Applying to IGAD: intake assignments

IGAD intake assignments

Applying to IGAD: Intake assignments

The part that initially I worried about the least in this whole applying process was making the intake assignments. I was quite confident in my drawing skills in general as I had seen some of my competition from previous, and even current, year of applying and in some cases I went “wow!”  and in some cases “…huh.”.

In the end being accepted at IGAD is a sum of multiple factors, of which the intake assignments only play a medium-to-large-sized part. It’s not the whole selection criteria as far as I know, and similar care should be taken when crafting your motivation letter, CV and really making it clear what are the school’s benefits in taking you on board as a student. As an older student-to-be I could play this factor in my favor and display strong work ethics from the jobs I’ve had. It figures, that a person who actually gets to do what they always wanted to do but couldn’t, would probably work their backside off to get this programme done successfully. ;)

Anyway! Enough of my ramblings, and more hints, tips and tricks.

I will go ahead and list the intake assignments, show my final pieces, critique them with what I think their weak points are, and link to resources that helped grow from “I’ll never get this right”  to “Hey, this is pretty decent!”  in a few weeks.

IGAD intake assignments for Visual Artists

I’ll start off with a disclaimer: these were the intake assignments in 2014. They might change them, and you should always follow whatever documentation you get from NHTV regarding these assignments. However, it’s a great artistic exercise, so doing these on your own will allow you to try new things! Just be sure to read through the assignments PDF you get, and make sure to return the files exactly as requested (size, compression, file name).

Drawing a self-portrait

This, right here, was the bane of my existence.

To draw an accurate self-portrait with even an inch of resemblance to yourself, you need to look at yourself in the mirror for long periods of time and note the relationships of different elements of your face. You need to have the observational skills of an owl.. at night…. on steroids. For this one I could not find any articles online that helped me, so that would probably explain why it was one of the harder assignments for me.

Secret shame story time: I re-drew this portrait about 10 times before it actually looked like me. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not. I learned a big lesson about observation.

Self portrait

You probably notice that the placement of eyes is off-center vertically.  I could have probably also spent some time adding some shading to my hoodie. Nonetheless, I’m fairly pleased with the end result.

Drawing a landscape with building(s)

To draw an accurate environment, you have to consider the perspective in all things. I found an article on geometric perspective from For Dummies which helped me to realize that in order to start off well, I needed to define a horizon and the vanishing point(s) before putting in any detail.

If I were to choose my favorite assignment, this one would be it. Since I rarely ever drew environments before, my brain didn’t assume it knew what these buildings looked like, ultimately allowing me to observe the scenery better and ending up with a way more correct drawing than I would have even dared to hope for.


To give myself a bit of critique: Some irrelevant lines are much bolder than need be, and for example the bush at the front wasn’t that well-observed as it looks more like a pile of leaves rather than anything else. I could have also drawn the bricks better by leaving space between them, instead of signifying the space with a line, because I made it look like the bricks were much closer to each other than they actually are! The perspective should be quite accurate however, as I was busy making sure all relevant things were pointing to the vanishing point. Also, a major minus point for myself would be drawing this landscape from a picture (that I took an hour before drawing, but still) instead of following instructions and drawing at the location. I wonder if it shows?

Drawing a clean line art of a vehicle

The most foreign of all subjects for me, this assignment took me plenty of practice to get right. I spent a bunch of lunch breaks sitting at our company’s parking lot just drawing away all the cars that I liked. I also found a great YouTube video for drawing cars in perspective and another one about drawing wheels in perspective which allowed me to get a glimpse of the technique that car fanatics use while drawing, so I used that to my advantage, creating sweeping curves and then blocking in the details.

Car sketches

Car sketches

I found that it was easier to draw from life than it was to draw from a picture, funnily enough! The result was still not 100% what I wanted to be, but I ran out of time (bad excuse, I know). My final assignment file looked like the following:


As critique: This is probably the weakest of all the assignments. The perspective is off and it could be more detailed. There aren’t many redeeming qualities in this one, except that it does resemble a car, and fairly closely. Maybe a few more revisions would have helped. Better next time.

Building a 3D model of a bicycle

This assignment is where I started off as a total newbie to Maya (but not to 3D modeling in general, so I had that going for me, which is… nice.). I re-built my model once, mostly due to my dissatisfaction in my own work quality in the initial model. I went as far as to adding some textures as well, which made me feel like I spent a bit of extra effort on this one!

Resources that I would recommend for this assignment are:

  • YouTube video series on modeling a bicycle in Maya (without sound or instruction, but he goes through the process of figuring out creating the spokes, ie. the math involved, which you can use as a model to create yours!).
  • Maya Getting Started guide from AutoDesk. I used this to figure out how to set up a picture plane to use as a reference for my bicycle, and figured out extruding along curves (used this for creating curved bar parts of the bicycle)
  • Last but not least: creating a free demo account at DigitalTutors, and following their Beginner’s Guide to Maya series (make sure to select 3D and Maya as your interests when creating your demo account to have access to this series) is by FAR the best resource to learn Maya from scratch. You can follow this with any of their multiple, effective but a bit slow, series to learn modeling or animation in Maya. It’s amazing. Do it! I am planning on getting my hands on a subscription as soon as our money situation allows.






Knowing what I know now, I can say that I could have built this model a lot more effectively. I just spent a lot of time making curves and extruding, tweaking, turning and cursing. But it was all a learning experience, and a very valuable one at that!

IGAD intake assignments are meant to test your artistic skills, and it’s a challenge that one should feel comfortable facing. I know I spent a  lot of time researching, practicing and ultimately, putting these things together. However, I could FEEL myself getting better after every attempt, and I think I have what it takes to survive this program. :)

If you’re planning on applying or have already applied, how did your IGAD intake assignments turn out?

Applying to IGAD: introduction

Applying to IGAD: Intro

Applying to IGAD: Introduction

I love a good informational blog post like the next teenager trying to figure out which caffeinated drink to buy at Starbucks.

As a short intro: International Game Architecture and Design (or, IGAD for short) is a university programme at NHTV in Breda. When I started my applying process in February, I had no idea how little information directly related to IGAD was available on the internet. If I were to exclude all Sudan-related “IGAD” topics from Google search results, I’d be left with a handful of articles of varying quality.

Initially, I attended NHTV’s open evening in February just to get a general idea of what the programme was about. This open evening was surprisingly nice, and the while the building could have been a tad bit newer and had working air conditioning, what I heard and saw in the introductions for the different specializations blew my mind. As starry-eyed as I was when we drove home that evening, I had no idea just how much work is needed when applying to IGAD.  Disclaimer; some of these steps are only applicable for “foreign students” (anyone with a non-Dutch diploma), and more specifically for those who have completed vocational school instead of higher education. Also, I applied for the Visual Arts specialization, but beyond the intake assignments, the steps shouldn’t differ. For urgent questions about the application process, please contact NHTV’s international student office – but I will do my best to answer any questions you might have. :)

The following posts are merely meant to serve as a guidepost of sorts. I’m also going to post links to all the sources that helped me with my intake assignments as well as see if I can help you with finding the supplies, software and hardware you need should you be selected.

Application process, and how not to panic

  1. Check the NHTV admission requirements page for IGAD to see if you qualify before you start running around gathering your paperwork! I almost made a mistake with this one and started the application process before I knew I needed to take an English test. Now is also a good time to review your finances: can you actually afford this course? Do you have a laptop or need to buy one? What about study financing from the government? Tuition fees? Do you need to move to Breda (and “rent a room” like the Dutchies would say) or do you intend to travel back and forth (between another Dutch city and Breda)? There are many things to think about, and you have to make sure that you’re not going into this process and realizing halfway that because of x or y something is not possible for you.
  2. Read the NHTV page for applying to IGAD carefully. This page contains the first few steps you need to take in order to apply, and is a kind of a portal to the rest of the pages related to this procedure, unfortunately some of them being in Dutch.  Google translate is your friend. Also, the self-assessment test has never seemingly worked, so don’t bother with it. You’ll have to trust your gut instinct here.
  3. Assuming you want more detailed explanations of the upcoming steps, there is another thorough step-by-step page available in English.  Do pay attention to the deadlines of assignments, and once you have applied via the Studielink service, you should soon receive your intake assignments. If you apply early enough, you can get “a second chance” in delivering your intake assignments, should the first batch be unsatisfactory to NHTV, so I urge you to apply before December!
  4. Carefully make sure that you are preparing everything they ask for in the digital application package.  Especially if you need to deliver English test results – keep in mind, that should you take the TOEFL test as I did, receiving your test results will take 4 to 6 weeks, or even longer.
  5. It’s probably a good idea to make an Excel file with the steps that you need to take, and before when. Mine looked like this:Step-by-step
    It’s so very important that YOU know exactly what you need to do, and before when you need to do it. This Google Docs sheet kept me sane throughout the process. It’s not pretty, but it did it’s job. I even kept an applying journal!
  6. When thinking of making official copies of your diplomas, know that you also need official translations. I circled back to a Finnish translator to have my documents officially translated into English (she did an excellent job!), and then took those official translations to a notary office to have official copies made.
  7. The hole the needed documents and hardware can blow in your wallet is not to be underestimated! I think I spent around 600 euros only on applying (copies, translations, English test, and an application fee that only foreign students have to pay). Meanwhile, I still have to cash out 1000 euros on a new laptop, more on software and books, art supplies and even such trivial thing as a travel card. This number climbs up very quickly!
    This is what my estimation of study-related costs for the next 4 years looks like…costsIt makes me want to sob a little.
  8. Take your time, but don’t let yourself slip when making the intake assignments. You might have to restart several times (like I did) if you’re not familiar with one or more of the subjects, or dislike them with the glowing passion of a hundred suns.
    Give yourself time to practice, and avoid stressing yourself out.

Well, these would probably be my main tips for applying to IGAD so far. In my next post I will talk about the different intake assignments, and point to some resources that saved me from hitting myself repeatedly with a blunt object.

London was a lot of fun!

So, I spent 4 days seeing some good friends and acting the excited tourist in London. :D

I got to see the Big Ben, London Eye, Camden Town, and all in all walked more than my feet could take – I got the blister to show for it! A lot of fun was had, however, and I regret nothing.

While perusing an art store in Wimbledon I saw Drawing On The Right Side of the Brain, and of course had to snatch it up with a bunch of Micron fineliners and a circle template. In another book store in the heart of London called the Forbidden Planet (man I LOVE this bookstore!) I found one of the books I needed for school for cheaper than I could have gotten it in the Netherlands! So all in all I found MANY useful things, and some things I didn’t have the heart to buy.

I do regret not snatching up that owl organizer though. Or the luggage tag.

We also popped by the Natural History museum, and it turned out that they had struck up a greenhouse with butterflies, which I of course had to see.


There were gorgeous, massive butterflies everywhere!



There were so many colorful butterflies that I simply forgot to take pictures in order to enjoy the place.

We also popped by the Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Covent Garden. The food was amazing! I had the rib-eye, and I have to say it was the best rib-eye I have ever had in my life. Yum!

During the plane ride home I started reading through the Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain, and as it turns out, I need to draw another self-portrait. Not my favorite subject, but if it’ll allow me to understand the rest of the book better, I’ll definitely go at it!

So hopefully I’ll have some time tonight for the book and AoS project. :)

Dreaming of art supplies

Lately I was watching a lot of videos from Will Terrell on YouTube, and his videos are amazing. Despite his cartoony style not really being my cup of tea, I can see how much he has worked for getting to where he is right now. That’s how hard every artist would need to work to get to where they want to be. :) He also dispenses his wisdom in a way that I would call motivational. My personal favorite probably being How To Network, which I’ll embed here for your viewing pleasure.

It’s funny, and yet so true, though, isn’t it? :)

I was inspired by his people sketching videos and expert use of Prismacolor markers (it’s nice seeing that artists use other markers than Copics as well!). This made me realize I don’t really have many pens or pencils at all. The last time I stepped into the art store called De Kwast (The Brush) in our city, I held myself back admirably, and only bought a couple of Faber-Castell HB pencils, a kneaded eraser (that I’m not fully sure about liking just yet), eraser pencils (which I do love, holy moly), and the Derwent sharpener that I’ve fallen in love with.


My YouTube drawing video adventure took me to some other videos, and I found out that shakeable mechanical pencils are a thing. No more clickety clicking!


So I went ahead and splurged on a Uni-ball Alpha Gel HD Shaker mechanical pencil (that sounds so fancy!) and some fitting lead (0.5mm, in B and HB) from I hope it will arrive before next weekend, because, dear readers, I’m heading to London for the weekend and am planning on bringing my sketch supplies (including my new, smaller sketchbook with slightly thicker paper) with me to keep me entertained in the plane. :3 I’m SO prepared!

I’ve already been drawing a bunch in the last few days, but breaking in a new sketchbook is a bit of a challenge. Moreover, I’m maybe a bit TOO concerned about anatomical correctness of my human figures, and feel a bit limited about going nuts with the elves, dragons and whatnot. But hey, I’m only warming up – I’m sure it’ll come back eventually! :)

Art space furnishing ideas

Sometimes you just don’t know what to do with the little space you have for THAT MANY artistic supplies. I gathered two art space furnishing ideas that are aimed at getting a decent table, chair and storage containers for a fair price, while hopefully bringing some life and color into a space!

Basic with colorful accessories

Art space furnishing - 1


Quite self explanatory, with some options. Great setup for someone just starting out with a small-ish collection of supplies.

Large work area for sewing or drawing

Art space idea 2


The second setup is inspired by my sewing/drawing area! I’ve left plenty of room over for personal decoration choices with highly functional choices (you could opt for containers in different colors or shapes to customize further). The most expensive item in this setup is the chair – Steelcase Please.  While it is the most comfortable chair I have EVER sat upon, it comes with a matching price tag. I would recommend test-sitting a bunch of options, as these chairs are hard to find in a reasonable price range!

What do you think about these two setups? :)

Texture & light/shadows practice

Because I figured that some practice wouldn’t hurt! :)

Jasmines, reference image courtesy of


It’s still very much a work-in-progress, but I’m enjoying this one a whole lot! I had no idea jasmines were so.. wax-y. That created a lot of bit of reflected light and highlights, and very soft shadows.

I’m also working on a bit of lineart for my Aurin spellslinger, from Wildstar… I got a guest pass from a friend and have been dabbling a little with it. Fun, but very confusing, game.


Not my usual style, but I enjoy doing something different. :)