Helbereth's News

Paradigm Shift.

2012-07-13 18:16:48 by Helbereth

I've been visiting Newgrounds off and on for years, and I've been dabbling in Flash for almost as long. However, I've never really been satisfied with my results. I've gotten decent reviews for what I've published, but I have this nagging sense that I really have no idea what I'm doing, still.

I love drawing, and planning, and scripting, but I get bored with the tedium of animation rather quickly. I've put some time into figuring out tricks and short-cuts, but it never seems to quite be enough to alleviate the soul-crushing boredom I and up feeling trying to animate a full movie.

Basically, I like the idea of animation, but I hate the practice.

For the past several years, I've kept at it, though. Trying to fool myself into thinking it would somehow become less tedious. Well, I'm writing this to say, I'm done. I'm not sure what I ever thought I was going to get out of animation, but it hasn't been an enjoyable experience building up a backlog of 50+ incomplete projects and a few thousand hours of time wasted.

Recent events have turned my attention to other creative pursuits; I've taken up writing again - which I had all but abandoned when I got involved with Flash. It's difficult to maintain one creative muse, much less two. Thus, I've decided to focus on writing for the time being. I'm still uncertain whether I'm really a wordsmith or merely a dabbler, but it's much less work maintaining a dialogue than it is a run cycle.

I will remain a casual observer to the Flash community, but I think I'm done actively participating in the production of animated features. Unless that role is in a department other than animation, at least. Perhaps someday I might dig through that backlog I mentioned and publish a memoir of sorts - a reflection on the time I wasted.

Though, I think I may start actually using this medium -the NG blog- to perhaps discuss recent happenings in the community. Of course, I'm merely musing as I write this, and I doubt anything of the sort will actually happen. I'd entertain the idea for a short while, though.

Now, just in case this resulted in your feeling a bit depressed, here's a picture of a darling baby seal:

Paradigm Shift.



It's a bit like a High-School reunion. There are some things that look great, other things that really show their age, and some others that are so completely unrecognizable that you're not even sure they were in your class.

I just recently got Photoshop 7, and I was finally able to delve into a folder of art I was working on some 10 years ago. These files were created using PhotoDeluxe 3.1, and I haven't been able to get that program to run on a computer since upgrading to WinXP. Thus, when I was finally able to open them using the new(er) program, some of what I found was quite shocking(ly bad).

Of course, some of it is still decent, but even the best drawings have obvious flaws that I was either too blind to see, or too frustrated to fix. Now the first part of that is, obviously, on me. I knew about many of the flaws back then. However, I do realize that a lot of them are due to a limitation of my equipment - I had no tablet. Anyone who has ever tried to draw anything using a mouse will understand when I say... sometimes (most of the time, really), you just left the flaws because it was too tedious to fix.

Some years later, I finally have the chance to explore the ghosts of my artistic past, and it's quite frightening - and illuminating. Some of the drawings are plainly unusual creations out of my own mind while others are obviously fan-art - all in various states of completion. I'll have my work cut out for me going back to salvage some of these images - several of which still relate to things I'm working on now.

Having already dipped into them and started trying to make corrections using my tablet, I wanted to make sure the horrifyingly bad original depictions were retained, so I'm going through to make .png files of each one for posterity. Some of which I pieced into a collage seen below.

From left to right, top to bottom:
A rendition of Tatl from LoZ:MM (barely recognizable), Aeris as a Turk (I think she's reading), A disfigured woman I created (she has a name, but I won't speak it), Ashton Anchors (from Star Ocean Second Story), A line-drawing of a Knight (own creation), A shirtless Sailor (Again, with a name I won't say), Adelbert Steiner (from FFIX) drawn with a semi-realistic body shape, A staff-wielding woman (I forgot her name), A very angry man's outline (he never had a name), and, finally, Solid Snake (This concept was used for my Solid Snake versus Optimus Prime clips in AFD 5).

Anyway, I thought I'd share this archaeological find with the likes of you, the NG public. I might be back in the near future with some updates on this historic occasion, but... with my track record, I doubt it.

Revisiting your own art history...



Wasn't it already Wednesday last week?

Wait, what was I talking about?

Ah, yes, 2011 - we only knew you for... 11 months so far. It seems like just this last December we were looking ahead to 2011 thinking it would be a better year. We thought this time things would be different - some of us may have even made resolutions as such. Perhaps for the first week or two of January it seemed like there really was a brighter future in 2011, but we were wrong.

Entropy fans everywhere are standing up and giving an ovation for yet another year passing by without any forward progress. We're still in debt (USA), China is still communist, California is still connected to the mainland, and Steve Jobs is dead. Last year we were treated to wonderful news about the alleged aquatic funeral for a dead terrorist leader and we rejoiced in mandatory elation, but this year came with no such tactical announcement. Instead, this year will end with the biggest news story being the new season for a dozen pointless reality shows and continued pseudo-concerned political debate.

Maybe things will be better in 2012? I heard the world is supposed to end sometime next year, so that's something. It's also a leap year which will make February one day longer. There's supposed to be a Presidential Election next November, but I'm hoping the world ends before that happens so we don't have to sit through the Mister President Pageant again.

If the world doesn't end next year and we make it to 2013, will any of you really remember anything from 2011? Unfortunately since I don't imbibe alcohol, I'll probably retain some memory from this lackluster year, so I'm hoping something good happens this month. I'll end on that hopeful note.

Good luck in 2012, Newgrounds. You'll probably need it.


I'm actually not dead.

2011-07-09 23:36:41 by Helbereth

So, we come again to Newgrounds where I used to hang around a lot. I see the place is still kept tidy by the various portal bots, as well as Tom and his staff. Clocks, locks, glocks and other various inanimate objects with computer-generated voices still stalk the site like ravenous buffalo (yes, buffalo), but there are still gems to be found. I'm still not sure why gray and yellow work so well as a color motif, but it's always pleasant to see things hardly change here - it's rather welcoming.

I haven't been doing much in terms of art, animation or flash for quite a while - a fact that I know my brother would like to lynch me over. I still doodle, of course, but I find myself distracted by other things on the internet and I've lacked the ambition to finish a project much less start one. That said, I think I could do with having something to work on artistically - perhaps a collaboration so long as it isn't virtually guaranteed to fall apart after I've nearly finished my clip.

That said, I just figured it was long since I should have checked in here. If anyone wants to ask me about something, drop me a PM or send an e-mail my way. Aside from that, I say goodbye by saying hello again, and thank you Newgrounds for remaining unchanged.

I'm actually not dead.


YouTube Issues.

2010-07-20 08:46:28 by Helbereth
Updated

Don't get me wrong, I love YouTube. You can find a video of almost anything there, and if it's not there already, it probably will be soon. That's great. That's how modern entertainment should be - on demand, unfiltered and endless. However I'm not a fan of the apparent need people have to pick up a video in one place and publish it on YouTube sans the consent of the original creator.

Case-in-point, I looked up 'Mad World' on Youtube last week as a lark. I was quite surprised to find the flash collaboration I helped produce 5 years ago posted there in horrible quality by someone I've never met. He didn't take credit for it, but he also didn't even say where he got it from nor give credit to its creators. I'm rarely offended, but finding that video on YouTube with no credit to me or any of the other 24 contributors irked me.

It's not hard to contact me, either. All he would have to do is click my profile, send me a PM or e-mail, and ask. I probably would have been fine with it so long as he credited the source(s). It's that lack of courtesy that I think is the real problem with this kind of media. It's way too easy to simply take a video from one place and drop it into another site.


Basement

2010-07-03 00:57:17 by Helbereth
Updated

The flickering overhead lamp is all that lights the crooked, narrow stairs leading down into the cluttered, dusty, foul-smelling hole beneath the house. I stand in awe as I hit the last step and peer around to take in the horrible sight around me. The water pipes and electrical wires crisscross the ceiling, but are not alone beneath the floorboards; for along their lengths in every direction there are a thousand abandoned cobwebs intertwined with a thousand new ones - each with a patient eight-legged master awaiting an unlucky passer-by. Far from the dim light, deep in the far corners, behind the endless piles of cardboard boxes filled with all manner of long-forgotten chachkies, heirlooms and other less-savory occupants, there is only darkness from which any manner of feral beast could be stalking.

I have a mission here. This dark pit of despair is in need of absolution. I'll not be daunted by imaginary fears - though real they may actually be - for there is no small amount of long-passed-due cleaning to be done. It's been at least 3 years since I've ventured down here to do any more than quickly grab the bag of aluminum cans (to return for the deposit), and replace the bag.

I have come armed, of course - one does not venture into an evil hole in the ground without proper tools to deal with its denizens. My tool belt consists of a flashlight to brighten the gloom, a long-handled dust mop to beat back the insidious cobwebs, and a bundle of large plastic trash bags to deal with the debris. I will find the soiled cement floor and beat back the clutter or *choke* *gasp* I NEED AIR!

... Foiled by haste, I return upstairs to equip my defensive equipment - a carpenter's dust mask and a hair net - to preserve my heroic locks, of course.

Now, back into the mildewed cave to fight back the darkness and clear away the clutter!... Maybe after a soda...

This could take a while...


Distractions.

2010-06-28 01:40:31 by Helbereth

"Hapiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions."
~Saul Bellow

That's sound advice. However we live in a modern world where 50% of the gross national product seems to be in the creation and use of products and services intended to distract us from our modern lives. Distractions keep us from working on the things we should, and ultimately result in not getting anything done.

That has been my folly for some time now.

The particular brand of distraction matters not; it can be any activity or pursuit from fantasy football and gambling to video games and politics (did I just call politics a distraction, and therefore a waste of time? Yes, yes I did.) My brand of distraction comes in the form of a particularly nasty digital medium - the MMORPG - specifically World of Warcraft.

I know what you're thinking: he's a nerd, geek, dork, fanboy, lazy, fat, basement-dwelling, friendless, pasty, egghead with a lovely singing voice. OK, I threw that last one in for comic effect... but at least some of the others aren't true. The point is, you're probably right... kinda.

WoW is my addiction. I've accepted that. I've moved on. All I need to figure out now is how to incorporate that addiction into the rest of my life and I'll be even again. It's hard to do, though. I've tried weaning myself, but I spend 12 hours a day sitting at the computer anyway, so I have lots of opportunity. I also have a bit of ADD, I think... what's that? Ooh shiny!

Where was I? Right! My other problem is that I'm a vefry messy person. If you've ever seen Jurassic Park try to recall what Dennis Nedry's workstation looked like. Mine isn't quite that bad, but sometimes I have trouble seeing my own desk under the clutter.

If I clear that clutter away, I'm still without a proper, stable place to rest my tablet which means I have to hold it while I draw. If you've never seen a Wacom Intuos tablet, allow me to paint the picture for you: Imagine having a legless coffee table sitting in your lap resting precariously against the edge of your desk. Every time you move it moves... and it causes that line you were just drawing to shoot off across the screen. Multiply that by 1000 times in a 2 hour drawing session and you wind up being frustrated and need to unwind... and WoW is right there calling your name... promising hours of relief whirlwinding through countless undead in Icecrown.

When I'm bored or uninspired, I play WoW. When I'm frustrated or tired, I play WoW. When I'm sick and tired of screwing up drawings, I play WoW. When it's raid night (every tues-thur @ 9pm-12am)... I play WoW, duh. So I really think I need to improve my work area so I don't get frustrated and need to indulge my addiction. Maybe then I'd be a little freer from distractions and be able to concentrate on some Flash.

Maybe...



Instead of using this space to promote myself, I thought it would be a decent place to find some gamers who might be interested in watching a few speed runs through various Mario games, watching said gamers make fools of themselves, and donating to a good cause - ACT (Autism Care and Treatment) Today! http://www.act-today.org/

They started their 8-day Marathon last Thursday, and are trying to get $50,000 worth of Donations by Tomorrow night. As I post this they're nearing the $31,000 mark.

They're giving away numerous prizes along the way, and every $5 donation gets you a number in a drawing for a Black Wii. All donations go directly to ACT Today, so check them out at http://www.thespeedgamers.com/ , watch the show, have a few laughs, make a donation, and feel good about yourself for a few hours.

Note: I am in no way affiliated with TSG or ACT Today. I happened upon them browsing the web and thought I'd help spread the word.


Confessions of a Mouse-a-holic

2009-11-09 14:35:46 by Helbereth

I can't believe, really, that it took me this long to finally try out a tablet for digital drawing. Since my Sophomore year in High School (1996) I've been using a mouse as my key interface with every drawing program I've ever used.

For some reason, i had the crazy idea that I didn't need a tablet - that I was so adept with the use of a mouse for drawing that a tablet would actually be a downgrade.

I was so wrong.

Last week I finally decided to try out my brother's Wacom tablet... and it's glorious.

I'm still getting used to the disconnected feel of drawing with a pen while looking away from my hand, but so far I've greatly improved my line-art and tripled my speed.

With a mouse there were, plainly, things i avoided trying to draw. Things with odd shapes like hands and feet were exceedingly difficult - more than they should be - because maneuvering the mouse to get a line shaped properly would take four times longer. Most of the time, I'd have to go back over the line 30 times or make hundreds of adjustments to the curve of the line using the shaping tool in flash.

I also couldn't get minute details to look right using the mouse, so I often avoided embellish lines - which made my drawings look much plainer than I had envisioned.

Come to think of it, most of what i ever drew with a mouse was lacking something I'd imagined because i didn't have the patience to spend 3 hours on a 50 pixel square.

That's behind me now, though. With the tablet I've commandeered from my brother (he's not getting it back), I've already gone back to some old drawings and revised them (as seen below).

In closing; take it from a long-time mouse-a-holic, get a tablet if you can afford it.

Below are two versions of two different drawings. The first is an interpretation of Black Mage inspired by 8-bit-theater which was done about 4 years ago - with the new version alongside. The second is a self-portrait charicature done about 5 years ago - again, with the new version alongside. I'm not sure on the exact time, but I'm fairly certain the two newer versions were done in less than 1/2 the time of the originals.

Full-size image:
http://img196.imageshack.us/img196/569 2/confessions.jpg

Confessions of a Mouse-a-holic


Charicature?

2009-11-01 01:07:01 by Helbereth

I'm considering changing the figure art style for my RE movie. The style I was using is heavily dependant on carefully drawn figures, thin lines and proportions closer to realism than i think I want the movie to be.

I started toying with my version of Claire, and came up with a new style that uses more cartoonish features that are easier to draw and animate.

Whaddya think?

Yes, no, maybe so?

Charicature?