Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mock up.

I've spent the past however many hours working on a mock up for a presentation that I've got in a couple of weeks.  Here it is:

The first page here is explaining the basic idea of using marker cards for two different levels.  As you can see, in the top left image, we have a top-down view of the city.  In the middle and on the right is the sewer system beneath the city the is revealed as the camera moves downwards.  The background image is the street of the city in a view the would be feasible to attain with a suitable device.

The top image here is how the city and the sewer system would actually be placed in relation to each other.  At the bottom left, we have the view of the sewers and on the right, we have the view of the city.  The player chooses which one of these views to have displayed on their device and the way they can go about that differs depending on the level that they find themselves in or what cards are played on the environment.  The background is a view of the sewer system in a similar direction as the background image in the picture above this one.

Two examples of the effects of cards that can be played on the environment - the inset image is the result of a sinkhole card.  These can be played at any time and in any place.  Here, the city has a sewer system, so the sinkhole will reveal that.  The played may use the sinkhole in order to get down to the sewers, should they so choose.  If the sinkhole card were to be played in an environment that doesn't have any underlying features, then the cards itself would hold data that produces a cave under the sinkhole that they player(s) can explore.  On the main image, we have the result of a signpost card.  These can be thrown down, again, at any point and as they will appear on all devices that are being used; it gives they players a way of indicating a waypoint or an objective (this particular object is a signpost - there are also stones, elevators, ruined statues, etc.).  They will appear (in this case) on the streets of the city and also in the sewer system, so that both of the players will see the marker at the same point on the map.  This can be useful if a player underneath needs a bunker-penetrating missile or deep-earth drilling to defeat an enemy that they need help with.  Once the marker is thrown down, the player on the city street can see it and hit the target from above.

Other markers will not be so player-friendly.  There will be landmine markers that only the player who used them can see and there may be floating mines or animals that will not favour any player when it comes to damaging them.

That's about enough of the computer for now.  I'm going home.  Probably to draw.


Back home.

I'm back home!  After what was probably my most average flight selection, I'm safely down in Blighty.

The week was amazing.  Absolutely fantastic.

Some of the things I took photos of:

I found a Red-Eared Slider.  It was in the pool while I was helping to cleaning out, so I netted it and kept it as a pet for an hour.

I spent a long, long time looking through these Frisbee Golf discs and pondering whether or not I should buy one to bring back home and practise with.  The only problem is that the nearest Frisbee Golf park is Nottingham.  Buh.

And I drove a Porsche!  I was pretty scared and stalled it twice (playing it cool).  I didn't want to floor the thing and take off.

I've got a few more things to upload, but not a lot.  So much happened so quickly that I didn't really think about getting my camera out.  That and for 15 hours over the weekend, I was on the road.  There's not a lot that happens on the road.  Especially in Missouri.

About three days into the trip, I thought to myself "I haven't eaten anything here yet that I can get back home.  I'll have to keep this up."

And keep it up I did.  I ate fantastically.

I had also arranged a lot of things to happen for my wifey while I was away.

Here's a breakdown of our week:

I gave my wifey her old camera with a new battery.  I wanted her to be able to keep a record of what was going on.  I also picked up a laptop for her, wrapped it and hid in in my wardrobe.

I flew over to the States and got stuck in New Jersey for 20 hours.

My wifey went back to my folks' place, had a nap and then got picked up by our friend and brought home in the evening.

I finally got to Arkansas, got picked up by my mother-in-law and went to Sonic.  I wasn't thinking about food until we got there; but I was wanting myself the biggest raspberry sweet tea I could fit my bladder around.  Went back to the house and chilled out before having a rack of ribs from Chili's.

My wifey had a small shift at work in the morning, followed by two good friends coming over in the evening - one making a delicious dinner and the other staying the night and watching girly films and doing girly stuff like talking about pink things.

I started the day with Cap'n Crunch and went into town with my mother-in-law.  Picker up by a friend, we went back to his and had pancakes before sauntering round the mall, dropping in on another friend and checking out some thrift stores.  Lil' Grandma picked me up for lunch and we went to a place called Western Sizzlin' - a big, all you can eat buffet place.  When we go there, I get the healthy stuff out of the way and have a little salad to start; then I go back and pile up a plate with as many different meats as I can fit.  I call it the meat plate.  I got home to some pizza and then went to bed in preparation for the weekend.

My wifey got up to our friend making her a huge breakfast.  They chilled out and chatted and had a great morning.  I had gone out earlier in the week to hide some stickers around the town so that I could write up a treasure hunt.  It went better than I thought it would!  Eight out of the nine that I put up were still there.  Wonderful!  My wifey went around the town finding these things and then got home for a nap.  That night, another friend came over and they spent the night chatting and having a great time.  (Until my wifey sort of poisoned our lactose-allergic friend and she had to go home).

Most of my Saturday was on the road.  I ate snacks and drank water.  We got to central Missouri after about eight hours on the road and met up with my brother-in-law and his family.  We went to a place called Bonkers - like Wacky Warehouse or a grown-up version of the playstations in McDonald's stores.  If I had known we were allowed on, I'd have brought my jogging pants.  Jeans are a little uncomfortable on things like that.  Probably a good thing.  I took it easy.  We went back to their flat and I stayed the night on their couch (after watching the Nitro Circus documentary and a few episodes of Adventure Time on Netflix).

My wifey had a lie in and then met up with a friend from Southport who had come up for the day.  They spent the day going round town and round the park and then went out to eat for lunch.  In the evening, one of the friends from Thursday came round and spent the evening with my wifey.

After a few hours in Missouri, we headed home.  On our way, we went to the World's Largest Gift Store (which wasn't particularly fruitful.  You'd have thought I could have found something I'd have liked in a place like that, but no.  Nothing), the Candy Factory (which was great) and Arby's (another American fast food place.  We nearly went to McDonald's - because we were on the road - but I persuaded my Granny-in-law to go to an American place).  That was about it for Sunday.  We got home and chilled out.  Driving isn't a huge things in America because it's so spread out, but I had covered more ground that weekend than I think any of my friends will in the rest of this year.

My wifey went to church and stayed for the dedication of the baby of two of our friends.  There was cake and everything.  After that, she went with another friend to get some lunch and had a chilled out afternoon before heading to bed.

I helped my father-in-law clean the pool, rescued a turtle, caught up with a neighbour, went to lunch with my Grandma and then stopped off at some friends' place.  While we were there, we went fishing and I shot a frying pan.  I had some proper southern-cooked shrimp and when I got home there was a bit of fried chicken waiting in the fridge.  A good day.

My wifey met up with the girl whose baby was dedicated the day before.  They went to a pretty nice Italian place and got some proper nice-looking grub.  In the evening, we had a small group meeting - a small group of peers from church that meet every other week.  It was the day before Saint George's Day, so one of the girls there made cupcakes.

I went to the Immigration Office to be told that the gentleman at customs was wrong, walked around the strip mall for a few hours - I visited a sports store, book store, cafe.  It was nice.  I went to lunch with a friend and talked photography, hunting and life.  We both had a Monte Cristo - a turkey, ham and chicken sandwich that's deep fried, dusted with sugar and served with jam.  Freakin' delicious.  He dropped me off on the other side of town so I could get some shoes and supplies for the way home.  I walked to SweetBay - a little independent coffee store that a friend works at.  I had the most chocolatey, mint shake and caught up with him for a bit.  Another friend came to say hey.  The last time I saw him was before his deployment to Afghanistan, so it was nice to see him.  Then I went to the new house of a couple of friends who are also expecting their first baby.  It was great to see them and catch up.  Then it was home time and time to pack.

It was my wifey's birthday!  I was really sad to miss it but really happy that everything I had planned had gone well.  My mum came and met her and took her out to lunch before dropping her back off at home.  The night, all the friends from the week came round and had a party.  I'd recorded a message that they played and then I got the girls to give my wifey the presents that I'd left with them.  Around this time, I was at SweetBay, so I was able to see all of this going on through Facebook as they updated it.  That was nice.  It felt like I was a lot closer to her than I was.  They partied and chatted and laughed until the early hours.

I set off home.  My first flight was delayed, so they put me on a different one so I could make my connection.  On the second one, so eager were the staff to fill seats with standby passengers, my seat was allocated to someone else.  After 40 minutes of sorting this out (I have no idea how it took that long), I was able to sit down and the 'plane left.  We got to Newark 15 minutes after my third flight should have left, but because it was the same company, they called ahead and held the flight for me.  I legged it to my last 'plane to find that they'd allocated my seat to someone else.  Again.  So they put me in business class.  Or Economy plus - I don't know.  Either way, I wasn't complaining.

My wifey went back to my folks' house and spent the day there playing on her new laptop.  That was it!  She'd had a great week and I knew she'd be back in Southport with my parents, so I hadn't arranged anything more.  It was a long day for her, but she had fun.

I landed on time and met my wifey at the airport.  It was so good to see her again after a whole week away!  It's the longest time we've ever been apart since getting married and I don't want to do it again any time soon.

I need to do some work now, though.


Thursday, April 18, 2013


So, I'm Stateside now.  It's been a nice journey, but one that I probably wouldn't want to repeat.  I had three flights - Manchester to Newark, Newark to Chicago and then Chicago to Fayetteville.

Manchester to Newark was fine.  A nice flight during which I watched Skyfall and Taken 2, ate chicken and mushroom sauce and a lovely little chicken and cheese sandwich.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Getting to the airport and then checks therein, I got a telling off about my resident's permit, but as I've been told at the Immigration Office, there was nothing wrong at all with coming in on it, so it was ok.  I went through another bag check to get to my next gate and waited there.

Newark to Chicago was delayed somewhat, but that's ok.  Most flights take off between 10/20 minutes after they're scheduled to, anyway.  Sat in the 'plane, we were told that we were going to be delayed a little while longer.

No problem.  Even an hour's delay would get me to Chicago on time to get the third flight.

Then we were told that the weather in Chicago was causing a line of 'planes waiting to land and that they didn't want to add to that line until we were given the go-ahead and that there would be room for us to land when we got there.  Half hours turned in to hours and after two on the 'plane, we were all told to get of.  The sign above the check in said "Departing: 1:59.  Now 6:30".  Soon enough, 6:30 became 7:00.  After a while, we were hoping to be setting off at 8:30.  Once the time changed again to 9:00, it was announced that the crew were going home.  So we wouldn't be flying tonight.

After asking customer service about where they're going to put me up for the night, I was met with a smiling answer; "Well, sir, because of the weather being the problem and not the 'plane itself, we're not required to provide a hotel."


He handed me a little brown bag.  It contained such necessities as toothpaste, a toothbrush, shoe polish.  You know.  The usual.

I asked him where the quietest place in Terminal C was and he just smiled and said "Yes."  I don't think he understood my question.

I made a little bag fort and defended it through the night.  There was a guy sat on the other side of my gate, but he seemed preoccupied and so didn't present much of a threat to my castle.  I slept for hour-long intervals and then at 3 am, a voice came on through the speakers.

"This is a special announcement:  don't leave your bags around the airport unattended.  They'll get looked at and damaged or destroyed."  Something like that.  It wasn't a special announcement; which fooled me the first several times I heard it.  I thought there was genuinely going to be something spectacular announced to the masses.  But no.  I think they got the words 'same' and 'special' mixed up.

But that was my cue.  It was being announced because there were people coming in for their early flights.  I figured I had a little while to get spruced up, so I went to a little secluded toilet and rinsed my arms.  It wasn't as refreshing or invigorating as I had dreamed.

I sat down for a while longer and watched a couple more hours of the same news footage about the explosion in Texas.  And explosion so big, in fact, that it hit something like 2.3 on the Richter Scale!  It was a sad event, but I almost became numb to it.  I was in the airport when it happened, so it came on the TV straight away.  For 10 straight hours, we were shown the same three, 20-30 seconds of film and told the same three facts.  It's a tragedy and a terrible thing, but being told 10 hours later that it was still burning and then seeing footage of it burning from 9 hours before sort of took the reality out of it.

But I digress.

I was given a straight flight to Fayetteville; so that was nice.  I like as few flights as possible.  It makes it quicker.  I went to my gate and waited for four hours.  It was nice.  I finished Apache by Ed Macy.  A great read.  I love our troops.

Hopped onto the 'plane, fell asleep and the next thing I knew, I was in Fayetteville.

Picked up by the wonderful Momma G, I was taken to Sonic and fed fantastically.  I am now washed, teeth-brushed and changed and happy and relaxed.

I'll update again sometime.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day before my flight.

I'm flying out to America tomorrow!  I've nearly got everything ready.  All I need to do is pack.

Here's a really quick throw down of an idea based on the Northern Lights:

Quick and dirty.
The Menominee Indians in Wisconsin believed that the Northern Lights was actually the sky reflecting the torchlight from giants who were out hunting fish.  I got my idea down, but it's far from finished.

I'm going to go home now and pack.  I'm getting excited.

It's a great chance to read, draw, pray and listen to music.  I'm going to miss my wifey so much I can't describe it, but I've planned a lot of things for her to do and we have a lot of great friends who are going to look after her.

Next time I say hey, I'll be Stateside!


Friday, April 12, 2013


I used the Wacom Inkling today.  I didn't know about it, but I sure do wish I'd been using it forever.  It was released a good while ago, but today saw my first experience with it in practise.

Unfortunately, the image that I drew isn't on here, as I am not an administrator and cannot, therefore, install software on my computer.  It's on another computer, but that computer is not connected to the internet, so I can't post it from there.  I have only now thought of putting the image onto a USB and bringing it over to this - the computer with an internet connection - and uploading it here - my blog.  But the problem with that is that I'm sat down pretty comfortably and want to get this posted quickly so I can go home.


This is the Wacom Inkling.  It is pretty great.

The smaller box at the bottom is clipped onto the top of a page and then switched on.  You use the special pen and start drawing.  The device and pen talk (or something) and the device records how hard you push down with the pen.  So you can have really nice, soft pen strokes or a bolder line.  The main selling point?  You see the on/off button to the left of the Wacom logo?  Well, the square-looking button to the right is a new layer button.  You push this and whatever you draw from then on is on a layer that's separate from what you've already drawn!

I drew with 5 layers.  It's odd at first because obviously the pen and paper themselves are all the same layer - it's a piece of paper.  But after a while, it's fun experimenting with the layer system and drawing things over what you've already drawn.

For those who don't use a pen to draw, it's good because you can get your basic guidelines down, put a new layer down and then do the lines that you want people to see.  For me, I use a pen anyway and it's always nice to see the process from start to finish.  With this, I can have my full process on the paper as a single image and then I can put it onto the computer to use layer-by-layer, should I so choose.

It's really nice, but the one downside is that there only seems to be two pressures to it - soft and hard.  Once the technology improves somewhat, I think it'll be a much more effective tool, but I'm really going to have to wait for that to happen until I get one for myself.  It's a really fantastic tool; it's great for documenting your process without having to scan in a million images and it also leaves you with your image on the paper; so you get the best of both worlds - a file to upload to the computer and a sketchbook page that's drawn all over.  Win win!

I'd probably even consider buying one when the pressure increments are increased even slightly.  Hard and soft are good, but it doesn't fully capture the range of linework that makes pen and paper so unique and attractive.  Several increments between the fainest and boldest line would give a much better result.  Even so, it's a fine piece of kit.


Subject 86 colour style test.

A few weeks ago, I drew up a few things and coloured them in a way I hadn't ever coloured anything in before.  I really enjoyed doing it and it took much less time than they way I usually colour stuff.

Here's Subject 86 with the style:

It's nice and easy to do.  I lasso off the blocks that I want to colour, put my brush to around 70% opacity - give or take 5% - and then go over the selected area nice and loosely three times.  When all of the blocks that I want are coloured, I lasso parts of the image that I want to shade somewhat and burn them.  Then I select a slightly bigger area around the burned areas and burn it all again.  Then that's it.

I'll throw some colours onto the engineer and see how it looks.



Quick sheet I drew up for a character idea:

Needs a bit more polishing and a little continuity, but eh.


Planning things.

Planning things is so much fun!  I'm nearing the round-up of planning a week of fun things for my wifey to do while I'm away Stateside.  I sort of wish I could be here to see it all happen.  If everything goes smoothly, I will be so, so happy.

Now, I have a hectic hour of picking things up and paying for things.  I've got the whole of town to cover before I get to my lecture at 10:00.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Finally, I've scanned in the first 18 pages of my sketchbook.  I don't know how many more I have to go, but there are a fair few, that's for sure.

Here's the load I've just scanned in.  The good and the terrible; with a quick description of each:

The first ideas I put down to explain my thoughts on how the player could interact with other AR cards and the items on them.

More thoughts on interacting with AR items as well as how to discard them and the complications that could arise when items of clothing and armour are discarded.

First thoughts on clothing for Subject 86.  On the right page are idea of animals that could provide materials and items that the player can use to craft clothes, weapons, etc.

Another page of animal ideas and then how one of them could be hunted and another one worn on the right page here.

Creatures that can be found through the game - the friendly and the not-so-friendly.

On the left; some more drawings of Subject 86.  On the right; ideas on how crafting items in the game could be implemented.

A possible menu screen on the left and some alien huts on the right.

Notes from a lecture on the left and even more drawings of Subject 86 on the right.  The bottom right image is a favourite - showing Subject 86 with fur pants and spikes on his arm - a progression of the game.

On the left; how marker cards will be used and what effect they will have on the game map.  On the right; AR concepts for the marker cards.  One of my favourite pages.

So there we go.  It took a long time to get these in.  The thing I found most frustrating was that while I was waiting for them to scan, I couldn't doodle.  I just had to sit there twiddling my thumbs.

I'm off home, now.  Things to plan, dinner to make.



Finished the legs for the 'bot that I was wanting to print off.  Pretty happy with it:

Here's the MK I.  Smaller legs at the back, nice chunky legs at the front.  More of a dog-like feel to it.

The MK II.  Chunky legs all round.  A tougher model with a more spider-like feel than the MK I.

I've had a good morning.  It's time for lunch.


Uni day.

The scheduled post thing worked, then!  Pretty happy with that.

I'm in the middle of sorting out what I hope will be one of the best birthdays my Wifey will have.  It's pretty exhausting, but if all goes well, I'm going to be a very happy bunny.

For the rest of this morning, I'll be running around and getting some little bits in line and sorted.  Then I'll be off to uni to make a little more progress on my camera 'bot and a start to my essay.

It's going to be a busy day.

I'll post another update with some pictures from uni.  I also have to scan things in.  That's going to take a long time.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Schedule test two. Am I in uni?

I don't know whether I'm in uni today or not.  I'm probably going to get in today.  I need all the time in the world.

This is another test.  Here is an image to accompany the test.  Just so I don't get bored.

It's a signpost.  Again.  Maybe.  I can't remember posting it before but that just may prove that it was a long Easter break.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Schedule test.

I saw this little 'schedule' tag at the side of the screen when I posted the last post.  I'm going to try something.

I wrote this at 15:18.  I hope for it to post itself in an hour.

Let's see what happens.

Well that didn't happen.

I've changed the timezone so that I'm not in Pacific Daylight Time or something like that.  Hopefully I'll get it right tomorrow, but we'll just have to wait and see.

I'll try it now and see if it posts tomorrow.

Expect a post at 09:00 tomorrow.


After the holidays.

I'd imagine this is the academic version of a hangover.

This knowing that for the last couple of weeks you've been free to have done anything and everything you wanted.  To know that you made some good decisions and drew a fair bit.  Made a bit of depth for the project you're working on.  To have seen this day on the horizon in the very distance of your first-day-off shores.  And to now be here.  Looking at a screen for seven hours straight.  Modeling a little creation that you drew up a week ago.  Although itching to make it and push it forward, you can't help but feel that you could have been drawing even more in the no-man's land of downtime between first creating it and now modeling it.

Still.  Work is work and I will push ever-forward.  Or sideways.  I'm not sure which way is which at this point.

Here's a thing:

The first look at my little 'bot.  I'm pretty happy with it, though I can't for the life of me stand to think of doing any more on it today.  Good fun.

I have a wealth of sketchbook pages to scan up and put here.  A whole Semester full of doodles and notes.  It's going to be a big post.  Maybe several large posts.

I have to go now.

I have a lot more work to do.

I freakin' love drawing.


Oh - here's a poem I just read.  It's really nice:

"Could we with ink the Ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on Earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the Ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from Sky to Sky."  - Frederick M. Lehman.