All the stuff I was hoping to get to this week I didn’t get to. From 6 to 12 October, I mainly learnt Dutch. A lot of Dutch. Veel Nederlands. I’ve figured out it might be possible for me to get through the rest of the Dutch course on Duolingo before I head off to Amsterdam for Blender Conference 2014 – that is, if I don’t do much else outside of work hours.

Speaking of languages, the one project I did any amount of work on this week was, strangely enough, The Quiet One. On Friday night I transcribed some subtitles for a test scene between Ktish and Mo and I’ve now posted it to YouTube.

The scene needed transcribing because almost all the dialogue is in a conlang (constructed language) I invented for Ktish’s tribe. Kardaahian is a properly functioning language too. At the time I went full nerd on it. You can hear Ktish say `ooTa?! (aunt) around 1:00 and around 1:10 Mo says `ooTa-NDi (your aunt). There’s even some conculture in the conlang with nouns being split up into sentient, living, transformative, inert and unspeakable types of things that have grammatical implications for stuff like verb governance and cultural implications like how Ktish’s tribe understands the world around them. For instance, stories are sentient because they given agency by sentient things.

The nerdy hubris didn’t stop there either. I thought since i was a clever linguist who also fancied himself as a voice actor I could create something a bit more ornate than for instance Na’vi. I quickly discovered that doing so added much more complexity to getting the scene right – I had to portray emotionally convincing characters in a difficult-to-speak language who sounded like they’d spoken it all their lives. There were many, many outtakes.

Doing that test scene taught me a lot about what to look out for during development and pre-production, and it’s the reason that A moment in the sun is so visually spartan and appeal-driven.

The scene is also the source for the snippet of robotic dialogue spoken by Mr Googly Eyes in my tutorial on using sound to drive animation in Blender. Now you know what Mo is actually saying.

As for The Quiet One as a project.. not for a while. After AMITS is done, it’s onto a quoll-centric project, then I’ll see how I feel.

This coming week I’ll be knocking over more Dutch lessons and occasionally whistling the music from AMITS so the project is at least somewhat on the front burners.


This week I started a weight loss regimen and cut sugary stuff out of my diet. Perhaps this had something to do with Masters dropping the delectable Kakao range from their chocolate milk offerings (or so I’ve been told). Some things are too good to last, apparently.

Here’s my creativity report for 16 to 22 June 2014. The biggest news this week was coming up with a design for Gronky (then doing nothing about it) and playing with a motion capture system for the Razer Hydra.

On Monday, I decided to try a thirty day art improvement challenge. On Tuesday, I got really furious at how terrible I was going (probably low blood sugar) and stopped.

Wednesday didn’t happen.

Thursday was when I started playing around with the Razer Hydra stuff, culminating in this set of notes. Friday saw even more of that and a video demo to boot, and on Saturday I played with the motion capture stuff some more and did a quick sculpt. The timelapse of Saturday’s fishmonster sculpt is included above.

Today (Sunday) after a night of weird dreams (including a sideways homage to “Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie”), I’ve been either drawing or writing pretty much all of today day – none of it is worth posting here though.

Project reports

A moment in the sun: Pointy’s still awaiting his final bit of rigging and Gronky’s yet to be built at all now that I’ve got a character design I like. Pre-pro-wise I’ll be tweaking the timing on the story reel then hitting animation. I’m expecting the models I take into animation to be pretty basic compared with the models I finish up with. Since I am the entire pipeline on this project I can revisit any stage I like before i hit render – so if I come up with a brilliant gag that needs a special version of the character model, I can jump back into model/TD whenever.

A man who turns into a bear: going back for another rewrite on this one. More to explore. I’m slowly cracking the whole flavour of surrealism but it’s so weird to write – a very fine line to walk.

The Quiet One is still on my mind from time to time. It’s one of these projects that wants a lot of time to percolate. Lately I’ve been pondering a moment between two characters – Ktish and another friend of his visiting a museum, where Ktish explains the significance of his “story blanket” because it’s hanging up there as an exhibit.

The shortest night of the year here has come and gone, so here’s to warmer weather and longer days… well.. longer days. We’re only a quarter of the way through winter after all.

Oh and Blender 2.71 has released its second release candidate with final release expected any day now. Go jump on it. 🙂


So, uh, turns out digital painting is a whole barrel of fun that I had no idea about. Big ups to Krita and their MUSES training DVD. Well worth getting your hands on. Suddenly I’m way less bothered by the idea of texturing.

It’s the Easter long weekend coming up. I’m thinking I might bang out a short tutorial about drivers and expressions after a Twitter conversation I had today.

A short film from the universe of “The Quiet One” could soon be on the cards. Plotwise it’s the oldest story in human history – protagonist must overcome obstacle, failure to do so means grave consequences. Not that original maybe but I want to keep this brief. No more accidental feature-length projects. Learnt my lesson.

I’m still drawing cartoon hands. I tried some figure drawing again for variety and noted that my observation and anatomy skills are much stronger than before. The old art skills are coming together – very slowly, but perceivably. Improvement is nice to see, but I’ve got a long way to go before I’m where I want to be. Also getting more comfortable with that whole overhand pencil grip would be good too.


I rewrote a novel

So. A 55,707 word first draft has turned into a 70,524 word rewrite over the course of another week and a bit. The climax has undergone three different revisions alone. It keeps getting better with every rewrite too.

Someone at my day job asked yesterday, “Yes, but is it any good?”

I don’t remember exactly how I responded, except that I wasn’t horrible and defensive about it – must have been in a good mood because it was Friday.

The story is good enough for me to want to improve it even more before I start showing it to strangers. I want to give it the best possible chance at success that I can give it, to ignore whatever attention-seeking mindset I once had that led me to shove a heap of undercrafted work into the world in order to get feedback and feed my ego. Beyond any intellectual curiosity or sense of social justice, I love these characters and their world to bits.

And that got me thinking…

The whole creative process on The Quiet One (henceforth TQ1) compared with working on the novel was so different. TQ1 was this amorphous and meandering kind of thing, mainly learning about the process of pre-production hands-on. At some point I got lost in Making Stuff Up without a strong sense of direction. The story and characters didn’t stand a chance – there were Worlds To Build!

Despite having not a great deal to show for it, TQ1 was still a crucially useful learning experience in terms of self-discovery: I sucked at drawing and that was frustrating; I rocked at sound design and that was helpful; I put a lot of energy into things that ended up being pre-production experiments and artefacts simply because I could, not because they were part of the goal. And there lay one crucially useful takeaway for me.

The Quiet One started with a story synopsis, and I never ever ever ever EVER intend to begin a project that way ever again. Synopses are just too vague for me as an anchor point, not that I seemed to realise it at the time. The many pages of concept art I drew, the languages I invented, the voice tracks I recorded.. I was too wrapped up in trying to craft a world around characters I didn’t know or really care about that much.

The novel, by contrast, started as the first line of the first draft, and everything grew from the first line of the first draft. It was invented on the fly in a fever of creativity, NaNoWriMo style. I had to keep it short-ish (around 50,000 words) or it would be too much of a handful to edit; whatever I didn’t like, I wrote intending to go back and fix what didn’t work, so I consciously had the freedom to screw up, explore dead ends and generally play. Along the way I got to meet my characters properly as vivid presences in my imagination.

By the end of the first draft I actually knew who my cast was, which spurred me on to fix all the inconsistencies from earlier in the rewrite during a second draft. I know how they fit together and interrelate and I know what their world is like.

I was at that point of familiarity after just two and a half weeks. Compare that with nearly six months with TQ1 staring at synopses and utlimately building worlds. My takeaway from all this is to meet some engaging characters having engaging experiences as early as possible in any given project, even if the characters and experiences are completely different one draft later.

Speaking of which..

In writing the novel, I used up all the time I would have otherwise spent making an image for BlenderGuru’s character compo. I was working on a Ktish image for it until I got fed up with all things The Quiet One and started something else. I’m not going to have anything for the competition in the end, but in getting my creativity focussed on character, the competition’s now given me half a dozen new imaginary friends to send through the pipeline over the next few months.

Simply put: I want to be able to have an idea, draw it, then create a 3D model that at least evokes the drawing. Achieving that goal has a lot of dependencies attached, but if I can do that, I’ll be laughing*.

* possibly not literally. It’s a turn of phrase.


It has not been a weekend of vertex-based victories then.

My biggest frustration with 3D modelling at the moment is that I’m not too terrible with ink and pen. If I could just get my bloody 3D models to look like my bloody 2D drawings…

Anyway, this is a quick doodle of Ktish I knocked out in Krita while I was having a play. It doesn’t follow the same model I’ve been using for Ktish so far, but it’s based on the same shapes, just moved around and reproportioned a bit. And with a bit of cheek fluff for appeal. Doesn’t really look like a mulgara anymore but eh, experimentation. Krita looks really good, by the way.

I’m still worried that the design I _am_ modelling is underwhelming. The 2D versions make him look wise, humble, funny, sleepy… yet the stuff I’m getting out of Blender makes him look crazed or sinister. Haven’t captured the character in vertices yet by a long shot.

Better keep trying.