Greatly Textured Horns

It’s easier if you squint.

Which is also true of the process to create such details in the first place. I’ve recently reintroduced my Copic Multiliners to my creative process, as the replacement Mitsubishi Uni Pin fine liners aren’t quite as reliable as I would’ve hoped they’d be. Great pens- but they run out incredibly quickly. Or seem to. Which isn’t too much of an issue as they’re fairly cheap, but even things that are fairly cheap become expensive if you’re continually investing in them. For example, I’ve already replaced the 0.05 pen three times since I started using them.

So I decided I’d take another chance on the Copic Multiliners.

They’ve always been great pens and they’re exceptionally reliable. That said, I did run into an issue replacing a nib and ink cartridge that made me slightly wary of them. But the new replacements have taken to the pens perfectly, everything is great, and as to familiarise myself with them again I’ve been doing ink sketching. You’d be surprised how different certain pens feel.

Or maybe you wouldn’t. But it makes for great tangential conversation, as it relates back to how much confidence you have with particular materials and much of that is derived from how they feel in your hand. Or how they react to certain types of paper. It’s particular evident in how you sketch with pencils, too. As you tend to lean on certain qualities of pencil to make it easier to translate those lines to ink, which, again, feels quite different depending on the type of pens you’re using. I notice that with Copic Multiliners I’m able to sketch finer details as I can actually translate those details to ink with them. The difference between 0.05 and 0.03 seems insignificant- but it’s there- and it’s very noticeable. Especially when you habitually sketch fine details.

It’s not only the horns that are greatly textured.

This particular sketch falls somewhere between a few earlier attempts and a finalised attempt with this approach. An approach that will likely include Faber Castell Polychromos at some point. I’m rather limited in my colour selection with those at the moment- but I’m sure I can work something out. I have got a small collection of certain colours. It’s also likely I won’t move straight to a finalised piece and more likely that I’ll do some more sketching. Trying to learn more as I go. But I’m fairly pleased with how the line work in this piece turned out.

I’m also quite pleased with the horns.

I don’t usually illustrate horns in this particular style but I do like them. I’ll be honest, I’ve never really understood how they work anatomically and some might argue that I still don’t. But I like ’em. They’re neat. The rest of the anatomy is fairly standard and muscular. Which is pretty much my standard. I even threw in a little armour to further my progress there, too.

It’s been a while since I’ve done larger pieces and most of that is down to my own perceptions of my inability to do so. Which, again, is partly due to my confidence. So I’m trying to work through new ideas that basically force me to do these things. Mostly because I don’t understand how arm anatomy works, either. So if I can cover that with armour I’ll be fine. I’m kidding. Mostly. This year has definitely been a learning experience, for better or for worse. I’m leaning towards it being for the better of my creative efforts as a whole. But you could also argue that I’ve wasted time pursuing some approaches that are less useful. That said, I’m starting to think that the side effect of being creative and being on social media is feeling like you’re never good enough.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

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First Impressions of… Low Magic Age

Stand back! I have a spear and I’m not afraid to pretend I have the proficiency to use it!

Low Magic Age is an enjoyable Early Access RPG with a d20 System ruleset derived from the Wizards of the Coast Open Game Licence. At this stage of development there is a fully functional (yet deceptively complex) Arena, alongside deep character progression mechanics and varied equipment choices. The developers are also looking to add a campaign mode to fully flesh out the core experience. Likewise, there’s early Steam Workshop integration which could permit the creation of much more (Arena/campaign) content in the future.

It’s definitely one of the more promising Early Access titles I’ve seen.

Even if you’re not fully conversant with d20 System rulesets, Low Magic Age provides an intuitive and easy to learn presentation of mechanics alongside an impressive explanation of what everything does. A feature that I wish would be more prevalent in other RPGs with complex formulae. I’m also quite fond of how quickly you can pick up the nuances of combat.

The Arena is almost exclusively combat, too. So if you’re not too keen on the idea of something reminiscent to dungeon crawling with a party of adventurers, you might want to wait until the campaign is implemented. It’s not actually dungeon crawling, though. As you progress through the Arena in waves. After each fight you can purchase new equipment, replenish ammunition, spend Glory for party bonuses, or even recruit new adventurers for your party. Each party progresses through their own waves, too. Switching to an entirely new party will reset your progress back to the first wave, while also resetting your gold and Glory to their default values. Switching back to an existing party restores their wave progress.

Just one more turn…

Your party can consist of either default characters, your own characters, or a combination of both. When creating characters you can follow a template or create your own custom characters, with the characters created via templates levelling up automatically. Which, I assume, as I don’t use character templates, automatically develop certain abilities. Which is a great feature for those who enjoy the experience that Low Magic Age offers, but might not be as interested in statistics or agonising over new abilities. Thereby it’s very new player friendly, too.

Each wave in the Arena also features a boss fight.

These will become available once you’ve defeated all of the fights in a particular wave. Unsurprisingly, these often feature incredibly tough enemies which are stronger than most things you’ve faced before. You can either fight these bosses as they appear or grind experience in the fights of that wave. As I do believe each fight per wave is endlessly repeatable.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Low Magic Age but I’m very pleased with this current iteration. It’s an easy recommendation if you enjoy fantasy RPGs, tabletop rulesets, or Dungeons & Dragons with the only caveat being that the campaign isn’t implemented yet. So if you’re not keen on endless Arena bloodshed you may want to wait before purchasing. I still think it’s a great deal at the current price, though. Given that many of the existing systems are fully functional and that the Arena is also incredibly polished for many hours of enjoyment. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have another turn to take and another wave to finish…

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Salt and Sanctuary

This island is plagued with death and depravity.

Salt and Sanctuary is a complex and engaging ARPG that feels reminiscent of both Dark Souls and Diablo in equal measure. There are definite hallmarks of the Dark Souls series, with punishing and brutal boss fights alongside replenishing consumables and similar equipment improvement mechanics. However, the character development and the continual loot shower feels more like what you would expect from Diablo. It’s an interesting mixture that works well in some ways and not so well in others.

I particularly like the Skill Tree approach to developing your character.

Salt is required to progress the level of your character and (as expected) has an escalating cost per level. Once you’ve gained a new level you’ll be awarded with a Black Pearl which can be invested in the Skill Tree, wherein you can find myriad passive upgrades for your character. It makes your character level slightly more crucial to success in certain builds than others.

Equipment will have requirements (such as Class 1 Dagger or Class 3 Heavy Armour) which are unlocked via the Skill Tree. Likewise, all of your basic attributes are increased by investing in the Skill Tree. It’s a fairly intuitive system if you’re familiar with skill trees in just about any other RPG, with most of the nodes you want to unlock being available from several different paths to allow you to spend only the Black Pearls you want to. This system is full of potential for interesting hybrid builds. Especially when combined with the Transmutation system, which essentially allows you to use certain reagents to transform your weapons into more powerful variants. There are unique variants, too. Like spears that scale with your magical proficiency.

The dead wander these bloodstained halls.

Character classes exist but they serve only to provide a basic set of Skill Tree points and attributes. They don’t have any specific restrictions and can be developed towards any final build. There are also numerous Creeds your character can join, which function like Covenants from the Dark Souls series and unlock unique bonuses for your character. Be it additional consumables, new spells, new incantations, or simply more of your basic consumables. You can increase your devotion to a specific Creed as well, but any and all devotion will be reset if you change your Creed.

Creeds can be changed as often as you like at the cost of accumulating Sin.

Your Creed also dictates who your Sanctuary will be devoted to. That said, if you change Creeds, you can still access your other Sanctuaries but will be unable to gain devotion with them. Sanctuaries can be upgraded with new vendors, blacksmiths, alchemists, and more via stone statuettes found in and around the areas you’ll be travelling to.

There are limited NPC quests which can be completed, too. Alongside Brands which unlock new ways to reach certain areas which will remain inaccessible without them. It’s a pretty content dense ARPG and rife with secrets, optional bosses, and interesting nuggets of lore. I’ve been enjoying a hybrid build of spears and spells, allowing me to engage enemies at any distance while providing unique bonuses as I switch weapon sets to utilise more spells. My only minor complaint would be that the platforming sections don’t feel particularly tight. However, that could be my general inexperience with timed platforming segments and not an actual issue with the controls. In every other way I highly recommend Salt and Sanctuary to all who enjoy ARPGs!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Corruption Collection

Decaying souls housed in failing flesh.

There are a couple of trees in there, too. It wouldn’t be the same without a healthy dose of foliage. I’m starting to think I have a problem, but none have taken me seriously when I mention my obsession with my wood. I’m not sure why, either. They seem pretty understanding about the foliage thing. In any case, it’s a good time to throw together this sketch compilation. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and this one highlights a rather rare attempt at a Dark Souls inspired sketch.

I do love the visual style of the Dark Souls series.

There’s a certain quality that persists throughout the series which produces some utterly gorgeous suits of armour or weapons. Each usually telling a story about a previous owner, a previous age, or even a previous instalment. Highlighting the many realms and many inhabitants that have come and gone through the span of time that precariously knits each instalment together.

Many of these sketches have been previously highlighted over on Twitter. One is new-ish. That said, they were previously presented cropped and without as much context as they have here. Which, for the coloured pencil and ink tree sketch, is actually an interesting distinction, as you can see how the original pencil sketch looked and how things unfolded from there. It provides an interesting contrast to the graphite pencil tree sketch, within which you can see how the two approaches are surprisingly different despite having the same subject matter. Then again, the two were intended to be entirely different in their final presentation- but they remained fairly consistent in their original sketches.

I have a thing for trees. Colourful trees.

It’s interesting to me as I’ve been thinking about consistency for a while now. I was starting to question whether I had any which may have been slightly misplaced, as, while the two presentations ended up entirely different, they did start fairly similarly. Perhaps I’ve been looking at consistency the wrong way around. On the other hand, I’m pleased that these sketches maintain a level of quality which ranks with the best work I’ve done. Maybe I’m finally becoming more comfortable with my myriad styles, too.

Or maybe I shouldn’t have myriad styles.

I’ve also been working with a singular type of paper recently. I wish there were reasons for that, but the closest I have to a reason is that I can’t be bothered to disturb the cat by moving the supply box around to get my other bristol board. I know it’s in there. Somewhere. I’m starting to warm to cartridge paper, too. It tells all the best stories and keeps me warm on cold winter nights.

Been shuffling pencils around as well. Indulging in the pleasures of HB rather than my usual choice of B. No real reason for that, either. Just that it feels natural at times to select certain pencils over others. Almost as if I’ve gained some fundamental insight into how I approach things and what would be best to use, based on situation, instead of experience, to provide the best possible result at the time. It’s also fun experimenting with different materials from time to time. It’s surprising how something as simple as switching a pencil can drastically change the presentation of the finished piece. I’m still smitten with 2B*, too. (*The pencil not the android.)

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

Hollows, Bonfires, the Elite Knight set, Estus Flasks, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by FROMSOFTWARE.

First Impressions of… Victor Vran

There’s a voice in your head telling you to do things. Literally.

Victor Vran is a rather unique ARPG that attempts introduce new ways to approach old problems. Most significantly through the character development mechanics, where many common elements (such as character classes) are absent. Everything is handled through the myriad equipment options you’ll be presented with. Outfits will affect how your build performs in combat and which bonuses you’ll have, while the various weapon classes have different abilities and you’ll need to learn how best to use the many options at your disposal.

Even the Demon Powers are freely available regardless of build choices.

The most extensive character development mechanics are available through Destiny Cards. Each will provide different bonuses to different aspects of your build, which, in true ARPG style, will be completely randomised and come in many different flavours. So you’ll be looking to find, buy, or Transmute more as you go along. Certain Outfits will provide bonuses to the number or value of the Destiny Cards you’ll be able to equip. Otherwise, you’ll be earning more slots and capacity through levelling. The aforementioned Demon Powers will consume your Overdrive pool (which builds through combat or through specific actions), and, much like Destiny Cards, will be available in varying strengths and with different bonuses.

It’s quite a comprehensive set of character development mechanics and allows for almost limitless build options. Whether many of those builds will even be viable in the later content is a different matter entirely, but it’s an interesting approach all the same. Most notable of the changes to the typical ARPG formula is the inclusion of dodging and jumping.

Banish the wicked with the concentrated power of rainbows!

It seems like a fairly minor change but it makes a significant difference. I’ve had to remember on more than one occasion that jumping is possible, as I’ve looked at the map and tried to figure out how to get to a particular area only to realise I’m supposed to jump over that hedge or bush. Dodging is somewhat notable but pretty simple- you roll out of the way of damage. It doesn’t seem to be restricted in any way, either. So feel free to roll endlessly across open stretches of previously explored map. Or, you know, roll away from the endless hordes of enemies.

The controls can be interesting at times, too.

There are multiple options for those who would like to use a mouse and keyboard, mouse movement, or a controller. But I’ve never really felt that they are as natural as the control systems they’re hoping to emulate. I’m particularly frustrated with the inventory management with the controller. It’s even more interesting trying to manage your storage. Not that there’s really any reason to use your storage, as, as far as I can tell, the inventory is endless. But if you like organising things- have fun! It’s very soothing after hours of slaying beasts. Otherwise the controls respond as you would expect them to and there are a lot of different options if you like tinkering. The combat feels fluid and enjoyable regardless of the control system, too.

I’d highly recommend Victor Vran for many reasons. Mostly due to how content dense it is. There are numerous challenges, secrets, and other goodies scattered across the many areas of the world which make it really enjoyable to experience. Rarely will you run from point to point with little else to see or do. It’s also got a weird sense of humour to keep you smiling throughout.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Multiple Attempts

There’s definitely a trend in my digital painting attempts.

They’re either animals or trees. For the most part. That said, I wanted to bring this compilation of unfinished pieces together so that I could share some of the efforts I’ve hinted about in posts such as Momentary Regret and Happiness Hat. It’s easy for me to explain them to you- but it’s easier if you can see these attempts for yourself. It may also help you to understand why I feel the way I do about some of these. You can also see the follow on from Anatomical Fish. As one of these was the painting that I switched to.

You might also wonder why I’ve never finished these pieces.

I do, too. But I’ve discovered that I’ve been looking at things the wrong way around. Or at least I feel like I have. As I have concerned myself with the presentation of the content for a while, but I’m starting to notice it’s the content (or lack thereof) which is the actual problem. That’s why some of the small changes I was going to make never came to fruition.

I started to realise that I could change around the presentation infinitely but it wouldn’t quell the disappointment (for lack of a better word) that I felt regarding the content itself. Therefore, I’ve started to work towards finishing more pieces. Some of which have been sitting around for far too long. Like the subject of Building an Abomination, which I’ve repeatedly put off working on for various reasons and it’s still unfinished. I could make countless excuses but I won’t. That said, I enjoy the aforementioned posts which bring together things I’ve been working on and I think they illustrate (pun intended) my creative journey nicely. So I’m not looking to lose those posts entirely.

They're a colourful bunch!

They’re a colourful bunch!

I’m just hoping I’ll be able to commit myself to more finished pieces. It’s something which I feel I’ve let myself down with more than anything. That said, I can’t control the myriad situations which have put me in this position in the first place. But, again, that’s no excuse. It’s a problem I’ve created and one that I’ll need to fix. In happier news, I’m rather enjoying the selection of pieces in this compilation which highlight some of my best digital painting attempts. There are some we’ve seen before and some we haven’t.

Those we have seen are a little different now, too.

On the other hand, I’ve also included a couple of traditional painting and illustration attempts. One was a painting which was sort of finished but I wasn’t too happy with the outcome of, the other is an illustration that combined a dozen different styles into one very confused piece. Both taught me something, though. Which is all I can really hope for from an unfinished piece.

It’s also an interesting compilation as there many different styles present in it. It highlights the rather eclectic nature of my creative efforts. I rather enjoy that about my various pieces, but I am starting to wonder if that’s causing me more problems than I realise. That said, through some of these unconventional styles and approaches I’ve started to understand things about my creative process I hadn’t realised. Like how I tend to ink things with incredibly stiff and rigid movements. I don’t have the fluid, loose, expressive approach that I use when I’m sketching with pencil. It’s an interesting realisation. Mostly because I hadn’t noticed that despite the similarities between the application of materials my approach changes drastically.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

Artist Feature – Laura Jane

Here’s something a little different.

I’ve met many an interesting artist in my time and I like to share the most fascinating ones via the Artist Feature posts. I haven’t been doing as many Artist Feature posts as I would have liked, but I’m looking to change that. I’ve been in contact with a few people and I’m hoping to bring some engaging content to my readers. As always, I’ll be providing links to places where you can follow them across the internet. Friendly following, though. None of this stalking business. Good friends are hard to keep, y’know?

You’re in for a treat, though.

One could say they have their fingers in many pies. Pies, which, I might add, they never offer to share with me. Blending equal levels of proficiency and commitment in both traditional and digital art, they draw from a myriad of sources of inspiration. Featuring everything from video game character illustrations, to fluffy cute animals, to angst-ridden comics about toasters.

They sure love their toasters. In addition to the above, they’ve shown an incredible desire to develop their style over the last twelve months. They’ve met that desire- and exceeded it- with continual improvements to both their approach and their understanding of fundamental artistic concepts. They’ve also got a remarkably fluid and gorgeous ink style which displays a heightened understanding of composition. It’s a style that suits any sort of graphic illustration which is what I feel they’re best at. I’m almost certain that if you enjoy any of my traditional pieces, you’re going to enjoy their work just as much. If not more. Which is totally fine. They deserve the art love.

Artist Feature - Laura JaneThey’ve probably logged more hours in an assortment of Fallout titles than I have. While I would usually say this is cause for concern, without that I doubt I would have met/found them in the first place. You’d be surprised who you run into out in the Capital Wasteland. Or who you know as a friend of a friend via an appreciation of the Capital Wasteland. So they don’t always talk about artsy subjects. But if you get the chance to talk to them about it- you should! You’re in for an enjoyably insightful conversation.

If you’re of the Tweeting persuasion you can find them over on @LauraJayArt.

Should traditional or digital art be one of your interests (or you’re an aspiring artist yourself), I can suggest no-one better to follow. There’s a great foundation here for a promising future of artistic awesomeness. If you’re an artist yourself- drop her a critique or five. Or ten. She’s always looking to further her style and herself.

As always, Artist Feature posts aim to highlight not only artists who I feel are exceptionally good at what they do but that align with the interests of my readers. Again, I can suggest no-one better to feature under those conditions. Comments are always appreciated, but if you’ve got something particular you’d like to say about this artist you can leave a comment below. Otherwise, I hope you’ve enjoyed what could be the first of a few upcoming Artist Feature posts. It depends on if the others get back to me. It’s not like I randomly pick people to write about on the internet- that would be weird. Much easier to organise but terribly weird.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Art and the like found within this post (unless otherwise specified) is owned by Laura Jane.