Sunday, 7 August 2016

Make Me Beautiful! 2 - Let's be Vampires

A little while ago I discovered an absolutely awful picture of myself on my phone.  I'm not sure why I took it as it was from last October and I've slept since then.  I'm even more unsure why I ended up keeping it.  I was completely makeup free, hair like I'd just woken up and no glasses.  Very bizarre.  But then I realised that also makes for the perfect canvas to work with.  So, I thought, what can I do with this?  I'd been watching Interview with the Vampire, so I thought why not test my skills.

Vampires are traditionally beautiful, so I would have to take that truly awful selfie and beautify it.  I've already investigated how to do basic upgrades to an otherwise normal picture, which if you haven't had a chance you can have a look at here, but this would definitely need more effort.  This isn't a self-deprecation post by the way, this is pointing out that it takes a fair amount of work to go from a makeup free, au naturel shot to something vampy.  It gives one faith that maybe we can all be on a magazine cover one day.

I've put together a before and after for the first set of steps.  The contrast really is quite large when you line them up.  I've also captured all the steps I took and further down you can see the more 'me' shot before I was 'turned'.

1. Smoothen skin texture
2. Basic face reshaping
3. Tone correction
4. Blemish removal including removing the nose stud
5. Nose shadow correction
6. Eye bag correction
7. Facial contouring to capture better shadows
8. Eyeliner placement
9. Eyelash adjustment
10. Eyebrow shaping and colouring
11. Iris recolour
12. Lip recolour
13. Hair recolour
14. Light filtering
15. Glow filtering
16. Precision nose bridge reshaping
17. Precision nose tip and nostril reshaping
18. Precision jowl reshaping
19. Precision chin reshaping
20. Addition of sparkly-eye-ness

So that's 20 steps that lead up to this.  It's vampy, but it's not vampire.  Kind of cool though, I think.  I could wake up to having this face on a daily basis.  Maybe if I ever get rich I can use it to take to a plastic surgeon.  I would like this exact nose please!

From then on, it's just a matter of taking everything a few steps further...

21. Reshape eyebrows to create an artificially high arch
22. Reshape the nose bridge further to make it thinner
23. Reshape the nose tip further to make it sharper
24. Reshape the jowls and chin to give the jaw an anime heart shape
25. Inflate the lips, particularly the top lip to give the illusion of hiding larger than normal teeth underneath
26. Photoshop in the tips of eye teeth to prove the point that I really am a vampire in my spare time

So what do you think?  Should I start avoiding garlic and crucifixes yet?

Monday, 1 August 2016

Drawing a Dream

Zombie in profile by Teh Tri

I've mentioned before that I get very regular and extremely vivid nightmares and that I actually don't mind them too much as they give me inspiration to write.  Well, a little while ago a particularly bad zombie-related dream left a very lingering image, which turned out to motivate me into draw something.  I'm still very much practising and figuring out my own style and as a result there are  often days when I super want to draw, but no matter what I do the things in my head come out on the page as if I've been drawing with the wrong hand.  I may be ambidextrous with nail varnish application, but I'm certainly not with a pencil.  

The nightmare had been playing on my mind.  Not in a haunting kind of way, but in the kind of way that meant I would have to use it or I'd just get annoyed at myself.  So I figured I'd take the image that was stuck there and take a stab at drawing it.  I decided perseverance would be the way forward.  That would be particularly important with this one as the main part to it was male and in profile.  My usual go to is female and three quarter facing the viewer.  After about 2 hours I came up with the result which you can see above.  I'm pretty pleased.  The eye is staring, as I'd hoped for, the profile is decent and has reasonable proportions.  I know the tear in the cheek isn't anatomically correct, but I don't mind that.  It's not bad at all for one sitting.  All in all, I'm pleased and it scratched the itch that the nightmare had left behind.

By the way, the original picture was actually different and you can see it below.  I ended up scrubbing out the female face as it just wasn't working for me but it is the closest to what was left in my mind when I woke up.   In writing this I've noticed that the female face is actually pretty familiar to my own profile if it was to be cartoonised.  I didn't realise that at the time.  Creepy.  I wonder if my mind was trying to tell me something. Hopefully not that I'm going to get eaten by zombies.

Incidentally, the female is called Catherine Banner.  She's a frequent visitor to my nightmares and I've written a fair amount about her.  I'm considering putting some of that up on here, but not sure yet.  I feel like she's part of an over-saturated market, so we'll see.

Catherine Banner meets a zombie by Teh Tri

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Moonstone Firespitter Kickstarter - The Final Countdown

Moonstone Logo

It's the Final Countdown do do do dooooo do do do do doooooo do do do dooooooo do do do do do do doooooo do do doooo do do do do do do dooooo do doooooo do do dooooo

There's less than 24 hours to go and I think it's safe to say the Firespitter Kickstarter has smashed it.  As of writing, over 200 models have been pledged for.  Pretty amazing when the target was 12.  4 stretch goals have also been unlocked, including an extra one that was added at the end in celebration of how well things were going. 

I'm really thrilled for T and R, particularly T, as the sheer amount of work that's gone into this has been incredible and it's really well deserved.

But I'm not writing this one to heap praise.  I'm actually writing it to talk about Moonstone from the point of view of someone who's technically still new to playing tabletop games. I've played a few games of Malifaux in the past and to be honest it put me off more than it encouraged me.  I can get frustrated and annoyed about how complex rules are with tabletop games and it seems like you either get it or you don't.  I mostly don't.  By that logic I was naturally a little perturbed when I was asked to play test Moonstone a while back.  I really didn't want to be the one grinning and bearing it.  But I knew how excited both T and R were, I'd heard a lot about it in general conversations, so I figured why not.  It's here, the board looks great and I couldn't pick a box set to watch.

So I went upstairs and found my kawaii kitty tape measure.  Was I going to use a sensible tabletop tape measure?  Hells no.  If I'm going to suffer learning this I'm going to do it in my own style.

As the newbie, I got to place the moonstones.  Woo!  I was assured this was a pretty important stage as it heavily influences play from there on.  Moonstones are the target.  It's all about the shinies.  Placing them pretty much involved me jiggling pyramid shaped D4s (4-sided dice) in one hand and letting them drop over the centre of play.  Naturally, being a pleb, I managed to drop them rather close together and all with their higher numbers to the board, meaning they were going to be harder for everyone, especially me and my newbie-ness, to capture.  Seeing as winning Moonstone involves capturing Moonstones, it wasn't the best start for a beginner.

I also realised that playing against the people making this game was going to prove... interesting.  I could see them plotting.  I could hear them talking about alliances that can be forged against other players.  Bloody hell this was going to be tricky!  I was just trying to process what was on my character cards and how best to play to my models' strengths.  I already knew Moonstone has a nice serving of strategy, but to really go for the fun, you have to take risks on bluffing other players and chancing it with your attacks.  I'm a pretty strategic person and I love chance and taking risks, so to hell with it, I thought, I'm going to ignore their plotting and throw myself in and play.

I may have spent a good portion of the game hiding behind a tree...  In retrospect, I really didn't need to play with that kind of caution.  Especially as the tree didn't actually provide me with any tactical advantage whatsoever.

As it turns out, once a new player, like me, gets their head around the dynamics of play, which takes perhaps 2 turns maximum, the game was really intuitive.  I was honestly thinking I'd finish playing and not really know what had happened.  But it's the total opposite.  If someone is moving towards you and you don't like them, take a step back.  If someone is plotting an attack against you, make the most of your cards to try to counteract it.  Use your opportunities to bluff and cackle manically when it works or learn from it and get revenge next time.  There's also the advantage that even the best player on the board could have a play messed up by good ol' luck of the draw.

Best of all, if you're like me, you can finish the game by striding into the centre of the game towards a character you shouldn't be able to kill and steal the final Moonstone by chancing it all on a single attack.  All without making a prat of yourself in front of seasoned war gamers. 

Let me tell you, victory tasted pretty sweet.  Especially when sprinkled with a little smugness of beating the game's creators.

Victory to me!
With a moon.  Which is made of stone.  One could call it a Moonstone... *snigger*

Why am I dedicating another post to Moonstone?  As a non-tabletop gamer I'd usually stay out of a campaign like this in favour of something related to kittens or World of Warcraft.  Sure, I'm helping because of the hubby, but I could do that in less visible and blog related ways.  In playing Moonstone I've been struck by how much fun it actually was.  Coming in as a real layperson I was able to get the hang of it quickly enough to make decisions without help, plot strategies and really go for it.  It was a great evening.  It's the kind of fun I want available to others like me and this Kickstarter is the first step.

If any of this has caught your attention take a lookie at Kickstarter.  If you'd like some further reading, the team recently released the beta rules, which are available here and are accepting feedback in a closed development group on Facebook, which if you're interested in joining, you can find here.

If you don't want to any of that don't worry though, I'll be back to talking about how much I love Nightwing's arse and the latest thing I've imported from Korea very soon!

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Drawing with the Apple Pencil

Anything Can Be Solved by Flying

Part of my birthday treat to myself was an Apple Pencil.  I was a little dubious that I'd see any real improvements in what my 'finished product' would end up looking like.  But as I've eluded to, I have a project in mind and it requires better tools than I had in my arsenal.  They say a bad workman blames their tools, but honestly, those awful squidgy tipped styluses are just the worst.  Using one, or my finger, meant I could never get anywhere near what I was aiming for.

Today I sat down and did my first real drawing in a long time and I'm incredibly pleased with how it turned out.  I even had a play with water colouring it once it was done.

Maybe there's hope for my project after all.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Moonstone Firespitter Kickstarter Launch & Super Secret Reveal

Oh boy am I excited!  Would I normally be thrilled for the launch of Kickstarter crowd funding for a miniature wargaming model?  No.  But today I am really overjoyed for one. This one!  I'm even more excited than when I started writing this as the funding is going really well!

But let's take it back a step or five.  I've been linked to the wargaming scene for a long time courtesy of my husband, R, and his rather notorious man cave.  It's pretty much a treasure trove (clutter) of miniature models, tape measures, mini trees and houses and tiny pots of paint.  R's favourite talking subject is wargaming and miniatures, so I've also picked up a lot about it all by osmosis over the years.

While I'm not a pro-active player, I own minis and, for a highly unpractised person, I am a pretty competent painter.  But my closest link to the world of wargaming and miniatures is my involvement in helping to theory-craft a couple of upcoming projects that R and his chum T work on in virtually all of their free time.  By theory-craft of course I mean totally sticking my oar in and giving opinions whether they like them or not!

T leads on the creation of Moonstone.  See its gorgeous logo at the top?  That's Mooonstone.  Moonstone is a small team/skirmish based tabletop game in a grim fantasy style. It has goblins with over the top and generally exploding weaponry.  It has fast moving and trouble making Faeries.  It has Humans with amazing hats.  It's also a hell of a lot of fun.

Now to talk to you about the Firespitter model.  T has revealed himself (steady, steady...!) as having an amazing talent for concept art and has taken that concept art, refined it, worked with a digital sculpter named Tom Lishman to bring it to life, and has arranged for it to be resin cast by Hysterical Games.  That's right, the beauty above, Firespitter, is the product of all this hard work.  Today that product is coming to Kickstarter for people to grab for themselves, paint up, make gorgeous and use for their own mini gaming adventures.  Oh my gosh! Go look!

I am honestly so excited and impressed; dare I say it also proud.  Many many hours have gone into getting this model to where it is and I can't wait for other people to get their hands on it.  Even more so, I'm excited that if all goes to plan this won't be only time you see Moonstone.  It's a game after all.  A game I've played and vastly enjoyed (and won hehe).  If this Kickstarter goes well there will be no stopping T and R and I would love to be writing again about the launch of the full game.

Sooo... what are you waiting for?  Have a look for yourself, if you love it and you want to lend your support that would be an incredible thing.  You can also help by sharing this post, visiting Facebook and sharing the Kickstarter launch post, or talking about it to anyone you know who may want to get involved.  This is super important as there some pretty awesome stretch goals to unlock including the models stat card, sexy box art and one I'll leave as a reward/surprise for you visiting the page.

Oh, one last thing... I've been lucky enough to secure the reveal of a super secret piece of Moonstone concept art.  Take a look at this hunk of gorgeousness.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, Shabaroon.