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Dec. 8th, 2014

Deadpool day

Fan art: Jetstream Sam loves that motorcycle

Still not dead! Life is admittedly a little extra shitty these days, which means my dumb goofy escapism is all the more important to me. Whaddyaknow, I'm still weirdly stuck on this one sleazy miniboss from this one goofy hack-and-slash video game.

All those years ago when I first got a tablet pen I would draw exclusively in Photoshop and it was fine by me because I didn't know any better. Then I discovered Paint Tool SAI and after a bit of a steep learning curve I fell completely in love with it and its multitude of brush settings. Now I have found something to surpass even my beloved SAI and it's called... Manga Studio. You can select and manipulate several layers at once oh my God! There are a ton of other features but that alone is, gosh, completely amazing.

So this was gonna be a quick doodle to figure out Manga Studio without fiddling with any of the brush settings, but it kept on going even though adding and expanding a drawing without a sketch underneath is not how I usually work at all. It was a fun experiment though.

stop me if I ever imply I'm gonna draw another motorcycleCollapse )

I feel like nothing sums up where I'm at art-wise than me going "yes I'll meticulously recreate this RL polish logo" immediately followed by "ehh backgrounds, who needs'em".

Nov. 25th, 2014

HB: Steampunk Bush

That other superhero best buddy duo

Tiger & Bunny is a really good anime. I was gonna say "TV show" but I need to get over this weird misconception of mine that "I don't like anime" (I like several animes! Lupin III, Baccano!, Cowboy Bebop, most recently I fell completely in love with Space Dandy, the list goes on). I've been binge watching Tiger & Bunny this last week; I laughed, I cried (a lot), I fell completely in love with the universe and the characters.

A superhero buddy comedy/drama? Hey, I love superheroes! And I love superhero buddies!

Furthermore I love superhero stories that aren't just pale imitations of the DC and Marvel universes. Still, when I try to explain Tiger & Bunny to others I keep comparing it to those universes because hey, these are tropes I'm familiar with ("It's a bit like X-Men, people develop powers, but they use sponsorships sorta like Booster Gold, and the drama is quite like Infinite Crisis, except, well, it's actually competently told").

First, I fell in love with the concept -- superheroes are sort of like reality TV stars, and their sleek mechanical armours are covered with logos to earn those sweet sponsorships. Second, I fell in love with the protagonist Kotetsu, a.k.a Wild Tiger -- a middle-aged deadbeat single dad with a waning superhero career (he's been in the business so long he still wears a cape!), he's a complete loser and yet so sympathetic. All of Kotetsu's superpowered friends are great in their own way (not to mention his foil, Barnaby a.k.a Bunny), and most of them get spotlight episodes that are surprisingly non-annoying amidst the major plot developments.

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The thing about Tiger & Bunny as a show though -- and I'm surprised I didn't know about this considering this show was all over both LJ and other social sites when it premiered three years ago -- is that it's all fun and games with mostly self-contained episodes until the season is about halfway done, then plot threads you hardly noticed in the earlier episodes come together and it get's DARK and HEART-BREAKINGLY EARNEST. The change of direction was definitely thoroughly planned and elegantly executed, but it was quite a surprise.

In summary, Tiger & Bunny is a really good anime.

Nov. 2nd, 2014

Deadpool day

Gear shift

I wore out my beloved running shoes, a pair of black Asics Gel-Kayano 20. It was a difficult concept for me to grasp, because to me "worn out shoes" means they're either coming apart or there are actual holes in the sole. These looked fine -- no bits flying off -- and when I put them on, they felt the same as they always had (I think). But I was suddenly injuring myself running in ways I recognized from the time before I got the Asics. I'd been using them for a year, which I later learned is pretty much the life expectancy of a pair of running shoes, particularly when you're not switching between several pairs.

I went to the super intimidating specialty running store, the one I usually feel too self-conscious to even browse in, because let's face it: I don't look like the people who are usually in there. I'm about twice as heavy as the other women in there, and probably most of the men as well. But I went in, I explained I needed a new pair of running shoes, and the clerk was helpful and supportive and professional. It was a great shopping experience! Fantastic, in fact -- she did a gait analysis of how I run, and I'm doing great! Keep in mind everything I know about running form I've only read about and then had to figure out how to implement... But apparently I've still managed to get rid of a ton of bad running habits even semi-professional runners might struggle with for years.

In the end I got a pair of blue (men's model, I'm SO SICK OF PINK RUNNING APPAREL for women) Saucony Omni 13. I'm still getting used to them -- I really loved my original Asics -- but my knee obviously appreciates running with fresh shoes again.

Oct. 14th, 2014

Bogie

Fan art: Furious Ocelot

More Metal Gear! You know, Revolver Ocelot is a character I have a lot of affection for but in a kind of "Jesus Christ you little shit" kind of way. When I discuss Ocelot with other fans I use about twice the amount of expletives I'd use than when we talk about villains I actually can't stand, so I see how it can get confusing.

He is a piece of trash bastard after all. He's great.

The sketch and a fair bit of rambling about character designsCollapse )

Man I just really hate this trend of making video game characters look exactly like the actors voicing them. It took me out of Mass Effect when the Illusive Man looked exactly like Martin Sheen, it takes me out of Ground Zeroes when I notice how Kiefer Sutherland-y Big Boss is starting to look around the eyes. I know I just said I liked it when Ocelot used to look like Van Cleef, but at least the rendering technology at the time didn't make it a 1:1 likeness.

Oct. 8th, 2014

Astaire: Wry smile

Technicolor tights

Remember when I had that idea of watching all the major Robin Hood movie adaptions chronologically? Well many, many months later I got around to rewatching the second one on my list, the definite article, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

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Admittedly as a film it doesn't offer a lot of nuance or character growth, but the thing that makes it so enjoyable I think is how it has a real sense of progression. It's not a collection of loosely connected episodes like most Robin Hood adaptions tend to be, instead plot point B follows plot point A in a fairly satisfying manner. And even before becoming an outlaw, Robin is unmistakably Robin (not the blushing flower of the Fairbanks version) -- even clad in green and a master archer. This movie knows what you're here for and it gives it to you right away.

It goes through most of the essential story beats you'd expect too, but with a few twists to keep it interesting. It dispenses with the Robin-in-the-Crusades origin altogether; Sir Guy of Gisbourne (played by Basil Rathbone and his amazing eyelashes) is the main villain -- the Sheriff seems to mysteriously disappear halfway through the film; Will Scarlet is, much more than Little John (played by the same guy as in the Fairbanks version, by the way), established as Robin's companion, even before they're outcast; And Much the miller's son is middle aged and has a fairly important part in the plot (and is probably the most underrated part of the movie).

Sure it's got its problems. As mentioned earlier, there's not much storytelling finesse or subtlety. There are some questionable acting choices here and there (like Claude Rains -- usually an AMAZING performer -- queer coding Prince John so hard it becomes a little embarrassing). I'm not crazy about the wigs (Flynn's pristine Marcel waves bother me) and there's something about those costumes, man. For such a lavish production I can't understand making fabric choices that make your costumes look this cheap (so much sheen and bunching, so little texture).

But in the end any Robin Hood movie stands or falls on its lead actor, and Errol Flynn, with his mischievous grin and muscular thighs, carries it pretty darn well.

Sep. 17th, 2014

Bogie

Fanart: Jetstream Sam

A week back I wrote a lengthy entry that LJ promptly ate about my unlikely but overwhelming love for Metal Gear Rising's Jetstream Sam. It's too bad because it would have prepared you a little for this entry, but it's gone so I'll try to explain it real quick.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a ridiculous video game about a cyborg ninja and its core gameplay is slicing robots and cyborgs into very very small pieces with a sword. Jetstream Sam is a villain -- not even the final boss, mind -- a Brazilian samurai with a smarmy attitude and an armour that accentuates his thighs and butt to a mind-blowing degree. In the entire game Sam only has about three important cutscenes (plus a DLC game that was pretty awful).

And I am so smitten with him it's embarrassing.

Oh and his armour also has these weird plastic bits that cover his ears.

That's you up to dateCollapse )

Once upon a time I hit a point where I thought "my art is terrible anyway, I should only ever use it to tell corny, low-effort jokes", and it's really through these last two years I've made an effort to tell myself "no you know what, I'm allowed to attempt to draw genuine things, and even if I don't pull it off it's good practice". And now this; "Okay but I'm still allowed to goof off and have fun drawing too, though".

And the neat thing is that I realized that if I showed even these corny doodles to myself five years ago, I would actually notice my art skills had improved considerably. So thank you, dumb video game samurai that inspired me to draw him as Princess Leia.

Sep. 1st, 2014

HB: Steampunk Bush

Fanart: Basically a Kazuhira dakimakura

So I got a PS3 for my birthday and finally played Metal Gear Solid 4. It was terrible. Nonetheless, it reminded me how much I love the non-terrible parts of the franchise, so now I'm back into MGS in a major way, apparently making up for my awful lack of obsessions this year.

I played Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance which was a lot of fun, and then I took a deep breath and watched all the trailers for MGSV in a single evening (I haven't played Ground Zeroes yet but I plan to very soon). So that's my excuse for this: I got so upset about Kaz Miller I felt a very real need to imagine him safe and warm and content and not being tortured and look he has all his limbs as well.

This is what these games reduce me to.

Don't you hate it when you fall asleep with your glasses onCollapse )

The funny thing is Kaz is from Peace Walker, which after MGS4 is my least favourite game in the franchise. I've just really taken to the guy and realized I've always been more invested Big Boss' goings-on than Solid Snake's.

Jul. 8th, 2014

Fred and Cyd: Don't mind you watching

Nothing like a swishy villain once in a while

Some people have a type of character they're always drawn to, you know? Like they watch a movie or read a book and they come across this character and he/she/it ticks off all the right boxes.

One of mine: The villain's second in command. A bit foppish, a bit vain, often a little (or a lot) less clever than their boss, but always ready to do some backstabbing if there's something in it for them. The moment a character like that gets introduced I know I'm gonna have a good time.

I'd decided it was high time for me to be exposed to The Prisoner of Zenda. All I knew was it featured fencing and was an extremely influential story. I decided to go for the 1937 movie because it had Raymond Massey as Black Michael and I wanted to finally see a Ronald Colman movie. And it was great fun, and then Douglas Fairbanks Jr. slinked onto the scene as Count Rupert.

I can't believe I've been avoiding Fairbanks Jr. just because I don't like his father's movies very much. That was so dumb of me.

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The rest of the movie, enjoyable as it was, became secondary. Rupert primly smoking cigarettes, delivering threats with heavy-lidded eyes, cocking his hat, admiring himself in the mirror, wearing very tight trousers. He had more costume changes than the heroine, for goodness' sake. He didn't leave a single box unticked. Now I don't know if I want to watch more Fairbanks Jr. movies or just keep rewatching this one.

Jul. 4th, 2014

HB: Steampunk Bush

Fan art: Eighth Doctor sketch

Last year I decided I should finish one drawing every month and it really helped me get back in the creative swing of things, but after a while it had me going "Ooh I have an idea for a drawing but I've already finished one this month, I better wait in case I'm at a loss for ideas next month" and it got silly so now I try to draw whenever the mood takes me.

So more Doctor Who -- I'm relistening to all my Eight audios (wow, The Stones of Venice and Minuet in Hell are even worse than I remember them) and in the future I'd like to make fanart of the stuff that happens in them, but first I wanted to see if I could draw the eighth Doctor at all. And I was frustrated with my inability to draw curly hair and decided I needed the practice.

A hopeless romanticCollapse )

Now that I've been staring at a lot of pictures of McGann I'm a little bit surprised at, well, how good looking he is. I know, "duh", but like, individually his features aren't very striking, but they're put together in a very pleasing way. Even when I'm drawing him I get the urge to tidy up his eyebrows and soften those nasolabial folds but then it doesn't look like McGann anymore.

Jun. 26th, 2014

Darkwing: not convinced

I still think this game should have been called Aeroshock

Finally (finally, that last big battle was a pain in the ass) finished Bioshock Infinite. Ugh, I did not enjoy it very much. I really liked the original Bioshock game (though it wasn't as ~deep~ as everybody thought it was), the second was a unengaging retread of the first, and I don't even know what to call this third one. I think maybe the studio are getting a bit too clever-clogs, now there's no end to the shit they put in the games in the name of "deconstructing tropes" and "subverting expectations"

The game really skeeved me out on multiple occasions (like in a "the game developers are creepy" rather than a "this game is creepy" way) and the central skyhook game mechanic handled like shit. Also, not much atmosphere to speak of -- at no point did it have me on the edge of my seat. Basically, it didn't deliver on the promise of that initial beautiful trailer.

There were basically two things that kept me going: The anachronistic soundtrack -- Bioshock Infinite takes place in 1912 but due to time rifts every so often you come across a modern song done in an old-timey style (I adore the jazz version of 'Tainted love') -- and the Lutece twins, Rosalind and Robert. I love the Lutece twins. They appear sporadically and mysteriously throughout the game accompanied by a lopsided waltz and talk fourth-wall-breakingly about parallel universes and quantum physics.

I'm so glad they won the VGX character of the year award, and got to do an acceptance speech:



Yes, I am still going to check out the DLC Burial at Sea -- one, it has Rapture from the original game in it, two; it's a homage to film noir, and three; The Lutece twins appear at some point. There is a distinct possibility it's better than the game I just played.

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HB: Steampunk Bush

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