Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I guess it's no surprise that pretty often my emotions get the better of me. The best of me, some would surely say. Well, in spite of my best efforts, I'm a pretty emotional guy. Something happens, and instantly it effects every part of my life. Sleep, how I eat, how I function at work, my ability to concentrate and rationalize are all compromised. It's interesting that I see myself this way, because someone very close to me one said that she couldn't tell what I was feeling at times. I feel like I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and that's not a very good virtue. Men are supposed to be stoic, unyielding in their resolve, yet if something hits me hard enough, I turn into a blabbering idiot, turning into a monster who says and does things that I abhor, or a gutless wretch, unable to form a single coherent sentence. 

I used to be much better about this. When I was upset, I'd just jump 
on the computer and start doing some artwork to take my mind off things. Recently, it's been increasingly hard to do so. My muse isn't there, and nothing flows. 

Seeing as art is the one productive thing that I do in my free time, i've been forcing myself to do it, and it's yielded some interesting, and unexpected results. Much art is fueled by emotion, I suppose, so it's appropriate that if it's dark in my mind, that may come out in my pieces. I'm working on a few pieces right now that make me think that, and as I look at them, I'm almost ashamed that I'm creating them. They stand for something that I don't stand for. I got to a milestone on one of them and thought, "This isn't me..." to myself. But because of the fact that it's one of the better pieces i've done, I can't bring myself to stop working on it until it's done. 

Besides there just being a lot of pills (and more to come) in the picture, there actually is a point to it. I dunno, hopefully things will make more sense, or start working out the way they should soon, because I don't want to use my only outlet to make things I'd be ashamed to show people.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I can has Mac?

So I broke down and got a Macbook. It wasn't really breaking down as much as my Dell smacking me in the face and saying, "Ha, you fell for it! You're stuck with me, you silly, silly man!" But now, I've joined the herd of Mac people who would rather give up their firstborn than go back to fighting IT battles with their computers (not to be confused with the herd of people who went to Mac first, never used a windows based machine, but swears that Macs are better anyways.)

Let me back up a bit. 
A couple of years ago, I got a Dell Inspiron 1705E that has a lovely 17" display. Little did I know that the reason that Dell could offer this computer at such a low price was because they essentially took parts that they knew they wouldn't support anymore, threw them in and said, "Hey, a 17" at this price? We must be out of our bloody minds!". It turns out that WE, the consumers were actually out of our minds. 

About a year into owning the Dell, things started to act a little wonky. Another 3 months, then my soundcard went, my screen almost fell off, my keys got stuck, my DVD drive broke, my Audio-In jack bit the big one, and it won't connect to any network.

So to make a long story short, I'm now the proud owner of a brand spankin' new Macbook. So far, it's doing the job. The graphics are OK (I need to buy another 2GB of RAM. The display, while bright, isn't 17", but it'll do. It won't network with my Dell, but sees pretty much anything. I'm a huge fan of dynamic memory allocation (the cool thing that Macs do to give back ram after the program you're using is shut down. Windows doesn't do this). 

The main graphics program I use, Lightwave 3d has Mac versions (for everything except for the most current upgrade). My painting program, Artrage has a mac version. My 3d painting program, 3d-Coat has a mac version. I have Skype, Adium for all my messaging needs, and iLife, which comes with OSX (I have a hard time saying OS Ten, 'cus OSX sounds much cooler).

I'll be the first person, however to say that the claims that Macs "don't get viruses" is bullshit, and a pox on anyone who says different. While I haven't gotten one yet, (thank god), it's only a matter of time before I do. The only thing preventing Macs from getting viruses is that there are fewer people writing viruses for Macs. It'll happen folks, you mark my words.

Aside from that, I appreciate the stability (even though i've crashed it about 8 times now since I bought it from massive memory usage). I haven't had to fight with it since I bought it. It doesnt take 5 minutes to wake, and runs like I just booted it. 
Rendering my stills in lightwave happens pretty fast (even with interpolated radiosity activated). 3D painting flows a lot faster, unless i'm working with a very highpoly mesh.

All in all, i'm happy with it. I'm still getting used to the change from Vista to OSX, but with the help of a very good friend, I'm a lot more comfortable with it. 

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mesh-up Mash Up

Recently, I did a search for CG artists in the surrounding area, as I do often. I do this just to see if anyone new has popped up, and to try to network a bit.

It's been pretty disappointing in the past, because 3D artists are few and far between, mostly to be found in major cities like New York and Boston on the east coast, and a lot more on the west. 
I found a site,, and discovered that the studio is actually just down the street from my office, so I decided to call them up and see what they were all about. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, just maybe a newtworking opportunity, but they were kind enough to invite me over to chat after work. 

On Thursday, I stopped by their studio, met the owner, and one of the modellers. It was a really nice meeting, and they liked the few samples of work that I brought with me. They're a Maya house, (meaning that they use the software Maya), and I use Lightwave. For those of you not in the know, knowledge of how to use different pieces of software can make or break you in this industry. Luckily, there are ways to convert from one to the other. 

They asked to see some more of my work, so I pulled some together after I got home, and sent it to them. I got an email back praising it, and was told that they'd consider me for their next big project. 

This is actually a huge step for me, because I've never really formally studied 3D, and never expected that my work would catch the attention of those who do this for a living. 
So we'll see where this goes, but for the moment, i'm feeling pretty good. Below are some of the pieces I sent over.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Slowly Getting Back on the Saddle

I've been very lax with my project. I think it's because of poor planning. Last monday, however, I started doing my best to storyboard my graphic novel, based on an updated script.
I've been doing a quick sketch on index cards what I'd like page to look like, and then writing on the back of the index card writing any notes about the page, models that have to be made, and thoughts on each one.

Just to give myself a quick burst of motivation, I tried making the first page (or at least, page -1). Here it is:

This weekend, i'll continue working on my story board, spruce up the page above a bit, and set some goals/milestones so I can keep myself going.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

PS3's HAZE: Run of the mill game, or brilliant military commentary?

This post may contain spoilers for Ubisoft's PS3 title, HAZE

"They told me I would be the best. They gave me the best weapons. They gave me Nectar."

HAZE, the newest first person shooter for PS3 follows Shane Carpenter, recent college graduate and member of the private "Mantel Army" who learns early on that he's fighting for the wrong side.

During the early stages of the game, Shane (and
you) learn how the Mantel Army works. Being the most successful private military, you have access to the most advanced weaponry, tactical information, and one key component, Nectar, a super performance enhancing drug.

The Nectar administer is attached directly to the back of the character's neck, and supplies a steady dose of the drug. By pushing a button, the player can administer higher doses, reflected by a gauge on the left hand side of the screen. These higher doses allow the player to see the enemy combatants surrounded by a hazy glow and from farther distances, see farther through the scope on their weapon, hit harder and sense danger such as grenades.

There are two immediate downsides to the Nectar drug. The effects do not last long, maybe 60-90 seconds per dose, so the player has to constantly administer it to themselves, something you hear your computer controlled squad-mates doing as you hear a click-hisssss as they run by. Also, if the user uses too much of the drug, they can overdose, not be able to tell friend from foe, have vision problems, shoot their weapon uncontrollably and pull the pin out of grenades and hold onto them (i'm assuming from muscle spasms).

The one main downside (or upside, depending on how you're looking at it), is that Nectar sterilizes your environment. That is to say, the player on nectar doesn't see what the regular person sees. The player walks into a room, sees a clean room with a door on the other end and a few desks. What they don't see is the dead bodies littering the floor, the blood splatter on the walls, and the player's own hands covered in blood. However, because the suit that the player wears delivers a constant low dosage of the drug, none of the other soldiers ever sees the gruesome damage that they cause.

Halfway through the game, the player's Nectar Administrator is permanently damaged, and he sees everything. This of course, leads him to question everything he was fighting for, and instead of his team wanting him back to fix him up, they try their best to kill him.

I'm skipping around here, but the player eventually joins
the group of rebels that he had previously hunted as a Mantal soldier, and you learn that the reason for the entire skirmish is that the plant used to produce Nectar grows in the rebels back yard. Instead of striking up some kind of deals with the rebels (who at the beginning, weren't rebels at all), Mantel tells their people that the rebels are involved in ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, terrorism, and that their leader gruesomely disfigures captured prisoners.

Let me say that again.

The army that you're a part of can't
see the destruction and brutality they're causing while invading a country to steal its natural resource under the guise of liberating its people from a terrorist group with an insane leader.

It wasn't until close to the end of the game that you realize that the leader of the rebels uses the same speeches to motivate his troops th
at your former squad leader used to pump his guys up before a mission. Also, one of the last lines in the game is about how the company used the drug in the wrong ways, and in the rebels hands, it would be used for good.

The most powerful weapon was indeed the drug, Nectar that was given to the soldiers. How could any regime defeat an army that couldn't see the evil it did, and willingly removed itself from the moral responsibility of its actions? Wrap all this up in a drug that made them stronger, faster, and more effective, as well as constant encouragement from superiors to "...go ahead and take your meds...". It somewhat reminded me of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card in the sense that if the soldiers knew what they were actually doing, they never would have pulled the trigger.

So, this game touched on a lot of interesting points, but was far enough removed to look at the plot objectively. Many reviewers gave it a poor score, but I feel that they missed the point that the entire game was social commentary. I found a military with little oversight going into a foreign country on the grounds of liberating people from evil while actually just trying to secure their own interests somewhat familiar. How about one military group not learning from the mistakes of another?

All in all, it was an interesting game, and interesting concept, even if executed poorly.
One thing this made me think though, was that more games should follow in the footsteps of Haze and Battlestar Galactica in making social commentary. It is a viable medium after all.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Important Tax Rebate Information from TurboTax

Wondering why you haven't received your stimulus check yet? this may be the reason.


Nice of them to fess up early - ____-

Important Tax Rebate Information

Dear Valued Customer,
We want to provide you with the most up–to–date information about the tax rebate to which you may be entitled.
Recently, you may have received a letter from the IRS advising you when to expect your Economic Stimulus Payment (rebate). That IRS letter may have inadvertently left off some important information. Taxpayers who chose to have their tax preparation fees deducted from their federal tax refund will receive their tax rebate in the mail, not via direct deposit.
Our records show that you chose this payment option in TurboTax. As a result, the IRS has determined that you will receive your tax rebate in the mail. This may result in you receiving your rebate on a date later than expected.
This situation, while not unique to TurboTax, is understandably causing some concern and confusion. To help further clarify the situation, below is the most current IRS rebate payment processing schedule, as well as additional resources about the tax rebates.
I hope you find this information helpful. If you still have questions, the best source for the most up-to-date information is (see the "Rebate Payment Questions" link).

Bob Meighan

Vice President, TurboTax Customer Advocacy

If the last two digits
of your Social Security
number are:
Payments will be
mailed no later than:

00 – 09
May 16

10 – 18
May 23

19 – 25
May 30

26 – 38
June 6

39 – 51
June 13

52 – 63
June 20

64 – 75
June 27

76 – 87
July 4

88 – 99
July 11

Sunday, May 11, 2008

With a Purpose

There are too many times when my main goal in art is to do something that just looks cool. This would look great! That would really impress people! While cool looking pieces are fine and good, they lack something that pieces with substance behind them have.

I've recently been getting into Google Sketchup, which is a free 3d modeling program that is basic enough and intuitive enough for the 3d novice to pick up and feel comfortable with pretty much immediately, but powerful enough to be used in the production pipeline of many architectural/ACAD studios. As some of you may know, back in high school I wanted to be an architect. I didn't care what I was designing, be it bridges, buildings, apartments, classrooms, as long as I was designing something. Unfortunately, I didn't get very far, as I picked up Japanese and did it a bit better than I ever did architecture, but the desire to design something that is closer to being tangible than airships and angel wings hasn't disappeared yet.

While doing some research on tutorials for sketchup, I came across this link. For those who are too lazy to follow the link, this architectural firm has used sketchup in the past to create eco friendly single and multi-family green homes. How's that for doing things with a purpose, eh?

The way I'm seeing it now, I have something I'm passionate about. I can keep the fruits of that passions (hmm) to myself, or I can try to do something with it. Something meaningful.

Now, I may not be a great architect, or a renowned painter yet, but I should start somewhere, and sometime. So why not here and now? So Now I'm making a resolution. From now on, every piece I do is going to be for a specific purpose. No more, "Wow, that looks cool!" for the sake of looking cool. Everything I do is going to be to in the efforts of learning something, or the piece will be used for a specific purpose.

Does that mean that Nevergreen is on the outs? No, not quite. NG was originally conceived as a reason to learn how to model more complex scenes, learn color theory, shot composition and lighting. It evolved into the story that I want to tell, but it has an educational origin.

I want to help people. So I'm going to take what I love, and figure out how to help people with it. Or at the very least, I'm going to have a reason for my art. Art for the sake of art lacks substance, in my opinion.

I want mine to have more purpose.

Monday, April 21, 2008

More Updates

Its been about a month, and I haven't had a cigarette.

That's so weird.

There are times when I think i'd like one, but then, I don't.

I've been working out pretty regularly, doing good things for myself that have been long overdue, and getting into new things as well. I've gotten into digital sculpting (which really is an offshoot of 3D) and painting more. I went kayaking for the first time (thanks KS for the pix!) and I LOVED it.

Good things are happening, I can feel it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Maja update / 3D Coat Magnifying Glass

Small update here, been painting (and now 3D sculpting) like a fiend now. I'm feeling better and better with the painting, as its feeling more like what I want it to feel like.

On the other hand, there's this one, a magnifying glass modeled in lightwave and detailed in 3d coat (a cheap alternative to the more expensive Zbrush or Mudbox), and while I feel this is amaturish at best, I think i'm getting the hang of it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


So, this was something that i've been working on, based on a photo of someone that's been on my mind for a while now.

I'm trying to capture that warmth that people have, and that bit of imperfection that so many cg artists miss. Of course, this isn't CG, but i'm also trying to focus on the correct highlights and shadows that appear with regular lighting.

I like how warm this one is, I purposely chose a warm canvas (the reddish brown background) instead of a cooler color like green or blue or something neutral like grey.

I like how all the tones are kinda the same flavor as the background. I'm a little worried about the hair, because hair is so hard to paint, but i'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Losing someone is one of the worst feelings that we have to experience. It's even worse when it's a conscious choice.
Due to things that i'm not going to explain here, I had to make that choice, and it'll always haunt me. It's haunting me right now, every moment of the day.

I have to figure out how to do this, or that choice will be in vain. I have to jump into things that I have to do. I have to make myself better.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Status Update: DAVE, Artrage and bills...

Its been a long time, and I'm at work, so I'll cut to the chase.

Here's where I stand in my pursuits to be a CG Rockstar akin to the glamor and prestige of Steve Jobs:

My recent application for Sallie Mae financial aid to go to the Digital Animation and Visual Effects (DAVE) school have been less than fruitful, to put it lightly, so it looks like I won't be attending anytime soon. This pretty much blows, because not only does it throw off my momentum, but it's been a major hit to my ego and self-esteem. I still feel like this is my future, and this is a sizable obstacle to overcome. Unfortunately, it's one that I haven't figured out how to address yet.

Because of all this, I'm trying to keep myself motivated by continuing to learn Lightwave, cg theory, color theory and related techniques... I still have so much to learn, and while self-study will only get me so far, it's still progress.

To improve my understanding in color theory, lighting, and composition, I'm taking a more traditional approach. A while ago, I purchased Artrage by Ambient Design and a new Wacom tablet. I'm trying my hand at painting, as it will force me to pay more attention to detail when it comes to lighting and color theory. I've impressed myself so far with what I have been able to achieve, but I'm not going to let that get to my head. I can always get better... Once I've completed, or at least made significant progress with a piece, I'll post it here, along with what I was trying to achieve or focus on, as well as the style and any other thoughts I may have.

In completely different news, but still relating to self-esteem and ego, crappy financial situations blow. In the past month, I've had to spend $750 on my car, an extra $400 on my phone/phone bill, run up my credit card, and dig for change. I'm not the most financially stable person, but I've usually been good about keeping things in check. Because of seemingly random unfortunate events, I've felt pretty much strapped, and not wanting to do anything, art related or not. But after some good counseling from priceless, irreplaceable loved ones, I think I'm on the road to mental recovery from the blow I took, and moving forward.

Slowly, but surely.

More to come.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Video Test

Two posts in one day?
You guys sure are lucky...

Video test for production diary:

Mobile blogging

Mobile blogging

So I figured out how to blog from my iPod touch. Sweet, eh? Now I can
do some running commentary on life on the go ( or at least when I can
find a wifi hotspot.) If only this worked with video as well.

Speaking of video, since I couldnt sleep last night, I took a friend's
advice and made a short 6 minute video production diary.
Unfortunately, I'm still trying to work the kinks out in posting it,
so expect if later on this week! Now off to find sone lunch, and get
some more work done.

Sent from my iPod

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Make your own look..."

That's the advice the advice that I hear most often. While trying to
set myself aside from all the other 3d artist our there, especially
those that specialize in cel shading, its mighty hard to find a way to
define style when everything always ends up looking like cg.

Cel shading, for those of you that don't know, when related to 3d art,
is the process of making a 3d model look like it was hand drawn
instead of looking like something more realistic or something out of
Toy Story. Many 3d applications have cel shade plugins, but without
either a lot of time, or intimate knowledge of of the plugins, the
results often are instantly recognizable as what they are, or just
plain mediocre. I don't want my work to fall into either of those

So, aside from rebuilding my primary assets (main character models and
objects that will get a lot of page space) I have to find an
economical way to keep quality high while defining my own style.

Through lots of trial and error with the lightwave texture node
editor, I think I have found a solution.

What's next is now finishing the rebuildng of my primary and secondary
assets, finish re-writing my outline and get started on my script.

Its a long, trying process, but it'll all be worth it in the end, if
not just satisfying for me.
Wish me luck.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Nevergreen: Karin redux v1

No hair yet, but using some new things i've learned to make her better.