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I hope everyone had a great holiday, but why stop the fun there? Valentine's Day is just around the corner and in the MLP fandom, Heart's and Hooves Day! So why not build the hype whether you're in a happy relationship or alone in the world! (coincidentally, it's also single awareness day, myself included :dummy:)


The Contest: Heart's and Hooves Day

This contest will be all about Heart's and Hooves Day/Valentine's Day and everything it encompasses:

:bulletgreen:Love
:bulletblue:Romance
:bulletred:Forced Shipping
And on the flip-side that this holiday inadvertently causes:
:bulletyellow:Single Awareness
:bulletorange:Heartbreak
:bulletpurple:Drowning oneself in alcohol chocolate.

Something that expresses love or loneliness in light of the holiday season. It'll be interesting to see which idea wins!

NOTE: Do NOT let anything I listed limit you! Artists need their creative space! You get the general idea, just do it!

Rules:

:bulletred:The comic must be drawn after the contest has begun.
:bulletorange:Must be your own creation.
:bulletyellow:One entry per contestant.
:bulletgreen:Follow our group general rules.
:bulletblue:Must be MLP and contest topic related (obviously).
:bulletpurple:Can range from a one-panel comic to as many panels as you want.
:bulletblack:Must be submitted to our contest folder.

The Prize:

:icongoldcupplz:1st: Large Plushie 10 in*
:iconsilvercupplz:2nd: Small Plushie 6 in*
:iconbronzecupplz:3rd: Necklace*

Deadline:

The deadline for the contest is February 21st, 2015 2359 EST, just in case those of your who are "taken" don't get wrapped up in this contest when you should be focused on that special someone.

Winner will be determined by using a popular vote with point system. You'll pick the top 3, rank them 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and each of your choices will have a weighted point value.

Sharing is Caring:

Just like last time, spread this around! I want to see an even bigger turn out than last time!** Three randomly selected deviants will receive 100pts for sharing.

Sharing Rules:

To be eligible to receive points, you must:

:bulletgreen:Copy and paste this journal into your journal.
:bulletgreen:Link your journal onto the comment page of this journal.
:bulletgreen:Include a link to our group page on your journal somewhere as well.

NOTE: You will only be eligible to receive points if you share this journal prior to February 1st, 2015 at 2359 EST

Questions?

Just send a note to the group or comment below!

And with that, let the contest begin! Good luck!

:iconmy-little-comics:

*Prizes are negotiable

**Please! Though we had great quality submissions last time, they were really lacking in number!
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The AC round up for this weekish... artisan crafts that I found inspiring while browsing through the galleries, or were suggested to me. :) 

:star: Check out the monthly Monthly Artisan Craft Theme Challenge, and enter to win 2000 points! This months theme is "FairyTales"


:star: Send me DD suggestions from the Artisan Craft gallery.I may take a day or two to get back to you, so please don't be offended. On a side note please, please, PLEASE, when you send a DD suggestion, send it to one moderator! We get really confused if you send us al the same thing 

:star: If you have any Artisan Craft related contests or clubs you would like to promote, (heck, anything Artisan Craft related!)  note them to me and I'll post them in my journal and the next  News letter. In fact, you can note ether mod about promotion, we love to help with promoting the Artisan Craft community.

:star: I am also looking for any suggestions on how to make the Artisan Craft community a better place. Speak up, this is your community, I'm here to listen!

Master Chief by kaufmanp92eb Sailor Moon zodiac - colored by dragoon811 Too many winged horses by Orestigami Five Intersecting Tetrahedra by 50an6xy06r6n Sleepy Vaporeon by MyFantasticWorld :thumb259623850: Wonder Woman Shoes by leighna Wolf Mask by Namingway Skull Kid Nekocon 2011 by watching-stars-fall Aparador 1 by Tamal-muebles :thumb146985458: Stained Glass Phoenix by KuriosDrachen Spartan Helmet by mbqlovesottawa Black and Pink Skirt by emiko42 Steampunk Portal Boots by batman-n-bananas Evil Dead 2 Ash Pumpkin Carving by WispyChipmunk Peacock by Mirettetoys LIGHT YOUR STARS by leggsXisXawsome nautilus by gentianavanrijzingen :thumb267945358: Snox oculus Sculpture by Culpeo-Fox Berri Woodland Fairy by gossamerfae sashiko complect by nasinix The Bridge close-up by MarylinFill Mammoth by maryofalltrades Tempus Frangit Mask by TormentedArtifacts Guitaro... Mysterio... whammo... by skibbic 
artisan crafts that I found inspiring while browsing through the galleries, or were suggested to me
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Mass Effect References

Journal Entry: Sun Nov 27, 2011, 12:11 PM
Provisions for use.

These references are provided with permission from BioWare under provisions as listed below. Please note: I am in no way affiliated with BioWare or EA.

  1. Copyright cannot be assumed over anything created from usage of the reference images (BioWare owns the copyrights to the characters).
  2. No commerce. People cannot sell or profit from the images or works based on them – not even for charity (it tends to get very complicated very quickly)
  3. BioWare must be credited as the copyright holder for the reference images , this holds true for derivative works as well though (things created based on the references provided).
  4. You can’t represent yourself as a BioWare or EA employee, agent or representative.

#1, #2, #3 should be noted by everyone using these images (#2 doesn't mean that BioWare couldn't pay you for an idea and use it themselves, though.)






Some time ago, I created a tumblr account (which can be found here).  I'm not sure if I will ever get around to posting anything in it (or figuring out how to use it), but if anyone wants to make requests there, feel free to do so.



Characters (Generic or nameless):


Characters (Plot or named NPCs):



Characters (Protagonist/Squadmates):



Creatures:



Enemies - Cerberus



Enemies - Reaperised



Multiplayer - Characters



Multiplayer - Weapons



Objects/Other/Misc:



Ships/Vehicles:



Weapons (Heavy):



Weapons (Melee/Omni-tool):



Weapons (Standard):



There may be others not currently listed.  You can search the reference gallery if you can't find what you're looking for here.  Please note that if you can't find something after searching for it, you can always make a request.

Unused in-game ship models can be found here.

The Mass Effect font can be found here.

Free counters!
A library of Mass Effect references. Please note that all of these models are made, and owned, by BioWare/EA.

You are free to use them however you want.
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UPDATE: Bracer Raffle #2 =D

Journal Entry: Wed Aug 28, 2013, 7:15 PM
Facebook l Gallery l YouTube l Watch Me l Tumblr

UPDATE: Hey Friends, I get to go on a surprise camping trip this weekend!  Unfortunately that means I won't be able to call the raffle until Monday or Tuesday, but to be fair the raffle will still end on Saturday!  So all those entering must enter no later than tomorrow night!  I will see you all again next week!

Hey everyone!


It has been a crazy busy summer!  So, busy that I have not nearly been as active with my photography and clothing as I would like.  I also have been promising more bracer raffles for the future but have gotten behind schedule with them!  So to start off the slide into fall I would like to host another bracer raffle! =D

So here is how it works:
-Favorite this Journal. (this is how I will keep track of the contestants)
-You must be watching me. (This is a gift to my friends, not passerby's!  It is ok to start watching me now. =) )

Prize:
If you are the winner, you will get to pick either one pair of bracers from my shop valued up to $60 or less,... or you can pick any two items from the clearance section of my shop (no price limit).

It doesn't matter where in the world you are living this time!  Anyone who is a watcher can enter! =D

DEADLINE:
This contest will be called at some point on September 7th 2013 so you have about 1 1/2 weeks to enter!

Here is a link to my shop so that you can see the goods! ;)
www.etsy.com/shop/SageOfTheTra…

Here are some samples from my art gallery as well!

Elven Green and Black Bracers by TEMPERATE-SAGE   Urban Raw Edge Bracer by TEMPERATE-SAGE   The Hooded Gown by TEMPERATE-SAGE  


Learn to Fly by TEMPERATE-SAGE


A Brilliant New Day by TEMPERATE-SAGE


Sky Bound by TEMPERATE-SAGE


Soldier by TEMPERATE-SAGE

CSS made by TwiggyTeeluck
Texture by Princess-of-Shadows
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As most of the world is aware, for some countries, Halloween is literally right around the corner.  For a few years, I've been thinking that I wanted to start a monthly news article that features deviants who haven't really gotten a lot of attention, and I thought, "Why not now?"

I know that I've probably missed some AMAZING pieces out there, but I'm hoping that you can find some really....delicious and depraved deviations in this article!  Please note:  I know that some of these deviants have quite a few pageviews, but take a look at how long they've been around deviantART.  I based on how "unseen" they are by how long they've been here and how many pageviews they have.

I feel like I didn't give enough love to enough deviants who need it, so as it's even closer to Halloween, we're gonna give more deviants a moment in the spotlight!  Special Thanks to Kyramy for helping me find these awesome features!

Are you ready for more spooky features?



:pumpkin:Pixel Art + Emoticons:pumpkin:

Pumpkin Season by SuperjubCDThing II by ArtBeaverPIX - Halloween by ImperfectPurity:thumb181537937:
Pumpkin Patch by mokia-sinhallVampire Vs. Zombie by caranetteOctober EMTC Entry by otohime0394Halloween Pumpkin by phelppaLook Behind by E-s-u-sStarry Night by Crazy-Leen

:pumpkin:Vectors:pumpkin:
Happy Halloween by Svetlana85Happy Halloween by Valkoinen-HirviAlu-o'-lantern by myvushkaHaunted House by VladdyboyHalloween by VanillaGio
Zombie Civil Rigts by Paperbag-NinjaGrunge Zombie by nthomas-illustrationkatamari candy by hypedupteacupModern witch by feoris:thumb257653221:

:pumpkin:Fractals:pumpkin:
Ode to Halloween by ChaosFissureHalloween Nightmare by jim88broIs halloween time??? by miguelnpgPumpkin Soul by TrulyRemHarvest Moon by snow-valkyrie
Trick or Treat by deadened-glowHalloween Blue Head Dragon by xzendor7Halloween Lights by TenelGhost Mandy in the Sky by ulliroyal:thumb266012803:

:pumpkin:Flash:pumpkin:
Monster Hotspring Sounds by Razvan-SedekiahPor el dia de muertos by kaytzenStory about Halloween by gamesforgirlsHalloween Special -ANIMATED- by japanmeonlyMy Nightmare 'ANIMATED' by Null-Entity

:pumpkin:Stock:pumpkin:
:thumb265621920:Halloween freebie 7 by JezyCaroleThe vacant farm and gazebo by poisongrinHalloween 2011 - Morgan 3 by SBG-CrewStockStairway to Heathens - Exclusive HDR by somadjinn
Halloween 2 by MoraNox-StockLots of Pumpkins by MogieG123Skeleton Tarantula by hyenacub-stockHalloween Witch Stock 3 by SilentGod88halloween - stock. by ramona-stock

:pumpkin:deviantART Related:pumpkin:
DarkneSS stamp by DeviantSith05 Happy Halloween by KorineForeverHappy Halloween Stamp by SailorSolarBatty by WishmasterKamiI love Autumn by converse-kidd-stamps
Spooky Me by ComputerzBlowFear the Tears by MoonLilyLoverXHalloween by vfrrichBoooo by Mentos18Happy Halloween by DesLovato

:pumpkin:And More Pumpkins!:pumpkin:
Jack-O-Lantern 2011 Lit Up by KAIJUfreakbatman Pumpkin by melie97Pumpkin 2011 by Thea-SatneshamahKitty Pumpkin by Lunar-Wolf64Fight evil by candle light by UsagiHimesama
:thumb266002998:shocked pumpkin by trinervaHalloween pumpkin 2011 by SilverChild87American Werewolf in Pumpkin by CheeseWarriorFeed Me Pumkins by DeJakob

Hopefully you found more delicious deviants to nom on stalk add to your devWatch list! :happybounce:

Have a Happy, Safe, and Spooky Halloween!

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:iconprojecteducate:
:iconprojecteducate:


 
Senior Week


Welcome to one artist's experience with the use of very low light techniques for the photography of the human portrait and figure. I might also mention that while you can use this with animals, it can be quite difficult and dangerous since you are working with open flames. Another tutorial I am working on will cover using safer light sources such as lamps and LED sources. It does however work well with still life images as long as you are careful how you place the candles.

As I look out over a sea of shining lenses,
"unless those are actually glittering eyes, in which case I may be in the wrong auditorium,"
the thought comes to me that there are a few very important points we should address at the very beginning of things.

1. Understand your camera. Quite possibly the most important point of all. Nearly every camera out there has a manual, somewhere. If you have the one that came with it, then dig it out and do some reading. If you do not, then in many cases you can find the manual for your gear online, either at the manufacturer's website, or on a third party archive site. Every camera is a bit different, even when they are made by the same company. The version,the model, the type, all play some role in how it sees light and what it does with it. Some of the more modern ones have a software package in them that makes a great deal of difference in how they manipulate, take and present the image. In many cases you may want to turn a lot of that off and work with as much of a direct control situation as you can.

2. Be aware of the temperature of your light. Particularly in low light situations, your white balance is going to be way off and you may even have multiple temperature light sources. Adjustments are very likely going to be necessary. Warm candles make a lovely glow but may make your image very orange or yellow if you do not adjust your white balance. Auto settings will often be looking for a blue daylight, and will skew the color rendition far off the mark. Light sources outside at night or evening may be unexpected colors, since artificial lights can give very unusual results in your final image. What you see, and what the camera sensor sees can be very different.

3. Use some kind of stabilizing device.  A tripod is the most common, but depending on the circumstance, a monopod can work, or even a bag of rice or beans and setting the camera on an available support on the bag, then using the timer can help a lot. Low light means no flash, long shutter times and in most cases it is impossible to hold the camera steady by hand. If you are doing self portraits by low light, a remote of some sort is highly recommended.

A simple set up with candles.

You can do this set up with simple tea or votive candles, so it is not expensive to do and can give you some good experience with how to light your subject.

You can find tea or votive candles at nearly any store that carries candles. I highly recommend you also get or dig up some clear containers for them. Often votive candles come in small clear cups, and it is pretty easy to find a couple of ash trays or some other small glass container to put your candles in. Since you are working with an open flame, naturally take care and the appropriate precautions.

Set up your shoot with a small table or some other support for the candles that you, or your subject can easily sit at, and move around. Set up your camera so it is looking at the point where your subject is going to be sitting, and up a little from the level of the table so you are looking slightly down at the table, and more or less square to your subject's face.

Since you will be working with very low levels of light, it is very likely your auto focus is going to have difficulty locking in on your subject. In this case it is a very good idea to preset your focus. If you are shooting a model, then it is pretty simple. Just have the normal room lights on, and using the auto focus, get your subject's face sharp in the image. Then put the focus control into manual. Be careful from this point not to move the camera, and that your subject does not lean back nor forward as that will move them out of the zone of focus.

If you are shooting yourself, it gets a little more difficult. If you have a remote, then you can simply sit down in your subject position and use the remote to activate the auto focus. If you do not have a remote, then put a target of some sort in the position you are going to shoot so that the auto focus has something to lock on to. One fairly easy trick is to just turn a chair around so that the back is at the same distance as your face will be from the camera and use that to lock on to. Once you have that set, then again, set the camera into manual focus. This also works for using the timer though doing this with a timer is much more difficult.

Now if you have it available, set your camera on Aperture Priority, kick your ISO up to 800. Light one candle and set it directly in front of where your subject is, check to see it is centered in the shot, turn out the room lights and take your shot. If you are shooting yourself, then you will have to either use your timer, remote or in some cases, you can control your camera using a laptop and a USB connection. This is the reason it is very important to read your manual and learn just what options you have available.

Do this as many times as you need to until you get a decent image. You may have to change the settings on your exposure so it only uses a single spot for metering. Once you have a decent exposure, you now have a starting point to switch over to manual shooting. Refer to that shot for aperture and shutter speed starting points. You will also learn to breathe in these exercises, as you will have to be extremely still while the long exposure happens.

The next step, once you have a successful single candle light source shot, is to light your subject using a second candle. Try setting the second candle on a tall can or container so it is just off to one side, but near the face. Suddenly you have a more balanced light source, and the image will be quite different. Vary the distance between the subject and the candle by moving them around, with the subject staying where they are. The effects from just a couple of candles is really quite amazing. Learn to see what your camera sees. Never be afraid to experiment. Just remember, do not set your subject on fire. They tend to not like that much. :)

Good luck, and have fun, do not be afraid to waste shots, to go back and try something different, make notes, study the images and try to see the relationship between the light, and image, and how the camera sees color. Try different white balance settings and see what happens. You may be very surprised what you learn and discover.
Marion

2014-11- LowLite Tut 01 by skiesofchaos

Typical tea and votive candles. You should be able to find them at any store that sells candles or general decorative items.

2014-11- LowLite Tut 02 by skiesofchaos

Fairy light globe sitting in a heavy ash tray, and three examples of votive and tea candle holders.

2014-11- LowLite Tut 03 by skiesofchaos

Heavy ashtray, and two empty jam jars that would make perfectly usable holders for the candles.

2014-11- LowLite Tut 04 by skiesofchaos

One simple example of how you can set your lights at different heights for your shooting.

2014-11- LowLite Tut 06 by skiesofchaos

Single Light source example.

2014-11- LowLite Tut 07 by skiesofchaos

Simple portrait shot with a single candle source.

2014-11- LowLite Tut 08 by skiesofchaos

Simple two light source set up.

2014-11- LowLite Tut 09 by skiesofchaos

Simple portrait shot with two light source set at different heights.

A small tutorial on using single candle lights for shooting portraits.
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How to Stock 3- Playing a Character

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 7:54 AM

Welcome to "How to Stock," a short series of articles on how to do some stock basics. We'll ask the big names in stock for their tips and opinions on how to get the best out of your stock shoot!



For the third article, I asked Null-Entity, kirilee, and Tasastock all about how to play a character. Let's see what wisdom they have for us!




How do I get into character?


:iconnull-entity: Null-Entity says:

It depends on the shot/character (I have not done many characters yet) but for my "Gent's Last Act" set I imagined an entire scenario with scenes, and simply played it out from start to finish in-front of the camera.

As for shots with Tasastock, it was a matter of thinking of the theme and playing along with it, it helped a lot to play off her!.


:iconkirilee: kirilee says:

If you are wearing a costume, think about where the character wearing the outfit may have come from? Some things to consider:
- Are they rich or poor?
- Are they delicate or tough?
- What social class are they from?
- What type of other characters do they hang around with?
- What is their favourite food/ drink/ past time?
- What would their voice sound like if they were upset/happy?
- Are they outgoing or more withdrawn?
- What is their more accomplished skill?
- Are they in conflict with someone/ something?
Etc. Etc.
If you find it difficult to get into character - try writing the answers down to these questions and even some more. This will help you not only to define your character, but get you thinking about how a certain character may hold themselves.


:icontasastock: Tasastock says:

A little hard for me to explain, because I just kinda, do... But once you have thought up a character for your stock shoot, imagine their story. Who are they? A fighter? A lover? A coward? What kind of situations would they land themselves in? A battle? (Which you can then do a lot of fighting poses, imagine yourself in a fight, killing, being killed, down on the ground about to be killed, kicking arse, getting your arse kicked. Hiding behind a shield, firing at your enemy screaming with reckless abandon) or are they a wily hunter? that way you can do a load of stealth poses, tracking, crawling, crouching, climbing. What kind of moods do you want your character to be shown in? (The more variety the better) What has happened to them? are they sad? angry?
Make up a story for them, a long story. That way you can go through lots of different scenarios to create lots of different poses. Example: they were tracking a villian, found them, started to fight them, kick arse. All because they wanted to rescue their friend/lover, but arrived too late! oh noeeesssss the soooooorrrowww!!



How do I disconnect myself from my stock photos so I'm not embarrassed?


:iconnull-entity: Null-Entity says:

With practice... I am still trying to get there myself but it's all about looking at yourself objectively, ignore (or lightly fix) any flaws and look at form/shape/pose, try not to see the image as you but instead shoot for the best image you can create with you as a tool....

It will just take (and it's taking me) time.


:iconkirilee: kirilee says:

MUSIC! I try to drown out the fact that I am a regular woman, in a crazy costume, with soft box lights right near my face, and there is a timer on my camera that I need to strike a pose before it goes off. It can all be very stressful if you don't relax into it and accept that you are not a regular woman in a costume in front of lights and camera, you are a mythical character about to do battle with a great beast.
It takes practice, but pushing all the "doubting" thoughts out of your head is the key. Banish all thoughts of "Does this make my stomach look huge?", "Do I look like a complete idiot?", "If I pull a face I will look like a cat who just ate a lemon!" - it doesn't matter. That is the joy about digital cameras - you can review after and put only the best ones up.


:icontasastock: Tasastock says:

This is harder to do, but if you're imagining a character this shouldn't be as bad. Anyone of you who has me on facebook miiight have noticed that in ordinary pictures of me, I am constantly pulling a silly face, (and/or drunk... but enough about that) because I can't take serious photos that are of me. But when I am shooting stock, it's not photos of me that I'm shooting, it's of whatever character I am choosing to portray. (If that makes any sense at all. I may just have lost the majority of you somewhere. Well run to jump back on the bus ladies! We haven't got all day)
Think of making up a character for your shoot almost like an alter ego. Immerse yourself in what is happening to them, how they would hold themselves, what they would do, react, how they express themselves. Because, you yourself can't be embarrassed about these things, because you're not you, you see? (That's very Alice in Wonderland logic but it so works) Just remember, there is no point being scared of taking a photograph, if it doesn't work and turn out the way you want it, that's a lesson learned and you tried. Even if you're not entirely happy with one aspect of your photo, but could see it being really useful for artists, upload it anyway. The more variety you have in your gallery, the more likely it is that your stock will be useful to someone. If it's self-consciousness you're struggling with: remember what you think about when you're looking for stock photos yourself. You're not looking how someone is dressed or the shape of their nose or their haircut or anything silly like that. They are looking for the pose. They won't be looking at you in that way at all, when you are drawing someone they become angles and shapes and lines. Very analytical, and not at all personal anymore. (That line of thought, is how I do nude shoots, btw. :P)



How can I become comfortable doing stock in front of other people (like a photographer)?


:iconnull-entity: Null-Entity says:

I cannot speak for using a professional photographer, my only experience is with friends, quite simply have fun, make jokes and work as a team, it's not about you and them it’s about "us"....You won’t get a good picture without them and no matter how good they are they won’t get one without your help and input.

As for a 3rd party not involved in the shoot I think it would be a matter of simply ignoring them and concentrating on your shooting.

Time and patience and a little bit of fear I would imagine (I have a long way to go).


:iconkirilee: kirilee says:

Tricky - I suggest you start with either a very good friend who you know won't judge, another stocker who won't judge..... or a complete stranger who you don't care if they judge :)
The most important person that needs to stop judging you though is always yourself. Trust in yourself and go - have fun and play. The other person there will take photos and should bounce off as much energy as you give them.


:icontasastock: Tasastock says:

Getting to know them first helps. I find that I'm a bit of a prat the first time I meet people, mainly cause I'm so excited about meeting them that I can't sit still and concentrate on photos. So if you've never met them before, a prior meeting will help. If it's your friend or something, then you've probably been acting like silly-beggars around each other for so long that it shouldn't be a problem at all. No one is going to judge you for modelling. It might look a little odd out of context, but as soon as someone sees the photos, it all comes into context, whoever is behind the camera should be busy concentrating on getting the shot right. So don't worry about them, worry about what pose you want to do next :P



Any other tips?


:iconnull-entity: Null-Entity says:

Have fun, make jokes, mess about and then get serious. If you are not having fun.. why are you shooting?


:iconkirilee: kirilee says:

Never take yourself too seriously. If you ever feel like you are getting caught doing the same thing over and over again - switch it up. Try reacting to these suggestions as your character:
- Sitting/ crouching/ jumping/ standing/ turned to the back etc.
- Grab an appropriate prop and incorporate that
- "OH! Something big is coming at me!"
- "Why is there suddenly all this mist?"
- "It has been 2 hours.... where is he?"
- "Something fluffy is bouncing towards me!"
- "You have to be kidding me..."
- "Be quiet!"
- "Must.... not.... kill"
- Your lover has just left you
- You see you childhood home in flames
- You outwitted a foe


:icontasastock: Tasastock says:

Music. Music helps a hell of a lot, different types of music will help you envision different scenarios, give you different ideas, and help you portray different moods. Heavy metal music helps me do the angry, snarly screaming shots. Quieter music helps me do shots where I'm trying to portray sadness or depression.
Also, look around the stock gallery to see what others have been doing, and try to think of what is missing. Some groups have pose request lists (I know ManStock does) so have a look at what some people say is needed or wanted. Make a list of very particular poses/scenes that you want to do, so that you don't forget. Try and get different props as well, to give your character an arsenal of things to play with, which will also help you generate different poses. Even something as simple as a book, or glass.


Thank you very much, Kyle, Kirilee, and Claire!
And thanks for reading, everybody! I hope you learned something you can go put into practice! Look for the next article soon!

Previous articles:


How to Stock 1- Setting up a Shooting Area
How to Stock 2- Posing


CSS made with huge help from miontre's [link]


How to Stock article, featuring NullEntity, Kirilee, and Tasastock, all about how to play a character!
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Greetings Concepteez!

Apologies for missing out on the CritStop last week. I was at a weekend long concept-design workshop which didn't leave me with much time to do a post. 

I might run down some of the things we did in the workshop in a future post,  but this week I thought I would do something a little bit different.  I have been getting quite a few queries over the last few weeks about making the choice between formal training courses such as university or college over that of self-teaching and using online resources and short courses.  One of these was Nyte-Tyme who wrote: 
"I mentioned before that I am currently attending a school called ------- University. So far, my first semester of a Junior year here has been bad. Art history classes (which I think are somewhat necessary) a Physics of Light and Color class. A web design class and a video and audio class which was essentially a film class after awhile. But I've been recently looking into CGMA and have been hearing how useful it is for people not on the coast. The classes look wonderful, pricy, but great, and I think I would be far happier doing those assignments than writing an essay. 
This is not a cut and dry decision, it feels like to me. Drop the opportunity to finish out my school in another year and a half? Or roll the dice and throw myself into CGMA, paying my way through it by any means possible?"

This seems to be a common issue that many people struggle with when first starting on the journey, and even while already under way like Nyte-Tyme is.   I did respond to his message specifically but I hope that by running through some of the things I mentioned to help frame the basic issue, it might help others in this group going through something similar to think about and make their own decisions. 

There has been a blog post in the last year where a certain artist was having a bit of a rant about the horrors of Art School and how to never go. I have seen this particular post shared by hundreds of people as sage advice, and this black and white view concerns me a little bit.  Before I begin I will say up front that never in this post will I recommend one way as better over the other.  Yep, sorry, no easily digestible answers for you unfortunately! 

There is a reason for this; the world is not that black and white and neither are people or their situations. What will work for one may not work for another and making a decision like this is a choice that you will ultimately have to make yourself as you know your situation and yourself best. Rather than try and convince you of the one right way to do it, the best I can hope for is to outline some of the issues to think about that seem to come up a lot for people going to school as well as what I have personally found so far on my own two year journey of self teaching.

I will start with some basic pro and con lists for both in general, but in the end I will give you the two main things that will work for you no matter what you decide to do.

Formal Education (Tertiary level art study, University, College etc )

PROS :

  • You are actually buying time, full time study dedicated to learning your craft. Not just a piece of paper at the end of 3 years. 
  • The curriculum is structured. Focus on building important fundamentals logically.
  • You work in an environment of cooperation and competition with your peers (pushing you more than you might on your own), 
  • Having a good teacher  really makes a huge difference on your work if you are lucky enough to get one. 
  • Depending on the curriculum and course you will likely get to learn a variety of things that broaden your horizons and you might not have thought about yourself.
  • Support structures are built into the system if you experience troubles or down times: counsellors, teachers, peers. 
  • Deadlines. Yes these are good, and kick your ass to do the work.
  • You have opportunities to develop networks with other students, local art initiatives, even affiliation with industries where companies come look at grad's work for potential talent. (A school with a good reputation may really grease the wheels to you getting your first job)

CONS :

  • Can be really expensive!! Debt is not cool.
  • Quality of education totally depends on the institution and the teachers. if you pick wrong, you can really get a dud that is a waste of the money.
  • Bad teachers may actually hinder your progress.
  • You may not be able to focus on what interests you most.
  • Changing your mind isn't an easy task and may cost you time and money.
  • Distractions of University life means you spend a lot of time partying way too much. (could be seen as a pro by some...but it's not if done in excess :D)
  • No additional help given to grads to get work despite an expectation this will happen. 
  • Going to university and getting a piece of paper is NO GUARANTEE you will succeed as an artist 

Self teaching, online workshops and courses

PROS :

  • Most likely much cheaper than a full degree at a tertiary institution, dependent on how many workshops and online courses, ateliers you do.
  • You can focus on what interests you most.
  • You can tailor your learning to what you feel you need. 
  • You can spend a larger amount of time focusing on your folio than you might get forced to do if you were at a school.
  • You can shift focus quickly, jump into short courses or try new things and approaches whenever you want 
  • No stressful deadlines (or not many)
  • Networking doesn't suffer: If you use the internet smartly, you can make contact with almost anyone and reach a wider audience than ever before.

CONS :

  • There is no curriculum, no structure: You have to make it up yourself from a jumble of online resources, books, groups, videos etc.
  • Lack of efficiency & focus: If you don't know what to focus on you can just waft around trying whatever you feel like at the time, and not working on what would help you the most. 
  • You need to be ultra self-motivatedNo one will force you to do things, you won't have deadlines to meet. You can easily end up doing nothing for months on end.
  • You need to be ultra disciplined: You will need to stick to a balanced routine that works for you and that is sustainable. Being laissez-faire about doing the work consistently will mean you won't make as much progress as you could.
  • Easy to get isolated: You will need to be comfortable working on your own with little support for the most part. You can get some feeling of camaraderie from online forums with people in similar situations and even on hangouts and Skype, but it's rarely face to face. 
  • Support may be hard to find: You may find it hard to get the support you need in downtimes. This is about making sure you have a good network of people around you who truly understand the self teaching situation and can help you when you hit hard times of self doubt (and they will come) 
  • Parents may not understand: If your parents are paying for workshops or letting you stay at home, they may not understand that self teaching is a valid option for artists nowadays. They may feel you are just using self teaching as a way of slacking off, that is, if they even view art as a valid career choice to begin with! 
  • Paying your own way: If you will need to juggle a job and daily life with your study: This will be hard! Very hard. If you have a family to support, double the hardness level again. I have been doing this for 2 years myself (no family to support) and it is still very easy to burn out by trying to do too much in the small amount of time you have away from the job and paying the bills. It is also very easy to fall into the trap of living an unhealthy lifestyle, having no down time or social life. Balance is everything in self teaching. 
  • Networking can be hard work: Depending on your personality, you may not find it easy networking and hooking into the right groups without a more formal arrangement through job expos, internships and expos as may be arranged through school. It may not come naturally to all but building up a good network is very important especially when you are getting nearer to the quality of work that will start to get you applying for jobs or approaching clients for freelance work. 

So that's that. A basic list of pros and cons of each but does that really help? Well hopefully it may help you think about some of the main factors to consider.


The main point for art schools is really to Do your Research!
For the most part, a lot of the pros and cons of a formal education depends heavily on the individual institution. A good one will actually be worth the cost and debt incurred, a bad one may not be worth it at all.  You need to choose carefully and figure out which one you are looking at or may already be attending. 

Criststop3app by M0nkeyBread
The Art Center, Pasadena undergrad entertainment design page

Some ideas that may help you do this: 
  • Try and figure out what you want to do beforehand, and then figure out if what they offer is actually what you want! A fine art degree may not help you build a folio to do concept design.
  • Really look at the curriculum in detail and what is offered and find out more about what things are if you don't know by the descriptions.  
  • Look at the calibre of the teachers and what they have accomplished.
  • Talk to older students, graduates and alumni before you join or even if you're already at a school to discuss their experiences. 
  • Look at the folios of older students and recent graduates. Really look at them. Are you impressed? If they look rubbish in general it might be a warning bell. (Thanks Ellixus for suggesting this great idea) 
  • Talk to the companies you want to be hired by! Why not? Find a contact and ask them what they think of the standard of graduates of so-and-so school in the area or if they would recommend or have affiliation/internship/grad programmes with any particular schools. 
  • Bug established artists doing what you want to do or art directors for companies you want to work for. Ask them what institution they would recommend or what they might pick now. PLEASE be respectful, courteous and brief if you do this and preferably use email. Facebook and the like now gives us unprecedented access to people, but just because you can message them without thinking doesn't mean they'll appreciate being approached this way. A well thought out concise email demonstrates you put more thought into asking them and are serious, and if you're polite, you will probably get a reply. It may be brief but they will be more likely to bother to help you.
  • Always be open minded when you gather your info because people tend to develop really subjective opinions based on their experiences so give weight depending on who you are talking to and just try and look at everything in total and see if it boils down to a more general message overall or helps narrow down options.  
  • and to give credence to the unnamed artist mentioned, yes, cost and debt will have a lasting impact so should be given adequate consideration in your decision. 

The main points for self teaching are that you need to be highly motivated, highly disciplined and ready to make sacrifices on what you do with your time.
 Critstop03 laptop by M0nkeyBread
getty

It won't be a picnic and it will feel like it may never end at times,  but with some focus and hard work, you can make some good progress quite quickly.


Still doesn't help? Well then here's the real kicker:  There are only 2 rules to,  emmm, rule them all

Regardless of what path you decide to go down, the same two rules will apply and determine how successful you will be:

what you put in, you get out. 


Even if you have primal talent oozing out of your ears, you do your research, come to terms with the cost and go to an awesome school; if you get lazy, slack off or don't do work outside of the bare minimum you will NOT be guaranteed success afterwards. It also isn't always the ones with the most innate talent that do succeed; it's the ones that work hard, are humble and don't give up that make it.  While we can't all be Jaime Jones getting picked up as a concept artist by ArenaNet right out of school even he has said:
 "Ways to improve painting? Paint from life, draw often, study masters, amputate your social life? As far as I can tell people improve in a lot of different ways, but the common thread is work ethic." 

Critstop03 JaimeJones progenitus by M0nkeyBread
Jaime Jones : progenitus

Similarly if you decide to self teach and bumble through figuring it out mostly on your own, but you work hard, are determined, stay motivated and build from good foundations up there is every chance you WILL excel and make it into the industry.  Check out Atey Ghailan's work. You may know him as Snatti or snatti89. During a chat with him a while ago he told me he is totally self taught and did it for about 2 years while doing a day job before getting his first break with a concept art job. He proves it can be done and done awesomely well!

Critstop03 AteyGhailan GalaxySaga by M0nkeyBreadCritstop03 AteyGhailan LOTC by M0nkeyBread
Atey Ghailan : Applibot


Your folio is what will get you work.


In my opinion the most hopeful thing about art and working towards the dream of eventually doing it as a career is this one simple fact: the quality of your work is what will open doors for you and determine your success, especially with illustration and entertainment design. It seems obvious but it isn't this simple in all careers so consider this as a real bonus. 

Yes, networking is useful, getting lucky is possible, a good school may help you but your folio is the single launching point to any future work you get. So everything you do from fundamental study to concept design to illustration should be in some way contributing to your body of work constantly building on itself and getting better and better.
Get used to picking your 10 best pieces, then methodically trying to out-do and replace them with better work. 

From my own experience self teaching and (still) having to work a non art related job and support myself, I would never recommend it outright to anyone if they had the choice of going to a good art school and making the most of it while there! The reason I say this is that it is very hard going and you end up making personal sacrifices along the way but it is also totally doable and the sense of satisfaction and achievement of knowing you did it all on your own will be something incredibly special when it does happen.

So there's a big block of text for you this week. I hope it was useful. 
Feel free to ask anything else you want to in the comments below and if you have your own experiences and insights to share on this topic please please do so! 

Amit
:iconm0nkeybread:
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New Highpoly Pyro-GX - Stage 1

Tue Oct 29, 2013, 5:36 PM
-Excerpt from: October 2013 Gallery
www.preparefordescent.com/media

~ Concept
& High Poly 3D Model By:
 D2U Developer ~ 3DLead DuderSeb
- From: TheAscentProject
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Here's an average summary of a private message that I receive on a weekly basis:

Hello,
I just came by your profile and saw your art, and was very impressed. I think you have a very nice art style. Now I'm working on this project. It's called <project>. It's an awesome story about <subject>. I'm currently writing the script for it, but I'm planning to make a visual novel. I can't tell too much about the story, since I don't want it to be copied, but it's going to be really cool. The point is; I need illustrators. I'm an excellent writer, but I can't do illustration at all. And therefore, I wanted to ask for your help. I need about 60 pages illustrated and colored. Would you work together with me on this one? I don't have any money to spend, as I'm not an established writer yet. But when the visual novel gets published, you can get a percentage of my profit.
With kind regards,
Person X

Well... let me translate this for you.

This Person X is a writer. An excellent one, if you have to believe his statement. He came to my profile, and was very impressed with my art. But as there are at least 20 other names in the CC, I probably wasn't the only one artist that he was impressed by. And since the message lacks a personal reference, it's highly assumed that he send that same message to about a hundred of other artists... in the hope that somebody --anybody-- picks up his illustration request.

He says he is an excellent writer, yet his gallery doesn't show a single piece of writing. I basically have no idea what this project is about, and he ain't gonna tell me either. He's so damn afraid that someone copies his oh-so-awesome plot line, that he even refused to give a small summary. But seeing a gallery full of below-average-level illustrated fanart, and his age being about 15 years old, I assume this 'excellent writing' is either the next piece of anime fanfic, or just another generic anime-based story with characters whose look is probably the only awesome thing about them. Don't get me wrong. Nothing wrong with anime. I watch it a lot. But good luck if you think you're gonna sell a manga-styled visual novel with a plot that looks like it's ripped from just a generic anime. It's not gonna happen.

He wants 60 pages illustrated and colored. That's quite a lot, if you ask me. And I might be a slow illustrator (really, I am), but drawing and coloring a single page is gonna cost me at least a few hours. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. There's a reason why most Japanese manga's are in black and white. Not only to save on printing costs, but also to increase production speed. Because.... coloring takes time! A whole damn lot of time!

Last but not least. The costs. Of course Person X has no money. No wonder. He's a 15 years old kid that probably never had a job and haven't got anything published either. Yes, this an assumption. But seeing he hasn't taken into account how much money printing and shipping costs (it really is expensive), and the fact that he hasn't listed a single plan how to actually promote and market this thing, makes me think that he gave only little thought to that subject. Hence, I think he's inexperienced.

Well... let's be honest. 
These things can be fun and flattering once in a while. But getting them on a weekly basis is annoying the shit out of me.

Why? Because I think it's damn arrogant to go around artists, beg them if they can do hours of hard work for free, just to see your project illustrated. And then get angry if an artists turns their offer down. I've seen so much of this already, that it makes me sick.

First of all, I'm not a professional illustrator. I might have decent artwork quality, but I'm not a professional in the sense that I illustrate for money. I have health issues. I have a full-time job that is demanding enough already. Luckily I earn good money by doing that job, so I don't need the extra money from art commissions. I have the freedom to spend my free time however I want, by illustrating whatever the heck I want, and I'd like to keep it that way. One look at my profile front page would've learned you so. Reading my FAQ (the link is also posted at my homepage) would learn you the reason why. So why would anyone even bother sending me that kind of message? Are they that arrogant to think that their request could change my mind on the entire subject?

But let's say that I took commissions. That I did do art for money. They send me a request for illustrating and coloring 60 pages. Let's say you work real fast (I don't, but let's say you do) and you finish one page in about 4 hours. That takes 60 x 4 = 240 hours. On a full-time job, I work 40 hours a week. That means 6 weeks I could've been working. I could've earned 1.5 monthly salary at an average job during that time. And this isn't even a realistic expectation. If there is one thing that I learned from freelancing, is that you will never complete a project in the minimum time. Mostly because of the customer. They haven't got their source material together, they want changes, they want meetings... and whatever. In the early years, a freelance colleague once learned me that in order to guess a good time estimate, you need to take the minimum time required to get the job done, and multiply that by 1.5. And from years of experience in the web industry, I can say that way of estimating is quite correct. So yeah... that makes 9 weeks of my life I could've spend earning money on a regular job. 
To do the math; 9 weeks = 360 hours. Apply that to the hourly minimum wage of $10.99 in the Netherlands (where I live) and this whole project would be worth $3956. And that's only minimum wage. Yeah... we're talking about real money here.

And that's exactly the point I want to make. Because Person X has no money. He expects me to do $3956 worth of work to do for free. And maybe, if he's selling enough... I would get some of his money. MAYBE!
Well... let's do some more math here. Let's say the average full color manga is about $10. That means he has to sell 396 of those books to pay my costs. Not his, not the printing costs, not the shipping costs. No, he needs to sell 396 copies alone for me to get even.
Anyone with realistic expectations knows that that is never gonna happen. Not by a 15 year old kid, a book that has a generic anime plot line, and without a decent marketing plan. It's doomed to fail. Even if I illustrate his entire book, he might sell a few copy's to friends and family. But he ain't gonna sell anywhere over 50 copies. And yeah... I've talked to enough artists at anime conventions to know the average selling rate for original art. Unless you already have a massive fanbase and a solid marketing plan, you will be having a hard time to get even with the printing costs alone.

All in all, this is a selfish request from a kid that wants to see his concept illustrated. 
The sad truth is... it's not only kids I get those kind of requests from. I can forgive a kid for not knowing how the world works. But many of those requests where from people that were over 20 years old. People that I suppose have jobs and have an idea of how hard is it to pay their bills. People that willingly send out these requests to lure hard working artists into this kind of traps. They might be delusional about their ideas being a success, but most of them just want to see their concept illustrated, and can't be bothered about other people spending a whole damn lot of time on it.
Even many people from the game industry nowadays go to DeviantArt in order to e-mail artists to work for them on shady contracts. I'm talking about well paid recruiters from game company's that contact art students. Those students work for free, just to hope making something that's good for their portfolio's. In the hope they will ever get a small percentage of money from a game that will never sell, or even never see the light of day. And that's the sad truth.

To be honest; getting this kind of selfish requests on a weekly basis, makes me sick.
I have a project that I work on myself. I am a writer myself. And when I wanted my art illustrated, I learned myself how to draw in order to make illustrations for my concept. Sure. I perfectly understand not everybody is capable of doing that. But if you want people to help you out, then pay them. And if you don't have the money, then set up a solid marketing plan and get your money via crowd funding. Dragging others into your selfish issues, should never be an option!

So from now on, I will send all people that send me those kind of requests, to this article. 
That will perfectly explain them why I refuse this kind of requests, and what kind of selfish leeches they actually are.
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