Heat waves, countdowns and final credit squeezes, oh my.

For the past week or so we’ve been enjoying/suffering (depends on the point of view, I suppose!) a heat wave in the Netherlands, much like most surrounding countries. I enjoy these temperatures and have been able to catch up on tanning on our roof terrace – cozily stretched out on a large towel, my head on a pillow, sipping ice cold cola and listening to music from Spotify on our PS4 – in between the last preparations I need to make for our wedding and that last dangling retake. As it stands right now, I won’t be getting my propaedeutic diploma this year, but I’m trying not to beat myself over that. My last retake is for TX2, which was a bit of a surprise since I was confident with my assignment. Ah, well. Live and learn.

Photo taken in Denmark, July 2012

Photo taken in Denmark, July 2012

Speaking of wedding preparations, a few more things have been crossed off the considerable to-do- list. Our cake size has been finalized, our afternoon entertainment ordered, and another meeting planned with our restaurant to go through the last details – woohoo!

I’m still going to get some stuff printed (our guestbook-poster, which I REALLY WANT TO POST BUT I SHOULDN’T), home-printing maps for our Finnish guests and tiny bit of DIY for the place cards. The weather is still a bit of a question mark, since as I see it, this heat wave will end with a bunch of rain, and depending on the favor of the weather gods, we might either be marrying in sweltering heat or pouring rain.

Not sure which sounds nicer at this point.

Awhile ago we popped by to see the free demonstration at Dragonheart in Enschede, where they keep a bunch of owls and do demonstrations and such. Here’s a photo of myself absolutely overjoyed with an owl called Anduril!

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Owls are such amazing critters. My future hubby took a bunch more photos than I did, since I was SO focused on watching the owls.

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Finishing The Witcher 3, and final 2 deadlines to go!

I managed to squeeze out most of the projects that were due last week by working like crazy. What I am most proud of so far is my Texturing 2 course hand-in, because I loved working on these textures so much!

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I also worked a lot on blinn shaders in Maya for our rendering project – though since my NURBS car wasn’t in a presentable shape, I used someone else’s model for the rendering purposes.

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I also got compliments on my polyester satin shader, which I researched and made an anisotropic shader for.

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After shoving my procedural modeling assignment in our teacher’s direction, I slumped down to finish The Witcher 3. Hey, one must reward herself sometimes, right?

What a brilliant game. I might have just found a new favorite game series! Graphical splendor aside, I enjoyed most of the side quests almost just as much as I enjoyed the main plot. The characters didn’t feel shallow at all, and their interaction was so much fun to watch. Watching Geralt think that Ciri was dead broke my heart into a million little pieces, and then when she embraced him… ah, more or less manly tears were shed. Straight from the bottom of my heart. And the ending took my breath away, even the bad bits – while I could have kicked Radovid’s ass, I chose not to involve myself with Dijkstra overly much. As it seemed, pretty much any stance on the war in the Continent ended up feeling like a bad choice, and I would have preferred to not have any say in it. Emhyr seemed like a bad choice, Dijkstra as well, and Radovid the worst choice of them all – mostly due to his witch hunts. Needless to say I saved every succubus and doppler I could? THE SAVIOUR OF THE DOWNTRODDEN, that’s what I was.

I also loved, loved, LOVED the soundtrack. It’s hard for me to pick my favorite song, so I think I will pick 3!

“The Fields of Ard Skellig”, the environmental music playing whenever you adventure in the Isles:

“Silver for Monsters…”:

And Priscilla’s song, “the Wolven Storm” (which is not on the official soundtrack – such a pity!):

Shivers, shivers all over.

And since I still have Modeling 2 (NURBS!) and animation ahead of me, I better get back to the grind. :)

Last game lab day, first ever manicure and vacation feelings!

Realizing the fact that Thursday could have been the last day I saw the folks of IllumiNaughty made me a little sad. The last day was filled with frantic back and forth of art asset finalizing and a few waves of testing – to the point where I cross my fingers we have a good playable by the deadline. We have been working hard to finish Into the Spectrum and have managed to cross a bunch of obstacles, but I tend to get emotional when the finish line is in sight.

I’ve had great times with the team, and I hope all of us make it to the next year.

I had to leave early because I had an appoint at a manicurist whom my future MIL has known since forever. After my future hubby came home, I grabbed the car and picked up the MIL to drive to a nail studio here in Oss. The owner, a cheerful lady by the name of Cindy, did a manicure on me (the first one in mah life! This year has been a year of firsts for me..) and we also tried out a bunch of nail polishes. It seems like the whole of OPI collection was lodged in that studio! So many colors, and all of the crazy collections covering the wall and parts of the floor made my head swim. My Canadian nail polish fan friend would have been like a kid in a candy store.. :) Regardless, I found an awesome shade for our big day (which will be a secret until further notice), but wanted to try something else until then – so I settled on a nice sparkly lacquer called Shine For Me.

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On me this color looks very blue instead of the silver-greyish it looks here. Due to my skin tone, I guess? Think I will buy a bottle for myself, since it’s a fairly subtle color and could go with most of my wardrobe  – the problem I have with red nails is that it can clash horribly with the blue shirts I have…

With this taken care of, only a handful of things remain unarranged for our big day on the 17th of July.  My bouquet is on its’ way from Russia and should arrive within a few weeks, and we’ll only meet our wedding official 2 weeks prior to our wedding date (which has given me a lot of stress so far, since I don’t know what we still need to arrange for the ceremony!).

I’m looking forward to finishing my assignments within the next 3 weeks so I can finally, actually, truly relax for a few months. I’ll finally have a vacation during which I won’t need to worry about falling behind on assignments or anything else, but just enjoying while hopefully getting enough credits to move onto the next year and focusing on concept art from then on!

Since I’m going to turn on turbo assignment mode, I can’t promise I will make a post next week, but if I have the time, I will.

Wish me luck!

Block D – final lap!

Next week is final lecture week of block D, after which there are enough crazy deadlines to drown in. Personal deadline hell, that’s what it is. As if it wasn’t hard enough, I’m also being distracted by all the shiny things I could buy for our wedding. And the fact that I still haven’t figured out a decorations scheme, but working on those kind of things for the next 4 weeks is kind of out of the question. *major pouty face*

I’ve been working my butt off on the texturing assignment in the hopes of being done with it soon!

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Working in Substance Painter is just so much more intuitive than working with 6 different programs to get one model textured. Granted, I’ve had to do some work in Photoshop as well, but the dirt, metalness, scratches and roughness maps are all painted-in. While this still requires some work, I’m really getting there. The only thing pissing me off is the ambient occlusion for the bow, but I can’t seem to get it right no matter what I do.

For rendering I’ve gotten a basic start on most of my shaders. Luckily I’d consider this course to be the least amount of work, next to the Study Coaching essays and such I already delivered. I think I’ve broken some personal record on how fast I got my self development report done, thanks to my current Game Lab group.

Speaking of Game Lab, I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Things are coming together, and I’m fairly certain we’ll have a playable game to deliver at the end of the block.

Disc cover courtesy of  Flora van der Linde

Disc cover courtesy of Flora van der Linde

A lot of things could have been done better, but hey, live and learn, right? Sometimes it’s better to let people try their wings and learn from their mistakes. Trust me, I’ve also learned from mine, especially when it comes to how I’m perceived by my group and how I can help improve communication between disciplines.

My stumbling blocks for the deadline hell will be procedural modeling and animation, though, I think. So far I have a base for my temple and need to come up with a roof, as well as basic textures.

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Houdini and procedural modeling in general are cool as heck, but my brain’s not really in the learning mode at this point of the year anymore, unfortunately. This year has taken a lot of energy from me, and I’m happy I’ve stayed sane so far! To be honest, this is the hardest I’ve ever worked for anything, and despite my shortcomings, I should be damn proud about where I am right now. :) The same goes for everyone else who has pulled it through until the end of the year. This education’s tougher than all my past jobs combined!

I’ve seen a bunch of new IGAD applicants wandering the hallways in the past week who have come in for their tests and interviews. This is a big difference from what it was last year, since a bunch of us were accepted without an interview, myself included. All of us are eager to hear more about IGAD v2 as well, but unfortunately there has been very little information regarding the new system. I’m afraid next year will be utter chaos for a few months, but I’ll worry about that when we get to it.

Well, back to finishing this texturing assignment of mine, so I’ll be a step closer to finishing my assignments! :)

PS4, The Witcher 3 and loads of self discipline

My, oh, my.

Last week I bumped into an online sale of sorts that made me giddy. Playstation 4 and The Witcher 3, for 399! I wanted a PS4 SO BADLY for the longest time, and I had heard great things about the newest installment in the Witcher series. But since I’m in the last stretch before exam week, and my deadlines are looming ahead, would it be a good idea to get the package? But then again, the offer would only last until the beginning of June, and I would still be neck-deep in a pile of work. And yet again, thinking about the amount of money saved, since I was planning to get them anyway (my laptop is NOT good enough to run this game properly), I might as well. Decisions, decisions! Before I could make up my mind, though, my better half ordered the thing. Without telling me. And then it arrived, and I was squealing like a little girl.

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In white!

 

I played a bunch on Saturday, and I have to say, this game is mind-blowingly amazing. I could never get into the Witcher 2 due to the clunky combat and the learning curve, but I have another friend who is the biggest fan of this series – and now I know why. If you’re into gritty, sarcastic not-quite-heroes and decisions that actually feel impactful in the long run of an RPG, this game will blast your mind into smithereens. In a good way, mind you.

Your interactions with the world aren’t only about who will like you and who won’t like you, á la Dragon Age, but making a decision either way might, indeed, cause characters to die in horrible (and I mean horrible) ways. When choosing between two evils, you never know what the consequences are until it hits you on the head from behind (*cough*Bloody Baron*cough*), and you can either choose to live with it or revert to a previous save just to see what the other choice would have gotten you (assuming you maintain 6 save slots like I seem to do, because saving is a thing you do a lot in this game!).

Pictured: my kind of relaxation.

Pictured: my kind of relaxation.

I’ve also found myself adapting to Geralt’s way of thinking and despite my do-good tendencies I find myself doing things just because that’s what someone with his morals would be the most likely to choose. I am not saving every merchant who is about to be robbed, I haggle ferociously about Witcher contract rewards whenever I can, and woe be to those who hurt my friends!  Actually, it’s quite freeing – not having to play the benevolent ruler of all the lands, and choose to slink out of the back door if I stand to gain nothing from involving myself in a conflict. And sometimes I just call out the clergymen for preaching stupidities, because they do nothing but whine while I save townsfolk from drowners and leshen.

In between slicing lesser vampires into suitably thin slices and galloping across the countryside I’m also managing to work on my texturing project. Our teacher mentioned a new program called Substance Painter that I just HAD to try..

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And now I am in love with it. Painting directly on the mesh, choosing metalness, roughness, and height values as I go? It’s simply AMAZING. While I’m still trying to figure out an optimal workflow, it takes a bunch of work to make this bot look right. At any rate, I think this approach suits me better than hand-crafting the normal maps one by one.

Now to work through my weekend and get a bit closer to being finished with this all – and closer to our wedding. :)

My Cintiq is back home – celebrating by showing some recent sketches

After a week of testing they (the store where I bought my shiny) still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my darling Cintiq, so I received a replacement. Brand new, shiny Cintiq. Welcome home!

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My apologies for the low-quality picture. :<

I’m happy in ways that can’t quite be described. When you have one of these monstrosities, you get used to ALL THE SPACE, and downgrading from 27 inches of drawing awesomeness to a 15,6 inch monitor and an extra-wide drawing tablet is painful indeed. While it still requires some tweaking on colors and brightness, I’m going to love being able to work on the Cintiq again.

Recently I’ve been sketching a bunch and thought – why not, I’ll just do a sketch pile and post it here. It’s missing my worst attempts at digital figure studies, because those were just plain awkward.

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As you might notice, I’ve also been playing with a couple of logo ideas. I’ve been entertaining the thought of starting an artsy business on the side of the second year of IGAD doesn’t come to pass for me. Anything could happen and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared!

On the note of being prepared, I’m keeping my thumbs up for all of you new IGAD applicants! The deadline for the intake assignments was at the start of the month, and I see my traffic dwindling little by little (insert sad face here). But I hope I will have helped and/or inspired a bunch of you, and that you will be accepted! Either way, I will keep on a-blogging about school and my artsy aspirations. I’m planning on focusing a few weeks after our honeymoon entirely on art by following one of the programmes at artcamp.com to get a better grip on color and fixing some of my other shortcomings as an artist. The more non-drawing things I’ve been working on at school, the more convinced I am that this stuff is what I want to do – I just have to work on developing better habits and more variation in my work. Forever a work-in-progress,  just like us humans in general. :)

Art books and full agenda!

The other day I could not resist the urge to buy this box set. The Sky: Art of Final Fantasy by Yoshitaka Amano.

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I’ve wanted these books for SO LONG. The price had gone down to 66 euros from 99 euros, so I just HAD to grab them. While browsing through them I realized something – it’s fun to see that some of the monster concepts Amano made for the first Final Fantasy are also part of the newer installments. These books have been my way of relaxing in between delving into my massive mountain of school assignments and have actually inspired me to draw a bit, too. Nothing worth showing just yet, but fun doodling nonetheless. :)

For the rendering class we needed to pick a material to research and to make a realistic shader of, and I picked satin. I had some leftover fabric from my wedding dress so I figured it could be a cool material to use – easy access and all that! For animation I’ve done a very rough block-in of my hopscotch action, and a bit of preparatory stuff for other things. Besides the NURBS assignment I haven’t really properly gotten started with any assignment (well, I did start with rigging yesterday, but ran into a major problem I need someone to help me with..), and I have about 4 and half weeks to go until deadline. Stress is at an all-time high due to all the stuff that I still need to have prepared for our wedding (seating arrangements in the restaurant! Entertainment! Ceremony details! Vows! My bouquet! Breaking in my wedding shoes!), and you can probably imagine why I’m having trouble sleeping.

The closer the big date is, the more excited I am about it all. It’s going to be amazing! :)

May workation!

There is never a week of absolutely nothing in IGAD, is there?

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Rainy “vacation” week! Let the homework spree begin!

Since we’re not getting a study week in this block, some of us treat this vacation as a sort of a replacement for the missing study week. I told myself I’d be ready with my NURBS assignment by the end of this week and I’m making decent progress despite the fact that it’s probably the most frustrating thing in my life so far. Ever.

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I “only” have the hardest bits (the A-pillar and the darn weird blends around the headlights as well as the gaping hole at the back) left to go, and I am trying to figure out how to deal with them. Never give up, though!

Meanwhile, I’m having a great time figuring out how I want to texture the Hexabot. I kind of wanted to try something more ladylike, so I figured I could texture the ‘bot like Tyrande Whisperwind! Maybe with a bow to boot, if I feel adventurous.

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The design was inspired by this design by zfischerillustrator on DeviantART. I think I will simplify bits of it, leaving out the feathers, maybe the cloth bits as well, and having a few areas of rest in the Hexabot to create a nice rhythm.

I’m doing my best to make sure this block will go fine despite me being slightly distracted by all the wedding-related things. The fact that I’m missing 5 credits because I didn’t pass Modeling 2 yet is giving me some extra stress though, and knowing how difficult rigging is for me I’ve been considering my options if I won’t have the needed credits to continue in year 2.  I think I’ve learned a lot, especially about the things I like doing and don’t like doing, and what kind of direction I want to take my career regardless of whether I stay at IGAD or not. Well, time to concentrate on school stuff and do my best! :)

The first wedding-only update!

I’ve been working my butt off getting everything ready for the big day, and things are more or less straightening out. It’s 2 months and 18 days until the big day, and while I’m also working hard on my school stuff, occasionally I indulge in Pinterest idea sprees and just… drool at things. Now is the turn for you guys to get a sneak peek at what is happening “behind the curtains”, if you will, as I share a few of the things that I have arranged for us. The links in the post are not by any means sponsored, though, so all of this is just my honest opinion.

First off, I’d like to do a big shout-out to our amazing future photographer, Lotte from Lotts.nl. The moment I saw her website some years ago, I decided I needed to have her as my photographer on my big day!

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© Lotts.nl

I love her style of photography so much. Lots of natural light? Check. Natural, unforced poses? Check. Amazing eye for great photo opportunities and nice personality to boot? Check! With her as our photographer one worry is definitely out of my mind. We will get beautiful pictures that are print-it-out-wall-wide-poster worthy, and this is indeed a big thing for me as it’s the best way to remember the day many, many years down the road.

Secondly, Etsy is amazing. I love supporting crafters themselves, and I also adore the fact a lot of the stuff you get custom-made for you. There is nothing that warms up my heart like custom-made things. The thing that makes ordering from Etsy expensive is the fact that most of these crafters seem to be in the US, which will end up in a hefty dose of import taxes. Sigh.

A few of the stores I’d like to highlight are Love Storey Weddings (I am so looking forward to our thankyou-item order arriving!), and Divine Jewel (I’m loving my hair comb like I love chocolate).

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DivineJewel brooch hair comb

The communication with these sellers so far has gone beautifully, and I would definitely order from them again.

One other online store I’ve been ordering from, and love the service, prices and website is weddingdeco.nl. There are so many amazing decoration things available that it’s almost overwhelming. I’ve spent whole evenings trying to figure out my decoration plan, and it’s all slowly coming together.

Besides decoration, weddingdeco also sells these fancy bags:

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I HAD to buy one for my mom. She seemed to be happy with the glittery gold awesomeness, because she was positively squealing.  Another bag titled “mother of the groom”, was delivered to an even more squealing future mother-in-law. Man, I love surprising people.

A few things still need to be done (like figuring out how I’ll be hanging my decorations), but there’s light at the end of the wedding-arranging tunnel. And no, it’s not an oncoming train.

Rainy days, broken Cintiq and our GL game!

Since my last post was dreadfully picture-less (bad blogger! Bad blogger!), I’ll make it up for you, readers, and add lots of pictures in this post!

The pretty weather changed for a bit rainier in the past few days and our kitties have also been feeling a bit lazier than usual.

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The only correct response to a rainy day.

Besides homemade photography, I’ve been also busy with, drumroll please, school assignments.

The only thing deterring me from going all-out on ALL THE THINGS is what my Cintiq decided to do.

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Yes, those are stripes. Multi-colored stripes of doom, dominating the right half of 27 inches of this pretty display. Coming out of nowhere. Bajeezus.

I’m going to have to package this baby up and bring it back to the store I bought it from. Just the sheer amount of dismantling that is needed to make this one ready for delivery makes me want to sob like a little girl.

Sigh.

Before my Cintiq started throwing a hissy fit, I managed to get a few things started for our GL2 game. We’ve finally settled on a working title Into the Spectrum, and I felt like a logo was necessary.

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Still needs a bit of tweaking as I think I need to play with the sizes of the typography a little, as well as finish the scribbly edges a bit better. But hey, it’s more than what we’ve had so far!

Last Game Lab session I also spent time making team logo suggestions, and one logo gained huge popularity. So, I proudly present, the draft of the future team logo of IllumiNaughty!

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Our game is coming along a bit better than last block (we’re making progress with the platform design, monster rigging and animation and all that jazz!), so I’m gaining confidence that we’ll finish it without too many hassles by the end of this block. Another proverbial boulder off my shoulders.

I’m slowly making progress on my NURBS vehicle, and I’m feeling less like I will fail spectacularly this block. Time to focus on getting animation 3 rolling, and make sure my rigging assignment will work out.

Luckily tomorrow is King’s Day, and that means I get to sleep in and work on my assignments! Woohoo!