xerath_01bIn a quick impromptu journey back into the fantastical universe of League of Legends, we’re confronted this time by Xerath. A resurrected being of pure energy surrounded by the shards of a magical sarcophagus, this gargantuan perfectly captures the feel of uncontrollable power.

Unsurprisingly, energy is at the heart of Xerath’s attack, with orbs and bolts of the stuff managing to both stun and damage an adversary, even at long range. As if this weren’t enough, increased ability from successful strikes will be channeled into his armour, making him even more durable. As with most giants, there is the caveat that stamina and failed shots tend to have greater implications, leaving him vulnerable. This gives players the age-old quandary: conserve energy and make progress slowly, or take a risk and go all out.

As you can probably gather, I returned to Photoshop and drawing for this one. Just because, really. Another curious peek into a new world.

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Part two of this mini anime adventure – this time, a Twitch panel show, making acquaintance with a curious quartet in the process.

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Firstly, we have Kagetane Hiruko from Black Bullet acting as YouTube ambassador. As one might expect, given the smiley face and sharp attire, he’s a villain – the boss, in fact. He is a soulless mastermind, acting entirely without remorse and getting a twisted kick from ruining the lives of others. Nice guy.

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Amaimon, from Blue Exorcist, who looks like me, apparently. Pff. I’m not nearly so smiley. Saying this, I took some liberties and cheered him up somewhat – I thought this rather cute glance might bring a persuasive pull to the donation field! It would seem that Amaimon is, as the name would suggest, a demonic force to be reckoned with, since he has the title ‘Earth King’ bestowed upon him. He has a warped sense of humour, and doesn’t react kindly to his fun being ruined. His host is, in fact, over a thousand years old. Yes, I’m beginning to see a resemblance now.

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Representing Discord, we have Rentaro, a protagonist of Black Bullet. Juggling high school and a role in Civil Security, Rentaro is a loving boy who endeavours to treat everyone as equals. Rentaro is an intelligent, agile and resilient fighter, such that even the most fearsome hoodlum underestimates him at their own peril. Oh, and he has a gun if all else fails.

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Finally, we have Ken Kaneki, the main protagonist of the Tokyo Ghoul series. Formerly a gifted student living a relatively normal life, things changed dramatically for Ken when his manipulative hellcat of a girlfriend turned him into the one-eyed ghoul you see here, using elaborate surgical magic. Well, we’ve all been there.

Once the drawings were complete, it was simply a case of bundling them into the specified dimensions of Twitch panels (320x320px). I ran with colour coding almost straight away, and tried to design around that. Here are a few developments that didn’t quite meet the grade for Mr Sekioz, along with some others which I felt worked moderately well in isolation, but not so well transferred to stablemates.

These were completed today, hopefully the finals will be live on Sekioz’s Twitch soon.

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It’s been a while since I dipped my toes into the alien anime scene, with Astro Boy now almost two years old, but it’s returned with a vengeance of late, thanks to certain Frenchmen. We begin with these twin terrors. Though disparate in derivation, they are brought together by one powerful affinity. If you thought Sonic the Hedgehog turning yellow was impressive, well, take a look at these chaps.

Firstly, from Naruto, is the titular hero of a series which has appeared in various incarnations since the late nineties. It appears that his particular ability comes courtesy of his ninja father – whilst fighting a monstrous nine-tailed demon fox, Kurama, his father somehow managed to instill the beast into his son’s body so that only he can use it. This was not without consequence; it was in fact a sacrificial act, leaving Naruto orphaned and something of a pariah in the world of Konoha, for they know what lurks within. In a bid to follow his father’s footsteps and gain the respect of his fellows, Naruto strives to become a ninja himself, while also learning to taking control of his inner demon.

I was initially compelled to try a ‘split personality’ angle, but I soon found that rather difficult given the extreme disparity in scale, and besides, people have done similar elsewhere, and much better than I could. With that, I moved to a simpler concept of our hero standing as guardian before his beastly companion.

The murky orange overlay seemed to add to it, and that progression lead to the final, with some texture thrown in, just because, really.

* * *

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I thought I would carry this over for Gnar, our next subject. Part of the League of Legends series, he is a prehistoric creature whose cute, delicate exterior masks a very different reality. Quite the temper, fury and rage is at the heart of Gnar’s combat – he thrives on it. One most definitely shouldn’t wish to incur his wrath, for Mega Gnar is ever waiting to be unleashed, turning this curious little critter into a gargantuan monster until the blaze dissipates.

Following on from Naruto, once the characters were drawn it was a case of trying out some different effects based on the colours of creature and beast:

And experimenting with custom typography, though I ultimately decided against that. It’s a relief to have them done and dusted now, since they’ve been in the works for a while, coming to life almost immediately after the Twenty-Six Spins challenge (I promise to stop linking to that now). I’ve been slapping effects on here, there and everywhere for a while, and not to a tremendous benefit.

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There we have it – for now, anyway. I know who Naruto and Gnar are, now. There may be more of this ilk to come.

I may not have been posting much since completing the Twenty-Six Spins challenge – indeed, by that, I mean I haven’t posted at all. But I have been keeping busy, on a daily basis no less, with several pieces, and hopefully these will be ready to show soon. I’ve certainly felt more awake creatively since the challenge, such that this exercise was my idea of letting off some steam. Hopefully, it’ll last. I pushed it enough while it was running, but I’ll say one more time: do give it a whirl. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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You could say that the aforementioned series was a lifeline for me – see what I did there? I found myself playing with my Who Wants To Be A Millionaire model from earlier in the year, with a view to bringing its nineties complexion up to date – well, 2010 anyway. There wasn’t much to like about the series from that year, which introduced a ‘big bad clock’ for questions and essentially killed the show. They did, however, use more pink and purple around the set, and that’s never a bad thing. I’ve dialled that up here, and though I’ll probably always favour the original set, I’m enjoying the heightened neon-retro feel here.

The new curvy columns aren’t great, but will do and shouldn’t be hard to tweak. What does bother me somewhat is the bumpy decoration on the backing panels, not looking particularly accurate; wouldn’t you know it, a simple tweak made it vastly better – a shame this came after the eight-hour render session, huh. Still, as its essentially the same set as that of my first Millionaire attempt in 2016, it’s pleasing to see a much more accurate reconstruction overall.

It was great to see Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Win Enough for The Parking Meter While They’re In Here back last month with Jeremy Clarkson at the helm. Not being a massive fan, knowing his reputation and having never run into Top Gear, I wasn’t really sure what to expect of Jezza. As it happens, I was pleasantly surprised; he was very funny and, though he mocked, you could tell he really wanted the contestants to do well – even when it was clear they probably weren’t. His appointment gave Millionaire an air of unpredictability and intrigue that it probably hasn’t had since 2000. I gather it was a success, holding its audience across the series, so hopefully we’ll get another run soon, since that would mean all the more opportunity for stuff like this!

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Of course A would be chosen for the final letter! Coupled with the return of Geometric, more messing with shapes beckoned. Wanting to mark the finale in some way, I started off thinking about something suitably jubilant – a geometric firework display, perhaps, or game show glitter…

…but that rather quickly fell by the wayside, as it didn’t come together quick enough. Maybe an upward triangle with sunny colours could be seen as positive enough in its own right? Yes, let’s go with that.

Blending the above developments somehow resulted in this fierce eye creation. A for angry, I suppose! Perhaps he’s miffed that the series is coming to an end? Anyway, it’s something quite peculiar, and it’s geometric. That’s good enough for me.

***

That’s it, then: twenty-six letters and more than 420 developments (!!) later, here we are with our rather repetitive alphabet. Generally, I think the wheel behaved itself. Some themes evaded the flipper, though; I would have liked Gothic and Speccy to come up. I’m alarmed to discover that my name is apparently no longer valid. We’ve skipped, among others, an E, an N, and the beloved W. I didn’t get the D either, but that’s nothing new.

Of course, that’s the very nature of the wheel. Chance. If I’m to do this again, I may only choose the theme at random; at least then there would actually be twenty-six spins! We shall see. But, whether you have a super-exciting wheel to spin or not, I cannot endorse the random element enough; it not only enabled me to create by eliminating the awkward dithering stage altogether, but often demanded fresh approaches or a reconsideration of old ones. Results vary, naturally, buy today’s concluding letterform is a prime example of an aesthetic which probably wouldn’t have happened outside of the series. Prospects abound with challenges like this. Give it a whirl and see how you fare.

Until next time, it’s been fun. Here are the fruits of the last few weeks’ labour:

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We’ve somehow made it to the penultimate spin – last one tomorrow! If you’re as excited as I am, then I can only apologise; it’s nearly over. I am still holding out for that W, though.

I’m pleased that Q turned up though, I was beginning to think it might prove elusive. It’s everyone’s favourite letter, right? And it actually merged quite well with Square – at least once I got my head together  I feel like I’m saying that every day.

There was a subtle evolution here, from the very basic and uninteresting to pretty basic and vaguely interesting. Blending two letterforms in Illustrator and the exploration of negative space pushed the final form, which has a pleasantly modern (box) look. The outcome was stronger than the early developments suggested.

At the risk of jinxing it, let’s hope we don’t end on a damp squib tomorrow. That would be wheely frustrating.

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Geometric! Shapes! What better shape could there be than the hexagon – the naughty one? It is J for Jacob, after all – ahurhurhur!

It wasn’t originally going to be this way, as you can see. J for Jaws? There was all sorts of nothing going on here. Sensing a lack of reasonable focus and beginning to panic, I went back to basics and ended up paying homage to the hexagon:

The shape still works its magic, despite the broken wall. As you can see, there are quite a few experiments here with dimension and embellishment, but I decided the simplest form was probably most effective. I could see it having quite an industrial vibe as part of a full alphabet – nuts and bolts, and that carry-on.

A post dominated by hexagons and not a single Blockbusters reference. I’m learning.