On 3D, Maya and McD’s burger box

Our first 3D assignment was folding a cardboard box in Maya. Pretty basic stuff, right?

You’d think. Hah.

McD burger box flat

Behold my flat polygon with its n-gons.

As it turns out, the modeling world is just as perfectionistic about their polygons as the web world is about semantic CSS. Which I can understand, because I hate uncommented code and messy folder structure.

What I did not expect was the amount of fiddling it takes to actually put one of these burger boxes together. If you don’t trust me, go out there and Google it. I’ll wait.

I had to rebuild my model several times, due to mishaps like a badly traced polygon (man, all those little nicks in that box were driving me insane) as well as an interesting bug in Maya 2015 which, when the normals were hardened, caused my box to collapse in on itself like a festive balloon pricked with a needle.

 

McD burger box, partially folded

This one didn’t collapse.

In the end my box wasn’t perfect, but I had to turn it in since I was running out of time. Pity for that bonus point for my grade, but some other priorities need to be considered as well. A lot of lessons were learned, and I need to focus on the stuff ahead of me. :) And for the next time I know to not use such a complicated box.

For next week I will need to start looking into optical illusions and how to build a structure incorporating these things in it. I already found lots of reference material I will be using! So look forward to my impossible object assignment! :)

First week at IGAD – complete!

This has been one exciting but hectic week for me. I got the first touch on how it is to study at NHTV, and I soldiered on despite a cold that is creeping up on me.

In the first “block” we have a couple of subjects (Art theory, drawing skills, modeling, game engines for artists and game lab) that are taught by lecturers with widely differing methods. Some lecturers are not worried about your attendance, while others have taken a more strict approach. Most subjects are difficult but fun such as the drawing class where we got started on the fundamentals of technical drawing, which I never did before. Hey, it has been YEARS since I touched rulers, set squares or a compass last. I can’t even remember us doing as technical things in art class, ever, so it’s a quite big difference. :)

It feels odd to be surrounded by people that much younger than you , but it’s quite refreshing dealing with people who have the same passions as you do. To be able to throw a joke that doesn’t cause blank looks of “What the heck is she talking about?” is amazing!

What it feels like to talk with people who understand your weird jokes.

What it feels like to talk with people who understand your weird jokes.

The workload feels a bit heavier than expected right from the get-go, and now I have a bit better understanding on just why 50% of the visual arts students will quit within the first year. We’re being challenged left and right while walking the tightrope of balancing our priorities for the different classes. Once I get rid of this cold I will feel better about it, I’m sure. :)

AND I ALSO CUT MY HAIR.

It is glorious.

From long to short~!

From long to short~!

Stay tuned for my first technical drawing bloopers. There will be plenty.

Cats galore

Despite me swearing off the usage of the word “galore” previously, I realized it might be very appropriate sometimes.

We have 4 cats in the house right now (instead of the usual 2) due to our friends’ vacation and it remains a challenge to get them (cats) all get along. They can be quite skittish. BUT THEY’RE SO FLUFFY. I want to hug them!

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The Doctor knows what’s up. And no, I’m not a Whovian.

Regardless!

Yesterday I received my schedule for school and OH BOY AM I GOING TO BE SCREWED. I will have absolutely amazing subjects in the first semester (Art Theory! Modeling!  Drawing Skills! Game engines for artists!) but the schedule is fairly spread out and at least a few days will last until fairly late, which means that I will probably be at home closer to 10 in the evening due to my commute.

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My first week, ladies and gentlemen.

Since I have almost everything I need with me (laptop to pass the time playing FFXIV: ARR, or Guild Wars 2, and a sketchbook to draw away in!) so I can get comfortable as long as I have somewhere to sit.

Ahh, this is going to be interesting. Be sure to return next week for some first-week impressions and appraisal of whether I will stay sane the coming 4 years – as doubtful as that is. :)

Exhausting vacation

Oh, yes.

There are two kinds of vacations: one where you get to truly relax and kick back, and another one where you’re too busy doing Useful Things because man, this vacation is too short.

I’m in the middle of the latter.

To our credit, me and N have managed to do almost everything on our (my?) to-do list so far, and nothing calms my nerves like clearing out a mile-long to do list. I even managed to sneak in a lunch yesterday with another Finn who lives in the Netherlands for a few hours of relaxation (granted, the weather wasn’t on our side. But it was, as the Dutchies say, “gezellig”.)

Yesterday I also picked up my art supplies for this year from an art store in Breda.

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Oooh. What’s in here?

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… um, wow. Will I seriously need all of this?

 

Holy moly art supplies. It’s not very lightweight either, so I’m already dreading for my old back with the books (Animator’s Survival Kit says hi) and my beloved laptop.

Oh, yeah. I also bought new books. Yes, of course.

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Books and a furry arse.

“All’s well in the well” as Cynosure would say.

Now, a few more things to arrange, and maybe I can just relax the whole next week. And play FFXIV: A Realm Reborn. Maybe get my fishing class to 50. The simple things in life.

All good things come to an end…

… my FFXIV: A Realm Reborn subscription ran out.

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Dat ass. Why do all MMORPGS have this random-quest-gear-makes-me-look-like-a-clown syndrome?

*gets thrown with rocks”

Alright, alright! Sheesh, guys.

My last day at work felt a lot shorter than expected. We had a nice lunch with the folks, and the reality of cleaning my desk hit me like a truck! It’ll be weird thinking I’ll never (well, never say never, but still) drive to that office again. Bittersweet, that thought.

I commemorated that by doodling away most of the evening.

Environment

I don’t usually draw environments, EVER, but this right here was a lot of fun. Quite doodle-y-, but fun.

On that note… Have a nice weekend!

Stylin’ my school gear: Ogio Street Operative 17

So in addition to my spanking shiny laptop, the bag was something I had to think about long and hard. I’m fairly picky and my taste is very particular, so finding the perfect bag was difficult. Not just hard, but tiring!

But I found the bag of my dreams, and on a sale to boot – that word can make any woman’s heart a-flutter, right?!

So I snapped some photos while unpacking today’s delivery…

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The paperwork..

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My Ogio Street Operative is well-packaged!

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Pretty cool, huh?

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Outer pocket with room for pens, etc

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Inner pocket for a laptop/tablet and books. Very spacey!

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Storm also got curious…

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What’s in here, Storm asks.

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My 15,6 inch laptop fits in this bag beautifully!

Sorry for the crazy image spree, but I’m lovin’ this bag, especially since I found it for 39 euros instead of the usual 69,95!  Go me! :)

On being an artist

As I’m slowly coming to terms with that I’m leaving my old web designer/developer/webmaster/copy-paste slave job behind and starting on what I always wanted to do, I find it hard to stand up to the demands that I have of myself in this new phase. Logically I know I’ll be okay, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t think I needed to be BETTER.

In short, I’m suffering from a hefty bout of impostor syndrome.

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This is something that will pass, but for now I’m trying to keep my chin up and keep on working on my drawings.

I read on DeviantART (read the whole journal entry here) that once a person decides to be something (artists/musician/dressmaker/whatever), it is so, even if they’re bad at it. Getting better is only a matter of practice. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now, I’m not saying you should declare yourself a doctor and go trying to diagnose sicknesses using Google and Wikipedia, but if you want to be a doctor, you have to do all you can to become one.

I think life is too short to be anything but true to yourself.

So, from now (this very second) on I’ll be a dedicated video game art student with aspirations towards environment and/or concept and/or illustration.

I feel like I should spend more time creating. This means I might have to move my workstation (table, chair, desk, laptop, monitor, drawing tablet, etc, etc) upstairs to our second bedroom, but I’m still pondering on that. This would make a great distraction-free environment unlike the living room downstairs with all its’ randomly placed items, reminders of laundry that needs to be done, kitchen messes to be cleaned and so on. The downside would be that the little time that I spend with my better half would be cut down to even less, as at least 3 nights a week he plays WoW with the guys.

I think I need to try this and see how it goes. :)

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.

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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:

car_TiiaVitikainen

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.

bicycle_perspective_TiiaVitikainen

 

bicycle_side_TiiaVitikainen

 

bicycle_detail_TiiaVitikainen

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?