni that I'm really starting to enjoy.
Design your own castle crashers character! Cool huh?

Dunno what to call him - maybe pharoah 'nuff or something cheesy like that :)

Friday, 1 October 2010

From the window of a train

You sure see some stuff from the window of my morning train. Makes Scotland seem almost pretty...

Also makes me realise how much I need a decent camera. Phones are crap for anything serious.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Are games art?

As a first post onto my blog I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring regarding this thorny issue. Recently this argument has been brought back to the forefront of games related journalism by Roger Ebert, who stated that games can never be art.

As a gamer and an artist i felt that my ideas were impartant to this argument - after all, I am surely the overlap on the venn diagram that started this idea. Before I reveal my own beliefs, I would like to discuss my background thinking.

One quote I heard - from RockPaperShotgun - argued that games HAD to be art - "If a hundred artists work for five years on something, how can the end result not be art?" (Apologies if I have quoted that incorrectly)

I think this kind of thinking deviates from the argument in question. As an artist, there are many things that I create that are - quite literally - not art. I may draw or create something simply because someone asked me to or because I just thought it would look cool. Not really an art way of planning or creating work.

I feel the argument revolves around an old question within the art world - what is the difference between a craftsman and an artist? Both work with a set of tools and both work from a brief set by an outside party. The artist may create something that inspires, but so may the craftsman.

As an example, I am an artist and my brother is a carpenter (Not really, he never finished his apprenticeship - but lets assume for the sake of the argument that he did), we both can use the same materials to make an object in our chosen profession. Both objects will have a use and both objects will be made to the best of our abilities - lets say I make a sculpture and he makes a chair. Both of these objects will bring joy, as looking at good art can (again assuming I make good art and don't cock it up!) but everyone enjoys sitting down in a good chair as well. Assuming as a last point that both of our objects are made to the same level of technical expertise (a lot of assumptions here, but im trying to level the argument). The real question is, what makes mine art and his furniture?

Is it because he was trained to use his tools, whereas I was trained to use my mind? If that is true, then games are not art. Modellers go through a lot of training and practice learning their chosen modelling program.

Is it because he created something with a use outside of aesthetics? If that is true, then games are not art. Chairs are not necassary to human existence, only human comfort. Games are not necassary, they are a luxury as well.

The answer is up to all of us really, whether we choose to view them as art or not. As a culture, the choice is in our hands. If you believe games are art, then don't let me detract from that - art is, after all, subjective and the final say is up to the person viewing, not the person who made it (or the person making a blog post about it)

For what it's worth, I personally feel that games have more in common with a gallery. They are beautiful constructions, but not art. However, they do contain art. Art can be seen within a videogame, but not in the form of a videogame as a whole.

Please disagree and argue with me, it's what I enjoy most :)