Monday, 14 December 2009

Redback Memories

When I was very young, up untill I was about maybe 3 or 4 years old, we lived in a beautiful old house on the central coast of New South Wales, Australia. It was a lovely place to live (as you can see below) with beautiful bushland behind and only a short walk through that bushland to a very private and secluded beach on the shores of the waters of Lakes Entrance. The house is still there (as I have just discovered via google maps) and still looks the same as it did 30 or so years ago.



I was an adventurous child, and one day I climbed up on the railing of the front verandah so that I could sit on it, swing my legs over the edge and watch the world go by. Unfortunately, my balance was not as great as my sense of adventure and it was only a few moments before I fell to the ground below with a thud.

With the wind knocked out of me, I lay there for a moment, before putting my hands down beside me to raise myself up from the ground. It was then that I felt the bite. I pulled my hand up quickly and looked down to see a Redback spider slowly crawling away from the scene of the crime.

Now even though I was very young, I lived in the Australian bush and therefore our parents had taught us from a very early age about what creatures around us might hurt us and what we should do if they did. With that in mind, I squished the spider quickly with my thumb, picked it up and, still hurting a bit from the fall, walked into the house to my mother who was standing in the kitchen and told her what happened.

When she saw the dead spider in my hand she sprung into action, whisking me off to a neighbours house in order to get a lift to the local hospital.

I don't really remember much more of the story, although I have been told that on the way to the hospital I became quite ill and the area around the bite started to swell a lot. 

After all this, anyone would think that I would have a major hatred of Redback spiders and their ilk, but no. Instead, since then, I have felt somewhat of an affinity with them. I found myself being more greatful that at one of the only times time in my life when such a bite could have been potentially fatal, the little creature did nothing more than make me feel a bit poorly and leave me with a bit of a yarn to tell.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Generating ideas.

To anyone who actually reads this blog, it would be glaringly obvious that I am finding the monster drawing game to be a fantastic way to boost my creativity when it comes to generating ideas for drawings. It's a bit sad really that I would need something like that, and that I couldn't use my own imagination to think up a theme or character, but it is a good springboard tool into learning to think outside the box when it comes to my art.

I'm finding myself wanting to deviate from the 'rules' of the game now. Especially when I have sketched the basic outline of the character, or created a scene in the background. Sometimes the background will change my whole perception of the character, and make me want to change physical aspects of it to suit this perception. Or the shape of the character will force me to place it in a certain type of scene so that the image as a whole makes more sense to me.

I feel that, at the core, idea generators like this are really just basic guides. I'm trying to stop myself from the negative self talk of "this wasn't your idea" when I have finished creating one of these pieces, because in the end, given exactly the same criteria to stick to, every artist would produce something different.

As I was thinking about all of this, I started to wonder what other uses an artist could set some dice to, and came up with some rules for generating an entire scene, not just a singular character. I haven't yet actually used these rules (am still working on another piece) and I might end up changing them a bit here and there based on input from others, but I will post them here anyway.

Of course, I am completely open to feedback about these rules and would love to see the results should anyone put them into practice.


Artists Scene Generator.

Use a 100 sided dice (d100) or the d100 option on an online dice roller like this one.

Sky
1- 9 Sunrise
10-19 Strange cloud formations
20-29 Smoky from a fire or a battle
30-39 Contains something floating or flying.
40-49 Night-time
50-59 Sunset
60-69 Normal daylight/midday
70-79 A space type scene, with visible planets, stars etc
80-89 Stormy and/or filled with lightning.
90-100 An odd colour, based on your roll:
90 Green
91 Yellow
92 Orange
93 Purple
94 Pink
95 Red
96 Brown
97 Black
98 Aqua
99 Slate Grey
100 Salmon

Background
1-9 Plains.
10-19 Mountains.
20-29 An Ocean.
30-39 A forest.
40-49 Ruins.
50-59 A City.
60-69 Obscured by fog, rain etc.
70-79 A desert.
80-89 A small village.
90-100 Scene is set indoors. Only sky can be seen through windows.

Foreground
1-9 A road, path or corridor of some sort.
10-19 A forest or plants of some kind.
20-29 A marketplace or shop. A place where one buys items.
30-39 Indoors scene. Sky and background can be seen through windows.
40-49 Ruins.
50-59 Rocks of all shapes and sizes.
60-69 A city scene.
70-79 Water. A stream, pond, lake, ocean etc.
80-89 A graveyard.
90-100 A village scene.

Flora
1-9 Weeds.
10-19 Bonsai.
20-29 One or more sentient plants.
30-39 Flowers.
40-49 No plants at all (This roll negates any forest rolls in background and foreground. Roll these again to generate other rules.)
50-59 One or more carnivorous plants.
60-69 Something overgrown, or growing completely wild.
70-79 One or more gnarled, old trees.
80-89 One or more giant plants of some sort.
90-100 One or more very alien looking plants.

Fauna
1-9 One or more cute creatures, like bunnies or kittens etc.
10-19 A ghostly creature, or one made of smoke or shadow.
20-29 One or more mythical beasts.
30-39 One or more vicious animals. Maybe attacking or about to attack.
40-49 Insects.
50-59 Birds.
60-69 A beast of burden.
70-79 A giant creature of some sort.
80-89 No animals visible.
90-100 One or more completely normal animals.

Characters/Activities
1-9 Someone or thing not completely natural.
10-19 A visible magical occurrence.
20-29 Single lone figure.
30-39 One or many figures in an unnatural pose.
40-49 A god or goddess.
50-59 A fight or battle.
60-69 An everyday activity, something mundane.
70-79 Someone or thing out of place
80-89 A historical occurrence.
90-100 A portal.

Other (optional)
1-9 Depict love, friendship or some level of deep care.
10-19 Draw the scene as if the viewer is very, very tiny.
20-29 Make the scene look like it would be noisy.
30-39 Make the image look very, very old. As if in an old book, painted on a wall or old canvas.
40-49 Make the scene look evil.
50-59 Draw the scene as if the viewer is looking down on it.
60-69 Depict joy.
70-79 Bring grief or sadness to the image somehow.
80-89 Make it look like there would be a terrible smell.
90-100 Make the scene look religious or righteous.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tarwntrauld

Yeppers, here is my latest monster:



A Tarwntrauld of the A'kinald realm of Morin.

These creatures are known as the 'scavengers of the past' to the A'kinald race. They live in ruined buildings and places deserted by the 'civilised' A'kinald, and make use of discarded items and food to survive.

There are stories amongst the A'kinald that Tarwntraulds are actually corrupted and twisted A'kinald. People who did not conform to the Ministriet's will, and therefore were exiled from society - a punishment slightly below death in the minds of the A'kinald. These exiles, driven mad due to their separation from civilization, haunt the old places, desperatly clinging to the hope that one day, people will return and restore them to their rightful standing in the world. According to these stories, this madness often leads a Tarwntrauld to attack and kill unwitting travellers who may stop to spend a night in old buildings. It is said, that after the killing, a Tarwntrauld will skin it's victim, and wear the skin like a suit, in the hope of covering up it's deformities enough so that they may once again walk unhindered amongst the A'kinald.

Although these myths have never been substantiated, the stories bought back to villages and cities by travellers often tell of fearful nights spent in forlorn, uninhabited ruins. Where strange noises and fleeting glimses of shapes in the shadows send chills down even the most hardened warriors spine.

Monday, 14 September 2009

More Monster Madness

Yep, I'm still loving this monster drawing game. Although I have been sick with the flu for the past week and I haven't done as many drawings as I would have liked, I was still able to finish up this one.

Hotarbo

Dice rolls:

Body - 100 - Fish; long body, complete with scales, fins and tail.
Head - 69 - Bird-like.
Nose - 66 - Animal snout, like that of a boar, hog or fox.
Eyes - 44 - Small eyes that are an unnatural red, yellow, or black.
Mouth - 34 - Human mouth but twice as large as normal with large, pointed, crooked teeth.
Arms/hands - 66 - Three-fingered claws (and a thumb) with muscular arms. Monkey- like in shape and length.
Legs/feet - 86 - Animal-like; hoves or like bear.
Other Features - 98 - Covered in fur.
Skin - 15 - Redish brown.



A member of the A'kinald race and her hotarbo, a beast of burden.

Hotarbos are used for land and sea travel and also hold their own in battle. Hotarbos are difficult to train and to do so, one must acquire them moments after they hatch from their pupa. The Hotarbo bonds instantly to it's owner and can never be ridden or comanded by anyone else because of this bond.

They are omnivores, but their favourite food is the blue fruit of the Nodocus Tree
....and, I am currently working on a new one. You know, just for kicks :P

Monday, 24 August 2009

Dice and Monsters.

I've been at the graphics tab again.

My friend The Bunny posted a game on our forum which utilises dice and a set of rules to generate some guidelines for drawing random monsters. Apparently she found it over on the Something Awful forums and helped it migrate it's way around the internet.

I, of course, have been completely taking in by this idea. Generally, I struggle for good ideas for character drawing, so I am finding this an absolute blessing. I've discovered that these sets of rules not only help with the basic shape and features of the characters themselves but, once they begin to take form, I start to get an image in my head of the world in which they live they and general feel for their personal story. This makes placing them in a setting so much easier, so it is helping me with landscape and scene drawing as well.

My skills with the graphics tab are still fairly limited - or perhaps, I should say that my skills with Photoshop and/or Corel Painter X are still limited - but doing stuff like this makes me think more about light and shape, which in turn forces me to discover how to use those functions in whatever program I am using.

Another awesome thing about this little game, is that it not only asks you to be visually creative, but literarily creative as well. Part of bringing a character to life, is to write a little introduction for them - where they are from, what their lifestyle is like, etc - and for me that has been great fun as well. So far, all my characters have been connected through the fact that they live in the same 'fantasy realm', and I'm thinking that whatever characters I roll from here on in will also live in the same place. Maybe then I will have the start of a fairly odd storybook or something.

So following are the 3 characters I have created so far, and their stories. I'll also pop the character rules at the end of this post, just so that any readers can give it a go if they so feel the need.

Zuldech

Rolls:

66 - Body -Looks like a buddha (fat and bald)
36 - Head -Skeletal human with sunken features
51 - Nose - Bird nose; can be shaped like a hawk or sparrow.
25 - Eyes - Large round eyes that are white, pink, pale blue, green or clear like a crystal ball.
23 - Mouth - Human mouth with fangs and sharp teeth.
53 - Arms/hands - Thin and gnarled arms, muscular but misshapen. The hands are skeletal with long clawed fingers.
100 - Legs/feet - No feet or legs, snail-like trunk; slithers.
87 - Other Features - Hunchback.
62 - Skin Colour - Light Blue




Story:

Zuldech and he is a holy man of the Iaingath race.


Once a year, Zuldech journeys to the swamp outside his village to make an offering to the goddess Chadastsya. This offering is made to ensure health, harmony and abundance for his people. Whilst in a trance he speaks with the goddess and is granted a gift - usually a glowing crystal of power - to take back to the village to bear witness to the fact that Chadastsya's favour is with them.

Chadastsya

Rolls:

95 -Body- Humanoid but giant.
46 -Head- Large and round like a melon
62 -Nose- Animal snout, like that of a boar, hog or fox.
49 -Eyes- Small eyes that are an unnatural red, yellow, or black.
36 -Mouth- Human mouth but twice as large as normal.
85 -Arms/hands- Five arms of equal size and proportion.
61 -Legs/feet- Bird-like, spindly, stick legs and clawed bird feet.
45 -Other features -Lumpy pink or white flesh.
68 -Colour- Light Blue




Story:

This is the goddess Chadastsya.
Revered by Osang, Iaingath (of which the holy man Zuldech is a member) and A'kinald alike, she moves largely in the shadows of swamps, forests and caves. She is one of the seven imortals who's task it is to watch over the triple layered realm of Morin and guide it's inhabitants.

Chadastsya is considered to be the giver of life and the keeper of the harvests. It is through her grace and guidance that the crops of Morin are able to thrive and therefore feed the 3 races that live there
Gyolanyx

Rolls:

85 - Body -Bird; barrel chested, broad upper body, narrow lower abdomen, short thick neck.
72 - Head - Human but like a rotting skeleton
45 - Nose - Large flat like that of an ape, two times larger than that of a normal
97 - Eyes - One large round eye that is pale blue or violet
81 - Mouth - Large flabby mouth, quivering lips, no teeth
42 - Arms/hands - Muscular human arms that have clawed hands with 2 fingers and a thumb.
14 - Legs - Perfectly human, no claws
62 - Other Features - No hair on body, pale skin
4 - Skin Colour - Brown or Tan



Story:
His name is Gyolanyx and he is a villager in the Osang dimension of Morin. Osang are a fairly peaceful race. They prefer a simple hunter/gatherer over the more city-state, civilization hungry lifestyle of the A'kinald or the spiritually mystical Iaingath people. Most Osang are actually quite disbeliving of the fact that there are other dimensions of Morin, with other races and other places occupying the same space/time as them. They prefer to think of the interactions that happen between the races and dimensions as dreams. Or perhaps fairy stories told to frighten or subdue. Osang that actually experience a crossing of dimensions in Morin are usually looked on as slightly mad, and are pitied by their community.
The Osang are a peculiar race. Once a year, they shed all of their skin and muscle, starting at their heads, untill all that is left of them is their thick, heavy bones held together by sinews at the joints. The fact that all of their internal organs are actually held within the bone makes them look like a walking skeleton. They live this way for 3 weeks and during this period (called the Ossein Time) an Osang is celebrated by their family and peers. Each Osang looks forward to their Ossein Time and at the first signs of it they will proudly display their rotting flesh and clean the white bone beneath.
Gyolanyx has just returned from picking Uopehei Berries, so that his wife Kelynxy can start preparing his Ossein Cake

The Rules.

As I said, this is taken from a post on the Something Awful forums, the author of which in turn transcribed it from a role-playing book "Rifts World Book 8: Japan".

You will need a 100 sided dice (or 2 x 10 sided - one for the first digit and one for the second) or you can use this online set of roleplaying dice and clicking "roll" next to the purple d100 dice.



General Body Shape

01-20 Perfectly human
21-50 Broad, muscular human.
51-60 Skeletal human.
61-65 Lumpy blob like a snail.
66-70 Looks like a buddha (fat and bald)
71-80 Toad; large, round, fat and flabby with no neck.
81-90 Bird; barrel chested, broad upper body, narrow lower abdomen, short thick neck.
91-95 Humanoid but giant, 8 feet (2.4 m).
96-00 Fish; long body, complete with scales, fins and tail.

Head Shape

01-05 Wild Boar
06-15 Lion/cat
16-30 Human
31-40 Skeletal human with sunken features
41-45 Monkey
46-55 Large and round like a melon
56-60 Fish-like
61-65 Snake-like
66-70 Bird-like
71-80 Human but looks like a rotting skeleton
81-90 Neanderthal-like with a basic but larger, thicker human skull,
thick eyebrow ridges and square chin
91-95 Fox/canine-like
96-00 Rat-like

Nose
01-10 Normal human nose.
11-20 Bulbous nose three times larger than a normal human.
21-30 Pointed nose three times larger than a normal human.
31-50 Large, wide, flat nose like that of an ape, two times larger than a normal human.
51-60 Bird nose; can be shaped like a hawk or sparrow.
61-70 Animal snout, like that of a boar, hog or fox.
71-80 Tiny nose; can be any of the above types (choose or roll) but two times smaller than normal.
81-85 Snake nose; two small holes or slits above the mouth.
86-90 Rat nose.
91-00 No nose; not even an opening for one.

Eyes

01-10 Large human eyes with a wild or crazed look to them.
11-20 Huge almond-shaped eyes that glow red like a fire or sparkling gold, yellow, amber, or orange.
21-40 Large round eyes that are white, pink, pale blue, green or clear like a crystal ball.
41-50 Small eyes that are an unnatural red, yellow, or black.
51-60 Snake eyes that sparkle gold or silver.
61-70 Bird eyes the look like jade.
71-80 Normal human eyes.
81-90 Roll again for eye shape (or pick one), but has four of them.
91-00 One large round eye that is a pale blue or violet.

Mouth

01-10 Large toad-like mouth filled with large, flat teeth in a perfect
row; flabby lips.
11-20 Human mouth and crooked teeth.
21-30 Human mouth with fangs and sharp teeth.
31-40 Human mouth but twice as large as normal with large, pointed, crooked teeth.
41-50 Large monkey-like mouth filled with sharp teeth and large fangs.
51-60 Large toad mouth, no lips, just a long slit for a mouth filled with tiny, sharp teeth.
61-70 Canine-like mouth and short muzzle filled with canine teeth and fangs.
71-80 Large mouth with flabby, quivering lips, filled with large, flat,
crooked teeth.
81-90 Large mouth with flabby, quivering lips, with NO teeth.
91-00 Tiny slit for a mouth, half the size of a normal human; no lips,
tiny teeth and a thin snake's tongue.

Arms & Hands
01-20 Perfectly human. No claws.
21-30 A pair of large, oversized, muscular arms and a third,
smaller arm with two clawed fingers and a thumb.
31-45 Muscular human arms with clawed hands that have two fingers and a thumb.
46-56 Thin and gnarled arms, muscular but misshapen. The hands are skeletal with long clawed fingers.
57-67 Three-fingered claws (and a thumb) with muscular arms. Monkey- like in shape and length.
68-75 Squirrel or rat-like in shape and length, short and spindly with
small articulated hands and fingers.
76-85 Five arms of equal size and proportion.
86-95 Bird-like clawed hands and powerful arms.
96-00 Octopus-like tentacles instead of arms; twice as long as human arms.

Legs & Feet
01-15 Perfectly human. No claws.
16-25 Monkey-like in shape and length: short, stubby legs; walks in a waddling manner and lopes on all fours when running. Prehensile feet.
26-50 Classic oni: upper legs are powerfully built, lower legs a bit thin. Feet have two large, clawed toes.
51-60 Skeletal shaped legs with the classic two-toed, clawed feet.
61-70 Bird-like, spindly, stick legs and clawed bird feet.
71-80 Human feet with clawed toes.
81-90 Animal-like; hooves or like bear.
91-00 No feet or legs, snail-like trunk; slithers.

Other Features
01-07 Tail of a rat.
08-14 Skin is covered with tiny scales.
15-21 Pair of small horns.
22-28 Pair of large horns.
29-35 Large mane of hair, black, red, gold or green in color.
36-42 Bushy eyebrows and a scraggly beard.
43-49 Lumpy pink or white flesh.
50-56 Hairy body with tan or red skin.
57-64 No hair on the body; pale skin.
65-72 Boils or scabs cover the body.
73-80 Pot belly, but otherwise muscular.
81-87 Hunchback.
88-94 Tail of a lizard.
95-00 Covered in fur.

Skin Color
01-10 Brown or Tan
11-20 Reddish Brown
21-30 Light or Dark Red
31-40 Fiery Red
41-50 Light Green
51-60 Jade Green
61-70 Light Blue
71-80 Pale Grey
81-90 Stark White or Ivory
91-00 Mustard/Yellow Brown


I'm off now to roll more dice.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Giraffes!! Reloaded!

Here is my latest giraffe for The One Million Giraffes Project.

My 'Giraffe Flower Fairy' on One Million Giraffes:
http://www.onemilliongiraffes.com/?id=6762



My previous giraffes can be seen in this post.

Fire.

I had almost forgotten that when the husband and I went down to watch the bonfire for Sankt Hans Aften at the Århus Boat Harbour, I had taken a few little videos of the fire with my very dodgy old digital camera.

Unfortunately, this dodgy old camera refuses to record sound and the picture quality is really trashy, but for now it suffices. The fact that it does not record sound though means that I get to be a little creative and add my own.

Thanks to some great open source sound mixing software called Audacity, and to a fantastic website called Freesound.org, (a huge collection of Creative Commons licensed sound and music samples), I was able to come up with something slightly realistic and ethereal to add to my little silent movie.




To learn more about Sankt Hans Aften, I found this little explanation to be quite insightful:
http://www.epinions.com/content_1470341252

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Summer Lanterns.

The summer solstice has just past here is the north, and I'm officially on holidays from danish classes for a month and a bit. What better way to celebrate both, than with the creation of some now traditional seasonal lanterns!!!

I was having a bit of trouble trying to decide on a design for these ones. I knew I wanted to have them have something to do with the sun and light in general, but I also wanted something a little different from the others I had done.

I sat down and started scribbling and came up with this design:


As usual, it is a watercolor painting on a fairly thick type of artists sketch paper. I find that the light that filters through from the candles is quite subtle and pretty when I make them this way, so I guess I'm sticking with it for now.

Right at the last minute, before attaching them to the glass jars, I had the idea of poking holes in the white 'suns' to let little pinpricks of light through. I'm so glad I did, cause now they kind of twinkle as the candle flickers.





After doing the intricate painting on the swirls, I was thinking if there could be an easier way to make them, and of course there is. Just make them in Photoshop and print them out. Unfortunately, we don't have a printer. That didn't stop me though, from throwing the design together in PS anyway. In the process, I came up with an alternative design, which I now think I like even more. With funky 'sunburst', go-faster type stripes and swirls that look more swirly and full of win.

With a little help from Block Posters, I created simple PDF files of the two designs I came up with, so that anyone that has the urge, can download them and print them out.

The first is the simple design:


And the second is the funky new 'sunburst' design:


Download the 'lantern w sunburst' file via MediaFire

If you would like to have the sparkly pin-pricks of light I have mentioned, all you need to do is get a nice thick needle, and poke it through the paper from the back to the front, in a little pattern on just the white parts. This way the little ripped edge of each hole will be facing outwards and you'll get a bit more light from the candle inside. Cut the design out and wrap it around your jar, securing it with a little non-toxic paper glue, and 'hey presto' a funky little summer lantern! You could even put some citronella tea-lights in there to keep the bugs at bay and use them on a outdoor table, for when your sitting, BBQ-ing, drinking and talking bollocks on warm summer nights.

A FEW SAFTEY TIPS

Remember, your talking about fire here.

Fire is bad.

It burns and stuff.

Make sure that you use thick glass jars for the inside of the lanterns. I use some old coffe jars that are about 8cm wide and 12cm high and I only ever put a regular sized tea-light candle in there. I find that these don't get too warm, but even so, it is important to never EVER leave a burning candle unattended and to make sure that it is placed in a safe position so that you wont do something daft, like set fire to some curtains or something. Keep the lanterns out of reach of pets and children as well and you will hopefully get lots of joy from them.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Giraffes!!!

There is this guy called Ola Helland and his friend Jørgen doesn't believe that Ola can collect one million hand drawn pictures of giraffes by 2011.

It's a tall order I know, but I totally have faith that it can be done. So much so, that I submitted this picture of a giraffe to the cause just this very day:

Link to my OneMillionGiraffes submission:
http://olahelland.net/giraffes/?id=3808



If you too would like to help Ola prove Jørgen wrong, go to The One Million Giraffes Project and submit your giraffe now. Ola is counting on all of us to make this a reality.

We can make a difference.

(This post was bought to you by the awesomeness that is StumbleUpon and it's ability to keep me amused for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours...........)

Update:

Since the number of giraffes one can submit is unlimited, and since Ola is still well below his target, I decided to create another giraffe drawing. This one a little less... um...graceful looking :P



The Giraffe Bike on OneMillionGiraffes.com
http://olahelland.net/giraffes/?id=4216


More giraffes to come....possibly.


Monday, 8 June 2009

Craftster Challenge Entry: A Catalogue to Cherry Blossoms

You may remember me mentioning the Craftster Craft Challenge and the fact that I was going to make an entry. Well, here is the result and a little bit on how I made it:

I have always loved cherry blossoms, and as such, have always wanted to have some in my house or garden. Problem is, at the moment we live in a little appartment (so no garden) and we're on a tight budget right now (so no buying frivolous things like cherry blossoms either).

So when this catalogue arrived one day:



I decided to cherry blossom it up with a little bit of papier maché madness.

First I made the "Vase"


In the process of doing that I decided that I would not use any paint on this project, so all the colour would have to come straight from the catalogue itself. And so, while the glue dried on vase (helped along as you can see by some trusty rubber bands), I went through the catalogue and cut out hundreds of colour 'swatches' from the pictures of the clothes, the backgrounds and even the fonts they used.

Soon, the vase was looking like this:



Next came the branch. Here, I tightly rolled some big pages and stuck them together to make something vaguely natural looking. This bit wasnt that easy as the wet paper meant that the branches would naturally want to droop. I ended up having to work with it laying flat, thereby making it dificult to evenly wrap the paper around in some places. Soon though, I had this:



While the branch dried, I started on the flowers. Again these were made completely from using colour swatches from the catalogue.



Finally, using lots of pieces of black to colour the branches, and a few strips of a hot pink (which was a part of a truly hideous baby-doll dress that is apprently the hight of fashion according to the catalogue), I pulled the whole thing together to look like this:



And here it is in it's new home on the shelf in our living room:



And you know, it has (for now) satisfied my cherry blossom craving to a T.

My Craftster Craft Challenge #39 Entry. Vote if you can!

Monday, 18 May 2009

"The Chatterer": MS painting Hellraiser

Over on my forum, we play a little game called "Paint Scene". One has to recreate a scene from a specified movie using only MS Paint or a similar drawing program. It's not a new game, or even original, but damn it is fun, and sometimes quite difficult. Especially if you have never seen the film that is on the table for interpretation.

The last film that was up for painting was Hellraiser. Now while I am a great fan of Clive Barker's novels and short stories, I am ashamed to admit that I have never actually seen the film. I only knew one image from it and that was the well known vision of Pinhead. I didn't want to do that one so I ended up having to do a bit of an image search, and found The Chatterer, who to me is even more creepy than ol' Pin-Noggin.

So here, in all it's MS Paint glory, is my version of The Chatterer:


And as you can probably tell, we also like to caption our images a bit.....the sillier, the better :P

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Papier Machê: It's the new WoW.

So recently, after almost 4 years of playing (phew, that seems like a long time) I decided to give up World Of Warcraft. The husband, who was also an avid player, threw in the WoW towel a few weeks ago and has felt better for it. I found myself wanting that same feeling of freedom and so chose to follow his good lead.

Obviously there are loads of good reasons for giving it up (money/lifestyle/not getting into stupid innane conversations with 12 year olds over the chat channels about Chuck Norris) and yet I could find only one bad reason: What to do with my time?

I should never really worry about something like that though I guess. It just means more time for crafting, art, writing and reading. A whole bunch of things I love to do and yet never seemed to have the time for because of WoW. So in actuality the only bad thing about giving up "The Warcrack" is in fact one of the best things.

In the last few days, just to amuse myself, I have been getting messy and fooling about with papier machê. Mainly inspired by the amazing pieces at Ultimate Paper Mache but obviously nowhere near as awesome and full of win as them.

Firstly, I decided I needed a little stand to hang my laptop headset on when I'm not using it and thought, "Why not a little statue?" And so I harnessed my inner MacGuyver and, using only some flour, water, paper, a wooden skewer and an old vegemite jar lid, I ended up with this:



After a good drying in the oven (low heat - 50C - with the fan on and the door cracked open a bit) and a lick of paint, my little headphone stand was ready for use.


I was a little worried that she wasn't going to be strong enough to hold the headset, but as she has dried more, she had become firmer and now is almost completely solid so there seems to be no issues there.

The other piece I made was a kind of scrapbook. We are often given (and find) articles from newspapers and magazines on self sufficiency, gardening, cooking, home hints and things of that nature to read and keep. For ages now most of these clippings have been scattered about the place cause we had nowhere solid for them to live, but after a little more papier machê-ing, this was constructed:


I quite liked it when it was at the raw stage, but I made a bit of a hodge-podge of it when I added the paint. At the end of the day though, it's job is to store clippings in and, after adding some ribbon and some small bits of dowel as a binding mechanism, it does what it is supposed to do to a T.



After all that, I have decided I definately dig papier machê. It's messy and fun, it makes you think a bit creatively with construction, it is quite practical and it's an awesome way to actually use all the free newspapers and advertising we seem to get here. I was chuffed to bits then, to find that the latest Craftster Challenge is to "Repurpose a Catalogue". I am totally going to be entering that one, and have already started on my piece......

.....but thats a post for another day.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Spring Lanterns

I seemed to have started a little tradition here. For each season, I create a new set of tea-light candle lanterns. It started with the samhain (autumn) ones I made last year and was followed by the Yule Log ones I made for xmas.

For spring, I decided I really loved all the wonderful fresh green colours the trees are sprouting. They all look like tasty, yummy salads. I decided to try and capture that a little, along with some of the colours of the flowers down in the garden.

(^ I quite liked the little bird on that one)



(^In the background there you can see my lovely sister-in-law and half of my brother-in-law as they crossed the finish line of the Copenhagen Marathon last year. They are full of awesome and win those two.)


I wonder what I will do for the summer?

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Abandoned books, green window-sills and dreams of fertiliser.

My husband and I have a plan.

Sometime in the next year or so, we want to move out of this cosy little appartment and hopefully onto a property in the countryside around Vejle - just south of here and closer to my husband's workplace.

The idea is going to be that while he goes about his archaeologist shenanigans, I will focus on trying to make us at least semi self-sufficent through maintaining a kitchen garden, maybe a small brood of chickens and anything else that crops up around the house. Now some might see this as being a bit old-fashioned, the woman at home while the man brings home the bacon. But we dont see it that way. We see it as a fair balance of the workload of our combined lives together. The husband has actually just said that he would love it to be the other way around, so that he could be at home pottering in the garden. But at the end of the day my grasp of field archaeology is pretty weak so I dont think his workplace would let us swap. :P

I look forward to it. So much so that I have actually lately been feeling that my life is a little on hold untill the first moment I dig into the soil on our own little piece of the world. I've been ploughing the internet for sites on self-sufficiency, organic fruit and vegetable gardening, raising chickens, composting, basic capentry techniques and anything else we might need to know to get the rest of our lives underway. I have even started trying to maintain a little windowsill garden here in the flat, just to get into the swing of things.


The other day the husband placed an order through amazon for "The New Complete Book Of Self-Sufficiency: The Classic Guide for Realists and Dreamers" by John Seymour, and it got me to thinking about all the groovy books I left behind in Australia on just this topic.

I have wanted to live a semi self-sufficient lifestyle since I was in my late teens. When I turned 18 and inherited a sum of money, I even seriously looked into buying a share on a commune outside of Nimbin, on the far north coast of New South Wales, just to try and live that dream. Unfortunately, the banks (whom I still needed because my "sum of money" was not quite enough) didn't see my dream as being very profitable to them so they denied my loans over and over again.

Now I really wish that I had kept all those great books I had on permaculture and gardening and generally being a green-thumbed hippie. I cant for the life of me think why I didn't bring them either. I knew from very early on in my relationship with my husband that he had similar dreams, so there was always the possibility that we would end up pursuing them. The only reasons I can think of for my stupidity are:

A) They were all pretty big books, and therefore fairly heavy, so the added cost of shipping them was something we didn't really need.

B) Most of them were based on Australian and southern hemisphere climates, so I somehow didn't think they would be useful in Denmark.

C) I'm a right, royal nincompoop.

I'm going for the C option right now, kicking myself over and over for not having them here next to me to look longingly at while we bide our time before making it all a reality.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Girls Got Game

I'm a gamer.

Granted, the scope of my gaming is limited, but none the less, I am proud to embrace my inner-geek and tell all who ask about my love of World Of Warcraft.

In recent years the stereotype of the gamer as lonely, sweaty guy sitting in his mothers basement screaming at a computer screen has begun to dissipate. Slowly, people are realising that, in the gaming community, as in any community, there are a multitude of different personalities and sub-cultures that make up the whole.

Gone are the days when, if I mentioned that I was a girl while playing WoW, I would be bombarded with whispers from other players along the lines of “Pics or its not being a girl!”, “Send noods yeah?” and the ever sweet, but kind of creepy, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?”.

Now, the player base there is a much broader mixture of men, women, boys and girls. It's not uncommon to hear someone say, “My mum just logged on” or “I'll get my big sister to help us. Her char is a Priest”. Most importantly, it's less likely now that a girl will be dismissed off hand because of the misconception that “Girls cant play video games”.

To me it has been a quite revolution. One that, while I was in fact a silent part, I had no concept of. But to others, the quest for the recognition of women, not only as gamers but in the gaming industry as a whole, has been an endeavour they have engaged in willingly and actively.

And so today, as a part of Ada Lovelace day, I'd like to honour those women who have helped to make my life (and the lives of millions of others of female gamers) a little more filled with fun, fantasy and acceptance.

I ask that we all raise our Moonberry Juices to these and many other fine gamer-chicks:



Ismini "Atari" Boinodiris Roby, Phaedra "Circe" Boinodiris and Doctor Kathryn Wright
Co-founders of womengamers.com

Womengamers.com is, for the average girl-gamer, a place where one can go to connect with like-minded others. The forum community there is alive and kicking with discussions on game news and reviews, what it's like to be a female gamer and the usual banter that arises from the companionship that forms between fellow board members on forums.

But, WG is a lot more than that. The site “serves as a platform or the dissemination of information about games from an informed, socially-conscious, female-centred perspective,” and gathers information from it's users to help further the role of women in the gaming industry and to broaden feminine concepts within games.

To me one of the most important aspects of the site is the “scholarships” section. The site has partnered up with education institutes around the US to offer women opportunities to pursue degrees in game design and development. A noble and fine pursuit, I think you'll agree.



Brenda Brathwaite
Game Designer and Consultant

Brenda Brathwaite is a contract game designer and professor of game design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has worked in the gaming industry for over 28 years and is an keen gamer. She has been an integral part in the release of 22 games including “Playboy: The Mansion “ (ARUSH Entertainment, Groove Games), “Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes” (Atari, Inc.) , The “Wizardry” Series (Sir-tech Software, Inc.), The “Jagged Alliance” series (Sir-tech Software, Inc.) and “Realms of Arkania” volumes 1 and 2 (Fantasy Productions Verlags).

In 2005 she founded the International Game Developers Sex Special Interest group and In 2008 Brenda was elected to the board of directors of the International Game Developers Association. Her book “Sex in Video Games” looks at the sexual revolution in games, from arcade games to the present, and she regularly gives talks at universities and conferences on sexuality in video games, amongst other subjects.



Denise Fulton
Studio Head, Midway Studios

Denise Fulton's father taught computer science so she grew up around computers. As a child, she never thought that a girl playing computer games was strange, or out of the ordinary, it was just something that she did. Neither did she think that video games would become a defining part of her life and future career.

Denise has worked for some of the big names in gaming: Microsoft, Dreamworks, EA and Ion Storm. She climbed the ladder over the years to become studio head at Midway Studios in Austin where she oversees a staff of 180 programmers, designers, writers, and artists . Along the way, she has helped to make life a little easier for other women working in the industry. From an interview by N. Evan Van Zelfden at Escapist Magazine:

Fulton tells one story of working at EA, and one of the women that worked for Fulton says "Hey, I'm pregnant. I'm not sure how to go about this. Do I take maternity leave?"

Fulton replies, "Gee, I don't know, I'll go find out." After checking with HR, Fulton discovers that EA didn't have a maternity program in place. "You can take that two ways," Fulton recalls.

The reason wasn't because EA didn't want it. It wasn't that they didn't think it was important. It was that it hadn't yet come up. It was that simple.

Fulton instituted a maternity program, and notes that many things are like that.


S. Christine Brownell
Design Director , P2 Entertainment/Perpetual Entertainment

What kind of World Of Warcraft fan would be if I didn't at least include one woman on this list that has been a part of making my favourite outlet of escapism? One of my favourite parts of WoW is questing. I love the variation and fun that the designers have incorporated into the game and I have S. Christine Brownell to thank for at least part of that.

In 2004/2005 she worked in Quest design and implementation for Blizzard's World of Warcraft. She helped to write character dialogue, to create some of the rich lore and history of the game, and placed NPCs throughout the virtual world of Azeroth. Since working at Blizzard, S. Christine has gone on to futher her career as a competent game designer with companies involved in the creation of games such as “Auto Assault” (NetDevil), and “Star Trek Online” (P2 Entertainment/Perpetual Entertainment).

It is the skill, imagination and passion of these women, like that of the many others working in the game design industry, that has helped to create rich worlds where the average person can be a hero, a warrior, a healer or a villain. Where we can be magical and fantastical, and embrace the sense of adventure that many others lost as their childhood years waned.

So I'd like to thank these women, and all of the women working in the gaming industry.

Thank you for the endless hours of fun, excitement and adventure you have given us, the gamers.

Thank you for the hard work you have done, and the passion you have shown in continuing to bring so much joy to the world.

And thank you for showing the boys that girls got game too.


Sign my pledge at PledgeBank


Friday, 20 February 2009

LUNCH!



100grams of sliced cucumber
1 sliced carrot
Half a sliced red capsicum
4 tbs of Hummus
Salt and pepper to taste


NOM

Monday, 16 February 2009

Five things about my day: Monday 16/2/2009

1. I've been feeling kind of ickie today. Actually for the last few days, but today has been the most ickie I have felt. It's a bit like I have a flu or a bad cold coming on, but it doesn't want to go the whole hog and just 'be' a cold or the flu. It wants to be that annoying preview stage that makes you feel drowsy and achy. The worst part is that, because it's only the cusp of sick, you feel like a pansy cause your not 'really' sick.

2. The weather is quite strange today. It looks like it has been snowing most of the day, with little flakes falling softly, but not enough of them stay on the ground, they just melt so quickly. Currently it looks as though bits of the ground have been dusted in icing sugar.

I don't mind if it snows, but at least it could stay on the ground and make things look pretty and white and crisp. Not this horrible drizzly sleety stuff that just makes everything wet and annoying.

3. There is a dead cat on the floor.

Well, she's not really dead. More like dead tired from her morning of running about after paper balls, howling for attention, getting attention and then getting annoyed with the attention she has gotten. Followed by more howling, running and generally going spazmodical.

Oh wait....now she has figured out that someone is talking about her and has decided that it is much more cosy to be on my lap. Like so:


4. Husband ordered a copy of “My name is Bruce” from play.com.

Very excited about that cause as we all know Bruce Campbell is probably the greatest actor – no, greatest HUMAN BEING – of our time.

5. Lunch today was a very simple Asian style sweet corn soup with egg. One of my favourite soup recipes at the moment cause it takes literally minutes to make and only has 5 ingredients:

Mats:
3 cups water
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 veg stock cube
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 Egg

Method:
In a pot put in the water, frozen corn stock cube and sweet chilli sauce. Bring it to the boil.

Take it off the heat and blend it so the corn is all mushed up.

Put it back on the heat.

Beat the egg in a small cup/bowl and slowly pour it into the soup while you stir it with a fork. The egg will go all stringy and separate, but don't worry, it's suppose to look like that.

Heat for another few minutes while the egg kind of poaches in the soup.

Nom and enjoy.


And for those of you that are interested in these sorts of things:

For Misse

I made this a few days ago for my sister-in-laws b'day. Simple and silly but so much fun.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

25 Random things about me (Or "Procrasting on Facebork")

[This is one of those things that is being sent around on facebook, you know where you have to tag someone and then they have to complete it as well.

I was obviously a bit bored when WoW went down today]


1. I'm not going to tag anyone in this cause I'm horrible and dont care enough. Well not really, I just dont want people to feel obligated to do this sort of thing if they cant be arsed.

2. I dont believe it is going to snow today even though the forecast says it is. I'm cynical like that.

3. I play with my hair a lot.

4. I'm a vegetarian. I dont think I'm overly strict about it or that it's a very hard lifestyle to lead, but a lot people seem slightly bemused by my diet, as if I must be slowly fading away from lack of nourishment or something. I assure you I'm not.

5. I am a bit of a voyeur of homes and home decorating. If I see an open window or blind, I will have a quick peek in to see how the person living there has decorated. I also love the idea of being able to have a brief glimpse of a strangers life and to be able to relate to them (or not) based on that glimpse.

6. For some reason bees make me giggle hysterically. Especially the idea of a bee kite (thats a bee on a string) or sending someone a singular live bee in an envelope. How awesome would that be!

7. Purple is the greatest colour in the world. Anyone who thinks differently is obviously suffering from some sort of mental defection.

8. I didn't learn to drive untill I was 26 or something and now that I am not driving anymore I dont think I want to start again.

9. I have a kitten sitting on my lap right now. If I try and move the mouse she attacks the curser on the screen.

10. I'm starting to worry that my knowledge of the english language is slowly being forced out of my head as the danish language is being forced in. Sometimes I have to correct myself cause I mix up the danish and english spelling of things. I have done so about 5 times already in this little piece.

11. I like making things.

12. I love photoshopping and creating digital art works with my trusty graphics tab.

13. I am a mad wicked procrastinator. For example, right now I probably should be doing my homework. But I'm not, and I probably wont when I finish writing this. I'll probably find something else to do that will keep me from it.

14. I wont accept application requests anymore because they share too much personal information with everyone and anything. I think that Facebook itself has enough comunication options to keep one amused without having to compromise your privacy further by adding all that other junk.

15. I'm an internet addict.

16. I'm actually quite terrible at keeping in contact with people even though I dont want to be. I think it's the procrastination thing again. I tell myself "I'll email/call later" and just never get around to it. Lame excuse I know, but it's the truth.

17. I take a lot of pictures.

18. I fear/look forward to one day becoming one of those crazy old women that has a lot of pets and talks to them all.

19. Making paper cranes and doing origami in general makes me feel calm and at peace.

20. My closet is usually a massive mess. I shove stuff in most of the time and when I want to get something out a huge pile of clothes comes tumbling out with it. I tidied it a week ago and it's already back to it's normal state.

21. I used to have 2 goldfish: Sredni and Vashtar. They died. I also had an axolotl named Quetzelcoatl. He died. I dont think I should have anymore fish or amphibians.

22. I like to knit. I'm not very good at it or very fast, but I like doing it.

23. When I moved from Australia to Denmark, I condensed my worldly possessions down to 6 tubs and a backpack worth of stuff. It was actually quite liberating to let go of most of it.

24. During the second world war, a lawyer who was thought to be working for the Danish resistance, was shot right outside our bedroom window by the gestapo. There is a plaque down there on the wall commemorating him. I find that terribly interesting and sad. Sometimes I stare out the window and think about what it must have been like for the people living here at that time.

25. It still isn't snowing.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Kokeshi

On my sister-in-law's birthday wish list this year she had written that she wanted some Kokeshi dolls. At first neither my husband nor I had any idea what they were, but thanks to the wonderful power of the internets (its a series of tubes), we were wiser in the ways of strange looking Japanese wooden dolls.

So we started ringing around to the stores here in Århus and not a single place we called could help us. Most knew what they were, which was a plus I guess, but not all that helpful when we needed the gift for the following day. I think in the end we rang a total of 12 places and by the time we had finished that process I decided there had to be a better way.

Lucily I had a small canvas left from the last batch I bought, and figured that I had plenty of time to paint some Kokeshi and hope that it was dry for when we travelled to Copenhagen the next day. After I had started though I realised that I was running out of white paint, and as anyone who is painting kokeshi dolls knows, it just cant be done without white paint :P . So the husband and I took a walk into town in the freezing danish wind to grab some paint and a few other bits and pieces. This was all fine, mainly because I got to go into one of my favourite shops here in DK, Søstrene Grene . Bliss. But it did mean a few hours taken out of my painting time.

But luckily I was able to spend the rest of the day and evening on it and the finished product is something I was very happy with. I loved all the colours and it was heaps of fun to do. I'm even thinking of painting another one for me.

And incidently, the little blonde ninja in the pink kimono at the end: that would be the kokeshi version of my Sis-in-law. :P





Saturday, 10 January 2009

Kit.

I quite liked the process I used to create the image of Claudette Colbert the other day, so I thought I would give it another try. This time I based the image on a picture of Eartha Kitt, but I wanted to change the image a lot and make her almost unrecognisable. I think it turned out alright.

I tend to use Photoshop Elements to distort these images (using the Liquify tool), before transfering it over to Corel Painter X to do any colourisation, to add any extra elements and to blend. There are probably a million and one better and easier ways to go about the process, but this seems to work for me and I end up with something I quite dig.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Mangafying

Worth 1000 are having a Vintage Hollywood Manga contest and I thought I would give it a try.

My image ended up being absolutely nothing like the picture I found of Claudette Colbert, so I dont think I'll enter it. Also I think I violated the rules because I did a lot of blending and changed it a bit too much.

The original image can be found here.

And this is what I turned it into:

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A late yule decor post.

We dont have a fire place here and there is nowhere safe to burn a yule log in our little flat, so instead I reworked my Samhain tea-light jars and made them into yule logs.





Even though they were supposed to be a yule-only thing, we still have them up. They just give the place such a cosy feel in this cold winter that it would be a shame to pack them away.

I also made a bunting and a twig decorated with oragami stars. Because what would festive decorating be without a bunting and a twig decorated with oragami stars?