September 20, 2013

Portraits without environments are boring

Portraits have always seemed kind of silly to me. Like only drawing half the picture.

I for some time have wondered why I find drawing just people or faces or bodies quite boring. People who draw I am told are meant to love drawing this stuff, there bread and butter. I listen to countless interviews of comic book artists and they say the same thing.
But not me, i had different ideas.

We are a function of our environment. We exist and are molded, shaped by everything around us. From the stick that pokes into our face eventually making a scar, or the torment of parents, every action exerted on us is a function of everything around us.

This is why I found some art classes boring. Drawing someone’s face over and over. Yeah I know I need to learn this to get better at drawing, especially emotion, but ooh damn it seemed about as much fun as poking myself in the eye.

Then I started drawing people within environments. Holy smokes that is fun. All of a sudden they are connected to the land around them. Shaped by it, them shaping it. Which is kind of funny in a way because my comic, about the First Australians, is exactly there outlook on life. They believe they can't be separated from their land, they are one and the same. Very cool people. Maybe you become what you study?

May 14, 2013

Creating Comics is hard. Part 1: drawing.


Drawing is bloody hard but also great fum
Character design, plot, look, action, dialogue, underlining themes and a vast sea of other points are up for consideration when setting about designing a comic book.

Starting this process over a year ago I haven't eve scratched the surface of knowledge needed to become a proficient comic book artist. I am of course referring to creating a whole comic book, not just the inking or colouring or lettering, everything. 

Approaching this in sizable chunks I decided to start where I think is most appropriate, at the start. Drawing. 

I'm not the best artist, thanks in part to my high school art teacher saying i was shit, but I always enjoyed it. Digging into it I don't think I ever really appreciated how much goes into drawing. Form, positioning,  perspective and most importantly expression all make up a good drawing. I bought books and started my long journey to having something that didn't resemble a stick figure. 

But I wasn't getting anywhere. I was drawing lots yes, but it was starting to be grind. My savior was art class. Here was a bunch of people from all walks of life who got together because of a love of creating something, even if it did look like a pile of poo. The environment was friendly and supportive, and I loved it. 


Being the crappy artist I was compelled to a class that had something along the lines of if you can write your name you can draw. Sweet I thought i can most of the time read my own hand writing, other ppl have trouble though.  Off to school with a nervous smile I went.

Art shops are foreign places to me. I would feel more comfortable in a mechanics shop talking about cars and I know nothing about how they work (something I would like to change). Anyway here i was talking about paper texture and thickness and all the different pencils and what not you could buy. Sweet I thought I will buy heaps of gear like the pros have and in no time i'll be pro. 

Unfortunately drawing skill doesn't level up like in video games. You can't buy a new pen and go from stick figures to something so expressive it makes you laugh or cry. It just makes your stick figures look better. 

Technique I thought, knowledge is the answer. So i delved into finding as many art books as I could, to make my nose look like a nose and my eyes not completely soulless. Coming from a technical background in engineering my brain told me the way to solve problems was through understanding how something worked by breaking it down into parts.

The problem with this idea is that the art doesn't work like that. I had forgotten that part that art is expressive and emotive. I was grinding my way through art books drawing everything in them thinking it would make me better. Yes it made me better at drawing batman in a specific pose, but what happened if i wanted to move his arm a bit, or change his pose. I was buggered.

Taking a couple of days off I rediscovered why I enjoyed drawing and particularly why I'm drawn to create my own graphics novel, even if my mum and close friends are the only ones to read it, because I love storytelling and world creating. Just grabbing a pen and paper and drawing something that represents something is great fun even if most of the time it looks nothing like the original form. 

I now believe learning to draw is as much about the process of training your hand and brain as it is about feeling what you are drawing, connecting with it emotionally. That sounds wishy washy but drawings are infinitely better when your heart is in the drawing. 

Wearing your heart on the page is a hard ask but it is worth it for the end results.

March 29, 2013

Lets put an end to drone warfare.


US lead drone strikes from 2004 have killed an estimated 1 967 to 3 299 people in Pakistan alone with up to 890 of those killed children.

Known in Afghanistan as benghai which according to a  recent Times article means "buzzing of flies" in Pashto, the local language in a remote corner of Afghanistan. 

These unmanned vehicles are favoured by the US military because they allow the pilots to remotely control them from a comfy air conditioned office thousands of Kilometres away.

It's another step in dehumanising war, further removing the person doing the killing from the actual act. Numerous stories in the press have highlighted the number of schools and family homes destroyed in this ongoing war.

It is time that militaries around the world re-think the way they engage with remote villages. If your family was sitting at home enjoying dinner and some foreigner dropped bombs on your house, you would be pissed to.

Then we wonder why radical groups ever form. Why would they want to bomb us we ask. Put yourself in these people's shoes, about as far away from the well heeled halls of Washington DC as you can get.

March 03, 2013

Intersection of lives

Facing a choice between different lives that I have lead over the last couple of years I decided that to help me through the decision making process I would draw out what I was thinking. 

I started with trying to describe the different work I have done and how they have effected me. Due to culture and just enjoying booze way to much I decided that I had to include alcohol in some form. I settled on a bottle as I tend to drink mostly beer and it just seemed to fit well. It also is the common theme across most parts of my life.

The different worlds of my working life and how they are related. Pencil on paper.
Next was figuring out how to represent my time working as a network (computer) engineer, my learning to become a journalist and the fun and satisfaction I got from drawing and (trying) to create comics.

The idea of the pen struck me as a time honoured symbol of journalism so I decided on the trusty old ink pen. 

For comics and drawing the choice was easy, the pencil. I love the form it represents and how you can draw on any old piece of paper you have laying around. It is also anti technology, unshackling me from a monitor and keyboard which is something I find quite appealing having worked as a network engineer for a few years.

How to represent technology was a tricky one. I decided upon the CAT5 cable for a few reasons. One because it represents my time as a  network engineer but it is also a symbol of how technology has enabled all my other pursuits to come together. If it wasn't for technology I probably would have never discovered comics, rediscovered my love for drawing and my love of journalism. 

The choice to wrap the cable around the bottle was chosen to represent my love hate relationship with technology. On the one hand it has given me so much inspiration as symbolised by the ooze coming out of the bottom of the cable. On the other hand it sometimes strangles the life out of what I love, creating habits and barriers that are hard to break and get in the way of my goals and aspirations. 

Late within the sketching stage I settled on the idea of the objects resting on a book because of the symbolism of a book. Knowledge and what that represents. Learning is so important to all of us I couldn't leave it out. If i could be a full time uni student for the rest of my life I would be a very happy person. I love buying and reading and just the perspective and ideas that it provides.

I knew from the beginning that the colours would revolve black/dark blue. This is due to the depression  or blues I sometimes face and wanted to reflect that somehow. The white/skin colour bottle seemed to make sense because alcohol seems so pure and innocent but it really can have some ill effects on us, hence the old and dirty look to it. I then applied this dirt to everything other than the book to also represent the grittiness and struggle I face in my chosen professions. Brown was chosen because of the organice feel of wood and that seemed to work well with the pencil. Orange was chosen for the cable because it is quite vibrant and energetic.

I am really happy with the end result and ended up framing it for my desk. It was good practise while I continue with my dream of creating a graphic novel.

Thanks for reading :)
The end result on my desk. 

August 08, 2012

Resources for Journalists/Researchers

Here is a collection of links that should assist Australian Journalists or Researchers, or anyone for that matter that needs to find out some information more detailed than just a quick Google search.

All links have been taken from the book Release the Hounds: A Guide to Research for Journalists and Writers By Christine Fogg. It is a great book I recommend you buy it if interested in how to gather information.

Be Skeptical/Critical about the information you find. Weigh up its quality.

Use both Primary and Secondary Sources:
Secondary: info that has been selected or processed, magazines, newspapers, broadcast transcripts, reference books, biographie, charts and maps.
Primary: people, marriage and divorce records, Hansard (the record of what is said in parliament) letters, diaries, survey results, menus, interviews.
Search site:gov.au or edu.au
whois search to show who owns the domain www.apnic.net to establish validity of info

As I find more links I'll add them here.

June 23, 2012

My new website, OwlEmpire.com


The past year a few mates and I have been plugging away at developing a new website. It isn't the new twitter or Facebook, and doesn't contain any special technology that hasn't been seen before.

Instead it is a music review website.

There are thousands if not more of these kind of websites around. Ours in different, because we designed the kind of website that we would like to visit.

The first problem we see with most music review websites is the amount of waffle. They go on and on about what they ate for breakfast and how the dog really liked the third song. Does anyone other than the writer and maybe the editor even care? Because I know I don't. So I don't read them.

My viewing habits of music review websites tend to involve seeing which albums they rate highly, then going to YouTube and listening to there most popular or interesting song. If I like what I hear I'll go get the album. For this reason we put the music videos of there best song in the review, with links to Spotify so that you can listen to the entire album.

Writing about a medium that uses a different sense to me is quite odd, you can't explain in adequate detail how music makes you feel.

So we with our website decided to try something different. We wanted to explore the idea of expressing where you should listen to the album. People are pretty good judges of if an album is good, I know I don't need to be told if an album is good, i can judge that myself. Granted having some kind of rating system does address the problem of noise. Noise meaning the massive amount of music out there, and knowing what to listen to is quite daunting.

Owlempire is our attempt at showing the best albums of all time, not mentioning the crap ones, and doing it in such a way that you haven't spent half your day listening to me (the writer) waffle on and on and on (kind of like this post haha).

Anyway it should be fun.