In Top Form

This week’s work is from Paula A H (S3 from OLSP). Paula has very fine observation and proportion skills, so refined that she does not need guide or help lines. In her spare time she likes to try a lot of different ideas out. Looking at fashion, dress design, toning and sketching things that she likes. Below, you’ll see a nice example of some of her fashion ideas. Quick sketching with scribbling tones helps define the shape of the garments without spending hours drawing them out.

Paula also likes to draw and sketch recognisable characters, though rather than keeping them flat and simple, she introduces tone and shadows to give them form and substance. As an Art teacher you usually end up seeing a lot of copied cartoon characters, though I haven’t seen many with this type of attention to detail and focus on shading and light.

Whatever you draw, you should enjoy doing it. It you don’t, then there is very little point in continuing. Art should be something that you feel driven to do, to get anywhere in the field, you need this passion. If you don’t have it, you’ll find it extremely difficult to receive recognition or create opportunities. Paula obviously has this drive and her passion, alongside her continuing progress, is definitely seeing her well on her way through the creative route.

‘Gotta Hand It To Ya’

This week I started my year long placement at Our Lady & St Patrick’s High. As a dive into the deep end I have tested my S3 & S4 at observing their own hands. The photos displayed are from the first sitting of S4. This exercise tests pupils’ observation and proportion skills, as well as patience and their control. It’s a very tough challenge (I think that hands are probably the toughest thing to draw on the human body, if not entirely), though I often think that after it, every other task seems easy to the pupils.

Sticks & Stones

The soundtrack from the With/Without short film is available for download or streaming. The track, written and performed by Rosie B and Rachel W is maybe not to everyone’s listening taste, though I think it’s fantastic.

You can now also send me your tracks through Soundcloud and I can feature them if they’re any good. Click on the Soundcloud dropbox at the bottom of the right column.

AI = Artificial Imagination

The Art Classroom would like to introduce it’s first ever guest blogger, the amazing Ross B, an ex-pupil of mine from Gleniffer High School and the mastermind behind ‘The Joypad’, the video gaming blog.

Guest Blogger Ross B from The Joypad

Gaming is the fastest growing industry in the world today, far younger than its brothers film, music, and art. But gaming is something more than just a medium, it is the best (and worst) of every other medium with its own stamp layered finely on top. And just like movies, there is no reason why gaming can’t be considered art (Duke Nukem is the exception, obviously). So today I thought I’d take a look at design and art in popular mainstream videogames. Take it away, myself.

Bioshock

Bioshock is a first-person shooter set in the underwater ‘paradise’ of rapture, a place which was supposed to be a better place, safe from the rest of the world, but was torn apart by its own arrogance and hubris. The game is rendered in a lovely art deco style, unusual enough for videogames, but it’s the message communicated throughout the game, about a philosophy gone wrong, and a clever meta-commentary on the illusion of choice in games like this.

Half-Life 2

The original Half-Life was considered one of the best games ever, changing the gaming landscape when it was released. It took Valve five years to make the sequel, and by god was it worth it. The game has a brilliant, realistic style to the environments. They felt like places you could actually visit, explore. The game’s eponymous City 17 was created much like a real-world Eastern European city, with the merchantile houses of the 19th Century mixed in with 20th Century architecture and finally stamped on top with the metallic, alien stuctures of the now-ruling Combine threat.

Assassin’s Creed 2

Venice is a beautiful city. The buildings of the Renaissance are astounding to see in pictures and movies. So when a fully-realised Renaissance Italy was revealed as the setting for Assassin’s Creed 2 I was thrilled. Being able to make your own way through Venice over the rooftops, climbing your way to the top of the highest building you could find and just staring at the ridiculously pretty urban sprawl below is an amazingly evocative gaming moment.

Crysis 2

Crysis was praised for its amazing graphics technology when released in 2007, and three years later the technology is even better. The action has shifted from a lush jungle to the concrete jungle of New York City, and by god the views are astounding. Crysis 2 is one of the most realistic-looking games I’ve seen, and its amazing panoramas and views should look even better in motion.

Fallout 3

Fallout is set in a world where everything is gone. The world has been nuked and you are one of the few survivors. The visual themes of the game are brilliant, taking cues from such sources as Mad Max and the oh-so-optimistic world of 1950s America. Everything is made to look like the 50s vision of the future, so all the high-tech weapons have a suitably retro-sci-fi look to them and all normal weapons look very antiquated. The story design in Fallout is excellent though, because it’s your story, your world. You can do whatever you wish and have to live with the consequences. Combine this with the haunting setting and lonely treks through the wilderness and you’ll be immersed like never before.

Halo

The Halo series has three distinct races: the humans, the Covenant, and the Forerunners. All three use different styles to their environments: the humans tend to use clunky-looking designs with their vehicles and weapons and the Covenant have a very sleek otherworldly feel to their designs. But the Forerunners environments are amazing. they have the right level of futuristic looks to keep them looking inhuman but also the right level of antiquations to keep them looking rather normal. These vast, cavernous buildings are full of glowing lights, mysterious technology, holograms and a rather monastic feel to the spaces, rendering the Forerunner environments and absolute joy to explore thater than the drab human environments and the eerie strangeness of the Covenant levels.

Team Fortress 2

Considered a bonus game for those who bought The Orange Box, TF2 is now possibly the largest competitive shooter out there. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, with comedy caricatures for characters instead of ugly realistic people. Characters include the brick outhouse Heavy, a massive Russian who walks about with a mingun; the Sniper, a cold Australian with a sweet hat; the Spy, a French master of disguises who can cloak and pretend to be a member of the other team (so he can stab them in the back) and the Pyro, a gas mask-wearing maniac who can only say “MMMMF!” because of his mask. The entire game is rendered in nice cartoony 3D, making it very easy to look at. The style is similar to 50’s-style advertising, full of relentless cheer even while mauling someone with a sentry gun. The environments are clean, well-designed, and the game as a whole is one of the funniest, best-looking games out there. I’ll leave you with a link to this video called Meet The Sniper, just to show you exactly what I mean:

With that little excursion into the styles and meanings behind art in videogames, I bid you adieu, with this final thought. We see so many games right now that are set in grey future cities, brown destroyed modern cities, or brown and green fantasy worlds. These are the games that frequently get criticised for being generic. I’m not saying that all games should have a style of their own, because that would ridiculous, but sometimes it’s alright. I know how much of an uproar there would be if the next Call Of Duty or Gears Of War were to come out looking like Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker. Style adds variety, and variety is the spice of life: it’s just not the main ingredient.

God, I feel like the Jerry Springer of videogames now.

If you would like to read my post on the Joypad site: A Games Room With A View

For further games reading please check out: The Joypad