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Uncertain Times

General / 02 April 2020

Hello folks,

I guess at the core of it this is a heads up that I may be unsubscribing from Artstation Pro for a little while and my portfolio may look a bit different after this month. I wanted to ensure you that I'm not turning my back on the website or giving up on art or anything. I will likely just need some time to get my finances in order.

This is because a week ago today my mother passed away suddenly from an aneurysm that caused a massive stroke. It was completely out of the blue and totally unexpected. Having been present at the time, seeing her go like that has taken its toll on me but she was a wonderful woman and she gave me and siblings a great life and great memories to hold on to. So I know in time that we will heal.

It has, however, come at a very unfortunate time. Especially with the pandemic wreaking havoc across the world. Having been her carer for few years now a fair amount of my income was also tied up in the government aid I received for being unable to work full time while also caring for her. While I was still able to make a small amount of money from commissions and freelance work I could never commit to larger projects and keep looking after her, nor was I offered enough work to go full time anyway. Now with that aid going away and any replacement I might get weeks, if not months, away and a funeral to pay for it's going to be stretching my savings to the limit.

It goes without saying that any support you can drop my way by purchasing something from my store would obviously be greatly appreciated during this time. HOWEVER.

I'm not asking for charity or hand outs. Nor do I want that. 

I expect most of us face a very uncertain future with our finances right now and I would much rather people save their money if they need to. Buying art prints or hiring an artist to work on something no doubt seems completely frivolous at the moment. If my pro sub drops though my visibility on the site does go down in some respects so just the act of passing my name and portfolio on to anyone you think might have an interest in my work (now or in the future) would be a massive help. Perhaps more so than anything else.

Naturally, I'm not feeling particularly up to working on anything right this second but I will of course still be posting work and prints/products on here in the future. I lose access to the blog without pro though so I may not be able to give any longer form updates to talk about what's going on with me and my availability. It's a shame so much is being tied to the sub now but it is what is. You can always reach me by email and through twitter if needed. There are always links to that on the basic Artstation portfolio page everyone gets for free.

For now though, here's some stuff I've been working on behind the scenes. I was hoping to get some of this out sooner but no doubt you can likely expect to see it finished off in the future now. I'm still working on my personal project and I was even starting to learn Blender (which I got very invested in) before life decided it was being a bit too kind I guess. So plenty to look forward to.

See you soon everyone, stay safe!

A Difficult Year

General / 27 December 2019

Hey folks!

It's been awhile.

I just wanted to put a quick end of year post out to thank everyone that has stopped by, left messages/comments and maybe purchased something of mine from the store. I hope it has been useful if you did! There's now around 450 more of you since the beginning of the year as well so welcome to the fandom I guess? I'm not sure if such a term really applies. Either way, it's nice to know people are looking. It's tough to really get eyes on your work these days with so much talent out there. 

It has been a tough year for me. I was fighting some pretty hard burn out at the start of the year and then a family member was taken ill and sadly passed away in the late summer which caused, and continues to cause (for reasons I won't go in to), a lot of disruption at home. Some work I had on at the time also didn't pan out which came as a blow, as I had rejected other offers to try and focus on it. This only served to bring everything together in such a way that I felt I needed to simply step away. The eagle eyed among you might have noticed I changed my status from freelance to something a bit more ambiguous around this time to ward away further job offers. Which, thankfully, did work and I'm finally feeling a bit more recharged now.

So it does mean a lot to me to still see the follower count growing despite having posted so little. It was also great to see such nice comments on the recent King Arthur Challenge. It was all happening at a time where I was probably the least focused I've ever been and found myself hovering over that 'retiring from the challenge' button several times. In the end though, it proved to be a lifeline to a tiny bit of normality that I needed more than I realised. So, again, a big, big thank you to everyone and the handful that took it into the 3D phase. It was great to see the different approaches to it unfolding.

As for next year, I've not been completely idle. I've mostly been working on a personal project in the background, if only to keep busy. And, naturally, it has grown into something stupidly ambitious as these things do when you've too much time to think. Hopefully I'll be reigning it in a little and showing that off a bit more. I'm also using it to be a bit more experimental with some techniques though so it might take awhile before finals to start appearing.

I might look at trying to stream or at least record my workflow in the new year too. I'm not a very confident person though and I'm not sure there would really be much interest in it so I'm on the fence. Like this blog, it's likely a commitment I couldn't realistically keep up any real schedule with. However, I've noticed a lot of the people that follow me are beginners, so you guys would have to let me know if something like that would be of any use to you. I don't know when or if I'll return to being available full time freelance yet. I'm not completely ready. I will, as always, continue to consider any opportunities sent my way and do my best to answer any queries you might have though.

Anyway, that's quite enough. I'll leave you with something a little different of mine from that personal project, making good on the idea to share some of my music here by the end of the year too! (Just about xD)

Hope you all have a brilliant New Year and I'll see you...soon!?

Motivation Perils & More Experimenting With 3D

General / 15 February 2019

It has been a difficult few weeks. Despite continuing to draw and paint and experiment just for myself I've found I'm back, at least mentally, to where I was at the start of the year. Instead of recapturing the fun I think it might just be leaving me more directionless than ever. I really don't know what to make of it. Reading about the layoffs at Blizzard and the tweets that followed from those affected was quite the capstone to it all as well.

I wouldn't go so far as to say Blizzard was the dream for me, like it was for a lot of those unfortunate folks, as I've never had a set endgame in mind. I was hardly a super fan but I enjoyed a few of their games and, to a younger me, they definitely felt like something to aim for or to aspire to. Nevertheless I find myself sat here now having what I had begun to feel towards the end of last year reinforced in a way; The industry has changed from what I grew up with. I know layoffs are commonplace, that's nothing new. But if it just becomes another workplace where you have to worry about whether you'll have a job if profits aren't all they could be then that feels like it really shits on what it meant to me to work in it. And I have to wonder if anyone left in it will be honestly having fun making games at that point.

I don't know. I'm not sure it's really something I can fully form an opinion on with so little experience but it is deeply concerning and certainly has not helped my overall motivation lately. 

Anyway! Let's hop off of that before I wade too deep into something I don't fully understand and make a fool of myself.

Despite all the muddled up indecision going on in my noggin' I did experiment a bit further with Unreal. Before you wonder how I went from a bunch of crap grey blocks to this be aware I didn't make any of these assets or materials, they were free on the store. It's a mix of two packs.

I based it on this WIP from last time as the assets seemed to fit it pretty well overall.

It was an interesting endeavour but one that felt like it was taking its toll on my PC towards the end, no doubt because of something I did or did not do. So this is probably as far as I'll take it for now. I'd like to learn how to create my own assets and materials before looking to do it again. There was a few times where the assets weren't really there to create what I wanted (couldn't really find a great match for a sand material for instance) so I just had to make do or try and combine them in odd ways I don't think they were intended for. Plus I think it would be more gratifying to have at least one thing in there that you made yourself. The texture scaling is way off in some places and there's a lot to learn about lighting I feel too. Despite following some youtube guides I couldn't really seem to make much of a difference to how harsh the shadows looked. It works well enough for a hot, dry area as it is but I think if the area was anything else it would look quite right or set the wrong mood. 

Still for a first delve in to it I'm pretty pleased with what I'm taking away. 

Huge respect to anyone who's entered the 3D parts of the artstation challenges. Especially to the few of you who used my concepts. I'll definitely be more mindful of what you're working with if I enter any in the future. 

That's about it for now. Thanks for stopping by this week if you've stuck around.

And I'll see you soon?

Happy New Year!

General / 02 January 2019

I wasn’t sure about starting this blog at first. I’ve tried numerous times in the past to keep one and they’ve always run out of steam before too long. Even with this attempt something seems to already be working against me as this is actually the second time I’ve wrote this post. The first draft showed as saved on the website but then promptly disappeared off into the ether. I can’t really remember most of what I wrote so I can only assume it was long and rambling (not that this will be any different as, let’s face it, I do like to go on a bit!).

I won’t lie, this could just be another one of those ideas we all tend to have at the start of a new year that thrums along great for a few weeks of January before the realisation that we’ve gone in too enthusiastically (yet again) sets in. You know how it goes. You blow through all that energy you stored up over the holidays in no time and somewhere around the 23rd it dawns on you that, actually, you’re not as up for it as you thought.

Hopefully that won’t be the case as I could use a place to put more long form posts about updates and WIPs, and this seems as good a place as any to do that. I’ve tried putting that kind of content on Facebook and Twitter for a while now but both platforms feel pretty ill suited to it; Character limitations, image limits, posts being suppressed and not being shared out to all followers for whatever reason, consistently asking for money to show it to more people. It’s just not really good enough. So it seems kind of pointless to continue using those sites for this when I can just consolidate it all here, go into much more depth about what I’m doing and probably receive better feedback.

I do have another reason for wanted to start this blog too however.

Over the past year or so I’ve been finding myself losing an enormous amount of passion for drawing and painting. Something I can attribute, in part, to working on several projects in quick succession that have either got cancelled or simply stopped communicating with me. I think a greater contributor though is that I’ve also realised that the industry I grew up with and that inspired me so much has changed in ways that no longer really appeal to me. I think, after all these years, I may be chasing a dream I no longer really want.

I’ve changed as well and, ultimately, I think the reason I’m doing this now needs to change or I really will end up a jaded mess; too mentally exhausted to make good decisions and blind to see good opportunities.

I’d imagine this all sounds a bit strange coming from someone who recently had a commission from an industry giant. Which was wonderful by the way and I can’t understate how much the opportunity meant to me. I feel I need to make that clear as I know quite a number of people that follow me are beginners and I don’t want to put you off. My experience won’t be and shouldn’t be your experience and if anything that opportunity is proof that good things do come from persistence. At the end of it all though, and without getting too flowery, it wasn’t quite enough to reignite a dying flame. Behind the scenes I’ve really been burning out.

There was a point last year where I’d honestly never been closer to setting down my Wacom pen for good and just walking away from it all. But even at the lowest ebb there was a part of me that kept coming back to the tablet, sticking on some music and just seeing what happened. And that’s really what I’d like the other part of this blog to be. I want to take a step back and try, for the most part, to just do this for myself for awhile. There is stuff from my other creative pursuits that I’d like to ideally share too as they really do feed into one another and are great change of pace when inspiration for one or the other is really running dry.

So hopefully this blog will end up documenting that journey as well, wherever it may lead. Perhaps that purpose alone will keep it alive.

Anyway, that really is enough for an introduction. I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and Happy New year to you all!

See you soon!